Mini Review: 2.03 Belle Chose

by admin on January 19, 2010 · 9 comments

2.03 Belle Chose Review

As regular readers will know, Iโ€™m attempting to catch up with the episodes of Dollhouse that I have missed, or not yet reviewed, by posting mini reviews before the series finale, bumped to Jan 29 (where I plan to post a full review, thus bringing closure to my WD journey). Below the jump I post my quick and dirty (but always honest) thoughts on the episode 2.03, โ€œBelle Choseโ€.

THE GOOD

  • The opening scene got real creepy, real fast. I liked how my perception shifted in one beat as the mannequins turned out to be REAL people paralysed by Terry’s sadistic reality. A nice metaphor for the show. The caked-on make-up, slight eye movements and silent beads of sweat also created a striking visual.
  • I was as intrigued to discover that Topher and Adelle had “ethical problems” with reviving Terry. Whilst these ‘boundaries’ seemed more like lip service than any real moral concern, it was useful to know that there are some areas where they are initially resistant to go. It was also interesting to see the writers take on “the consciousness”, with the idea that despite being brain dead, Terry’s consciousness..or soul (if you want) was still alive and transferable – like a USB storage device. The show has given us plenty of illustrations of that concept in the past, but this one seemed to give it greater depth without feeling overly cliched or supernatural, like a certain episode of season 1 that I’d like to forget.. ๐Ÿ™
  • The exploration of power and control was pretty interesting – focusing on sex without resorting to more Echo nakedness. The episode seemed to suggest that a woman’s power is derived through sex. An notion surely dependant on the individual, and what their idea of power actually is. Terry’s idea of power caused him to develop a hateful outlook on women, whereas the professor absolutely loved the idea of a woman in control. The key thing here seems to be perception and how a character trait can be viewed differently by different people. Although I’m intrigued by any other interpretations.
  • The episode didn’t focus on Echo, and was all the better for it, in my opinion. It just seemed deeper and more interesting than the usual Echo-filled missions.
  • Terry was easily one of the most unlikeable characters that I’ve seen on the show so far – which was useful in helping me to see others such as Echo, Adelle and Ballard in a slightly softer light (although I still don’t like them).
  • The end scene where Echo retains Terry’s consciousness was neat, albeit predictable. From what I recall we had a few moments like this last season (there was one in particular where she scrawls something from an earlier assignment onto a steamy mirror). It makes me wonder whether Echo’s imprints have a measure of ‘steathy’ control over her function, or whether they just become submissive parts of her armour? In other words, is Echo shaping them, or are they re-moulding Echo? I’m sure there’s a nature v nurture debate in there somewhere, in fact I’d say it’s more a case of nature and nurture, since Echo is becoming more hybrid by the day. I also think it’s interesting to contrast Echo’s (semblance of) survival with Terry’s view that people can just be replaced. In reality, Terry was simply overlaying the memories of his past, but they never truly vanished.
  • Enver Gjokaj. Really convincing in his role as the avatar of Terry. I think he might be one of the most underrated actors on the show.

THE BAD

  • No security! For a top secret, billion dollar corporation, the Dollhouse has very lax security. As a plot device its overuse is becoming very contrived.
  • I find it hard to believe that the Dollhouse hadn’t practiced remote wipes! Why wait until you have a very real and very dangerous situation on your hands, Topher/Adelle!?
  • I don’t buy the idea that only Victor and Echo were affected by the failed remote wipe. Surely other Actives would also be affected in some way, and yet there was no mention (unless I missed it?). Furthermore, why did the failed wipe cause Echo and Victor’s imprints to switcheroo in the first place? Other than plot contrivance it didn’t make much sense. Perhaps they were going with the idea that Echo and Victor’s deep bond connected their pathways during the wipe, but if that was the case, why not have Topher, or someone, mention it?
  • I found it odd that “Kiki”ย  didn’t seem to be aware that she had transferred into another body, considering that Terry noticed immediately.
  • Although I was rooting for the trapped women, I thought they were dreadfully cliched. There was one line by the ‘mother figure’ that had me cringing. And why the heck didn’t they just RUN instead of listening to Terry/Echo babbling!
  • What are they doing to the once wonderful Boyd? Sure, he had a few scenes, but they were powder-puff. It seemed as though he was only there to show us that the teacher had lived (for some reason they found that important on an ethical level?). Also, where’s Whiskey at?

All in all I thought this was a pretty decent episode – certainly the best of season 2 thus far and one of the more intriguing episodes of Dollhouse that I have watched. The first half of the episode had my full attention as it delved into the more psychological aspects of the show..however it began to unravel around the half way point when they started to take the episode in some less interesting (and plausible) areas than I had envisaged.

