Season 1 Episode 9

Spy in the House of Love

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Apr 10, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
911 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When a traitor is discovered inside the Dollhouse, Echo and Sierra are programmed to root out the spy. Meanwhile, Paul receives surprising news from Mellie.

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  • Second best ep of season 1


    The good;

    Exciting ep, the first I ever went back and rewatched immediately after again, Very clever mislead in the first scene, we think it's Dewitt getting wiped. The humanisation of Dewitt continues and it's beautifully written and played by all concerned. Good scene too between Ballard and Mellie, your heart bleeds for him.

    The bad;

    Echo the spycatcher wonders why Dr Saunders doesn't leave the Dollhouse? Possibly HER DISFIGURED FACE?! No commentary which is a real shame. The Sierra stuff is ok but we've seen it all before.

    Best line;

    Dominic "Sooner or later everyone get's there's" (Here's hoping!)

    also like

    Echo "I've got a good feeling about you and I've got the whip"


    Dewitt (on the idea of Victor the imprinted Doll becoming a client of the Dollhouse and hiring another Doll for his pleasure) "I think the universe might just collapse!"

    Packing heat; Dewitt pretty handy with her foil, Dominic with his Glock


    Boyd; 6

    Dominic; 7

    Sierra; 3

    Victor; 2

    Echo kissage;

    By request this new topic will be included.

    Kinky dinky;

    Ramirez wishes to be kidnapped by a pirate (I have a friend with an almost identical fantasy, differs only in that she get's tied to the mast Ulysees style and the whole of Johnny Depp's pirate crew are involved). Suprisingly Dr Saunders says that the actives aren't submissives, I'd have thought that would have been a hugely popular choice for clients (what about Sierra who begs her client to hurt her?).

    Ok I'll say it now. Dominatrix Echo is the SEXIEST THING EVER! My god she's gorgeous! Sexier than Mathilda May in Lifeforce, sexier than Athen Massey in Undercover Heat, sexier than Alyssa Milano in The Outer Limits, Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, than Charisma Carpenter and Mercedes McNab in Playboy, than Ripley at the end of Alien or even ED's own bikini fashion parade in The New Guy. Needless to say it was a sequence that featured endlessly all over the internet, TV and magazines and I earnestly believe was the sole reason that Dollhouse got a second season. If only they'd tried something similar to get a third! (Echo the naughty schoolgirl/stewardess/hot cop etc, we've already had her as a nurse in Tru Calling)

    And here it lives forever in cyberspace (plus some interesting comments by ED on how she approached the role and how much she enjoyed playing it) Can't publish the urls but just search Youtube

    Now if you'll excuse me I just have to lie down for a moment!

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost; Victor/Adele. Not sure if Dominatrx Echo actually had sex with her client or not, some Dominatrixes do, some don't.

    Echo; 3 definite, 1 possible

    November; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Victor; 1

    Adele; 1

    How'd they get away with that?

    Dominic getting wiped is hard to watch even after all the things he's done.

    This weeks fantasy;

    Echo is a dominatrix and a spycatcher. Victor is Roger the romantic, Sierra a spy.

    Total number personalitites; 2 for Echo, 1 each for Victor and Sierra

    Echo; 16

    Sierra; 7

    Victor; 4

    November; 2

    Addy is a bit British;

    Her ideal lover is called Roger, second name Moore perhaps? She also uses the term 'Crackerjack' which will mean a lot to a Briton of a certain age but little to the rest of the world (does she have the requisite pencil?).

    Dolls injured;

    Echo roughed up by Dominic, Victor cut by Dewitt. Poor Ramirez hurt for a second time by Echo, this time with the whip (which is probably far preferrable to the fire extinguisher for her!) .

    Capt subtext;

    In the van dominatrix Echo talks of S&M being about trust and surrendering yourself completely to another. This actually is a good analogy of the handler active relationship and what Topher tells Boyd when he first meet Echo. Dr Saunders comments on the many same sex relationships the actives are called out to do. Victor comments that he wants to keep his collection of high powered businesswoman shoes. Ramirez says she'd prefer S&M Barbie Echo to suave ladykiller Victor.

    Happy hookers

    Boyd considers the Dollhouse 'pimps and killers', himself included.


    So who is we? Who is sending the messages to Ballard? Dominic and the NSA? That makes no sense and seems unlikely, is there more than one person inside trying to bring it down?

