Dollhouse, Fox, Airs Friday 9/8c
Episode: “Briar Rose” (Season 1, Episode 11)
Synopsis: When Agent Ballad breaks up with Mellie, her connection to the Dollhouse gives him the final clue he needs to find its location. However, his desperation to scale the castle wall and rescue the princess may lead to losing her forever when he enlists a deceptively mild-mannered engineer to break in.
Review: First of all, sorry about the delay folks. There were some technical difficulties which prevented Dollhouse reaching my screen until late last night. Trust me, the relevant technology has been severely spanked for letting me down so disgracefully. However, what an episode to be made wait for! When thinking of how best to frame the introduction to this week’s review, I was worried that I would have to say how much of a let down the episode was after going through such a lot of pain and suffering to get to watch it. Happily, this is not the case. Unfortunately, I was spoiled on this episode from the moment Alan Tudyk’s name appeared onscreen and therefore was watching it with a huge level of unintended suspense. Maybe this made it more enjoyable, but I’m pretty sure that it had all-round appeal.
Alan Tudyk deserves some major props for this episode, he pulls off the bumbling inept scientist who just wants to be left alone perfectly, only to turn around and morph into a creepy psychopathic villain at the drop of a hat. His scenes with Amy Acker are excellent, as he exudes crazy stalker vibes all over her, removing what little confidence she had built up since he last saw her. Acker herself deserves equal credit for these scenes though, as her sheer terror and complete regression to a helpless victim, stuck in the memory of the original attack, are completely mesmerizing. If you managed to take your eyes off the screen for this segment of the show, you were either not paying attention or a far harder person than I.
There’re some obvious plot holes, such as how Ballard and “Kepler” made it from the outside vent to inside the Dollhouse without hitting a single camera, even though that place is wired like Fort Knox. However, the episode earns the odd moment of suspended disbelief as after all, it kicked ass. Strangely enough, even the opening sequence, regarding the abused teen and the paralleling the Sleeping Beauty story with both her own and Echo’s plight, was appealing. I hope that “Susan”‘s promise won’t be broken and that she’ll return to visit again, as that little girl was on the brink of progress and losing faith in the person that inspired it could only lead to more damage.
Speaking of the Sleeping Beauty parallels, that aspect was played up a little too much. A touch more subtlety would have been nice there, Mr. Whedon. Yes, the story rings through into Echo’s own. Yes, there are many ways you can call attention to this fact. However, perhaps next time use a couple fewer and save the audience from feeling like they need things spelled out.
In the moments following the end of this episode, it seems that the common experience was a strong case of the “what the f***?!”s. Who the hell is in Echo’s body, how did Alpha know this personality, what did he do with Saunders and Victor, what are his plans for Echo now that she’s whoever she is, the list goes on and on. There’s been one heck of a set up for the finale and they have a lot to live up to after an episode like this. As the ratings are at an all-season low and with only a week left to improve them, perhaps we will have to say goodbye to Dollhouse, but at least we’ll understand it a bit more before we see it go.
Up Next Week: “Omega” – In the pseudo-season finale, Alpha’s end game may cost Echo everything, but what ties the pair together?
Read More: Dollhouse Recaps
Did you watch Dollhouse this week? What’d you think?