20091102

Battlestar Galatica: The (Half-assed, made up on the spot) Plan

The newly released Battlestar Galactica movie, directed by Edward James Olmos, has all the disadvantages of the original series, and none of redeeming qualities, but there's nudity!

There appears to be no reason for this movie at all, as it's plot is filling in spaces before the series began and the spaces in between the major plot points.

There are a few interesting points in the film that illustrate more of what was going on the series, how ever it is redundant. While there were some interesting scenes of the human-looking skin jobs acting completely self-righteous while committing genocide, it was an unnecessary detail.

Fans of the series will be very familiar with the sticky morality and unflinching presentation of atrocity as the backdrop for drama, but in adding details to the atrocities of the original series it has a numbing effect. I know they killed a lot of people, but seeing the Cylon pitching countless bodies into a ditch actually didn't resonate with me the way it should have.

It appears as though it's whole purpose is to make the Cylons more villainous after they had spent almost five years making them less evil with interesting story and characterization. I feel the need to say, Adm. Cain made the Cylons look like the goddamned Carebears after about 45 minutes.

Then there's the nudity, which I don't believe is intended to titillate, since by the time we see it we've already seen so much murder and suffering that it barely registers, which may been the point.

I suppose the worst part of the whole series is revisiting all the old story arcs from the show like "My Significant Other is a Cylon," which was explored in depth in the series and doesn't need to be revisited here. Lymari Nadal, the spouse in this version of that arc, is so natural in her line delivery it felt like she was in another a series all together.

BSG is fast falling for the Star Wars fallacy of exploring the same themes, characters and ideas over and over and over, which is fine bringing in new fans, but you loose as many people as you gain from that sort of storytelling.

Finally, this Plan we kept hearing about? The Cylon Plan was "Nuke the Colonies and be smug about it when all the humans are dead," which means that at no point during the history of this culture was there ever a war or a rebellion or anything that would indicate that unless your plan is perfect (which it never is), then people will survive and you won't be able to feel smug.

Seeing the totality in which the Cylons won makes the remainder of humanity seem like nothing even approaching a threat. This is what I'm going to call the Puny Human Fallacy: nearly invincible, all-powerful or super technology beings or cultures are absolutely certain that humans cannot defeat them, so they fuck with humans constantly, not realizing that when you do that, the humans will find a way to defeat you.

It gets even sillier when you apply this to Battlestar, because they Cylons have already won and won hard. The Cylons find themselves, after killing billions of people and having more than enough habitable planets, wasting time trying to hunt down thirty thousand or so remaining humans. In this way we find another failing of these sorts of explorations, because now I, even as a fan of the show, find it stupid.

Not only did this fail as entertainment for me, it actually deconstructed the show to such an extent that I may as well delete all the episodes I have purchased on iTunes. Perhaps Caprica will be better.

20090525

Terminator and Fourth Generation Warfare: Skynet is doomed to lose

Terminator: Salvation imagines, finally, the war with that machine enemy that John Connor has prepared for just about all his life for. A critical complaint was that Christian Bale pretty much played Batman without ears in this role. Well, what’s Batman but a man very damaged by one child-hood incident?

Connor was put through all manner of training by his mother in preparation for the war after Judgment Day, in addition to at least two attempts on his life by Terminators, putting all that training to the test, which Connor of course passed or he wouldn’t be here. Of course Connor is probably going to stop talking about his feelings the moment the first bomb dropped on Judgment Day.

T:S imagines a never-ending conflict through time and space in which an coldly calculating machine attempts to wipe out an insurgency by. . . sending back it’s toughest operators before the war even starts to kill the potentially toughest people before they are tough. More on the flaws in that plan later.

But first Skynet's worst plan is Marcus Wright, a character who is apparently supposed to be the ultimate sleeper agent, built at some point in the past and unleashed on an unsuspecting world in 2018, eleven years before a Terminator is first sent back to kill Sarah Connor. Apparently, Wright was cyborgified sometime in the past and kept on ice somewhere until he was necessary. At the end of the film, Marcus gives up his heart so that John Connor may live, probably because of the messiah-like fervor that now surrounds a man who has not only become the voice of the resistance, but is now (thanks to Skynet’s above average immediate strategic response) probably one of the most senior leaders of the American resistance.

As Reese said in the first film, sending a terminator back in time was an act of “desperation,” if computers can be said to be desperate. Making a half-man half machine from a pre-existing person seems not only desperate but exceedingly foolish. Even if you do successfully make the Six-Million Dollar Sleeper Agent, it’s an even bigger gamble than time traveling robot assassins with human skin. After all that, Skynet once again found a way to make Connor even harder to kill as Wright insists on giving up his heart.

Skynet, as an opposing force, has some other major flaws. First of all, when it sends a Terminator back in time, it runs a very, very high risk of giving up a ton of intelligence about it’s capabilities not just to the enemy, but to an enemy that does not yet know it’s an enemy, losing the element of surprise. Would you declare a war nearly thirty years before you even attack? Another problem with this sort of retroactive assault technique is that anyone who survives it is completely prepared for coming war, so essentially Skynet has potentially set its own self up for failure each time one of these Terminators goes back in time.

This is a supposedly self-aware super computer; at what point does it realize that trying to kill John Connor, something it has been doing for about a decade or so since it caused Judgment Day, is a wasted effort, as John Connor has been preparing and training for nearly 30 years to, at the very least, not be killed. Each time Skynet would send a Terminator back, John Connor would defeat it, and perhaps even gather intelligence on it and train just a little bit harder for the next threat.

Finally, does Skynet know anything about guerrilla warfare? It caused a world wide nuclear catastrophe, which while trimming the numbers of humanity significantly also has the side effect of only leaving the resilient, the tough and absurdly lucky behind. Skynet has pretty much ensured, having apparently never read Sun-Tzu (“Throw your troops into situations where there is no escape, where they will die before surrendering,”), not only that the enemy is harder than coffin nails, but will fight to the death.

While it’s never mentioned precisely how many humans are left after Judgment Day, if Skynet could just be a little bit more patient, it could have used population bottlenecking if the numbers were low enough. The lack of wide spread health care support could also spread common diseases, like wildfire.

However, the humans had enough man-power to provide close air support with A-1o Warthog aircraft, which suggests many of the survivors are not only hearty they are also military and fairly abundant.

Let’s say the population decimation is even world wide, for the sake of argument. Skynet is based in the United States; and it’s forces, while never tiring, are probably spread thin just dealing with the American insurgents. It may have just crossed the ocean at the time of the film, and probably isn’t doing very well, since it doesn’t matter how super a computer you are, in the mountains of Afghanistan you are just another empire making life difficult for some of the toughest farmers the world has even known.

Finally Skynet was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force, which apparently designed it's trillion dollar war fighting computer to fight the villains of the 1940's, so essentially short-sightedness and poor design and planning will probably be the salvation of Humanity.

20090510

Doll House Episode 12: Was orignally 90 minutes.

Previously on Dollhouse: Shit. Went. Down.

Picking up right where last week left off, Doc Sexy Scars is running around saying she needs help.

Harry J. Lennix says the horse has left the barn, Olivia Williams barks some orders, and things are off to a great start.

Topher the Tech informs us that Dushku’s tracking strip has been removed, and bio-links have been severed. In layman’s terms they can’t find her with computers.

Williams says she wants to know what her imprint is, and hell, don’t we all? Topher says he’s looking, Williams says to keep looking.

Then Doc Sexy Scars tells Topher, in a grave tone, “He asked me if I always wanted to be a doctor,” giving a little more credence to the theory that the Doc is a doll as well.

Topher is a little taken aback. “Who could fathom the mind of a crazy person?”

“The one who made him crazy, maybe?” The Doc says.

And we are on the road, Alpha Tyduk asks Echo is she likes her new togs (which is a REALLY slangy thing to say, but it works), and is speaking like Deniro in Cape Fear. . . and so is Dushku.

I’m a little miffed that whenever they want to portray some sort of Bonnie/Clyde thing that have some sort of uneducated accent. I guarantee you educated people have done some jacked up things, but one has to wonder if regional attitudes affect the way things are jacked up.

I digress.

Alpha Tyduk is really crazy. Like arguing with himself crazy. Dushku has been implanted with some sort of street kid whom Alpha says was “13. Already a woman.”

Whoa, creepy. There’s some really great dialogue here about how maybe they actually never knew each other, maybe they were just programmed with each other. Why one would program a pair of dangerous criminals I can’t be sure, but whatever.

Apparently they robbed a clothing store, and Dushku unleashes her drawl on the clerk they took hostage, and they drive and snuggle.

Roll the opening credits!

It says “A Few Years Ago. . .” Which makes me wonder how long Dushku has been a doll. Like she turned 18 and signed up? Makes sense within the timeline.

So they really did imprint paranoid criminal personalities into the actives. Very stupid, I’m sorry.

Alpha Tyduk is/has tortured a dude while a sweet young thing, presumably Dushku, swings her hips in front of a Super Trooper light to the crooning of Roy Orbison. Damn can she move.

Apparently these two spotted the vans following them, and are sure that Poor Schmuck #42 is working for them. Alpha Tyduk insists on the truth. So he tells him. They’re not real. They have clearly programmed Micky and Malory for this rich idiot who some how had this fantasy about a crime spree with two crazy people.

Were I in a management position at the Dollhouse, I would probably have told this dude to keep his money.

Alpha Tyduk calls his girl, Crystal over, and it’s the Doc. Wholly unscarred. (Good call, by the way.) She is wearing much less than she usually wears and it is some where between scalding hot and shamefully voyeuristic.

The dollhouse is closing in, and then we are treated to a creepy sequence that combines elements of torture, lap dancing and a manage et trois. That’s just really nasty. Doc is having way too much fun. It’s nice to see her enjoying herself, but lord is that unpleasant to watch.

Dollhouse breaks down the door before the climax (in several senses of the word, these are thrill killers, after all) and yes, the doll’s name is Whiskey.

ASIDE: Apparently there was supposed to be way more dolls in this show, an example would be Tango, who would be the older woman type. Makes a lot of sense, because if you have a monopoly on something, the more niche markets you cater to, the more profit you are more or less guaranteed. In terms of a story, it’s rather a shame that has turned into another show about tiny brunettes.

