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2-1: "Vows" 2009.09.25 (recap)


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#1

TWoP Dietrich

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Posted Sep 21, 2009 @ 10:07 PM

We're back!

TV Guide sez:

The Season 2 opener begins with Echo engaged in a mission for Ballard: marrying a British businessman (Jamie Bamber) linked to one of the former FBI agent's open cases. Saunders, meanwhile, deals with the unique circumstances of her origin by aiming her wrath at Topher.



#2

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:00 PM

That was kind of mediocre. Not bad. Just mediocre.

The Whiskey stuff was the only part playing above par.

#3

Erratic

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:01 PM

Well now. That was friggin' fantastic! (And I guess that Snark shark and I disagree? Heh.

Much, much better opening graphics. Tells the story of 'Dollhouse' without any guesswork.

Oh, how much did I squeee seeing Alexis Denisof in the opening credits? Enough to out-geek my BSG/Jamie Bamber loving. That's how much! And, nice suit ;)

Whiskey starts off trying to out to get Topher in so many ways, starts off with lame tricks and develops into nasty evil creepy shit, and then we see just how self-aware she has become I love it. Amy Acker is deliscious, and owned this episode. I hope that her new show dies a quick death so we can have her all the time. She was starting to get really creepy there with Echo too. You start to see where 'Epitaph One' Whiskey comes from. Awesome! I love how Topher evolves too through his scenes with her. "I was designing a person, not a Roomba", and "I didn't make you hate me. You chose to" Wow! He is not clueless after all.

I don't understand why they don't rewipe her though. If she is causing problems, then make her a new doctor, or if her blank slate is evolving, then send her to the attic and program another worn out doll as the new doctor. Isn't that the whole point of their technology?

Sadly, the first half of the Echo assignment lost a lot from the strong Whiskey scenes. I found myself left cold by that storyline a little, but I was still pulling a lot for Echo as she became more aware of her extra personalities during her fight with Jamie Bamber, and she is believable (ED acts?!) as she shows her enragement with her "husband", and then, as she loses the plot a little. But once she started to regain all of her memories and went from confusion to confusion to strangth, damn! Eliza is bringing it this season!

And the Dolls are all starting to wake up...


This is a damned great start to the season, but I still don't think that we'll get many new viewers, but they should still do better than Jay Leno ;)

Edited by Erratic, Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:02 PM.


#4

SycoraxRock

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:02 PM

[shallow]Victor is pretty again and all is right with the world![/shallow]

#5

ReadIshmael

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:04 PM

The Whiskey stuff was fantastic, especially her scene with Topher. I also enjoyed the sheer awful weirdness of Ballard having to listen to Echo have sex, and his equally awful/awesome method of saving her life in the end. Overall, very cool.

#6

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:06 PM

I'm still processing, but I floved the scenes with Whiskey and Topher. Both of them knocked it out of the park. The only thing I had a problem with really was the part where Ivy drags a rat backwards on a carpet by its tail. That's a great way to handle a pet rat, if you're planning on possibly rendering it paraplegic.

Some great lines tonight, especially some quality DeWitt snark. I hate her new hair, though.

The revelation that Echo's remembering her imprints while in Doll state made my jaw drop. I'm really excited to see where they take this.

#7

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:07 PM

Thumbs up on this episode! I LOVED Whiskey's story- it's a shame that the most interesting story on the show has to take a backseat due to Amy Acker's availability.

I loved Jami Bamber and his real voice, and although the storyline started slowly, I was 100% engaged by the end. Not perfect, but I liked it a lot.

#8

Ben

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:07 PM

Enjoyably deranged. When Dollhouse started in the Winter I was a doubter. It definitely strikes me as a winner now.

Lots of nice touches. Sierra being progreammed as a spoiled socialite, one with an anti-Asian bias no less. And the business (I'm guessing it was intentional humor) where Echo and the gunrunner were making love and Ballard chooses that moment to do some pushups. But underneath it all you see the strain that all the Dollhouse staff are under. There's a very interesting kind of angst running through here.

