Tardy Dollhouse Discuss. & Misc.

Sorry I forgot to post the Dollhouse thread. The level of busy for the past week has topped historical levels, but I finally got a chance to watch the ep last night. Now that's more like it. Spoilers in comments. Some regular posting to resume this week.

Reading Paul Tremblay's The Little Sleep and finding it a pleasing cocktail reminiscent of Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn and Jen Banbury's Like a Hole in the Head, with a hint of Bukowski bitters.

22 thoughts on “Tardy Dollhouse Discuss. & Misc.”

  1. I thought Alan Tudyk was absolutely terrific in the episode, Enver Gjokaj did a really great job of channeling Reed Diamond’s Mr. Dominic, and overall it was just a really kickass episode. (The Eliza Dushku “Briar Rose” segments were well played, and affecting, but maybe a little too spot on. I like her, but she still remains the show’s weakest acting link.)
    I so want the show to be renewed now.
    Also enjoyed Tremblay’s book. He took what could have been a really cheesy gimmick, the narcoleptic private detective, and created a really sympathetic and interesting character — one who I suspect we haven’t seen the last of.

  2. I had actually gotten spoiled on what part Tudyk was playing. As we got close to the episode though, I had a left field thought: what if it was disinformation, and Ballard was actually Alpha in some kind of terrific Jekyll-Hyde twist? It would certainly explain how he could sneak a note onto his desk and why Alpha seemed so muscular in the back-shot we got of him earlier. Alas, no. (I read since then that Alan Tudyk had to start training furiously because of that body double.)
    The stunt to get him into the facility left me a bit cold. Why not just break in? Why not hire a thug if he needed a distraction? Did Alpha literally NOT KNOW where the Dollhouse was? How did Alpha know to impersonate the Dollhouse environmental systems designer just as Ballard get the idea to research such people? How could Alpha know anything going on with the Ballard/Mellie split? The whole thing came across a bit like a Xanatoss Gambit or maybe even a Roulette (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosRoulette) and I feel like I need more “why” for the Ballard character. I have a suspicion that he’s now going to be somehow trapped into working with/for the Dollhouse and this whole subplot has been some kind of build-up to that. To quote the Bonnie Tyler song, “Somewhere, somehow, there’s still some pieces missing…”
    Enver was FANTASTIC as “Mr. Dominic” and I completely bought it. The Bonnie & Clyde take-off at the end was a total twist. And … what was with Mr. Dominic calling the good doctor Whiskey as in the W call sign??

  3. I had the EXACT same reaction. I kept wondering if it was going to turn out Alpha was his twin brother or something. Really, really well done. And I was glad they finally showed why the Attic is so creepy in such a compelling way.
    Is it just me, or is Ballard totally unappealing too? I’m not finding him a sympathetic character At All. Why is he only trying to rescue Echo? Why leave his Doll girlfriend in her pod? DUDE.

  4. It really showcased Tudyk’s range — that character couldn’t be further from Wash, but the charisma was absolutely still there. Too bad he’s not the lead!

  5. I don’t think Alpha doesn’t know where the dollhouse is. I think he was using Ballard as a decoy, hence feeding him clues via messages and the altered imprints, which eventually led to Ballard using Mellie to find the dollhouse, which led him to Alpha.
    It’s still a pretty flimsy and unlikely scheme (Alpha’s timing, for example, would have to be just right, though he had no way of knowing when Ballard would set Mellie off; plus, are we really supposed to believe that Dominic was altering imprints on Alpha’s behalf?), but not quite as silly as Alpha not knowing where the dollhouse is.

  6. I second & third the kudos to Enver Gjokaj & Alan Tudyk — wowza! Thought Tudyk was so funny & enjoyable as the agoraphobic environmental guy … and then truly menacing as Alpha. I had been spoiled for the surprise and still jumped off the couch. Who knew Wash could seem so psycho?
    Gwenda, I’ve come to dislike Ballard too … I can tell b/c I have started trying to judge how much plastic surgery the actor has had done, which is always a sign for me of disaffection. (Botox? Eye tuck?) But yeah, dude, you leave your girlfriend in the box? I actually wouldn’t mind that — there are plenty of other shady characters, like Adelle, on the show who I love to watch — if I didn’t find him so *boring*.