Present Day, Dollhouse Puzzle Palace Headquarters: Williams has had Helo just kinda chilling in her office while they controlled the chaos, and when they return, she has Lennix take the cuffs off she has everyone else except Lennix leave the room.

She summarizes the parts of the previous episodes Helo wasn’t around for and says “The Alpha Situation was an unfortunate technological anomaly.”

Helo is a like “What have you people done?”

And Williams, who has admitted at least once about feeling guilty about her job, is all self righteous as all hell at Helo, openly saying she wanted the smirk wiped off his face when she tells him Alpha has Dushku. Helo pretty much says frak your couch to what she’s planning, but the building is on lockdown and surrounded by about a company of federal police.

Helo says he can make it go away when he sees his old professional nemesis Romo Lamkin or whatever his name is. He outside and up to him and says there’s no bomb and they’re standing on the dollhouse. The nemesis says “False alarm” and everybody rolls out.

Nice.

The Doc has sewn up Victor, and he now has a nasty Glasgow smile, and knows he’ll never be his best again. Victor asks the Doc how he can be his best, and the Doc says it’s no longer possible.

“You’re ugly now, you’re disgusting. All you can hope for now is pity.” She says. Naturally, it’s even worse because we know she’s talking about herself.

(There’s been a lot of disfiguring going on lately on network TV. Last weeks lie to me involved women’s eyes being carved out, after, I might add, sexual assault. I think the difference is they use more metaphors on Dollhouse.)

We flash back again and meet the real Doc Saunders, who reminds me of a small town pediatrician, rather than say, a medical doctor who balances “Do No Harm” with the weird moral grayness of the dollhouse.

Apparently Whiskey used to be the most popular girl at the doll house, and probably the cutest until Dushku came along.

Ah. So this back is to Echo’s first day. Williams is showing her around, Alpha is looking hungry while Dushku takes in the dormitory and we find out that a dollhouse contract is five years.

Back to the present, Helo says the memory erasure chair is where they steal people’s souls. Topher is unhappy about having a second tall morally judgmental man in his office.

Williams tells Topher to suck it up and drive on, and the start loading the dolls with a series of programs that is probably “Crack team of forensic super ninjas” or something. Well that’s what I’d do.

Meanwhile, Alpha is battling it out with several personalities, one of which is a snotty British dude, the other is a edneck serial killer, and another is very likely Alan Tyduk. Apparently he’s been stealing people’s personalities and uploading them. . .

During the upload, Sierra the Human Gazelle starts flirting with Helo; which makes him deeply uncomfortable, funny because at 6’2”, he’s a full head taller than she is and he’s squirming because, well let’s face it, Helo has a Knight in Shining Armor Complex, and knights apparently don’t indulge in pleasures of the flesh (except all the goddamned time, man, like have you ever sat down and read those legends?).

Then chef doll gets implanted as her partner and tells the Gazelle to “stop molesting the furniture.” Helo is all kinds of out of sorts, because that either made no sense at all or she just called Helo all kinds of stupid.

Alpha apparently has 48 personalities bouncing around in there, and when he snapped he smashed his original personalities. Then he uploads Caroline into the store clerks’ body and commences with the psychological torture. Then he tells Dushku she needs to let go of being Caroline and embrace her inner. . . crazy person?

Then another flashback. Alpha is working on his Bonzai tree, and Whiskey is about to get sent out again, when Alpha says she should let Echo be number 1. Then he slashes her face.

Topher, looking rather dapper actually, is told to figure out what went wrong and then stuff Alpha in the attic.

And as near as I can tell, the creation of Alpha was due more to dollhouse staff incompetence than anything else.

In the present, Helo tells Williams and Lennix he needs to know who Alpha was. Well, yeah, obviously. Topher thinks it’s bullshit; but I really think the entire time he’s been covering his own mistake which, essentially made Alpha the greatest threat to the dollhouse imaginable.

Speaking of which, so apparently Alpha is going to upload Dushku with a bunch of personalities so she’s the super-killing machine that Alpha is.

Now, the moment I realize he’s going to do this I know for a fact she’s is going fuck Alpha up. Look back at every personality they’ve ever loaded into Echo; all of them have been based on protection or guardianship or something, hell, even a dominatrix is a form protection when you think about it.

Alpha pushes the button, uploads Dushku, and Dushku hits Alpha with an iron pole. Nice.

Helo finds out that Alpha’s real/original name Carl William Craft. “Three names. Always ominus.” He quips.

Apparently he and several others like were furnished by the Department of Corrections, though she doesn’t specify which state, so I’m going to assume California.

So, now we find out the doll house is experimenting on prisoners, which further suggests just how dangerously retarded their management is. Much as Williams can think on her feet, I think there was some idiot in charge before her. Probably one of those cats that insists on being called “sir,” but was never in the military.

Helo says Alpha was evolving into serial killer. He had a murder kit in his car (Home Depot, 29.99), and Lennix is pretty livid about the whole prisoner thing, being an ex-cop an all, I’m sure he believes in rehabilitation. Helo is about ready to roll out, and so is Lennix.

What’s really funny here is that we also have the two other dolls imprinted as bounty hunters, and these two dudes going after the same thing. The two dolls combined weight would be about half of Helo by himself.

Meanwhile, in a place the show itself described as “A lair. . . an evil lair!” Alpha isn’t clear on what just happened (“Dushku done SCHOOLED you, son-son!”), and Dushku is pretty much a super hero. Funny twist that it's the villain creating his own antagonist for once.

As I had anticipated, the Omega experiment has failed miserably because the Echo character is now a supreme moral being, however she’s also started to buy Alpha’s line about how Caroline left Echo to do or be whatever. They fight! This weeks fight is over kind of quick as Dushku graps Alpha with her feet and throws to the ground like a rag doll.

Meanwhile Helo and Lennix are walking into some building somewhere, and Helo, not one for small talk (“So what kind of protein to you use? Like Whey, or eggs or what? What’s your lifting schedule like?”), muses how Lennix fell in the doll house. They’ve tracked down Alpha’s first victim, who is probably a total bad-ass now, let’s face it.

Lennix is concerned that Carl Craft may have nothing to do with Alpha anymore, until they see the angry scar very close in resemblance to the Doc’s. Yeah. Badass.

Back at the Evil Lair TM Dushku is throwing around a ragdoll that bears more than a passing resemblance to Alan Tyduk. They have a little conversation about weakness or something, and she pummels him some more, and comes over to the person implanted with her Caroline self. And this is really confusing.

Super Dushku talks to herself about why and how, and says “I have 38 brains, and not one of them thinks you can sign a contract to be a slave, especially now that we have a black president.” (ZING!) Dushku’s old self: “We have a black president?” (ZING!)

So, they have a warm fuzzy moment, Caroline is “Ready to do this” and Alpha puts a bullet in her throat. Who saw that coming? I mean, DAMN.

Alpha holds the pistol up against the hard drive that contains Caroline and say “Do what I say or I will blow your brain out.”

So. Thirty eight brains, not one of them thought “twist his head around three times while he’s unconscious just to be sure.” Omega indeed.

Back at the office, Topher is sorting through imprints trying to figure out which ones Alpha had used to make Dushku (“Don’t know why Alpha would imprint her as backup singer, unless he was starting an evil band.”). On the road, Lennix calls Topher and the move the plot along, now Helo and Lennix know the location of the Evil Lair ™.

Alpha is explaining his evil plan, which actually makes a degree of sense. Now that he despises Caroline, he’s going to kidnap women from all over the country, imprint them with the Caroline personality, and murder them in the same fashion every time.

Dushku realizes Alpha can’t shoot the hard drive for that reason, and calls his bluff. He shoots her in the arm and she runs.

Helo and Lennix arrive at the Evil Lair TM, and it’s a little funny how well they work together having just beat the living hell out of each other about four hours ago in the show’s continuity.

Alpha tosses the hard drive from up high and departs, mostly to stop Dushku from pursuing, because let’s face it, she would own his ass. It falls and Helo, having played a lot of rugby as a boy in Canada, catches it.

There is a weird tension as we get back to the office, as Doc Scars asks Topher why she imprinted with computer skills, and she also Topher why she was programmed to hate him. That’s a little odd. Then she walks off, saying she knows who she is.

In Williams office, apparently the have a new contractor, Helo! Just, yeah, go ahead and give up that whole moral kick you were on there, bro. Meanwhile In exchange, they’ll release the girl. It’s the Chef Doll! Awwww, snuggles! She signs her last paperwork and is free, never knowing who Helo is.

Cue the Emo Rock for the final montage. Doc gives Victor a lollipop. Helo introduces himself to the Chef Doll’s real personality, says he’s no one. Dushku touches Topher’s chest. Lennix and Williams realize they’ve compromised some one else and feel kind of crappy about it.


SUMMARY

-What the hell happened to the bounty hunting? Does anyone else feel like this episode was originally at least thirty minutes longer? They completely dropped the bounty hunter plot thread. I mean, damn, there must have been other scenes they could have used that wouldn’t have turned out to be completely extraneous.

20090502

Doll House Episode 11: spoilers ensue.

Previously on Dollhouse: Helo (Ballard) has a map of the Dollhouse operations, the Dollhouse head of security was with the NSA, and he was downloaded/tortured onto a harddrive. Harry J. Lennix is told by Doc Sexy Scars that Alpha is dead.

Now then. A flashback filter is on the camera as a bum is picking through a pile of garbage, he finds a hand, and the hand leaps like a snake for his throat.

Dushku (Echo) is reading Sleeping Beauty to room full of attentive kids who are being polite and quiet, except for one, who claims the story is crap. Dushku, who has been uploaded with the most genteel teacher program I’ve seen does a perfect “Excuse me?” which sounds like “WTF you little brat?” Great delivery: actually sounded like a teacher.

Susan, as the girl is named says Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose, was a asleep for 100 years, than some prince shows up and takes all the credit for saving her in five minutes. Susan then points out, in order to illustrate her extreme precociousness, that since the princess knew the prophecy about the pricking the finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, it was stupid of her to wander around an empty castle “groping spindles.”

The young lady goes off on a rant about how Beauty’s parents should have told what was up and she finally loses it and grabs the story book from Dushku’s lap and tears at it, clearly this some sort of half way for abused children.

Considering all the undercurrents of this show; this scene is made all the more wrenching by the fact that Susan clearly isn’t talking about Sleeping Beauty; she’s talking about how her parents failed. Sad to see someone so young already able to bury their pain in metaphors.

