Dollhouse Episode Guide: Season 2
Episode 1: Vows (7.5)
Season two picks up shortly after the events of the season one finale. Ballard is now working for the Dollhouse and now that Boyd is head of security, Echo has a new handler. Dr. Saunders meanwhile is still coming to terms with the truth about herself.
Best Moment: I must admit, it was kinda enjoyable seeing a Helo versus Apollo smackdown. It was also nice to see Alexis Denisof back in the Whedon fold, even if it looks unlikely that he and Amy Acker will have any scenes together. Also, thought the Bride of Frankenstein bit at the beginning was pretty funny.
Verdict: Overall, a solid season opener, although it felt that a lot of the plot points in relation to Echo were in service of the story. The FBI Agent storyline was a convoluted way to show her character starting to glitch. In addition, the fact that Echo’s handler didn’t realise she was in danger (particularly given the dangerous job she was doing) also seemed like a way to simply get Ballard appointed her handler. I did really enjoy the interaction between Topher and Saunders, which is unlike anything we’ve previously seen before and felt like the heart of the episode. It feels like the show is finally finding its footing. Echo knows that she is many different people but they are not her and Saunders is dealing with the knowledge that her persona, her passions and her fears aren’t real.
Episode 2: Instinct (6.5)
Topher has outdone himself by imprinting Echo as a new mother, igniting primal instincts that no one in the dollhouse could've predicted. Meanwhile, Senator Perrin gets information that changes the course of his investigation, focusing it directly on the dollhouse, while November comes back for a “diagnostic.”
Best Moment: When Ballard points out to Topher that his new imprint for Echo is the cause of all their problems. Topher's reaction at having outsmarted even himself is pretty hilarious.
Verdict: While the episode itself was enjoyable enough the return to an imprint-of-the-week format was unwelcome. It showed us what the dollhouse was capable of doing to a person, and it showed us more of the self-aware Echo, but it wasn't enough to be engaging to me. It seemed odd that Sierra was there purely to add to Echo/Emily's sense of reality. Clearly they were having fun doing a riff on movies like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle but i'm not sure how well it worked. I did however enjoy the scenes with Topher and Ballard, though Boyd was sincerely missed this episode.
Episode 3: Belle Chose (8.0)
When the nephew of one of the board of directors of the Rossum Corporation gets in a car accident that puts him in a coma, Topher must imprint Victor with the mind of the nephew. Only problem is, the nephew happens to be a cold-blooded serial killer.
Best moment:Hard to choose one this week, there were a lot of excellent moments. But one of my fav's has to be Boyd's emphasis that Topher finds waking up the serial killer to be “unethical.”
Verdict: This has been the Dollhouse episode I've been waiting for since it came back on air. This was just a fun episode. Tim Minear's script had so many cool moments. Who can forget Victor as Kiki dancing at the nightclub? Or Ballard along with another handler waiting for their active's to get dressed. I have to say, I also enjoyed the brief scenes we got with Michael Hogan, and hope that we'll get to see more of him in upcoming episodes. Sure, the script had some problems. It wasn't entirely explained how Terry's personality jumped from Victor to Echo, but they made it so enjoyable to watch that it didn't really seem to matter. I did leave wondering whether Ballard actually pulled the plug on Terry or not, but I suppose that's up to the viewer to decide.
Episode 4: Belonging (8.5)
This episode we learn more about Sierra's background, which was only hinted at in the episode Needs, and the circumstances that led her to the Dollhouse.
Best Moment: Adelle confronting Nolan was a classic. “Given you're a raping scumbag, one tick shy of a murderer? I can't recall, do you take sugar?” The delivery, all in one breath was absolutely perfect.
Verdict: What an excellent episode! Even though the story was very much encapsulated into one episode, it gave us so many hints to the future, and unlike the imprint-of-the-week plots, was very engaging. Dichen Lachman was brilliant in this episode and it was such a delight to see her given such a meaty role. I also think Eliza Dushku should be credited for her very subtle performance. Echo's realization that Boyd is onto her is so subtle but clearly catches her off guard. And speaking of Boyd, what about that ending? We always knew that Boyd was a badass but I don't think anyone suspected him capable of anything like this. It is interesting too watching Topher as he becomes more morally aware of what he is doing. I guess Rossum was wrong about him! I also loved the hints going back to Epitaph One, as Topher attempts to replicate the remote wipe which becomes so prevalent in that futuristic episode.
Episode 5: The Public Eye (8.0)
When Senator Perrin reveals that he has proof the Dollhouse exists via former active November, Adelle sends Echo out to derail the senator’s plans to take down Rossum, only to find themselves caught in a much larger conspiracy.
Best Moment: When Echo explains that Perrin’s bad guys are "badder" than her bad guys.
