From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Dollhouse Season 1, Episode 11: “Briar Rose”

The penultimate Dollhouse episode attempted to offer almost everything viewers have ever wanted out of this show while promising that, truly, everything else we ever wanted was coming up next week. What wonders await!

We finally get to see the much-talked-about Alpha and witness his legendary genius and cruelty. We finally get to see Paul locate and infiltrate the Dollhouse. And we finally get to see Echo do something we’ve been wanting to see her do since this all started: tell Paul to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!

Okay, maybe I’m the only one gratified by this. But Paul’s creepy obsession with Caroline/Echo eroded away any sympathy or affection I had for him in the beginning. Early on, it seemed that Paul was very zealous about the Dollhouse itself and that finding the name and picture of one of the victims merely gave the quest a human face. Instead we were treated to wet dream sex fantasies and constant, boorish exclamations of how He Was Going To Save Her.

I had also thought that by giving him a relationship with Mellie (before it was revealed to be a big, crazy lie) he was going to realize that he didn’t need to fantasize about some pretty victim but instead focus on the sad (yet very attractive) woman who so desperately wanted his attention. But all of that was for naught. And when Paul states before going in that he is specifically NOT going to save Mellie and then, when inside, again specifically refuses to save her in favor of Caroline, I felt at that moment that I wanted to shoot him with a very large gun, but not before stabbing him in the eye.

Is there anyone in this show who I can feel good about?

The show’s answer seems to be: no.

I used to think that I could feel good about Boyd, but the instant it became clear that he knew the Dollhouse had kidnapped and en-dolled Sierra without her consent, and then seemed to have no problem with it, I was done with him.

It was very sweet to see him protecting Echo against Paul’s attempted abduction and all, but still.

Also: I know Echo is supposed to be childlike when she is not imprinted, but even children know to run when someone screams at them to RUN!

Other than Paul’s botched “rescue”, the other exciting thing about this episode was the appearance of Alpha. We weren’t supposed to know that’s who he was when he showed up — we thought he was just the guy who designed the environmental systems for the Dollhouse, right? Right?

Right.

Even if I had not been tipped off by a spoiler long ago, the appearance of a Whedon alum (Alan Tudyk, the pilot from Firefly, for those of you not in the know) in a guest starring gig and knowing without trying that OMG ALPHA IS COMING would have tipped me off from the start. I doubt that the show really meant us to be surprised by this. And Alan seemed to have a lot of fun playing an agoraphobe with a massive pot habit. I guess it’s okay to let the boys have their fun.

I wasn’t all that scared/impressed by Alpha, though I know many were. I’ll chalk this up to my general unimpressedness with Dollhouse. Alan certainly turned in a better performance than Eliza Dushku ever has; but then, so do the actors playing Victor, November, and, to a lesser degree, Sierra.

Anyway, Alpha brings the Hanibal Lector down on the poor doctor then implants Echo with the Bonnie to his Clyde — can’t wait to suffer through her backstory next week. It was anti-climatic, in the end. Especially once the couple stopped to have a bit of a snog before sauntering out,

Where have I seen that scene before…?

I find myself even more unimpressed than previously. Next week better deliver something ultra-spectacular, or, so help me, I will write a nasty comment on the Hulu page!

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