Friday, July 3, 2009

Dollhouse Plot Idea: Keeping Up With The Joneses

[Whedonesque asked in Twitter what actor would make a great addition to Dollhouse Season two. Wil Wheaton (@wilw) volunteered himself and many of us simultaneously seconded his self-nomination. Wheaton would be an awesome special guest star, but what role would be ideal for him? Upon contemplation, I came up with this. This is VERY rough. I'm not a professional writer. I wanted to be at one time, but this is a first draft that could probably be better fleshed out by someone who actually knows what makes good television. In this, Wil Wheaton would play the part of a guy named Marcus Jones, and ideally we'd need to get Oswald Patton to come back as Joel Mynor.]

Keeping Up With The Joneses
a plot treatment for Dollhouse Season two

EXT NIGHT: Outside an industrial warehouse complex.
We first see an overview of a white van and four black SUVs. There are several men mulling about, all are in matching brown business suits and are wearing sunglasses. At night. They have ear pieces and scream expensive security, but not presidential. This is corporate. A couple are walking from an SUV to the van or otherwise appearing to have business to attend to, but these are last minute preparations. Most of these guys are just standing around bored. There's way more security detail than should be necessary.

We overhear a couple guys in talking about that very thing as we get a closer view of men in white dust-clean outfits packing boxes into the van. What's inside them is not important, but it's probably computer equiptment of some sort. Again, appears to be far more attention than necessary. The two guys mull over the absurdity of the evening, but so long as Mister Joel Mynor's checks don't bounce, they'll do what they're told.

At the mention of his name, camera cuts to inside the warehouse. A couple more men in white dust-clean outfits are carrying boxes out to the van, and we see Joel Mynor walking towards three men in suits wearing sunglasses, in a corner of this large room. One of these men is on the ground being kicked by the other two, their guns also drawn on the security guy on the ground.

Mynor walks up to them casually with a nonchalance that indicates immediately that he's paying for everything we see, and treats the men in suits and sunglasses with the same respect he would have for a very expensive car or any possession.

He addresses the men kicking the third guy first and asks them to back off, then he addresses the third guy by his first name. The guy on the ground corrects him because he gets the name wrong. Joel apologizes, and we see that though the other two men have backed off, their guns are still drawn on the guy on the ground. The third guy manages to put his sunglasses back on during this next exchange.

Joel Mynor: "What seems to be the trouble?"

Guy w/gun 1: "He's our mole, Mister Mynor."

Joel Mynor: "Oh really? And how do we know?"

Guy w/gun 2: "It's our job to find out sir."

Joel Mynor: "No. It's your job to find out three days ago before I committed myself to shipping tonight!"

Guy w/gun 1: "We have to cancel the shipment sir."

Joel Mynor: "WE don't have to do anything. I am committed to tonight. Now in fact. Deal with this."

Guy w/gun 2: "You want us to interrogate him first? We don't even know who he works for."

Joel Mynor: "I can guess who he works for."

Joel kneels down to the bloodied security guy. He takes off the guy's sunglasses and informs him he is no longer employed. That his family will get his final check in the mail and a respectable severence package later. His mom will get a letter from his office saying he died heroically.

Joel Mynor: "I just got two words for you. Markie Jones."

It's now an OTS shot where we see the bloodied guy's face. He's trying not to show any emotion but it's obvious Joel has guessed correctly.

Joel Mynor: "You'd suck at poker, you know that?"

Guy w/gun 2: "Marcus Jones? He's your boss? Holy crap!"

Guy w/gun 1: "We have to cancel sir."

Joel Mynor stands up and slaps the glasses off the guy with gun 1.

"We cancel nothing! I make those decisions and I say we go! WHY do you think I put so much security detail on this evening? I have twenty of you guys in four SUVs circling an armored van. We will do this now. We will do this right. Nothing will go wrong. Jones is not going to outwit me this time! Let's move out!"

We see Joel and Guy w/gun 1 walk out of the warehouse and into the van. Guy w/gun 1 takes the driver's seat and Joel takes the passenger side. They're the only two in the van. The guys in white are done packing it with a final slam of the back door, and we hear a scream and gunshots as the van and SUVs move out.

Cut to inside the warehouse. The mole guy is now dead. Guy w/gun 2 turns around to see the convoy driving away without him. He curses under his breath and touches his earpiece. "Clean up on aisle five. ..yeah I'll be here. Hurry up."

Cut to show the five vehciles on the road. Everyone's on high alert because news has been passed around by earpiece that Jones knows and to be on their guard. None of them are taking this lightly.

Joel puts one of the earpieces on, looks at the sunglasses and opts not to wear them. We cut to the perspective of the Guy w/gun 1 and whenever we see through a security guys eyes we find out that the shades are actually high tech w/night vision and computer readouts intended to help them. Joel tells the four SUVs to report in. SUVs 1, 3, and 4 respond in a routine business like manner, but SUV 2 does not. Joel looks in the mirror, then sticks his head out the side window. There's only three SUVs following him now.

Guy w/gun 1 yelps. Joel asks what's wrong as the guy takes off his sunglasses. "it musta shorted out. Just went dark. Can't drive like that."SUV4 reports in quickly that their shades just shorted out. Joel asks if the others have the same problem. SUV1 reports immediately, and Guy w/gun 1 points out that they're all on wifi anyone could hack into them, to which Joel tells him to shut up. Then Joel realizes SUV 3 hasn't reported in. He checks the mirror and looks outside again, and there's no b lack SUVs behind him now. Only the two in front of him.

