Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Review of Dollhouse's 1x09: "A Spy In The House Of Love"

Written by Andrew Chambliss
Directed by David Solomon

Dominic: “The Dollhouse isn’t a gift.”
Adelle: “I think the countless people we’ve helped would disagree.”

With the title being so obvious, it wouldn’t happen to centre on someone finally realising that there was a mole in the Dollhouse, now would it? Heaven forbid, would on Earth would want to do such a thing?

Bigger question should be – who wouldn’t? The Dolls who compositing and want to regain the autonomy as well as the various staff members who have enough sense not to believe that an organisation like the Dollhouse is for the greatest good. Maybe even Adelle and Topher themselves, despite seeming to be the only two people who actually believe in the Dollhouse’s work. Or Dominic perhaps.

Yes, definitely Dominic. He’s always had that sinister veneer as well as his unabashed dislike for Echo, why didn’t we see it beforehand? It’s amazing that when Adelle left him in charge that Topher would then discover that there was a spy in the house of love (are you kidding me?) and report it.

What I loved was that little moment where Topher thought Boyd might have been the mole and decided to give him a head start. What motivated Topher to do that? Does he actually like/respect Boyd? If he had thought it was someone else, would he have been as kind to give them a heads up?

The interesting part was Dominic’s reaction when Topher had to tell him about the mole. We’ve seen him threaten and yell at Topher enough times but here in retrospect, it was to cover his own ass. Also getting Sierra imprinted to go to the NSA to discover who their spy was (a false mission) was reasonably clever.

However the best part of this episode was Echo wanting to help. Yeah, we’ve seen Echo showing bits of awareness (whether it’s talking about the mountains or painting houses) and asking Topher to make her better should definitely be a case of concern.

Giving her the imprint of a spy catcher is one of the best ones they’ve done. I even think it’s one of Eliza Dushku’s best performances on the show and it’s not like she’s been imprinted with the most complex of roles to play.

Spy catcher testing out everyone’s reactions to the Dollhouse merited some moments of fun. I loved that Topher had to endure some questioning, Claire raised some interesting question, Boyd seemed disgusted with the work at the Dollhouse and Ivy was understandably annoyed that Topher wouldn’t let her do anything interesting.

All of this made each and everyone of them a perfect candidate. Ivy’s such a tertiary character that making her the spy would’ve been easy and lazy in one fell swoop. Luckily even when Dominic seemingly had evidence that proved her guilt, I liked how spy catcher Echo turned the tables on him.

We haven’t had that many fight scenes on this series but I thoroughly enjoyed watching Echo and Dominic got at it with each other. Echo needed to get some much needed vengeance after he tried to kill her and beating the crap out of him was a good way of doing it. As well as exposing him as the mole of course.

Now the confusing thing about Dominic’s reveal of the mole is that it doesn’t explain who’s helping Paul. Dominic admitted that the NSA was trying to stop the Dollhouse from destroying itself, which means that Dominic’s motives aren’t that heroic. It also meant that Adelle could carry off with him being sent to the Attic.

The Attic turned out to be something a lot scarier than I thought it would. The idea of being that powerless and stuck in a permanent mind suck seems to be a fate worse than death. I don’t know why but in spite of some of the things that he’s done, a little part of me actually felt a bit sorry for Dominic. Is that weird?

I suppose Dominic did manage to get a parting shot by grazing Adelle with a bullet. I thought Adelle was a hard bitch in the previous episode but she gets shot and she barely acknowledges. Maybe she’s a Cylon or a Terminator in disguise because even someone as tough as Adelle would feel being shot more than she showed.

It definitely wasn’t me but Adelle did seem betrayed by Dominic’s reveal. I think deep down under her tough exterior that she might have had some feelings for him. Claire tried to get her to talk about them but Adelle brushed them under the carpet. She even took the bullet as some kind of punishment she needed.

It was also pretty obvious that with the word ‘love’ in this week’s episode title that we’d see at least one character choosing an unorthodox way of coping with loneliness. Adelle having Victor programmed as suave British guy Roger for some weekend fencing and shagging wasn’t totally unexpected.

On one hand, what Adelle is doing with Victor could easily be compared to Hearn did with Sierra but at the same time, it was also nice to get an insight into Adelle’s psyche. I like that there’s a tiny part of her that has doubts about what she does for a living. Undoubtedly that’s probably something that will get future exploration as the series goes on, right?

As for November, put her back into her Mellie persona and Paul finds himself being contacted for the second time by the mystery person trying to take down the Dollhouse. Miracle Laurie is effortless in switching from sweet Mellie into November trying to warn Paul about uncovering the Dollhouse’s purpose.

Although Paul still generally bugs me at times, I did feel bad for him here. He went from his usual obsessive mantra about the Dollhouse to trying to protect Mellie to realising that the woman he cares about (because I’m not convinced he loves her, even if she is probably better for him than Caroline/Echo) is part of the same organisation that disgusts him so much. Paul, you’ve just become their client.

Also in “A Spy In The House Of Love”

At different points in the episode, the screen went to spell out when Echo, Victor, Sierra and November were being imprinted.

Echo (to Boyd): “Don’t be vanilla. You can trust me. I’ve already shown I trust you. I got in the van.”

Echo in her dominatrix outfit and Victor as love believer Roger really should’ve had some dialogue together. I’m just saying.

Boyd: “You think I’m a spy?”
Topher: “Not in a bad way.”

Echo (to Topher): “You make people different. You can make me help.”

Adelle is aware of Echo’s compositing/remembering stuff and seems to be encouraging it. Maybe she’s the mole or has an agenda of her own.

Paul: “You didn’t come back to listen to this.”
Mellie/November: “I came back to see you.”

Mellie/November (to Paul): “The Dollhouse deals in fantasy but it’s not their purpose. Investigate their purpose.”

Echo had no names when she was both the dominatrix and the spy catcher. Sierra played a woman who stole Miss Sato’s identity in scenes that were nicely reminiscent of Alias.

Victor/Roger (to Topher, re Ivy): “Be nice. I think she likes you.”

Victor/Roger: “You are perfection. If I can make a woman, I’d make you.”
Adelle: “Really?”

Who was the original Roger – someone that Adelle was in love with or a dead lover? Interesting how she told ‘Roger’ about the Dollhouse in some detail.

Topher (to Echo): “I don’t want to brag – I want to brag. I’m a genius.”

Echo: “I don’t know why but I trust you.”
Boyd: “I must have one of those faces.”

Echo got a new handler called Travis at the end of the episode when Adelle gave Boyd Dominic’s old job.

Dominic (to Echo): “Is her body language telling you she’s innocent?”
Ivy: “No, her language language is telling her.”

Ivy: “Shouldn’t we help?”
Topher (re Echo): “Yeah, I helped when I imprinted her with kung fu skills, but be my guest.”

The fact that Claire doesn’t leave the Dollhouse can’t be good. It could mean that she’s either a Doll or a prisoner but it’s worrying none the less.

Adelle: “Did you think I’d show you mercy or rage? I think you know me better than that.”
Dominic: “You’re a piece of work.”

Claire: “It’s okay to feel something.”
Adelle: “That would imply that I’ve lost something.”
Claire: “Didn’t you?”
Adelle: “Nothing I can’t live without.”

Chronology: How many months has Mellie been keeping tabs on Paul?

“A Spy In The House Of Love” shows that the show is getting better, that it can experiment as well as offer some neat characterisation and performances, especially from Reed Diamond and Olivia Williams.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

No comments: