From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Dollhouse Season 1, Episode 8: “A Spy In The House Of Love”

As you may have surmised from my last post, I am not a huge fan of Dollhouse. I find the concept sketchy and the execution even sketchier. I keep watching because, well, I’m paid to (sort of). That being said, I found more to like than to hate in last night’s episode and it’s apparently all down to Andrew Chambliss, the writer. Proof that even the worst concepts can work when the right writer steps into the driver’s seat.

The theme of “A Spy In The House Of Love” is revelations: Topher discovers a foreign chip in the equipment that reveals the presence of a spy; the audience discovers that Miss DeWitt is the true Miss Lonely Hearts who keeps requesting Victor for romantic escapades; Paul Ballard finally learns that Mellie is a sleeper doll; the Dollhouse staff finds out that Mr. Dominic is the spy (and also that DeWitt is so hard and freaking British that she can take a bullet and still continue on with revelatory dialogue).

All of this is handled extremely well and teased out through a familiar, though hard to pull off, structure of overlapping time- and plotlines. Perhaps if we’d had more of this in the beginning I could have been on board with this show. Or maybe not.

Because there’s still all that damn rape. Because the show continues not to show any remorse for all the damn rape. And last week, when it was supposed to be all about closure and such, I did very much notice that Sierra’s closure in no way involved actually getting to do anything about the man who had her kidnapped and forcibly made into a doll. Sure, Victor punched him a few times, but why did he not die? The show hasn’t shied away from death before. And I have to say that the dude who put Sierra in the Dollhouse has to be as punishable or even more so than the handler who raped her. (And again, show, if you play that scene one more time, I will come for you.)

I suppose it comes down to this: “A Spy In The House Of Love” made all the episodes that came before it look even worse because we now see the show is capable of so much more. When such a thing happens at Episode 9, that’s a huge problem.

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