For those of you that follow me on Twitter (@adamreisinger), some of this is going to seem familiar, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the Season 2 premiere of “Dollhouse”.
Now, for those of you who are returning “Dollhouse” viewers but haven’t picked up the DVD/Blu-ray set, I highly recommend you do so, and watch the unaired episode, “Epitaph One.” A lot of what happened in the Season 2 premiere, “Vows”, lays the groundwork for the future we see in “Epitaph One”.
As for Friday night’s episode, we saw Echo used in an engagement where she was playing a dual role of FBI agent/wife to a terrorist (oh, and putting Eliza Dushku in a wedding dress... awesome! She looked INCREDIBLE!). The twist of the episode was that Ballard, now working for the Dollhouse, was also the client using Echo (“I’m not only a handler, I’m also a client!”). I can’t say I was a fan of that move -- or of the lack of Sierra (Dichen Lachman), but everything else in the episode was great.
I thought what carried the episode was the tension between Topher and Whiskey/Saunders, who now knows that she is an active who has been programmed with a modified version of the personality of the Dollhouse’s dead doctor. Amy Acker is an incredibly underrated actress. Her scene with Alexis Denisof in the “Angel” finale is still one of my favorite TV moments. Oh, and speaking of Denisof (aka Wesley Wyndam-Pryce), he shows up in a new recurring role as a senator launching an investigation into the Dollhouse.
Back to Saunders and Topher -- last year they were disappointingly one-dimensional as characters, at least through the first 7 or 8 episodes. Now, not only do they feel more fleshed out, but they feel more human than anyone else on the show (surprising, since Saunders even denies her own humanity in the episode, now that she knows she’s a doll). On some level, I find their story more interesting than anything that might happen with Echo and Ballard.
It’s hard to say through one episode whether Dollhouse will be episodic, like it was early in Season 1, or continue with some of the larger mythology stuff that came in late in Season 1, but it looks like things are leaning toward the latter (with a touch of the former, since that’s what the Dollhouse is built on). I really liked the last scene with Ballard and Echo, where she said she didn’t want to just find herself, but wanted to find the personalities of everyone in the Dollhouse. To me, that showed that some of Caroline is starting to shine through.
Score: 9 (out of 10)