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Couch Baron: B+ | Grade It Now!
Till Ass-Kicking Do Us Part
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!
With no previouslies or any other fanfare, Echo's about to be imprinted, and her vaguely smarmy handler tells her it's a big day, which theoretically could mean anything but you have to remember we're dealing with network TV here. Ballard, waiting anxiously like a mother hen on steroids, asks Topher if they're okay, and a bored Topher assures "Agent Ballard...sorry, Mister Ballard" that there's no chance of her glitching -- the thirty-nine personalities Alpha gave her have all been wiped clean. Topher may be a genius, but he might do better with the predictions if he used tarot cards. He also dismissively and pointedly adds that if anything goes wrong, he'll hear about it from her handler, but Ballard is undeterred, pointing out that it's been a long-term mission and he wants to be extra-super-duper-specially sure that everything's going to be fine. Topher tells his "frenemy" (yes, he actually addresses him as such, which is one step too internet-cutesy for me, thanks) that nothing happens in the Dollhouse without his knowledge, and after the litany of fiascos that happened last season on his watch I have to say he's begging to be proven wrong, so I'm not annoyed when something in fact happens to do just that: The computer screen that's been displaying Echo's brain scan up to this point winks out, and the image is quickly replaced with a scene from The Bride Of Frankenstein. Heh. Topher breathes, "Saunders!" and even though it looks "Newman!"-esque on the page, it's really not, as Topher seems pretty freaked out and, after assuring Ballard that Echo will be fine, goes to lie down.

Down in the atrium, Adelle and Boyd pedeconference, and apparently Boyd thinks the mission Echo's on is too dangerous. Adelle points out that he's Head of Security now, not Echo's handler, although I'd be more inclined to concede her point if she weren't sporting an ugly new haircut. It looks like it's meant to be a sassy bob, but somewhere along the way it went on strike and now just hangs there limply. Sad. Anyway, they run into Victor, and Adelle is gratified to see that his scars are improving. As she inquisitively feels them, she goes on to add to Boyd that they made a deal with Ballard, a deal it would be best for them to keep, at which point Victor finally notices the fingering has gone on for a rather inordinate length of time and pipes up, "You're touching my face." He doesn't have the memories that would prompt him to add that old habits die hard, but the point is taken anyway, as Adelle snaps out of it and she and Boyd continue their ambulatory meeting. She tells Boyd that she's well aware Ballard is likely looking for a darker purpose behind the Dollhouse, or a weakness, not to mention his extreme devotion to Echo. Boyd: "So he uses her to fulfill some sad fantasy about righting old wrongs by doing something worse." Not the most charitable way of looking at it, which is probably why I approve. Adelle, however, displaying that keen ability to look below the surface, asks why Boyd is so offended by the particular engagement, possibly suggesting that Boyd sees a lot of himself in Ballard, which, especially given Boyd's interactions with Claire this episode, I'm guessing is a theme they're going to explore this season. Preferably with many more kick-ass fights between the two of them. Boyd sighs that after "that news anchor," one that apparently wanted to be rolled in eggs and flour and dipped in...well, he doesn't finish the thought, but only because Adelle sighs in remembrance, "Ah, Tempura Joe. Such a lonely soul," which makes me laugh far too long to be good for getting this thing in on deadline. Boyd's point is that he thought he'd seen it all, but this engagement is sick. I'm not sure I really see that, but at least he didn't use the dubious setup as an excuse to say it takes the cake. Actually, the sickest part of the equation is Ballard, at least in spots, and I wonder if that's what Boyd meant. Given what he seems to think of him, it wouldn't shock me in the least.

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