'Dollhouse' recap: A great night for Victor and DeWitt fans. And who isn't?

It was a great night for Dollhouse if you’re a Victor and/or a DeWitt fan. As who among us is not?

The back-to-back hours, “Stop-Loss” and “The Attic,” covered a lot of ground. “Stop-Loss” found Victor with his five-year contract up but rather than go free, he was caught up in as part of a Rossum-funded para-military organization: “their version of Blackwater,” we were told. Echo, with her new ability to select just the right “imprint” in her skull for the right moment, led the good guys (hard to tell exactly who those are these days, isn’t it?) on a mission to rescue him. Lots of good old-school, Buffy-style butt-kicking occurred in this episode, on the parts of both Victor and Echo. (Eliza Dushku may have had some acting challenges in this series, but her round-house kick is impeccable.)

The other prominent element was DeWitt: Olivia Williams was superb as DeWitt droolingly dead-drunk, under pressure and in despair over maintaining control over the Dollhouse, feeling self-contempt for conducting a years-long secret tryst with Victor under her client code-name “Miss Lonelyhearts,” and — best of all — acting as though she’s willing to destroy Echo in order to survive. So she sends Echo to…

“The Attic,” the second hour and the place we know since last season is a very, very bad place to be. This 60 minutes was dense with Dollhouse mythology. Echo, Victor, and Sierra were laid out on tables in the Attic, covered in Saran Wrap. I kid you not: I think that’s all the Dollhouse budget allowed for special effects on this one — the heroes had to be held down by plastic-wrap. The Attic is, Topher tells Ivy (and therefore us, because that’s why Ivy exists as a character — to act as someone a character can talk to and explain things we need to know), a place that’s “testing the limits of the human mind.” We learn that “all the Dollhouses in the world are connected.”

So are characters from the past: Reed Diamond, as Dominic, had been sent to the Attic in season one, was back in the Attic eternal present. It takes a while for him and Echo and us to get our bearings here, until we all realize that many of the scenes of terror and combat are visualizations of each character’s worst fear. The Attic runs on this fear — “brains soaked in adrenaline,” in a nice phrase — with fear the “processing power.”

Most crucially, we meet a remorseless dark-garbed super-villain, Arcane, who proves to be an alternate-identity for one of the most important characters in all of Dollhouse, and all the more interesting for the way he’s so understatedly brought on here. He’s the brainiac Clyde Randolph (Adam Godley), who helped form what turned into the evil Rossum Corporation before being betryed and exiled. He explains to the hardy guerilla band including Echo, Victor, and Sierra that all the dolls in all the Dollhouse Attics are “networked to a central hub,” their brains being used as super-computers. The mission, therefore, is to “shut down the main-frame” of this network.

And I didn’t even mention that throughout all this, we had to worry about the brain injury of Paul Ballard. The only way to save him was to have Topher imprint him — turn him into a doll, in short.

By the end of the evening, we were back to where I always thought we’d be: With Echo and DeWitt united. “We can bring them down,” DeWitt said of the Rossum forces. “It’s time for me to be Caroline,” said Echo.”It’s time for me to win her war.”

Best lines of the night:

• When Clyde asks Echo what year it is, she replies, “2010, I think — I don’t know how long we’ve been off the air.”

• Ivy, when the going gets tough, to Topher: “Can I go back to getting you juice boxes?”

• Topher refers to his boss as “Cruella DeWitt.” (How long did the writers restrain themselves from making that joke?)

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  • Kalick

    “The Attic” was the best episode yet. Can’t believe they canceled this show…

    How many episodes are left?

    • James

      Totally agree that the attic was the best episode yet, it was great seeing dominic back

    • Q

      I like Dollhouse. Good feel, interesting premise. However, I think that what we see with “The Attic” and “Belonging” is the upper limit of Dollhouse awesomeness, with long-standing plots and themes being brought together for a triumphant climax. The problem isn’t these highs, but the relative lows of setting up these plots. You need to build up the mystery (and terror) of the Attic to get a fulfilling reveal. You need the slow courtship of Victor/Sierra to make their relationship feel important and satisfying. The episodes that did that, though, did little else except provide disposable filler that wasn’t particularly exciting.

      • Jimmy

        , the owners bhugot these houses specifically to be used as locations. It’s a lot faster to pay off the house that way . Apparently, this guy had been doing this movie location, flipping for years . Then when he pays off the house, he adds a little sparkle to the sales pitch by saying, such and such movie star shot here or this or that movie used this house as a location . From what I understand, this guy made a mint. I wonder if he survived the subprime crash?