And Dushku talks with some sort of administrator, and I totally called it. Half way house. We find out Dushku’s mission is apparently to help this girl. Which means someone paid for it, which means we might finally have a rich person with enough of a conscience to actually act. Sweet!

Helo is packing. Chef Doll is asking him where he’s going, and if this is about “Caroline,” (Dushku used to be her, but it hasn’t be brought up recently.) Helo is being the asshole soon-to-be-ex, and tells the Chef they are not good for each other, and that she’s in the way. All of which is actually true; but not in a way that the uploaded Chef Doll can understand. Chef Doll says Helo can trust her, and that they can fix this.

Helo grimly says “That’s exactly what I needed to hear, and that’s why I’m leaving.” Damn.

“Can’t you see this is killing me?” She asks.

Helo, ice cold after being lied too and used, “You’ll get over it.” Truly, she’s just one download away.

Back the Dollhouse Headquarters Puzzle Palace, Olivia Willams is holding a PNY thumbdrive (subtle!) which was hand delivered. No way to get it open without asking Mr. Dominic. Williams says to ask Mr. Dominic. Lennix laughs and yeah, whatevs. Williams goes all “no seriously.”

Oh.

Back at the half way house, it’s explained that Susan has been placed in fosters homes, and keeps getting sent back due to cutting school, getting in fights. They’ve apparently taken five knives off of her. They’re not sure how she get’s them.

Dushku says something very inciteful: some delis have them sitting in cups. Nice touch!

Susan’s mother died of a drug overdose, and she was living with mother’s boyfriend, a drug dealer and part-time pimp. The administrator says “Half the age, twice the price.”

I’m going to say, while this story is a might heavy handed it’s refreshing to see the show not skirting the issue.

Dushku more or less reveals that she’s been uploaded with a survivor with the line “She lies to her therapist, she’s useless in group.”

“That’s pretty specific for someone who’s known Susan for all of five minutes,” the administrator says in dismissal. (RANT: WTF lady? You’ve been working with abused kids for how long? You can’t recognize the patterns? What did you major in at the liberal arts school where and when you thought you could save the world? I mean damn! Here’s someone who wants to help and you feel the need to make sure they know you don’t value their time or opinion? WTF? )

Don’t worry, kids, Dushku is on the case.

Oh, great it’s Topher the Tech. He’s looking at some glowy spheres on a screen, which are noticeably different. Topher explains that one is the imprint he gave Dushku this morning, the other is Susan. How they got that brain scan, who knows? Topher says that Susan is “Fraked up” beyond recognition (Oh yes. BSG has a legacy).

Echo’s imprint is the kid grown up, Echo is the “best possible future” of Susan.

That is just a damned brilliant use of the technology. It actually makes all the prostitution stuff seem like a frivolous waste by comparison.

Apparently Topher came up with the entire idea for the engagement. All of the sudden the douche bag has depth! Well done! Then again. . what’s she to him. . . “Everbody wants to be righteous when they can afford it,” Topher says of Williams approval.

Phone rings, and it’s probably Lennix telling him to dust off Dominic. All of his joy is wiped away, and he says it’s time to bring out Viktor.

Meanwhile Chef Doll is walking across a bridge in Los Angeles. Oh dear. Program worked really well. To well. . . her handler shows up and gets her in the black van. She’s devastated and it’s just . . so sad.

Helo is on the mother f**king case; and he follows the black van to the garage.

About ten minutes and we have our really depressing opening sequence. It’s actually even more depressing considering all the plot threads in this episode; but really they are all damned intriguing so I think we’re in for a good show.

Dushku sits down at a table with Susan. Susan’s been industriously defacing the Sleeping beauty book, saying she’s fixing it (ala what River Tam did to Shepard’s Bible in Firefly). Dushku says they call that “editing” (Ha!) and she could make a living out of it (HA!).

Dushku, being essentially this little girl after possibly years of therapy, kung-fu, shooting ranges and rigorous physical fitness, has a really great talk with her about running away.
Susan still apparently deep in the weeds of her own issues, and can’t believe anyone could understand.

“When did you want to run away?” she asks, incredulous.

Dushku says “In the middle of the night, it always seemed like I could run away when it would get light,” and give a great performance giving a speech about pretending things are okay and how a person can feel like they are complicit in their own abuse, because hey, better than admitting that you’re helpless.

“Everytime someone calls me a victim, I feel like I’m biggest liar in the world.”

Goddamn that’s intense.

Helo and his technician friend at the Bureau of Investigative Investigations are bouncing theories off one another. Helo admits he got into the building where the Dollhouse garage is, and found nothing. He could only see the part of the building he was supposed to see, which makes him sound completely crazy. So of course he says it is invisible, and he’s not crazy.

They had an ecological system installed by Wash from Firefly (second reference this episode, for those keeping score), so the building draws no power, is a closed system; doesn’t have bills to pay the electric company, etc. Helo’s technician friend acts like this isn’t actually a pretty interesting thought and says “be glad I don’t think your crazy.”

Hey, in this situation, that’s damned fine police work.

Back the Dollhouse, Troika Doll (Victor) has been uploaded with Mr. Dominic, and actually does a half way decent impression of him. Dominic, in Viktor’s body, flips his lid, since his body is no where to be found, and they want his help. Riiiiight. He’s pretty livid. Who wouldn’t be. He’s given a mild sedative.

At the half way house, Dushku is mapping out how habitual child abusers convince their victims that there is no safety net. “Tell a teacher. . tell a priest,” (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT TELL A PRIEST).

Dushku tells Susan to pretend she’s the prince. Susan says “but he’s a boy,” and Dushku says “That’s not his fault.” Heh.

Time for Dushku to go, but before she does, she tells Susan “You let me sit very close to you, which tells me you have a blade on you, so just give it to me now and I won’t tell anyone.” Nice.

Susan gives up what appears to be a switch blade.

Dushku talks to the administrator, who appears to accept that Dushku knows what the hell she’s doing, and says she’ll come back “in awhile.”

Helo shows up in the hallway to his old place, which I think is supposed to another place and knocks on a door. Hoban Washburn has been hitting it really hard lately, and looks like hell. “Steven Kepler, is that you?” asks Helo. Wash is all Bill Clinton about it (“depends on the defition of Steve Kepler. . .)

Helo muscles his way into Wash’s apartment and finds about three quarters of a million dollars in weed, which Wash claims is carrots. Medicinal carrots. That were there when he moved in.

Helo diffuses the situation by bringing up environmental systems. It’s nice to see Wash again, and he gives a great little performance as a sort stoner environmentalist.

“Tell me about the Dollhouse.” Says Ballard.

“They’ll kill me, and you and kill me again.” Says Wash. Helo brings out his heater and Wash whimpers “And now there’s a gun!” Helo just found a new partner, but considering how dour this episode has been so far, I don’t think they’re the next Lethal Weapon.

Back at the Puzzle Palace, Troika/Dominic is being interrogated about the thumbdrive. Williams tells him it’s from the NSA, and he says “No, we didn’t communicate that way, we have phones. Who else would try to contact Dominic covertly?

“Alpha,” says Williams and Dominic at the same time.

“I guess he didn’t hear about the regime change.” Willams says slyly.

Apparently Alpha, like Dushku, liked to draw even while in the Tabula Rasa state; and would sign his name in a way that looked like a fish.

So Alpha is in Tuscon, where some sort of Head Headquaters is.

Helo pulls up with Wash in tow, who is saying they could use some rope (“Charlie Bronson always got rope and they always end up usin’ it.) Helo is pretty sure he’s only got two days most before they figure it out and kill him. Well they’re sort of busy.

As Helo tries to get Wash out of the vehicle Wash says “This is like one of those buddy cop movies where the hardnosed FBI agent and I’m the guy who hates buddy cop movies!” Heh. “Get out the car or I show the DEA your carrot plantation!” says Helo.

Helo has got to get in there and save Caroline, and Wash asks then what? There’s more people in there, Wash argues, and he’s not good with people.

“They’re not people,” Helo says coldly. Where he just an action stud I’d be “damn, that’s gansta” but consider the guy he started out as it is “Damn, that’s depressing.”

Sierra the Human Gazelle is uploaded with forensic psychologist Temperance “Bones” Brennan and is sent of too Tuscon.

Topher says it’s to be a quiet night anyway, as Helo is trying ninja his way into the Dollhouse, Wash whining all the way. It’s a two story drop, and Helo wishes they had rope, instead of the tire iron he apparently brought.

“This is the same expansious [sic] thinking that led to the Trail of Tears, maaaan.” Says Wash.

Back to Susan, reading Sleeping Beauty, as Helo breaks into the Dollhouse in a little “shit’s about to go down” montage.

Helo’s plan is just slightly better than “Get her!” because he gets Wash to dress up as a doll, and then tasers Topher (which I wouldn’t have had a problem with up until this episode).

Wash likes the place, Helo thinks it’s a bad place. Wash says it’s just place with bad people. We find out Wash is terrified by stairs without risers, because something could grab you from between the stairs. Makes sense to me.

Helo sees Troika and realizes even more of what he thinks is bullshit. Just keeps getting worse for this guy. Wash gets another computer and opens Winamp. The plan is run some program or do something that will open the doll’s sleeping chambers. Helo gets in there, apologizes to Chef Doll and then opens Dushku’s chamber. He says “Caroline,” and Harry J. Lennix levels a gun at Ballard’s head.

“Sorry Agent Ballard, you don’t get the girl. Give me your gun.”

“I don’t have a. . .” Ballard begins.

Lennix cuts him off, annoyed that Helo though he could put on over on him “You didn’t come in here if without one, put it on the floor, now.”

Dushku says “Who are you,” Paul introduces himself and Lennix tells Echo to go for a swim.

Helo complies, and then it’s time for this weeks fight! Helo knocks the gun out of Lennix hand, proving the tea-cup is the way to go with handguns, and Lennix comes back with a hard right cross that made my sub-woffer jump. Echo says “You hurt Paul.”

The have a rather interesting verbal duel about Lennix’s real role in Dushku’s life, and Lennix offers him a chance to go back the way he came. I’d describe this fight a little better; but it was really hard to follow since the scene was dimly lit, but they bust through one of the sleeping chambers and scare the crap out of Troika. Lennix tells Echo to run, and Ballard follows after her and says he’s going to get her out.