BTW, what was the song playing near the end, while she was telling Ballard that she remembers?

#9

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:07 PM

I don't understand why they don't rewipe her though. If she is causing problems, then make her a new doctor, or if her blank slate is evolving, then send her to the attic and program another worn out doll as the new doctor. Isn't that the whole point of their technology?

Exactly. They can't exactly claim that Adelle doesn't know about this by now. Topher might let it slip if he felt guilty enough Boyd might because he feels sorry for her. But Adelle? No way.

Makes. No. Sense.

Unless they are going to claim that as with Echo, Adelle is deliberately playing fast and loose with Whiskey in hopes that something interesting will come from it. But if that's so, why avoid planting a scene where she SAYS so?

Meanwhile, the Echo plot was boring.

And I'm not really on board with the new "mission" she and Ballard are supposed to have--to "find" all the personalities real people, or whatever. That's nonsense. We know from Topher last year that not all of these personalities are REAL. Many are composites. What am I NOT seeing here? Did I misunderstand that bit?

#10

aglaya

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:08 PM

Topher is just set to break my heart every. single. episode from now on, isn't he. Fran Kranz is really, really bringing it. ''That's the contract: you don't know me, and I don't know you. Not fully. Not ever. I made you question. I made you fight for your beliefs. I didn't make you hate me; you chose to.'

Amy Acker is absolutely amazing. I loved every scene she was in tonight and how much darkness she brings to the character. The scene with Topher in his cot(?) was just, damn. Both of them. The sense of being lost, that nihilistic self-loathing and rage against her 'maker', and that 'ironic' fear of wanting to live even if she's not really alive.

The Echo-Ballard storyline, as always, pales a bit in comparison, though as far as their scenes go I still thought this was quite good.

Also? ALEXIS. SQUEE.

#11

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:08 PM

That was friggin' fantastic!

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the episode. I even liked Ballard becoming Echo's new handler, and I didn't feel creeped out by it. I also think there's no way in hell that Ballard was going to admit to DeWitt if he really cared for Mellie or not. Mellie's better off with DeWitt thinking that Ballard doesn't care, so she can't be used as a bargaining chip.

The Whiskey stuff was fantastic, especially her scene with Topher. I also enjoyed the sheer awful weirdness of Ballard having to listen to Echo have sex, and his equally awful/awesome method of saving her life in the end. Overall, very cool.

Those were very cool, and I liked how Ballard doesn't like Echo being used that way. Ballard and Boyd have a lot in common. It was also nice seeing Topher have a bit of conscience, too.

#12

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:12 PM

We know from Topher last year that not all of these personalities are REAL. Many are composites. What am I NOT seeing here? Did I misunderstand that bit?

WE know that, but Echo hasn't watched the DVD's. To her, all of these memories must belong to real people. Ballard probably went along with her assumption to work his own angle, as Adelle assures us all but the very special and comatose would. heh

#13

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:12 PM

Wow! Is it just me, or is Dollhouse starting to get seriously awesome? This is the way a second season premier should be - it takes the best from the first season, discards as much of the bad stuff as it reasonably can, and kicks the show into a higher gear. It's such a refreshing change, after all the shows lately that have started out strong and then declined, to have a show that gets better as it goes on. Amy Acker's scenes were a delight, it was nice to see so much of Boyd, and Topher is really becoming a fascinating character. Eliza Dushku was much as she usually is, but Echo's new self-awareness should shake things up a bit. If this show had been cancelled at the end of last season my grief would have been controllable, but now I'm going to make sure not to miss an episode.

#14

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:14 PM

So many things already heading towards E1. "I know what I know", Victor's scars, Boyd/Saunders, Echo and Ballard's partnership - just how long is Joss anticipating before the apocalypse?

Good on Adelle for pointing out what a lot of people mentioned last season, about Ballard setting November free while remaining at the Dollhouse with Echo. Granted, she was using every card she had to manipulate him, but if I was Ballard, I'd have to think very carefully about all of my intentions.