    Dominic is intent on torturing Ivy for info. Almost reassuring that the goverment want to control the Dollhouse, the NSA may have little oversight but at least it has some. The idea of the attic is just so scary


    Dominatrix Echo the most popular whipcracker since Calamity Jane.

    Reminds me off;

    Mixed segments Quentin Tarantino style. Ballard is reminiscent of season 5 Wes in his obsession whilst sleeper assassin Mellie is like season 7 Spike. Sierra at the NSA is very Mission Impossible but even more Alias.

    Breaking the programming;

    Echo not only volunteers to help Topher but comprehends the purpose of the chair. Dewitt and Toper know but allow her to continue.

    Questions and observations;

    Echo waves to Mellie who seems to know her, as Echo or as Caroline from Ballards research? Victor refers Dewitt as 'Katherine', is that her real name? (gives credence to the 'She's Caroline's mother' theory).

    The Miss-Lonely-Heart storyline has actually been mentioned a few times in previous eps. Note Topher suspects it's Boyd who has betrayed the Dollhouse but still goes to give him a chance to run before informing Dominic, he really does consider him a friend (or has his own doubts and wants to bring the Dollhouse down)

    Fan bloody-tastic, second best ep of season 1

    Marks out of 10; 9/10

  • Very strong episode with the POV of different people in the hunt for the spy.

    Very cool episode - different POVs, a skeleton in DeWitt's closet, the shocking identity of the spy and a surprise promotion.

    An unexpected side-effect of Caroline shooting Tofer's computers is that during repairs, he finds the chip which is letting someone slip messages to Ballard. Echo's paying a little too much attention to conversations which should mean nothing to her. Then not only is she aware of the tensions running through the house, she shows marked interest in it. Echo's definitely not just a 'doll' right now, when Tofer was sarcastic to her, she reacted. She figured out that Tofer makes people 'different' and volunteered, sitting in the chair! If I was Tofer, I'd be extremely alarmed!

    Ballard's taken a considerable turn for the worse since the last time we saw him, he's degenerated into complete obsession, living and breathing the Dollhouse. I loved how November gave him the message, turning his world upside down – the girl he's sort-of dating is nothing but a spy and that if he becomes a threat, she will be the one to kill him. Imagine how freaked out he must have been when she switched off again and turned back into Mellie. That would have turned my blood to ice! What's interesting is that Mellie was imprinted with the message *after* Tofer found the chip, it's obviously not the only way to do it.

    We just switched from Dollhouse… to Alias. Disguises, retina imprint contact lenses… It's impressive what a wig does, Sierra is barely recognizable.

    Speaking of unrecognizable – DeWitt isn't at some top secret meeting, she's got a hot weekend planned with Victor!! Not that I blame her… but it's just very bad timing. I'm guessing it's seriously breaking the rules for the boss to 'borrow' one of the dolls for their personal entertainment. She's obviously conflicted, there are times when Victor talks about 'their' future and she becomes despondent because she knows their entire 'relationship' is a lie. It's quite sad but I pity her too.

    Tofer's use of Echo to find the spy backfires when he becomes prime suspect. The flaw is obvious quickly – Boyd – he's her handler and she's programmed to trust him, no matter what so it would be hard for her to even suspect him. Then again, if he was the spy, he would have had no idea that Echo would be used to find the spy and that he would be able to exploit that.

    Though it is very cool that the spy is Dominic, of all people, I am upset too – I loved the guy! Not to mention the great actor who played him. Turns out the reason he tried to kill Echo is because he believes she will bring the Dollhouse down. The NSA's interest in maintaining the Dollhouse is to prevent the technology spilling into the black market where it would for sale to the highest bidder. This also means that Dominic is the one who's been throwing Ballard off the scent with the misleading messages. Explains why it appeared to be help while telling him absolutely nothing he could use.

    After Dominic's betrayal, DeWitt tells Tofer to shelve Victor's 'Roger' persona. Perhaps blaming her infatuation with Victor for her failure to see Dominic's lies. Then there's the complete non-future for this 'relationship'. She promotes Boyd to head of security, which means Echo gets a new handler. Something tells me she's not going to accept him. So sweet when she says the words but stares at Boyd.

    Really enjoyed this episode, lots of twists, a mole hunt, surprising villain… the list is long. Very good.moreless
  • Let's hear that accent again

    I felt I had to write a review after seeing what was one of the best episodes so far. I'm working my way through Dollhouse from the start, I watched the pilot a long time ago and never bothered to watch the rest, however I gave it another go and I am now enjoying the series after a false start.

