What could possibly be one of the most complicated episodes of Dollhouse to date in terms of plot twists and technical jargon, “The Attic” delivered… and left me scratching my head. Bad thing? Hell No!!!! Let’s get to it!
The Set Up
We pick up right were we left off with Echo being tended to by a female Attic representative, who is injecting tubes and wires into Echo. When the attendant leaves, Echo starts to spasm and flatlines!!!! When the female representative returns with another representative, the two remove the tubes and Saran Wrap from Echo and she awakes and dispatches both of them quickly. She breaks out her room and attacks the first person she sees for info on the whereabouts of Victor and Sierra. The guy tells her that they use real names in the Attic, which for Echo is Caroline Farrell. She types in the real names of Victor and Sierra (Anthony Ceccoli and Priya Tsetsang, respectively), finds them, frees them and then leads them to the exit, but they are split up by a plastic, bulletproof wall that forms between them. Echo then watches in horror as Anthony and Priya are SHOT TO DEATH!!!!!
But this is all a loop of Echo’s nightmares… And it’s about to start again.
Creating a New Ken Doll…
At the Dollhouse, Topher tells Adele that despite all that he has done for Paul, the only thing he can think of is building Active Architecture to save Ballard, but that his brain might not take the tech. Adele says do it since they need a new Victor, if Ballard doesn’t survive the new mapping of his brain. I think they will awaken a monster.
Topher finds Boyd napping in the lab. Boyd asks what’s The Attic about and Topher says that it contains experimenting and torture. The brain is kept in a fear state to test it’s limits. In other words, a Never Ending nightmare. Freddy Krueger would be in awe.
Topher notices that 15% of Ballard’s brain is still functional, but that is not enough to do a successful overhaul of his brain. Ivy suggests an “underhaul”, but before she can go into any detail, she is called to see Adele. When Ivy returns, Topher explains to her the significance of her suggestion and how it might work, but he notices that she is not responding and is slick ignoring him. When he asks what did Adele say, Ivy only replies, “Don’t talk to me.” Snap!!!
Topher meets with Adele to see what’s up with Ivy and Adele discloses that she only told Ivy to prepare to take over Topher’s position. Topher exclaims that he didn’t do anything wrong, besides help get Adele her job back. Adele only reminds Topher of his insolence with Nolan Kinnard, Sierra/Priya’s psychotic rapist, and that she needs to know if Topher will be a team player or not. If not then it might not end well for Mr. Brink.
Next Adele attempts to eat Boyd’s soul, she presses his buttons about mentioning Echo and he loses his resolve and says Adele took Echo away from him. Adele then declares that Boyd is owned by Rossum and that little tidbit leaves him with three options: do his job with a tune in his voice, go to the Attic, or die. Time is running out, Mr. Langdon. Make your choice.
Topher finds Boyd drinking and they discuss what they have to take away from Paul Ballard in order to save him. Topher mentions taking away Ballard’s anger, but Boyd says that’s all that Paul will have. Topher then surmises that Adele is taking them on a one way ticket to Hell.
Finally, Topher, Ivy and Boyd witness the rebirth of “Ballard”, who Topher says will not take the procedure well.
He was right.
Ballard awakes to pain and when he talks, only a mishmash of words come out, none of them discernible. Topher says that is to be expected for the first couple of minutes. When Ballard starts speaking coherently, he is beyond pissed when he finds out that not only is he a Doll now, but that Adele has put Echo, “Victor”, and “Sierra” in the Attic. Told yall they made a monster.
Ballard takes a gun and heads for Adele’s office only to meet Adele pointing a gun at him. He tells her that he is not afraid to die to take her down. Adele coolly says that she doesn’t want to die. Tough luck says Ballard and he asks if Adele has any last words after cocking the gun to fire.
To Be Continued…
In Echo’s dream, she realizes that fear is what’s causing her to loop. Without anger and fear, she watches Anthony and Priya die. She is about to turn somewhere else, but a shadowy figure heads her way. So Echo takes a ladder up that leads to the center of the Dollhouse through a bonsai tree, which is covered in snow. Echo sees images from different Imprints (including a little girl, the serial killer, and two old people). Echo realizes that it’s not real, but the tall, black, hulking figure that starts to kick her ass. The thing is swift and fast and can disappear at the blink of an eye. Echo might have met her match. But before she can fight it, Echo runs into Laurence Dominic (special guest star Reed Diamond), Adele’s ex right hand man and the guy who was sent to the Attic in season one. Echo thinks that Dominic is trying to kill her, since he was gunning for her demise when he was in the Dollhouse, but Dominic is actually trying to save her. The Thing attacks again and they manage to scare it away. Dominic calls the thing Arcane, which Dominic claims to have been chasing since he learned to control his fear, which is what Arcane is drawn to. OK, let me try to explain clearer: Dominic knows how to jump from one Attic captive’s nightmare (brain) to another and is trying to capture Arcane from killing Attic captives. Arcane feeds on the worst fears of Attic captives and it is what gives him his strength. Hopefully, I got that cleared for you. Anyway, Echo says that she needs to find Anthony and Priya, who Dominic thinks that Arcane is after next since they are pretty much newbies.
