Dollhouse 1.9: "Spy in the House of Love"

At this point, I am resigned to the likelihood that "Dollhouse" will not be renewed. FOX may be playing coy about its chances, but that is clearly a strategy meant to keep its current meager audience intact. So now I am viewing this as something of an extended miniseries, much as the first season of "Buffy" was designed.

This episode managed to pay off the subplot regarding a mole within the Dollhouse fairly well, while also exposing more secrets in the process. The usual underlying principles remain intact: those running the Dollhouse are morally challenged and they know it, Paul is obsessed with finding the Dollhouse, Alpha is still out there lingering in the shadows, and Echo is gaining more and more agency as time passes.

I didn't see the revelations about Dominic coming at all, and it's interesting to note that the NSA doesn't already have the Dollhouse technology. Apparently the effects of the Dollhouse have spread into the government, but not the cause. That remains with Rossum and some shadowy connections thus related.

It's very interesting to see that DeWitt has her doubts about her choices and actions. Or rather, it's interesting to note that she only admits to this to an active that she uses sexually and can mindwipe. Dominic's betrayal seems to have hardened her even more, which only makes her decision to allow Echo to continue to "evolve" all the more confusing. Echo may have chosen to protect the Dollhouse this time, but why would DeWitt assume she would do so again?

I also found it interesting that Paul is now aware that Mellie is an active, and he will need to play the part of the devoted boyfriend just to keep up appearances. On the one hand, it's a fairly clever way of demonstrating how easily the Dollhouse can protect its own interests: set up a threat with a sexually desirable sleeper active tailored to be a perfect match, and let matters take their natural course. On the other hand, it's yet another example of how a young woman is being sexually used against her will.

Worse, Paul knows it, which makes this even more complicated. Paul has been putting his life in jeopardy to expose the Dollhouse and, ostensibly, save the young men and women being forced into effective slavery. Yet, he is now aware that Mellie is one of those young women. To achieve the larger goal, he must essentially turn his back on the ideals behind that larger goal and continue his relationship with Mellie.

This is really no different than what Boyd appears to be doing. Boyd openly admits that they do highly immoral things for supposedly "philanthrophic" goals. And one might assume that his new role as head of security will allow him to give Echo more room to maneuver, once she comes to the inevitable conclusion that she must bring down the Dollhouse. Echo's continued trust in Boyd puts them both in the perfect position to strike when the opportunity presents itself.

I also greatly enjoyed Sierra's mission within the NSA (even if it was staged to allow her to succeed), and Echo's fight with Dominic, which was frought with irony, to say the least. It was another strong episode, if one sets aside the larger issues regarding the series. This may be the greatest irony of "Dollhouse" in the end: the series itself is actually pretty good; it's the overall premise that has been its greatest drawback.


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