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The Public Eye is the fifth episode of the second season of Dollhouse and the eighteenth episode overall. It was written by Andrew Chambliss and directed by David Solomon. It aired on December 4, 2009.


Echo is sent to stop Senator Daniel Perrin before he can expose the Dollhouse’s secrets. After being jumbled by Topher's doll-bomb we find out that Perrin is a doll and he and Echo make a break for it. Over the course of the drive Perrin has some doll-flashes that lead him to believing that he is, in fact, a doll. Echo and Perrin are kidnapped and taken to the Washington, DC, Dollhouse where they meet its genius programmer, Bennett Halverson (Summer Glau), a woman with a mysterious past connection to Echo.


The episode starts with Senator Daniel Perrin, holding a press conference and revealing the existence of the Dollhouse. He also introduces Madeline (formerly November) to the media as a former Dollhouse resident and his star witness for the Senate Inquiry.

Mr. Harding questions Adelle DeWitt about her decision to release Madeline from her contract two years early. Adelle asks Mr. Harding how they should proceed with the Perrin situation, and he responds by saying to do nothing, as they have a plan in place. Adelle merely takes this as a suggestion, and instructs Ballard to prevent Madeline from testifying.

Ballard's investigation leads him to believe that Perrin's wife Cynthia is a doll. The staff believes that she may be a sleeper doll (like November) and may eliminate Madeline. Madeline herself has been convinced to testify against the Dollhouse after being shown photos of herself killing Hearn (which occurred in the episode "Man on the Street"). Topher reveals a way to disable Perrin's wife with a pulse weapon. However, because this pulse works on anyone with doll "architecture," it will affect Madeline as well.

Echo has been sent to Perrin's hotel room as a hooker. She videotapes her activities with Perrin. Perrin believes Rossum would never hire a real hooker to do such a job, and realizes Echo is actually a doll. Perrin takes Echo home so he can use her as further proof of the Dollhouse's existence; however, Ballard is also on the premises at the time, and attempts to use the pulse weapon to disable Cynthia, but it has no effect on her, as it is Senator Perrin, and not his wife, who is the doll. Cynthia is actually Perrin's handler. Ballard is quickly subdued by security.

Echo takes Perrin away with her. The pulse has unlocked the composite that Alpha created in "Omega." Ballard is being interrogated by Cynthia, but gives up nothing. She orders him killed, but Ballard is able to escape. The pulse has also made Perrin confused and disoriented; he starts to remember that he is a doll. Topher manages to figure out who Perrin's original personality was: Daniel Perrin. Perrin really does come from a political family, but was an aimless ne'er-do-well until the Dollhouse stepped in and gave him ambition.

Echo calls the Dollhouse, and Adelle encourages her to come in with Perrin. However, Cynthia arrives. She uses a "neural lock and key" (her version of the L.A. Dollhouse's "Everything's going to be alright. Do you trust me?"). Perrin responds correctly, but remembers the handler imprint process and pulls away. Cynthia pulls a gun and knocks Echo out. She attempts to talk Perrin down again with the neural lock and key. Echo wakes up with all her imprints alive, and is able to knock out Cynthia, using the memories and experiences of her imprints (and footage from previous episodes). Echo convinces Perrin to come back to the L.A. Dollhouse.

Ballard arrives at the airport to bring Madeline in, trying to convince her that the D.C. Dollhouse is just using her. However, Madeline reminds Ballard that after everything the Dollhouse did to him he still agreed to work for them, and demands to be given the choice to leave. He decides to let her go and ignores Boyd when he tries to contact him, choosing to leave the Dollhouse's employment. Echo and Perrin are caught, and are brought to the D.C. Dollhouse. Adelle believes that Perrin is a pawn. He will be used to bring the L.A. Dollhouse down and then disassociate it from Rossum. Perrin will then be able to pass any laws that Rossum sees fit.

The D.C. programmer, Bennett Halverson, recognizes Echo as Caroline, and begins to torture her.


Main cast[]

Recurring roles[]

Guest starring[]

Also appearing[]

  • Jillian Armenante as Grace

Background Information[]


  • This episode marks the first time that another Dollhouse facility is seen onscreen, expanding upon earlier references that there are at least twenty similar facilities worldwide.
  • Keith Carradine is billed as a Special Guest Star.
  • Summer Glau made her acting debut in Angel playing the Prima Ballerina in the episode 'Waiting in the Wings' before coming to prominence in the role of River Tam in Firefly and its movie spin-off Serenity, all of which were Joss Whedon productions.
  • Eliza Dushku and Alexis Denisof had previously worked together on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
  • When a screener copy of "Belonging" and "The Public Eye" was sent out to TV critics in October 2009, the following letter from Joss Whedon was attached to it:
We're back! With two brand new, never-before-sent-to-reviewers episodes of DOLLHOUSE, the show that's sweeping an unbelievably tiny portion of the nation. This is the year we all just get to have fun: twist the premise, go farther, darker, sillier ... make the whole world our Dollhouse. It's a party, and you're the first to arrive, which means the food's not ready and we're not dressed and who shows up to a party on time anyway? Losers. I mean, best friends ever. ... We really hope you enjoy these. ... Thanks and see you on TiVo! --joss
Reproduced by Sci Fi Wire


""The Public Eye" was a very solid episode, hampered just a little by having to do a lot of table-setting for more thrilling episodes to come. Moving the show outside the L.A. Dollhouse and into the wider conspiracy means establishing new conflicts and new characters, all of whom are several times nastier than the somewhat ambiguous figures we’ve come to know in the regular cast."
Scott Tobias, A.V. Club
"A good start to the story arc which will take us through the rest of the season. The episode structure needed some tweaking though."
The TV Critic review

Promotional Photos[]

Notes & References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Seidman, Robert (December 7, 2009). Friday Broadcast Finals don’t vary much from preliminaries. TV by the Numbers.