Dollhouse 2.04 "Belonging"
GODDAMN IT! JOSS WHEDON MADE ME CRY THIS EPISODE, YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!
There are no words to convey how much I absolutely adored this episode from beginning to end, I was astounded with what we were given. What this episode gave us with Sierra's background, the moral ambiguity of the entire Dollhouse operation (the higher ups more specifically), the morality of Topher and the battling of his conscience, and of course Echo's evolution from just a doll to a self-aware doll. It was dark, it was almost scary and quite uncomfortable with Sierra's situation, but most importantly it brought us a lot of interesting background information, along with lingering questions about certain characters. Mainly Boyd, who I am very interested in hearing his backstory.
First of all, major credit goes to Dichen in this episode. She gave a wonderful performance and just shined throughout the entire hour. I loved the background of Priya and how she arrived at the Dollhouse and given the persona of Sierra. It was dark and disturbing and uncomfortable, which makes it so devastatingly perfect. We knew bits and pieces from last season, that she was sold to the Dollhouse because she refused to have sex with a billionaire. Here, we see more to that story and how it all came to be. Let me just say, it broke my heart. Just everything about it. This man, who thought that he needed her, his obsession with her driving him to such sickness and perversion, of taking control of her like that, taking away her freedom by drugging her, making her go mad just for his selfish need, just because she wouldn't say "yes" to him -- and using her for his own fantasies, keeping those Polaroids of every single fantasy concept he ordered from the Dollhouse with her. It's just so...disgusting, perverted.
But what I loved most of all about her storyline was that, despite everything, once being re-imprinted with her original personality she was able to confront him. Unlike before when it was part of their self-fulfilling journeys, she was able to confront and defeat the man responsible for it all. It reminded me of the movie Enough with Jennifer Lopez, fighting back and regaining the power that was stolen from you.
She did kill him in self-defense, but this was a man with such wealth and powerful connections, especially with Rossum, and seeing how the higher ups weren't the least bit concerned over Sierra's well-being, it was certainly best to ignore it ever happened.
Speaking of which, we really need to have some serious backstory on Boyd, like for real. He seemed far too experienced with his knowledge of how to clean up a crime scene and getting rid of a body. From his calm and collected behavior to his outside connections with helping of disposing of evidence and of a body. Just the way he directed Topher in cutting up the body, my God. I'm thinking he was part of another top secret organization before he came into the Dollhouse, like the mob or something. Boyd is quite an enigma, and it's almost scaring me, in a good way of course. But still.
Topher. Oh my goodness, Topher, my poor boy. :((( *HUGE HUGS*
Seriously, you know before when the show premiered I didn't like Topher that much because of his amoral attitude? Actually seeing his character development and growth and just gaining more insight to his character, his mental state and just seeing everything unravel for him on the morality scale...giving him that three-dimensional layer is just so fascinating that it's breaking my heart. I feel so horribly for him, because of his moral dilemma. He's having much ethical issues this season, which I'm presuming is getting us ready for what we know is going to happen to his state of mind from "Epitaph One". I love seeing that in this episode, and just seeing him undergoing serious ethical debates with himself, his first major moral conflict which he made a decision to restore Priya's personality so she could get back at the man that did all this to her, even though it went horribly wrong, leaving him to live with such a secret and with that particular choice. Oh man. I just, I can't articulate how amazing it is seeing Topher going through this on the screen. Every single shot of his facial expressions, he was just a mess. And it was beautiful.
I just wanted to give Topher a huge hug. Same with Sierra/Priya, the poor dears.
Fran Kranz and Dichen pretty much stole the screen this episode, not going to lie. They were outstanding and deserve a freaking Emmy for their performances.
Other things I liked about this episode:
++ Flashbacks were amazing. The episode opening to a flashback was even more amazing. Also, continuity! When having the flashback to the Dollhouse you could tell because they had Olivia wear a wig to indicate as such that they were back in time, not now with her short haircut. HA! I love this show!
