Dollhouse: Amoral Consequences

Raked and KT take on this week’s big episode of Dollhouse–before the month-long break. Read Raked’s thoughts below, and KT’s over here.

DOLLHOUSE: 2.04 “Belonging”

I knew this would be a big, Sierra-centric episode. And while I thought that every big episode needed to be written by the Joss man himself, this one was actually written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen of Dr. Horrible fame. And I must say, I loved it.

Character development alone set this episode above the rest. What made it that much more effective was that it wasn’t Echo we were discovering more about. It wasn’t Ballard (in fact, he wasn’t even in the episode). It was Sierra. It was Topher. It was even Boyd.

I think Topher is the “it” character of the season. After knowing his ultimate future in “Epitaph One,” he’s certainly been the character I’ve been most interested in this season. And here’s an episode that first introduces us to the inner workings of him.

Adelle was right. Topher has no morals. The dolls are his playthings and as long as they stay in good shape, he’s happy. We’ve never considered that he’s cared about any of them–we haven’t even thought that he really felt like he was helping any of them. It’s all just been fun and a cool job. That’s it.

So discovering that he felt that he was helping Sierra, well, that was new. Now, looking at the excitement in his eyes, you knew that part of it was due to the fact that he’d have a challenge: wiping clean a broken brain. But in the end, he thought he was helping.

Something in him told him that he needed to continue to help Sierra. Which is why he gave her Priya’s wipe.

Now, you knew as she entered the house that something bad would happen. Either Nolan would die or something so severe would happen to Sierra that Topher would be affected. Either way, Sierra would be sent back to the Dollhouse (possibly, to heal from her bloody wounds), and Nolan would be out of the picture (in prison or death).

And what happened? Priya killed Nolan. It was interesting to see that Boyd was the one to save the day, but despite all that, it was Topher I was watching. It wasn’t just that he was stuck in a terrible situation, dissecting a body to disintegrate and hide. Piece by piece, he was seeing what his actions caused. It was horrifying.

I think this was really an episode that sets the stage for his ultimate downfall. I wonder what it would have been like to see this episode having not seen “Epitaph One.” Would I have noticed how his character is changing? Would it have been that much more heartbreaking and destructive?

While sure, there were some weaker moments in this episode (say, Echo’s characterization, even though, yes, it moved plot), it certainly was a strong one overall in my eye. I can only hope it keeps the viewers’ attention until December 4, when the show returns with new episodes.

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7 thoughts on “Dollhouse: Amoral Consequences

  1. You know, I think you called it from the very first episode that we were going to grow to really like Topher! I love this character growth he’s getting — how great was that speech from Adelle about how most of the employees’ morals had been compromised, but he just never had any to begin with?

    And I love that Topher went to consult those reports that Claire Saunders used to complain no one ever read. I think she had a big impact on him before she left.

    And you know, Priya coming to the Dollhouse as a mental patient made me think of another active who really was psychotic before entering the ‘house: Alpha… I wonder if Topher used to think that Alpha’s initial wipe was such a great success, too.

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  3. This episode blew me away. I was concerned about watching the man who raped Sierra over and over. The only way I was upset that she killed him is from the impact on her. Now she belongs in the Dollhouse. The fact that Topher actually tried to help someone and it went so bad makes us wonder if her will do it again.
    Sierra and Victor are so wonderful together. Will they continue to sleep together or will something awful happen? Joss makes us care and so often makes us suffer. However we do care which is special on TV today.
    It’s sad that we must cherish each episode but this is not a normal TV show and we don’t know how many episodes will be given us. As I age I am less tolerant of boring stupid shows. I used to watch to the end but now often shut any show I don’t like off in mid show. This episode had me on the edge of my seat.
    Maybe the ratings people should measure whether the audience is awake. Back in the olden days if I had something measuring what I watched it would have counted the Dukes of Hazard. In reality I discovered I could nap though the show and wake up when the ending music played.

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