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Dollhouse — Episode 2.1 ‘Vows’

Saturday, September 26, 2009

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And we’re off – with probably the most unlikely season of television to hit the air in a while; it was a tense opening to the summer, wondering if this show was going to return or not, but then a happy conclusion with the news it would and the release of Epitaph One, that brilliant scattering of the time-line that makes every moment of this, and all future, episode(s) bleed with anticipation.  Or makes us bleed with anticipation.  Not literally, of course.  You understand, I’m sure.

If there’s one thing Joss Whedon is good at, it’s slowly building a story.  Plotting.  Structure.  He is an expert at . . . how can I put this delicately . . . not blowing his wad too early.  We saw that through the first five episodes of last season (and those who were impatient, well, they’re simply losing out now); here, with Vows, we’re seeing it again.  What needs to happen in episode one of the second season happens, but nothing much more.  And that’s all and plenty good.

A lot of Epitaph One (EO) shows us the distant future, after everything’s gone to shit, but there are those moments which are from the nearer future, such as Paul being Echo’s handler and Echo being able to remember everything and have her many personalities co-exist with each other; it was right that this is where Season 2 should start, and so it does.  It was obvious, even before EO, that Paul would end up Echo’s handler, so best to get that out of the way quickly, which Vows does; what I didn’t quite like about Vows, though, was how quickly it also introduced Echo’s ‘schizophrenia,’ mostly because I’m not quite sure what exactly was supposed to have caused it.  Is it all directly from the Alpha-created ‘composite event,’ or did her concussion bring it on (I’m not actually fully sold on the idea of a concussion jarring her memories loose like that either, to be honest – seems a bit too ‘enh, why not)?  Or a bit of both?  And still there’s the question of why can’t Topher see any of this stuff on his scans.  I liked the bit from EO that seemed to suggest it was Topher’s new method of rapid memory-dumping that started to cause all the problems and glitches, but I don’t see why that would make him seemingly unable to spot memories and personality bits sticking around in the deeper recesses of the Dolls’ brains.  Hopefully this is something that gets explained later.

So while the main plot – Paul and Echo’s going after the weapons dealer – was okay, if not spectacular, and mostly there as a vehicle for the ‘arc advancement’ that needed to happen (there’s another key term to always be associated with Joss Whedon – ‘arc advancement’), the sub-plot – that of Topher and Dr. Saunders/Whiskey – was there to explore the emotional and ‘human’ side of the House at the moment, and for that purpose you can’t really go wrong with an imprinted Doll who knows she’s an imprinted Doll.  What makes Dr. Saunders’s current emotional journey (wherever it ends up) so interesting as well is that by the time we get to EO she’s back to being Whiskey again.  Who wipes her, and why?  Is it a form of suicide – her wiping herself?

Anyway, this episode leaves us with many great questions going forward, and didn’t do more than it had too.  I could be wrong about the whole concussion thing; maybe the brain really does work that way, with a good knock jarring the memories around like coins in a jar until they pop out in random order – even if it was hokey, not a big deal, I suppose.

Random notes:

– Adele’s new haircut: hideous.

– Best line: ‘Tempura Joe’

I just checked the ratings and they were horrible; seems that the whole dark cloud that hung over last season is still alive and well despite the show’s renewal.  I don’t want to keep talking about ratings, so I won’t from now on, but I have to say that after this if we make it through the whole second season it’ll basically be a miracle (Laurie).
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Saturday, September 26, 2009 1:57 pm

    I’m surprised it got such terrible ratings since it was in the trending topics on twitter. The thing that bothers me though is the fact they have it air on friday If the show had an air slot on a day thats from Monday to Wednesday the show would be alot more popular. Also FlashFoward didn’t do nearly as good as I expected but this season every show has had un good ratings. This year Pushing Daisies would be one of the top rated shows haha

  2. Saturday, September 26, 2009 8:15 pm

    I guess Twitter isn’t as all-powerful as everyone thinks it is.

    Also — an additional thought: Joss sure loves his Sappho-rotic innuendo, doesn’t he? It’s everywhere!

  3. tgjkennedy permalink
    Monday, September 28, 2009 1:20 pm

    I sort of hated this episode. It looked wrong – the editing was all over the place, and I thought it was a terrible first episode to start off with when cancellation is looming. I get that time has passed… but every character seems to have completely changed, and I think it’s difficult to reconnect with characters you no longer recognize. (And not just because of their awful haircuts…)

    I was very meh about the whole episode, so I really hope next week wins me back over. I was a huge fan of this show, and if I’m not floored then people who sort of like the show are definitely tuning out!

  4. Tuesday, September 29, 2009 2:21 am

    Interesting. They said it’d been about three months, and after the whole Alpha/Omega incident, you could argue there would be ramifications to character. But you think it was too much?

    Can you explain it a bit more?

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