Verdict: After a very long break, Dollhouse returns with a bang. I must admit to suspecting that Perrin’s wife was an active in earlier episodes, but when the others came to that conclusion, I just knew the writers had something else up their sleeves. I had several other theories but didn’t go quite so far as entertaining the idea that Perrin could be an active. After all, how do you create a United States senator? Apparently Rossum can. I should also add that Summer Glau’s character, Bennett was creepily perfect and who else spotted Dollhouse/Dr. Horrible writer Maurissa Tancharoen as Kilo?
Episode 6: The Left Hand (8.5)
Following on from the previous episode, Adelle and Topher go down to DC to get Echo back and gain access to Perrin’s brain, and Rossum’s true plans. Meanwhile, Echo finds herself being tortured by Bennett who bears more than a little bit of a grudge against Caroline.
Best Moment: Just about any scene with Enver Gjokaj in it. I’ve already been so impressed with his range on this show, but who knew just what an excellent Topher he’d make!
Verdict: Rossum’s evil plan doesn’t come as much of a surprise if you’d paid attention last episode but the most enjoyable stuff in this episode wasn’t the main storyline anyway. If you liked the scenes in the Buffy episode The Replacement with two Xanders, you’ll love the scenes with two Tophers. I also loved the scenes between Topher and Bennett. Who knows, if Bennett didn’t have such a homicidal interest in Echo, those two kids could’ve made a cute, diabolical couple. Adelle proved just what a hard ass she could be with guest star Ray Wise. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of Wise too.
Episode 7: Meet Jane Doe (7.0)
Having broken away from the Dollhouse, Echo must learn to survive in her doll-state.
Best Moment:When Topher remote wipes Victor and Sierra who, imprinted with scientists, are still attracted to each other; when we discover just who stole Topher’s plans for remote imprints;
Verdict: An over all decent episode. I do feel that the prison-break aspects of the episode were lacking. The show never seems to do very well when it focuses on action storylines like a heist or a prison break. The show’s strength is in the characters. Even in an action scene, it’s the characters that make the scene interesting. It felt a little bit like a throwback to previous stories where they’re in the middle of an action story and Echo glitches. The storyline at the Dollhouse was much more interesting. Adelle is reduced to little more than a glorified PA and is determined to get her house back. Meanwhile, Topher appears to be toeing the line but in fact he’s used all the resources Rossum has given him to discover Rossum’s bigger plan, i.e. remote imprint technology, as seen in Epitaph One. Of course, Topher is a genius and is able to create the technology but doesn’t tell Rossum, understanding the dangers. Except the one person he does confide in betrays him, which was a huge shock and also a strong reminder that just because the LA Dollhouse is less evil than Rossum, doesn’t make then not evil.
Episode 8: A Love Supreme (7.5)
Ballard and Echo are back with the Dollhouse, but Echo’s three month absence hasn’t gone unnoticed either by Adelle, or by Alpha who is still obsessed with her.
Best Moment:When Topher realises that Echo no longer needs him for imprints... a very cool jab at Blockbuster!
Verdict: An enjoyable episode, though I wonder if I won’t at some point tire of Alpha’s long-winded, evil genius monologues or his obsession with Echo. Not that Alan Tudyk wasn’t a welcome return. Another appearance I enjoyed was by Patton Oswalt, who was definitely one of Echo’s nicer romantic engagements. It was also nice to see that the guy who had Echo imprinted as his dead wife, had finally been able to move on with his life. The story takes an even more interesting turn however, when Alpha manages to sneak a virus into the Dollhouse and turn the dolls into killing machines, while he goes after his real target, Ballard, the man who caused Echo to actually feel love. I must admit, I thought our heroes were a little slow in thinking about using the remote wiping device, but otherwise this was an enjoyable episode. Anybody who hadn’t been paying attention to Adelle in the previous episode, gets another ugly reminder of just how evil she can be if it means saving her own skin. And Ballard, well, that was certainly a surprise, but knowing that he’s in Epitaph One, does mean that I’m perhaps not as worried for him as I should be. I am however interested in what Adelle will do to Echo knowing that Echo wasn’t in a doll-like state those past three months.
Episode 9: Stop-Loss (7.0)
Victor’s contract is up and he is released back to his old life. But there are some in Rossum that aren’t ready to do away with him just yet.
Best Moment: When Topher learns that Adelle is Miss Lonely Hearts, and starts frantically apologizing for all the the geriatric jokes he had made about her. Also loved the Cruella DeWitt line.
Verdict: Overall, a solid episode. We got to see more of Rossum’s other projects and they are truly frightening. What a chilling end with Adelle sending Echo to the attic, although it should really come as no surprise given just how much Echo has interfered with Rossum’s plans.
Episode 10: The Attic (8.5)
Echo is stuck in a living nightmare while inside the attic. Meanwhile, Topher struggles to find a way to save Ballard.
Best Moment: Several come to mind... the football metaphor that leads Topher to figure out a way to save Ballard; the links to Epitaph One and of course DeWitt’s reasons for sending Echo to the attic.