++ Adelle telling us upfront that the reason they chose Topher, besides his genius, was that he was so perfectly amoral and didn't have those emotional ethical issues that most of the Dollhouse staff might have. That was downright cold and heartless, but it's the harsh truth. The thing is, Topher is developing that morality which I think he had before, it's just been pressed down just to do his job. But now things are emerging, the stresses are higher than normal. He's bound to break somewhere. Topher might put on that front of "playing with his toys" so to speak, but that's part of the job while working at the Dollhouse. I can't wait to see more of this unfold for him.
++ MAMA ECHO! :D I loved how Eliza played her here, it's less with the clueless doll-like state and more of the self-awareness. That subtly in her performance, instead of just innocence the dolls have by default, she's more alert and aware of things happening around her, observing and piecing things together (like she always has been, but it's different this time). She's also knowing and understanding when something is wrong and taking action, at least somewhat. She approaches Topher, which seems to be more frequent judging from how he addressed her after she sneaked up on him. Hee.
++ ECHO IS CHOOSING TO REMEMBER. BIG REVELATION HERE, PPLS! ECHO KNOWS SHE MIGHT BE WIPED TO FORGET SO SHE'S MAKING SURE SHE DOESN'T. WRITING INSIDE THE POD. READING BOOKS WITHOUT PICTURES, BECOMING MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE THAN THE NORMAL DOLL. OMGOMGOMG. YES, CAPSLOCK IS NECESSARY BECAUSE YET ANOTHER REASON WHY I LOVE ECHO SO MUCH. ECHO IS AWESOME AND ANYONE THAT DOESN'T AGREE, ESPECIALLY AFTER THIS, NEEDS TO STFU AND GTFO. SHE IS MADE OF AWESOME.
++ Also, notice how she looks after Sierra and Victor in the end? Sitting against the ottoman reading and keeping an eye on them as they sleep together in the pod? Awwww! ♥ Echo clearly is the mama, making sure all of them are safe.
++ The cuteness factor of Victor/Sierra is almost too much for me. Facing-painting. Hand-holding. "I am an Indian Chief!" OTP IS MADE OF CUTE! ♥ ♥ ♥
++ Boyd confronting Echo...truthfully, I thought that Boyd would turn Echo in for some reason. I don't know why, but his demeanor as of recently this season has been quite unnerving. Usually he would be the morally rational one, asking questions. Now he's in the background, almost like a lingering shadow. Huh. Anyway, I liked that she can also talk to him like she does Paul. He understands that she's evolving and wants her safe. And in the end, he gave her a library card! :D :D :D "For the storm..." Awww Boyd, never change with your sneaky, somewhat unsettling enigmatic ways.
++ "You're like a ninja!" lol oh Topher, ilu. ♥
++ Adelle getting threatened by the higher ups was frightening. We knew that she isn't the big boss lady, that there are many others that outrank her, but actually seeing it like this. Just, wow. She looked genuinely terrified and disgusted, also when the guy called her out for being "Miss Lonelyhearts" that was like opening up a wound for her, realizing the irony of her statements of stopping the engagement for being permanent to a perverted client.
++ I like the theme that there are always consequences for everyone's actions and choices, even in the fairytale Utopian world of the Dollhouse where the belief is that once signing up there are no consequences for their actions. That they are all caught up in this web of lies and deceit, and it continues to grow and grow and grow until it's too late.
++ Tahmoh wasn't in this episode, which made me sad. I was hoping to hear his take on the Sierra situation.
++ Joss Whedon is a genius. 'Nuff said.
I have more to say but uh, this'll do for now. I'll have more meta regarding Dollhouse and where it's going this season, which I am totally loving by the way. Such dark, twisted, sadistic and unimaginable and uncomfortable concepts yet it is so fascinating because it does challenge the mind and make you think. This episode really pushed those boundaries, and I'm hoping there's so much more in the future.
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Yes, shameless pimping of the show. But it's going on hiatus until after November sweeps, which in my opinion is ridiculously long, therefore in order to gain more viewers for their statistical roundups it's best to get the word out because this season? Is rocking so hard that even the skeptics from before are getting into it. Seriously.