Season 1 Episode 11

Briar Rose

Aired Friday 9:00 PM May 01, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
965 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Echo uses the story of "Sleeping Beauty" to help a young girl overcome a past trauma, but does the story foreshadow Echo's own future? Meanwhile, Ballard may have found the original designer of the Dollhouse, Adelle goes to an ex-employee for answers, and Alpha reveals himself and his endgame.moreless

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  • Briar Rose

    I loved how well Joss made this episode! I can't remember how many times I've seen this episode, and can quote most of what they say. Alan is probably the best actor Joss could have chosen for the phsycotic Alpha character next to Zachary Quinto. Really loved this episode completly.
  • Big suprises and some answers

    Have to agree with most reviews in here, this is the episode I was waiting for. Alan Tudyk was just wonderful as the crazy architect. Love his interaction with Paul, this is what was missing from Dollhouse...buddy cop humour!

    Paul is getting really interesting now that he got rid of Mellie, the way he just crushed her was cruel, but necessary. Love the fact that they send Sierra away, she'll be so bombed to see Victor's face when she gets back.

    Great twist when it was revealed that the crazy architect was actually Alpha. Love the way Tudyk played the transition, very scary. It's also interesting to see that Echo still trusts Boyd and doesn't trust Paul (probably a good thing since we don't want her getting out in the world without an imprint).

    Alpha understood this and imprinted Echo with someone's personality (his ex?). Love the ending when crazy Alpha and Echo just got out of the Dollhouse, it reminded me of a certain Spike and Drusilla at their most menacing. Now that's what I call an ending!moreless
  • Briar Rose

    The good;

    Totally had me fooled with Alpha (partly because his agorophobic uber-geek and Ballard makes such a great team). Stunning performance on both counts. You really feel for Mellie when Ballard dumps her. Great performance from the actress who plays the little girl too. Dominic asking for 'Whiskey' is a masterful bit of foreshadowing and Ballard is one smart cookie with his plan (but not as much as you-know-who).

    The bad;

    Alpha's plan seems unecessarily complicated? Ballard says he doesn't have a badge any more but then he shows one to 'Kepler' (did he swipe Loomis'?)

    Best line;

    Adele; "There's indignation enough for everyone to have seconds"

    reprogrammed Echo upon seeing Alpha

    "My prince"

    Packing heat; Both Boyd and Ballard with their pistols again. Ballard also uses a stungun on Topher.


    Boyd; 7

    Dominic; 7

    Sierra; 3

    Victor; 2

    Ballard; 8

    Echo kissage;2

    She plants a big old smackaroo on Alpha, so much so it cuts her lip

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost;

    Echo; 3 definite, 1 possible

    November; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Victor; 1

    Adele; 1

    Sierra 1 possible

    Topher; 1 possible

    How'd they get away with that?

    Watching Alpha slicing up Victor is HORRIBLE! The little girl's plight is also horrific but at least she has a chance to recover. Also hard to watch Ballard cruelly dumping Mellie and her near suicide. Plus Alpha's recycled urine.

    This weeks fantasy;

    Topher has made Echo into a grown up, healthy version of the damaged little girl in order to counsel her, Alpha turns her into a white trash princess. Sierra is a CSI girl (her technobabble may be a subtle joke on them). Victor is Dominic

    Total number personalitites;

    Echo; 19

    Sierra; 9

    Victor; 6

    November; 2

    Total dolls; add Alpha so 7

    Echo, Sierra, November, Victor, Mike, Tango, Alpha

    Topher is a bit geeky;

    He actually uses the phrase 'All frakked up'.

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche;

    Amanda lets Echo sit near her, not because she trusts her but because she has flicknife concealed on her.

    Bondage; Boyd puts Ballard in handcuffs (presumably his own?)

    Sierra tied up; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Knocked out; Toper get's tasered into unconsciousness by Ballard

    Echo; 2

    November; 1

    Sierra; 1

    Victor; 1

    Topher; 1


    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo; 1


    Dolls injured;.

    Poor Victor, traumatised by Ballard and Boyd crashing down on top of him and then cut to ribbons by Alpha.

    Capt subtext;

    Check out the very caring, maternal way Dr Saunders helps Victor who really comes across as a frightened child. The Briar Rose story has a feminist slant on it similar to Buffy, Amanda and Echo prefer the ending where the Briar Rose saves herself. Echo says that Amanda is "Close to moving forwards but it'll hurt" just as she is. Interestingly when Ballard asks Alpha is he Kepler he replies "Well there are a lot of aspects to that question" . He also refers to the Dollhouse as 'The New Eden' which it just might be. He asks Dr Saunders if she always wanted to be a Dr and when she says yes tells her that's a lie.

    Happy hookers

    The little girl seems to have been exploited as a child prostitute by her mother's boyfriend. All the Dolls in the Dollhouse are above the age of consent but only those we've seen (and only in LA).

    Know the face? Alan Tudyk was Wash on Firefly/Serenity

    7 Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd, Amy Acker, walking action figure, Eliza Dushku, Jim Piddock, Gregg Henry, Alan Tudyk


    Drugging and torturing Dominic who's on a day trip out of the attic, very hard to watch (great performance from Enver, really nails Reed Diamond in his mannerisms). Sending Echo to help the little girl is everybodys way of living with themselves.


