Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Review of Dollhouse's 2x02: "Instinct"

Written by Michelle Fazekas And Tara Butters
Directed by Marita Gabriak

Topher (to Paul/Adelle, re Echo): “Perhaps triggering lactation was a bridge too far. Live and learn.”

Oh, you don’t think? When you have to watch your main character breastfeed a baby that doesn’t belong to her, regardless of imprint, it’s a little hard not to be disturbed by it. It seems there are many things that Topher will happily do to advance his Dollhouse studies.

Taking another unusual route this week, Echo became the mother of a bouncing baby boy that she didn’t have to carry for nine months. The scheme unusual even for this show’s standards and Dushku’s acting must be improving because she was pretty convincing with this one.

As put upon Emily, Echo believed that she had a wonderful son that she bonded to easily and a husband who was somewhat cold and distant with her and the baby. We even got the soap opera aspect with Echo confiding in her best friend Kelly (the role taken on by Sierra), who gave her some pretty obvious advice.

Instead Echo did some snooping around on her own and became easily convinced that Nate was having an affair. When he admitted that the woman in the photographs was a former lover whose death he couldn’t really come to terms with, the jig was up.

The sad part was that Echo then became convinced that Nate wanted rid of her and the baby when she overheard him trying to call off the engagement. It got even worse for her when she realized that Paul was coming to get, so legging it out the window became her only option.

The police station scenes were some of the strongest. The female detective sympathized with Echo because she thought she was an abuse victim until Nate managed to get his son back and then have Echo dragged back to the Dollhouse. I have to hand it to Eliza Dushku for some great moments there. Her acting in this episode is arguably some of her strongest in my opinion.

The even more interesting part of this was her maternal instinct becoming more dominant when Topher tried to wipe her. Going by the choice quote I’ve used for the opening segment of the review, triggering lactation was a bridge to far. Next time, think your little upgrades out, Topher.

Echo escaping from the Dollhouse so easily seemed a little trite to me. This wasn’t “Needs” so I don’t see how she could’ve left the building. Are security staff really that lax in a place like the Dollhouse? Well, I do have to remember Alpha I suppose. He certainly had no problems getting out and back in that place.

As for Echo’s confrontation with Nate, parts of it felt like The Hand That Rocked The Cradle while other bits were surprisingly poignant. Nate finally came to embrace the child he couldn’t bear to look and Echo became disheartened when she had to deal with Jack not being her child.

The end scene with Paul and Echo discussing the latter’s distress at remembering everything was sad. That being said, I do have to admit that Echo choosing to be awake compared to the other Actives is an interesting idea, especially when you consider another returnee here.

It was nice that we weren’t going to have to wait long for Mellie/Madeline to return. Miracle Laurie was always going to be a welcomed appearance and thanks to some of the recent ads, it looks like there’s going to be some good storylines for her this season. Adelle was certainly keen on Madeline getting her diagnostic.

So from the diagnostic point of view, we can assume that Madeline is physically fine and unlikely to glitch anytime soon. However from the conversations that Madeline had with both Paul and Adelle, it seems pretty obvious that she poses a threat to the Dollhouse. Adelle didn’t exactly suppress the possibility.

Paul on the other hand seemed to be a mixed bag with Madeline. He went from being surprised that she was at the Dollhouse to sympathetic about her daughter’s death and curious about Madeline’s seeming happiness of not remembering much of her time. The exact opposite of Echo in those respects.

However if Madeline poses a threat, then I think it will be down to Daniel Perrin that she does so. Unlike Paul, it will prove a lot harder for the likes of Adelle to get a senator to back off, especially one that has little problems in drawing up clues as quickly as he does. Needless to say, I’m hoping for Perrin to win this one out.

He’s got the moral outrage, a supportive wife in Cindy and so far, an integrity to want to expose the Dollhouse that Paul seemed to lack in the first season. Also like Paul, he seems to have a face to attach to the Dollhouse as well. I think it’s obvious who the face will end up being.

Also in “Instinct”

This aired along with “Vows” for UK viewers on Sci-Fi UK. Sorry for the delays in reviewing the episode. I’m catching up as we speak.

Paul: “Yeah, I don’t understand.”
Topher: “Yeah but it’s so cute that you’re trying.”

Paul certainly looked at the chair with morbid curiosity at the start of the episode. Topher also seems to enjoy talking down to him.

Echo (re Nate): “It’s more than that. I hand him the baby and he acts like I’ve handed him a live grenade.”
Sierra: “Men are wusses.”

Adelle: “For your own wellbeing, come in and have your diagnostic. I won’t take no for an answer.”
Madeline: “No, I don’t imagine you will.”

Claire only left in the previous episode and they’ve already drafted in some new physician for the place. I’m surprised Adelle actually hasn’t sent out for her.

Nate (re Echo/Jack): “Just find them.”
Adelle: “We know already where Echo and the baby are and we are retrieving them as we speak.”

Topher: “We should put you in the recruiting DVD.”
Madeline: “Thank you very much. How do I get out of here?”

Madeline’s words were, “cucumber”, “boat” and “wire”. She sensibly also refused Topher’s offer of upgrades.

Topher (re Echo): “Did you offer her any treatment?”
Paul: “Gee, that’s a great idea, Topher.”

Paul: “So, what, you’re happy now?”
Madeline: “I’m not sad. It was nice meeting you.”

How early was Madeline released from her contract? From the way Adelle sounded, I got the impression that Madeline had barely served half of it.

Echo: “Babies need their mothers.”
Nate: “I know but you’re not his mother.”

Adelle made some perceptive comments about children needing love from an early onset. Nate clearly took that into account when dealing with Echo as well.

Echo: “All of these things happened to me, I feel them.”
Paul: “I know, Echo. I know you remember.”
Echo: “Not remember, feel.”

There was no Victor or Boyd in this episode and I’m not certain of the distance between this episode and “Vows”.

“Instinct” is a decent episode, nice plot, some good acting from Dushku but it’s hard to stay involved when you know that FOX are going to do away with the series pretty soon and that does suck.

Rating: 8 out of 10.


Nat said...

I think this episode was definitely better than the first and I did like bits of it, but there were some definite flaws in it. The lactation thing was definitely over the top and personally I think its a bit silly it could've triggered such a powerful and knowledgeable maternal response (she knew where the baby lived?!)

Eliza Dushku was quite good in this episode though.

Oh yeah sorry for the computer trouble you mentioned in the comments of your last blog. I feel your pain. Hope you get it sorted soon :)

shawnlunn2002 said...

Some of the stuff was strange I will give you that.

I have to catch up with Belle Chose. There's a Buffy review on this blog for the latest comic.