Echo has a flashback from a few episodes ago where she and Helo had a knock-down drag out fight and decides Helo is not actually looking for her best interests. She elbows him off a balcony and he goes through a table. They like breaking tables in this show.

Helo throws a chunk of the table at Lennix, kicks the gun out of his hand gets ready for round 2. Left right, blow to the throat, and kick into something else breakable for Lennix.

Doc Sexy Scars finds Victor dazed.

Helo knees Lennix in the face, Lennix gets Helo in a half Nelson, they get down to the floor, Helo knocks Lennix in the head with a rock.

Dushku bolts away, Lennix and Helo duke it out on the stairs, and then Dushku yank’s Helo’s ankle from between the steps and that’s it.

Doc Brings Troika into the lab, and Wash shows up and slashes his face, in a pattern similar to the Doc’s. The Doc says “Alpha,” and well, damn. Makes sense, I ‘spose.

Alpha menaces the doctor for a little while, as Lennix takes Helo to Olivia Williams office. . . for a stern talking to?

Meanwhile, Alpha is menacing the doctor some more and while I can’t actually say he’s in the right for approaching her the way he has, I can understand his feelings. The scene spells out that Alpha feels deeply victimized by the Dollhouse, and he’s past the point of caring who’s right and who’s wrong and blah blah blah, f**k it, you’re all going to goddamned die!

Williams and Helo shout over each other Robert Altman style, which is a nice touch even if those sorts of scenes where people measure their aggressiveness by shouting over each other are somewhat irritating.

Williams and Lennix take turns telling Helo he done f**ked up; which is funny. . because I’m pretty sure the Dollhouse only helps little girls through their dealings post tramatic stress once a year at most. Helo says if they didn’t want him to be such a pest, they shouldn’t have filled his life with lies. Which actually makes a ton of sense. In fact, if no dolls had any direct contact with Helo, he wouldn’t have gotten as far as he had. I mean, shit, it’s hard to write something off as urban legend if you keep running into walking proof every couple of days.

Williams asks Lennix if they should put him the chair. Because she’ll just torture anyone to death. Some one’s going to come looking for all these federal agents lady, trying thinking a few moves ahead, you know, like you usually do?

Alpha has the doc lure Dushku into the room, Alpha takes Echo up to the download room.

Meanwhile, Sierra/Bones has figured that the real Steven Kepler was killed in Los Angeles and dropped off by someone else, in this case Alpha who is TOTALLY RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

Actually no, but he does upload something into Dushku, and she’s all like “I remember you,” and then they make out and he says “I told you I’d come rescue you.”

They leave, and the credits roll.

SUMMARY

-Hell of a cliff hanger, really.

-Seeing Alan Tyduk is a seething villain was actually kind of neat; and the fact that his stoner Washburn was just an act was even better.

-While this episode was depressing, it was awesome. Good narrative flow, good structure, didn’t care for the edits, but no one’s perfect.

-I’m not entirely sure I’m still rooting for Alpha, as it appears his only goal was to get Dushku, and not deal a crushing blow to the Los Angeles branch of Dollhouse Ultd., I have to wonder if he’s really all that cool.

-Alan Tyduk been busy, he also made a PG porn episode. “ROUNDER VOWELS!”

20090427

Doll House Episode 10: Rich Folks Are Also Petty and Dull

Last week Dollhouse was preempted though I have no idea why because I don’t watch this show on TV as it does nothing to help the show’s standing with it’s network.

Previously on Dollhouse: Ballard (BSG's Helo) got more information, and the guy from Homicide was tortured essentially to death. That scene is really unpleasant and I wish they’d stop showing it. In much the same way as I’ll never get tired of seeing rapists get pummeled and curb-stomped, and I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable watching torture imagery.

On with the show!

We start out in a very stately garden where four guys are pretending like they just got done with a round of tennis. A stately lady, who answers to Margaret, in full riding gear takes a horse out for a quick trot after waving to these tennis posers.

A few seconds pass, and then the horse show’s up with no rider.

We cut over to the Doll House Puzzle Palace Head Quarters, and Eliza Dushku has just been uploaded or downloaded. Olivia Williams is there and she tells Dushku that she is in fact the lady who apparently died in the previous scene.

And roll the depressing opening credits! This time it only took them two minutes or so to get us here, and it gives the episode more urgency.

The newly promoted Harry J. Lennix is wandering around with nothing to do except feel guilty about how/why he was promoted. Topher the Tech is futzing around in the lab. He tells Lennix he was no fun as Dushku’s handler before and even twice as less fun as the head of security.

Then he makes a remark about Dushku being uploaded with the dead lady, who was special friends with Olivia Williams and makes some comments hoping for lesbianism after too much wine and oh, isn’t that witty? Yeah, I get that Topher’s an immature douche. Nobody actually talks about their co-workers that way with someone as dour as Lennix’s character.

Meanwhile, Dushku-imprinted with the dead lady- is having a light lunch with Williams with wine poured from one those really unwieldy looking carafes. They talk about how they made the imprint, and Dushku remarks about how great the new body is. Apparently, this client paid to be imprinted so she could attend her own funeral or solve her own murder. It’s very odd.

Dushku/Margaret is crafty as Hell, as she has written new identity into her own will, as she explains in the pew of what appears to be the estates’ chapel. Sad to say, this episode is already starting to bore me. The concept is exceedingly intriguing, but as usual the execution has something to be desired.

The dynamic between Williams and Dushku is odd, as they are thought to be old friends but it doesn’t quite feel that way, it feels more like Williams is indulging a fanciful teenager who is playing at being this person, rather than actually that person. Magaret’s young husband is in attendance, and he’s very young. That's really al he's got going on.

Back at the Puzzle Palace, the Torture Lights are blinking like rave as Topher runs his test on the Sierra, the Human Gazelle. Turns out he’s uploaded a gamer girl (or grrrl if that’s your preference).

I think the theme of this episode is the laziness of the Dollhouse. Topher could, you know, find a nerdy girl who plays video games and such, but the lazy way just uploads one into an already attractive body. There’s this weird pathetic vibe so far in this episode. They power up the Xbox (and how much easier is it to film people playing video games with no more cords?) and get ready to take turns “pwning” each other.

And we check in with Helo, who is brooding at the dinner table, possibly over the fact that the only people that matter in his life have been programmed to do so.

The scene is very sad, because Chef Doll doesn’t know she’s a doll, Helo does and can’t tell her and if you haven’t been watching the show, Helo acts like one of those boyfriends who hates sharing his feelings.

Helo swears he’s fine, and Chef doll is adorable. And here’s some really great lighting in this scene. He takes her wine glass, pours it out, and puts it in plastic, probably for a DNA sample. Helo’s character is probably supposed to be of Polish decent; a people who are historically incapable of quitting.

Meanwhile, at the post funeral drinking party (where nothing ever goes well) Dushku is trying to convince everyone that she is the identity that Margaret made up and it’s just not working. In fact, this scene is very well acted, because it’s really awkward to watch family’s fight, as it should be. Dushku realized everyone in the room is a suspect as they lay into the dead woman for all of her flaws and complain how hard their lives are.

Margaret, in Dushku’s body, learns that no matter how good your intentions were; people will see whatever they want and people’s perspective will be completely different than your thought.

Margaret’s son comes outside to talk a little bit more, and Dushku/Margaret tells him essentially what she couldn’t when he was growing up so he decides to kiss her and she nearly vomits. Really creepy.

Dushku/Margaret also talks to the young widower; Jack, who doesn’t really seem like a killer, but he inherited the horses, so he is also unhappy.

Dushku/Margaret calls Williams, says she loves these people, but doesn’t like them, which is the definition of family, really. She’s also apparently being watched, dun-dun-dun!

Back at the Puzzle Palace, Lennix has serious concerns about loading dead people into the dolls, and calls eternal life “The Beginning of the End.” He contends that morality is based on the fear of death, which I don’t exactly agree with.

Lennix also makes a point that when this little jaunt is over, she has to essentially die again. Williams pretty much says he’s there to handle it, and that’s why he makes the big bucks. Lennix almost dismisses himself before Williams essentially says “What else have you got?”

At which point Lennix pretty much says he’s on top of it like a hot air balloon, (“and what?”) and has already had Victor Troika Doll uploaded with a horse breeder program and sent to the estate to see about the horse named King’s Ransom. Damn.

Then Dushku/Margaret talks with her daughter, who complains about the Young Tropical Cookie she married.

Helo needs those prints from the wine glass run, and the technician at the FBI. Her prints match 9 files, then suddenly all the files delete themselves and no matches return. Helo’s friend at the FBI says “I just started to believe you.”

Topher the Tech is playing with the Gazelle, and they’re talking about classic sci-fi errors.

Dushku/Margaret figures out some more stuff. Like the most likely suspects no longer are. . . and snoooooooooore. . . . so boring.

Topher and Gazelle play some laser-tag, and it’s pretty cute, but also dull.

Helo! Tell me something’s going to get interesting! Chef Doll is pretty bubbly and happy, and is very nervous. She’s very much in love with it’s very sad because she’s been programmed. And their dynamic is ruined; then they decide to have angry sneery sex, because if Helo solves the case, no body loves him. I’d be kinda grouchy, too.

At the Estate, Dushku/Margaret is going for a little night riding (some funky combination of western and post, for you equestrians) when the son shows up and says, Hey, you’re totally my mom in someone else’s body!

Apparently he is also a client. Ha! She gets upset because he uses prostitutes, and he points out that she’s cheating death. I’m not sure why the conversation even goes that way. “Paying for sex, bad!” somehow brings us immediately to. . weather or not your screwing god over by getting extra time?

Then they talk about the son’s gambling problem.

Troika figured out that the horse has been juiced, and says he won’t buy it and tells the Tropical Cookie where to stick it as Dushku/Margaret and the son hide. The tropical cookie goes off into a rage and bangs on some bars with a shovel, spooks some horses, one of whom bursts out and knocks him down.

Dushku and the Son run some more before the Tropical Cookie catches up. Margaret’s son puts an iron hook in between his ribs, but clearly does it wrong because his lung doesn’t collapse and he’s still able to give chase.

Lennix has it all figured out; except who the killer is. He even knows about Topher’s “diagnostics.” That’s why he makes the big bucks.

