I'm not sure how long Dollhouse will last. Some folks are saying it won't make it past the 4th episode, while others think the show has a shot at the long haul. What I do know, regardless of length of time of the series, is that Dollhouse has created one of the biggest television badasses in some time: Boyd Langton. In "The Target," we get a flashback storyline of how Langton comes to work at the Dollhouse. The story opens with mass chaos at the Dollhouse. Dead bodies are everywhere, and armed security guards, led by Morris, search for the invaders. The guards enter a room with more dead Actives, and we see Echo. She turns and says, "They won't wake up." She's acting like a child. There is nothing there. She has seen 'Alpha', the killer, rip through the building, but it doesn't phase her. Soon after, we see Langton being interviewed at the Dollhouse. Because of the the Alpha breach, DeWitt tells Langton they're bringing in better Handlers than previously. Langton wants to see Echo's previous Handler, Samuelsson, and we quickly see that Langton knows his stuff. This guy has been through some serious crap. Later, Langton meets Topher and questions Topher about Alpha. Apparently, Alpha took on multiple personalities that should have been erased from the files. Langton motions to a group of Actives doing yoga. He asks if the dead Actives put up a fight against Alpha, and Topher tells him no. Actives without blueprints can't do much of anything. Langton doesn't like this. We get the feeling that he doesn't like much about the Dollhouse, but yet he doesn't leave. Why? It's treatment time for Echo, and Langton has to be there. It's a bonding experience. He has to read a script to Echo so she'll always trust him. Langton doesn't like it, and he wants to leave. Again, he doesn't agree with any of this. Yet he goes through with it. A while later, we see Echo and Langton back at the Dollhouse after a job. She's going on and on about the guy she just met. She wants Langton to take her to the guy after her treatment, because she's in love with him. Langton tells her he'll do it, but you can see the regret in his face. This is the same thing that happened last week. Throughout the episode, we see FBI Agent Ballard. He's repeatedly chastised by his fellow agents. No one but Ballard believes the Dollhouse exists, but he doesn't let that bother him. He's in search for Echo, and he's determined to find her. The question is, Why Echo? Why, out of the dozens (or more) of Actives, does he care about Echo? Why is he limiting his search for the Dollhouse to one Active? Wouldn't he be better served to pursue leads for as many Actives as possible? Richard O'Connell has come to the Dollhouse for a girl. But not just any girl. He wants the perfect woman. He has all the money in the world, but every woman has turned out to be a disappointment. He meets with Adelle DeWitt, and DeWitt says that Echo is perfect for him. But she also says that his 'engagement' (date) has been flagged as risky, and the company needs a fee for the risk.
O'Connell takes Echo white water rafting, and the two seem to hit it off well. You can see by Echo's behavior that they've programmed her to really fall for this guy. She's completely into him. While the two are off on their 'date', Langton and another employee are doing surveillance from a van in the woods. As Handler, Langton is to keep an eye on Echo at all times while on a job. Langton's satellite goes out, and he's unable to see Echo. He asks Topher to get the picture back up. By this time, O'Connell is teaching Echo how to use a bow and arrow. Echo sees a deer and shoots it. The next thing we see, the two have just had sex. At this point, we know that the Dollhouse has really whored out their Actives. There is nothing they won't program into one of their Actives, as long as the money is right. Besides, what does it matter to Echo? Once the assignment is over, they'll erase her memory. She'll never know she hopped on a guy on the first date.
Right after climax, we finally get it. All along, we're asking--why would a guy with this much money need to pay so much for a single date? He's had his share of women, and if he had to pay, it would be much cheaper (presumably) than the check he has cut for Echo. O'Connell stands up and tells Echo to get running. That he will give her a five minute head start, and then he's going to hunt her. Then the chase is on. Echo reacts how her blueprint tells her to--flee. Meanwhile, at the van, a Park Ranger pulls up. Langton and the other employee tell the Ranger that they are from a news crew, and that they are lost. The Ranger asks for ID. Langton gives the Ranger ID, and the Ranger shoots the other employee and points the gun at Langton's head. Topher radios to Langton and tells him that something is wrong with Echo. Problem is, Langton is in the van with a gun to his head. But, as I alluded to in the opening, Langton is a badass. He overtakes the Ranger and puts a sleeper hold on the guy.
Echo makes it to the Ranger station and drinks some water from a canteen. She appears to be gaining some survival instincts, but how is that possible? When she hears a radio, she goes toward the sound. She opens a closet door and finds the real Ranger, dead. Echo calls for help on the radio, and O'Connell tells her that he put some funky sedatives in the canteen. The sedatives begin to kick in, and Echo sees herself walking through the woods. She trips and falls into the river. In the van, Langton has the fake Ranger tied to a chair. Langton asks the man how many others are involved in the plot, and the man says he doesn't know. Langton shoots him in the right leg. Langton asks again. The man says he doesn't know, and Langton shoots him in the other leg. (Have I mentioned that Langton is a badass?). Finally, the man says that he was hired to stall Langton and the rescue team. The man says that it's only business--nothing personal. Langton hits him across the face with his gun and says, "I don't". So now we see that Langton keeps things separate-yet he's still troubled by certain things. Echo keeps running, but someone is catching up with her. It's Langton. Echo knows him, but can't remember where. At that moment, Langton is hit by an arrow. At this point, Echo switches gears. It's as if something has changed in her. She says some words that O'Connell would say. Echo is adapting. She wants to take the hunt to O'Connell. Langton gives her a gun, and Echo catches up with O'Connell. The two standoff, pointing weapons at each other. After some talking, they agree to drop their weapons on the count of three. Only on three, they both fire. O'Connell misses, but Echo grazes him with a bullet. She runs and jumps on him and starts pummelling his face with her fists. But he gets the upper hand and begins to strangle her. Echo is fading, but then she sees three of herself standing next to her. She reaches over, grabs an arrow, and jams it into O'Connell's neck. He dies.
Echo goes back to comfort Langton, and the next thing we see, she's getting her treatment. Memories are gone. Yet after she's done, we see some compassion from Langton. He's getting close to her. DeWitt and Morris are talking, and Morris tells her that O'Connell's background check was completely fabricated. And that the fake Ranger is dead. Langton didn't kill the man, but who did? The man has cuts all over his body, just like the ones that Alpha used to rampage the Actives at the Dollhouse. The episode ends with Morris taunting Echo, telling her that a lot of people end up dead around her. He berates her and walks away. She looks at him and gives a gesture that O'Connell gave to her. We realize that Echo is retaining some of her memory. How much, we don't know.