I agree that the Whiskey sub-plot was the best. Fran was so excellent - he always rocked the snarky/evil genius/nerd stuff (I still LOVE the idea that Topher on mood-altering drugs is basically just Topher sans pants), but he's had to do some much more dramatic stuff lately, and he's been really great. And Amy did very well. I particularly liked the scene where Saunders admitted that she didn't want to find out who she used to be, because she didn't want to die.

Very little of Victor and Sierra, but what they had was quite good. It definitely seems like Adelle hasn't fully let go of Roger. "You're touching my face." Hee! Dichen did a nice job with her imprint - I'd recently been wondering about the races of imprints, and whether or not all of Sierra's imprints knew they were Asian.

Also: Victor and Sierra. Holding hands. My brother was in the next room, so I did everything in my power not to squee.

The Echo/Ballard stuff was probably the weakest link for me. The only parts that I thought were really well done was the sketchier stuff - the super-uncomfortable intercuts between Roma!Echo's wedding night and Ballard trying to think of something else, and Ballard repeatedly punching Echo in the face to provoke a glitch and save them.

I'm ready for more!

#15

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:14 PM

If Amy Acker really is leaving the show, then I'm done with it, because she was pretty much the only saving grace of this otherwise seemingly pointless episode.

#16

SanLynn

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:18 PM

Oh Jamie Bamber you and your gorgeous English accent can come out to play any old time.

I really enjoyed this episode. The interation between Topher and Whiskey in particular was fan.tas.tic.

Welcome back show!

#17

Ripley68

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:18 PM

Love Adelle's new hair. Weird to hear Jamie Bambers real accent, it almost sounded fake.

#18

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:20 PM

I am pleasantly surprised that season 2 does not suck. Jamie bamber and Alexis Denisoff in their real accents is kind of funny, since it seems weird to me.

I hope this knocks down some of the ED can't act sentiment from last season. I liked the scenes with her and Saunders. You didn't know if she was going to kiss Echo, stab her or give her a lolipop. Then she fakes me out by taking it for herself. I think it's time for her to lose the scars, too. No need for Amy Acker to spend an extra hour in the makeup chair. Whiskey's personality is more scarred than her face now.

#19

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:22 PM

I love that this reminds me of Buffy where the first season was painfully rocky and the second season nails it out the park. If this is the standard Whedon is setting for this season I am in for the long haul!

Ok, the irony of Sierra being a racist against Asians while simultaneously craving a little S&M action from Asians (and I thought Actives couldn't be sexual submissives) was so wonderfully twisted. I want to be the fly on the wall when her personality sees the face of the body she is in.

I had a secret opinion that Eliza can't act unless she's playing Faith (or similar one-note). I am ashamed I felt that way and happily relieved she proved me wrong. I loved some of her nuance - she seemed to be so in love, suddenly she was Paul's partner and I thought we weirdly jumped to the dynamic seen on Epitaph One, then it's all a ploy and Paul's the client (again - and I missed it, but how did he finance that?). But to see her get slammed on the desk - oh I cringed. Taking a hit like that and still pulling off that great reaction of outraged wife... taking the evidence and still playing it right back into her hands, where her husband was just starting to trust her. And boom.. Echo's off her rocker - just excellent. The fight scene was just the icing on the cake (more fight scene with Paul and Echo please it's like watching the wonder twin for adults)

I didn't care so much for the Sierra/Victor scene... feh. At this point in the game I just don't care.

And Topher... such a rat bastard in season one. shallow, apathetic, manipulative, amoral... I loved it. But this?? He sleeps in some hidey-hole, dreaming of fozzy? It's like he had all these layers and we got to go through all of them and see the vulnerable "oh this is fucked beyond the telling of it" reactions.

The "I can't stand the smell of you" and that momentary "I did that!" excitement of his work at play... and the shameful realization of the implications.

So freaking much that I loved... and I know I'm missing tons. Now I must get many more people watching than just me... what a great start!! I am so amped for next week!

