Remember when this show was all about a girl who could be anyone but herself, and the FBI agent who's determined to save her and destroy the evil organization that has imprisoned her?
As Dollhouse prepares to be foreclosed by Fox, it has become a very different place. The girl has become more than just herself, or what she used to be. The agent is now a Doll, and the boss wants to destroy those she works for. That last fact would surprise even her.
This week's episode, "Getting Closer" looks at the connection between Bennett Halverston and Caroline, how the truth is a little different than what Bennett remembers, and the scariest secret about Rossum itself.
We start "three years ago" (let's say 2007), where Caroline has infiltrated an office by using her charms on a security agent. We find out it's Adelle DeWitt's office. While she handcuffs the guy to a pipe, she gets her own file, and that of a brainy girl who apparently could "kill me with your brain" (hello, Firefly fans). The girl, of course, is Bennett, and she seems to be very important to the company. She tells him she's no thief...but she is a terrorist who thinks Rossum is out of control.
Advance to now, or actually where we left off in "The Attic". Team Echo is there, including Paul, Adelle, Boyd, Sierra, Victor, Topher and Ivy. Echo recaps what they have to do: find Caroline's memory wedge, and put it in her. That way, they can find out what Caroline learned about who was the person who betrayed Clyde Randolph and advanced Rossum towards making the whole world a Dollhouse. Finding him or her is what counts. Ivy's not sure about putting a real person's memories into Echo, considering Echo doesn't want to be what she was. She could wind up confused, insane, or Alpha 2.0. Still, they have to do this.
Echo talks to Paul, saying they haven't talked since he was brain dead. He noted she's died in a way, too.
One problem: Caroline's wedge is missing. There's a backup, but it's damaged, thanks to Alpha. Want to bet he took the original, too?
Back to 2007, we see Bennett at Tuscon Tech, on a Rossum scholarship. She's looking for a place to have lunch, but Caroline chases away two obnoxious blonds at a table by pretending to vomit due to bad bisque. That's what those girls get for thinking Bennett was a waitress. Looks like Bennett and Caroline will be pals after this.
Then we see Echo look at Caroline's video yearbook, like the one in "Ghost". Adelle notes Caroline looks so innocent, but she's left a trail of unhappiness and a few bodies. She's worse than evil, Adelle says...Caroline is an idealist.
Interesting point, but what about your ideals, Adelle? Is your ideal being a model employee at Rossum, running a Dollhouse that fulfills the needs of the rich and powerful? Did you do this because Rossum is still doing good things thanks to what they learned about imprinting brains? Is that your ideal, or your excuse, or really your explanation? Caroline is a wrecking crew because she knows Rossum's dark side, which is making anyone a doll that the rich and powerful, or Rossum itself, can play with. Why else would they make a senator? Remember, the events involving Caroline and Bennett take place three years before, about the time Rossum "improved" Daniel Perrin to make him the senator of its dreams.
Well, Echo says she's glad the wedge is gone, and suspects people think she took it because she likes herself as she is now. As for now, Echo and Caroline may have the same body, but they are two distinct people.
At the imprint room, Topher tries to program an Active in the Washington D.C. office. Bennett, in D.C., catches them, but Topher succeeds. The Active grabs Bennett, while Paul arrives with Victor. One gingersnap (the word, that is, to disable the Active) later, they're on their way back to Los Angeles. They do stop to bring November/Mellie back, too. Bennett snipes at Adelle, even at how her Actives roam like free-range chickens. Hey, what's better than organic Actives?
When Topher meets Bennett, it's clear his crush for her is still strong, and it kind of hinders their goal to fix the backup wedge. She flatly refuses, despite Adelle's subtle threats. Once Topher praises her skills, and uses his own geeky charms, she starts to reconsider...for the challenge. Topher and Bennett make a cute romantic couple. They almost kiss, but then he implies the wedge Bennett has to fix has Caroline's personality. Apparently that led to her punching him in the face, because he said so in a later scene. Instead of seeing Bennett's anger, we go back to 2007, where Caroline gives Bennett a treatment, or rather a makeover. Bennett likes the attention, and even wishes she were more like Caroline. It would be a cool college friendship if not for the fact Bennett works for the enemy.
Later, we see Boyd coming home to....Dr. Saunders. Apparently she and Boyd are close, and she has the confidence to return as the doc. Not bad for someone who used to be the top Active.
Just as Dr. Saunders starts to mend Topher, it's back to 2007 when the then-security chief Laurence Dominic tells Adelle (in a hairstyle she should have kept) that some security footage was deleted three months ago, and that two files are missing. Basically, it was Caroline, and Adelle seems to be familiar with her. She also learns Caroline is rooming with Bennett, who seems to be pegged to be a major figure at Rossum. So, it's off to Tucson, where Rossum is headquartered.
Speaking of Bennett, she confronts Caroline with the fact she has her file. What makes Bennett mad is that Caroline wouldn't confide in her. What's more surprising is that Caroline admits she wants to bring Rossum down because they're out of control...and Bennett asks if she can help. This is a surprise because she doesn't ask Caroline for proof Rossum is evil. After all, Rossum's the reason why Bennett's in school.
Back to 2010, Echo looks at Bennett, who's locked up. Echo notes that some people can't believe she's a real person, not even Paul when he tried to help her. That's why she doesn't want Caroline back into her to "reclaim" her body. Boyd notes that won't happen because she built herself from scratch. Not bad for an Active. He even says Caroline may be proud of her, once the two egos meet.
Later, she sends Victor and Sierra away, so they can spend at least one night together. She points out it's going to be a war, and they may lose a lot when it gets bad. Them, Dominic emerges from the Attic, dressed like he's from the cast of Tron. He says that the original Clyde Randolph (former co-founder of Rossum) is dead, and the company is now after them.
