I want to like this episode, because there's a lot of great things that it does. We get an epic fist-fight between our two moral compasses: Paul, trying to be the outside world's morality check, and Boyd, trying to be the House's morality check. Icing to this tasty cake is that both of these compasses are somewhat broken, and their battle is so much more violent because they desperately need to feel they are Right. (Could have laughed out loud at Adelle's comment of there being enough righteousness to go around, if I wasn't still muttering about the Mystery Fail.)
Congratulations to the writers for finally getting it right with the identity issues. Putting Mr. Dominick in Victor's body with the awareness and revulsion of it having happened finally makes a comment that a viewer can take seriously. Thank you for at last showing us the kind of psychological damage that imprinting would cause in an aware victim.
We also get Topher discovering his powers of awesome can be used to do really great things for the world, and that it's a nice feeling to help people while proving how clever you are. Aww, our little genius is growing up.
Cut to the WTF of this episode, because there's a great bloody deal of that to go around. Topher does something genuinely Good and he's punished by having Paul taser him. I have to believe this happens to prevent Alpha from hacking Topher into little genius pieces, because otherwise I conclude if you do good things in the Dollhouse universe, you're punished for it. If you do horrible bad things, you get rewarded with hot doll action. Unless you do them to the House—that wins you a trip to the Attic.
Also Mystery Fail, Whedon. You don't introduce someone in the second-to-last episode who we've never seen before and declare them to be the Big Bad. Or at least you didn't used to. Either way, it's still cheating. Thus, I didn't find the Alpha reveal satisifying—just disappointing and utterly WTF. While it doesn't take away the fun that I had with my friends discussing theories and evaluating possibilities, it's not encouraging us to play along for season two.
Paul as Alpha would have been a much more interesting story twist, but the writers likely would have failed to use it to its full potential. So again, are we headed for Doll Paul or Handler Paul? Or a Paul and Boyd team up to lecture Alpha into surrendar by appealing to his moral ambugity with their own?
It's not like next week's trailer gives us any indication. Instead, it implies an EchoCaroline/Alpha/BlondeCaroline S&M threesome, which I have little interest in seeing. I think Alpha's creeptastic and the Caroline imprint in Echo isn't her actual personality but tweaked to be what Alpha wants. While I love the possibility of more identity exploration, I'm skeptical that it won't sink into leather-clad nonsense instead of answering real questions like are Topher and Victor ok or why is Alpha extra awful to Dr Fred?