#20

benteen

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:22 PM

I gave it an Above Average. A good episode but the real star was Amy Acker. She was tremendous tonight, particularly in her scene with Boyd. She looked smokin tonight too. I think she isn't going to be on that much this season and that's a shame.

Nice to see Jaime Bamber again and I was shocked to hear him speak with a British accent until I remembered he was in fact British. He actually sounds a lot like Baltar. Cool seeing him interact with Tahmot again, who had a good storyline tonight as well. Acker's storyline dominated the first half of Echo's storyline but Echo's managed to end strongly.

Boyd might be what's keeping Whiskey from getting wiped.

One other thing...Olivia Williams really shouldn't have gotten that haircut. She's a very attractive woman but looks awful with that hair.

#21

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:23 PM

Lots of nice touches. Sierra being progreammed as a spoiled socialite, one with an anti-Asian bias no less.


Made all the more interesting since the actress and the character are both Nepalese (the name for Sierra's original personality that was revealed in Epitaph One was Nepalese).

And in another Epitaph One connection, Topher mentions "I know what I know." To paraphrase another Joss show, I hope it's a funny aneurysm.

#22

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:24 PM

This show is so depressing after Epitah 1. It's hard not forget that all these characters are headed towards certain death, or a mental breakdown, or an empty existence waiting in the dollhouse.

When Echo said she wanted to find the other personalities, I thought she meant the other dolls' personalities.

Edited by Kit Kat, Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:32 PM.


#23

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:29 PM

As a BSG fan I was happy to hear Jamie Bamber's real accent in this episode. I'm so use to hearing him speaking like an American that I sometimes forget that he is British (his American accent is that good on BSG) and not American.

Edited by TVspectator, Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:31 PM.


#24

ECAmber

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:32 PM

One other thing...Olivia Williams really shouldn't have gotten that haircut. She's a very attractive woman but looks awful with that hair.

What benteen said.

Something about that hair just doesn't do it for me. It's like she'll never, ever, be able to let it down now.

#25

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:33 PM

I'd never seen Jamie Bamber before, but Alexis Denisof in his real accent is definitely weird, particularly since he just sounds like Wesley with an American accent.

Agree with all those who thought the Whiskey storyline was the best - I can see why Fred irritated people on Angel, but I don't blame that on Amy Acker, because she really brought it tonight, especially in the scene with Topher, but also in the scene with Boyd. I'm certainly curious the path she's taking to when we get to the events of "Epitaph One." And while I missed snarky Topher, Fran Kranz was at his best tonight as well.

Normally, I don't care a whit about fashion and whatnot, but I have to agree, the pageboy haircut doesn't flatter Olivia Williams.

The mystery-of-the-week plot was very much been-there, done-that, though it took me a minute to remember Echo was flashing back to personalities not just because she was broken (or concussed), but because they were all inside her anyway. And I do like the dynamics they set up in the relationship between her and Ballard. I'm sorry it's replacing the one she had with Boyd, though.

I thought the Sierra being a racist against Asians was very heavy-handed. I did like the scene between Victor and Adelle - contained just enough information to call back to "A Spy in the House of Love" without being anvilicious about it.

Edited by ethanvahlere, Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:37 PM.


#26

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:39 PM

And I'm not really on board with the new "mission" she and Ballard are supposed to have--to "find" all the personalities real people

I thought she was referring to freeing all the other dolls at that moment, but I might be wrong.

I also enjoyed the sheer awful weirdness of Ballard having to listen to Echo have sex, and his equally awful/awesome method of saving her life in the end.

I employ the same technique when trying to get better reception on my TV, just keep hitting it. But for some reason my punches don't make the same whip-crack sound effects as Ballards.

#27

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:49 PM

I liked. It got off to a bit of a slow start, but wow, did it pick up steam. Amy Acker is amazing, ditto Fran Kranz, and there were some twisted little things going on in this episode that I really, really appreciated. If they can keep the momentum going, this could be pretty fabulous.


In the shallow end of the pool, I think Olivia Williams is working that haircut. My husband walked in, spotted her, and said, "Niiiiice."

