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DH – Briar Rose

Posted by pocochina on May 2, 2009

My God.  So I did have my mind duly blown this weekend (the few, the proud, the unspoiled!), and I meant to bang out an essay with Serious Thoughts, but it’s still exams, so I’ve been busy, trying to be my best.   (As I write this, I cut myself off almost an hour ago and my sleeping pills are strtingg to kick in, so it’s going to be a sad, sad bullet-list, perhaps with humourous flailings.)

  • Epic Paul thoughts.  More Paul thoughts than EVAH BEFORE, and not justs about what he’ll decide at the end.  His serial killer/Perfect Mind wall is so perfect – he’s on the wrong side of the law, and of himself.  I’d have hated Paul for dumping Mellie two weeks ago.  but this is the right thing.  Except it’s selfish – he has no reaon to believe tht they wown’t kill a Doll who fails at her mission.  I don’t think you can kill the Doll personalities per se, but you can kill the body the personality is in, and the person who actually owns that body.  “You need to make ssure you’er laying the blamme where it deserves to be” – Paul isn’t a DH client the way he waants to blame himself for being.  (There’s an argument about whether Paul was raping Mellie the same as any other Dollhouse client – this is one argument about the show that I’m going to say is murky, and the most disturbing of all in a lot of ways.  Paul has every reason to believe November when she tells him the DH will kill him if they don’t maintain the illusion.  If you were to apply ordinary crimina law – if this were the crime that took the DH down – this would be sexual assault by the House, or maybe the informant, on both Mellie and Paul.  Doing something under threat of your life and other people’s in’t choosing to do it the way the folks who seek out the DH do, legally or morally.  But Paul’s intentions are totally different – he’s using the threat as a wa to justify using Mellie.  Doesn’t erase the crime of the Dollhouse in any way, but it does make him a quintessential Dollhouse client in one way – she has a thing he needs, and he can’t get it from anyone else.  But Paul’s black-and-white thinking, which has probably kept him from becoming a bad guy in any number of situations, is a real liability to him here.
  • Both a nice diversion (from Victor, the eventual victim) and a great way to set up the creeping doom in what could’ve been a silly episode – Mellie’s “can’t yo usee this is killing me” freaked me out well before we see her crying on the bridge (and I loved that trick trick, going straight from Mellie crying on the bridge to insane unstable Paul about to go under one) to Sierra getting sent to be a pawn in Alpha’s game. 
  • As furious as I am at him for being more worried about Caroline than Mellie, I’m glad they at least made it make sense – this is Alpha’s doing.  And it’s deeply disturbing that you don’t need to hop into the chair for the Dollhouse to control your actions and feelings. 
  • “You’re not weak if someone helps you.”  This is great message, and it’s something that’s going to be really important if we’re going to have this story without some serious victim-blaming.
  • I’m torn about this “rogue good guy uses cop skills to operate beyond those pesky orders.”  Because while it fits ithin the story – everyone is corruptible, and lots of people together are exponentially corruptible – as a law student it makes my skin crawl.  There’s a reason we didn’t stay the wild wild west, and its because of all the dying.  But Paul’s good guy status is spretty compromised right now (as is his sane guy status) so it makes a little more sense.  I totally missed the (in retrospect obvious) reveal largely because I was focusing on gray-and-crazy Paul, who’s not a red herring – he really is losing his sanity and moral center – but is the perfect distraction. 
  • “Paul using the dEA off-duty, the DH using the FBI to find their own fuckups – authority will always be misused, not just by the Dollhouse.
  • Was making Caroline special from all the other dolls jjust a way to make Paul a fucking idiot?  It works, it justs doesn’t make sense with the guy ten episodes ago who clung onto the stupid case because he knew it would be wrong to give up.  It does, however, make sense with Alpha, who knows how to push anyone’s buttons
  • This is Topher as victim three episodes in the last four – Echo shooting at him, Dom hoving hi into the chair, and no Paul taering him.  God, he’s helpless
  • DONT YOU HURT DR FRED PAUL.  I love that, the creepy horror movie shot of the small lady, but it’s not the Evol Serial Killer’s POV, it’s the FBI.  Until you find out it is the Evol, or at least Ax Crazy, Serial Killer’s POV.
  • Topher even looks like this guy a little.  Give him a proble, and he’s into solving it; give him a cool new toy, he’l play ith it; take him out of his element, he’s totally fucked.
  • How does he know Echo isn’t a sleeper?  For tht matter, we don’t know Echo isn’t a sleeper, though the fac thaat she keeps getting imprinted with useful combat skillz suggests that she isn’t.
  • I want to see Boyd and Paul whale on each other for a while.  I don’t even care who wins.  They both need to be hit a lot.
  • The perfect distraction.  Oh, Alpha.  Oh God.
