Friday, November 27, 2009

True Believer

General Impressions: Boyd is very protective of Echo. He is Echo's Giles.

For me this episode was a glimpse of our everyday Dollhouse's - religious cults. Cults are an extreme example, but still more common worldly. The cult was the opposite of Dollhouse, though they were similar.

No one wanted to be saved from the cult, and the cult's leader didn't care about his sheep. Adelle does care. This episode hints that Adelle even admires some of her sheep.

Also there was something about that ATF guy mirroring Ballard's obsessiveness. ATF guy set up the situation so he could get rid of Jonas Sparrow - his obsessiveness, his "I don't do things unofficially" unofficial approach. Ballard who takes notice of Mellie for the first time in this episode, gets into obsessive mode immediately when she sees Echo on tv.

Dominic makes it finally clear that he doesn't like Echo.

This episode had the first mention of Miss Lonelyhearts. And Victor's and Sierra's love story starts here.

I also think that Eliza did a really wonderful job as the blind girl.

This episode also marks the end for the familiar plot elements from Monk, CSI and other similar shows. But groundwork had to be laid anyway. Man of the Street would not have had the effect if these 5 episodes wouldn't have laid the ground for the revelations of MOTS to be so amazing.

Echo's Journey to Enlightenment:
Echo didn't have actually a lot of personal moments here. This episode was mostly about symbolic similarities, with ATF guy mirroring Ballard and religious cults mirroring Dollhouse. So does the tale of Esther, a true believer and a blind girl who was "blind, but now she can see" work more as a symbolic thingy. Echo was bind, but now she sees. And when Saunders asks "can you see?", she looks at Dominic and she sees perfectly. Echo has awakened.

By now, Echo has already gone through the two trials of Alpha - Target and Gray Hour - she has become and embodiment of "friends help each other" in Stage Fright and she allowed a ghost from the past to finally find peace. She has made a choice to be not broken anymore, and she has shown a tendency to help people. She now works inside the Dollhouse system, helping friends and eliminating threats.

Miss Lonelyhearts, Echo's "I can see perfectly" when looking at Dominic

Grading: Well, I don't know. I kinda liked the episode with Boyd being so protective of Echo, coming like an angel to save her. And also it's the start of Victor/Sierra romance which is just one of the most beautiful love stories ever. It's however not that inspiring itself. Sort of B minusy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gray Hour

General Impressions: Whoa Nelly. This episode is just so much better than the previous. It just more playful. From the first scene we can see... okay, not from the first scene. But there's a very wonderful Dollhousey scene in the beginning which really just inspires.

Echo: "I swam 30 laps today."
Sierra: "Good for you."
Echo: "I'm tired now."
Sierra: "It's important to exercise. I try to be my best."
Echo: "Are you?"
Sierra: "Excuse me?"
Echo: "Are you your best?"
Sierra: "I'm not sure how to know that."
Echo: "I think if you always try, that's best, right?"
Victor: "Every day is a chance to be better."

Pure fucking poetry.

And then we get a wonderful misleading scene that makes us think that Echo's on a sexual mission only... only for us to be proven so wrong. There's energy in this episode. Okay, so the greek government hiring thieves to get it's national treasures back from museums of the world is nothing new... but unlike the previous episode where the "same old" took too much of the episode's time, this episode really just kicks it quickly with Echo getting remotely wiped. Eliza was really awesome in this episode. Her Taffy personality was just pure fun, but she was just so poetic as wiped Echo. Especially in this moment.

Echo: "This one is broken."
Wounded Thief-Guy: "Look who's talking."
*Echo starts to touch her face*
Wounded Thief-Guy: "On the inside. So you like art?"
Echo: "It doesn't look right."
Wounded Thief-Guy: "It's not about looking right, art's about feeling right. And you... I have no idea what I'm talking about."
Echo: "She makes me feel... funny."
Wounded Thief-Guy: "Cause these other guys painted what they saw, but this guy painted what is. That's what art is for. Shows us who we are. And this one is saying how we start out as a whole and somewhere along the line, pieces start to slide... we are broken.“
Echo: "That's sad."

All these "I want to be my best" and "Broken" moments... God this episode is just full of Dollhouse goodness. And when Echo gets out of that safe and saves the wounded thief-guy, she then says "I'm not broken." Echo has made a conscious choice to be broken no more. Which brings us to my Echo's Journey to Enlightenment section.

Echo's Journey to Enlightenment:
After the first 5 episodes we see Echo playing inside the Dollhouse system, but not as a doll but as an awakened person eliminating threats, helping friends, comforting her "prison guards" when they are broken... Echo giving out motherly care to all the people in Dollhouse... and that's what makes Echo beautiful. The "good guys" and the "bad guys" all need a hug, but Echo is still going to bring the system down. She starts to notice that all the people around her are broken - both the dolls and the dollmasters, prisoners and prison guards. So she starts hugging people all the time so they could be their best, while secretly searching for a way to bring down the world that keeps breaking her people. And it's in this episode where she makes that choice that she is not broken anymore. But all the other people are. But she is going to help everyone to be their best. God this show is just so inspiring and touching.

Remote wipes. The reason why the world went down the shithole in Epitaph One.

Grading: A for amazing.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stage Fright

General Impressions: The semi-musical episode. At least we can see that Eliza can sing. This was the first episode to start revealing the actives - Victor's revelation was just very awesome. Also Victor's scene with Mellie gives us the false signals that Mellie could be in danger of somewhat from Dollhouse if she keeps mingling with Ballard. I just love it. I think this is also the last episode in where all the stock footage from the original pilot is done with. Oh wait, there's still the pool scene which we get in the next episode.