#28

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 10:00 PM

Man I am not feeling what everyone else was feeling. I think Joss really must be content to keep the viewers he had last season and not expand. Why on earth would he open the season with Topher? I grew to almost like the little nerd (only after rewatching the first season on DVD), but he is an acquired taste and not close to being the show's biggest draw. The episode should have opened with Echo on a mission, then some misdirection about her and Ballard's motives and relationship, and then some explanation of the Dollhouse. The show did a horrible job of explaining its premise, and even if people are just tuning in know the premise, there are a lot of aspects that are not inherently understood (the chair, erasing personalities, the handler/active relationship, the chain of command, Whiskey's background, Echo's compositing). All of this was just taken for granted, and I can see any new viewers tuning out. If they stuck around for more than five minutes, they were confronted with Sierra's racism, Ballard beating his victimized female partner, Echo having sex with a gun runner for information, and Whiskey's creepy attempts to get to Topher (yes, Saunders was the best part of the episode, but with no explanation it was confusing and it was emotionally and ethically hard to watch).

I am just worried, because in all the recent interviews, everyone involved with the show brags about how they found their stride this season. And episodes like this will not win them enough viewers to make it another season, so I am worried that they think that they headed in the right direction.

I liked how dark the episode went, but I think the episode should have established some sort of compassion for the characters before making them act like such monsters. I particularly liked the twist of Ballard hitting Echo. I am sure he can justify it to himself, but that is part of what I like about it. He sees himself as a valiant knight saving the girl, and he is really the character who does not see himself for what he is (even fricking Topher was more self aware this week). If he didn't feel the need to insert himself into Echo's life as the hero, he would not need to be abusing her to save her (and himself) from the arms dealer. It's like last season when he had to have sex with November to keep from blowing his cover. He will do anything to continue his crusade, even if he is doing the exact thing he condemns. I really see Ballard as one of the more sinister characters on the show, and I appreciate the subtle shift his character has taken, from when he was introduced as the hero to save the Actives.

Disappointed with the use of Jamie Bamber. He didn't have much emotionally to work with, and if you're not going to give him any emotionally meaty, at least have him shirtless the whole time and sporting better hair than Apollo's "politician" era.

I am happy Saunders got out, even though I am sad to be without the character. When she was telling Boyd about all of her reasons for staying underground, I thought the perfect way to show she was more than just a program was to escape. When Boyd discovered her note, I was worried she killed herself (I actually thought her lab coat was her lifeless body on the floor). Happy that if she had to leave, she didn't do it in a bodybag or by going to the Attic. I wish we could have seen her exit more slowly; her hitting the flask and sneaking into Toph's cot seemed rushed.

I'm not sure where all the praise for Eliza Dushku's acting is coming from. When she was the bride, I just felt like she was being Eliza Dushku. Even when Jamie Bamber was confronting her about the picture of Ballard, she didn't seem to worried. She just seemed confused, which I don't imagine is a hard direction for Dushku.

#29

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 10:01 PM

I also enjoyed the sheer awful weirdness of Ballard having to listen to Echo have sex, and his equally awful/awesome method of saving her life in the end. Overall, very cool.

Those were very cool, and I liked how Ballard doesn't like Echo being used that way


But Ballard did have her used that way. He was the client. He may not like it, but he's just as willing to have Echo used for sex as any other client of the Dollhouse. ETA: newfoundma said it much better than I above. Ballard is messed up. He thinks they are victims, yet he's playing into it by using them as much as anyone.

Hated Adelle's hair, loved Amy Acker! The Claire/Whiskey/Topher interaction was so well acted and written. Bravo!

Edited by GenieinTX, Sep 25, 2009 @ 10:06 PM.


#30

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Posted Sep 25, 2009 @ 10:06 PM

I thought the episode was great, but something I think is seriously lacking in the show right now is the humor. "Epitath One" was darker and drearier than this, but it still managed to keep things lighter at all the right moments.

I loved Whiskey's line "My entire existence was conceived by a sociopath in a sweater vest," though. More lines like these, Joss!