Saturday, January 16, 2010

"Dollhouse" recap: This is spinal tap


Was it just me, or did anyone else find this week's installment of "Dollhouse" difficult to watch? Between Echo getting that involuntary spinal tap (without, apparently, benefit of anesthetic) and the ultimate fate of Boyd Langton, the whole thing just made me queasy.
I thought it was an excellent episode -- and far more emotionally involving than I thought the show would ever be when it debuted last year -- but I don't think I could ever watch it a second time.
With that aside, here are some more thoughts on "The Hollow Men."
* So, we now know why Rossum is so hot for Caroline's body: she apparently has an antibody in her blood that can be used to create a vaccine for Topher's hand-held imprinting device. That's why Boyd the Dollmaster lured her and company out to Rossum -- to harvest her spinal fluid. And let me tell you, based on that spinal tap scene, I hope I never have to have that procedure in my life. Because, yeesh, it looked painful.
* Speaking of Boyd, the scene where he finally unmasked himself as Rossum's founder was really creepy. However, was it believable? Everything we've seen of Boyd Langton, security chief/doll handler has lead us to believe that he's calm, even-keeled and not the least bit ego-driven. Yet, once he reveals himself as the Dollmaster, he seems totally nuts. When he started talking about how much he loved everyone it made me skin crawl. And it seemed totally un-Boyd. I expected him to rationalize his behavior, but he gives little or no reason for his actions, save the desire to get Caroline's blood. Is his real personality that different from what we've seen these past two seasons? Apparently. I guess Victor-as-Topher was right -- the dude WAS a really good actor.
* Despite that stark shift in Boyd's personality, I thought every scene between him and Echo was utterly shattering. From Echo's heart-broken realization that her father figure had been betraying her to Echo leading a mind-wiped Boyd to explode in the Rossum lab, it all made me die a little inside. When Echo looked at Boyd and uttered "I loved you" with that mix of agony and contempt, it was devastating. Excellent work by both Eliza Dushku and Harry Lennix in these scenes.
* Also nice work by Fran Kranz and Olivia Williams in the scene where Topher and Adele both try to shoulder the blame for the existence of the hand-held wipe device. There's a real mother-son vibe between these two characters that I enjoy watching.
* So, for those of you who wondered why November had been imprinted with Mellie's personality before the siege of Rossum, you got your answer: it was so we'd feel extra bad when November/Mellie shot herself in an attempt to resist her sleeper programming.
* There sure is a lot of gender-bending on this show, isn't there? This week, we saw Whiskey/Saunders imprinted with Clyde Ambrose's personality (nice touch -- she was in full male drag, complete with suit and tie). Of course, we already knew that the original Dr. Saunders was a man, and that his personality was (I assume) modified to suit his new body. We've also seen Echo imprinted with a male serial killer and Victor/Tony imprinted with a sorority girl named Kiki. You know, if it weren't for all this nasty apocalypse business, the Dollhouse might have a nice second life as the world's most authentic drag cabaret.
* In spite of all the grimness in this episode, we did get the always-welcome sight of Victor as Topher. I don't have anything significant to add about that -- I just like seeing Victor as Topher. Also, I'd like to once again beg any TV types out there to find a show for Enver Gjokaj. The man is just amazingly versatile.
* Well, that's it for me. Don't forget that the last episode of "Dollhouse" has been postponed a week, due to the telethon for Haiti being held next Friday on all the networks. The episode will now air Jan. 29 at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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