    The adventures of doomed lovers Echo and Alpha disturbingly popular. The little girl's story reminded me of a Buffy fanfic where we learn why Faith is as screwed up as she is and Buffy, Joyce and Dawn help her get over it and adopt her as a new Summers girl Thanks for taking care of my body, Faith!, a Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fanfic - FanFiction.Net

    Questions and observations;

    So, the headquarters for the whole Dollhouse project is in Tuscon? Can anyone tell me exactly WHY Alpha is hiding naked in a dumpster when he kills the homeless man? Or am I trying to find logic in the actions of a madman? Note when Ballard finally gets into the Dollhouse he says 'It really exists', he'd obviously begun to doubt his own sanity. 'We call that editing' may be a subtle joke on the crew. Alpha thinks the Dollhouse is a good place but with bad people. I hate stairs without risers too, always fear I'm going to fall through them. Note Boyd gives Ballard a way out, he's not going to turn him in if he can help it. Surely consensual slavery is a contradiction in terms, if it's consensual it's not slavery? The Dollhouse we see was only built ten years ago despite the rumours dating from the 80s.

    Marks out of 10; 9/10 really good

  • Intrusion.

    Finally, we get an episode we've all been waiting for, or at least I have. I was wondering for a long time who Alpha was, and now the time has come to find out more. I was very sad previously for the ending of the Mellie/Ballard story, but it actually brought us to this point where Ballard was finally ready to enter the Dollhouse.

    The entire entrance Ballard and Alpha had was interesting, even more so when we found out it was actually Alpha. The fights, the confrontations and the cliffhanger was exactly what I was waiting for a long time. I still think these episodes are seven minutes too long, but I can handle that, really.moreless
  • A whole new spin to an old tale.

    Have you ever wondered what would've happened if the sleeping beauty chose her on curse? If her Prince wasn't charming or the Witch was not evil? What would've happened if the Godmother was a Godfather? What if Sleeping Beauty didn't want to wake up at all...

    We start the episode as Echo tries a pro bono case courtesy of her Godfather Topher, but before she goes back to sleep the Witch ...I mean DeWitt spots an odd murder with Aplha's trademark and sends Sierra to investigate, an advantage Paul uses to infiltrate the Dollhouse using a shiny white horse in the form of an architech, that turns out not be an architech at all but Echo's twisted version of Prince Charming, Alpha, who finally succeeds to awake her since he started trying back in the pilot episode.moreless
Alan Tudyk

Alan Tudyk

Stephen Kepler

Guest Star

Aisha Hinds

Aisha Hinds


Guest Star

Hannah Leigh Dworkin

Hannah Leigh Dworkin


Guest Star

Amy Acker

Amy Acker

Dr. Claire Saunders

Recurring Role

Miracle Laurie

Miracle Laurie


Recurring Role

Liza Lapira

Liza Lapira


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Alpha uses the phrase "Falling now" when he jumps down while breaking into the dollhouse with Ballard. In another Joss Whedon series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, during the episode
      "Primeval," while Willow and Buffy are repelling into the Initiative (another secret organization), they stop to talk and hug to make up for an argument they had been having. While hugging they begin to slide down their ropes and Willow says "Falling now."

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Kepler: You know what I think? I think that once we die out, a couple hundred years, Earth is gonna have a people day. You know, to remember us. One day a year she is gonna laugh and laugh and shake our bones.

    • Kepler: (standing in front of several marijuana plants) Carrots! Medicinal carrots! Personal use medicinal carrots that were here when I moved in and I'm holding it for a friend!

    • Boyd: Sorry Agent Ballard. You don't get the girl.

    • Topher: Everybody wants to be righteous when they can afford it.
      Ivy: Even Topher Brink?
      Topher: This feeling... It is not unlike pride.

    • Ballard: Are you Stephen Kepler?
      Kepler: Okay. Hi. Uh, what was that name again?
      Ballard: Stephen Kepler. Is that you?
      Kepler: Well, there's a lot of aspects to that question.

    • Kepler: You know, I care about my carbon footprint, but most people out there... making carbon snow angels.

    • Kepler: We go in there, then we're in there. There's… There's more people in there. I'm not good with people.
      Ballard: They're not people.
      Kepler: I'm not good with that sentence either.

    • Kepler: They told me this was going to be a new Eden.
      Ballard: Eden wasn't a prison.
      Kepler: What, are you kidding? The apples were monitored. Plus they didn't have a steam room that could recirculate human sweat and put it right back...

    • Kepler: (as Ballard tasers Topher) What the hell was that? Is that some kind of like joy-buzzer stun gun? I mean, officially, I deplore violence, but that was totally worth the loss of karma points.

    • Kepler: (seeing the Dollhouse) All right, would you look at this place! I mean, first of all, feng shui up the ying yang. Also, I designed parts of it, but I did not design the stone-cold foxes in the small clothes, and the ample massage facilities. I mean, don't get me wrong, I heart my porn, but this is cool.
      Ballard: This is a bad place.
      Kepler: Bad people, maybe. Good place.

    • Ballard: What are you doing?
      Kepler: The best I can, Mr. I-stun-all-my-problems.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Music: Heartbroken, In Disrepair (Dan Auerbach)

    • International Airdates:
      UK: July 28, 2009 on Sci Fi/Sci Fi HD
      Australia: August 18, 2009 on FOX8
      Latin America: October 13, 2009 on FX
      Czech Republic: February 12, 2010 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: January 11, 2012 on JOJ Plus