Well, we were promised an improvement this week and we got it. There are several obvious reasons for that improvement: the complete absence of Tahmoh Penikett, who’s been seemingly at a loss this season about what to do with his character; the near-absence of Eliza Dushku; the uninterrupted focus on one story rather than the usual TV convention of breaking the week into A and B stories; the fact that that story built on a larger continuing arc rather than trying to be wholly self-contained.
Most of all, though, it succeeded because it gave the characters conflicts (in which they must resolve two competing, incompatible desires) rather than merely challenges (in which the achievement of an uncomplicated desire is blocked by some external obstacle). There’s a pretty low ceiling on how interesting one can make a mere obstacle. (Okay, there’s Iago. Still.) It was a real risk to center that conflict on Fran Kranz, who I wouldn’t have thought capable of shouldering an episode based on his overly ticcy work last season, but he absolutely pulled it off.
As a side note, if Dichen Lachman and Enver Gjokaj don’t get leading roles in something good based on their work on this show, there’s something seriously wrong with the world’s casting agents.
I read that we’ll see the next six episodes over three weeks in December, and the last three who knows when. Maybe next summer.
Okay, clearly we’re not going to get the Epitaph One future, and that’s a big letdown. Details like the “remote wipe” would mean a lot more if we knew that Topher’s improvising with these things eventually leads to the apocalypse. We’re apparently stuck with this client-of-the-week BS that isn’t any good, even given the Enver Gjokaj showcase. We should be far past the point where we need it driven home that the Dollhouse is sociopathic—especially as hamfistedly as was done this week.
As commenter Karen wrote on Alan Sepinwall’s blog after last week’s episode: This is Joss Whedon’s Studio 60. I’ve held on this long out of loyalty, but it may be time to let go.
Two episodes now with no mention at all of the future world of Epitaph One. It’s almost as if Whedon & Co. no longer have any intention of going there in what is looking more and more like the last 13 episodes this show will ever have. That’s a problem mainly because the weekly standalone episodes don’t work and have never really worked—and what’s more, we’re seeing almost no Enver Gjokaj and precious little Dichen Lachman. I don’t want to watch this show, and I don’t care about Alexis Denisof’s marginal Senator. I want to watch the better show promised by the second half of last season and especially the unaired final episode. What gives here?
In the season premiere of Dollhouse it was totally disorienting to hear Jamie Bamber and Alexis Denisof speak in their native accents (British and American, respectively). Dichen Lachman did a British accent for the first time, which shouldn’t be any weirder than her American since she’s Australian, but it was.
According to Alan Sepinwall the Epitaph One material was cut for time, which is a serious bummer since that’s what I was most looking forward to (especially Felicia Day). I hope that doesn’t keep up, since Epitaph One was a way better direction for the show that what it had been doing.
Also Amy Acker is apparently only around for three episodes. Sad.