Forty fairly boring minutes are somewhat redeemed by twenty good ones. In the beginning, Adelle tasks Boyd with finding Echo, who's wandering the streets of Medina, TX eating trash out of dumpsters and trying to remember what money is and getting impoverished Mexican women arrested and beating the crap out of the local law. Abruptly, we cut to three months later, and Adelle is serving tea while Keith Carradine has taken over the L.A. Dollhouse, and Adelle's none too happy about either of these things, especially since she's now inferior to Topher. Meanwhile, Echo is working in some hospital, and when a work-related errand takes her to the local jail, she discovers that same Mexican woman, who's been abused therein. When Echo speaks Spanish to the woman, we learn that she remembers their initial encounter even though she's acting like she doesn't, and it turns out this isn't the only secret she's been keeping -- Ballard found her at some point, and they've been working through Echo's memories of Caroline and her burgeoning feelings for Ballard brought on by his welcome inability to wear a shirt to get her skills under enough control to go back and take on the Dollhouse. Ballard has a conspirator in Boyd, and he tells him that he thinks Echo is getting worse physically as she keeps remembering and getting smarter. His analysis is borne out when Echo fakes the girl's death to try to get her out of the jail, but after the drug she uses to slow her heartbeat wears off at an inopportune moment, Echo gets hit with a massive migraine. When it wears off, though, she's better than ever, and she breaks the two of them out.
Back at the Dollhouse, Keith Carradine is running the place like a boys' club, while Topher, who's now in charge of Research and Development, unveils a new invention that obviates the imprint chair -- his disruptor, which will now remotely wipe any imprinted Doll from a distance of fifty yards. Turns out Topher has been sandbagging, though, and he pulls Adelle aside to tell her that he thinks Keith Carradine is hoping to build a device that could literally turn anyone into a Doll, and what's more, he's figured out how to do it. Adelle tells him his plans must never fall into Keith Carradine's hands -- but then steals them and passes them on to him. Keith Carradine is happy to reward this rather horrific betrayal by restoring Adelle's status, and Adelle in turn demotes Topher back to programming from R&D, giving him a healthy slap in the face to punctuate the new development and saying that no one will ever challenge her rule over the house. But at the end, Echo returns, and an untrusting Adelle puts her into isolation. Considering how things went at the jail, I'm not guessing that's going to hold her for long.
...information which Boyd repeats to Adelle. He speculates that she's been hitchhiking, which makes me wonder if we're going to be subject to seeing Even Echo Gets The Blues, but there's no time to dwell on that, as Adelle bites out that Rossum is watching them very closely and Ballard is still AWOL as well, and Boyd needs to find him, pronto. "Find Echo. Even if it is in a ditch somewhere." Well, not quite...
...but she is rooting around in a dumpster for food. Her surprise at the apparent bad taste of a discarded apple seems like an odd way to cut to the opening credits, but I've got two hours to recap here and not a lot of time for wondering about such things.
When we return, we learn the location of said dumpster is "Medina, TX," and Echo wanders somewhat aimlessly into a supermarket parking lot before entering the establishment. Inside, she grabs a grapefruit and smells it, but her urchin-like appearance gets a nearby store employee on her faster than flies on a dumpster, and after an unfunny bit where she takes a comment literally about money growing on trees, he points her at the in-store ATM, and with the number of episodes before the series finale dwindling at twice the normal rate, I do not need to see Echo verbally requesting money from the ATM, nor do I need to have an entire subplot wasted on a Mexican (I'm guessing from the geographic location) woman being denied the use of food stamps even though she hasn't eaten in two days, because (a) unless she's totally new to the program, she would know where to go that does take them, and (b) SHE'S HAD TWO DAYS TO FIGURE THIS OUT. Anyway, the cashier is cartoonishly nasty to the impoverished woman, so after she leaves, Echo grabs a handful of crackers or something and runs out of the store, like, nice nutritional value there, hon. Not that that's going to matter, because the store clerk comes out and enlists the help of some local law who are just showing up for their Krispy Kreme kickback, and Echo puts the crackers into the girl's hands before they run in opposite directions, and this woman is not giving me a lot of faith in her intelligence, given that she makes an already ill-advised escape worse by running, like, straight into a chain-link fence. She's easily apprehended...
