A Love Supreme

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Ballard Is Brain Dead
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!
After a few establishing shots that let us know we're in cactus country, we focus on another hot item, specifically a guy who's been on a number of random shows I kind of now regret not having watched. He's swilling beer in front of his trailer while a well-dressed unseen visitor keeps him company. The guy apparently blew a large fortune on one particular Doll -- three guesses as to who that might be -- and now is destitute and pining for a woman who doesn't even exist. Hot as he still may be, it's a pathetic existence he's living, so it's probably just as well when Alpha pulls out a wicked-looking knife and slits his throat. Farewell, attractive Doll-addicted trailer trash, we barely knew thee. Credits.

Oh, did I mention? ALPHA!

When we return, we get a number of shots of a straitjacketed Echo in confinement, amid which Victor's voice asks her about her headaches and whatever, Victor's glasses are cute but this is the slowest part of the episode, so let's cut outside to Boyd watching Adelle ask Ballard if he's absolutely sure that Echo didn't say anything about her absence to him when he found her. Ballard heatedly affirms that, prompting Adelle to drop her voice to a stage whisper as she opines the odds of an Active surviving out in the wild in Doll state are miniscule indeed, "but we all know Echo is special." Ballard gets off a reasonably good line as to her method of information-gathering -- "So if she floats, she's a witch" -- but Adelle isn't impressed as she says they'll continue the interrogation the next day, and every day after that until she's convinced that Echo wasn't exposed to "dangerous elements." If it weren't already obvious that she's full of shit here, I'd ask what she considers a "dangerous element" compared to some of the clients she regularly serves. She goes to consult with Victor, leaving Ballard to wonder what she thinks she's going to get out of Echo. Boyd duhs that she doesn't expect to get anything -- it's Ballard she's trying to crack, and she's succeeding, so he'd better stop being such a pussy...

...but while most of this is true, Boyd apparently missed his bet on one part, for Adelle has gotten heated herself as she tells Victor, who's imprinted as, I think, a psychiatrist, that she knows Echo is hiding something despite his conclusion that she's in completely normal Doll state. Whether he really can't see it or if Topher tampered with his imprint is for you to decide, but he goes on that "if she did something naughty," she's unaware of it. Sierra then passes in the other direction, wearing a silver lamé dress and white stole, and Victor takes the time to note appreciatively, "She, however, is naughty and completely aware of it." Heh. Adelle asks him to stay on point, prompting him to inquire if she prefers men to keep their natural urges to themselves. She denies that, saying she finds it useful in her line of work to identify with people's urges, but as they reach the chair, he counters that that may be her sales pitch, but in reality she's very tightly controlled. This declaration gives Topher no end of delight, and Victor keeps it up, saying that Adelle as a woman is chastised for any hint of sexuality, and it's no wonder she despises Echo, as "she gets to be the virgin and the whore, and for both she's celebrated." It's all Topher can do not to roll around on the floor laughing, so it's probably just as well that he doesn't know about the Miss Lonelyhearts thing, because if he realized the irony of Adelle getting this speech from someone she took great pains to bone repeatedly, he'd probably wet himself. Anyway, Victor gets his treatment, leaving Adelle to complain that that was a "tiresome exercise." Topher, understandably rather smug at her failure, points out he told her it wouldn't work: "Brain science is all about hardware and software. There's no mystical in-between." Adelle chooses not to get into a philosophical discussion with her new enemy, and instead merely asks why she's getting the headaches. Topher sighs that he agrees with Victor -- there's nothing physically wrong with her, and it's all in her mind. She wonders if the scans he's taken of her brain back that up, and he attitudinally asks if she'd like to see them. She gives up in the face of his disdain...

...but then we cut to him telling Boyd and Ballard, "These are the craziest scans I've ever seen!" For once the ironic cut works, because it's actually integral to the plot. Also, I do love Topher forming a secret alliance with Boyd and Ballard; it's so incongruous that no one would ever expect it. Actually, he's not with them yet, but apparently the scans are so seizure-inducing that it's obvious to him there's a conspiracy going on. After ascertaining that Topher told Adelle nothing, Boyd fesses up about Echo's self-awareness, her multiple lasting imprints, and her control over same, and Topher is blown away that all the work he did to erase her memory was ineffective. Flailing about for some sense, he asks what that makes her. "What is she?" The relevant point is that she's on your side, Topher. I'd focus on that.

Adelle is pouring a couple of drinks when Ballard enters, and she plays it like she was expecting him but that might just be to cover her double-fisting. She apologizes for the scans she's been running on Echo and says it turns out she's perfectly healthy, and Ballard uncertainly opines that that's good news. Adelle too-brightly adds that she's sending Echo back out into the field, and when Ballard wonders about the headaches, Adelle theatrically is like, oh, right, but it's a repeat client that's requested her, "and 'Not tonight, honey, I have a headache' isn't really one of the excuses we allow our Actives." Maybe it should be -- I mean, even with the scans they've done I wonder about the possibility that Echo's having headaches because she gets punched in the face more often than a mixed martial artist. They drink a very fake toast to Echo's health...

...and then Ballard's telling her it's time for her treatment. When they're alone, he softly but lightly offers that they never meet like this anymore, and Echo smiles: "I missed you too." Aw, that was nice and not creepy like so many of their interactions. They walk off... Boyd is exhibiting the patience of Buddha in not killing Topher to stop the endless stream of questions he keeps asking about Echo. Said stream is finally interrupted by Echo and Ballard showing up, and when Topher introduces himself, Echo's like, we've met. "Don't you remember?" Heh. When Topher tells her who the client is, she quickly accesses the memory of the character she played for him in a disco-ball-adjacent effect, and does a quick demonstration of her for Topher that causes him to look at her like she just killed all video games forever. She leaves without bothering to get imprinted, and when she and Ballard disappear behind the elevator doors, he says in a stunned voice, "I am obsolete! This must be what old people feel like. And Blockbuster!" Took the long way around, but I'll sign off on that one.

In the van, Ballard confesses that he thought this was the point at which they'd be running away again, and Echo points out how moronic that is, not least because they'd surely end up in the Attic. I'd think this was a lazy way for the writers to mention the Attic in advance of next week's foray up there, except Ballard really is very, very dumb. Ballard grits that he doesn't like being Echo's pimp, but while Echo says she's not much for it either, she admits that the client they're going to isn't so bad. She babbles about him some more, and then gets into character...

...and finds rose petals strewn all over (nice touch, Alpha) in a trail that leads to the man himself, who's seated at the dining room table with his back to her. She rushes up -- and is horrified to find his throa

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