That's when the back doors on the van burst open, and a black garbed figure falls into frame from the roof of the van. Immediately after that, the two cars in front of the white van explode. The Guy w/gun 1 yelps again and struggles to avoid the exploding cars, causing the van to almost run off the road and threaten to drive into a ravine. The guy w/gun 1 manages to keep the van upright and back on the road, but half the goods have fallen out the back of the van, and we get a close up of Joel Mynor looking as if he's seen a ghost. He's looking at the black garbed figure who puts a gun to the back of The Guy w/Gun 1's head.

Echo: "That was an impressive display of driving. Joel ain't paying you enough."

Guy w/gun 1: "Mister Mynor?"

Joel: "Rebecca?"

Guy w/gun 1: "You know this lady?"

Echo: "Who's Rebecca?" she turns her attention back to the driver, "Stop it here so I can shoot you."

Guy w/gun 1: "Lady my driving right now is the only thing keeping you from killing me."

Echo: "actually you're wrong."

She shoots him point blank in the back of the head, but we don't see that. We see an outside shot of the white van running off the road into the ravine. Then we see Echo holding a groggy Joel and dragging him out of the van. She gets him to safety just in time as the van explodes. He tries to catch his breath.

Joel: "What the hell is the meaning of this? I'm one of your clients! I pay the Dollhouse! Why the hell are you attacking me?"

Echo: "I really don't know what you're talking about, but Mister Jones hired me to send you a message. You wanna hear the message? It's pretty funny."

Joel: "I don't care about that. I get the message! He's willing to do whatever it takes to put me outta business so he can be the next Bill Gates. Whatever! I can't believe this! Every year! Once a year for the past three or four years I've ordered you! From the Dollhouse! You come to my house with my wife's brain in your head! Don't you remember? Of course you don't remember. Well if you don't remember Rebecca maybe you remember that cop's fantasy lady. Caroline. You remember her? Some FBI guy was trying to find you. Did he?"

Echo: "Caroline..?"

Joel: "Yeah! Caroline! That took that smirk off your face didn't it? Now you tell me how I can get an audience with your boss.

Echo: "Mister Jones?"

Joel: "No! Your real boss! Adele DeWitt! Cuz if Markie is gonna start using MY Dollhouse to put me outta business, turnabout's fair play!"


Okay that's just the teaser. In the first act I see Oswald Patton as Joel Mynor storming into Adele's office and demanding an audience. She counters that she had no idea Jones was using her services to take out one of her other clients. This is of course a lie. She offers Mynor all the resources at her disposal to get back at Marcus Jones and Mynor is all for the idea. We then see that play out, and during that exchange, we meet Marcus Jones for the first time. Marcus Jones would be played by Wil Wheaton.

Through the rest of the episode, we witness an interplay between Marcus Jones and Joel Mynor. They try to outwit one another, and during the course of this they both get more obsessed with outdoing one another, exhausting all of their money and resources to be able to afford Dewitt's services. We also get to see moments like Echo and Sierra pitted against each other. This time Echo is working for Joel and Sierra is working for Marcus. Echo is supposed to protect Joel and kill Marcus. Sierra is supposed to defend Marcus and take out Joel. Marcus orders Sierra to kill Echo, but Joel never goes that far in return.

We learn as the episode progresses that Marcus Jones is much like Joel Mynor in many ways. They have a history together. They went to school together. They used to be friends and in a way still are, but business is business and they're both vying for position in the industrial computer sector, which turns out to be a lot more bloody and dangerous than you might think. The two guys treat this like it's a video game; they use their pocketbooks like joysticks and the Dollhouse like a PS3. Marcus is much more soulless than Joel. He's literally willing to do anything to outdo his old friend. Joel has a line he won't cross and it looks like it'll cost him the fight.

A subplot involves Ballard and Boyd investigating both of these men. DeWitt's real goal here is to keep both Mynor and Jones preoccupied while the Dollhouse tries to find out what dirt is under their fingernails. Boyd and Ballard discover that at first it appears Mynor is secretly involved in overseas weapons shipments to a foreign country that is most decidedly not one of the Dollhouse's clients. These weapons are being put into the hands of children in a third world country and DeWitt has a personal stake in keeping that from happening any longer. So they confront Mynor about this in the last act and Mynor insists he knows nothing about it. Then Boyd & Ballard look at the same evidence another way and discover that Jones has been doing this the entire time, and purposefully making it to look like Mynor is the culprit, so if Jones' more questionable business transactions ever got found out, Mynor would be the one to go down.

The climax of the episode lets Marcus Jones get away physically (cuz now he's a great potential villan for future episodes, with motive to bring down the Dollhouse), but the Dollhouse now has enough information to anonymously report Jones' company to the authorities for a full investigation. Therefore, Mynor wins in his Keeping Up With the Joneses competition, but then he gets the final bill, and in order to pay the Dollhouse back for everything they've done for him, Mynor essentially has to sign over controlling interest in his company. He's now penniless.

Mynor asks DeWitt for a job, to which she admits he's a little too reckless and foolhardy to work for for her company, "but if you give your resume to the receptionist before you leave, I'll keep your name on file for the next six months. Maybe a janitor position will open up."

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