"A Love Supreme" was such an emotional roller coaster that I found myself at a loss when the episode finally reached its end. I've tried my best to distill the hour into a review of a reasonable size, but really, there was so much meat to this one. So much happened in this hour, but at the end we were not far from where we began.
This hour of television was difficult to characterize, it started out as a fantastically entertaining adventure as we followed Alan Tudyk bringing his A-game as a jealous Alpha as he stalked Echo's former love engagements and killed them one by one. This quickly turned to a suspenseful action packed once Alpha, always in style, broke into the Dollhouse once again and used a virus in the imprinting system to trigger an army of assassin actives.
Echo is now being kept in isolation and is being interrogated by a psychologist designed by Topher in the body of Victor. Topher, still hurt from Adele's betrayal has programmed Victor's Dr. Freudenstein with a little extra. Psychiatrist!Victor takes jabs at Adele, nagging at her insecurities and fascination and jealousy of Echo. It's fantastic to see the continuity of the severe power shift from last week and Topher using his resources and intellect to hurt Adele where he can.
Like "Meet Jane Doe" belonged to Olivia Williams, "A Love Supreme" belongs to Alan Tudyk who reprises his role as doll gone rogue serial killer obsessed with his number one, Echo. With the swing of his blade and the splatter of blood against the side of the trailer I knew we were in for a good one!
Without getting into the gory (and I really mean gory) details of the murders, we learn that Alpha has been tracking down and murdering Echo's past "love" engagements, love is to differentiate from other romantic engagements. When the Dollhouse staff managed to track down Alpha in time to watch him blow up a former client on the top of a building they decide that it's time to become proactive and pull in former client Joel Myner (Patton Oswalt). During Boyd and Ballard's joint effort to locate Myner, Topher discovers the little anti-Adele alliance and wants in. He also learns that Echo has retained all of her previous imprints and can access them at will. This development makes Topher feel redundant, "This must be what old people feel like. And Blockbuster!"" he says with a touch of his signature humour.
When Alpha says he "wouldn't want to ruin the element of surprise", he certainly doesn't - first the remote imprint Doll revolt with technology similar to what Topher has just unveiled n the previous episode. Tudyk reveals himself with such an air about him; he surprises Adele in her office and immediately makes it clear that he is running the game.
Alpha reveals that he isn't there for Echo, yet. Considering Alpha's pattern we're meant to believe that Alpha is after Myner. Then the bait and switch - Ballard is the ultimate target in this game, it was Echo, not simply her imprints that loved him. What Echo has for Ballard is the love supreme, and that is what Alpha needs from her to be whole.
In his manic obsession to be the object of Echo's desire, Alpha takes the most logical step.. Alpha!Victor forces Ballard into the imprint chair with the help of tranquilizers. Alpha looks into Ballard's brain, trying to determine what makes him so special what makes Echo love Ballard. Alpha, in all his personalities, is unable to understand that the key to love is not a scientific fact, but an ineffable essence, idea, a feeling. He leaves Ballard empty and unconscious on the floor.
Echo is too late to save her love, and instead attacks Alpha, who we learn has downloaded Ballard's personality into his head to join the rest. Ballard begging Echo from Alpha's body to kill him is the only thing that stops her. Alpha limps away wounded both physically, and having gained a deeper understanding of a broken heart.
It was absolute anguish that the episode left off with. The human that Echo is becoming has been betrayed, and is grieving for her first real love, and knowing that his pain was brought on by her. Ballard is gone for all intensive purposes (although I'm sure he'll be back thanks to some crazy tech). Yes, Alpha is a monster, but he is evolving, I saw very human pain in his eyes as he walked away from Echo. After all that trouble and she doesn't even love you.
Little things I loved:
Topher is on (as always) with his consistent sense of humour, spouting zombie jokes even in a time of crisis.
Sierra in her bit part role introducing Alpha's virus into the system. It was a small part, and Dichen Lachman nailed it.
Adele broke me once again, behind that icy exterior, way down somewhere in there is an actual human being, with feelings. Olivia Williams communicates such complex emotion of restraint and pain with just one look.
The use of the security camera feed depicting Adele and Alpha in the elevator heading down to surprise the rest of the Dollhouse added an extra touch of roughness that really added to the suspense.
This hardly seems like this will be the last we'll see of Alpha, but Ballard was left in pretty rough shape, how, if and when do you think he'll be back in action?
What do you think of Alpha, a monster of the Dollhouse's own creation, certainly. Do you think he's developing a sense of more human feelings, or will this rejection just make his mania stronger?
See you next week with "Stop Loss" & "The Attic". I for one, can't wait to see what Joss has planned