  7. Whereas I cannot figure out what type of make-up strategy they are employing with his lips. They seem to be applying thick pancake zombie make-up.

  8. While still flimsy, the Ballard didn’t rescue Mellie (November) for two reasons:
    1. He needed to destroy her so she’d lead him back to the Dollhouse.
    2. One phone call and she turns into super-ninja. He knew that she’d been designed to be exactly what he wanted/needed, and that if she failed, she’d also been designed to take him the frak out.
    I find myself disliking Ballard too. I still think it’s the point though…to make everyone a little complicit. Of course in Ballard’s case I feel like it’s Ballard channeling Helo channeling a guy who ate something really sour.

  9. yes, but once she’s in the box, she’s a doll, not a sleeper agent. So your points are moot.
    I mean, he does seem to have problems with understanding the idea of dolls–ie, he’s not rescuing Caroline, he’s rescuing Echo. But even so, he’s opening the boxes, and then shutting them again. And without any angst, even. It’s not like “I wish i could save them all.”

  10. I know. The whole thing with Mellie, when she showed up in the FBI database? BAD GIRL. Clearly they are being subversive because she *looks* good, but really isn’t, and Echo looks bad, but really is good. Except now maybe she is…
    Oh, Joss.

  11. I think it’s been established that November is the sleeper, not Mellie (she very nearly activated herself when she was hopped up on the memory drug, and that was when she was in her doll state).
    But yes, Ballard hasn’t drawn the line between Echo and Caroline, though I find it hard to fault him for this. Mellie is poisoned for him because he knows that she’s a construct, so he’s latching onto Caroline, who is real and who has reached out to him, and ignoring the actual facts of what she is. I don’t think there was no angst in his decision to leave Mellie behind, though clearly he had no intention of freeing any of the other dolls, and we’re just as clearly supposed to fault him for this, and for his obsession with Caroline.

  12. But if he DID rescue her, does Ballard know whether she can flip the ninja switch in doll state? I don’t know. Is the sleeper imprint only in the Mellie Programing? Got me.
    You’re right about Ballard though…he doesn’t get the Echo/Caroline difference…of course I’m not so sure he’s capable of getting the difference. I mean, look at Mellie. She was the perfect woman for him. Clingy and subservient and emotionally damaged. It’s so obvious that Ballard is quite possibly the most emotionally damaged of everyone. Which might explain how he can justify only saving one and not all. Maybe he believes if he brings “Caroline” back to the FBI they’ll believe him and shut the operation down. He doesn’t get that it’ll likely just disappear and take all the other dolls with it.

  13. It’s not just you! I like the actor, I find the character uninteresting. He apparently has some kind of history that got him assigned to the X-files-esque case of The Dollhouse. However, what that baggage is has never been hinted at; maybe if it had been, his actions would be more understandable. I can understand leaving Mellie behind because he knows she’s been set up as some kind of assassin agent, but the fixation with Caroline? Well, it was part of the fuel for me thinking he might be Alpha. Maybe that’s all he was: a big red herring.

  14. Yep, I think Ballard just wants one doll as evidence, and Caroline’s the pick since she asked for help. I think he understands that she’s Echo, but he’s being defiant of the Dollhouse by calling her Caroline and trying to snap her out of it.
    Also, I don’t know what it says about me, but I’ve only started liking Ballard in the last couple episodes. I think it’s his own recognition that Mellie got to him, that he likes having a doll to knock around. It makes him vulnerable and creepy at the same time.

  15. 1) He’s obsessed with Caroline, and that obsession is being presented as unhealthy (particularly in “Man on the Street” and here)
    2) His self-justification is that he is only able to rescue one in this raid (and presumably, rescuing the one whose identity is known and who the FBI will find it hardest to handwave away makes the most sense).
    I think Alpha’s plan is, er, let’s say on the handwavey side, but Ballard made sense to me.

  16. Er, that wasn’t Eves_Alexandria, that was me, obviously having failed to notice that Nic was still logged in!

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