  • That was perfect casting and perfect acting for Alpha.  Both becauses I sw Alan Tudyk and thought “Wash!  Crazy weed guy!  Hee!” but also because he was so perfect and vulnerable and nutty.  That’s exactly what Dude Who Got Killed was like.  Reality is misleading.
  • wow.  sos the little girl who is daaged – by someone ho piped her out – is carrying around knives nd echo tells her to think of herself as the prince.  how did topher get a brain scan of the little girl?  they must have access to a hospital somewhere.
  • this is delicious.  paul’s greyness really is there.  it’s a red herring, but it’s not just a red herring.
  • i really like ho hard theyr’e tackling the self-reliance orthodoxy that i was going to be nervous about (becuse, after all, it would have to be something deeply essentialist – some people justs don’t deserve saving) – Good Susan explains that if you’re  victim it’s not your fucking fault – but all saveage has ome from dubious or downriht evil quarters.  Paul is totally unstable.  Good Susan is a fake.  Alpha is Alpha.  Mellie didn’t ssave herself back in Man on the Street, her erassure of self at the hands of the Dollhouse did.
  • from Alpha to the Prince to Ballard; fromm the King and Queen (who were intermediaaries who helped cause the problem) to Ivy and Topher.
  • who caught the wedding ring on November’s handler?  how do you join the Dollhouse and have  a spouse?
  • VICTOR BETTER NOT DIE.  We only see the cuts on Victor’s face, not the chest and shoulder large veins that we saw in the autopsy room, so I’m holding out hope.  He’s not bleeding much at all, come to think of it.  There’s two moments I scanned back and watched a couple of times, one being the Alpha reveal and the other being Enver playing Dominic. Does Alpha know Dom was Attic’d and wants to freak them out?  And also, ENVER WHERE YOUR FAN CLUB AT?  I wish to join. Victor is an amazing actor – it’s hard enough to create a character, but to convince us he’s a character we know, and who he looks nothing like? Very impressive.  At first I was wondering why, the whole thing seemed enjoyable but unnecessary, but on second watch (a) it’s a reminder that tough the Dominic disk contains several gigabytes of douchenozzle, he was right about Alpha and (maybe, we don’t know yet) Echo, (b) it’s a two-parter; the ability to resurrect Dom into a Doll could be useful and could be catastrophic and (c) that skin-crawly feeling when you wonder what Adele was thinking when she leaned so close to Dom-in-Victor.
  • Alpha is such a great villain because he’s not just created by the DH, he’s the logical extension of it.  he is as cold as ice – he should be freaking out being back in the dollhouse.  i wonder if they found themselves a sociopath, or if they made him that way
  • Also, his plan is great.  Get a chip in the chair.  Alpha could be the source of all Echo’s consciousness – I really, really hope that doesn’t happen (because it would mean being Irresistably Sexy to the Knife Wielding Lunatic is what gives her a soul – not cool).  Make Paul as obsessed with Caroline as he is, build a loose cannon with a gun and combat training let the Dollhouse get him fired, then freak him the hell out with Mellie.  get twitchy so the face hiding isn’t suspicious. 
  • “they’re not people”/”i’m not good with that sentence, either”  Alpha’s goal doesn’t need to be bringing down the Dollhouse (getting Echo and some sadistic kicks might well be enough for him) but he could just as well be a sociopathic renegade doing what Paul thinks he’s doing.
  • who did Alpha imprint her with?  did he make her composite too?  then they’re both mega-doms, how’s that going to work?
  • Stupid Pills, I swear to God.  In the lasagne.  Stupid lasagne.  What, he was going to shoot his way out of the Dollhouse with a revolver?  Is he suicidal?  Packing his things, saying goodbye to Mellie, and going underequipped on an insane mission.  And he’s fucked up his life and is about to get an offer he really can’t refuse.  Hey, crazy guy who’s gonna get everyone killed!  You justs called out the moral bullshit!  Too bad you’re the crzy guy who’s onna get everyone killed. 
  • Um.  “Whiskey” is in the NATO alphabet.  Which Dominic yells when Saunders comes at him.  “He wants a drink instead”?  That’s an awkward, not-funny, not-useful line.  And we didn’t see her react to the drugs in Echoes, though she rationally should’ve been the first person on the scene, especially because she never leaves.  Is this what’s ahead for now-damaged Victor?  Topher’s not looking too good and we know he’s made a personality not unlike himself and left it lying around.  On the other hand, Dominic in Victor freaks Topher the hell out, but Topher knew Saunders in the Target flashback, and he seems perfectly comfy with Dr. Whiskey Saunders.  So what gives?
  • Ah, Boyd.  Boyd is the only security person walking around?  Like I aid.  Not good at his job.  “They’d hunt you down?”  No, big guy, you’d hunt them down.  It’s your job.  He thinks security = protection.  Boyd is getting swallowed alaready – he’s acting as if you can actually consent to what they do, already making Topher’s rationalizations.  He refers to a fellow cop’s attempt to enforce the law as a crime. 
  • there are so many awesome potential outcomes.  Echo and Alpha go apeshit together?  or do they both get caught and wiped AND THEN WE GET WASH FOREVER?  Ballard becomes a Doll.  Ballard becomes a Doll and Loomis goes after him (this would let us see more of Loomis which would be AWESOME.)

