I'm sad to say that after last week's double feature, my expectations for Dollhouse have gone way up making the first half hour of this episode hard to swallow. Despite "Meet Jane Doe" [almost] completely delivered with an excellent second half. The plot took some very interesting turns and made a lot of progress. Plus, and I cannot say this enough, Olivia Williams owned this episode.
Just to get the not so great out of the way first let's talk about Echo's storyline. With the exception of the gratuitous fighting scenes with Ballard and exceptional sexual tension between those two (or maybe I'm just a sucker for Tahmoh Penikett without his shirt on) this story was bone dry. We are already aware that Echo is able to sift through her different personalities and is developing a personality of her own, but I wish there was a more interesting way to communicate the progression of these trends without a weird jail break story line and cheesy special effects.
Now for the awesome:
It is absolutely to see the plot turning back to last season's unaired conclusion "Epitaph One". Last season's episode seemed like a dystopian projection. This season as we are beginning to see the development of this world changing technology, This episode felt like a real turning point bringing a darker tone to the rest of the series.
Olivia Williams, damn this woman can act. Without a word the physicality she brought forth as a powerless Adele communicated the demoralized state her character was in. I was feeling so terrible for this woman who is though lesser of the evils, still pretty evil. Williams then turns on a dime once Adele has her ammo, and reminds us what Adele on a mission looks like, shoulders back and her face glowing using her knowing eyes to stare a hole into her opponent.
I'm not sure if we're supposed to believe that she has completely betrayed her house, or that she genuinely wants to help but needs to regain her power. We were offered a glimpse into the fact that the new management was putting dolls into more dangerous engagements and Adele was powerless to stop this. I think this story line may have been more effective if more screen time was devoted to this issue. That is unless this was kept ambiguous on purpose.
It seems appropriate to note that the L.A. Dollhouse had turned into quite the boys club upon Adele's demotion. This short scene about the opening of the Dubai house was representative of the sort of company she had to fight with to gain her standing in the company.
Topher is a fantastic, hilarious genius, but is unfortunately all too trusting. It was completely in his character to believe the best of people, and really believe that Adele would be on his side. He seemed so utterly crushed when Adele had what she wanted from him and then made him disposable to him.
Fran Kranz's acting this episode was also certainly something to watch, I really appreciate his consistency with all the little ticks Topher has. It was really interesting to notice the subtle changes in Topher once he was put in a position of more power and authority. As much as he appreciates free reign and budget to experiment, the spotlight isn't his thing. And once again, I loved his continuing rambling use of words as he tries to express ideas larger than he is able to articulate.
The age old dilemma of scientific experimentation, technological innovation and its dangers which is an overriding theme of Dollhouse was visited quite directly in this episode. Topher is not malicious, he is curious and brilliant. He was simply trying to figure out what the evil people were trying to accomplish so he could know, and possibly prevent it. This is a typical dilemma of scientists throughout history, where honest curiosity and experimentation has led to massively dangerous weapons when taken out of their hands.
I have to comment on the use of the high angle camera in Topher's office when he reveals his plans to Adele. I interpreted this as a camera feed from Dollhouse security. This added an extra layer of suspense when Topher discovered his plans were missing, I thought that perhaps someone else had seen the security feed and stolen the plans. This made Adele's betrayal even more painful to watch. (Except that it was sort of delicious because Olivia Williams plays evil impeccably).
Other little things I loved:
A return to the Victor/Sierra relationship, I lost it when the congratulations turned into a full make out session.
Perhaps it's the eternal optimist in me, but I think that Adele really did have her house's best interests in mind, this girl has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. Do you think that Adele is going to remain on her fast track to Rossum's biggest bad guy, or will she use her power to save her house and her actives?
Will the world of the Dollhouse head into the dystopia of Epitaph One, or will the day be saved and by who?
Also, stay tuned for my review of "A Love Supreme", it'll be up as soon as the fan-girl in my head catches her breath.