NB: This review was originally printed in the Spoiler Zone in issue 185 of SFX and is reflective of our assessment of the show at the time of viewing.
Written by: Jane Espenson, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon
Directed by: Elodie Keene
THE ONE WHERE
Echo is imprinted with "Margaret", a wealthy friend of Adelle's who's had her personality regularly copied at the Dollhouse so she can investigate her own murder in the event of her sudden death. Topher enjoys some birthday downtime by imprinting Sierra with the personality of a fellow gamer he can hang out with, and when Ballard gets a surprise when he runs an identity search using Mellie's fingerprints.
This really does present an inventive use for the Dollhouse, and puts an interesting spin on the murder mystery format with the murder victim playing the part of the investigator. It also makes for an interesting character piece as Margaret comes face to face with how her family truly perceived her as opposed to how she always imagined their relationships to be - a great play-within-a-play. The subplots are good too - Topher's innocent games with Sierra are quite sweet, while Ballard's conflict over his relationship with Mellie now that he knows she's an Active - which inadvertently makes him a Dollhouse client himself - gives his character some new dimensions.
Margaret's widower Jack is played by Ian Anthony Dale, who previously had a recurring role in Charmed as Avatar Gamma.
The scene where Margaret's son Nicholas kisses Echo/Margaret, and her revulsion, is hilariously-played. The letter Margaret writes to amend her will after discovering Nicholas is the killer, and the scene of it being read out, is also quite amusing.
Echo/Margaret: "You lost your mother. It's only natural you'd be so elmo."
Echo/Margaret: "That's not a word, sweetie."