“Dollhouse” 1.5 mini-cap “True Believer”

 
 

There’s something weird going on in Arizona, and it’s not nervous, crush-y feelings for a certain ortho surgeon. On the outskirts of a small desert town, a cult called, The Children of the Temple, has set up shop, much to the dismay of the local yokels, all of whom appear to be former extras from Billy Jack.

The cult’s leader, an ex-con named Jonas, never leaves their compound — paranoia being a Job One for cult CEO’s — but he isn’t opposed to sending 27 people into town to buy milk, eggs, bread, rope and large rolls of tape at the general store. Apparently, there’s nothing Jonas loves more than holding people against their will, and French toast.

The Dollhouse is approached by a Senator to infiltrate the group and Echo is chosen for the task, even though the Dollhouse’s Chief Security Officer, Mr. Dominic, thinks she’s too unstable. Adele, the boss, disagrees.

Dominic says, “It’s not that I don’t like her. Sometimes I worry you do.” Adele smirks. What did that mean? Is Adele a gayella? Let’s bookmark that.

Echo is programmed with the personality of “Esther,” a blind girl who believes God told her to hitchhike cross-country to join the cult. What Esther doesn’t know is that high-tech cameras are embedded in her peepers. She can’t see, but back at the Dollhouse, everyone’s sitting around eating popcorn and watching the live cult-cam feed.

Topher’s watching a different kind of camera feed when he spots trouble. Victor and Sierra are in the group shower making the scintillating conversation dolls are so famous for — “Hello.” “Good day.” “The water is warm.” “Yes” — when Victor has a “man reaction” to Sierra’s wet body. Sierra Mist doesn’t mix with Victor’s Mountain Dew, so Topher runs off to report the incident to Edward Scissorhands’ sister, Dr. Saunders.

Back at the ranch, Jonas is understandably suspicious of Esther until he shines a flashlight in her eyes and points a gun in her blank face. She doesn’t so much as twitch.

The difference between dolls and cult members is negligible, except the dolls get free massages and cute yoga outfits, whereas cult members hoard guns and canned goods, and wear unattractive, homemade clothes. The difference is in the eyes. Dolls’ eyes are vacant and cult members’ eyes spin counter-clockwise.

Meanwhile, recently transferred from his post on Galactica, dogged FBI Agent Ballard continues to obsess about Echo’s real identity. He receives an anonymous DVD of Echo acting like a normal college student, furthering his suspicions that in a previous life, she was just a girl named Caroline, and is not a Cylon.

Things get dicey for Echo/Esther when Jonas indoctrinates her into his group of mindless, needy sheep while the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms team prepares to storm the castle. The over-zealous lead agent refuses Echo’s handler, Boyd, and his request to extract her before they go in. Boyd calls Dominic for permission, but Echo-hater, Dominic, shines him on while he twirls his handbar mustache.

The always-incompetent ATF is caught trying to close in on the compound. Jonas blames the newbiefor the breach, and slaps Esther across the face, knocking out her cornea cams. She can see! It’s a miracle!

Boyd gets a bad vibe about the ATF operation and goes off to do some investigating on his own. At the general store, the owner tells him there was a “mishigas” the last time the cult ran their errands, confirming my belief that Yiddish is widely spoken in all small, remote, Arizona towns.

Boyd discovers the “Save me” note found on the back of the cult’s grocery list was, in fact, written by the rogue ATF lead agent. Turns out, he has an axe to grind with Jonas.

Also not strange in the least: Esther, who hasn’t read a word since she was 9-years-old and lost her sight, has no problem whatsoever reading aloud a story about Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar. M’kay.

Jonas has been spouting his messiah b.s. for so long, he finally sips his own Kool-Aid: Esther came to him to show him The Way. Additionally, if he orders one of his minions to set fire to the building, no one will be hurt because they all enjoy the protective cloak of God’s asbestos.

Echo/Esther knows he’s batsh-t crazy, so he conks him on the head and urges the dopey cult members to wake up and smell the burning bush:

Echo/Esther: The blind girl is looking you in the eye. Do you know what that means? It means God brought me here. He has a message for you, and that message is, “Move your ass!”

God has a potty mouth.

In the ensuing chaos, Echo is left behind as the building is engulfed in flames. Dominic appears out of nowhere, shoots Jonas, and punches Echo in the face, knocking her out. Boyd is also there, but unlike Dominic and the rogue ATF agent, he’s there to help Echo, and carries her out of the building.

Back at the Dollhouse, Dominic tells Adele he’d love to store Echo in the attic but she refuses. Echo gets wiped clean, sort of. Edwina Scissorhands asks Echo if her vision is OK. Echo looks down at Dominic, seems to remember getting her lights out knocked out, and replies cryptically, “I see perfectly.”

Next week: Victor’s attraction to Sierra goes wonky. Echo becomes the Stepford wife of an internet mogul. Starbuck and Boomer look everywhere for Helo, but he doesn’t seem to be aboard the ship.

 
 

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