“Sci-fi Friday” seeks to depress the hell out of us all

The combination of Dollhouse and Battlestar Galactica on Friday nights is proving, not surprisingly, to be a very bleak affair.   I knew it was going to be, which is why the last two weeks I watched Dollhouse, then switched over to USA for a little bit of Psych and then watched Battlestar the next day.  Psych had its finale last week, though, so this week I decided to watch straight through.  I think I’m going to break it up again next week, though, because those were two very depressing hours of television.

Still, I have some thoughts on BOTH shows, after the jump.  (Spoilers for last night’s episodes of both Dollhouse and BSG)

DOLLHOUSE

While I’m definitely looking forward to Dollhouse kicking into high gear in a few weeks, I was sort of pleasantly surprised by the mission this week, because the preview last week definitely made it look a little more shallow than it turned out to be.  But beyond the mission of the week, the ending provided a really awesome hook.  Obviously, the parallels between the pop-star Rayna, created by the music industry to fulfill fantasies, and Echo, programmed by the Dollhouse to fulfill fantasies ran deep in this episode.

Still, I felt like the parallels were actually very deftly handled, riiiight up until Rayna’s confrontation with Echo in her dressing room after the failed suicide/assassination.  It was at that point that the parallels became a little to explicitly “shown,” I thought, to the point where I half expected Rayna to start shouting “IT’S LIKE SOMEONE ERASED MY ACTUAL IDENTITY AND PROGRAMMED AND RE-PROGRAMMED ME TO BE WHATEVER THEY NEED ME TO BE FOR THAT PARTICULAR WEEK’S MISSION/MUSICAL PERFORMANCE AND THEY STORE ME WITH OTHER PEOPLE LIKE ME UNTIL I’M ACTIVATED BY A CREEPY/SNARKY SELF-DESCRIBED GENIUS DOUCHEBAG NAMED TOPHER.  IT’S EXACTLY LIKE THAT.”

That being said, one of the things I appreciated after last week’s revelations about Alfa, was the idea of “freedom.”  Rayna wants to be free, and she thinks the only way to be free is death.  When Alfa massacred the other Dolls, was he simply trying to “free” them, because he’d become self-aware, and he could see how trapped they were?

The best moment of the episode, though, was the head shake from Echo to Sierra at the end.  Echo knew she was being watched, and she knew it was a bad idea for it to look like she and Sierra had a connection.  But why?  How did she know that and why did Sierra seem to understand her?  In the mystery of Echo’s awakening, this was a really great step forward.

Boyd and Dr. Saunders have a really interesting dynamic.  Topher correctly pointed out that they both have pretty big moral reservations about what’s going on, which leads me to wonder, you know, why are they both there?  Were they coerced some how into working for the Dollhouse or were they attracted to the idea of doing good through the Dollhouse, and know that they realize that it’s sort of a joke, they’re stuck?  Their motives fascinate me.  Also: Topher totally has an unrequited crush on Claire (plus a man-crush on Boyd, as we know) so that jealousy is not going away. I appreciated that we got a little more incite into him this week, though.  It’s interesting that he thinks of himself as an artist, and I think that helps to explain some of his actions.  Doesn’t make what he does RIGHT, but it helps to understand him a little bit better.

Plus, when you think of him as an artist, it becomes clear why some of the programming he does is not as technically precise as it maybe should be, though I like the suggestion here that Echo’s instict is to, above all, try to work for the common good, (the “Zeroth Law” of Asimov fame) which might occasionally result in her doing “off mission” stuff.  Is that part of her actual personality shining threw her programming?  After all, we have video of Caroline talking about wanting to help save the world and do everything.

On the Agent Paul front, I have to say I really loved the Lubov/Viktor reveal.  I know that it was apparently made pretty clear in some of the promotional material, but I guess I missed that, so I was surprised.  It pulls Paul into the immediate orbit of the Dollhouse, which is good.  Also, Agent Paul can kick some ass, but the stuff with the neighbor is strange.  Definitely a possible Doll.

SPEAKING OF TAHMOH PENNIKET… he did not have a good night last night.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA wasn’t quite as overtly sad as last week and the loss of Caprica’s baby.  Somehow, though, it broke my heart a little bit more because it was about the loss of Boomer’s soul.  I had sort of given up hope on her before the last few weeks, but her forgiveness of Ellen Tigh seemed so hopeful.  She came home to Chief and I thought “maybe these crazy kids will work it out.”  What part of BSG’s track record led me to believe that was even remotely a possibility, I don’t know.

Instead, we ended up with a completely broken Chief.  His love of Boomer always sort of blinded him, even before they knew she was a Cylon, and similarly, Boomer has always sort of abused Chief’s love, even before she knew she was a cylon.  All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.

And HELO.  Dude.  Pay a little closer attention from now on.  I mean, it was a sort of understandable mistake, in that Boomer and Athena were originally programmed to act similarly, so there is definitely a similarity there beyond the normal Eight-ness, and his guard was down because, well, he walked into his quarters where his wife was supposed to be and found someone who looked like his wife in his wife’s uniform.  That being said, poor Athena.

The Starbuck story was really interesting, well executed, and much anticipated.  For a far better job of explaining why it was so good, I suggest you read this.

I really appreciated the scene between Helo and Kara.  I really love their friendship, and it made me wonder if Helo wouldn’t really be the most natural person for Kara to talk to about finding her own body on Earth, though I would guess Hera’s abduction probably means that won’t happen any time soon.

I think it’s pretty clear that Kara is the first hybrid– that her father was actually the Seven, Daniel.  Her interactions with Hera also clarified something for me.  Hera has done a lot of crazy, strange drawing in her time.  There was her crazy Six drawings that drove her mother to murder Natalie, and now her stars-as-musical-notes thing.  Starbuck, of course, did something very similar.  Since she was a little girl, she doodled the Eye of Jupiter.   Her artwork was also a strange sort of prophesy.

Is that a hybrid thing, and why?  If Kara knew the way to Earth, and her drawings were a helpful map, does Hera know the way to their new home?  Kara is the harbinger of death, in that she signals the end of the human and cylon races and the beginning of the hybrid race, and she led both races from the site of one’s destruction to the site of the others.  Hera, on the other hand, is the “face of things to come,” because she will help lead them to a new home?

In any case, I can’t believe how little of this show is left.  I don’t know how it can really get wrapped up in a way that I’ll personally find satisfying, but the show always seems to find a way to surprise the hell out of me, so I guess we’ll just see.

–carmhelga

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Filed under Joss Whedon, television

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