NB: This review was originally printed in the Spoiler Zone in issue 183 of SFX and is reflective of our assessment of the show at the time of viewing.
Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: David Straiton
THE ONE WHERE
A TV reporter investigates the Dollhouse. Ballard finally comes face to face with Echo during an engagement with an internet mogul who has her programmed to believe she's his dead wife. Boyd discovers that Hearn, Sierra's handler, has been raping her. Adelle responds by having Hearn killed by Ballard's affectionate neighbour Mellie, who's actually sleeper Doll November.
A bit of a double-edged sword, this episode. On the one hand, it's far more complex, more emotionally satisfying, and more dramatic than the episodes have been so far, living up to the hype that surrounded it before it aired. On the other, it feels like a very abrupt gear change, with Adelle's use of Echo to directly confront Ballard and the revelation that there's been a second Doll watching him all this time (and the vox pops don't work at all). Fortunately, the episode leaves you with more promise than previous ones have, so it's a lot easier to overlook its flaws.
Echo's anguished cry of "Porn!" when she's being extracted by Boyd is fantastic, perfectly timed and delivered and just the kind of Whedonism I hope we'll see more of in the series.
Look closely at the oven behind Ballard when he first confronts Joel and Echo and you'll see a cameraman reflected in the glass.
So trigger phrases can be programmed into the Actives before their engagements, apparently without trouble. Wouldn't this have been useful on a few of the previous engagements? Why wasn't it used?
Dominic: "You played a good hand, ma'am."
Adelle: "I played a very bad hand very well. There is a distinction."