Saturday, May 2, 2009

"My prince"

Briar Rose, last night's episode of Dollhouse, could best be described as kick ass. But before we go any further...


Oh, sorry I shouted there. No, don't worry. I'm just excited because it turns out that freakin' Wash is Alpha! 

Yeah, I did not see that happening. I watched the ep with three others, and our surprised gasps at the reveal would have sent a barometer spinning. We knew Alan Tudyk was in the episode, from the trailers. We knew that Alpha was in the episode. Did we put those two things together? No. Because he's Wash! He plays with dinosaurs and gets speared! He doesn't slice people up and kick ass!

Well played, Ms. Espenson and Mr. Whedon. Well played.

Aside from that, it was also a taut and well-written episode on just about every level. The bit where Echo is trying to help the sexually abused kid, which could have been cringe-inducing in so many ways, turned out to be well written and well acted. It dealt with its awful subject matter head on and without histrionics – the moment where Echo talks about how she would plan escapes and then give up was very well done. It also introduced the Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty theme, which would have its own twist at the end of the hour.

We got to delve deeper into the creepy and messed up psyche of Agent Ballard as well, when he refuses to rescue November/Mellie. Why? It's not really been spelled out well, but I'm thinking he doesn't consider Mellie a real person, and he's been too personally hurt by that. He's built a tower in his mind, and at the top there's a real princess named Caroline. 

But that gets at one of the central questions Dollhouse asks. Mellie is undoubtedly a synthetic person, programmed to love Ballard. But what she feels is plainly no less real to her. That's the crux of it; Ballard doesn't think Mellie is real, so she doesn't count. Caroline does. I don't think he's right. The Dollhouse committed a moral crime when it created Mellie and fixated her on Ballard, but Millie herself is a victim as surely as the young girl in the group home. She couldn't run away either. They'll find you, after all. They're bigger and stronger.

Then there's the ongoing plot about Dr. Saunders, who I'm now almost certain is a doll named Whiskey. I don't think Mr. Dominic wanted a drink at all, there. Alpha seems to know it too. I'm almost certain that "Saunders" is either the memories of a dead person, or is a synthetic persona. When Alpha escaped, he sliced up Whiskey and left her alive, probably killed the doctor. The Dollhouse looked at their dead doc, and their doll who wouldn't be going on too many more tricks dates and said "Waste not, want not."

Problems with the episode? I'm just going to mention the implausibility of Alpha and Ballard's easy access to the Dollhouse. Come on, people, no alarms in the only external systems access point? Not even a lock on the grate, for Christ's sake!

Let's review, shall we?

The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord

1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear Plexiglas visors, not face concealing ones.

2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

Come on! It's number two on the list, right there! DeWitt, you are not doing your homework. The guys at the Centre are going to be pissed.

Not as pissed as I am when the show is cancelled, though. One to go, and one extra episode on the DVD boxed set with Felicia Day. Then, that's all she wrote.

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