Dollhouse – S01E06 – Man on the Street, episode review

Dollhouse title

Man On The Street is the episode [[Dollhouse (TV Series)|Dollhouse]] watchers have been waiting for. In between interview footage of people talking about the urban legend of the Dollhouse, Ballard finally tracks down Echo at her latest assignment (that was easy, wasn’t it?) and Langton exposes a handler interfering with Sierra. Oh yeah, and there was that little bombshell about there being a Dollhouse in virtually every major city.

I laughed out loud when the interviewer described the Dollhouse as “a Big Foot for the big city”. The idea that this urban legend is real, and the Dolls are running around amongst ‘real people’ incites a range of emotions from the public. Some are disgusted, others are outraged at the human trafficking, others like the idea of ordering someone to perfectly fulfil their fantasies and a few want to know how they can sign up!

As a turning point, Man On The Street succeeds by pushing the engagement to the background and focussing on the Dollhouse. Echo’s assignment – playing the dead wife of an Internet entrepreneur – is the perfect foil for Ballard discovering her and having some of his preconseptions about the Dollhouse’s clientele shattered.

[[Eliza Dushku]] is actually impressing me with her versatility in playing different people with different mannerisms each week. I figure this is the most difficult part of the job, although one which is least likely to end in her being typecast! The dream gig for a TV actor?

In the Dollhouse, Sierra screams at Victor when he tries to touch her, leading the staff to discover that she’s been having sex. Langton becomes suspicious (bet you thought it was Victor’s handler too), and sets a honey trap to capture the perp. It turns out that Sierra’s own handler is having sex with her. All very creepy when you consider the transcendent, innocent state the Dolls are in by default.

With Ballard closing in and an internal scandal, DeWitt has to get her house in order quickly. Showing a talent for efficiency, she sends Echo to sort out Ballard and Sierra’s disgraced handler to kill his annoying neighbour. Interestingly, Ballard has decided to bone his neighbour (Mellie), having been completely oblivious to her presence last week. And this is where things get amazing.

Mellie decides she needs a little post-coital junk food (don’t we all) and sends Ballard out for Chinese. Suitably separated for a minute, Ballard spies Echo at the Chinese, then gets an ass-whupping in the kitchen, which is curiously empty. When have you ever seen a Chinese kitchen with less than 20 people milling around? Huh? She drags him out into the alleyway, kicks him about some more and then sensationally reveals that she’s been given a secondary imprint by an ally in the Dollhouse.

Not only that, she comfirms the Dollhouse exists and there are a network of Dollhouses across a number of major cities (was it 20 or 30?). Anyway, big question is: Was Echo’s revelation to Ballard misdirection from DeWitt or is there actually a mole in the Dollhouse? If there is a mole, who do you think it is?

Back at Mellie’s love nest, Sierra’s handler, Hearn, breaks in and starts beating her up. Unbeknown to him, Mellie is a Doll and DeWitt activates her with a mysterious answerphone message – “There are three flowers in the vase. One of them is red.” Suddenly, Mellie is a hardened killer and snaps Hearn’s neck on a coffee table in a very deft move. A secondary signal from DeWitt returns her to her normal state, and she freaks out at her own handiwork.

Brilliant, and everything’s back to normal again. Except that Echo seems to be retaining an enormous amount of information at this stage. Considering that this is a 13 episode series, can we expect the pace to pick up from here?

Questions:

  • I’m getting more interested in how Echo came to be in the Dollhouse now. Did Caroline decide to give up her individuality for a reason, or was she drawn into the Dollhouse against her will? The video Ballard repeatedly watches seems to have her saying goodbye to her friends and family.
  • We’d previously heard that a ‘remote wipe’ wasn’t possible, but DeWitt activated Mellie’s killer personality over the phone with a phrase. What’s the difference?
  • Since Mellie is already under assignment, clearly she has two personalities stored: one a benign, stalkerish neighbour and the other a violent assassin. Is this possible for all the Dolls in the Dollhouse?
  • If there’s a mole inside the Dollhouse, who might it be? Langton has his reservations about the outfit, and has broken protocol before, but he lacks the technical knowledge. Topher is an ideal candidate to be a spy: he could manipulate the imprint, and he recently got his security clearance upgraded. Plus, he sent his lab assistant away to get him a sandwich – was that a cover to manipulate the imprint?

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