Dollhouse: Omega (season one, episode twelve)


Rating 0

Created by Joss Whedon

Written and directed by Tim Minear

Starring Eliza Dushku (Echo), Olivia Williams (Adelle DeWitt), Fran Kranz (Topher Brink), Harry J Lennix (Boyd Langton), Amy Acker (Dr Claire Saunders), Tahmoh Penikett (Paul Ballard), Dichen Lachman (Sierra), Enver Gjokaj (Victor), Miracle Laurie (November), Alan Tudyk (Alpha), Angel Desai (Sophie Alvarez), Ashley Johnson (Wendy) and Mark Sheppard (Tanaka)

Alpha has infiltrated the Dollhouse and he escapes, taking Echo with him, also taking all of her old imprints. Paul Ballard is made an offer by Adelle DeWitt to work with Boyd Langton and help them to locate and rescue Echo.


There was a gap of thirty days between episodes eight and nine because I struggled to build up any enthusiasm to continue watching the show. I rather forced myself to watch the next two after that, but this time around, with just this last episode to go (not counting the thirteenth episode ‘Epitaph One’ – broadcast in the UK, but restricted to the DVD in the US), I was in danger of giving up altogether and not bothering to watch it. In the end, I had to really make myself to do it, two weeks after watching episode eleven. Clearly, I went into it with a biased outlook and there is no doubt that I am now reviewing my attitude towards the show, rather than the episodes themselves. I know this, but the fact remains that I simply have not enjoyed ‘Dollhouse’ very much and, whatever its merits, I really disliked this closing episode.

The story seemed to run out of steam before it even began and I found the final 25 minutes or so particularly excruciating to watch. The fractured narrative is now a clich├ęd and overused trick and the various twists and turns were so blatantly obvious and easy to guess in advance that I actually found them offensive. If I didn’t know better, I would think that Joss Whedon and writer/director Tim Minear were deliberately taking the piss out of their fan-base. I haven’t liked the acting of Dichen Lachman throughout the season and nothing changes here, although I wonder if it is the writing of her character rather than her acting per se. She wasn’t around for very long in this episode, so it didn’t really matter. Sadly, I thought Eliza Dushku’s performance was rotten much of the time, although generally speaking (the tenth episode aside) I think she has been okay in previous episodes, despite some reviews elsewhere to the contrary.

At one point, Adelle DeWitt says to Paul Ballard, “Yes, I thought that might wipe the smirk off your face.” I don’t know how she could tell, since that smirk seemed to be his default facial expression throughout all twelve episodes. To be fair, as annoying as I have found many of the characters from episode to episode, there are a some here that, over time, might develop in interesting ways - and Paul Ballard could be one of them.

I have not been impressed at all with some of the dialogue, but the very worst of it has been saved for this episode, including the truly horrible line, spoken by Echo, “I have 38 brains and not one of them thinks you can sign a contract to be a slave, especially now that we have a black president.”

Was the use of the Beck/Jon Brion version of ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ a deliberate nod to the obvious influence of ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’? I hope it was this and not just an indication that the show is so bereft of ideas that it is already resorting to becoming a pale carbon copy of its influences.

I struggled with ‘Dollhouse’ from the very start and although it did improve after the first few episodes, I found the final few increasingly annoying and difficult to watch. I didn’t find the premise particularly interesting or particularly clever. It certainly wasn’t difficult to comprehend and while I could follow the subtext with ease, I simply didn’t enjoy the episodes anywhere near enough to be bothered to give this much thought. Clearly, though, anyone who enjoyed the show and found the premise interesting would have got a lot more out of it than I did. My opinion is no more objective and trustworthy than the most zealous of Joss Whedon fans.

There is nothing particularly wrong with the show. I just don’t like it and I think it is a long ways short of the brilliance of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, Joss Whedon’s most obviously iconic work.

Viewing figures for ‘Dollhouse’ during its run on the Fox network in the US were not particularly impressive. The opening episode, broadcast on 13 February 2009, was watched by 4.7 million viewers. By the time of ‘Omega’, broadcast on 8 May 2009, this had dropped to 2.75 million. However, Fox announced rather unexpectedly that it had commissioned a second season of thirteen episodes, to premiere in September 2009. This is good news for fans of the show and Joss Whedon generally, but I cannot imagine at the moment that I will be watching.

Review posted 10 August 2009


No comments: