TV RECAP: ‘Dollhouse: Belonging’

Dichen Lachman as Sierra and Vincent Ventresca as Dr. Kinnard.Well, cut me open and splay my innards. This episode was awesome. Written by Joss Whedon’s little brother Jed and his wife Maurissa Tancharoen, this episode Topher develops morals and Sierra kills a client. Also, this episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes (of Star Trek The Next Generation) making it all around awesome.

The last time I recapped Dollhouse, I was pretty harsh saying the show has to give me something worth saving it for. Now I can say that for episodes like this one, its worth saving this show for more of this kind of stuff.

We open on Sierra displaying some of her art on the beach, when Dr. Nolan Kinnard (Vincent Ventresca) comes up to her and asks her out. Flash forward to a gallery showing of Sierra/Priya’s work. Priya wants to leave with Victor who has been imbued with the consciousness of an Italian Art Dealer.  Within minutes Dr. Nolan gets a little possessive and uppity demanding that Priya stay, harsh words are exchanged and Priya leaves.  Flash forward to the next year where Kinnard is seeing Sierra again, and I’m like: “Wait. There are no repeat engagements.”

Apparently Kinnard is a VIP, and is allowed multiple reservations. During a kindergarten class Sierra draws a black blotch on her drawing saying the black blotch is the “bad man” to Echo (Eliza Dushku).  Echo brings this to Topher so Topher investigates by talking to Boyd (Harry Lennix) about Sierra’s last engagement.  Its revealed that Kinnard is a doctor at a psychotic facility, and that Topher brought Sierra in from.

Our favorite doctor says that Sierra was a  paranoid schizophrenic when he brought her in, but looks into her case and figures out that she was that way because of the drugs that Kinnard had prescribed, and so to help cure her Kinnard was using the Dollhouse to wipe her so he can continue his fantasy with her and have her not remember what he was doing to her. Hence the multiple engagements with Sierra.

Topher and Boyd can’t reckon how all of this got past DeWitt (Olivia Williams) who in a superbly acted scene with Kinnard, tells him that his account with Sierra is to be terminated. Kinnard snaps back that she’ll lose her job if she does not give him Sierra on a permanent basis.  It was an awesome scene, because I finally got a chance to watch my least favorite character (and actress) on this show get it slammed back to her.  What turns out by the end of the episode makes me actually like DeWitt and Williams even more than previously and now I think I can say that I quite like the actress and the character.

DeWitt, goes to Harding (Keith Carradine) and explains her plea that they can’t in good conscience give Sierra over to this psychopath, and Harding pretty much says do it or its your job and the retirement plan here sucks.  (Which you can imagine).

So, DeWitt pushes Topher to do it because he, again, “has no morals.” If that is one problem I had with this episode was the continued saying that Topher has no morals when clearly he is developing some.  Show us how he is developing them, which they do, rather than continuing to tell us that he has none so his behavior is odd. Its like my old Journalism prof used to say: “show me the story, don’t tell me it.”  But since this is a dialogue driven medium, writers have to do it this way within this format so they have very little choice than to tell us the story in this manner.

What happened here was that Topher had developed morals except inserted Sierra’s original personality that had been inflicted upon her by Kinnard. In their final engagement, Sierra kills Kinnard.  Topher and Boyd go to her and Dexterize Kinnard’s  body, chopping it into bits and getting rid of it by sulfuric acid.  Topher and Boyd manage to hide away what happened and keep it between them.

An episode like this is a damn good reason to keep this series going, and only if there are more episodes like this than I think the show should be pretty well off. However, considering the fact that the show won’t be on for another month, this episode has got me wanting more. It was completely well done and fantastic, and continues the mythology that Echo is remembering every thing, by escalating it in the fact that Boyd finds out by looking in her chamber and finding a book–with a bookmark.

Considering she’s getting wiped, she shouldn’t know where she left off.  Pretty well executed there Whedon and Company, just give us more of it when Summer Glau joins the show come December. Its too bad we have to wait that long, but I’d  say its not looking good for the show.

However, if its bad for this show than it must be bad for Jay Leno’s show as last week it was beat out in the ratings by an FX cable show Sons of Anarchy.  Dollhouse MUST be performing better than Leno’s show, but I’m no ratings expert.

  • Nuts
    November 2, 2009 at 6:02 am

    I don’t feel that Topher is developing morals so much as revealing them. While he may seem cavalier in his role in the dollhouse, and how he uses people, including Ivy, he seems to do so out of lack of knowing how to otherwise. He always looks for recognition of being intelligent because he lacks the charm or menace that other people around him do. He acts indifferent not because he does not care about others suffering, but because the Dollhouse is the one place where he does not suffer. Anyway I totally agree this was an amazing episode and hopefully this season will now start the upward arc that Season 1 started around episode 5.

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