“Dollhouse” 1×02 – The Target

What an incredible follow-up to an underwhelming pilot.

After watching both Ghost and Echo, I was worried the show wouldn’t become serialized until much later into its run, but The Target packed a whole lot of momentum into its 50-minute run (yes, 50!).

I love that Echo is becoming more aware (it’s the one twist Ghost seemed to gloss over, for some illogical reason), and I can’t say I didn’t get goosebumps as Echo does the “shoulder to the wheel” in the episode’s final shot. Even seeing bits and pieces of her previous personalities, asking Boyd to trust her instead of the other way around, and developing skills that she shouldn’t have as Jenny were all fantastic breadcrumbs, and they were all masterfully executed. Unlike Buffy and AngelDollhouse seems like a much bigger show with its production values (although it’s certainly less recognized) and fight sequences. Jenny and Richard’s entire adventures in the woods, for example, were surprisingly gripping, especially for a standalone case that probably won’t have long lasting effects on the show’s mythology.

The flashbacks were mostly random and dull at first, but their significance was necessary as they revealed how Echo was programmed to trust Boyd, an emotional investment that we need in order to care about these characters. Plus, seeing the damage that Alpha had done to Dollhouse was haunting, and that’s quite a memorable way to make us fear for him as a Big Bad. I wouldn’t mind him staying faceless and nameless for quite a while.

Finally, Ballard’s investigations into Dollhouse don’t go much this week because the show decided to use most of the footage from the unaired pilot (the naked guy sending him pictures of Echo), but Paul is likable enough to make you want to root for him. I can’t wait to see his first encounter with Adelle or any of the Actives.


Bits

– My only complaint is that Richard seemed a bit too cartoonish as a weekly villain. Why did he want to kill Echo? And why show us that very long sex scene?

– The woods scenes reminded me of Eliza Dushku’s 2003 slasher/thriller Wrong Turn (which I also loved).

– How weird was that scene between Paul and his obsessive neighbor?

– It was very sad seeing Echo telling Boyd how she can’t stop thinking about some guy in one of the flashbacks, especially with the devastating look on Boyd’s face, knowing that she’ll never remember/see him again.

– Interesting how Echo always wakes up from personality removal to the same line: “did I fall asleep?”.

– Loved the final twist with the officer actually being killed by a blade. Oh, Dr. Saunders, Alpha is very much still alive!

Quotes

Boyd: How about clearing up my signal, professor? My displays are crap.
Topher: You’re in the middle of ‘Why Would Anyone Want to be There’. What did you expect, HBO?

Boyd: What happened to her last handler?
Dr. Saunders: You’re standing in him.

Topher: So, what do you think of your new girl?
Boyd: She’s not a girl, she’s not even a person. She’s an empty hat. Until you stuff a rabbit into it.

Boyd: Do you trust me?
Echo: With my life.

Boyd: You know how to use this [gun]?
Echo/Jenny: Four brothers. None of them Democrats.

Rating
A-

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