Verdict: This is one of those Whedon episodes where I think I know what’s going on, but I actually don’t. Had the episode been all about the nightmare world of the attic and Echo getting out, I would’ve rated it much lower. But about halfway through the episode we learn the real use of the attic, as a supercomputer comprised of human minds. And of course the ending with DeWitt surprised me. A part of me feels intentionally misled by the writers, but it does make sense that DeWitt would keep her cards close, she has to get back into Rossum’s good graces after all. This is the first episode in a while where I am really eager to see what happens next (which won’t be until January 8th!). As Dollhouse moves into endgame I find myself wondering who is Clyde 2.0 and how is this all going to wrap up? Because of Epitaph One, we know things don’t go too well for society, or do we?
Episode 11: Getting Closer (9.5)
Sides have been taken in the fight against Rossum and the L.A. Dollhouse must bring back Caroline to fill in the missing pieces and uncover Rossum’s true motives.
Best Moment: Funny moments: Topher and Bennett kissing for the first time. Caroline’s comment about Bennett being able to kill her "with her brain." WTF the moments: The big WTF moment with Saunders(!!) with an even bigger WTF finale with Boyd (!!!!)
Verdict:Wow. Just wow. Even having a whole night to chew over the events of last night’s episode, I'm still floored, and will probably have to watch it again (in addition to just about every episode that contained Boyd). Well, we knew we were near the end, but this episode makes it implicitly clear just how close the end is for everybody involved. And anybody who wondered just how Joss Whedon could retain the mystery of the show after Epitaph One, an episode which jumped ten years into the future, well, here’s the proof, because I bet none of ya saw that one coming. What a fantastic episode. We got to learn so much more about Caroline and Bennett. And just when it seems like Bennett could actually be a nice, likeable person, well, then that happens. But the episode packs a one-two when, while the audience is still reeling from the first devastating betrayal we get the final reveal, with a character that we’ve always liked. Just earlier in the episode Boyd had a nice scene with Echo and I was thinking how much I liked those scenes and missed the episodes when Boyd wasn’t around. And now... well, I am going to have to go back and re-watch everything again, because nothing in the Dollhouse is as it seems. I’ve always enjoyed Dollhouse, but this episode proves just how special this show is. I really hope the execs at Fox are kicking themselves right about now.
Episode 12: The Hollow Men (8.0)
Unsuspecting of the traitor in their midst, Adelle takes Echo and the group to Tucson in order to bring down Rossum once and for all.
Best Moment: A lot of nice moments, such as Ballard’s confusion when Boyd turns on him, Topher and his thought-pocalypse, and of course, Topher 2.0. Oh and I must add that I loved Boyd’s statement about Ballard being the relative at the party you don’t want around.
Verdict: Not quite as much going on this episode, no doubt a brief lull before even more chaos in the series finale. Still, in this lull we learn that Echo really is different and there’s a physical reason why she rejects the imprints and Boyd is so interested in her. And Mellie AKA November gets to go all Manchurian Candidate with a similar demise. Oh yes, and Topher gets the remote wipe tech working and uses it for the first time on Boyd. Which is a shame really, because there’s still so much more that I’d like to learn about Boyd’s intentions. He went through a great deal of trouble to get Echo to the point that she’s at. And while the reasons given as to why she’s so important are believable it still doesn’t satisfactorily explain everything to me. On the whole, the episode had a lot of nice moments coupled with some cheesey moments like Echo’s running away from a the ball of flame at the end. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the finale has in store.
Episode 13: Epitaph 2: Return (8.0)
Picking up directly from where Epitaph One left off we see Mini-Caroline and company heading off to Safe Haven only to be picked up and carted off to Neuropolis where they run into the real Caroline.
Best Moment: A lot of great one liners like the whole "We were born ready. Well, not technically." I also loved Caroline’s breakdown as she accepts Ballard’s death and of course, the poignant ending for one of my favourite characters, Topher.
Verdict: Overall, the finale was a little too rushed for me which took away a lot of the poignancy. Had the series ended with just the possibility of technology that could hit the reset switch on humanity that would’ve been one thing. The rushed ending and the giant leap forward in time gives the viewer very little time to process what’s happening and appreciate the ten year journey to bring humanity back. Still, the episode had some nice moments. I was surprised about Ballard’s death- a truly blink or you’ll miss it moment. But the episode left so many things open. I find myself surprised that Whedon is adamant there won’t be any future Dollhouse material in comic book form. Look how much was left open. We still don’t get a proper back story for Boyd. What’s been happening in the last ten years? I suppose you could say that the series ended as best it could, and that would be a true statement. However, looking at the season over all, they spent far too much time early on in season two going back to a story of the week formula and far little time building up the arc. True, they didn’t know that they would get cancelled. But what happened to the Buffy way of telling stories, where they shot each season as though it were the last season? Instead, we’re left with a hundred different plot threads hanging. Having watched the entire series as a whole, it is very apparent just how unfocused the series was and that (I’m probably gonna get lynched for saying this) Fox wasn’t the only problem that Dollhouse had.
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