In "Belle Chose," writer Tim Minear and director David Solomon delivered the best, completely standalone episode of Dollhouse since last season's "True Believer."
How did TVGuide.com describe "Belle Chose"? "The imprinted Echo and Victor butt heads after Echo is given the personality of a free-spirited coed and Victor is assigned the identity of a Dollhouse shareholder's psychotic nephew."
Despite the exclusion of Sierra, November, Dr. Saunders, Alexis Denisof's Senator Daniel Perrin and any real movement as far as a grand arch is concerned, "Belle Chose" provided a consistently entertaining story and the most Victor-centric episode yet.
Battlestar Galactica vet Michael Hogan and character actor Arye Gross also turned up in guest roles as clients of the Dollhouse.
"Belle Chose" delivered in spite of inheriting many of the same problems I had with the previous episode, "Instinct." It was missing a whole slew of characters, there was a dearth of great lines and the storyline focused solely on an engagement of the week. Sometimes it seems like the show's very premise works against it. More than any past Whedon project, the nature of Dollhouse dictates there will be standalone adventures. The problems are apparent when the engagement just isn't... well, engaging or when the writing staff can't find the appropriate balance of this episode's story and this season's story. Tim Minear managed to avoid any balancing problems by steering clear of the big ideas and focused on simply crafting a compelling story.
Enver Gjokaj hasn't had a lot to do in the first two episodes of this season, so putting him front and center was the right thing to do. With such a large cast, it can't be easy giving each person their own storyline. Season one's "Spy in the House of Love" managed to make such a challenge look effortless but we can't expect that every week. Based on the promos, the next episode appears to be Sierra-centric and focuses on her past. If pushing characters to the background for an episode or two is what's needed to give everyone their due, then I'm okay with that. And that includes Echo. While her storyline was ultimately linked with Victor's, it was without a doubt, a "B" story.
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