Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dollhouse 2.06: "The Left Hand"

“I’m not up to this. I suffer from acute agoraphobia. Or I plan to.”

-Topher 2.0/Victor

“The Left Hand” is all about the DC intrigue, and it’s quite an entertaining episode. Not surprisingly, it features yet another stand out mimicry performance by Enver Gjokaj. The episode also delves much deeper into the questions of identity that animate the series as a whole. Adelle and Topher are in DC trying to figure out how to undo whatever the DC Dollhouse is cooking up. Who is minding the store back in LA you might ask? Well, Boyd’s there, but Topher has also left, as he describes it, the only person he can trust. Himself. Imprinted in Victor, that is. And of course two Tophers are twice as snarky as one.

The action starts at the DC Dollhouse, where Cindy is confronting her husband/Active Senator Daniel Perrin. She knows his mind is going to be wiped in twenty minutes, so she does the typical villain thing of spilling her entire “evil plan” as Topher would say. He’s going to use his office to completely exonerate Rossum of any wrongdoing and any connection to the Dollhouse. Also, she can’t stand him. It disgusts her that being his handler also requires her to be his lover.

In the next room, Bennett, the DC Dollhouse programmer, is confronting Echo. Bennett knew Echo before she was a Doll, when she was still Caroline. Something traumatic happened back then, and it’s lead Bennett to send searing waves of pain through Echo. Then she wants to follow up the torture by giving Echo a memory of their last encounter.

Adelle’s mission in DC is to try to get Echo back, and Topher’s mission is to try to send Perrin’s brain scan to Victor in LA. Each have to meet with their DC counterparts to get the job done. Mr. Lipman, head of the DC Dollhouse, first tells Adelle that it’s going to be a long process to get Echo sent back to LA, considering Echo interfered with an important Dollhouse operation. Adelle manages to change his mind, though. By pretending to flirt with him, then grabbing his balls and threatening to have him castrated if he doesn’t let Echo go. Yeah, Adelle DeWitt doesn’t mess around.

Topher and Bennett are quite charming together in a super socially awkward nerd kind of way. And, hey, I’m a pretty socially awkward nerd myself, so no judging here. Topher is actually more capable of carrying a conversation than Bennett is, which is amusing. At first he didn’t believe that the woman he was talking to could actually be Bennett. In fact, he finds her so attractive that after Bennett shows him how she modified the Disruptor to be directional (like a TASER), Topher tries the device on Bennett to be sure she isn’t actually a Doll. This is followed up with a hilarious phone call from Topher to Victor!Topher where Topher goes on about how great Bennett is, and Victor wishes he were there.

The memory Bennett imprinted on Echo was rather odd, and kind of out of place. The setting was stark and looked like it belonged more in 2019 than in Caroline’s past. I could theorize for quite a while on what this means. Was it during the years Caroline was running from Rossum, following the incident where she broke into their lab and her boyfriend was killed? Was it actually the future and there’s some time wonkiness going on? I guess we’ll find out soon enough, since there are only a few more episodes left. The scene was of Bennett on the ground with a large pillar crushing her left arm (the arm is now dead because the nerves were severed), and Caroline leaving Bennett there so Caroline herself won’t get caught.

Daniel wakes Caroline up out of the memory, and her arm is dead like Bennett’s. They leave the imprint room, and Bennett watches them escape on the TV monitor. She then smashes her head into the monitor. It’s a very sudden burst of violence, it’s shocking, and it shows just how unstable Bennett is. Bennett approaches Topher, and when he sees her injury, he freaks. Bennett blames it on Echo.

Echo and Daniel are out on the street when Echo mentions that the Dollhouse is never going to stop coming after them as long as they still have GPS chips implanted in their necks. They go into a store bathroom, and they’re going to cut the chips out. The whole thing has a rather strange vibe, almost sexual, and I’m not sure whether or not that was intended. Cindy and her minions rush to the shop where the cutting has been taking place, but thankfully they don’t get there in time. All that’s left is two bloody chips in the sink.

Topher and Bennett go to see Adelle and Lipman about their new plan. They’re going to configure the Disruptor to use the biolink to take out the two specific Actives they’re looking for without actually having to locate them. Topher quick throws in that to do this, he needs Perrin’s brain map. Adelle sees he is still on mission and is very pleased. The next scene where Topher and Bennett are sharing their work (Perrin and Echo’s brain scans) was awkward and kind of sweet. Silly too. Both Bennett and Topher are hiding things from each other, though. Bennett is trying to send extra data to Perrin in the Disruptor blast, and Topher is trying to send Perrin’s brain scan to Victor.

Echo and Daniel find themselves at Daniel’s childhood home. They have an interesting and lovely conversation about who they were versus who they are now Echo admits that she’s afraid of Caroline. She doesn’t ever want to “fall asleep” again. Daniel says that they’re both awake now – something the Dollhouse didn’t expect. No sooner does Daniel say that he wants to go to Senate hearing to bring Dollhouse down, then he collapses. Topher immediately realizes something’s up–Bennett has made Perrin an assassin, and he’s attacking Echo. Daniel has Echo pinned when she finally regains her sense of self. She tells him, “You don’t have to be what they tell you to be,” and she regains control of her arm.

This doesn’t stop Daniel from continuing to attack, though.. Victor confirms that Bennett triggered Daniel’s sleeper assassin programming, and he doesn’t think Echo can match him. Topher’s got to get Bennett to turn him off. Bennett says she was Caroline’s best friend, which I thought was an interesting fact. Topher thinks Echo is different from Caroline, but Bennett says they’re the same. She calls out Topher for saying Echo is his friend. Bennett is convinced Caroline has some strange power over people. Topher doesn’t let her finish her tirade- he punches her out as he says, “You were so close to perfect.” I was pretty proud of Topher for taking a stand like that.

Cindy and the minions arrive at the Perrin compound. Echo is hiding, and Perrin stalking her. They end up fighting again, and the whole thing takes me back to the two episodes of the first season of Angel where Faith showed up and tortured Wesley. Guess good old Wes is finally getting his revenge. It doesn’t last long, as Topher succeeds in zapping Daniel’s brain again. Echo kicks him out a window, and he starts attacking minions. Echo runs into Cindy. Cindy punches her out gets minion to watch her. Cindy looks for Daniel and tells him she loves him. At that moment, I wanted Daniel to kick her ass. Daniel says “ever after,” then grabs her. Echo sneaks up and brains the minion who had been watching her. She finds Daniel about to kill Cindy and tries to stop it. Victor stops the assassin program, but it’s too late. Daniel is horrified at what he’s done. He wants to forget he killed her.

The end of the episode is quite surprising. Perrin walks into the Senate hearing and announces that his wife is dead. He does exactly what Rossum wanted him to do. He says Rossum’s competitors are responsible for all of it. There is no Dollhouse. He also says that Madeline was manipulated and had been institutionalized in the past. Echo’s gone missing, and the LA Dollhouse has still heard no word from Paul. They failed in their mission- Perrin’s going to make Rossum friendly laws now. Topher wiping Victor provided one last bit of humor. When Victor asks “shall I go now?” Topher replies, “for the love of God yes!” Adelle wants to find Echo, but Madeline’s lost cause. We see Madeline being wiped by Bennett, perhaps as preparation for the Attic.

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