Without doubt, Belonging is the strongest Dollhouse story so far, which has only fuelled my frustration with this show even more. For a brief eclipse of time the bright glare of silly ideas and digital hookers gives way to some brilliant performances and clinical story telling.
Director on point for this was no less that Trek alumni Jonathan Frakes, who makes a First Contact effort here and not a Thunderbirds debacle. The quality of his work stands out a mile, and they’d be smart to get him to direct some more if he’s available.
The plot represents a complete back-story for Sierra, how she ended up in the Dollhouse, and why she probably shouldn’t be there. I’m not going to dissect it here, because it’s so good that it deserves watching un-fettered by my frame-by-frame analysis.
What I will say is that I’m now caught between two entirely different emotions: the joy of this episode and the depression of what I’ve had to endure to get here.
The most positive aspect is that it shows just how good a cast Dollhouse has, when presented with some decent material to work with. Everybody ups their game, and even Eliza Dushku comes over much better than usual. For the second time in this season I find myself complimenting Fran Kranz for adding some real depth to Topher Brink, and Dichen Lachman carries the majority of screen time effortlessly as Sierra.
Overall, it’s a show transformation that makes the personality alterations of the show seem mild in comparison.
What I also liked was it defined a new and interesting direction for the show to take, the idea that maybe this Dollhouse might go ‘rogue’ and how the Rossum Corporation might react to that scenario.
Echo warns Boyd Langton that a ‘storm is coming’. Is that wind blowing from Rossum that’s coming this way? Next week’s story involves the determined Senator Daniel Perrin, so maybe not.
If you never watch an episode of Dollhouse ever again, I’d watch this so that you can at least experience how it could have been, with all the dross removed.
So what are you waiting for? Go watch this as it really is entertaining! Though, I’d make no assumptions that the next one will be remotely as good.
Read our review of episode 3 here.