Friday, August 07, 2009

My Review of Dollhouse's 1x12: "Omega"

Written And Directed by Tim Minear

Alpha: “Omega … you hit me with a pipe.”
Echo: “Yeah? Call me Omega again and you’ll get some more.”

Last week on Dollhouse, the psycho known as Alpha got Paul to lead him into the place, slashed Victor’s face, terrified Claire and managed to escape with Echo with very little effort at all. Even Torchwood would call their efforts into question.

Unfortunately this episode does do what I feared it was going to with Alpha and Echo by turning them into some sort of Bonnie And Clyde dynamic. There’s even a poor girl kidnapped by the pair as well but that’s more for Alpha’s benefit than anyone else.

So, Alpha. If there’s one thing this episode does, it’s delivering flashbacks in spades when it comes to the bloke. The first one included him going off mission and scaring the living daylights out of his presumed client, Lars along with fellow Doll Whiskey as well.

It was more or less confirmed in the previous episode that Claire used to be a Doll and the set of flashbacks we get in this episode proved that she was an extremely popular one as well. If Paul’s favouring of Caroline/Echo for Mellie/November is annoying then, Alpha managed to usurp Paul in that stakes pretty well.

From the first few scenes, it seemed like Alpha and Whiskey were almost a thing of sorts but as soon as Echo came into the picture, Alpha got a little more unhinged than usual. Kissing Echo in the hallway during their blank state worried his handler. Handler probably should’ve done more than give a brief warning.

Instead handler let Alpha’s attraction to Echo fester to the extent that Alpha attacked Whiskey just so Echo could be the best. Yeah, because a bit of face mutilation will definitely get you the girl of your dreams – not! Poor Whiskey. Yet another person tossed to the sidelines in favour of Echo.

Because of these flashes, including the ones where Alpha attacked his handler and the real Dr Saunders, where the plot goes won’t surprise but will let down some viewers. Why did Alpha’s need to want to ascend Echo have to be his major scheme of the week when it probably would’ve made an alright subplot?

The actress who they hired to play Wendy was terrific, especially during the moment where Wendy became imprinted with Caroline – talk about being able to see yourself. However, there’s no real validity to Alpha’s angry accusations that Caroline abandoned her own body.

Caroline might be a pain in the ass but she didn’t voluntarily sign up for the Dollhouse, which makes her victim and non-culpable for what’s been happening to her. There are some good moments with Alpha and Caroline attempting to appeal to Echo, with Alpha seemingly having the upper hand at first.

Of course in obvious TV scripting, just because it looked like Alpha’s plan to upload every personality that Echo has ever had so she could be superior being and love him was working, that moment where she grabbed the pipe, I would’ve been shocked if she had actually attacked Wendy/Caroline with it.

The fight scene between Alpha and Echo lacks the same spark that made Paul and Boyd’s fight in the previous episode so effective. Even when Alpha threatened to blast away Caroline’s imprint forever, the tension could’ve been a bit more, I don’t know – there perhaps.

Needless to say, Paul being the one to save Caroline’s personality wasn’t the most satisfying of things but Alpha getting away means that he can hopefully return for a more powerful storyline in the second season. Besides, Alan Tudyk is way too good not to return, am I right?

The end with Echo remembering Caroline is probably just another reminder of her compositing state, which will hopefully be delved more into in the next season. This episode’s heavy focus on Caroline didn’t fare well for our other Dolls.

For instance both Mellie and Sierra were primed to go and save Echo but we saw them nowhere near that warehouse at all. On the plus side, Paul actually did something that would make you proud of him by getting Adelle to release Mellie from her contract. I hear Miracle Laurie is returning next season, so that’s not the end of everyone’s favourite Doll next door.

As for Victor, I really, really felt for him when Claire was cold with him about being broken. The poor guy wanted reassurance and she lost it with him. Not that Claire was intentionally being a bitch but I do wonder whether or not Victor is going to end up having a similar fate like Claire/Whiskey bestowed on him.

Some of Claire’s scenes in this episode raised a lot of interesting questions. Two of them being was why didn’t she delve more into who she really was when she had the chance (something which Topher made the point to ask) and also why on Earth did Topher imprint her not to like him?

If I had to guess, maybe the old Dr Saunders disliked him and Topher was sticking to consistency or maybe Topher actually enjoys having people to verbally spar with him. He’s still deluded enough to think that he’s the smartest person in the Dollhouse. Okay, he’s smarter than Paul but that’s hardly a difficult task, now is it?

