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"Stop-Loss" is the ninth episode of the second season of Dollhouse and the twenty-second episode overall. It was written by Andrew Chambliss and directed by Felix Alcalá. The episode aired on December 18, 2009.


Victor's contract with the Dollhouse expires.  As he attempts to integrate into the outside world, his military past threatens his future with Sierra. Meanwhile, back at the Dollhouse, Echo and Boyd fight DeWitt's increasingly paranoid and tyrannical reign as she herself descends into a drunken stupor to escape her moral dilemmas; Topher and Ivy struggle to find a way to heal Paul Ballard after Alpha's attack.


Adelle DeWitt, growing increasingly unstable as she sinks deeper into the ethical muck her job involves, once again assumes her alter ego of "Miss Lonelyhearts " and engages Victor as "Roger," her imprinted British lover—only to be humiliated and utterly dismayed as Roger promptly dumps her, claiming to be in love with another woman. Assuming that it is all an elaborate joke, DeWitt inadvertently reveals her secret to Topher, who mocks her, only to have Victor wake up from the imprinting chair and immediately ask for Sierra's whereabouts, confirming DeWitt's suspicions.

Victor's five-year contract with the Dollhouse expires the next day, however, and he is called from eating breakfast with Sierra to get his final treatment - the return of his original personality. Echo, who had been warned by Boyd Langton that Victor would be leaving, tries to make Victor and Sierra understand that Victor would not be coming back. Victor insists that they will have dinner together and leaves, leaving Sierra in some distress as she says that Victor "is not ready to be alone yet." Echo is worried for Victor, but also for herself as she had been planning to use Victor's help in her effort to free the rest of the Actives.

Topher returns Victor to his true personality, revealing him to be an ex-Army sergeant named Anthony Ceccoli, who suffered from a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder after a brutal tour of Afghanistan. Anthony is dismayed to learn that the war is still going on. Boyd is put in charge of Anthony's release as DeWitt spends her day on a whiskey binge. After Anthony is released, he wanders Los Angeles, apparently unsure of himself, only to be photographed extensively by an unknown source.

Echo, concerned for Paul Ballard's well-being (after he had been tortured and left apparently brain-dead by Alpha in the previous episode, "A Love Supreme") tries to use Boyd's access card to get into Ballard's room (given to her at the end of "Belonging"), only to have Boyd stop her, telling her to save it for a more important time. Sierra waits anxiously for Victor in the main room of the Dollhouse. Meanwhile, Anthony tries without success to get himself acclimated to the civilian world, only to end up watching TV news of the continuing wars in the Middle East before leaving his new apartment at the Hyperion.

At a nightclub, a confused Anthony thinks he sees Sierra, only to make a fool of himself. Unable to readapt to the real world, he returns to his hotel but finds that he cannot sleep, and moves his pillow to the large bathtub, mirroring his previous actions of sleeping in one of the Dollhouse's sleeping pods, unknowingly echoing Sierra's actions, who also cannot sleep without him. Echo sneaks out of her sleeping pod after everyone else is asleep, and goes to find Paul—only to find that DeWitt had him moved away from her. Enraged, Echo uses her access card to get to DeWitt's office.

Echo surprises DeWitt, who is fairly drunk at this point, and asks her about Paul. DeWitt and Echo finally truthfully confront each other, with DeWitt accusing Echo of keeping undue secrets from her and turning Boyd, Ballard and Topher against her and trying to form conspiracies, and that Echo leaves nothing but destruction in her wake. Echo in turn confronts DeWitt with her own complicity with the Rossum Corporation, informing her that there are now only two sides left to take: with Echo and the rest of those fighting for their freedom, or with Rossum, and that DeWitt could no longer play both sides.

Anthony is attacked in his apartment, and he puts up a fight before his three masked assailants put a bag over his head and hustle him out of the apartment. They are revealed to be members of his military unit, who had all been reassigned to a top-secret army that was not even technically part of the American government. Anthony, who is confused, hurt, and looking for old reassurances, allows them to have him enter their unit. His GPS tracker is knocked out, which has Topher worried enough to call Boyd the next day. Since DeWitt is passed out drunk at her desk, Boyd uses the opportunity to take Echo out with him to inspect Anthony's apartment.