...but, although Echo gets tackled by a deputy, when he pulls a gun on her, this triggers what looks like a disco ball effect around her, which is presumably intended to show that she's accessing one or more of her past imprints. She boots the gun out of the guy's hand and proceeds to quickly and effectively beat the crap out of him before running off into the commercial break. So to recap: She came, she saw, she got a starving immigrant arrested. What's on tap for the second show?
Three months later, Keith Carradine has apparently taken over running the L.A. Dollhouse, and he and some douchebag client are being all "Gentlemen, to evil!" while Adelle serves them tea. Yes, apparently Adelle has been reduced to Scenario Planner/Serving Wench, and as she leaves to get on the former part of that description, the client appreciatively notes that not only does she do a good job, she's also quite attractive. Keith Carradine sniffs, "In her day," and while I love the job you do, Keith Carradine, I find it hard to believe you and your far receded hairline wouldn't still hit that.
Echo is not only cleaned up and presumably eating first-run food, but also has a job in a hospital that entails wearing blue scrubs. She has a little chat with the nurse on duty about how some co-worker of theirs had "her head in the toilet" all night, so she, the nurse, is going to have to cover her shift at the local jail, "giving flu shots to the fine men and women at County." From what we've seen of their people, that shouldn't take long. Echo brings up the fact that the nurse was supposed to have a date, and agrees to cover the jail run in her stead. Which I suppose makes sense -- after all, congeniality has been a common trait in most of her imprints.
Adelle comes in to see Boyd, and after some talk about the sadist tendencies of the douchebag client, she snits that it seems like ages ago that they actually cared whether the Actives survived. And if that's no longer the case, it would seem like a hopeless business model were it not for Topher's later revelation. Boyd counters that he's not sure if she's bent out of shape over the Actives or if it's merely because she's no longer in control, and this seems uncharacteristically harsh coming from him, but as we'll see, Adelle ain't exactly what she used to be either.
Echo shows up at the jail, and the sheriff, who took the Mexican woman into custody, doesn't completely recognize her, although it's hard to blame him given that he barely got a look at her last time and she also looked like a background member of the road company of Oliver!. After a few comments about how he basically rules the place with an iron fist, she's seeing patients, and the Mexican woman gets brought in, looking much the worse for wear. The deputy who's manhandling her is the one whose ass Echo kicked, but he, rather more conveniently, also doesn't place her, nor is the woman like, "Thanks for the crackers that got me arrested, chica." Echo takes note of some very nasty-looking bruises on the woman's stomach, but the deputy denies any knowledge of them before adding that he doesn't speak Spanish: "Not like we're Immigration! I'm still waiting for their lazy asses to deport her." I wish the episode were less subtle about showing who the bad guys are. It's hard to know who to root for! Anyway, as it happens, Echo's question about his Spanish proficiency had an ulterior motive, as she addresses the woman as "Galena" and tells her not to let her know they've met before, and she's there to help her. Rather than scream bloody murder at the prospect of getting more "help" from Echo, Galena simply nods when Echo tells her to stay away from the guards. After she gives her the flu shot, her phone rings, for which she apologizes, but when she gets it out, she takes the surreptitious opportunity to snap a photo of Galena. She then says she's going to give her some painkillers to take with her, but instructs her in Spanish to take one of the pills before lunchtime the next day, adding that it's vital she do so. The deputy then yanks her out of there, but not before Echo promises her that she'll be back. And at least if she reneges on that promise, Galena will be able to end her sorrows by downing the entire bottle, right?
Oh, I forgot, there's one more quick Ivy scene -- Topher's bothering her incessantly, and she's not having it until he tells her he wanted to brainstorm. Her face lights up at this, but he's like, not with you -- it's Sierra, who just got imprinted to be a scientist, who he wants. I think I've said many times that I love Topher, but if Ivy ever stabbed him with some tweezers I'd think it was well earned. Topher leads Sierra into the lab for some technobabble as Victor, also wearing a lab coat, stares at Sierra like she's a Nobel Prize. Topher then comes over to Victor basically to tell him that their budget is now more than the U.S. spent on stimulus packages in 2009, and scene.
Echo arrives home, grocery bags in hand, when a figure steps out of the shadows and wraps an arm around her throat. Of course, he was kind enough to wait until she had set the stuff down on the kitchen counter to attack, so after she flips him over her shoulder, it's no surprise when we see it's Ballard. He coaches her for a bit about the encounter before she gets to work on dinner, and given how easily she dispensed with him, shouldn't he at least make the salad?