TV REVIEW Dollhouse 1.11 "Briar Rose"

Echo counsels a traumatised girl as Ballard's investigation gets him closer to the Dollhouse

Written by: Jane Espenson

Directed by: Dwight Little


Ballard's investigation leads him to the door of the architect who designed the Dollhouse, Stephen Kepler, and he forces Kepler to accompany him on a mission to infiltrate the building. But while it all seems to go well at first, there's a nasty surprise when "Kepler" reveals himself to be Alpha, he slashes Victor's face and escapes with Echo.

The plot of Echo being programmed to help a traumatised girl work through her personal issues is rather twee, but once this episode hits its stride - with Ballard following November's van back to the Dollhouse's location and the introduction of Stephen Kepler - it's just one moment of brilliance after another. The discovery that Kepler is really Alpha is a fantastic twist, and that final shot of him escaping with a delighted Echo is a great cliffhanger. Probably the best episode of the first season, and representative of what we'd like to see in future.

When Dominic is in Victor's body and Dr Saunders goes to inject him, he shouts "Whiskey!" and it's taken that he's asking for a drink. But "whiskey" is part of the phonetic alphabet - could he instead be referring to the Doll who goes by that name?

Alan Tudyk is phenomenal. His jittery, paranoid performance as Kepler is brilliant but to see how abruptly yet smoothly he steps into the role of Alpha is chilling.

Kepler: (when Ballard sees his marijuana plants) "Carrots! Uhh… medicinal carrots! Personal use medicinal carrots that were here when I moved in, and I'm holding it for a friend."

Leah Holmes

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