Saturday, April 11, 2009

"We're pimps and killers, but in a philanthropic way."

Everyone got to say what was on their mind about the Dollhouse this week, but no one asked Mr. Dominic the pertinent question before packing him off to the attic: was the chip in the chair his?

This week's episode (A Spy in the House of Love, nice title) played with time a little bit, starting off with blood on a window and looping back several times to watch as actives were imprinted and sent out on their various internal missions.

Yeah, yeah. Spoilers.

Every mission turned out to be internal this week. Sierra was made into a super spy, Echo became a top interrogator/sleuth, November/Mellie continued working for the Dollhouse, but was also having her strings pulled by the mysterious insider. Even Victor turned out to be working for the Dollhouse, sent off on his tenth Miss Lonely Hearts engagement with (dum dum DUM!) DeWitt

The plot all starts with Topher, tearing down the chair after Echo/Caroline pumped it full of lead last week, and he discovers the chip that has the grubby fingerprints of a spy all over it. Except not literally. Because that would have made for a shorter episode. I imagine gloves were involved.

Anyway, our core four actives are all dolled up and sent out. Sierra's picked for the infiltration, apparently because she resembles an NSA employee, and they suspect the NSA is behind the chipping. Echo comes to Topher and asks to be imprinted, because she's a keener that way. So now it's a race between the two dolls to see which one can come up with the spy faster.

Meanwhile, DeWitt is enjoying a weekend with Victor, who's been Britishified and knows all about the Dollhouse, so he's the perfect confessor/lover for DeWitt

About their little tryst: first, I'm going to indulge in a little, wee rant on fencing. No, no, FUCKING NO! 

Dear TV Writers: You cannot write fencing scenes. You do not know how to fence. You have not even seen it done, so you have no fucking idea what you are doing. People do not fence bare armed and faced. That's a good way to get covered with welts and lose an eye. Second, fencing gear is standardized, your tight-fitting corset thingies with low collars are not appropriate; you'd actually be better off wearing street clothes than those ridiculous garments. Third, you cannot cut anyone with a fencing foil. They are blunt of edge, as are epees and sabres. See above, re: welts. Fourth, while it is clear that some fight arranger spent five minutes teaching both actors how to stand (feet shoulder-width apart, right foot forward, left foot back and at right angles) this does not mean that we will forgive them for their jumping around like drugged frogs. You cannot change positions while fencing, and you do not cross blades and glare at one another. Such antics are best left in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Ahem. Sorry about that. Just a little pet peeve of mine. Now, on to the more serious question raised by DeWitt's vacation.

I'm just going to ask: how is this different from what Sierra's handler, or any of Echo's or the others' clients do to them? How is it different from what the Dollhouse did to Mellie, by setting her up to artificially fall for Ballard? Informed consent is utterly absent from any of these couplings. Rape may be the only appropriate word, and Boyd is the one who comes closest to articulating that. If he and the doctor are both so cynical about the Dollhouse (although in different ways, as she says) why are they there?

Oh yeah, and there was a plot, too. 

Ballard welcomes Mellie back home with paranoia and door locks, and she tries to calm him down from his pursuit of the Dollhouse. It looks like he's following the money. Suddenly Mellie's gone, and Agent Helo's faced with the old My Girlfriend is a Cylon deal again. She tells him to keep investigating the Dollhouse's true purpose – and not to tell Mellie anything or act like anything's up. Adding another layer of creepy to the layer cake the show has already been stacking together.

So Sierra Aliases her way into NSA headquarters and sends back the info that the mole is Topher's assistant Ivy. But Echo's sussed out that the info was planted: Dominic was way too relaxed when he heard the news that Sierra had succeeded. He's the mole. There's some nice kung fu (much better then last week's, but it's no Chinese restaurant kitchen knife fight) and Dominic goes down. He's off to the attic, which is apparently a place where your every thought is just out of reach – a permanent state of mental fog. No wonder he tries to kill himself and gives DeWitt a flesh wound. Thus leading to the blood on the window.

The best moment in the episode, the one that sent a little chill through my spine, was when Echo and Dominic were alone for a moment in the back of one of the black vans. He's beaten, but he looks at her and says she'll erase them all, in the end.

Overall, another top episode for the show. Christ, if this gets cancelled, I'm going to be really pissed. Much more than I would have been if it had gone away after five episodes.

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