Dollhouse S01 E04: "Gray Hour"
Written by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain
Directed by Ron Hardy
* I think the show is making fun of itself with the moaning noises that launch the episode and lead into Echo's midwife engagement. I'd like to think that those early sex scenes existed solely so that they could be subverted later on, but that's probably only partly true. Also, one must wonder why this couple didn't hire a real midwife. Is this, perhaps, an altruistic engagement? This lady went into labor in a highly remote location and no one else was able to get to her?
I guess this brief blip of an engagement is here so that later, when Wiped!Echo sees a painting of a mountain, she can say, "When I'm there, my name is something else" and demonstrate more remembered elements from previous engagements.
* There are a lot of scenes from the original pilot in this episode. It's possible that the art heist itself is among them—the ruse in the hotel lobby was very familiar to me somehow. Most of these consist of things I was really wanting to see, like general "life inside the Dollhouse" stuff. I love the scene with Echo, Sierra, and Victor having lunch together.
In fact, this episode felt more like a Buffy episode to me than anything yet, and I think that's largely because we're getting some contemporary companions for our female lead. Whenever Echo gets out of the Dollhouse or whatever happens, I very much hope that Sierra and Victor are there by her side. The very thought makes me kind of geekbumpy in anticipation.
* Adelle gets a call from her bosses pressuring her to deal with the Paul situation. She ends up sending Victor to him in an effort to give him closure on the situation. Unfortunately, there's no mention of whether the Dollhouse folks had intended for Paul to be killed when they sent him to that abandoned hotel in the last episode.
The Paul and Victor scenes are great; Enver Gjokaj does a great job, as well. Maybe now that the Victor gig seems to be over we'll begin seeing him in other jobs.
* The actual engagement part is, like last time, less interesting than the character work, but that could often be said about Buffy, too. Also, loved seeing Eliza handle a tough, competent female role that was nothing like Faith.
* I love that Boyd finishes the job, and how he pulls his gun so casually.
* I love that Sierra is also imprinted with the same personality after Echo is remotely wiped. Also, Dichen Lachman kicks tremendous ass in this episode.
From here on out, I like all Sierra!Taffy and Wiped!Echo moments. Wiped!Echo is especially cute, and believes everything she's told. Okay, maybe the wounded guy's musings about being broken are rather heavy-handed, but I liked how his words lingered in Echo's mind. At the end of the episode, when Echo is drawing in the steam on a mirror, I think she's drawing the cubist face atop her reflection and thinking about being broken. Nice.
* One odd bit: Dominic had said he would confirm that Boyd had acquired the target item. But we later see Boyd calling Adelle himself and Adelle asking him whether he got it. Falling down on the job, Dominic? Also, Boyd's exchange with the antiquities expert about the map is kind of cheesy.
* I love how Sierra handles Dominic. After she calls him a "nervous Nellie," I spontaneously said aloud, "I love you, Sierra." This was followed shortly thereafter by an, "I love you, Echo" after this phone exchange:
Sierra (as Taffy): Is this the chowderhead?
Echo (very cutely): I don't know!
Other interesting random things:
* No one knows the details of an engagement but the client. They entire their request into a computer (the "confessional"), which calculates the risk and appropriate fees.
* Fran Kranz as Topher seemed to be overacting a bit and was especially gesture-y. If those scenes were indeed from the pilot, that might explain it.
* I like Adelle's subtle reaction to hearing Echo get hit for failing to execute Sierra!Taffy's instructions.
Overall, I really liked it. It's my favorite episode so far. It's hard to say whether this would've worked as the original pilot. I think for fans like me, who want to see the daily life of an Active, then it would've, but I understand the idea of bringing people in with sexiness and high-stakes situations first.
NEXT WEEK: Echo goes undercover in a fanatical religious cult. She's blind, which sounds needless, but they actually give a halfway decent explanation for it. I wasn't very enthused about this episode until I heard it was penned by Tim Minear, which is promising. Also promising: Paul sees Caroline on some footage of the cultists.