Those of you who had being paying attention during this episode, not watching other movies on Hulu like I was, now know the following: there’s no way that the Tropical Cookie knew anything about drugging horses, while her son has been her son all his life, which means he’d know a thing or two. Got it? That’s murder she wrote stuff. Dushku/Margaret realizes this about ten minutes after we have. Angela Landsbury she ain’t.

And it’s time for the closing fight sequence! In this corner we have the Young Tropical Cookie! In this corner we have Nick the Matricidal Gambling Addict! Cookies blows through the door with a shotgun, then it’s a buttstock to the face for Nick, who comes back with a shot to the stomach, throws him against the wall and an a left right body combo. Cookie gets Nick in a headlock, Nick tries to choke Cookie, Dushku bashes him in the head with the shotgun, and Cookie brains him with a mirror.

Yay!

Dushku/Margaret re-writes the will to leave the son out, and then we check in with Helo and the Chef Doll, who is telling Helo she can’t handle that sort of nastiness on a regular basis. Well, that’s fine, neither can we. Helo being all sneering and nasty is kind of like Evil Superman in Superman III. It just feels unwholesome.

“Are you going to keep searching for Dollhouse clients?” she asks.

Helo, darkly, growls “I found one.”

20090411

Dollhouse Episode 9: “I’m keeping my sexy business woman shoes.”

The episode recap once again treats us to the Chef Doll beating the hell out of a known rapist. I honestly can’t get enough of that scene, because it you watch it closely, you realize she curb stomps this dude on the edge of a coffee table. Damn.

Then we get a flashing lights and shadow POV shot of someone being strapped down to something by some people, one of whom is Topher the Tech, actually being useful for once.

Dushku and the Human Gazelle are outside the room where all these flicker bulbs have been installed. Dushku creepily asserts “She made a mistake, now she’s sad.” Next a gunshot and raspberry jam gets on the window.

Then cut to “12 hours earlier,” in the Dollhouse Scooby Van speeding down , where Dushku is describing BDSM in studded leather armor, and quite frankly pulls off an appropriate attitude making it pretty believable.

Harry J. Lennix is sitting across from Dushku as she speaks, completely bemused, trying hard not to laugh because 1. BDSM gear looks rather silly in normal light, no matter how fit you may be or your attitude 2. Dushku is talking all tough, and she is three apples high. 3. She says “I think you need a session in my dungeon so I can show you otherwise.”

Lennix says “Think I’ll pass.” Dushku says “Don’t be so vanilla,” and the spell is broken.

We get back to the Dollhouse Headquarters Puzzle Palace parking garage, where we see Troika doll and his handler getting ready for an engagement with Ms. Lonely Hearts. Troika, with a smooth English accent no less, says his handler has a “secret stash of Bodice Rippers in the van,” and further more wants to be kidnapped by a pirate (and who doesn’t every now and again.)

Dushku says “I know a guy. . .”

Troika’s handler calls Dushku S&M Barbie and says she take her over Smooth English Troika any day. She then makes a crack about Troika’s geriatric princess, and Dushku cracks a whip on her calf and says “It’s love, show some respect.”

Well alrighty then. We’re off to weird start.

Dushku gets wiped, and Topher tries to train his intern to do the post wipe greeting. The Head of Security bursts in and is no mood for Topher’s post-emo banter; and he’s the only character I like less than Topher at this point. The HoS, Mr. Dominic, meets up with Olivia Williams, and she puts him in charge. My land, this will get interesting.

Doc Sexy Scars gives Dushku an exam after a particularly the rough engagement of being a dominatrix, and she and Lennix exchange pleasantries about the weather before getting down to brass tacks and spelling out that the Dollhouse’s primary clientele have sexual desires. And Doc Scars goes on to say that they have a lot of same sex engagements (I mean, duh, what have been saying since episode 1; but it’s nice they finally acknowledge it).

Lennix also asks what happens if the client wants to hold the whip, and Doc Scars says “We don’t send the actives to be submissive,” which makes sense. The actives are investment; the more down time they require for healing, the less time they are making money. Like any other prostitute.

Topher, probably for the first time, actually figures something out and lets Lennix know that he thinks Lennix is a spy. Topher found a chip that allows his imprints to be altered, and tells Lennix he thinks he’s a spy. Lennix says maybe Topher should 1. Not have talked to him before calling Olivia Williams 2. don’t tell a spy you think they should leave.

Mr. Dominic freaks out at the news, and all the while Dushku is watching. I personally think the chip altered her Tabula Rasa imprint to be an intelligence gathering system. How the spy acquires that intelligence is anyone’s guess, but I do know Topher would describe it as involving proteins and acids and how we’re all unpredictable.

Topher tells Dominic he supposed to making sure everyone that works there is on their side; so he looks really jacked up.

Dushku wanders into the imprinting room and says “Everyone’s unhappy today,” scaring the bejesus out of Topher who is already more spooked than a horse on the Fourth of July. Topher actually has a great rant about middle management jackassery and what an idiot Dominic is for being upset that Topher caught the breach rather than prevented the breach.

Dushku says that Topher can make her different so she can help, and then primly sits in the chair.

Roll the depressing opening credits!

Cut to November being imprinted by the intern. Chef Doll is brought back to her apartment and Helo has read Catcher in the Rye several hundred times and has one of those charts that really driven men make with papers and strings. This is actually sort of sad to me to see a man of action be consumed with the theory. Helo really needs a task force.

Chef Doll listens as Helo lays out everything he knows; and he gives her an out. She instead says that one cannot have justice without snuggles, and they’re back together! Yay! Then she goes into a trance and tells Helo that her name is November and she has message from the Dollhouse. Whoa.

Someone has broken their security open pretty wide if they know when and where dolls are going to be.

Great exchange:

HELO: They did this to you?

CHEFDOLL: They did this long before you met me.

Nice little conversation that could be about all kinds of unsavory things.

Helo is pretty much devastated by this news, and hell, who wouldn’t be? If your favorite girl or boy turned out to be a brainwashed automaton sent to spy on you, you’d feel like hell about it.

Chef Doll, in November mode, tells Helo that if tells her anything about the investigation it will get back to the Dollhouse and that if Dollhouse figures out that Helo knows all this, they’ll kill him and they’ll have Chef Doll do it. Ow.

Then I get another Outback Steakhouse commercial, which apparently consists of “Our deals with make our happier than a [Australian person/mammal] (doing) [Australian thing] It’s a bonzer!” If they did this with any other kind of restaurant, I think it’d be really weird. “Paul Chen’s, deals so good you’ll be happier than Wong Fei Hung was when he became master of the Hung Fist!”

Back to the show; Mr. Dominic is being his usual self and Dewitt’s GPS isn’t working. Gazelle has apparently been imprinted with a Bad-ass. Gazelle’s mission involves some nifty spy things that’s actually much better written than the last “caper” episode. She replaces an employee on the train with a nifty syringe pen. (MARC riders, take note!)

The Gazelle shows up the room where they store the computer from Chuck. She swipes a tiny clear piece of plastic and rolls out. Security alarms go off as she exits, and the guard wands her. Wait for it. . . wait for it. . . she stands perfectly still until he puts the wand under her shoulder and then she takes out with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it speed. Nice.

Time to go!

She runs around the building a lot; and you know what? Kudos to who ever thought to actually show the high heels hitting the linoleum. We just don’t see that. Security staff catches up to her and fires their submachine guns because whatever she’s got, it is so important they’ll risk loosing another high clearance employee to stray bullets. She’s got a chopper on the way. . . but commercial!

And back, we’re on Victor’s mission for the day. He gives some roses to a very matronly lady and then goes out back and gets in a very nice English sports car and drives to a very nice house on the coast to meet with . . . Olivia Williams.

Haw damn.

Victor, implanted with Patrick McNee and little bit of James Bond, does a scene that’s filmed like an old movie where they can’t kiss for more than three seconds, and Williams says she used to work in a lab that made spare organs from stem cells, and says could talk about that in good conscience. (What the hell’s that supposed to mean, Dollhouse writers?). She seems moody and depressed so Smooth Troika suggested they take it elsewhere.

That where is, in fact a nice indoor fencing gym/lounge, where they proceed to duel. That just really damned hot, in what appears to be snake skinned fencing vests no less. Williams then cuts Smooth Troika; who decides to take the kid gloves right the hell off, and they wreck furniture and he disarms her and then they kiss. It’s actually a very well done scene as analogue to sex.

Then they actually have sex, because we just can’t be subtle these days. They have a very weird conversation where Smooth Troika, not knowing he is a doll but implanted with a personality that knows a decent amount about it, talks about why he wouldn’t want a doll.

Williams also has one of the darkest lines in the show: “Everyone has their first date, and the object is about hiding your flaws, and then you’re in a relationship and it’s about hiding your disappointments then once your married it’s about hiding your sins.”

Smooth Troika suggest they run away together, Williams says they wouldn’t own clocks or computers or sexy business woman shoes. It’s really sad because we know it can’t happen, and Williams realizes this a second after we do.

They fall asleep, then Troika wakes up alone; and Williams comes in and starts crying.

Commerical: Cisco apparently has technology that allows people all over the country to make fools of themselves at the same time.

Cut back to Dushku’s implanting. She is now a super lie detector (which means she’s implanted with Tim Roths’ character from Lie to Me*) who actually wants to interrogate Topher. Topher insists he found the spy, and therefore can’t be the spy.

Dushku says he’s either dangerously incompetent or trying to cover his tracks. I vote for the second one. And now it’s time for an interview montage!

Topher’s intern is pretty bitter.

Lennix says “We’re pimps and killers, but in a philanthropic way.” Dushku trusts Lennix implicitly, so the entire thing is worthless.

Doc Scars apparently doesn’t leave the office much.

Topher’s intern is supposedly the spy; and Mr. Dominic is damn sure of it. Dushku is damned sure Dominic works for the NSA and makes a fairly convincing or totally circumstantial, case of it until she says he apparently called the NSA. Dominic goes on and says calls shenanigans. Dushku says, yeah, it’s all not quite right except for one last thing: “20 seconds ago your unsnapped your holster.”

READY! FIGHT! Dushku owns Dominic, who let’s face it, is a gunman first and more of a brawler than an artist. Whilst fighting they discuss Dominic’s plan to maintain his cover in the Dollhouse, which means . . he’s been feeding Helo?