Well, in rewatching my opinion of this episode got better as I can now understand the ideas and themes behind this episode, but this is still very non-Dollhousey episode. It's very typical, this could be a Quantum Leap episode where Scott Bakula has to fix people's lives. Quantum Leap is awesome, but this episode was so typical of tv. True, all of these first 5 episodes use very familiar tropes or scenarios, but Stage Fright really nails hit with non-Dollhousyness.

It's about a singer, a pop star, who feels like she is a prisoner of her own fame. She's just a fantasy, not a real human being, imprinted with society's desires and she wants to become free. Yes she's supposed to mirror Echo's own situation in Dollhouse, but there's just something very tiresome and uninspired about her tale.

The song Freedom is supposed to be very meaningful when it plays in the end, and while yeah it's good to know that Eliza can sing, it has somewhat the opposite effect from "The Devil That You Know" scene in Needs. Okay it's not that bad, but I'd rather have had Echo alone singing that song. In her dollstate. That would have been deep.

However the ending is more into awesome. But that is the subject of my next category.

Echo's Journey to Enlightenment:
Echo is programmed to be a friend with this superstar. She is supposed to be very protective of her. However, the episode starts with a small wonderful scene from Echo and Sierra.

Sierra trips, Echo grabs her.

Sierra: "I'm sorry, I was dizzy."
Echo: "I didn't want you to get hurt. You're my friend."
Sierra: "Friends help each other out."

So in the end Sierra gets kidnapped. Echo and Sierra are both imprinted. Echo is supposed to be protective of that popstar. However what happens is that Echo kicks the popstar unconscious and is seemingly going to trade her life for Sierra's. Well she is going to trade. It's just that the circumstance allows her to save both Sierra's life and help the popstar to deal with her meaningless existence. But the underlying "friends help each other out" theme is just so powerful and one of the best things about this episode.

Foreshadowing: I think we get some signals that there is something inherently unlikeable about Sierra's handler. Also the end scene where Echo and Sierra walk pass each other, we see how aware Echo is of her surroundings. And that denying nod which says "too many people looking at us now." Beautiful.

Grading: Powerful underlying Dollhouse themes, but overall the episode feels very non-Dollhousey. C. Or possibly B-. Depends on how I rate the future episodes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


So this was a dream I just had. It's not Dollhouse related, but... well I was Buffy in that dream. There are many shards of scenes I can't exactly recall where in the dream they took place. Something about Cordelia, some scene where I said: "Oh Spike you're covered in sexy wounds!", something with Xander...

What I can say it that the dream must have took place in Season 8 of Buffy, because I distinctly remember walking around in that scottish castle and talking something with Xander, who was all like eyepatch and cool and everything. Definitely taking a level in badass here.

So for some reason I find myself in somekinda almost ruined monastery. There was no ceiling. It had just rained, probably spring-time as it was very wet and muddy. Sun was shining. Very medieval. I'm looking for information from Friar Tuck (who looks like Friar Tuck from that Robin Hood show which was filmed in Lithuania - The New Adventures of Robin Hood). Anyway there was this bison-bull sort of creature there and Friar Tuck wanted me to kill it. So I takes my scythe and I run towards the creature and it rans past me without me hitting it. So I try to throw the scythe at it. I'm kinda feeling all bad because I really don't want to do it. But... the mission is important. So I try again, I fall and the creature steps on me. And I'm making the choice of not killing him. So I stands up, say in my Buffy voice that I've had enough and throw the Friar Tuck in a cauldron. I get a call from Andrew who explains that there is a problem with Friar Tuck. He sort of never washes himself. I look at Friar Tuck who pours beer inside the cauldron he is. Andrew explains that that's what he does, he pours the beer so his wounds start all bleeding and he kinda sits in that cauldron and that beer-blood liquid is his way of washing himself. He thinks it makes him smell a bit better. And I'm like "no way am I going to wash him" and "eww...".

At this point I somewhat wake up (in real life). And then fall back to sleep. Or semi-sleep, as my brain starts to rationalize what I have gone through as Buffy. I'm playing Buffy the RPG, which is kinda the conclusion of entire Buffy saga, but the player chooses how it ends. There are these many ways of interacting with characters. For example with Spike (here I am as Buffy talking to Spike) you can be all distant or all "Spike you're so much better than Angel, Spike I love you so much, let's make lovey now." And you can even do this with Xander. You sort of choose who Buffy is in a romantical relationship with - Angel, Satsu, Xander, Spike or Riley. Or you can pursue a romantical relationship with all of them. I was thinking that it was like Alpha Protocol (which is not out yet, but I've read about the things it promises to do) where the other characters remember their relationship status with you and it all plays out in the end differently. There's point A and then there's point O, but all that is in between is what you as Buffy make it to be. And what happens in point O depends on how you interacted with the characters. And that bison-bull killing quest was an example of multiple choices in the quests... you could kill the bison-bull thingy, or you could be creative and be "Buffy's sick of your tasks Friar - into the cauldron!". The rpg of my dreams - Buffy the Final Season - is very dynamic in that way.

And then I had to wake up. This time no return. I'm kinda sorry I didn't have time right after waking up to write it all down. But... I really enjoyed being Buffy in my dreams. It was one of the best dreams I've had recently.