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TV Recap: Dollhouse - The Target

This week’s Dollhouse was much better than the last. Now that we have the groundwork laid, things seem to be taking off. We find out more about Alpha, more about Dr. Fred’s scars, more about Langton’s relationship with Echo, and even Science Boy becomes more likeable. Hopefully the pilot didn’t turn too many people off, because I’m really starting to think this show could be awesome.

Interspersed throughout the show are flashbacks to roughly six months ago. This is apparently when Alpha self-actualized (or whatever the proper term is) and slaughtered half the Dolls and staff. For some reason, he left Echo alive even while killing everyone around her.

Through some exposition when Langton is recruited to become Echo’s new handler after his predecessor was killed in the slaughter, we find out that Alpha had somehow accessed several previous imprints that should have been erased in “treatments”, including the one that he used to slaughter pretty much everyone during his escape.

When Langton meets Dr. Fred, her scars are very fresh – presumably Alpha gave them to her when he escaped, but why didn’t he kill her?

In this flashback, we also see the process that bonds a Doll to their handler, including the trigger call-and-response that should work no matter the imprinting:

Agent Ballard (Helo from BSG) shows up at the investigation of last week’s final showdown to point out all the things that don’t fit, but everyone blows him off. Homeboy knows he’s on the right track, though.

When he gets back to the office, the envelope full of pictures and whatnot that Alpha sent at the end of last week is waiting for him. Nothing really comes of that this week, other than Ballard becoming even more certain that he’s onto something.

Echo’s “engagement” of the week is an extreme sports date. She and the… client, I guess…go whitewater rafting, rock climbing, deer hunting, and hump. Then the guy whips out his bow and tells her that he’ll give her a five-minute head start before he hunts her down and kills her.

Langton, of course, is parked in a van somewhere monitoring, and his bickering with Science Boy via radio/cell phone is actually pretty fun. Science boy’s snark is amusing rather than annoying and creepy this week and he even refers to himself as “The Science Guy”. My names prove that I am totally in the writers’ heads, people.

About the time that Echo starts running for her life, A man dressed as a ranger pulls up behind the van and asks what they’re up to. Langton pulls out press credentials and says they’re working on a story about forests or some BS. The rangers seems satisfied for a moment before shooting the driver and trying to force Langton to call off the response team to save Echo. Langton goes all badass, though, and shoots the fake ranger in both kneecaps to find out what’s going on. The guy says that he was hired by phone and knows nothing, though, so Langton leaves him tied up in the van and runs off to help Echo.

Echo comes across the ranger’s cabin and goes in to find help. Nobody’s there, though she does find a canteen and takes the chance to quench her thirst. Upon further exploration, she finds the real ranger’s body stuffed in a closet. She tries to use his radio to call for help, but the crazy client has the other radio and just taunts her. He also reveals that he drugged the water in the canteen with some kind of hallucinogenic.

As Echo begins running again, she begins having flashbacks, including Alpha’s slaughter and escape and running into… herself from before she became a Doll. She’s not supposed to remember these things, though, which is a sign that her programming is starting to slip.

Langton shows up and is promptly shot in the gut by an arrow from Rambo the psycho client. Echo recognizes him, but she doesn’t know from where, which is probably an effect of the programming, but when Langton tries the call and response, she doesn’t respond as she should. Her response to “Everything is going to be okay…” should be “…now that you’re here.” Instead, she responds “No, it’s not going to be okay.” And goes into a rant repeating a lot of Rambo’s babble about proving you deserve to live and whatnot, another sign that the programming is slipping. She takes one of Langton’s guns and goes off to hunt Rambo.

Echo and Rambo chase each-other around the woods for a bit before having a final face-to-face confrontation. Both lose their projectile weapons and end up fighting hand-to-hand. Rambo’s bigger and it looks like he’s going to win, but Echo grabs an arrow and thrusts it into Rambo’s neck, killing him.

Back at the Dollhouse, we find that the fake ranger was found killed using the same method that Alpha used to kill Langton’s predecessor during his escape.

When the boss lady is ripping into her henchman and asks how Rambo got past the background check, he tells her that it was because Rambo never really existed. Everything from his birth certificate to his driver’s license to his entire life story was a fake. Henchman’s best guess is that Rambo was hired just to try to kill Echo.

Or was he hired to test Echo?

Later, as Echo (back to her blank state) is walking around the building, Henchman confronts her. He points out that a lot of people seem to die around her and, if it was up to him, he’d either send her to “The Attic” or just kill her. Echo has no response, but after the dude storms off she puts her fist to her shoulder in Rambo’s “shoulder to the grindstone” gesture, which she shouldn’t remember.