We start the episode with Senator Alexis Denisof Perrin having gotten the idea to use someone against Rossum -- Madeline, who gives a press conference telling the world how the Dollhouse stole three years from her life. This prompts Keith Carradine to upbraid Adelle for her lack of judgment before informing her that Rossum has a plan to deal with Madeline. Adelle concludes that Madeline has been set up to be used against her, so she points the resources of the Dollhouse at Perrin -- including Echo, who suggests that there's something off about Perrin's wife Cindy. Ballard does some digging and concludes that Cindy is not only a Doll but also a sleeper, and she'll be used to take out Madeline should things get really hairy. Speaking of Madeline, she's apparently wracked with guilt over the knowledge that she killed someone, even as Cindy comforts her.
Topher has been working on the remote wipe, and has come up with a "disruptor," which can knock out any Doll within a fifty-foot radius. When Ballard takes it, though, Adelle is forced to tell him the device will work on Madeline as well, since her "Active architecture" is still intact. Ballard is ever so thrilled to hear this, but doesn't do much more than twist his chiseled face into a familiar expression of disapproval. Echo is imprinted to help the mission, and before you know it, she's drugged Perrin and filmed the two of them apparently having sex in an effort to get Perrin to back off. Perrin realizes Hooker Echo's a Doll, though, and takes her to see Cindy. Meanwhile, Ballard comes to get Madeline, but is intercepted by Cindy just as Perrin and Echo are converging on their location. Ballard uses the disruptor, which incapacitates Madeline as anticipated -- but not Cindy. However, out in the driveway, it's not only Echo who's taken down -- PERRIN IS A DOLL AS WELL. Didn't see that one coming. When Adelle gets this news from Topher, she realizes that Cindy must be Perrin's handler, which, given what a breach of protocol this seems to be, only serves to further drive home the idea that we really haven't the first clue of how deep a game Rossum is playing here. Echo absconds with Perrin, but she's not herself, and when she flashes back to her other personalities, she tells Perrin she is in fact a Doll. Perrin has some similar flashes, but he's not a Doll in the classic sense -- he is Daniel Perrin, but his original personality was a total party-boy screw-up, so he was Dolled into a more ambitious version of himself. Ballard gets no answers from Cindy, who tells one of her goons in no uncertain terms to kill him. Of course, Ballard kicks the shit out of the goons once Cindy's gone, but when he again meets Madeline at the airport and explains their history to her, Madeline tells him to shove it and gets on the plane to D.C. to testify before a Senate subcommittee, or so she thinks, at least.
When Cindy catches up to Echo and Perrin, Echo beats the crap out of her before attempting to bring Perrin to her Dollhouse -- only Cindy catches them and uses Topher's device to incapacitate them before taking them to a Rossum stronghold, also in D.C. At some point in here, Adelle realizes that Rossum plans to use Perrin to sacrifice the Dollhouse in order to appear to be cooperative heroes, after which, with the newly-powerful Perrin's unwitting help, Rossum will be able to do whatever they want. One of the people involved in this effort is an unstable female scientist named Bennett, or as you probably know her, SUMMER GLAU. I mean, I knew she was joining the cast, but still: Awesome. In the end, she tells "Caroline" that she promised she'd come back to her before zapping her with what looks like a very painful imprint. If there's even an imprint involved.
...and then Perrin is addressing a room full of reporters and using an awful lot of words before he gets to the one of interest: Dollhouse. He theatrically tells the crowd that he has a woman who lost three years of her life to said entity, and I know it's been a while but we can assume that this is the "name" he referenced when he got that mysterious packet of materials oh so many weeks ago. Anyway, the woman is Madeline ("Costley" is her surname), and she takes the stage and tells the group that the Dollhouse stole three years of her life, preying on her when she was at her weakest and forcing her to do unspeakable things. I won't argue that point, but let's not forget she got a couple rolls in the hay with Ballard and his abs, right? She goes on that she wouldn't have believed the stuff she did if Perrin hadn't shown her evidence of it, and it is rather odd that Perrin isn't at least a little suspicious of the source of this material, no? Anyway, Madeline goes on that there are people in the Dollhouse that don't even know they need help, so it's up to them to provide it, prompting the reporters to go all McLaughlin Group again, but distinguishable is the question of what they're planning to do, which is certainly a reasonable inquiry...
