Saturday, March 21, 2009

"There are three flowers in a vase..."


Warning: many, many spoilers for "Man on the street."

Ah, it's like the gods of television heard my prayer last week. I said Dollhouse was promising, very promising, but it needed to actually do something to live up to that promise or it would stagnate. We'd had five episodes in a row in which Echo and/or the other dolls went on jobs, and there was a bit of behind the scenes machinations/mytharc stuff, but mostly they were one offs. The best of the bunch, to my mind, was the heist episode. And even that one was just pretty good for a Joss Whedon show.

This week, as Boyd pounded one of his fellow handlers through a plate glass window, I looked at my watch, thinking so much had already happened, the episode must almost be finished. We were just 30 minutes in. Still to come was the kung fu kitchen fight, the revelation of multiple dollhouses, the further revelation of a spy within this Dollhouse, the further further revelation that Agent Helo's next door neighbour is, in fact, a cylon doll. Which I totally called, by the way. Anyone who doubted me? You all owe me a Coke.

This is what Dollhouse can do well. It can turn everything we know about the world upside down. Anyone could be anything. I've speculated before about how many of the Dollhouse employees are actually actives. Boyd? Mr. Dominic? DeWitt? Topher? We don't know. Although Whedon himself has suggested, in an interview with TV Without Pity, that it won't just degenerate into PKDian weirdness.
"Yes, we talked about that – the different possibilities that we could tweak, the pasts that people have, and how many layers of unreality you can have in somebody's identity. And, to an extent, we get very excited. We have to pull ourselves back and say, "If we make this a lie within a lie within a lie within a lie, people are just going to start slapping us."
This whole episode gives me hope that this can be the show I want it to be: a mix of well-thought-out SFnal ideas, character, and kick ass fight scenes. So I'm totally on board now.


Mighty Fast Pig said...

I had much the same reaction to "Man on the Street". THIS was what I wanted to see since ep 1. The Echo-Paul fight, revelation after revelation, all setting up enough plot twists and turns to keep us riveted. But there's also the emotional bits as well: the software mogul, Paul and Mellie, the Dollhouse's moral ambiguity...

Ouranosaurus said...

I agree 100 per cent. The only real problem with this episode? It makes all the preceding ones look worse. I've mentally downgraded the first five episodes from fair-to-middling to crap. Hopefully the next few will be closer to this episode, farther from the first five.