The time period for the show is today. A few years ago, unbeknowst to the rest of us, scientists made a breakthrough in using light and magnetic waves to affect neuroplasticity. They essentially figured out how to delete the personality from a body and write a new one in. Using this technology they created an underground organization that provides made to order people: The Dollhouse.
This episode included a couple entertaining twists. It was revealed that the stern British headmistress who runs the organization is in a secret affair with one of the “actives” as a programmed doll is referred to. Imagine her position of having a man tailored to be her ideal mate, but who is a fabrication. She’s a high level executive in a massive criminal organization, her dating pool has to be pretty shallow. What’s more is that he is programmed to be passionately in love with her: