Recap: "True Believer"


Last week's Tim Minear-scripted episode of Dollhouse, Echo's imprinted with the personality of Esther Carpenter, a blind religious zealot led by the Lord to a religious compound in Arizona. Unbeknownst to Esther, the Lord who sent her on this pilgrimage is Topher and she's only blind due to the fact that her eyes are being used as cameras in an ATF investigation.


Besides being one of the show's strongest episodes yet, "True Believer" was also extremely topical. No, I don't think it's 1993 and we're in the wake of the Waco siege. I'm talking about the eye cameras. You may have read about San Francisco artist Tanya Vlach. Tanya lost her eye in a car accident four years ago and has issued a challenge to engineers, via her blog, to develop a webcam as a replacement for her prosthetic eye.


More important than that is the quality of this week's episode. Of the five episodes we've seen thus far, "True Believer" had the best balance of standalone one-off and serialized arc storytelling. Agent Ballard's storyline really heated up and even with an extremely limited amount of screen time, Victor and Sierra's characters were given something to play with in their non-imprinted state. Maybe I shouldn't have said, "something to play with" considering their storyline concerned well, Victor's man reaction.


We're introduced to the cult when they arrive at the local general store in their creepy non-psychedelic version of The Partridge Family bus. If I'm remembering correctly from my own days spent in a cult, they filed into the store all singing the hymn, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." After the followers disappear in their bus, their shopping list is discovered on the counter with the words "Save Me" scrawled on the back. But more importantly, what was up with the shopper in the blue hat shielding his face from view? More on him in a bit.


So, what to do of this cult? The complaints have now reached fever pitch and with this note signaling trouble, something must be done. Good thing the citizens of Arizona have Senator who's a client of the Dollhouse. Up until now, the cult has been left alone. This plea for help combined with pressure from his constituents has allowed for a 48-hour window to gather information on the cult.


Despite Laurence's continued anti-Echo campaign, Adelle believes her to be the best Doll for the job. Laurence has made no secret that he believes Echo to be a loose cannon on the way to Alpha-ville, who would be best served by being put away in the The Attic. Adelle, on the other hand, believes she's "demonstrated a talent for adaptability." Echo's the perfect Doll for this surveillance mission. Using cutting-edge technology, Echo's eyes will be fitted with cameras allowing the ATF to monitor what she sees after infiltrating the compound. The catch? Echo will be rendered blind during her engagement. Once imprinted as Esther, her handler Boyd acts as a Good Samaritan giving the hitchhiker a ride to her final destination, the cult's secluded compound.


Once there, Esther walks onto the grounds where she's met by the group and their leader Jonas Sparrow played by Brian Bloom, veteran of Minear's short lived Fox drama Drive. Esther explains that while she might not be able to see, she still had a vision of Jonas telling her to come to the group. Like any good cult leader, Jonas accepts Esther into the fold and uses her story to his advantage.


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