A serial killer who kidnaps women so he can create the family he wishes he had.
A lonely college professor who wanted the perfect Penthouse Forum fantasy.
What do these two men have in common? Too much, but it's mainly that they want their fantasies to come true, and will do anything to do that.
The solution, of course, is the Dollhouse. However, it is also the problem, because it promises fantasies that come true, for a price. One other man will want the fantasy of a nephew who is perfect. All three wishes will lead to tragedy, and maybe the first step towards the world of "Epitaph One."
We begin with someone apparently fixing some mannequins, preparing for an Old Navy commercial. We also notice how this man is talking to these mannequins, like he's playing croquet with his mom, sisters and Aunt Sheila during brunch...and how the mannequins look life-like.
Actually, Terry Karrens is a very disturbed man. These are real people, who he's paralyzed so that they can be his toys to enjoy a past he never had. One of them, who is "Aunt Sheila", tries to crawl away, but he kills her with a mallet. After he does this, he feels nothing. He only knows he's got to find another Aunt Sheila.
He goes out to find a new aunt, but doesn't see a car coming towards him.
At the Dollhouse, Paul looks for Echo in the showers. He finds her, all wet and nude. Adelle also talks to Boyd over Dr. Saunders' escape. It's worrisome, and really puts a dent in the medical department. Victor seems to agree, as he points out that there's someone who's not at his best. It's Terry, in a coma. Adelle says it's important to revive Terry because his uncle is a major shareholder in Rossum, and they want, they get (sorry, Senator Perrin). She also seriously downplays the trouble Terry's in, and asks Boyd not to translate her remarks to reality. Topher thinks he can revive Terry if he sneaks up to his reticular activating system. It could also give him a man reaction.
However, looking at Terry's brain says otherwise. Seems there's a part of his brain that doesn't work: the part that includes empathy, compassion and the need to not disembowel puppies. It's so bad Topher suddenly has ethics against awakening dangerously crazy people.
As for Echo, she has an engagement with a college professor who apparently wants a sex fantasy with a student, and throw in some Chaucer in the deal. What we get is Kiki, who's way too peppy, and wonders if she can do some yoga disco. Paul's not looking forward to this.
Meanwhile, Adele talks to Terry's uncle, Bradley. He admits he's not been completely truthful about the unpleasant things Terry has done. He is worried about bodies and survivors, and what Terry's father will think. He wants to talk to Terry, and Adelle will do that....on her terms. This means putting Terry's personality in Victor, and using Paul to interview him. Boyd will have to deal with Echo/Kiki.
At this point, the episode compares Victor/Terry with Professor Gossen, how they see women, and what desires they have. Victor/Terry has very dark desires. He demands that he be set free, or speak to a lawyer. Paul tells him he won't get either, but he will explain why he wanted those women. Just who are they to Terry?
Switch to a lecture by Gossen on the Canterbury Tales, with Echo/Kiki in the audience. She gets her fake exam with a fake "F". It's supposed to start his engagement. As Kiki, Echo is a party girl, who begs the professor to change her grade. Of course, we know he will....and how he'll be persuaded.
Back to Terry, Paul asks him if he's been doing dentistry on big cats. It may explain the paralyzing agent he has on him. Of course, Terry's actually been doing some doll making. Terry denies he's kidnapped anyone, but Paul presses him. Bradley, seeing this in Adelle's room, says this is wrong. Paul should be on Terry's side, but Adelle says he isn't. She suggests Bradley visit real Terry in his hospital room.
She then sees Paul has figured out Terry has kidnapped people who look like his mom, sisters and Aunt Sheila for some sick reason. He then explains Terry's motivation which would also apply to Gossen...and Adelle.
At some point, you decided real people weren't worth it. You pushed them away, alienated everyone in your life, so you could surround yourself with the fakes...It made you feel like you had some control.
Then Paul proves Terry has no control by showing him his own body. "Goodness gracious," he says. He even sees Bradley in there, too. Then Terry starts ranting about how it's "Aunt Sheila's" fault, they're never nice, they don't pay attention to him, and that they're whores.