With Topher's help, they learn that the Rossum Corporation kidnapped Anthony, and that Anthony was not the only ex-doll to be taken by Rossum. Together, the three of them uncover yet another part of the many-headed and deadly hydra that is the Rossum conspiracy: along with the mass-wiping technology they had Topher design for them, and the political figure they have groomed to be the next president (Daniel Perrin), the Rossum Corporation is working on a revolutionary new technique of "groupthink"—literally. They are building a private army without individuals, a group of highly trained soldiers who share one another's thoughts and can see with each other's eyes, able to attack an enemy on all sides at once with no possibility of insurrection as there are no individuals in the group.

Topher posits that they have a brief window to save Anthony before he is no longer Anthony, and Echo uses this as an opportunity to give Sierra her freedom by re-imprinting her as Priya Tsetsang, her original personality. Priya is furious with Topher, as Topher broke the promise he made to her in "Belonging" by allowing her to keep the memory of the night she awoke as Priya and fought and killed Nolan Kinnard, the rapist who sold her to the Dollhouse in the first place. But Topher argues that it was a necessary evil so that Priya would remember Victor and how much she loved him, which is Anthony's last hope.

Ivy is let in on Echo's secret and helps Topher imprint Echo with every last military skill in the Dollhouse archive, drawing her and Topher closer together as Ivy "graduates" from Topher's glorified office assistant to an actual equal. As Echo and Priya go to find Anthony, Topher and Ivy brainstorm different ideas to cure Paul Ballard, finally coming to the conclusion that they will have to give him Active brain architecture in order to achieve any form of recovery.

DeWitt finally wakes up to a phone call from Harding, drawing her attention to what Echo and Sierra have been doing. She stumbles to Boyd's office, still wearing the same clothes she had on the day before and clutching her glass of whiskey. Boyd plainly calls her a drunk and forces her to face the dangers of losing the house. She leaves her glass behind and heads to the communal showers to wash away her sins, regaining control of herself and eventually the entire dollhouse.

Echo and Priya break into Rossum's military compound, where Echo uses her skills as the blind "Esther Carpenter" imprint from "True Believer" to take out their captors, taking Priya to find Anthony, who remembers himself enough to not kill her. Echo goes to find a way out, leaving Anthony and Priya together to help Anthony find his memories. Echo implants herself with the same chip that was used on the soldiers, gaining access to their brains and using the superior force of her more than 40 minds in one brain to overwhelm them and force them to stand down, giving them the order to go home so that their families could help them regain their memories the way Priya helped Anthony.

Driving back to Los Angeles, Echo stops the car and forces Priya and Anthony to exit the car, so that they can start their lives together and not be caught back up in the Dollhouse. They try to protest, but she won't let them. Recognizing this, Anthony starts to leave, and they all promise to find each other. But a team of Dollhouse security officers, uses Topher's disruptor device from "The Public Eye/The Left Hand" to neutralize all three, hauling them back to the Dollhouse. Boyd is forcefully restrained as DeWitt oversees Echo being sent to the Attic, and then orders Topher and Ivy to send Victor and Sierra there as well as soon as Echo is done.


Main cast[]

Recurring roles[]

Guest starring[]

  • Michael Kin as Hagan

Background information[]


The episode was shot between October 21 and October 30, 2009. It aired at 8 p.m. on Friday, December 18, 2009, marking the last "Dollhouse" two-hour event episodes and one of the final two episodes of 2009.


  • When Victor is being released, Langton mentions that he has a reserved suite at "the Hyperion", as in the Hyperion Hotel, the base of operations for Angel Investigations in another of Joss Whedon's shows, Angel, which is also set in Los Angeles.
  • In another allusion to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe that both Buffy and Angel are set in, the idea of Rossum soldiers being controlled through medical and technological means hearkens back to the fourth season plotline of the Initiative in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer;" Anthony fighting his programming to help Priya mirrors Riley's struggles in the season four finale "Primeval."
  • Anthony's storyline mirrors the use of the US Armed Forces stop-loss policy, in that after the service contract has officially ended, the serviceman in question is more or less forced to involuntarily continue service. In Anthony's case, he went from being an active for Rossum to being one of their soldiers. Indeed, the episodes name itself shares the name of the policy, and its function.


"Another solid episode but one which suffers from the rush the show is in to tell the whole Dollhouse story before cancellation comes calling."
The TV Critic review

Notes & References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Seidman, Robert (December 19, 2009). TV Ratings: Frosty most-watched on a slow Friday; Dollhouse Hits New Lows. TV by the Numbers.