Television Tourniquet: We Play in the 'Dollhouse' -- Episode 2


Dollhouse Episode 2
"The Target"
Written and Directed by Stephen S. DeKnight
Original Airdate: 20 February 2009

In This Episode…

Richard Connell comes to the Dollhouse looking for an Engagement.  Other girls he had dated didn't meet his qualifications.  Ms. DeWitt charges him extra for a high-risk Engagement – and threatens to charge him even more should his Active not come back alive.

DeWitt has good reason to be concerned.  Connell is taking Echo for an extreme sports getaway: white water rafting, rock climbing, hunting, sex in a tent.  Of course, after all those fun recreational activities comes the real extreme sport: human-hunting.  Connell gives Echo a five minute head start, and hunts her through the wilderness.   This is obviously not his first rodeo.  He kills the park ranger, and hires a guy to play the ranger and "stall the response team." Connell even sets up a walkie for Echo to find at the ranger station, and drugs the water so she starts hallucinating.

Boyd is in the surveillance van with a buddy when faux-ranger approaches.  Buddy is shot dead, while Boyd beats up faux-ranger and ties him up.  Satellite reception is not so good in the wilderness (despite the obviously advanced technology the company has access to), so all the vital data on Echo is lost for a bit.  When it comes back up, Boyd and Topher realize she is in deep shit.

Boyd heads out to the wilderness to protect his asset.  He finds Echo but before the two can get very far, Connell shoots Boyd with his trusty crossbow.  Echo, though she can't remember who Boyd is, feels that she can trust him, and vows to kill Connell.

The hunter becomes the prey, as they say.  Echo takes Boyd's gun (he assures Echo that he has a back-up, just in case), and she heads out to reap vengeance.  A stand-off between Echo and Connell ends up with both losing their weapons, then falling to the ground engaged in fisticuffs.  Connell has the upper hand, strangling Echo near to death.  Luckily she sees an arrow on the ground and stabs him in the throat.

Entwined within this episode are also flashbacks to three months ago.  We learn about a "rogue" Active named Alpha, who apparently wasn't wiped properly, went crazy, and killed a whole bunch of people in the Dollhouse – including Echo's original handler.  This is also how Dr. Saunders got the scars on her face.  Everyone around Echo was killed, but she was untouched.

After Boyd and Echo are rescued, the reconnaissance team find the faux-ranger's body.  He was killed using Alpha's method of precision slice-n-dicing.  When it turns out that Connell's background was entirely fabricated – his entire life, his recommendations, everything – Boyd suspects that Alpha is trying to take out Echo.

Dig It Or Bury It?

This episode should have been like Battle Royale.  It ended up being more like Friday the 13th: Part 5.  You know, girl running through the woods, trying to escape a maniac, falling on the ground, getting up, looking behind her, and falling again.  Except that, like Friday the 13th: Part 5, it is like all the Friday the 13ths before and all the Friday the 13ths after – it's boring, redundant, and predictable. 

Agent Ballard pops up here and there in this episode, his role so inconsequential thus far that it actually makes me angry.  He shows up, calls his Russian contact, yells at him to get some info.  Gets made fun of at the bureau.  Gets the mystery photo from last week (safe to assume the crazy naked man from last week was Alpha), and his neighbor sees it while flirting with him – but it goes nowhere.  Couldn't the neighbor at least have recognized Echo?  I am sure Ballard will have a purpose later on, but each of his 30-seconds-or-so on screen are just dull and take away from the pseudo-action.

Joss, I'm getting worried here.  Pull it together, man!

Persona Non Grata

This week Echo is Jenny, an outdoorsy, fun-loving Sporty Spice.  Turn-ons include rock climbing, river rafting, and sex outdoors.  Turn-offs include being drugged by her date and being hunted like an animal.


Amy Acker was back as Dr. Saunders.  And Echo had one of the greatest lines ever in a Joss Whedon production – certainly in Dollhouse.  When Boyd hands her a gun and asks if she knows how to use it, her response is "I have four brothers, and none of them are Democrats."


Next week, Echo goes undercover as a dancer for a pop sensation who's being stalked by a crazed fan.  Anything to get Eliza into hot pants and a bra top, eh?