Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Little More Dollhouse

Part of me thinks it’s a waste of time to write anything about a show that’s cancelled. But then I remind myself that I’m often watching shows for the first time after they are cancelled and off the air: The Wire and most of Stargate SG-1, for example. Not to mention WKRP in Cincinatti. And a lot of M.A.S.H.

So here goes.

Friday night wasn’t just a double header it was a bona fide two-parter: part one was the setup and was written by Andrew Chambliss (lots of funny lines, I think Joss was helping) and part two written by Tracy Bellomo. Lots of questions about the nature of life and consciousness. As Echo says toward the end: “I’m afraid of Caroline. If she comes back where will I go?”

“She’s perfect, as if they made her just for me.”

I did not see it coming. Did. Not. See. It. Coming. When Perrin said that line I thought I knew what was coming. In fact, I thought I knew that Perrin’s wife, Cindy, was a doll the first time I saw her. And boy was I wrong. How brilliant! I love when I’m wrong.

I’d like to know, though, how Echo was supposed to have figured out that there was something “wrong” with her.

“November is sad. We should help her.” “No one ever really leaves here do they?”

Miracle Laurie still can’t act. Which is a shame, but on the whole didn’t matter. And directors David Solomon and Wendey Stanzler got decent performances out of her. Of course it helped that she didn’t have many lines.

The Madeline/November/Mellie storyline was well written and her slightly Stepford Wife/Rabbit in the Headlights look was appropriate enough. I’m not sure we knew that she had been in the Dollhouse for three years but we do now. We also finally had it confirmed what we all expected – that the Dollhouse functionality is still in her head. But did Dollhouse-Washington always intend to use a former doll to help along the Senator Perrin story or was this just an opportunity that presented itself? Who gave her the photos? Who had access to the videotape of her in Paul’s apartment?

“What the hell was that?” “Your mind has been altered, tampered with.”

The underlying story of the political machinations of the evil Rossum Corporation is really good. And of course those of us who watched Epitaph One know where this is going. (If only we would find out that Rossum is represented by the DC branch of Wolfram & Hart it would all be perfect.) Creating Perrin as an idealistic politician who seemed totally sincere was perfect. And then having him be the doll (or, a “doll version of himself”) was even more perfect.

“We took a spoiled, selfish, pampered child – and we made a man out of him.”

And it turns out that the political family that the writers used for his model wasn’t the Kennedys – it was the Bush family. Which was a bit of an (uncomfortable) laugh. The new Daniel Perrin is a better man than the old Daniel Perrin – except that he is controlled by Rossum.

Perrin was meant to give cover for Rossum and let them get legislation passed so that they will control the world. Bwhahahahaha. ahem. yes. Well. For a while it looked like he was going to bring down the LA Dollhouse but only the LA Dollhouse. That would make him a hero and give him credibility. “When you finally exonerate Rossum … no one will question you. “ But in the end the death of Cindy was turned into some weird story about an evil consortium (they must be Stargate fans) who turned out to be the bad guy. And he threw Madeline under the bus. Good storyline.

Oh. And by the way, it was fun seeing Eliza Dushku in scenes with Alexis Denisof again.

“That’s not too Star Trek is that?”

The coldness with which Adele, Ballard and Topher tested the tech on Kilo was breathtaking. Again, those of us who saw Epitaph One know where this is going and that lends a whole other layer to this storytelling.

“You just woke up a a lot of people and they all think you’re a bitch.”

The way this episode inter-cut with previous episodes was well done, especially the fight scene between Echo and Cindy Perrin but also the back story scenes with November/Madeleine/Mellie.

“I think her bad guys are badder than my bad guys.”

Ain’t that the truth.

At last Whedon has given us a Big Bad and it is Rossum acting through the DC branch of Dollhouse including Summer Glau. Evil tech. Evil summer. And of course the future fascist takeover.

“Imagine John Cassavetes in The Fury as a hot chick.”

I’ve never been a huge fan of Summer Glau, even on Firefly. She did ok with this, I guess, because I found her very creepy. As usual. It would be nice to see her play something other than an oddball freak so I could really judge her capabilities. (It was nice to see Donna Kozlowski as her assistant in the first half though. Wonder why she disappeared in the second half. Wonder if she’ll be back.) I’m not sure I completely understand the character’s back story but maybe I’m not supposed to yet.

“We’ve got our top guy covering for me. Only person in the world that I trust.”

Enver Gjokaj. Enver Gjokaj. Enver Gjokaj. Enver Gjokaj is the most amazing actor on this series and I hope he gets something worthy of his skills when this is over. I thought he was fabulous when he did his Reed Diamond imitation but this time he became Topher. And he was Topher, not just a cheap imitation of Topher. He is Joss Whedon’s best find since James Marsters. In fact he may be a better actor than Marsters, or maybe he’s just given more to do on this series. In any event, more Enver Gjokaj!

“You were so close to perfect.”

How great was it when Topher slugged Bennet? And then had the conversation with “himself”? How great was it when Perrin ended up killing Cindy? Joss Whedon is one sick dude.

All in all a great couple of episodes although not perfect. Some questions:

  • How did Cindy Perrin get the disrupter to stop Perrin and Echo when it was packed in her luggage?
  • Who gave Madeline the photos?
  • How did Bennet, who was Caroline’s “best friend” and cohort, end up a brainiac on par with Topher working for Rossum?
  • How did Echo get away when Perrin was captured?
  • Why did the Senate hearing chamber look like it was a left over set from Star Trek?

And … how do you know when you’re finished?

Shall I go now?