Compare this to how Gossen explains to Echo/Kiki that Alison from "The Miller's Tale" isn't a whore. She's more bawdy and self-aware, and that she doesn't let men define her. This is ironic because the professor is defining her in this engagement. He also says has her own power with sex, using the quote, "Meself have been the whippe." If he is sincere, why did he want this Penthouse Forum fantasy? If he's paying for this, isn't he making Echo/Kiki a whore anyway? The fact we see this while Terry is calling women "whores" implies they're two sides of the same coin.
As Adelle and Paul discuss what they've learned, an alarm sounds that says Terry has suffered cardiac arrest. Actually, someone tampered with his bed. It was a ruse by Bradley to get Victor/Terry out of there. He thinks he can get through to him, and of course he's wrong. Victor/Terry knocks Bradley out, hits another car, and calmly leaves, searching for a new Aunt Sheila
Adelle isn't worried. They'll just follow Victor/Terry with the GPS strip on his body...which he doesn't have because it was removed when his face was fixed. D'oh! They do trace the location of Bradley's car with its GPS, and Paul is certain Victor/Terry will go back to his victims. They also suspect they could be in Beverly Hills, where the original accident took place.
The victims, meanwhile, finally recover from the paralyzing agent. One girl, Robin, tells another, Megan, "We're human, not his toys." They are determined to escape.
Adelle now suggests wiping Victor/Terry via remote control, as Alpha did with Echo in "Grey Hour." Well, he can't call him with the tone with no phone number, but he has to try. You know, this sounds like the "imprinting people via telephone" he ranted about in "Epitaph One". Is this how he started trying it? Thanks, Adelle.
Topher hits the tone, and Victor/Terry hears it in a disco. It seems to work, until the system blacks out twice. The tone instead moves Terry's self...to Echo, just as Gossen is about to make his move in Echo/not-Kiki. He winds up getting stabbed in the neck, and she says "goodness gracious". Well, this is more like "Holy Excrement" or something like that. Echo/Terry makes the attack look like a robbery, and goes off to get a new Aunt Sheila..or worse.
So where's Kiki? Well, did you ever see The Hot Chick?
Yep, Kiki's in Victor's body, and he's turned into Disco Numfar, chatting up the guys while quoting Chaucer. When Victor/Kiki propositions one of the guys, he gets him, abut he slugs him right back. "You suck," he says, "Trying to hit a girl?" Boyd also finds Gossen, and hopefully he will survive.
Echo/Terry finds the missing girls, and threatens to kill them, but she stops when she gets flashes of what Terry has done. She says the only way to stop him is to kill her. At least one girl is reluctant, until Echo gives in detail how he stalked all of them. Echo would have sacrificed herself if not for the Dollhouse minions coming in time. Paul asks Echo if she's all right. "I don't think so," she says.
Echo is wiped, and seems to be normal. Adelle sees Terry's body, and hopes he doesn't wake up. Echo also sees Terry, and sees him die. Her only reaction.."goodness gracious."
Does this mean a part of Terry will live on in Echo, and that would affect future engagements, including the hidden one where she takes down the Dollhouse? That final scene, I think, is the start of the road that will lead to the post-apocalyptic world in "Epitaph One." Remember, in that episode, we saw Ambrose download his personality into Victor and several other Actives to announce Rossum is taking over the world through this new style of body snatching. If a piece of a serial killer is sleeping inside an Active, why not a whole person in more than one body?
This episode, written by Tim Minear, is the darkest episode yet, but also generates a lot of discussion about sexual fantasies, and how some men see women. Comparing the motivations of Terry and Professor Gossen really reflects that. Again, though, we see clues to how we may be headed to "Epitaph One," all because one big company wanted to to fulfill the fantasies of those would pay for it.
The show takes a week off next week for baseball, but this will happen only once. Episode four, "Belonging," is said it be another excellent episode. It's coming on the 23rd.
As for the ratings, they went up to 1.0, and 2.25 million viewers. The fan campaigns are working, and Fox seems to be reminded of that. Making promos of the show would also help. After all, some very special guest stars will be coming to the Dollhouse...including someone who may start reprogramming brains about seven years after the Academy did it to her.