General Impressions: Well, this is my first time rewatching Dollhouse. And you know, my mouth was probably even more wide open than in the first time. It was just so... like I now could see the true brilliance, the true genius of this show. It was just that illuminating. Or felt like it anyway.
For example Paul. That scene where he is talking with his superiors and where it flashes back to the scene where he is boxing... it was like I was watching it for the first time. I didn't remember this scene anymore, which of course implies that back then I probably didn't think much of this scene, but now... now it was pure "Oh. My. God." That I couldn't see it before, but now I saw and I understood and it rocked my world. It felt like such an important and brilliant scene of foreshadowing. It foreshadowed Paul's arc for this season. That moment when he, after getting his ass kicked, rises up and unmercifies his opponent... that was Paul defined. It was amazing. Period.
Now of course, whether it's a good or a bad thing that only now I can appreaciate the brilliance of these moments with the foreknowledge is a whole different matter. But it is good that an episode can offer such surprises even in repeat viewings.
Also I had forgotten how much screentime Boyd used to have in these earlier episodes. I've missed that guy. In the beginning of the show he and his relationship with Echo seemed to be really important. But now, with three episodes into season 2, it seems like the writers have completely forgotten about his character. But who knows – Dollhouse generally seems to be pretty well planned, so this could all be a part of that larger picture.
There where also those funny moments where I remembered what I thought about this or that scene, when I watched it for the first time. For example the beginning – the scene with Adelle and Caroline.
Adelle: Nothing is what it appears to be.
Caroline: It seems pretty clear to me.
Adelle: Because you're only seeing part of it. I'm talking about a clean slate.
Caroline: You ever try and clean an actual slate? You always see what was on it before.
Adelle: Are you volunteering?
Caroline: I don't have a choice, do I? How did it get this far?
Adelle: Actions have consequences.
Caroline: God, you're loving this.
Adelle: I'm sorry you don't understand what I'm offering here. But what we do helps people. And if you become a part of that it can help you.
Caroline: Right, you're just looking out for me.
Adelle: Perhaps better than you have. We can take care of this mess.
Caroline: I don't deserve this. I was just trying to make a difference. Trying to just take my place in the world, like she always said, but now...
I had no idea. I just didn't know.
And when the motorbike scene started and Echo danced and fooled around, I thought I was watching some new sci-fi spy show. And I also thought that the guy that Echo was with was stupid and his lines were stupid. But now they were like "oh my."
Or Victor. I remember how I thought that he was such a silly stereotype – which made me think it will have the same comical side to it as other Whedon shows. Now I of course, especially after post-Belle Chose girly dance, know that Victor is awesome... but it was just funny how wrong I was.
So the general impression from the re-viewing is basically wow. Now to some character stuff.
Echo's Journey to Enlightment
In that moment where that mexican rich guy confronts Echo and says that why would these men do that do you – that's the moment where Echo surfaces. And in the end, the one who saves that girl, the one who argues with Boyd, the one who goes to Topher – that's Echo. That's Echo dealing with the experience of one raped and dead girl and overcoming that trauma – hence the title Ghost. "You can't kill a ghost!" Echo avenges that girl and saves the other girl. The Ghost reappeared from the past to finally put an end to that man's evil. It's in these moments where the imprinted girl and Echo overlap and mix in such a way that there's no clear way to tell where one begins or the other ends. Echo is the driving force behind this Ghost finding peace. However she isn't yet self-aware as Echo. But Miss Penn went bye-bye and existed only as much as Echo allowed her to exist.
Some Thoughts About Other Characters
Adelle does seem to have a kinder side to her, which we now have seen in these 16 episodes we've got (here's to hoping there will be more than 26), but in Ghost she's the big bad bitch who caters to the pleasure and leisure of her fellow rich men. But when Boyd confronted her with his "I've seen how you delude yourself into thinking that you help people" speech, when he wanted the permission for Echo to save that girl, that did crack through her cold exterior and revealed something of her softer inside.
Part of the reason why's she's so cold could be because she's with Dominic at the moment. Dominic, like every Whedonverse character isn't a bad guy, but together Adelle and Dominic strengthen each other's cold and calculating sides. Also, Dominic's glance, when Boyd delivered his speech at Adelle, was quite telling. Poor Dominic, he knew only the cruel side of Adelle.
Now in season 2 we have seen that Adelle is taken in somewhat by Paul Ballard. Notice how in Belle Chose she gazes Paul always just a bit too long. Which is telling a lot, because in Vows she touched Victor's face and forgot herself. Of course that scene is also telling, because it shows that she somewhat sees Victor as the same man who Victor was imprinted with when she wanted a nice romantical shagging. But in Belle Chose, Paul overrided Victor for her.
Hold just a sec... I think I'm having a new line of thought here. I think Paul and Adelle see the dolls in the same way. In Omega, remember how Paul said that there is a soul in the doll that never changes. I think Adelle also thinks that all those imprinted persons have something in common with the core doll – that the core doll being (the soul) is in every imprinted person.
Basically, I would like to see this hot MILF action happen between Paul and Adelle, but that's just me.
Anyway, I think Adelle's journey is going to be the one of where she has to face the fact that she isn't as humanitarian as she thinks she is. Remember how Firefly said that governments are the ungoverned few? Well this is also one of the prominent themes of Dollhouse - how the rich ungoverned few use the common people as means for their pleasure eand leisure. And Adelle is providing that for her social caste. But she also has a fondness for her children - the dolls. I think she is going to have to choose between her social caste and her children someday. Or something. I'm sleepy.
Whiskey/Saunders and Topher
There were a lot of meaningful glances which, especially after the big reveal, imply that Saunders is already somewhat aware. When Echo goes to Topher, when he is doing the first wipe on Sierra, and the way Saunders acts – it's very similar to the rats moment in Vows. And now I knew what those glances meant. Guilt. Pain. Hatred.
Boyd is the one with whose eyes we see the Dollhouse in these first episodes. Probably why I miss him so much. Like Paul and Adelle, he also has that belief that somewhere there is a true nature that's always the same no matter what she's given to think. "She finally found the right guy... or at least, that's what she thought."
So I guess it will do as m first review. I'll rate this episode A, just because it felt so amazing how all those small pieces and puzzles began.
Foreshadowing: Paul's boxing scene, Echo resurfacing in that balcony scene and Topher/Saunders relationship.