Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dollhouse: Echoes

Falling behind! In other words, I'm revising SHARDS in response to beta-reader feedback so I'm going to skip re-gushing over the mad glee of Topher not wearing any pants. Quite frankly internet, I'm disappointed a search for "Echoes" images didn't bring that screenshot up on the first page.

So much good in this episode, beyond just the Adele and Topher dialogue that I will be quoting with friends probably for a good few months.

Other thoughts:

• I liked Alice's outfit.

• I'm glad we're finally learning about Caroline, but I'm not certain the whole PETA activist free the puppies works for me just yet—mostly because I don't understand her motivation. It came across—as it is—that this was just a means to an end of getting her where she needed to be for Bad Things To Happen. Also, possibly planting the seeds of her as Rebellion leader.

• I don't like Mellie. My prosposal to resolve this: Imprint her as FBI Paul's assassin and make him kill her. Why? Because we are past the time that the juicy identity issues this tech raises should have been used for vicious emotional angst.

• I like Victor more and more.

• This is what my feelings of FBI Paul boil down to: why is he the secondary protagonist? All this withholding of motivation wants me to believe we are building to something BIG AND SURPRISING and not just that there's a lack of attention being paid to character development.

• Is it just me or did this episode seem to ship Topher and Adele? Even if it didn't, I'm going to start. Topher and Adele sitting in a tree, e-a-t-i-n-g crisps. (Go back and view the previous episodes through a Topher Loves Adele filter for added fun!)

• Awakening next week? Really? Because that's rather early if the Escape from The Dollhouse is the big endgame of the season. Which means... what are you really planning for us, Joss, that fuels the story beyond a 13 episode arc?

• Tangential from previous thought: I'm not wowed by this Massive Dynamic Rossum thing. I already watch Fringe, thanks.

Join me in the comments if you'd like to debate the obvious conclusion that Alfa is Caroline's ex-boyfriend and thus why he didn't cut Echo up into little doll pieces. That is, if you aren't suffering from a failing of the machines that go BING (when there's stuff) or raiding your drawer of inappropriate starches.


Sarah K said...

Oooo Caroline's boyfriend as Alpha is something that hadn't occured to me. I like that notion.

I don't hate Mellie. I thought the angst when she started glitching was a little strange, considering there didn't seem to be that much basis for it, but whatever. I like the idea of her finding out that she's a doll as Mellie [or Paul finding out before she does] and the boatload of issues that creates for a person. How would you feel if you were all gung-ho for your boyfriend to put an end to the human trafficking and badness and then find out that you are one of those people yourself. Are you going to be okay with just saying goodbye to yourself forever so that the person that was *supposed* to live in your body to begin with can take it back? I'm not done with the Mellie arc, because I can see that there is so much awesome that can be explored in it.

I got the feeling partway through the episode that Adele's intention is to recruit Paul as either a Doll or a handler. It's the only thing I could think of that warranted not just killing him when the obviously have the ability to do so should they want to.

I'm curious about Ballard's drive as well, but not to the point of distraction. I've seen plenty of shows where your main FBI/policeman/journalist has their weird fixation and can't help but follow its tracks. Eventually it comes out that their sister was abducted by aliens or whatever, and it all makes sense. I'm still okay with thinking that Paul is just pigheaded and good-hearted enough to want to see an end to something he sees as deplorable.

Also, I think being shot because of it would do a lot to strengthen the resolve of particularly obtuse individuals. If he gives up on the case, then he was shot for No Good Reason.

I love Victor. What happened to him after Sierra shot him? We didn't find out, and I was very irritated. I want him to be okay.

I haven't watched Fringe, but I figured there was more to the Dollhouse than just the Dollhouse. Adele has mentioned more than once that they do good there. Boyd said as much to her in the first episode. I'm curious what it is the proceeds from the asignments is funding. I think this is supposed to be a big discussion in the ends justifying the means.

"I'm sorry I knocked you out and left you in a burning house to die. I mean, who does that?"

My comments on your Dollhouse entries could be entries all of their own.

Chandra Rooney said...

Alfa is Caroline's ex may not work, because I thought the show implied he died. Although we don't see that. Just that she was all "don't leave me" and maybe he passed out. I don't know. TV people die really fast from gunshot wounds.

Speaking of Paul being shot--yes. I think the being shot had the opposite effect Adele wanted, because it only encouraged him. So maybe now she's all "wow, he's persistent like Topher and I love that in a man." /ship

What I keep banging my head against is that this is a show that seems to thrive on duplicity. So having such simplistic motivations for the main protagonists (Caroline and Paul) falls flat for me. It's likely they have these simple motivations so we don't get lost in backstory, but I feel like the show is going "Just you wait, I'm going to bring the awesome mystery" and then goes "the secret is she likes puppies."

Anyway, something led Paul to investigate the Dollhouse in the first place, and that's the question I'm waiting to see answered.

What frustrates me with Mellie is the awesome you pointed out isn't being employed. I feel like if those kinds of questions were a core element of the show, we would have seen them addressed sooner. Not specifically in Mellie's case, but in general plot ramifications.

Which to me suggests that the whole "they can be whomever you want" really isn't the point of the show. So what is?

Fringe features a shadowy pharmaceutical corp involved in a vast global conspiracy. There may or may not be aliens involved.

Sarah K said...

I think Paul is investigating the Dollhouse because it was his assignment. And he takes his assignments seriously.

I think he was given the assignment because, although he is a good agent, as Victor said when he was Lubov in some earlier episode of which I can't remember the title or even what else happened, he doesn't manage to close them. So they gave him a 'fairytale' case to work on, and it turns out that he has just enough information to know its either true or there are people out there with nothing better to do than to fuck with him.