Miscellaneous thoughts

  • The Briar Rose mission felt like a Saunders thing.  Well  done, Topher.  And then.  It’s a quiet night.”  Oh, Topher.  I was all hating you less for a few minutes there.
  • It’s not an unsafe assumption that Alpha’s handler is dead – but at the same time, we don’t know what stuck and what didn’t – “every personality” could mean including the Doll self, with the trust imprint.
  • this is probably the nearest DH to the global headquarters – there aren’t any megatropolises between LA and Tucson.
  • yet another pointless assignment for sierra – yeah, she confirms it was alpha, but she’ sent on alpha’s wild goose chase instead of dominic’s.
  • You know, they did give Alpha knife skills and shit, but how could they possibly fail to shoot him? Unless he got Titanium Supplements in his treatments, I’m pretty sure that’d work.

Deep Thoughts

  • Said by a ridiculous person on a post at nnaylime’s LJ:  If it’s Wash I shall stop being scared of Alpha so I can laugh and laugh and laugh. Joke’s on you, uh, ridiculous person!  Though, in a ridiculous way, he was my first Jossverse guess.  WHICH MEANS I SO CALLED IT SHUT UP.
  • I even had stuff wrong from within the episode.  My first “plot related thoughts” were, “hi homeless guy.  This never ends well for you.”
  • How much fun do you think kEliza had being Cool Babysitter for a day?
  • WasAlan Tudyk always jaw droppingly hot?
  • Creepy as the Dollhouse normally is, when you spend days at a time on a cmpus of peple with that same expression on their faces, it’s totally fucked.  Did I fall asleep?

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