It's been a crazy few days, but I'm back with reviews of not only The Public Eye and The Left Hand, but also Meet Jane Doe.
The Public Eye
I've said this before, but one of Dollhouse's strengths is that it broke away from a lot of Joss' typical stylistic approaches in much of its first season, and while S2 has thus far been very much in Joss' typical stylistic wheelhouse, that changed with this ep, which marks the first and only time a Joss Whedon show has told a 3-part story.
Joss has always been a master when it comes to world-building, and we really start to see that talent manifest itself here in the story of Daniel Perrin's quest to bring down Rossum Corp. The twists and turns that story takes are classic Whedon, and, also in classic Whedon fashion, create a 'snowball effect' that keeps you off-balance for 2/3 of the episode.
I accidentally spoiled myself on Daniel Perrin being augmented with Active tech, but it didn't detract from the episode at all.
Creating a multi-part story arc for television can be tricky, especially if there's no real resolution offered until the story arc's conclusion, but the writers of the ep didn't have any problems rising to the occasion, offering up an episode that feels complete even though it ends with things being very much open-ended, and deserve props for that.
Before I offer my rating for the ep, I have to give Summer Glau props for her performance as Bennett Halverson. She imbued Bennett with this very 'off' character quality that makes her both endearing, intimidating, and a bit creepy but without making her unlikeable.
I'm giving the episode a 9.9 rating, and also have to say that it reminded me a lot of The Initiative and As You Were.
The Left Hand
Joss really knows how to create characters who are meant to be antagonists but without writing them as black-and-white villains (even if they appear in eps he didn't write), and the is perfectly demonstrated with Keith Carradine's Harding and Ray Wise's Lipman, both of whom toe the line between making you like them and making you want to shoot them.
This also happens with Summer Glau's Bennett, who really comes across in this ep as the antithesis to Gopher, which makes her and Fran Kranz's scenes together a lot of fun.
It's also a lot of fun to see Victor imprinted with Topher's personality and abilities.
Olivia Williams is really in fine form in this ep, and her righteous indignation over getting the runaround from Lipman is a great counterpoint to what happens in the next episode.
Cynthia Perrin is one cold-hearted bitca, and she makes for an excellent antagonist 'avatar'.
The episode's ending, with Echo wandering the streets of D.C. all alone, is a nice setup for Meet Jane Doe, and a neat juxtaposition with Madeline being enslaved again, this time by the D.C. Dollhouse and Rossum's plans for Perrin succeeding.
The ep earns S2's first perfect 10 rating, and is truly one of the best eps of any of Joss' series.
Meet Jane Doe
Amazon Instant Video's description for this ep is really misleading, which is both good and bad; good in that it subverts audience expectation, but bad in that it describes the ep as being about something completely different than what it actually is.
This ep isn't the first time we've seen a time jump in a Joss Whedon show, but I think it's the first time we've seen a time jump in the course of an episode in a Joss Whedon show, which makes it all the more effective.
Keith Carradine is perfect in this ep as Harding, making the audience hate him and yearn to see him taken down a peg or two, which makes what happens in the episode with Adelle and Topher all the more effective since its kind of hard in the end to be excited about him getting booted from the L.A. Dollhouse because of the way it happens.
Adelle reminds me a lot of Maggie Walsh in this ep, especially at the end, which is great because it evolves her character in a very interesting direction.
Story-wise, this ep is interesting because it is clearly meant to be the conclusion to the story arc started in The Public Eye, even though it doesn't have anything to do with the plot threads from that ep and The Left Hand, and because it has to do a lot of things in a very short period of time; it's the latter that ultimately holds it back a bit because we don't get enough explanation for how certain things happen, such as Ballard and Echo working together and with Boyd, even though that information would've made things a bit easier to comprehend.
Despite some flaws, I really enjoyed this ep, and am giving it a 9.8.