"Do you know how to use this?" -Boyd"The Target" is easily the best of the three "Dollhouse" episodes I've seen.
"Four brothers. None of them Democrats." -Echo
The anthological Adventure of the Week was a very well-executed riff on Richard Connell's famous short story "The Most Dangerous Game," given a slight slasher movie update by making the hunter's human prey be an attractive, terrified, scream-prone young woman who slowly learns to fight back. Matt Keeslar, best known around these parts as The Middleman, was suitably bad-ass as our bow-hunting villain(*), and Echo's brassy jock persona was right down the middle of Eliza Dushku's strike zone.
(*) Most of Whedon's leading men -- David Boreanaz, Nathan Fillion, even Tahmoh Penikett -- are cut from the same cloth (tall and strapping but also capable of great self-deprecation) as Keeslar. Though a "Dollhouse" return is obviously out of the question, I wouldn't be surprised to see him join the Joss Whedon Repertory Players.
Just nicely-done all around, and smartly integrated with the flashbacks to how and why Boyd came to be Echo's handler. Because Echo is either a blank slate or a brand-new character each week, there needs to be someone we identify with, and at the moment, that's Boyd. Topher's too creepy, the other Dollhouse personnel too aloof, and Agent Ballard too separated from the main action. Boyd's the one consistent, recognizably human character the show has -- the only Dollhouse employee who seems to have moral qualms about the work they do. Because he cares about Echo, in theory if we care about him our sympathies will then translate to Echo no matter what persona she's adopting. So it was important to quickly get into the backstory of their relationship, and to more properly introduce Alpha, the rogue active who seems to be this show's big bad.
We get some necessary exposition out of the way -- Why is security so tight? Why don't the actives all have default fighting skills? Why does Dr. Saunders have all those scars on her face? -- discover that there's a larger danger to Echo than the people she works for, get our first hints that she's not as blank a slate as Topher believes (she puts her arm to her shoulder even after being wiped), and get a slick self-contained thriller in the process. All in all, a strong enough hour of television that I'm going to save my larger qualms about the series for an episode that actually provokes them.
What did everybody else think?