They scuffle some more, he puts her through a coffee table, and then picks her up by her hair (which always this thing that proves a male character in anything is incurably misogynistic to me). Dushku puts Dominic almost out a window and says “I’m not broken.”

She then brings Dominic before Williams; who is very quite British in her anger. Dominic says he was assigned to help sustain the Dollhouse, making Ballards earlier theory spot on. Dominic also says that if Rossum lets Dollhouse technology get out of control, it would be extremely bad.

Dominic gets sent up the Attic, but before he tells Dushku “One day you’ll be erasing them, and they won’t even see it coming.”

Then they tape a foam rubber block in his mouth and we’re back at the opening sequence, which looks even more like torture because now he can hear muted screaming. Just in case you start to sympathize with these philanthropic pimps, remember they torture people effectively to death.

Dominic pulls a gun from somewhere and shoots Olivia Williams, who doesn’t really care all that much. Doc Sexy Scars patches her up, with no anesthetic.

Lennix gets promoted and Dushku gets a new hanlder. Roll Credits!

SUMMARY:

-So if Dominic was the mole; but not who was feeding Ballard information, it’s possibly Topher’s intern is a spy, but not the one they were looking for.

-The narrative flow of this episode was completely great.

-Running in high healed shoes. Usually the way this is done is the show the shoes being put on and then they’ll only show the shoes again when the person in them is standing still. Then they’ll show the person moving from the waist up, but this little bit extra really added some intensity to the action.

-Lots of nice twists this episode; smoother than last week. It was a very insular episode, and I liked that. Scumbag of the week really isn’t a good direction for this show; a stance which I’m not going to budge on.

-No anesthetic getting sewn up, rockin' ab muscles, cool under pressure and can handle a sword. The only possible way Olivia Williams character is single is she's a work-a-holic.

20090406

Dollhouse Episode 8: Closure is How We Manipulate You

Starting like we do on this show, Dushku shows up at Helo's apartment, after The Doll Chef decided to leave last episode because she needed some time away.

Helo was probably watching Silk Stalkings or something while collecting unemployment when Dushku came a callin’. She tells him she has a message from who ever is inside at the Dollhouse Puzzle Palace.

“I have something you need,” said Dushku, and then kissed Helo and Helo’s response, true to form is “Dude, I’m like a seaker of truth and justice so I don’t need to get laid.”

Dushku does’t believe this is true, and she’s right, it’s not so she convinces Helo to get busy on the couch that only a few days a go, his girlfriend was tossed over and killed a man in front of. If couches could talk.

Then the Doll Chef shows up, and Helo actually says “We’re all a bit confused right now.” And then continues the bow-chica-wow-wow and The Chef is completely aghast and says she’s not even real.

Helo then says “I’m sorry, I have a thing she needs!” Ho-ho! Clearly this is a dream a sequence. Then Doll Chef says “Caroline doesn’t need anything anymore, she’s dead!” and sure enough Dushku stops moving, and gets really pale and ewwwwww. Then Doll Chef starts seeping blood from her hairline. Helo is clearly suffering masculine depression stemming from the fact that he is not Batman then he wakes up.

Back at the Dollhouse Puzzle Palace Slumber Party room, those creepy doors slide of the beds and out come the Chef, the Gazelle and Dushku wander around.

Olivia Williams is holding meeting, to which Topher the Tech is late, where they are discussing everything that you already figured out last episode. Then the Dollhouse head of security gives a little speech proving he is the most monstrous sociopath any of us has ever seen by suggesting the handlers treat their dolls like pets. If they talk or start to learn, you need to be concerned. This guy apparently never owned German Shepard, because those dogs can do long division.

Oh, hey, Doc Sexy Scars, where have you been? Healing up rather nice, we see.

Topher throws out some bullshit technical words about chemicals and proteins, and everyone’s told to keep a close watch on their dolls, in case they become intelligent. Topher then says they’re going to test some new drugs on the dolls during their sleep cycles.

Later that night, everyone in that particular chamber wakes up with their original personalities with some pieces missing. Topher is so f**king fired.

One guy says it’s aliens, Troika drops back into Army mode, but they all decide to more or less go with the flow and they all wander around the compound until they get to the main hall. Some girl says “I like pancakes.” And Troika responds with “We’re all gonna die.”

Which is totally what I’d say in their situation.

So this fresh out of the oven Scooby Gang looses one of their number to a reprogram, and they all decide it’s time get the hell out of dodge.

The head of security tells Williams some of the dolls are going to escape, and she says “Right on schedule.” Oh, how evil! So Topher's not fired. Boo!

Troika Doll and the Human Gazelle decide it’s time to roll. Dushku and The Chef soon follow, and they find where they keep all the doll’s clothes. Troika finds the buttless chaps and is a little startled.

They make it to the parking garage and try to steal a vehicle.

One of the Dolls comes out of a returning vehicle in full battle rattle army gear, with no patches on the shoulders and a ton of magazines; as I’d guessed the dollhouse supplements special military operations.

Another doll comes out of the garage elevator dressed like Cabaret and speaking French.

Echo decides this is some balderdash, and she’s going back in there to “make a difference.” Bearing in mind, we know that making a difference is what got Echo in this trouble in the first place.

We next see her trying to break open a lock to a gun cabinet with a fire extinguisher when one of the of the other handlers finds her and a knock down fight ensues in which Dushku wails on this lady, grabs her keys and opens the gun cabinet.

Helo brings some hardware he found in apartment to Hoban Washburn’s Great great great great grand father, who identifies it as “non-existent,” and tells Helo he is nailed to the wall. Not much new there.

Dushku in Caroline mode begins to throw the Dollhouse into chaos; much to everyone’s surprise she first causes a power outage. Funny, when she’s not distracted by puppies that she can actually kick some ass.

Topher is freaking out because he is scared of the dark, and Dushku emerges from the shadows ready to blow a hole in him. After the commercial break she asks him what they do to people in the dollhouse, and Topher, being scared out of his mind says it’s “complicated.” Topher has been taking lessons from Ron McMahon.

We also get to find out the exact year; it’s 2009.

Meantime, we also get to find out Sierra was actually kidnapped and brought into the dollhouse because she wouldn’t sleep with some dude; who’s apparently a regular client.

That’s like pure evil. It’s okay though, ‘cause Crusty Old Staff Sgt. Troika is on the case, and he is not happy. There is something really tragic about what this guy is done; and it’s really terrible, but it’s well known this show has nothing but venom for the wealthy. I’m not going to say gimme something new because that’s a primary theme, but present it in a better more interesting way than “Rich people want to have sex/murder/be unpleasant to the disenfranchised masses with no messy consequences.”

Dushku is giving Topher the third degree about the dollhouse, and once again compares what they do with people memories with murder. I agree and I don’t. Depends if you believe we are merely the summary of our memories; but as this episode speculates; we have innate traits that aren’t actually attached to our memories, therefore they haven't actually been murdered, at least not permanently.

So she tries to put Topher through the memory wipe chair before Olivia Williams shows up and stops here. She explains that she eased Dushku’s suffered and self-justifies for a while at gun point. Dushku puts a few bullets into the equipment just to make herself clear.

Meantime, Troika and The Gazzelle hug as they hide from security, and The Chef finds her daughter’s grave.

Then Dushku insists that all the dolls be set free. . with no programs. . which is a mistake if you ask me. This why Dushku Caroline failed the first time: she does not plan. She sees that she wants something, like change or free puppies or something and she does it without even thinking about it. Honestly, had it not been for the Dollhouse it's entirely possible her tunnel-visioned idealism may have got her killed by now. Then they all shut down and get picked up by handlers. So this was the most intense training exercise anyone’s ever devised.

Then we flashback to Doc Sexy Scars telling Olivia Williams that they need to “let the tide come in” so that each one feels closure. Except Dushku, whose closure didn’t make a whole ton of sense, really.

Doc Scars tells Lennix he should be grateful for the whole fiasco, and he says, cool as can be “I’ll work on that.”

And then we have the most depressing ending of this show to date, depressing music, blank expressions, back in the sleeping chambers.

Finally, back to Helo! He get a call from Dushku, who tells him what’s going on and pretty much assures him the game is still on without actually giving him any new leads.

Roll Credits!

SUMMARY:

The rich people are evil theme is getting old. I know rich people are the new Nazis these days or something, but this really getting absurd and more importantly, it’s getting boring. I know not every character can have the depth and sympathy of Patton Oswald’s character, but really this endless cavalcade of very similar sleaze bags who almost all appear to be men in bespoke suits has got to stop.

I’m fairly pleased with the overall thinking behind this episode, and it’s a good stop gap measure to keep the dolls in line for a little while that also sets Echo apart from the other dolls. Overall the plotting is much, much smoother over these past few episodes, which is nice.

And WHO IN THE HELL PROGRAMED ECHO TO COMMUNICATE WITH HELO TWO EPISODES AGO?! No hints on that? Nothing? C'mon!

Doll House Episode 7: After Action Report

-The big scary, potentially Zaibatsu style corporation is named Rossum. Apparently Dushku, when her name was Caroline, sought out the corporation, or they found her as a result of something shady.

-At a research lab, three people go crazy. That lab is owned by Rossum. It’s related to a Doom Drug that breaks down inhibition and opens up repressed memory. In our world that’s called “booze.” In the doll house universe it comes in a vile that looks like Gatorade.

-So they need the Actives to get things straight, because they don’t have memories outside of what Topher the Tech gives them. Olivia Williams uses the term "boots on the ground" which I sure is supposed to sound tough, but really sounds like a bureaucrat appropriating war terminology to sound like they know what they're doing.

-Dushku is wearing those white yarn stocking things from opening credits; and she’s going to learn how to ride a motorbike.

-And we drop in on Helo and The Doll Chef, and they have yet another well written, well acted conversation which includes great little lines like “We don’t need to fast forward to the honey moon just because I had a bad day.” And she asks him to drop the case. What is a Helo to do? Snuggles or Justice? Snuggles! Justice! So torn!

-Olivia Williams sends a ton of actives to Rossum to find this missing vile of super Gatorade. Topher programs the Troika Doll to be an NSA agent, outranking Olivia Williams right hand man by a few pay grades. Sierra, the Human Gazelle, has been uploaded with the personality of a CDC doctor. This seems extremely convoluted; but then again if Rossum has a super drug that turns people crazy, they’d want to keep it under wraps.