As for Paul joining up the Dollhouse, it made sense. There was no way Adelle was going to let him walk away. If Paul hadn’t joined, she would’ve either had him killed, sent to the Attic or wiped and used as a Doll. Paul has managed to achieve in one season what took the Angel four seasons to do – work for the very organisation that he worked so hard to stop. That can’t end well.

Also in “Omega”

If Alpha is the beginning of the phonetics, shouldn’t he have named Echo the last letter of them as well?

Claire (re Alpha): “He asked me if I always wanted to be a doctor.”
Topher: “Well, who can fathom the mind of a crazy person?”
Claire: “The person that made him crazy.”

We learned that Mellie’s real name is Madeline Kostley. I loved her comment about Paul being furniture as well.

Paul: “He broke out of here and so will I.”
Adelle: “Alpha is a genius.”

Alpha: “Welcome to your castle my princess. Behold your throne.”
Echo: “Wow! Say have you got a bathroom?”

While Echo was uploaded with 38 personalities (shouldn’t she have been blind with the Esther one?), Alpha had 48 of them permanently in his brain thanks to Topher.

Dr Saunders (re Echo): “Sounds like you’re gonna have another friend.”
Whiskey: “Friends are nice.”
Dr Saunders: “They sure are.”

Alpha: “I like you, you’re special.”
Echo: “I try to be my best.”
Alpha: “You are the best.”

Alpha’s real name was revealed to be Carl William Craft and he was a criminal. Criminals as guinea pigs. Damn, the Dollhouse gets more and more stupid.

Mellie/November (re Paul): “So, if you’re done molesting the furniture, can we get these guys already?”
Sierra: “Well, you’re the one still in your pyjamas.”

Alpha: “I enjoy my treatment.”
Topher: “Well, you’re gonna love this one. Kind of like a greatest hits.”

Topher took an instant dislike to Paul, whereas Boyd showed a good degree of compassion and sympathy for him. I guess that Boyd used to be Paul.

Echo (re Alpha): “He’s going to make me a superior creature. An ascended being.”
Wendy/Caroline: “Do you even know what that means?”
Echo: “Do you?”
Wendy/Caroline: “No.”
Echo: “Okay! So you’re not better than me.”

Paul (re Dollhouse): “I’m not working for them. I’m saving the girl.”
Boyd: “There’s always a girl.”

We got a brief appearance from Tanaka in this episode as well as one of Alpha’s victims as well.

Alpha: “Thought you were different. Thought you were exceptional. I was wrong, you’re weak.”
Echo: “I might not know who I am but I know who I’m not, your girlfriend.”

Echo (re wedge): “I said shoot, I don’t care.”
Alpha: “She will.”
Echo: “She won’t know, she won’t care and we’re both coming to get you.”

We saw some flashes of original pilot “Echo” (available on the Season One DVD) during some of Echo’s engagements flashing up on screen.

Claire: “Why did you decide it was so important for me to hate you? I think that’s strange.”
Topher: “You didn’t open it?”
Claire: “No.”
Topher: “Aren’t you curious to know who you are?”

Standout music: Beck’s “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime”. It was also used on an episode of Nip/Tuck this year as well.

“Omega” isn’t a terrible finale but given that this series had finally been upping the ante, it does feel like a rather tame way of ending the first season. On the plus side for the series, at least we know it has a future.

Rating: 7 out of 10.


Anonymous said...

"If Alpha is the beginning of the phonetics, shouldn’t he have named Echo the last letter of them as well?"

Alpha is also the beginning of the Cyrillic alphabet, and Omega sounds a lot more special than Zulu (a name which someone probably already has, anyway). The point was that he made another like him, not just another Doll.

Nat said...

I thought Omega was decent enough. I liked the flashbacks relating to Claire/Whiskey- such a sad storyline though. Lots of questions regarding her and Topher- another one of the popular ones is that they knew each other before she was a doll. Shame we won't see too much of her next season.

Alan Tudyk was great as Alpha, but as evil masterminds go he wasn't that complex- maybe that was the point as he's obviously quite mad.

I'm so glad we get to see Mellie/November again next season, easily one of my favourite characters.

Paul working for the Dollhouse was pretty predictable once he'd got inside; Adelle would never had let him go knowing what he knows!!

shawnlunn2002 said...

I guess I can agree with that, Anon.

Um, Nat, some good comments there. We'll get more on Claire/Whiskey next season cos Amy Acker is appearing in at least three episodes.

Mellie is awesome as is Victor.