    • jmo

      Don’t you wish season 1 was condensed into a tight little mini-series similar to BSG? We could’ve shed some the lame eps, condensed the rest of season one into a half season with good ratings. I really sucks to see where the show is now and where it could’ve gone for seasons 3 & 4. Oh well, could’ve should’ve would’ve…

      • sweettoons

        I totally agree! It feels like the story is just getting going….

      • Melissa Megan

        I hope they renew this bbwloversmatch

    • Siri

      3 more episodes

  • Brett

    I agree – the best episode yet. Dominic rocked but i’m still not sure why he stayed in the Attic instead of leaving with Echo. He would be a great help in the upcoming battle against Rossum don’t you think? Hopefully we’ll see him in the next 3 episodes. I really believe that this show will be a cult classic in 2-3 years. Way to go out with a bang, Joss!

    • Q

      Well, they probably couldn’t afford his contract. But lore-wise, they need someone inside to free the minds, disrupt the mainframe and bring down Rossum. Dominic will serve (off-screen) as bodyguard and assistant to Clyde, who couldn’t be freed since his body wasn’t at Echo’s Dollhouse.

    • Owen

      He gets out. Watch Epitaph 1.

  • MockingbirdGirl

    Unfortunately, I saw the twist in “The Attic” coming at the end of the previous episode — the Adelle shower scene was an uncharacteristically heavy-handed metaphor for her finally choosing sides — but a pair of astonishingly entertaining episodes nevertheless. And, certainly, great writing and performances all round. It’s a shame DOLLHOUSE wasn’t this good in the beginning.

    • Tarc

      If the FOX execs would not have meddled so heavily in the show for the first six episodes, it would have been far more successful. From episode 7 on, Dollhouse has been *brilliant*.

      • MockingbirdGirl

        I blame Whedon as much as Fox. Networks meddling in shows is par for the course; if he wanted to avoid it, he should have shopped it to cable. Sorry, but Eliza Dushku isn’t so indispensable that it was worth going to Fox; indeed, I find her the weakest actor in the show.

      • Felipe

        MockingbirdGirl, I think that Both Joss and Eliza had contracts with FOX. FOX had been good to them giving them both their own shows (Firefly, Tru Calling). I think they needed to fulfill their contract. But hey who’s comlaining because now we get Dollhouse out of it!

      • Josh

        Well Eliza was a creator, so she had to be involved… And she was under contract with FOX for another two years… Joss had to go with FOX if he wanted to make Dollhouse.

      • Matt

        Eliza’s involvement was locked in with Joss from the very beginning, well before any work started on the series and well before it was shopped to any networks. The idea for the series was born over a meal shared by Eliza and Joss; she had taken him out for a meal in order to try to get him to write a series around her as a career vehicle for her. He wasn’t planning on being persuaded, since he didn’t want to a new TV show at the time, but partway through the meal inspiration struck and wouldn’t let go, thus the idea for Dollhouse was born. So Dollhouse would never have existed in the first place without Eliza, and she was always going to be on it no matter what.

      • Sandra

        I hope they bring this back on SciFi runnersocialnetwork

    • Celi

      It’s unfortunate that the writers finally find their groove now, producing mind-blowing work, especially for television, but are cancelled. Why does this keep happening with quality shows?!

  • Rio

    Best two hours yet!

  • Adam

    Did anyone else think that the red head who covered Echo in the plastic wrap and told her the attic was happy to have her sounded a lot like Felicia Day????

    • tigersmurfette

      no too old, but day will be back for epitaph 2


    Olivia Williams is an amazing actress. The actors who appeared opposite of her in these episiodes had to work double time in order to not get blown off the screen. Everyone managed to hold their own except, of course, Eliza. Joss Whedon obiviously knew Dollhouse wasn’t going to be renew as the plots for the last several episodes seem to gear up several seasons worth of story lines. I believe it is his intention to provide closure unlike Firefly. Thank you. Of note, I agree with Ken that the best line of the night was the meta fourth wall busting “2010, I think — I don’t know how long we’ve been off the air,” inside joke. Whedon and company sticking it to Fox. One finally note. Didn’t the group soldiers remind everyone of the Borg. If the series had last longer, undoubtedly, Joss could had made that great plot thread more interesting and scarier.