I'm not doubting that there's more to it than that, any more than I'm doubting that there's more to Caroline than simply being an animal rights activist. I am saying that, in light of everything else going on, I'm okay with one or two simple answers. Simple motivations from the people outside the organisation to contrast with the highly duplicitous motivations of the people within the creepy organisation.

I kind of think that it makes Caroline's story a little more tragic if she was really only going in there because she wanted to tape some animals being abused in order to get something done about their animal treatment policies. Went there trying to do something good—ends up being cornered into being a lab animal herself, also, purportedly, for the greater good.

The parralels intrigue me a lot, actually.

Also, there's more to Caroline's story. She wasn't in the hospital room at the end of the episode. What else happened before she had her meeting with Adele, I wonder?

And that episode also raises the question: was that a normal thing for Rossum Corporation? Someone tries to break in, or maybe people that work there try to steal research, and they end up dolls? If that's the case Rossum has an unrealistic of really hot people working for them. But I want to know where the other Dolls come from too.

I will continue to hope that my awesome questions for the Mellie plotline might eventually be addressed. It doesn't need to be right now, or even this season, but I have hope, and I'm hanging on to it.

And I don't think that 'they can be whomever you want' is the point of the show. It's the plot device that enables the point of the show. Ends justifying means, I'm telling ya. I'd almost be willing to place money on that.

And seriously, I'm worried about Victor.

I like that you keep calling him Alfa. It makes me think he's either the relative of a cat eating alien, or part tasty sandwich filling sprout. Mmmmm sprouts.

Chandra Rooney said...

Ends justifying the means. All right, but what are the ends?

Questions, questions, questions. Do you think I'm just being too demanding because it's a 13 episode season, and rather than go "it will do half as much as a full length season" I ask that it do as much in half the time?

Victor isn't dead. I promise. I saw him Not Dead in the preview.

I think I am cranky and impatient. So I apologize, because I don't mean to pick apart the show. It's just so nice to finally have a show that inspires conversation and engages viewers to puzzle it out. By which I mean a show I watch and look forward to every week and would be really bothered by the thought of not getting to watch it. As opposed to the other shows with that kind of fan following that I can/have walk/ed away from.

I call him Alfa because I cannot spell. Do you think there are fanfics where FBI Paul is Alpha and he and Echo go on dates?

(I'm telling you Adele + Topher. It's true love 4evar.)

Sarah K said...

The ends are the research that we don't actually know what it is yet. But its been alluded to at least a few times. Adele even said out and out in the last episode when she was venting about her job that 'its not that she doesn't believe in the work the Dollhouse is funding'. I think that is eventually going to be one of the big reveals. One more thing to make you feel uncertain as to how you feel about everyone all over again.

I think you are more demanding than I am because you are A- in a position to watch more shows that I am, and therefore able to do more comparing and contrasting than I generally am and B- you are currently deep in Story Mode, and I don't think that stops with the story you might happen to be working on. But maybe its that thing that you said too.

I really look forward to this show, and when its over I really look forward to reading what you'll have to say about it. I wasn't this excited about the first [and from what I can tell] best season of Heroes. I like that there is so much to think about and consider and sort out.

And lots of pretty pretty people, and it makes sense that everyone is so pretty.

As far as the half season goes, Joss has done half seasons of both Buffy and Firefly, and while neither show was anywhere near as intense, he managed to accomplish a lot in those shows in half seasons. I would argue that there's been even more done in Dollhouse in these eight episodes than accommplished in Buffy or Firefly in that amount of time. Maybe it doesn't seem like that much yet because you just are that eager to know all the details of what is going on already? I know I go a little crazy with not knowing sometimes. [I'm relieved that Victor is okay, it would have been bad for him to be killed by Sierra when he was trying to help her feel better [while also tripping out]. It would have been really sad.

Maybe I'll write you a Ballard is Alpha going on a date with Echo fanfic. Maybe I'll work on the story I'm working to stay motivated about instead. Who knows!

I could get behind your Adele and Topher ship.

Chandra Rooney said...

Oh this show is much better than Heroes, because it's not relying on time travel to save the day.

Although Zach Quintos as Alpha... wow. That would be awesome. :D

I think once the show is finished its season and I can look back on it as a whole, it will work better for me. In addition to points A & B, I have been watching a lot of anime recently--and that's not on a week by week basis. It's "here's the entire thing, within a week you can see it and appreciate its Big Picture."

Sarah K said...

It has been a long time since we've had to *wait* for a joss show. In fact, I've never waited for a Joss show before. I was never interested in any of his other series until they were complete entities.

Well, I guess I have to wait for the comics.

I think Sylar as Alpha would be uber sexy. But typecasting! Poor Zach Q. But as Spock he can break the sexy sociopath mold, and become a creepily attractive alien instead.

If we wanted the surprise spoiled, I know there are Alpha-casting spoilers out there. I haven't looked though, because I really like surprises.

Chandra Rooney said...

Yes, Zach Q is a creepily attractive alien. Like...I don't know, Valentine, or something.

I've been told to stay away from IMDB.

Sarah K said...

I didn't see any Alpha spoilers there, but I wasn't looking that closely. I was mostly trying to figure out how I knew Adele and Sierra already, [and I wanted Topher's assistant's name]. I'm still not sure how I know Sierra. Adele's actress had uncredited roles in A Knight's Tale and X-Men 3.
The assistant's name is most definitely Ivy [and she had a bit part in a very hilarious scene in Domino, which I love and adore].

Did I scare off all other Dollhouse commenters?

Chandra Rooney said...

We've scared everyone off.

I think Sierra was in season 7 of Buffy as the Japanese slayer. Yes? No?

Sarah K said...

I can't find the name of that actress, but according to Dichen Lachman's imdb page, she was never on Buffy.

Chandra Rooney said...

Then I have no idea why she's familiar.