Monday, October 5, 2009

Mommy's Home (Or Is She?)

Dollhouse - "Instinct"

Echo becomes a mommy and REALLY loves her baby. This very simple premise is used to good effect here. Echo is hired out to a man who lost his wife during childbirth. He has trouble connecting with the baby and goes to the Dollhouse for a “mother” who will love his child.

Topher does more than just his usual thorough job, going so far as to give Echo “special modifications” including hormone changes and the ability to nurse the baby. She not only believes she's the baby's mother, her body tells her she is. When daddy wants to end the deal, Echo simply cannot let go of her love.

A new subplot involving Buffy/Angel vet Alexis Denisof as a senator investigating the Dollhouse starts here. I very much liked his work on the two prior Whedon shows. His character started more as comic relief, but showed a welcome serious side as well, and Denisof excelled at both. His character here wants to bring down the giant drug company Rossum, that is apparently behind the Dollhouse (I say apparently, because things aren't always what they seem to be on this show). I loved his disgust at what the Dollhouse does: prostitution, human trafficking. It's nice to hear someone say it out loud. I wonder if Dollhouse executive Adele de Witt ever said those words.

I think this was Eliza Dushku’s strongest acting in the series to date. I’ve been critical of her before but she really stepped up to the plate here. The final scene with her and Tahmoh Penikett’s Ballard at the chidren’s park was particularly good. Echo re-iterates that she doesn’t merely remember her past Active roles, but she FEELS them all, which is perhaps even worse for her.

This episode scored pretty poorly in the ratings (it was even beaten by the new Stargate: Universe on cable’s SyFy). I hope Fox sticks behind it, at least for a full season. I’d hate to see it cut off at the kness before the writers get to fully play out their hand.

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