-Dushku has tied a dude to a bed, and is filming it. It’s a little weird. She tunes in the news by accident, sees it and has a flashback to her old life. She rolls out leaving dude tied to the bed. He’d better get a refund.

-Horribly depressing opening credits.

-Flashbak to Caroline’s old life. She’s loves this dude and it’s rather dull.

-Olivia Williams tell Topher that the CEO of Rossum is a barely competent douche nozzle. No one’s really shocked by such an insinuation in this day and age.

-Dushku rolls up on Troika and his other Doll Boy troopers, and then Harry J. Lennix shows up and this college campus where people are roaming around like they’re on drugs. Duskhu apparently was some sort of activist for some sort of cause that gives her the righteous indignation enough. . . remember it despite having her memory erased. Rossum, was apparently Dushku/Caroline’s primary target before she was even a doll. Now, I know that this stuff is supposed make us think “wow, she’s all, conscientious,” but really if the reason she’s in the dollhouse is because she attempted and failed at an act of anti-corporate terrorism, I find it hysterically funny that’s she’s now a cog in the evil corporation she was trying to shame.

-Dushku was uploaded with a silly girl personality, and Harry J. Lennix also got the silly virus from the Gatorade, which is now apparently contracted through touch.

-The drug kicks in in the office. “What part was believable before?” asks Topher. Williams: “Sarcastic? Unfeeling? British?” and “I find lentils completely incomprehensible.” Topher: “You haven’t seen my drawer of inappropriate starches?!” Who actually appears to be less affected, despite roaming around in his underwear. This episode’s gimmick is austere people acting silly, and it’s actually sort of amusing, but after the previous episode’s momentum, and after they’d more or less wasted so much time before that, these wacky hijinks aren’t really welcome.

-On the college campus, someone recognizes Dushku as Caroline

-Things go down the tubes fast; as it turns out, everyone is affected, because Topher is an idiot and doesn’t know what's he's doing (which should as a surprise to no one at this stage) that they don’t actually erase people’s memories, they just repress them really well. Sierra has a flashback to her ugly recent trauma, and Troika doll has a flashback to an suicide bombing in Nonspecificistan. Olivia Williams’ Head of Security is freaking out as well, while Dushku and a new righteous college student are trying to find something in Rossum’s basement, then the college student in the world turns out to be a corporate spy.

-I really hate the outfit Dushku got saddled with for this episode, I’m not sure why. It’s just seems. . . creepy. It covers enough as to be prim and proper, but whenever she moves is threatens to be revealing, so it's more like a stripper outfit. Coupled with that "I'm a girl tee-hee" personality she has this episode, and we have recipe for creepy. And of course she's got heels on, and she goes tearing around in them like it's the Olympics.

-Harry J. Lennix knocks the corporate spy on his ass, and apparently recovered from the effects of the drug with only the help of some soulful piano playing.

-The end of episodes was like the day after a wild party, where everything is awkward and no one really wants to talk about it.

-The Corporate Spy shows up at Olivia Williams desk, and she says she can offer a monthly stipend so his mother doesn’t loose her house. Apparently the dolls get paid some sort salary.

SUMMARY:

Overall, this episode is better than usual, but not as good as last weeks. What’s really good about last week’s episode is redefined the tone for show, so now we’re seeing these characters in stories in a much better way overall.

A lot of the technical improvements I noticed in "Man on the Street" are now gone, and that's rather a shame, and while this episode felt a lot more briskly paced than the others, the most interesting story arc, Helo and The Chef, got almost no airtime at all.

20090403

iTunes thinks you are a lesbian

On browsing my extensive collection, I found I did not have "Tom's Diner," in any version.

I sought to correct this via itunes. Itunes, dutiful program that it is, did so promptly, bless its digital little heart.

Then it stepped over the line. It suggest a playlist called "Gay Pride: Girls." Now, that's not what was over the line; what was over the line was the playlist itself, transcribed below with commentary (weee!):

Melissa Ethridge - I'm the only one : Alright, explicitly a woman singing about another woman. Fine.

Indigo Girls - Closer to Fine : Yeah, makes sense.

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just want to have fun : Now, we all know Ms. Lauper is a big supporter of Gayness in general and so on and so forth, but what exactly is gay about this song? I mean, yeah girls want to have fun. How's that gay? Unless "girls" is intended in the homosexual post-Polari slang that men use to refer to other men, then what's gay about girls having fun?

Sophie B Hawkins - Damn I wish I was your lover: Once again, how is this supposed to explicitly gay? This play list has veered dangerously close to appropriation. . .

The Pretenders - I'll stand by you: So . . if a woman sings about supporting someone, it's effectively about being a lesbian?

Shawn Colvin - Sunny Came Home : This song is clearly about repairing past damages, rebuilding your life, and so on. . . so how does that relate to girl on girl? Don't answer that. . . .

Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U : This song was originally by Prince and The Family and therefore was totally about a girl; so when Ms. O'Connor sings it, yeah, totally gay.

Paula Cole - I don't want to wait : This song is clearly being sung about/to a dude "I don't wanna to what his father, his father, his father did" and is probably her most whiny song. Hetereo-feminine assertive at best, not very gay.

Suzzane Vega - Luka : This song is sung from the perspective of an abused child, and I think it's inferring too much to assume it has anything to with sexuality. Reaching. Really reaching.

Dust Springfield - You don't Own Me : Once again, merely feminine and assertive.

T.A.T.U. - All The Things She Said: The name of the band means "This that", in feminine grammatical gender form, so "She Her." Two adorable Russian pixies who love each other very dearly. Yeah. Gay. Seriously, I'm pretty sure at this point they were engineered by some sort of mad pop scientists to sell billions of albums.

Meredith Brooks - Bitch : Quite apart from the blandness of this little ditty, I'm once again not sure how being assertive is some how supposed to be gay.

Joan Armatrading - The Weakness in Me : Classic. Also, really very neutral, not much else to say, probably not as gay as it could be.

Helen Reddy - I am Woman : Learned, experienced, been through narrative sort of song. . . once again. . not an experience limited to gay or straight women, I mean, you could claim that being gay means a harder life or something, but . . . I'm not going to concede that point under any circumstances.

Alanis Morrisette - You learn : WTF? Seriously? A song about growing up and learning is gay now? WTF?

Janis Joplin - Piece of My Heart: Could be about either gender. Reaching. . . .

k.d. Lang - Barefoot: Alright, so in the initial, "Hey new user, dig these tracks" playlist. . . isn't "Constant Craving" What. The. Hell.

See, my issue, as you may have guessed, is that some how feminine strength or assertiveness is some how gay. I think this is utter balderdash and I'll tell you why: despite everyone (read: frat boys with those white hats at a 14-45 degree angles) professing an undying love for lesbianism, homosexuality is still taboo. So essentially, it appears to me as though this playlist is attempting to enforce the idea that being a woman and assertive is some how taboo.

Now if that's not the case; then this play list is appropriation: IE "This song is actually not about a Mercedes Benz, it's actually about being gay! Oh, you didn't know. . .?" which is also irritating and dumb.

20090322

Dollhouse Episode 6: More Like This One, plz K , thx.

Alright, right off the bat, this episode is head and shoulders above the past five in terms of establishing milieu with a framing device of documentary news footage investigating the “urban legend” of the Dollhouse.

Okay, this should have been the pilot.

We find the Dollhouse is rumor, conjecture, accepted urban myth of Los Angeles since the 1980s in this world. Excellent! See, now I understand why they’re able to get away with their glob trotting shenanigans! They’re like the Illuminati or something. It’s too stupid to be real!

“Oh it’s happening, there’s one thing people will always need is slaves.” Says one woman.

Another speculates about not having to remember and says if she didn’t have to remember, she’s sign on the dotted line in a heartbeat.

Helo, meanwhile, has recovered a video tape of Dushku, last episode in fact, but I was too bored to mention it. He then has a confrontation with Romo Lamkin from BSG, who is playing an FBI agent who is lazily solving crime.

Back at the Dollhouse Puzzle Palace, Sierra sits by herself, while Dushku and Troika wonder why she’s sitting alone.

Troika walks over to her and puts his hand on her shoulder and she screams and throws herself out of her chair. It’s a really wrenching scene evoking a confrontation with abuse.

Later on, Dr. Sexy Scars says Sierra has had sex (called it). And creepily, she also says that Troika “Likes to play,” and Sierra’s handler is livid about it. Which makes him a suspect.

Back to Helo. Helo is finally doing what I’ve been saying he should do for five episodes: follow the money.

Hell yeah! All of the sudden this show doesn’t suck! Sweet! Even the way this episode is shot is an improvement. The angles are tighter, the lighting is much more dynamic, and the editing makes a ton more sense.

Also, Helo has a date! With the super cute girl next door! Woooo! The exchange really great dialogue about dating and people and it’s so smooth!

Helo has a plan. Apparently it involves catching Patton Oswald having sex with Eliza Dushku. Helo, being a bad-ass with cherry on top, gets the drop of Oswald’s body guards as Dushku pulls up in a nice car with her happy homemaker/working girl program in full swing. Helo makes his way inside a very nice house and catches up with Oswald in the kitchen, and then he sees Dushku!

And then the super depressing opening credits.

Then we have a more documentary footage. Somebody’s grand father says “If they’d have had it in my day, I would have had Betty Grable every night!” HA!

Another woman says if she should have a doll and there was no consequences, then she would. . . .totally not tell you! HA!

Back to Helo! Great pacing so far, this really should have been the pilot.

He’s confronting Oswald on the whole “You have a Dushku in your kitchen,” thing, and Dushku is freaking out, because she instantly jumped to the conclusion that the reason this FBI agent in their kitchen is because her husband has done porn.

Then one of Oswald’s body guard’s runs in a tasers the crap out of Helo, and Dushku asks “Is this a porn man!?” and Oswald says “There is no porn!”

This is the kind of exchange and context the show was lacking before, and Dushku plays flustered really well.

Then Helo, despite being recently tased, elbows the Porn Man body guard in the face, and kicks Oswald in the solar plexus. Then he drops another body guard with ease; it was like Bruce Lee vs. the captain of the High School swim team. The third guard actually took a year or so of martial arts, and takes more than three seconds to take down. Listen here, folks, this is Helo! He is a man given super-strength, speed, and agility not by science, but by faith in the rightness of his mission.

