2.9 Stop Loss
Having given this show a complete pasting on occasion, I’ve accepted that for the most part season two of Dollhouse has been quite entertaining and even thrilling on occasions.
And then, like the equal opportunities ballet school line-up, a clunker comes along that reminds me why this show is already cancelled. The story arc of Stop Loss is mostly about ‘Victor’, played by the exceptionally talented Enver Gjokaj, who has completed his time as a Doll and it’s his time to return to the real world. Gjokaj for me is the find of this show, because he’s a very good actor with seemingly very few limits on what he can do.
In this he returns to being Anthony, an ex-soldier who fought in Afghanistan. But very soon he’s abducted by some of his old service buddies, and becomes part of a Rossum-inspired neural-connected army. It’s then up to Echo to extract him with the help of Sierra (who is actually Priya, at this point).
This entire sequence reminds me of some of the worst 60s/70s shows where people run around concrete corridors knocking out each other or firing automatic weapons wildly but never hitting anything. I also didn’t buy the whole army-thinking-as-one-Borg-rubbish, as it had an obvious flaw which Echo then predictably exploits.
As a counterpoint to the return of the men (and women) from U.N.C.L.E. it seems that Adelle has been reaching for the hard stuff after one last romantic engagement with Victor (as Roger) sees her rejected for a women that Roger can’t even remember in his imprint.Eventually she pulls it all together after a communal shower and intercedes on Rossum’s behalf to recapture Echo, Anthony and Priya, before they kill anymore remote controlled soldiers.
I’m actually getting more than tired of the histrionics they’ve built around the bad version of Adelle, as it’s quite clearly a set-up for her to flip wildly to the light side of the force. She’s so Machiavellian in this story that all she needed was a moustache to twirl. Olivia Williams is a fine actress, but some of what she gets to do here makes her sound like the leader of a women’s hockey team with severe hormonal issues.
So how can this episode be fixed? It sort of resurrects itself slightly in the final scenes where Echo, Anthony and Priya are all banished to the ‘Attic’, which we’ve been told since the outset isn’t just somewhere bad for the dust allergic.
In fact it seems to be odd rooms where people are held in some liquid suspension, while nightmares play out in their minds. But they do get to wear cool clinging white outfits and they’re covered in plastic wrap to keep the freshness in!
Odd isn’t really the word, but it did leave me wondering how Echo and co might escape from the cold shelf, if ever.
I also forgot to mention that brain-dead Ballard is sort of resurrected by Topher, even if the personality he’s given is a ‘Doll’ and not the real him, who is currently vacationing in Alpha’s head. Dollhouse does make even geeks have to accept plenty to follow what plot they’ve created here.
The next episode is called The Attic, amazingly, so some of those questions will get answered I assume. I’m also hoping that the story has more to it than we got here, as this was the low-point of what has actually been a half decent season so far.
Read our review of episode 8 here.