  • kristy

    To the critic—I LOVE Eliza Dushku as Echo and I sincerely wish you’d stop using every column to bash her. She’s great on here.

    • Liz

      As much as I like Dollhouse all I can see when I see Eliza is Faith. She isn’t playing her part well enough to draw the line between her other roles. I didn’t have the problem with Amy Acker or any other Buffy/Angel former cast members. It’s only Eliza who isn’t making this character unique. Sad but true.

      • Dani

        I like DH and Eliza as well, and even though I can usually seperate her from Faith here, I didn’t think that she “felt right” in the role up until the past few eps. I did find myself thinking that Amy, Summer, and Dichen could’ve carried the overall role of Echo with a bit more believability for me…

      • jmo

        I admit it was hard for me to like Echo because I kept looking for a strong character like Faith. In some ways, Eliza acts like SMG. Neither use their eyes to express feelings, but rather the inflections in their voice. It’s only in extreme instances you see their range (SMG got better, but notice seasons 1 & 2 of BTVS). Not saying its bad, just something I notice. PS- Dichen is a great actress.

      • soz

        @jmo, I don’t necessarily think either are stellar thespians or anything, but SMG was perfect for Buffy and Dushku was perfect for Faith. Neither are necessarily actresses with tremendous range. I, personally, thought Dushku was atrocious on DH. Completely wrong for the role. Acker could have done a great job with it though.

  • paqpaqa

    Last scene on “The Attic” for some reason reminded me the last on “Enemies” from Buffy. I wonder if they’ll be able to stop the ascension :). But seriously, It’s a shame this season kicks ass only after the show got canceled.

    • Laker Tim

      The last scene reminded me of the last scene of Angel (“Not Fade Away”)

      • Raven

        Reminded me of “Not Fade Away” as well.


    I forgot to ask: Does anyone believe Boyd’s personal problem entail a resurgant Dr. Sanders?

    • Felipe

      BLINKONE that is exactly what I thought. I think Boyd went looking for Saunders to check on her after the doll trifecta got sent to the attic. How Sweet! Can’t wait for her to come back. She has to!

      • blinkone

        Amy Acker comes back for at least two of the last episodes.

    • wtfnyc

      I was thinking the EXACT same thing, BLINKONE — esp with only 3 epis to go. Can’t wait for AAcker to come back!!

  • Hello

    Great episode! :)

  • Blah

    Dollhouse was Great….needed to DVR it but the show was fun to watch!!! Let it come back!!

  • Sarah

    Last night’s double feature blew my mind. Best episode(s) yet! LOVED the Attic stuff and how DeWitt turns out to be semi-decent in the end. Definitely reminds me of Buffy, which is some good times…
    And I agree with Kristy – Eliza Dushku does awesome on this show. Quit bashing her! She has to be like 40 people all the time, dude!

  • fresh

    Angel fans-did you notice that the Dollhouse set Anthony with a suite at the Hyperion Hotel??

    • Liz

      Yep I heard it. It was a nice little throw back! :)

    • JK

      Ha! I thought to myself, “Hyperion Hotel, Hyperion Hotel, why does that sound familiar…?”. Thanks for the note fresh. :)

  • Schroeder1959

    I can’t believe it, this will be the third great show that I love to be cancelled. Jericho and the Sarah Connor Chronicles were cancelled when they were just getting good, and now Dollhouse. Great acting, suspense, all one would want in a television show, and the network in their infinite wisdom decides to cancel the program. If you were anywhere in the surrounding neighborhood last night, you would have heard me yell out “NO” when they stated that the final three episodes will begin to air in three weeks. It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

  • blinkone

    I had to agree with Ken Tucker that the best line of the night was the meta fourth wall busting: “2010, I think — I don’t know how long we’ve been off the air.” Whedon & co. sticking it to Fox! Obiviously, Whedon knew that Dollhouse was going to be cancel as the last several episodes seem to accelerate several seasons worth of story lines to provide closure to fans. Stop-Loss was obiviously meant to unfold differently as its theme of lost individuality didn’t project as much horror as it could over a longer arc. Note: Stop-Loss reminded me of Star Trek’s Borg. Speaking of horror: Olivia Williams scares the hell out of me. As Dewitt, she almost blew everyone off screen with her powerful yet cold hearted bitchy protrayal of someone with conflicted morals losing control. Eliza take note of your peers’ acting chops. They seemed to all rise to the occassion to match Williams prowess. Eliza seemed to dial in her performance even more than usual.

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