...but we don't get to hear the answer, as we pull focus back to see Keith Carradine (Harding) watching the whole affair on TV in Adelle's office, with Ballard and Adelle in attendance. Turning to Adelle, he asks why it was again that she released Madeline from her contract early, and then brushes aside Adelle's mealy-mouthed response by answering his own question, saying it was to avoid Ballard exposing the Dollhouse to the public. With a sardonic smile, he adds, "Well, that worked out." Between Keith Carradine, Summer Glau, and Ray Wise, they're supplying a hit parade of actors I personally think are awesome, which is making the lame-duck recapping situation a lot more fun. Adelle somewhat hotly tries to defend the Dollhouse's protocols, saying nothing could have indicated Madeline's sudden rogue turn, but Keith Carradine silkily says he's not blaming her protocols -- its her judgment that's at issue here. He goes on that there's speculation she's developed a soft spot for Madeline, just as she did for Sierra, and Adelle, recognizing that another mention of the early retirement plan is getting uncomfortably close, asks how he'd like her to proceed. He tells her to do nothing -- Rossum has a plan to deal with Madeline. Ballard doesn't like the sound of that, but all Keith Carradine will say is that their house will be covered before taking his leave to go on a damage-control PR tour. Adelle tells his departing form that she'll be sure to watch, but Keith Carradine unsurprisingly gets the last word: "Oh, we'll all be watching."
Soon after, Adelle and Ballard are pedeconferencing, and Ballard asks exactly how much trouble Madeline's in, which gets this response: "A former Active once made a passing reference to us in his blog. That was his last entry." It's a little drastic, but if the end result is to reduce the number of blogs out there I can't say I entirely disapprove. Anyway, Adelle points out that Madeline was quite happy when she left, so her recent actions make no sense unless she's being used as a pawn against her. Ballard asks what, then, her next move is, and gets this answer: "To discover what game is being played." It's a long shot, but if it's Uno, I want in.
However, the game is considerably less fun, as it involves the major Dollhouse players watching tapes of Perrin as Boyd intones that he represents the third consecutive generation from his family to be a U.S. Senator. As they listen to Perrin preach about health care, Topher pronounces him a demagogue, while Ballard wonders why Rossum doesn't seem particularly worried about the threat he represents. Echo then makes an appearance to note that November is sad, and with all the people that know about her recent awakening I'm surprised she wasn't invited to the meeting from the beginning. Ballard agrees with Echo's assessment, prompting Echo to suggest they help her. Ballard starts to lead her back out, but she turns to the TV and offers, "She's not right." Topher's like yeah, got that, but Ballard realizes she doesn't mean Madeline, but Cindy. Of course, since Cindy turns out not to be a Doll, it seems like the show is taking liberties here to further the plot, except that Echo could merely be expressing an opinion related to the fact that Cindy is in desperate need of getting her roots bleached. And if so: Seconded. Still, the dramatic music and reaction shots of everyone in the room as Perrin tells an interviewer, in regard to his wife, "It's like they made her just for me" suggest that Echo is telling us that Cindy is a Doll, so let's cluck our tongues disapprovingly into the opening credits.
When we return, Ballard informs Adelle that his checking has revealed that a lot of the stuff in Cindy's file has been faked. Adelle swiftly concludes that not only is Cindy a Doll, she's a sleeper, and she'll be activated when Madeline gets too close. You might think that if that were true, Madeline would have been killed already, as she's publicly called out the Dollhouse and now it's too late to get rid of her without it looking horribly suspicious, but whatever, this is just to remind the audience about sleepers so we won't be surprised when Perrin suddenly starts choking the life out of his fake wife with the nasty personality and the bad dye job. SPOILER! Regardless, having jumped as far into a wrong conclusion as her legs are capable of springing her, Adelle tasks Ballard with the job of retrieving Madeline, and scene.
Boyd gives Ballard the location of the safe house (ten minutes from Downtown L.A., for future reference) to which Madeline has apparently been moved, but while Ballard thinks that's all he needs to know, Adelle wants to make sure the audience...I mean, "he" understands the sleeper technology, so she plays him a video of Hearn beating the crap out of Mellie until she called in to tell her there were three flowers in a vase, and the third flower was green. After seeing November quickly dispatch Hearn to Points Downward, Adelle points out that Madeline easily dispensed with a man twice her size, and Cindy will no doubt be at least as capable. Noting Ballard's ten-yard stare, Adelle adds that any sympathy for Hearn is misplaced, as he was a serial rapist. Not to mention the fact that he was, you know, beating the crap out of Mellie. Ballard snaps out of it and says he wasn't thinking about him, and while you might conclude from the ensuing cut that he was thinking about his lost love Madeline, I think it's perfectly plausible to conclude "thinking" was not a recent activity in his pretty little head.
Cut, as I indicated, to a sad-faced Madeline looking at a still photo of