Oh, and I guess it was pretty neat writing device that Terry gets aย  “Belle Chose” and ends up like a mannequin inside Echo by the end of the episode. Interesting. Does that mean he hates himself now? ๐Ÿ™‚

Best Character: Victor/Terry

Episode Rating: 6.5/10

Harry January 20, 2010 at 4:25 am

Good review, thanks!

I don’t think that Enver Gjoka is “underrated”. In fact, everyone still watching the show might agree that he really stands out and is the best in the ensemble.

“Kiki”s mind was most likely just altered so she thought her body was looking like Echos? Whereas Terrys was not. I wouldn’t dare touching a psycho killer if I was Topher…

Looking forward to the rest of your reviews. Especially as 2.04 is up; the episode I finally fell in love with Dollhouse. Glad you made it this far!

Phoenix January 20, 2010 at 11:16 am

The very last of the standalones, ever! I was quite glad for this, even though I never hated the “mission-of-the-week” quite as much as you do/did. I thought it was fairly interesting; it seemed to fix most of the problems that “Dollhouse” had with the standalone episodes in the first place. But to address your issues with the episode:

1) No security: it’s getting annoying, but just to let you know, that problem never gets fixed. Half the reason that “Dollhouse” even got a second season was that Joss Whedon proved that he could do it on a shoestring budget, so any money for extras (i.e., security, handlers, etc) got slashed.

2) I kind of have to agree with you on that level. Topher had said before that they were very dangerous, but I would have thought that with a mentality like Topher he would have wanted to figure out how Alpha did it last season anyway, just to prove he was smarter.

3) The reason only Echo was affected was because all the other Actives had been taken out of the field and were no longer connected to the bio-feed network. Echo/Kiki was still dancing to the radio, which is how she got the signal, so the only two personalities to switcheroo were Kiki and Terry. Still not the strongest plot point, but they tried.

4) Kiki never had it pointed out to her that she was now a guy. Terry “woke up” in Echo and immediately had that pointed out to him, not to mention he had the benefit of a mirror after he stabbed the professor. And, frankly, with that kind of a shank wound I’m really not sure that the prof *did* survive.

5) The victims were predictably victim-like, so I have to hand you that one.

6) Due to her commitment to “Happy Town,” Amy Acker will only star as Whiskey in three episodes: “Vows,” “Getting Closer,” and “The Hollow Men.” Sadly. But trust me, she does amazingly well in all three episodes. Boyd Langton comes back with a vengeance starting next week and going all the way to the end.

In any case, “Belle Chose” was one of the better standalones, but still, minus a few moments here and there, was entirely forgettable. I now *really* can’t wait for your review of “Belonging!”

Roco January 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm

3) Thanks for clearing that up. I agree, still not the strongest plot point but I guess I can buy it!

4) Hmm, I’m not sure I can buy this idea as easily. Wouldn’t “Kiki” have looked down at her body or arms at some point, or seen a reflection of herself in the mirror? By the time we saw ‘her’ she was drunk and had been at the club for a while – plenty of time for her to realise, imo. I guess this is just a contrivance I’ll have to deal with. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for your thoughts Phoenix.

Harry January 20, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Uff, sorry, I got your point about Kiki not noticing being in a GUYS body totally wrong. Somehow I was thinking about the imprint into Eliza. Sorry. Just too long ago. How could I forget Enver’s Kiki? ๐Ÿ™‚

Roco January 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

No worries Harry!

Thanks for the feedback – I should have my 2.04 thoughts up shortly.

Adam January 22, 2010 at 11:34 am

This is the best standalone of the entire series. The episode really worked when it wasn’t shoving the parallels and similarities between the serial killer situation and the Dollhouse in our faces. I completely agree with what you’ve said about the female prisoners. I was into the episode up until that point.

Honestly, I think you’re being a little nit-picky in your comment about when Victor becomes Kiki. The only purpose of that scene was to bring a little comic relief to an otherwise very dark episode, and I think it did its part =P.

Roco January 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Adam – Good point. I can accept that they wanted to bring a bit of comic relief into an otherwise murky episode. I just wish they could have done it in a way that was a bit tighter on a character level. ๐Ÿ™‚

David F January 23, 2010 at 11:14 am

Pretty good stand alone episode from Tim Minear, Enver great as always, Ballard less boring than usually and a delightfully turn from Eliza. The season really begins with Ep 4 Belonging which is a real heart wrencher, brilliantly played by dichen lachmen, then the season’s mythology with Perrin and Summer Glau’s character really kicks in with a excellent two-parter. Later then.

Roco January 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Thanks for your thoughts David. It will be interesting to see how many more DH episodes Minear has done.

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