Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Review of Dollhouse's 1x10: "Haunted"

Written by Jane Espenson And Jed Whedon And Maurissa Tancharoen
Directed by Elodie Keene

Echo/Margaret: “Addie, it’s just so ugly. I love these people but I don’t like them.”

Now this is definitely an innovative way of a Dollhouse client using the Dollhouse. Waiting until they’re dead, getting an Active body and going to solve their murder. If only Agatha Christie had thought of this one.

Margaret Bashford was a rich lady who went on her favourite horse and wound up dead the next minute. More than that, unlike every other client we’ve seen, Margaret and Adelle were actually friends, adding another interesting spin on things.

Jesting about being late for her own funeral might one of many obvious zingers this episode’s plot could conjure up but I did get a laugh out of things and I suppose if you could do the same thing as Margaret, wouldn’t you?

The idea of attending your own funeral in the body of someone half your age has got to be a bit of shocker but Margaret was more interested in solving her murder than getting sentimental and with four obvious suspects, it was fun watching this episode show how each of them could possibly be guilty.

There was Jocelyn, the embittered daughter. Margaret’s parenting skills are something that clearly don’t leave much to be desired for and constantly dismissing your own child’s career is a bad thing. Especially when the child in question is actually a success at the job she does.

I know it sounds weird but I didn’t think that Jocelyn was going to be the killer. She came across as too sympathetic, in spite of all her anger. It was nice to see her converse with Echo as Margaret, even if she oblivious to the fact that she was literally trashing her mother to her face.

Then there was William, the estranged brother. Now he was actually the person I did expect to be the very one responsible for Margaret. He was constantly drunk, belligerent and given that we learned about him and Margaret’s fallout, it did make some more sense that he could’ve killed his sister in spite or greed.

The other two suspects then had to have been the son Nicholas and the younger husband, Jack. Nicholas had debts coming out of his ears and Jack didn’t seem all that pleased to learn that he had been bequeathed his late wife’s horses. It didn’t help that both also more than a little suspicious as well.

Jack was actually quite hot headed more than enough times and even got furious when Margaret tried it on with him in Echo’s body. I guess there are some people out there who do marry older women because they love them. Jack might have been angry but clearly he did find his wife very dear.

That left Nicholas as the only other person who could possibly have done in Margaret but even then we were sort of misled. Watching him try to snog Echo was a cringe worthy moment but when he realised that she was Margaret, that was sort of awesome. However it didn’t come as too much of a shock that he was a Dollhouse client himself.

It could explain parts of his debt problem or even the fact that he slipped up about drugging the horse. He was the expert on horses and not Jack. Also fight wise, Margaret should be happy that it was Jack who came to her rescue before Nicholas bumped her off for a second time.

Overall the resolution to the main plot tied up nicely. We learned that Jack was a stand up guy, Nicholas got nothing and sent to prison and Margaret got to rewrite her will after finding out more about her loved ones. Plus Adelle actually showed some emotion when Margaret was resigned to her fate.

A lot of people in Margaret’s position probably wouldn’t have been so quick to give up the chance of living in a new, more virile body so the fact that she did is surprising in a lot of way. Maybe some of the Dollhouse clients are bad/seriously emotionally damaged people after all.

That might be something that Paul can relate to. After all, thanks to Mellie’s presence in his life, he has now become one of their clients and spent most of this episode barely able to hold it together. I’ve slagged off Paul in the past but I do really feel for him this week.

On one hand if he doesn’t play along, he’s literally putting a hit on himself but on the other hand, by playing along, he’s becoming the thing he hates about the Dollhouse and it’s clientele. It finally gives Tahmoh Penikett some meaty material as well, but it’s disturbing as hell to watch.

Paul dealt with his anger towards his situation by having rough sex with Mellie and she has fallen into the unfortunate dynamic of trying to appease him, even though she doesn’t know what’s going through his mind, making Mellie’s plight all that more hard to watch.

Miracle Laurie is really good at selling Mellie’s naivety with this current plot line but there’s no way that Paul will be able to continue to maintain this pretence, especially now that he’s trying to track Mellie as well.

As for Topher, he gets the opportunity to imprint a Doll for himself and what does he do? He imprints a fellow geeky best friend with Sierra. Some of the scenes between Topher and Sierra are cute and it’s probably the most benign use of an Active going but it also harkens to something as well.

Remember in the Buffy episode “I Was Made To Love You” where Tara said that it was kind of sad that her future killer Warren had to build a robot girlfriend because he couldn’t find a human one? I think that has to apply to Topher as well that he has to imprint a friend because he can’t make any in the real world. I’m not a Topher sympathiser but it is sad as well. Still this is something he’s allowed to do on his birthday, according to Adelle.

Also in “Haunted”

Victor briefly appeared in this episode as riding inspector called Mr Chilton. However him and Echo had no interaction with each other.

Boyd (re Margaret): “So we can give life after death?”
Topher: “Only if we really like you.”

Margaret made a point the age differences between herself and Adelle and Adelle and Echo, so unless Adelle was a gymslip mum, I’d still think she’s likely to be Echo/Caroline’s aunt if they’re even related.

Echo/Margaret (to Adelle): “I used to say I’d be late for my own funeral but I didn’t mean it.”

Sierra (to Topher): “Get ready to have your ass kicked and possibly lose an eye.”

I doubt it was intentional but that quote gave me a nasty reminder of a certain Season Seven Buffy episode.

Mellie/November (to Paul): “I know the quickest way to kill a relationship is to take it’s temperature but are you okay?”

Nicholas: “You said you wanted to comfort me.”
Echo/Margaret: “Not with my tongue.”

Who was the personality that Topher imprinted Sierra with? A former friend or even Topher himself? Yes, I think he would be that narcissistic.

Echo/Margaret: “You lost your mother. It’s only natural you’d so be elmo.”
Jocelyn: “Emo.”
Echo/Margaret: “That’s not a word, sweetie.”

Mellie/November (to Paul): “They smell really good, some of them, not so much but overall, your shirts are nuzzle worthy.”

Paul’s shower scene I guess was more to do with conveying his self-loathing of having sex with Mellie than highlighting the actor’s prettiness.

Echo/Margaret (re body): “I don’t get to keep it.”
Nicholas: “I didn’t think so.”

Jack (re Margaret): “I hope she didn’t know the truth about her son. It would’ve killed her.”
Echo/Margaret: “It already did.”

Nice that Adelle acknowledged Boyd’s attachment to Echo when telling him to move on. Also no Claire this week either.

“Haunted” isn’t my favourite episode but Jane Espenson is a cracking writer and seeing Dushku trying to play a 60 something woman is more interesting than some of the other parts she’s played in the series. Fun but not a classic.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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