    This episode exposes the spy and it turns out to be the head of security that has shown how much he dislikes Echo in previous episodes. It also gives an insight into the process of being sent to the attic for the first time which I found interesting, that plot device had been spoken about for too long without being revealed. We also found out that Victor's lonely heart is in fact Ms de Witt which showed a more human side to her than her previous severe emotionless facade. The other episode where she is high was another favourite of mine because Olivia Williams is a very good actress with a particular sexiness all of her own. One of the best points of this episode for me was a seemingly small insignificant thing, Victor/Roger's accent. This was truly the best attempt by an American actor to actually portray an English accent as it is, compared to the Hollywood version that is often trotted out and is quite simply an insult. Enver Gjokaj should be congratulated for bothering to show us respect by completely nailing it. It was up there with Dominic West who for 2 seasons of The Wire made me think he was American before I read that he was actually English. This sort of attention to detail is why Whedon is so highly regarded and this episode is a classic example of his craft.moreless
  • Dollhouse continues its uphill climb with this highly engaging episode.

    Dollhouse continues its uphill climb with this highly engaging episode that quickens the pace of the ongoing narrative by presenting the viewer with a number of much-anticipated confrontations. Once again, the imprint process is used in a refreshingly inventive fashion, this time to provide the facility with an internal investigation into the possibility of a mole within their midst. Dushku does a great job as detective Echo, clearly relishing the opportunity to have the upper hand in her scenes with the characters that she normally has to act like a human vegetable around. Dichen Lachman is also good as the wigged, espionage-adept Sierra, and the sequences in which she infiltrates the CIA building are deftly executed. While the viewer is obviously aware of Mr. Dominic's position as the traitor, the dramatic irony actually works to the story's advantage as it is both rewarding to see how he handles the situation, scheming and squirming his way around the problem, and engaging to watch the missteps within the investigation, particularly the accusation of Topher's ever-unfortunate assistant. Once the cat is out of the bag, we are treated to a number of delectable sequences, including a superbly choreographed fight between Echo and Dominic, and a marvellously understated two-hander involving him and DuWitt, which cleverly avoids providing any distinctly concrete answers for his behaviour, leaving the door wide open for further exploration of this angle. In the 'real world', per se, Ballard finally gets the chance to see Mellie, sorry November's, true colours when another message from inside the Dollhouse plays out through the mouth of his girlfriend. Tamoah Penikett is excellent here, conveying the character's surprise and horror without a great deal of dialogue. Only DuWitt's sub-plot with Victor really falls anywhere near under par, as it seems a trifle intrusive when one considers the exhilarating thrust of the main narrative, although it certainly adds much welcome depth to her occasionally one-note character. And Enver Gjokaj's a bit of a hottie, so any opportunity for him to remove his clothes is fine by me…moreless
  • The Mole Written by Andrew Chambliss Directed by David Solomon

    Dominic: "The Dollhouse isn't a gift."

    Adelle: "I think the countless people we've helped would disagree."

    With the title being so obvious, it wouldn't happen to centre on someone finally realising that there was a mole in the Dollhouse, now would it? Heaven forbid, would on Earth would want to do such a thing?

    Bigger question should be – who wouldn't? The Dolls who compositing and want to regain the autonomy as well as the various staff members who have enough sense not to believe that an organisation like the Dollhouse is for the greatest good. Maybe even Adelle and Topher themselves, despite seeming to be the only two people who actually believe in the Dollhouse's work. Or Dominic perhaps.

    Yes, definitely Dominic. He's always had that sinister veneer as well as his unabashed dislike for Echo, why didn't we see it beforehand? It's amazing that when Adelle left him in charge that Topher would then discover that there was a spy in the house of love (are you kidding me?) and report it.

    What I loved was that little moment where Topher thought Boyd might have been the mole and decided to give him a head start. What motivated Topher to do that? Does he actually like/respect Boyd? If he had thought it was someone else, would he have been as kind to give them a heads up?

    The interesting part was Dominic's reaction when Topher had to tell him about the mole. We've seen him threaten and yell at Topher enough times but here in retrospect, it was to cover his own ass. Also getting Sierra imprinted to go to the NSA to discover who their spy was (a false mission) was reasonably clever.

    However the best part of this episode was Echo wanting to help. Yeah, we've seen Echo showing bits of awareness (whether it's talking about the mountains or painting houses) and asking Topher to make her better should definitely be a case of concern.

