Monday, April 27, 2009

Dollhouse: Haunted

Or as I like to call it Mindscan: The Murder Mystery Comedy Edition. If you've never read Robert J Sawyer's winning Mindscan or his earlier novel The Terminal Experiment, Boyd's little lecture on immortality via brain-scans might have been your first introduction to the possibility. Not a new concept. Not a new idea. But executing it as a plot device to solve a murder mystery with incest comedy? Ok, definitely a new twist. (I was originally going to refer to this as 17 Again: The Murder Mystery.)

On its own, Haunted is a good episode. It develops the characters of Topher and Adelle, and Boyd gets to moralize while Victor displays his ability to do a Texas accent. As it was written by the two lovely people who gave us Echoes (plus Jane E,) you know it had some excellent Topher/Adelle. She gives him a friend for his birthday. Awwww... Every year. She loves him. Really. /ship

It also goes further to prove—as of last episode—we aren't supposed to think of Paul as a "good guy" any longer. Or at least to paint him as morally grey as the rest of the cast, which could possibly be setting him up to become involved with the House as an insider and not an adversary? Shall we say yes to this considering the trailer shows he's getting in the House next week?

Speaking of—what's the deal? Anyone else notice the strategic editing that implies Paul is Alpha?

The only issue with episode ten is that Fox has yet again screwed this series by waiting two weeks to show it. The break—so Fox could spread the two final airing episodes (of this season) during sweeps—has us coming back to an episode that is much slower in momentum than the one previous and likely the two following. In the scope of the series, it works for giving us time to pause and process and prepare for Paul Storming The House. However, with the break it felt like I was coming back to a transition episode that didn't do much to get me excited to keep watching.

Good thing that trailer for next week was there.


Sarah K said...

I didn't notice the editing you speak of that implies Paul=Alpha.

I still have problems with that concept [although I do like it]. For Paul to have become a seasoned FBI agent [we don't know his exact tenure, but he has been there enough to develop and earn the reputation that he has.

On the other hand, if Alpha was initially supposed to be working as an insider in the FBI when he assimilated, and then further had the issue of blocking off that part of himself like a sort of split personality, I could see how that would work [and be awesome!]

But there's a lot of ifs there.

I *did* really enjoy his dark turn in Haunted though. November's past as a pro-mugshot model flashed and disappeared before his eyes, and he stopped feeling bad for her, because she was no longer some 'innocent' that was captured by the big bad Dollhouse. Instead he took out his anger on her. And wow, that wasn't just morally grey. That was a big nasty plunge into darkdarkdark.

I liked it.

Sarah K said...

ps: So, Topher gets his birthday friend 'every year'. How long has he been there then? I mean, every year implies that this is at least the third, to me. There's no such thing as a First Annual, Second Annual is really only a coincidence. It takes three times to establish a pattern.

I'm just curious because I'm starting to feel bad for Topher. That's a loneliness I can't begin to wrap my head around. His best friend is imaginary, except that he gets to give her a tangible body. Maybe if there's a season 2, Boyd can get him some Inappropriate Starches for his stash a birthday gift. You ship Topher and Adele, I'm still thinking Boyd and Topher. Sweet, sweet Bromance.

Chandra Rooney said...

I want him to be Alpha because either him being Alpha or Echo's Dead Boyfriend being Alpha would be nice and OMFG. Besides, they're the only people we've met thus far who have the physical profile to match Alpha and it fits Joss's style that Alpha has been hovering on the edge the entire time.

Paul in the Dollhouse getting stopped by Boyd immediately cut to Dr. Fred going "Alpha." It implies that either Paul is Alpha or Alpha is the guy got Paul into the Dollhouse. Or Alpha walked in the front door and was all "Did I miss Topher's birthday? I brought some beer."

My comment on Topher's loneliness is that Adelle loves him and therefore he is really not all alone, because him all alone is a little more soul-crushing than I can handle. (I mean, jeez, even Ethanael has friends FFS and he's got to be at least twice as neurotic as Topher.)

Sarah K said...

But even with Adele being sympathetic to Topher's loneliness [after all, she understands it, her only friend that she could be herself with was a Roger, right?], I'm not sure Topher sees the understanding. She said she allowed and was aware of what was going on, but that doesn't mean that Topher knows he's not being super sneaky getting away with something. Although, if he's as smart as we're led to believe he is, he does know he's not getting away with anything.

As per Ethanael: He has friends because he gets to interact with people, even if its in his weird limited way. Topher interacts only with the staff and the dolls. We know Dr. Fred never leaves the compound, but we don't know about what Topher does when he leaves the compound. Besides restocking his drawer of Inappropriate Starches, that is.

I don't get to see the trailers for the following week, that's why I was confused about the editing you were referring to.

Some day, I'll manage to leave a non-epic note on a Dollhouse entry. Obviously, that won't be this one.

You're right about the Joss Style comment. Not to mention, it would feel really cheap if suddenly Alpha appears and its someone we haven't seen once before.

Also, if Alpha isn't someone that we already know, there's no reason to keep his appearance a secret from the viewer. The big reveal can't have an impact if we see him and go, 'oh look, some dude'.

Chandra Rooney said...

It is just so sad... no one involved with the Dollhouse is really "happy" except for the dolls, and their bliss is because Topher erased their brains.

Oh, Manager Mike saw the dude who plays Topher at a concert in Vancouver on Sunday. Neato!

Sarah K said...

On the Alpha as Paul tangent: The mention of notes written in Margaret's hand writing even though she was in Echo's body would imply that Alpha could easily leave notes for Paul that wouldn't be recognised as Paul's own writing. Interesting....

It is sad. And I still really want to know what drove the people that work there to work there in the first place.

Cool for Manager Mike! What concert was it?

Chandra Rooney said...

I'm not even certain why I want Paul to be Alpha so much....

I can't remember which concert. I'll have to ask.

Sarah K said...

Because it would be uber-awesome, AND it would put the viewers in a very conflicted mind-frame. We've been feeling bad for Paul because we knew that Mellie was really November for quite some time. AND THEN we furrowed our brows at Paul for how he treated Mellie after learning that she wasn't this idea of an 'innocent' that he was attributing to the actives in the Dollhouse. Him being Alpha would add an excellent twist to all his conflicted feelings, and would serve us that quandary that I have been discussing for sometime. Except instead of it being Mellie learning she's really a Sleepie, its Paul making the discovery. Which wasn't as expected.

It also serves to show us the other side of the Echo/Caroline issue. Caroline is the victim here, but we see Echo the most, and its Echo that we sympathise with. Paul as Alpha would juxtapose and highlight the Caroline as Echo [or Echo as Caroline?] dilemma. They're different people. Who do you root for?

That's why I like the idea.

I like it a lot.

Chandra Rooney said...

I would root for Topher.

Oh. Thought of something about this episode. Not important, but curious. Where was new handler Travis?

Sarah K said...

I wondered that too. Adele was all 'she has a new handler now' and then we didn't see him once.

Maybe because the story just isn't about Disposable Travis? I don't know.

Chandra Rooney said...

Are we making bets as to how long into the Alpha killing spree Disposable Travis lasts?

Sarah K said...

We could start a casualty pool [like a football pool but with stabbings!], with the ultimate payout being when Disposable Travis gets it.

Chandra Rooney said...

Breaking the season finale up into 5 minute increments.