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Dollhouse — Episode 2.3 ‘Belle Chose’

Saturday, October 10, 2009

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Another episode where what I was expecting made me roll my eyes, and where we ended up had me do something congratulatory.  You might have been thinking the same thing, at first — crazy guy needs ‘people dolls’ for his family-fetish fantasy, he hires Echo, something goes wrong yadda yadda.  Thank Mr. Universe that didn’t happen (guess I shouldn’t have doubted Tim Minear — guy knows what he’s doing, red herrings and all).  This episode was everything that was needed right now: important, twisty-turny and funny.  This is what every episode that’s not pure ‘arc’ needs — a little bit of arc with a good, intriguing story.  So while they don’t seem capable of pulling it off every week (see last week), at least we do get it (mostly) regularly.

So while it turns out everything that seemed stupid at the beginning was really there as misdirection, and therefore cannot be criticized, there is still one thing that doesn’t make sense — Ballard’s ‘learning the ropes,’ as it were.  This isn’t his first engagement; that was last week.  So why are we being taken through the ‘handler learns his job’ stuff now?  Like he wouldn’t know what ‘R’ means already?  Maybe it was tricky to plan this stuff out for the season.  Oh wait, there was something else — his 14-year-old knocky-knees-when-he’s-talking-to-Echo-naked vs. his-creepy-peeping-Tom-staring-when-she’s-not-looking.  I’m not sure if this was part of the stupid, misdirection-y beginning stuff or an ‘insight into his lustiness’ moment; either way, I didn’t like it.  It makes him quite common.  And creepy.  Get rid of it.  The reason I can’t tell which of the two options it was is because it was right at the moment where he says ‘Thank God’ where the episode becomes what it truly was.  Which was good.

The idea is one that’s obvious enough you knew they would do it eventually — stick a psycho in one of the Dolls as a way of tracking down the victims, and even that on its own might have been ordinary and boring; mixing it together with Topher’s first attempt at a non-phone remote wipe, plus a Doll-persona-switcheroo, made it fantastic.  And it’s on this note that I have to give massive props to Enver Gjokaj (and thank Skip I can just type that and don’t have to try to pronounce it).  When watching shows or movies I don’t tend to focus too much on the acting, unless a performance really jumps out for some reason (I’m more of a plot, dialogue and structure guy); but ever since A Spy in the House of Love, which is where I first thought of it, I’ve really been impressed with his range.  Obviously, all of them — Dushku, Dichen Lachman and Gjokaj — need to be different people every week, so you’d hope they can pull off some range, but Gjokaj has been the one to really go beyond the others so far.  And not just with the accents, though this is an area where he seems to excel (think Lubov and Roger and Dominic etc.); it’s more than that.  He really does slip in and out of each character quite convincingly.  When he’s a new person, he doesn’t look and feel like ‘Doll talking like someone else,’ which is sometimes how the others feel; he nails it.  Joss has always been good at identifying new talent, and you’d have to think he saw this quality in Gjokaj and that’s why he hired him, especially given the nature of the show.  And what a dancer!  It actually, hilariously, reminded me of this (at 41 secs).  And I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the intention.

Back to this episode . . . what more to say?  Echo’s glitch at the end.  I’m a little annoyed we don’t have a reason.  But I’m thinking: do we need a reason?  Would a reason affect anything?  Probably not.  Okay, forget it.

Finally — is the reason that certain regulars aren’t appearing in certain episodes to save money?  Boyd was absent last week, Sierra this week; you wonder if this was one way they managed to work with the funding decrease.  Maybe someone knows and can tell me?

No episode next week because of boring baseball.  Back on the 23rd.  Hopefully.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Saturday, October 10, 2009 11:59 am

    Just found this, which explains my questions about Ballard’s ‘first day at school:’

    http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/10/10/tv-ratings-dollhouse-rises-ghost-whisperer-leads-cbs-to-win/30118#comment-136538

    Gotta say, if that’s true, I really don’t like that. It’s sloppy.

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