Turns out that Dominic is right. After Anthony and Priya make love in Priya’s dream she is attacked by the corpse of Nolan Kinnard (guest star Vincent Ventresca). Anthony is in the midst of war and when he comes across a guy he must take out, it turns out that he is fighting himself (guest star Demir Gjokaj). In both scenarios, Anthony and Priya lose which is drawing Arcane closer to them. When Echo runs to find them, she ends up being split up from Dominic and ends up in a Japanese restaurant where an Asian man, named Matsu (guest star Tzi Ma), is eating. After being cryptic, Matsu tells Echo that the reason he is there is because he came across a weakness within a Japan Dollhouse and by him knowing that weakness, he himself is now the weakness and Rossum had to send him to the Attic. This let’s Echo know that the Attic is a collective for ALL the Dollhouses mentally and is not relegated to each house. Arcane shows up and starts slicing and dicing people. Matsu says he has to stay and enjoy himself, which later turns out to be literally. Echo notices that Matsu’s legs are gone and when she runs into Dominic they find them being served in the kitchen. But Arcane has gotten to Matsu and kills him, which leaves Echo and Dominic stuck in Matsu’s brain. But they got to eat the man’s legs to get out. Disgusting!
The two then save Anthony/Victor from having his head sliced off by Arcane. They inform Anthony of their situation and they decide to try to capture and kill Arcane, but they have to save Priya first. While Priya realizes that Nolan is a figment of her mind, Arcane steps in for the kill. This is when the group attacks and captures Arcane and they all fall through a new Fear: Arcane’s.
But Arcane isn’t “Arcane”. He is a nerdy guy named Clyde Randolph (guest star Adam Godly) and his worst nightmare is the “shape of things to come” aka “Epitaph One”, where all hell has broken loose. Clyde explains that he did what he did to end the suffering of the people and take down Rossum mainframe, which is in fact EVERYONE in the attic.
This is where things get HIGHLY COMPLICATED!
When the group threatens to kill Clyde for his crimes, he tells them that if they do that there will be no one to stop Rossum and destroy their mainframe. Clyde explains that all of the captives in the Attic are connected as CPU units, which Rossum is using them as storage devices with the fear adrenaline as a power source. Clyde thought if he killed everyone then he would, in effect, take down Rossum.
The group is nearly killed by a group of savages and they run for safety. This is where we find out how Rossum came into fruition. Clyde is one of the two original founders of Rossum. He and his other partner created the first Imprint, by imprinting someone without the aspirations of Clyde and they used him as a drone. The partner got the drone to betray Clyde and that’s how Clyde ended up in the Attic, which was 1993. The problem is that Clyde can’t remember who the identity of his partner since they erased it from his memory, but there is one woman who does. That woman? Caroline. The new problem? Echo doesn’t have that set of memories. But what Echo does have is an escape plan. She then stands up as a barrage of bullets come through their hideout and intentionally gets hit. Echo has to really live her nightmare and disengage from the system and revive herself, save Anthony and Priya, and escape the Attic like she attempted at the beginning of the episode. Clyde and Dominic decide to stay behind and help free more minds, but Clyde says that Echo’s plan should work. Echo flatlines into the real world and wakes up to go after the others. In the Attic world, Anthony stabs Priya in time for Echo to revive her. Then Anthony walks outside and lets the savages take him and he too is revived (albeit offscreen).
The WTF Moment of The Night/Week!
Echo stands talking to someone about how she got the information they need to take down Rossum. The person in question?
ADELE!!!!!! Who tells Echo, generously, “Thank you!”
Then we get a flashback to the end of the last hour with Adele telling Echo that she will be sent to the Attic. But there is more as Adele tells Echo that she needs for Echo to go into the Attic and retrieve Rossum’s secrets, which Adele felt would be stashed in the last place anyone would dare to look. Adele also tells Echo to come back in one piece.
Then we are brought to the present with Adele rallying her soldiers which include Echo, Priya, Anthony, Topher, Boyd, Ivy, and Paul Ballard. Adele vows to take down Rossum and feels that they are ready. But Echo says that they are short one important soldier/piece of the puzzle: Caroline. Echo thinks it’s about time for the two of them to finally meet.
My mind is totally frakked…
– So the last few minutes of this hour left me looking for my brain and jaw all at once. What the hell just happened? So why was Adele calling Boyd, Ivy, and Topher into her office to have them quake in their boots if they were going to be on her side? One could say that she cryptically wanted to be sure that Topher wouldn’t falter if Harding or Ambrose pressed him harder. For Boyd, she wanted no more secrets and from Ivy, well it’s about time that Ivy got in on some action. But is it me or does anyone think that Ivy might be a casualty in this upcoming war? It was just an about face and it took several viewings to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything that could explain the plot twist. But as much as it threw me off, it was a damn good one.
– Arcane and The Attic was/is the equivalent to Freddy Krueger and the dreamscape he stalks his victims on. If you die in either, you die for real and the way the group captured Arcane was reminiscent of Nancy’s final battle with Freddy in the original Nightmare film, where she pulls him out of her dreams. The crazy thing is that while all of the techo jargon was hard to follow, it kind of made sense. Again, great writing all around!
– The episode had some Buffy-esque moments, such as when Echo was explaining her past images to Dominic. I could almost see Sarah Michelle Gellar playing Echo in that scene. Am I wrong for that?
– All is all, there is a lot of moments that I could be writing about all night, but I want to know what do you think. Did FOX shoot themselves in the foot? The ratings and iTunes downloads for Dollhouse have rose since the show has been back from hiatus and after the announcement of its cancellation. Does that say anything to anyone?
I will see you guys in the new year. Happy Holidays!!!!