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'Dollhouse': Victor's 'Stop Loss' and somebody's in 'The Attic'

December 19, 2009 |  9:50 am
Another two-episode airing on "Dollhouse" gave us more revelations about not only Victor the doll, but also about the power and devious directions of the Rossum Corporation, and the efforts of a consortium trying to take them down.

Victorpic First is "Stop-Loss."  Guess we can say congratulations to Victor.  His five-year commitment to the dollhouse is up, and he's free to go back to his civilian life as the lonely, not well-adjusted soldier Tony.

Unlike "Belonging," which was full of life in showing us the real side of Sierra, this episode didn't open up much on Victor.  He was a soldier in a war that still rages on, and he must not have much in the way of family and friends because he didn't seem at all eager to talk to anyone after being freed from the dollhouse.  He was content to stay in the hotel paid for him by the dollhouse, watching footage of the war -- something that was familiar to him and gave him a sense of belonging.  Again, great job by Enver acting in a very isolated way.

That sense was exploited when Rossum's battalion of ex-dolls kidnapped him. His desire to be part of something bigger was evident as he agreed to be a soldier again -- which turns out to be just another part of the arm of Rossum technology. A hive mind!  The ability of a group to think and act as one would definitely be an asset in many situations -- unless you were trying to become an individual.  As Anthony (Victor) finds out, it's also not a thing that can be easily walked away from.

Echo, in her role as protector, recruits Sierra, as Priya, to help save Victor.  They do it, with Echo also hooking into the hive mind and helping shut them down. The trio grows even closer, but are promptly taken back into the dollhouse.  Sadly, it illustrates how easy it is to subdue a doll when you have the zapper technology.  Seeing the dolls in their true personas was good, though.  They can so often become something like comic foils in their childlike states.

This whole episode was a precursor to the main event of "The Attic."  We've heard about this place for a while. It's the bogeyman's dwelling: the threat given to those who misbehave and the punishment given to those know too much or do too much, or don't do enough.  A mental prison, it plays back your worst fear over and over again.Echoattic

Echo's fear? Not being able to help Victor and Sierra, and watching them die.  Victor is in a wartime scenario, and is beaten one on one by the enemy.  Sierra is at first making love to Victor, then the corpse  of the man who put her in the dollhouse reanimates and tries to kill her. Frightening scenarios all, but Echo is able to somehow reconcile the deaths of her friends, then finds a way out of the nightmare and into the dream.

We find that the attic is connected, worldwide, on a sort of mental plane. Echo manages to break Sierra and Victor out of their nightmare worlds, with the help of Dominic (Reed Diamond), who was sent to the attic in Season One. All the while, they are stalked by Arcane, a muscular figure in an all-black suit. But he doesn't stand a chance once they're all reunited. And here's where it gets interesting, but first ...

Meanwhile, back at the dollhouse. DeWitt's heart has turned to stone.  Stone with an icy center. She gives the stare to Boyd, and even has him held back as Echo and the rest are sent to the attic. She threatens Topher with dismemberment, like he helped do to the man who tried to kill Sierra. And she puts a real fear into Ivy.... We don't even know what she said to her. Dewitt's transformation into a robot seems almost complete.  Maybe a bit too complete?  We'll come back to her.

Echo and crew expose the Arcane killer as Clyde, one of the original creators of the ECC program that helps imprint people in the dollhouse. Basically, he kills people in the attic because they are fuel for a worldwide supercomputer that helps run the Rossum Corporation. A human supercomputer.

It is here that we also find out another reason why Echo is so special. She knows this secret -- or rather Caroline does -- and may know of a way to defeat it. She, Victor and Sierra die in the attic, only to be Dewitt revived in the real world.  Only way to escape, of course. Dominic and Clyde stay. Then, the final twist.

Remember the cold-hearted snake (thanks, Paula Abdul!) that is Adelle DeWitt?  That meany, turns out, was orchestrating much of the takedown of Rossum, and has finally gathered everyone together to let them know about it. Now that Echo has told them what the attic is, they are determined to bring down the dollhouse. In three episodes!

If anyone started watching "Dollhouse" this week ... sorry about that. Joss and crew went full-monty crazy with "The Attic," showing a manipulation of the mind that borders on the supernatural, or at least otherworldly.  Even I had to blink a few times while watching. Can anyone or any corporation be so powerful as to be one step away from world domination?  And not a market-share type of domination, but a personal-freedoms, world-enslavement domination.  With the instant imprint machine from Topher, the hive mind technology, and controlling everything from the attic's human supercomputer, that's nothing short of having an overseer power rivaling that of the architect in "The Matrix."

That's a lot to take in.  And I didn't even mention that brain-dead Paul Ballard was brought back to life by Topher, though with all of the brain-building that had to happen, they left something out.  Wonder what that is?

-- Jevon Phillips

Photos: From top, Victor (Enver Gjokaj) in "Stop Loss";  Echo (Eliza Dushku) in "The Attic"; Adelle DeWitt (Olivia Williams) has plans for Echo. Credit: Fox

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