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TV: Dollhouse (S02E03)


Wikipedia fact: "Despite low ratings in its first season, Dollhouse was renewed for a second season of thirteen episodes. As part of the deal, there was a cut in the show's budget, though Whedon has stated that this will not affect the second season."

Year of Broadcast: 2009 (19 days behind US)

Starring: Eliza Dushku, Harry J. Lennix, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Olivia Williams.

*Spoilers follow*

Summary: Echo is imprinted as a college girl who falls in love with her professor; Victor is imprinted as a serial killer so he can reveal the locations of his victims.

Thoughts: So… Echo malfunctioned again.  It’s really beginning to stretch credibility by this point, because either the Doll project is so glitchy that they really will malfunction after every few assignments or it’s something specific to Echo, in which case they’d have put her in the Attic long ago.  I know it was actually Topher who caused it this time, but this is the third straight episode where something goes wrong with Echo, and it’s getting a little wearisome.  Either the Doll project is interesting when everything works fine or it just isn’t interesting at all, and they shouldn’t have to rely on malfunctions each week.

In fact, they probably didn’t need Echo’s vaguely creepy college student romance at all in this episode (incidentally, could a medieval literature professor really afford the Dollhouse?), because there’s an interesting story in Victor being imprinted with a serial killer who (conveniently) can’t be tracked with the House’s GPS.  With a new body (and fingerprints), in particular a body that could easily attract women, it could have been a new lease of life for the killer.  They could have had it give him an easier way to approach the victims and not needing to be such a stalker, with the focus being on Ballard using his FBI training to track him down (which was actually happening before the mind swap).

Or they could even have had it completely transform the killer, with him being noticed by women, giving him new confidence and allowing him to shake off the issues that have led to him being so deranged.  After all, the identity was put into a new brain that wouldn’t necessarily behave the same, perhaps allowing him to access the empathy section that Topher identified as inactive in the original brain.  It would have raised questions about the level of his responsibility for the crimes, whether he could be blamed for a defect and returned to an obviously defective brain.  Instead, we were given a Freaky Friday kind of mind swap, with Victor becoming college girl Kiki (which admittedly was amusing) and Echo becoming the killer, which just wasn’t as interesting, especially because it meant they could track ‘him’ down with Echo’s GPS.

Although I did enjoy it for what it was, this episode mostly felt like a misstep, unnecessarily shoe-horning Echo into a story she wasn’t needed for, which then took time away from the main story so Echo’s character could be introduced, then falling back on ‘Echo goes wrong’ and ultimately not living up to the potential of the premise.

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