Sunday, November 01, 2009

My Review of Dollhouse's 2x03: "Belle Chose"

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by David Solomon

Ivy: “First Paul is going to take you on a spree.”
Echo: “Shopping or killing? Joke.”

Whoever said this show had a dark sense of humour? Well if you haven’t, then why not? The humour might not tickle you in the same vein as Dexter but this show certainly doesn’t waste time in delivering one of the creepiest characters yet.

Opening up with Terry was a different tack in a way for the series. He looked suitably demented and it wasn’t that much of a shocker when we saw four innocent women paralysed and positioned like shop door dummies. Sadly when the paralysis wore off one of the women, her attempts of escape were thwarted with Terry bumping up her in quite a grim fashion.

Adding further to the violent opening, Terry himself got ran over when he decided to get a replacement for his Aunt Sheila. Karmically, it’s a beautiful thing to happen to the deranged sociopath but if that had been the end of him; we’d be 75% out of an episode as well, so Terry winding up in a coma instead was to be expected.

When even Topher has moral qualms against wanting to wake Terry up, it’s probably a good indicator that a) Topher does some scruples and b) a further reminder of how seriously we’re suppose to take Terry as a threat. His uncle Bradley wanted Adelle to wake him up, even after admitting to some of Terry’s horrid acts. Personally, I’d probably pull the plug Terry if I had the choice, so it’s probably a good thing that I’m not a doctor then.

Of course Adelle’s a lot shrewder and connecting the disappearance of four women from Bradley’s claims of his nephew’s nasty activity, she spotted a potential case to solve. This also meant Paul getting to utilise his FBI skills. Paul doing something useful. No, actually this is a good episode for him.

His approach with Terry was pretty good. I liked that Paul didn’t want to try the softly, softly approach even if Bradley felt it was the better method with Terry. Having Victor don the psycho’s body meant a great performance from Enver, who certainly has proved his capability as an actor on this show and in this episode alone.

Terry’s motives for his actions weren’t spectacular or even original. Paul conveyed that beautifully when he tore into Terry’s need for having a fake family, even though his real one was very much alive and breathing. The only problem was that in spite of Paul’s wonderful breakthrough (Terry admitted to killing the woman he forced to be Aunt Sheila), Bradley broke him out of the Dollhouse while still in Victor’s body.

Victor running loose as a psycho is not a good thing and even Adelle felt the pressure by demanding Topher to do a remote wipe. It was only a matter of time before someone other than Alpha would have to achieve and lo and behold, Topher did the deed. Too bad that he took the psycho out of Victor and slammed him into Echo. Not your best work, Topher.

Having both Victor and Echo swap from the imprints they had was a genius idea for this episode. Okay so Eliza Dushku isn’t quite as good as Enver Gjokai but she does a good effort in still conveying the menace when Terry killed/injured poor randy professor Edmund and also when he went back to finish the rest of his victims off.

The final few moments however with Echo trying to suppress Terry’s killer instincts and help the women out when she wasn’t attacking them was a little rushed. I did however find some of the ending confusing. Did Terry actually die in his coma and did Echo manage to retain him, even after being wiped? The latter is definitely not a good thing if true.

As for the other assignment, Echo as Kiki felt a little too first season for me. The naive girl, not getting her medieval literature and having a randy professor enlighten and sleep with her. Been there, done that does seem to be the nicest way of conveying that it’s nothing new. Edmund getting killed/seriously injured when Echo went from Kiki to Terry however was a bit more original. If he survived, could Adelle have a lawsuit on her hands?

However the best thing about this episode was Victor as Kiki. It might have been short-lived but it was certainly a lot of fun and far funnier than you’d ever expect a show like this to be. Paul was especially kind of cute when he stepped in from Victor getting potentially beaten up by a few disgruntled night clubbers. Certainly a talking point for this series.

Also in “Belle Chose”

The literary allusions in this episode were interesting. In his own way, Edmund was trying to encourage female sexual liberation while Terry was trying to suppress it.

Topher (re Terry): “It could also give him a man reaction.”
Adelle: “I choose not to hear that.”

Boyd and Adelle both argued over Claire in this episode. Even Victor commented on not liking the new doctor as well.

Boyd (to Adelle): “Topher has ethical problems. Topher.”

Echo: “I’m like the Scarlet Lady with an F on her chest.”
Edmund: “A.”

Bradley was played by Michael Hogan (Tigh from Battlestar Galactica). If we’re really lucky can we have Tricia Helfer or James Callis next?

Bradley (re Paul): “This is the wrong approach to take with Terry. He needs to know you’re on his side.”
Adelle: “But we’re not on his side.”

Echo (to Edmund): “I guess having a fat ass was a great thing in the 1300s.”

In the UK, Sci-Fi seems to keep airing their ads for evening repeats of Buffy during the breaks for this show. Gee, I wonder why.

Topher (re Victor): “He’ll be an empty headed robot walking around Hollywood. He’ll be fine. We’ll find him.”

Edmund: “You do have power over me. You’re an incredible woman.”
Echo/Terry: “What did you call me? I am an incredible woman. Goodness gracious.”

Victor/Kiki (to night clubber): “You suck. Trying to hit a girl. Oh Paul, why did you ever leave me?”
Paul (to man): “You got a problem?”

No Sierra this week but the next episode is supposed to more than make up for that, so I’m happy with that.

Paul (re Terry): “Think he’ll ever wake up?”
Adelle: “Wouldn’t it be nice if he didn’t?”

Paul and Adelle seem friendlier with each other. Either that or Paul is trying to be more clever in taking the Dollhouse down. Latter I suspect.

“Belle Chose” is definitely the strongest contender from the first couple of episode we’ve had this season. Some good performances from Eliza and Enver and priceless comic moments all help make this one a winner.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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