    Giving her the imprint of a spy catcher is one of the best ones they've done. I even think it's one of Eliza Dushku's best performances on the show and it's not like she's been imprinted with the most complex of roles to play.

    Spy catcher testing out everyone's reactions to the Dollhouse merited some moments of fun. I loved that Topher had to endure some questioning, Claire raised some interesting question, Boyd seemed disgusted with the work at the Dollhouse and Ivy was understandably annoyed that Topher wouldn't let her do anything interesting.

    All of this made each and everyone of them a perfect candidate. Ivy's such a tertiary character that making her the spy would've been easy and lazy in one fell swoop. Luckily even when Dominic seemingly had evidence that proved her guilt, I liked how spy catcher Echo turned the tables on him.

    We haven't had that many fight scenes on this series but I thoroughly enjoyed watching Echo and Dominic got at it with each other. Echo needed to get some much needed vengeance after he tried to kill her and beating the crap out of him was a good way of doing it. As well as exposing him as the mole of course.

    Now the confusing thing about Dominic's reveal of the mole is that it doesn't explain who's helping Paul. Dominic admitted that the NSA was trying to stop the Dollhouse from destroying itself, which means that Dominic's motives aren't that heroic. It also meant that Adelle could carry off with him being sent to the Attic.

    The Attic turned out to be something a lot scarier than I thought it would. The idea of being that powerless and stuck in a permanent mind suck seems to be a fate worse than death. I don't know why but in spite of some of the things that he's done, a little part of me actually felt a bit sorry for Dominic. Is that weird?

    I suppose Dominic did manage to get a parting shot by grazing Adelle with a bullet. I thought Adelle was a hard **** in the previous episode but she gets shot and she barely acknowledges. Maybe she's a Cylon or a Terminator in disguise because even someone as tough as Adelle would feel being shot more than she showed.

    It definitely wasn't me but Adelle did seem betrayed by Dominic's reveal. I think deep down under her tough exterior that she might have had some feelings for him. Claire tried to get her to talk about them but Adelle brushed them under the carpet. She even took the bullet as some kind of punishment she needed.

    It was also pretty obvious that with the word 'love' in this week's episode title that we'd see at least one character choosing an unorthodox way of coping with loneliness. Adelle having Victor programmed as suave British guy Roger for some weekend fencing and shagging wasn't totally unexpected.

    On one hand, what Adelle is doing with Victor could easily be compared to Hearn did with Sierra but at the same time, it was also nice to get an insight into Adelle's psyche. I like that there's a tiny part of her that has doubts about what she does for a living. Undoubtedly that's probably something that will get future exploration as the series goes on, right?

    As for November, put her back into her Mellie persona and Paul finds himself being contacted for the second time by the mystery person trying to take down the Dollhouse. Miracle Laurie is effortless in switching from sweet Mellie into November trying to warn Paul about uncovering the Dollhouse's purpose.

    Although Paul still generally bugs me at times, I did feel bad for him here. He went from his usual obsessive mantra about the Dollhouse to trying to protect Mellie to realising that the woman he cares about (because I'm not convinced he loves her, even if she is probably better for him than Caroline/Echo) is part of the same organisation that disgusts him so much. Paul, you've just become their client.

    Also in "A Spy In The House Of Love"

    At different points in the episode, the screen went to spell out when Echo, Victor, Sierra and November were being imprinted.

    Echo (to Boyd): "Don't be vanilla. You can trust me. I've already shown I trust you. I got in the van."

    Echo in her dominatrix outfit and Victor as love believer Roger really should've had some dialogue together. I'm just saying.

    Boyd: "You think I'm a spy?"

    Topher: "Not in a bad way."

    Echo (to Topher): "You make people different. You can make me help."

    Adelle is aware of Echo's compositing/remembering stuff and seems to be encouraging it. Maybe she's the mole or has an agenda of her own.

    Paul: "You didn't come back to listen to this."

    Mellie/November: "I came back to see you." Mellie/November (to Paul): "The Dollhouse deals in fantasy but it's not their purpose. Investigate their purpose."

    Echo had no names when she was both the dominatrix and the spy catcher. Sierra played a woman who stole Miss Sato's identity in scenes that were nicely reminiscent of Alias.

    Victor/Roger (to Topher, re Ivy): "Be nice. I think she likes you."

    Victor/Roger: "You are perfection. If I can make a woman, I'd make you."

    Adelle: "Really?"

    Who was the original Roger – someone that Adelle was in love with or a dead lover? Interesting how she told 'Roger' about the Dollhouse in some detail.

