2.5 The Public Eye2.6 The Left Hand
I’m in odd situation with Dollhouse, because although only six episodes have been screened, the show has been cancelled. Fox promised to show the whole season, but the whole dimension of should-it-get-another season is entirely moot here.
What makes that even more peculiar, is that in the fourth episode, and again here, we’ve been given an insight into what this show could have become and, had it turned into this much earlier, then I might be talking about where season 3 would take us.
The two episodes, The Public Eye and The Left Hand are one story arc and screened successively, so I’ll treat them as such. If you’ve not seen them then be aware that I’m going to talk about major plot issues here, so don’t read on if you don’t want them spoiled for you.
A while back, Dollhouse introduced Senator Daniel, the forthright public figure with the Rossum Corp in his sights. With how they neutralised Ballard in season one, we’ve been given an idea of how the Dollhouse protects itself from unwanted attention, but the job they’ve done on Senator Daniel is on an entirely different level.
They dropped some pretty big hints, which they repeat at the start of the story that the Senator’s wife seems a little too perfect. This is a masterful redirection, because it turns out that she’s the handler, and the good Senator is the Doll! He’s a slightly strange Doll, in that he genuinely is who he says. They’ve just turned him into an ambitious politician. If this all seems rather confusing, in that he’s trying to out the Dollhouse, then I must admit I didn’t entirely follow the logic of this plot point either.
He’s controlled by Rossum, but he’s trying to tell the world about the Dollhouse, and he’s got Madeline Costley (aka November) to help him make it all public.
I’m sure this made sense in the script meeting, but something got slightly lost in translation, because when the characters try to explain this juxtaposition they failed to convince me, and maybe even themselves.
Despite being told not to act, Adelle dispatches Echo to do her super-hooker routine on Senator Perrin and blackmail him into forgetting about Dollhouse. Except it all goes rather oddly shaped, and they end up coming back to the Perrin’s house when Ballard is there trying to abduct Cindy Perrin. With lots of Rossum agents there, the end result is Perrin and Echo are captured and taken to the Washington DC Dollhouse, which is run by the Devil himself, Ray Wise.
And then without any warning, Summer Glau turns up playing the Washington DC Dollhouse equivalent to Topher, Bennett Halverson. If you think her performance as Terminator Cameron in TSCC was slightly left field on occasion, then her appearance of Bennett Halverson is at least three blocks east from the ballpark.
At first we’re drawn to conclude she’s purely a female form of Topher. But if that wasn’t worrying enough, we then discover that she’s a closet sadomasochist, and a long time hater of Echo/Caroline. When Topher and she eventually get together it makes the regular meetings of the creative geeks of this website seem like a black tie evening.
But what’s better than double geek? Yes, triple geek with chopped nuts!
The plot takes Adelle and Topher to Washington, but they need someone on the outside to do the sorts of hacker nonsense that Topher normally does. But this is the Dollhouse; they can do anything! So we have two Tophers, the original one in the Washington Dollhouse geeking with Halverson, and a Victor imprinted one back at the Dollhouse stressing as usual. Enver Gjokaj is quite brilliant as Topher, although having them both being the same character at the same time does highlight how annoying Topher can rapidly become.
Perrin and Echo are allowed to escape the DC Dollhouse so that Halverson can kill her by sending an assassination signal to Perrin, but he manages to kill two other people including Cindy before Topher manages to cancel the instruction.
This all eventually leads to the Senate hearing where Perrin is due to reveal Rossum’s Dollhouse to the world, where, in fact, he does exactly the opposite and poor old November is dragged off for some aversion therapy with crazy-queen Halverson. The final shot could have had the TV music from The Incredible Hulk over it, as the now awol Echo wanders the streets accompanied only by her 20 or so inbuilt personalities.
Overall, I liked the frenetic nature of the fifth episode more than the sixth, but they were both quite good. The only disturbance in force I perceived was the same one that Amy Acker’s great performance earlier in the season threw up. Namely, that, compared with the likes of Acker then and in this story, Summer Glau, Eliza Dushku is a real lightweight acting-wise. She might look great, and handle the physicality required, but I can’t say she’s got sufficient gravitas to carry the lead character.
The change in tone that these stories represent and the shift to a less rigid format does make me curious to see how the rest of the season pans out, even if it is already a closed book, so to speak.
With Echo no longer at the Dollhouse and Ballard also freelancing, that expands the horizons that the further stories can take us. And the dynamic of the LA Dollhouse working against Rossum and the rest is also an interesting proposition. Shame they held all this good stuff until Dollhouse was already a dead-show-walking, as its earlier arrival might have helped the show hold on to more viewers.
I’m actually looking forward to the rest of the season, which is something I never expected to write here in respect of this show.
Read our review of episode 4 here.