Harry J. Lennix shows up and yanks Dushku out of there before things get really nuts.

Patton Oswald, does a fine job of being nerdy but sinister here.

Helo asks about the Dollhouse.

“It’s pink, and it opens up and there’s teeny furniture and you put the boy doll on top of the girl doll and we learn about urges.” Says Oswald. Helo throws the table between and does the classic tough-guys sit on chairs backwards thing.

“What’s her name?” Helo asks.

“Rebecca. She told you.” Says Oswald.

“Really, how do you know Rebecca?”

“We’ve been married for seven years.”

“That’s your fantasy?” Helo asks. They have a great conversation about fantasy, and Oswald is a godsend in this episode as a not-quite-villain with a degree of depth and understanding and an intensity about him that lends a lot weight to what he’s saying.

“There’s no room for a real girl when you can feel Caroline (Dushku) beckoning, is there?”

And back at the Puzzle Palace, Lennix is talking with Troika’s handler about all kinds of things, and it seeps into the realm of victim blaming and situation blaming, and it’s another improvement to anything Lennix has said to Topher.

Meanwhile, Topher the Tech and Dr. Sexy Scars are trying to figure out if Troika actually had sex with Sierra, or what she actually meant by “He likes to pretend we’re married.” Which sounds really creepy.

A brief aside here: this entire subplot is welcomed creepiness. It gives me all the things I’d been hoping for; addressing the weirdness and unpleasantness of the memory erasure while at the same time acknowledging the basic humanity of the characters and in addition, addressing issues of violence against, well, children. As we know, the Dolls are like children when they are tabula rasa. Creepy!

Back to Patton Oswald, who is describing why he hires a doll, to pretend that she is his wife. His wife died trying to make it to the house he had just bought. She was killed in a car accident on the way there. It’s very affecting, and establishes further that moral gray area we needed for this show’s characters.

The police sirens are in the distance and Oswald let’s Helo know that he’s got nothing. The doll is gone, Oswald owns the house, and Helo is trespassing, after he committed assault on several employees from Rent-A-Goon.com.

“First hurdle in my business is the people who will not accept the change when it’s already happened.” And “Go ahead, go and live in your real world! If you ever did!” Oswald spouts.

Then, quietly, bitterly, Oswald says “Happy anniversary.” and sips his champagne.

More man on the street! What a great device this is! It certainly makes the show seem far less braindead.

One young lady suggests that it could be a potentially beautiful thing to be with a doll and another woman with a baby carriage says it’s human trafficking, plane and simple. This really could have been the pilot with a little tinkering.

Then Lennix is looking around the puzzle palace for . . . something. I guarantee he’s going to find evidence that Sierra’s handler is a rapist or something. He calls his bosses, and says to take Victor off the floor and his handler.

Security comes and gets Victor and his handler. There is something sinister about the whole thing.

Really, this is misdirection. The person who engages in victim blaming, Victor’s handler, doesn’t want to accept the fact that abuses can happen, but that doesn’t make them an abuser per se. Just an enabler.

Helo has a date, and he tries to be nice even though he’s just beat the hell out of half a platoon of body guards and such. His sweet girl-next-door neighbor is trying to be comforting, but it mostly just turns awkward.

Then back to the Puzzle Palace. Spoiler: Sierra’s handler clearing intends to bone her, (called that!) because of course, he’s a bad bad man. And then Lennix knocks his ass through a window! Things that will never get old for $200: If Dollhouse does more of this it may last it’s entire run before cancellation. What is watching rapists get punched in the face so hard they fly through plate glass?

Lennix set up Troika’s handler to take the fall so Sierra’s handler would feel like he was safe, because as you know, Lennix’s character used to be cop, and knows how to get scumbags to act like scumbags.

In Olivia Williams office a little later (What’s up girl?! Where you been at?) Lennix is reprimanded for taking action on his own, and then given a bonus.

LENNIX: I don’t need a bonus

WILLIAMS: Well I need to give it to you. That’s all.

LENNIX: Ms. Dewitt.

Once again, this episode actually gives the characters reactions and skills that make sense within their background, when they’re background isn’t changing ever episode. Then again, if the dolls were written as well as the regular non-erasable characters this show would be great. I blame Topher, as I do for everything.

Olivia Williams talks with the head of security about this that and other thing, including the fact that they have a camera in Helo’s apartment. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to feel like they’re evil; but instead I tsk Helo for not sweeping his place for bugs on a regular basis.

The head of security asks Williams is she has an exit strategy and points out that a) a handler was abusing one of the actives (but I don’t know, I think that if the consequence of that is going to be a old fashioned Chicago beat-down by H.J. Lennix, the other handlers will think twice) and b) Helo is actually not a retarded federal money waster and will get to the bottom of this thing unless stopped.

Williams higher-ups are again mentioned. Williams wants Sierra’s handler brought to her; which sounds really sinister. And then she icily mentions a second date between Dushku and Helo.

We have another documentary interview in which a guy, with his girlfriend standing right there, goes on about how some guys might like to check it out and by it, of course I mean a one night stand with another dude. But he specifies “nothing queeny.” Which is hysterical.

Then it’s to Topher the Tech, who appears to actually be doing some work for once, rather than shamming like the King Bullshitter he is, and he’s trying to engineer a “gorgeous but deadly” sort of personality type. Control freaks apparently don’t make great fighters. Lennix pops in to say hi and Topher whines that he’s in his “process,” boo-hoo, douche bag. You talk to Harry J. Lennix.

Dushku’s going on a date, and Lennix is on lock down for 48 hours (“min”), and the have a nice little chat about Lennix’s skills at police work, and Lennix rolls out to chill.

Topher implants Dushku with the lovely/lethal thing he was cooking up (almost literally, as he uses a ton of cooking metaphors). Then we cut to Williams’ dealing with Sierra’s handler.

It’s a fairly well acted and executed scene, and Sierra’s handler uses just about every classic evil man line in the book from vague homophobic invective to “she was asking for it” clothing criticism.

“You put her under some fat old Emir, (and just a dash of Xenophobia!) it makes it better because she thinks she’s in love for all of a day? We’re in the business of using people!”

Williams says, “What’s the best use for someone like you?” And then she tasks him with killing Helo’s neighbor (You guys called that).

Then we cut to Helo’s neighbor in the throws of coitus, and then there’s yet another well done conversation about not being clingy in which Helo adorably faux-sulks about not being a piece of meat.

“Is this the part when you dress me up and use me as bait, because those movies never end well. . .” she asks. Oh god! No! Don’t kill the adorable Neighbor Chef!

Helo goes down to the local Chinese food shop, and thinks he sees Dushku in kitchen. He wanders in there and since she’s been been programmed with Topher’s La Femme Nikita Neopolitan, she completely owns a guy who can lay the smack down on nearly everyone else he crosses.

Then another man on the street tells us we’re being brainwashed. Wait for them to tell you what to buy.

And then a fight scene! Woo! Helo realizes he can’t really hold back against a female who had been created by Joss Whedon, other wise he’d be killed. So this set piece is a brawl and a half with frying pans and cooking pots and suplexes onto automobiles.

After that Dushku let’s Helo know 1. There over 20 Dollhouses in cities around the world 2. Someone, a “man on the inside” haX0red Duskhu’s personality to let Helo know the entire score, which means Topher is either an idiot or actually as good he wants to people to think he is 3. He will be contacted again.

Then she gets Helo to shoot a cop who responding to a noise disturbance. Dude, like damn! “Noise disturbance” this officer thinks. Turns the corner and gets a bullet in the shoulder. That’s gotta be a WTF moment.

And now we have a classical music-over violence scene in which The Cute Neighbor Chef girl gets thrown around like a rag doll as Helo runs slower than we know he is capable of for dramatic purposes.

The Chef is prone and Sierra’s handler is on top her. Then Williams calls and over the answering machine says “There are three flowers in the vase, the third flower is green.” And the chef lays a smackdown on Sierra’s handler that would make Lennix proud. Williams then says “There are three flowers in the vase, the third flower is yellow.” And the chef turns into a normal girl who is terrified of scary men dressed all in black. I had been hoping that The Chef wasn’t a doll, but the reveal was good enough to make me happy. Helo gives her just killed-a-man with her bare hands snuggles and the audience gets kind bummed that all of her adorableness and cooking skills are part of a program. Very sad.

Then we have a college professor type who says if this technology exists, it’s world wide and as a species humanity no longer matters.

Then Helo turns in his gun and badge after being suspended. Very sad.

Williams and the Head of Security discuss their seemingly air-tight plan. Sierra’s handler turned up as a floater carved up by the Russian mob, Helo no longer has government backing. Well done.

The head of security says it was a well played hand. Williams, who I’m positive can make anything sound sexy at this point says “I played a very bad hand very well, there’s a distinction.”

Sierra’s had the abuse wiped from her memory, which is probably for the best.

Williams talks to Dushku about a drawing she’s making. Dushku says it isn’t finished. Williams is visibly taken aback, and sends Dushku back to Oswald to complete the house fantasy.

Summary:

1.Someone’s either been reading my blog, or I’m just awesome because is what I’ve been saying this show should have been all along.

2.So I guess I will watch it regularly, now that BSG is over.

3.I’m going to take this as the Empire Strikes back after the crappy New Hope fluff that was the previous five episodes. We’ve established all the characters at this point, so I guess it’s really time to rock and roll. I feel sort of bad that the show was really just atrocious for five episodes, and that may be it’s downfall, but we’ve gone from The Six Million Dollar Man to Blade Runner meets the X-Files.

4.Joss Whedon his own self wrote this episode. It either speaks to his talent or every one else’s hackery. Next weeks episode is written by Elizabeth Craft, who apparently wrote for The Shield and Angel however her other episode of this show, Grey Hour (Episode 4) was painfully dull. I mean, when a show has multiple writers, generally, someone needs to smooth out the scripts and quality control them so the mesh better. Right now the show has been wildly un-even in terms of quality. IE this episode was great, while the rest were terrible, and actually look worse by comparison to this one.

5.Seriously, whoa. Everything about this episode was head and shoulders above anything we’ve seen so far. Tighter editing, crisper characterization, and grand-scheme overarching plot moves forward at a break neck pace.

6.“F Bitch I” is a great put down.

7.“The judge will throw the Kindle at you.” We’re living in modern times baby!