Sunday, 25 October 2009

Longing to Belong

We may have had to wait two weeks for this weeks episode of Dollhouse, but boy, was it worth the wait. “Belonging” is definitely snapshot(3)the best episode of season 2 thus far and definitely in the top three episodes of all time.

After three weeks of episodes that failed to really ignite the fuse laid down by Epitaph One, “Belonging” really sets this season ablaze, I only hope it didn’t come too late to save the show. Written by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon and directed by none other than Jonathon Frakes this episode will go down in Dollhouse history as one of the greats.

For the first time since the show began we have an episode which focuses mainly on Sierra (or Priya as she was called before becoming a Doll. Interesting side note, Priya means dear or beloved in Sanskrit) with heavy involvement from Topher and Boyd. The episode focuses on Nolan Kinnard, a biologist for the Rossum Corporation. He continually ‘engages’ Sierra snapshot(2)for ‘Romantic  Engagements’.
The, now, self aware Echo realises Sierra is unhappy and raises her concerns with Topher. “Sierra doesn’t like the bad man” Topher has always had a soft spot for Sierra and something inside of him screams at him to help her, any way he can. Topher begins to pour through Dr. Saunders notes. It seems the doc had noticed that “Sierra had a sense of extreme anxiety and rage associated with Topher Brink.” Topher is unable to process this, simply managing to utter the words “I’m not the bad man.” 

Fearing that he is the one causing Sierra so much distress Topher takes Priya’s original profile out of the vault and begins to examine it more thoroughly. It seems that when Priya was brought in Topher believed he was saving her, she was a paranoid schizophrenic, however, it turns out that she was in fact being poisoned. Poisoned by non-other than Nolan Kinnard, the man snapshot(4) who now chooses her over any other Doll in the house.

This raises an interesting question in my mind, all the Dolls sign up for 5 years, how did Priya sign up? It’s certainly a morally grey area. Even if it was her choice, she was not of sound mind, however to me, it sounds more like she was shanghaied. Topher had the power to cure her (even though she didn’t need to be cured) but instead he chose to enslave her. Interesting, no?

Upon discovering this information DeWitt calls Nolan into her  office and in a beautifully crafted scene calls him a rapist and a murderer. However it seems that Nolan is better connected than DeWitt and her superiors order her to comply with Nolan’s snapshot(5)demands, to hand over Sierra on a permanent basis.

A, possibly drunk, DeWitt calls Topher to her office. He is outraged. “You can’t let them do this!” DeWitt replies “They’re not going to, we are.” Unable to understand Topher simply asks “How can you expect me to do this?”

This scene is so brilliantly executed. Topher gets a full dose of reality and it is just too much for him. He may be a genius, but he has forgotten what it means to be human. DeWitt lays out for him, his greatest failings and displays them as an asset that he can use to get through his new found morals. Even if I quote this scene word for word it would not have a tenth of the impact that it does when Fran Kranz and Olivia Williams deliver it. Powerful stuff, snapshot(6)beautiful and so full of sorrow and grief. Go watch it, if you haven't already, i defy you not to be moved. 

“Everyone here has been chosen because their morals have been compromised in someway.” DeWitt tells Topher. “You were chosen because you had no morals.” She explains, “You have always thought of people as play things, this is not a judgement, you always take very good care of your toys. But you’re simply going to have to let this one go.”

So Topher does as he is asked. He take Sierra away from Victor, who promises to wait for her, sitting himself down and watching her walk away. Topher does his thing and sends her on her way. Then in a beautiful montage sequence we see the devastation she leaves in her wake. We see Topher being almost sentimental as he sifts through her drawings, We see DeWitt drinking her way snapshot(7)through the pain and we see Victor, still waiting for her to return.

Right at this moment there was a part me of me just hoping that Topher had imprinted her with the desire to kill Nolan. But he hadn’t. In truth he’d done something far worse. He had imprinted her with her original personality. He had sent a torture victim back to her unsuspecting torturer.

DeWitt comes to Topher, she too looks like she may have shed a tear or two. She asks Topher if the job is done. He says it is and she lays a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “If you have actually managed to develop some pangs of conscience, you may rest in the  knowledge that in this matter, you had no choice.” Topher looks down so that we can see he is holding Priya’s original personality. “No I didn't.”  In this sequence we can see the beginnings of the physical relationship that will eventually develop between Topher and DeWitt, both of whom will grow snapshot(9)closer as the series progresses as they both learn what is it to be human.

Priya reveals herself to Nolan and a after a brief scuffle, promptly stabs him to death. Topher shows up and tells her to run but before either of them get a chance to do so, Boyd comes to the door. Now this is a man who knows how to throw a party. He  brought a tarp, a vat of acid and a bone saw…

The episode upto this point was great, but when Boyd comes into the picture it turns from great to legendary as he forces Topher to face up to his actions. He forced Topher to cut up Nolan’s body and dissolve in acid. “I was just trying to help her” Topher says, trying to justify his actions. “Now she’s ruined” Boyd looks at snapshot(10)Topher with patience and understanding.

“You had a moral dilemma, your first and it didn’t go well.”
Topher simply responds “Priya does not belong in the Dollhouse” but Boyd reminds him of the inescapable truth. “She does now” Calling in his favours Boyd ensures that Topher and Sierra are protected. He calls DeWitt and feeds her the lies. She responds “How convenient. Are you going to look into it further?”  Boyd replies “I don't think any good will come of it.”

Priya goes back in the chair and she begs Topher to erase what she did to Nolan, she doesn’t want to remember it. She asks Topher if he can keep the secret of what they did. He replies “I can snapshot(11)keep it, but I don't know if I can live with it.”

I can’t stress enough how good this episode was. It was filled with so many beautiful moments, or sad moments, it was just perfect. Several other things occurred that were pretty import too. Firstly Priya remembered that she was in love Victor, which implies, no matter what Topher does his imprints cannot wipe clean everything from a person’s mind. It could, if we’re being really soppy, suggest that nothing can stand in the way of true love…

Also Boyd realises that Echo can remember. A couple of weeks ago I theorised that Boyd would eventually come down on the side of Echo and Ballard and help them liberate the Dollhouse, in this episode he showed his true colours, giving Echo an all access pass, with a note that read “For the Storm.” However Boyd also cautioned her against her plan to take everyone with her. snapshot(8)He tells her that not everyone is ready to wake up. Echo however implies  she is not willing to leave anyone behind.

I think I could rattle on for another couple of hours about how good this episode was, but if I do that you wont have time to watch it and if you have already seen it, go watch it again. Until next time this has been about an eighth of  My Two Cents.

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