Adelle is forced to take action, including "firing" the Actives. She must also send back Dominic to the Attic, and move the battle to Tucson.
Another flashback to Rossum Central in Tucson, They're ready to blow up a building, until Caroline finds a hidden room. Bennett tells her not to go, because if you get curious, you get dead. Ask any cat. Caroline goes in, and sees three people encased behind glass. One opens his eyes and sings opera. She tries to abort the mission, but the bombs go off.
Back in 2010, Paul is surprised that Echo agrees with Adelle that Dominic has to go back to the Attic. Paul says "I don't know you anymore", which is true because forgetting her was the only way to save him. However, he has Mellie back. She's happy to see him, programmed or not. She turns to Echo, thinking she's Caroline, and said Paul never gave up looking for her. She agrees.
Adelle then meets with Clive Ambrose, who's got plenty of people ready to help him take over, and toss her out. Well, a few bullets from Boyd eliminates the problem. As Adelle sees the rug is done for, she also sees Boyd is, too. He's been shot.
Back in Tucson 2007, Caroline sees Bennett is trapped, her left arm pinned by a large tower. Caroline is unable to get her out. She sees Adelle and Dominic are coming. So, according to Bennett, she was deserted. However, the real story is that Caroline decided to give herself up, and save Bennett from Rossum's wrath.
In 2010, both Echo and Bennett meet. Echo diffuses the conflict by pointing out she doesn't want to be Caroline again. She only wants to know what she knows. After that, Bennett can do what she wants with Caroline, such as what she did in "The Left Hand."
Adelle figures Ambrose may have imprinted himself in at least one other body, in case he got killed. So, to give Boyd time to run, she'll tell Ambrose 2.0 what happened. Dr. Saunders, however, has to stay. We then see that tearful farewell they shared in "Epitaph One." What happened in that episode has to happen again, and that includes what's coming next week.
So, Bennett fixes the wedge, and she and Topher share a painful kiss. He's still smarting from her punching him. Their romantic moment looks geeky, but it's still better than all of Leap Year...and All About Steve...and The Ugly Truth...and When In Rome...well, you get the idea.
As Topher goes to find a part, Dr. Saunders suddenly shows up. She admits she is surprised Topher can actually have a crush on someone, even Bennett. She's so surprised....she shoots Bennett in the head, with Topher seeing the bloody tragedy.
Maybe this started the madness.
Paul thinks that maybe Rossum turned Dr. Saunders into a sleeper agent, and programmed her to kill Bennett. I'm not so sure. First, did Rossum have any idea Bennett would betray the company? She virtually had control of the D.C. Dollhouse, which means it were certain she'd be part of their new vision. I think Dr. Saunders killed Bennett because of jealousy. Remember, she tried to seduce Topher in "Vows", thinking that is what he wanted. Maybe seeing Topher with another girl was too much for her to bear. Now that she's killed someone, where will she go next?
Another flashback: Adelle confronts Caroline, saying she is upset her little stunt forced her to go to Tucson. "I loathe Tucson," she hisses. Then she gets a phone call from the head of Rossum, who wants to talk to Caroline. She goes. Adelle does not.
In 2010, the good guys at Rossum are trapped, as the Rossum Army closes in. Topher is still shaken by what he has seen, and wonders if Bennett could be saved. Not this time. Ivy wants to stay, but Topher pulls himself together to tell her to go. He tells her that she has an incredible brain that should stay in her head. His one piece of advice: "Don't become me."
Adelle is also told to go just as she sees the Rossum troops close in, She laments they keep breaking windows she just replaced, but she goes. Now, all that are left are Paul, Mellie, and Topher. He gets the wedge ready to go as one of Rossum's killers show up. He fakes being Bruce Lee long enough for Boyd to come back and kill the assassin.
Now Echo has Caroline's head inside her. She remembers going into the office of the president of Rossum....a quiet and polite guy who looks like Elijah Wood. He calls himself Clyde Randolph the second, and that he uses other bodies. He says he's quite impressed with her. His partner agrees. His partner....Boyd Langton??
Uh, if that's true, maybe Boyd did a little "improvement" on Saunders' brain when she wasn't looking, and made her a sleeper? If so, that must have been recent if he knew what Bennett was up to.
Well, in 2006, Boyd Langton and Clyde Randolph 2 are together, running Rossum, and they offer Caroline a proposition. She won't be harmed. In fact, she can help a lot of people. She's won't be a typical Active. They know that.
She is very skeptical about this. Should she trust these guys?
"With your life," Boyd says.
Leave it to Tim Minear to give us a story that changes the game, field, players, rules, stadium and league. He also did a good job fitting one of the clips from "Epitaph One" into the overall story.
We see that Echo is a real person, made from scratch through experience and technology. She has improved herself from what she used to be. Again, Echo and Caroline are two distinct people. However, can they be the best of both worlds, and merge? If so, would we get something better, or Alpha 2.0, which is even worse. Judging from what we saw of Echo in "Epitaph One", it's a good guess Echo stayed while her old self is still in a wedge. Thus, Echo will meet Caroline again, only she'll be a small girl who used to be Iris. How we'll get there is what happens next week. The point is, Echo is real, and she wants that to be recognized.
We also know that most of the crew will somehow survive, but what about November? We didn't see her in E-1, except in a photo.
The biggest tragedy, though, will be Topher Brink. He started as a snarky know-it-all, but has grown into a mad scientist who grows a conscience. We also see that it won't be guilt that drives him mad. It will be a broken heart.
Next week, it will be the invasion of the Hollow Men. We have to accept they will win, because that's how we got to the world of "Epitaph One". The final victory may have to wait.