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Couch Baron: A- | Grade It Now!
Needful Things

...and then Ballard bolts awake in bed as Mellie's accusing-yet-inspiring question plays in his head again...

...and then elsewhere, the Dolls are likewise starting their day, and we watch from an overhead view as five pods slide open and Echo, Sierra, Victor, November and some tall, blond dude we haven't seen before smile at each other and then file out of the room. However, when we pan up, we see a window through which Adelle is watching...

...and then she's in her office telling the entire Dollhouse staff that there have been recent problems, and while they live in a complicated world, that of their Actives must be one of "constant certainty." Topher then comes rushing in on a wave of unnecessary words, as usual, but is saved from a British scolding when the lights flicker for a moment, which Adelle says is due to an upgrade currently being performed on their electrical and security systems. With gravity, she says they've had an Active go off-mission, another develop "urges," and still others show signs of cognizance and recognition. She goes on that all the Actives that have been exposed to a particular drug they apparently use have had some kind of glitch, so she needs the handlers to identify and report any behavioral problems in their Dolls. Laurence pipes up that it's easy, even necessary, for handlers to become attached to their charges, but they shouldn't regard them as children. "Think of them as pets." Claire disbelievingly asks if that's supposed to be funny, so Laurence smugly clarifies that if you have a child start talking, you feel proud, but if your dog does it, "you freak the hell out." And then make millions on the talk-show circuit, I'd imagine, but I doubt Laurence wants to examine the parallel any further. His point is that any developmental progress an Active makes is dangerous to the Dollhouse, and "a possible first step toward another Alpha." Boyd's like, "Yeah, about that..." but, as the lights flash again, Laurence replies, "Whereabouts unknown," like, his honesty is commendable but not exactly reassuring. ince they mention Alpha, it'll be interesting if they try to figure out what his unfulfilled need that made him go composite is. Seems like it's about time he became a big focus of the story here.

Anyway, Adelle gives the floor to Topher, who says he's scrubbed the Dolls as much as he safely can, and science-babbles for a while until he brings up the sleep cycle. Apparently, there's a reason the Dolls sleep in pods -- while they're unconscious, in addition to oxygen and "subliminal tone patterns." they get sedatives and anti-psychotics pumped into the air they breathe. Considering some of the dreams I've been having lately, that doesn't actually sound like a bad idea. At least until the economy recovers, anyway. Topher says he could play with the "cocktail," but Claire cautions that their sleep period is their most vulnerable time. Topher condescendingly replies that he could test it out on one chamber if she's "stressed" about it, and adds that he knows what he's doing. Claire: "So do I. But I also care what you're doing." Check and mate! Topher looks steamed, and Claire places the cherry on top as she continues in Laurence's direction: "...To our pets." Adelle puts an end to all this by saying she'll take everything into consideration, and then tells them she'll need all their reports at the end of every shift, and they need to be detailed and extensive. Boyd expresses his concern that reporting on every little thing might get his Active sent to the Attic, especially since he was hired to protect her, but Adelle informs him that's only true in the field. "In here, we protect the House." She goes on that they need to take steps against the rising tide of what's been happening, "unless anyone here thinks they've got a better idea." Satisfied that's not the case, she turns away...

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