    Topher (to Echo): "I don't want to brag – I want to brag. I'm a genius."

    Echo: "I don't know why but I trust you."

    Boyd: "I must have one of those faces."

    Echo got a new handler called Travis at the end of the episode when Adelle gave Boyd Dominic's old job.

    Dominic (to Echo): "Is her body language telling you she's innocent?"

    Ivy: "No, her language language is telling her."

    Ivy: "Shouldn't we help?"

    Topher (re Echo): "Yeah, I helped when I imprinted her with kung fu skills, but be my guest."

    The fact that Claire doesn't leave the Dollhouse can't be good. It could mean that she's either a Doll or a prisoner but it's worrying none the less.

    Adelle: "Did you think I'd show you mercy or rage? I think you know me better than that."

    Dominic: "You're a piece of work."

    Claire: "It's okay to feel something."

    Adelle: "That would imply that I've lost something."

    Claire: "Didn't you?"

    Adelle: "Nothing I can't live without."

    Chronology: How many months has Mellie been keeping tabs on Paul?

    "A Spy In The House Of Love" shows that the show is getting better, that it can experiment as well as offer some neat characterisation and performances, especially from Reed Diamond and Olivia Williams.moreless
Tim Chiou

Tim Chiou


Guest Star

Valerie Cruz

Valerie Cruz


Guest Star

Morgan Beck

Morgan Beck

Cell Phone Guy

Guest Star

Reed Diamond

Reed Diamond

Laurence Dominic

Recurring Role

Amy Acker

Amy Acker

Dr. Claire Saunders

Recurring Role

Miracle Laurie

Miracle Laurie


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • When Sierra first arrives at the NSA building, a guard scans her stolen card revealing the name "A. Saito". Later, Sierra enters the office of the woman she is impersonating,and the door is clearly labeled "Ms. Sato". Shortly thereafter a guard addresses her and it sounds as if he says "Ms. Sato".

    • Victor's tie was green in the Dollhouse garage but, later in the van until he was fencing with DeWitt it was purple.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Echo: I need copies of personnel records, security logs for the past three months, and access to your mainframe.
      Topher: Anything else?
      Echo: Yeah, some clothes. I can't catch a spy in my pajamas.

    • Dominic: Aside from Topher being Topher, everything's under control.

    • Dominic: Did Rossum tell you why they're calling you in?
      Adelle: Considering our recent track record, I'm sure they want to pat me on the head and tell me I've been running a crackerjack operation. Maybe there'll be cake.

    • Topher: I make a cheerleader, they make a cheerleader that shoots people. Or an assassin that cheers.

    • Boyd: And you think it's me? You think I'm the spy?
      Topher: Not in a bad way.
      Boyd: If they find out that you talked to me before you called DeWitt, they'll fry you.
      Topher: Yeah, I didn't really think that through.
      Boyd: Thank you.
      Topher: Hey, I'm boned anyway.

    • Echo: I can help you.
      Topher: Why would you want to?
      Echo: Why wouldn't I?
      Topher: Eh... did I just lose an argument to a Doll?

    • Adelle: Everyone has their first date. And the object is to hide your flaws. And then you're in a relationship, and it's all about hiding your disappointment. And then once you're married it's about hiding your sins.

    • Boyd: We're pimps and killers, but in a philanthropic way.

    • Ivy: Shouldn't we help?
      Topher: Yeah. I helped when I imprinted her with kung fu skills. Be my guest.

    • Dr. Saunders: It's okay to feel something.
      Adelle: That would imply I lost something.

  • NOTES (3)

    • International Airdates:
      UK: July 14, 2009 on Sci Fi/Sci Fi HD
      Australia: August 4, 2009 on FOX8
      Latin America: September 29, 2009 on FX
      Norway: November 23, 2009 on TV2
      Czech Republic: January 29, 2010 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: January 4, 2012 on JOJ Plus

    • The name of the NSA agent in line ahead of Sierra is "Solomon," a nod to co-executive producer and episode director David Solomon.

    • In this episode, Ivy (Liza Lapira), is wearing a jewel-encrusted flamingo pin on her lab-coat. This is is the same pin wore by Badger (Mark Sheppard) in Firefly, another Joss Whedon creation.


    • Title:
      Referencing the title of a 1954 novel by Anaïs Nin. The novel follows the exploits of a married woman who has repeated affairs without any of the men being aware of the others. In keeping up this game she considers herself a spy of sorts, thus the title.