Friday, December 18, 2009

Wesley and Faith Forever

It's too late to do a full review of the two Dollhouse episodes featuring Eliza Dushku (Echo) and Alexis Denisof (Senator Daniel Perrin) (2.05 "The Public Eye"/2.06 "The Left Hand"), and it's too early to do a retrospective. Instead I'll just focus on the early Christmas gift that the producers gave us a few weeks ago when they brought Wesley and Faith back together again.

You have to hand it to the Mutant Enemy creators for hitting all of the right notes. Let's go down the checklist.

In flagrante delicto. Although Echo and Perrin didn't enjoy any steamy love scenes as some fans would have hoped, they did appear in various stages of undress amongst the rumpled bedsheets as Echo did her best to videotape the Senator in compromising positions. Needless to say, Alexis looked terrific!

Let's hear it for the age 40 and up crowd!

Cutting. Remember Faith torturing Wesley in Season 1 of Angel by giving him all of those shallow little cuts with the broken pieces of glass? Perrin and Echo got to take off their clothes again (Alexis Denisof shirtless, Eliza Dushku wearing a bra) and start cutting each other as they removed the GPS tracking devices that were embedded in the backs of their necks.

The way Echo turned her back on Perrin, and the way he cut into her neck as tenderly as he could, was awfully reminiscent of one of the most erotic scenes for me in Season 4 of Angel, where Wesley carefully checked out Faith's wounds after she had a rough go-around with Angelus. (The dialogue here doesn't do the scene any justice.)

Meaningful dialogue. Wes and Faith's pairing in Season 4 of Angel, although quite exciting, didn't give us much in the way of thought-provoking dialogue between the two of them. (Though I think this scene where they brought their past conflicts out into the open was quite powerful.) I appreciated the writers giving Echo and Perrin a chance to talk about the nature and implications of being dolls. I particularly liked their dialogue when they visited Perrin's childhood home. Echo and Perrin both agreed they liked themselves as they were, and were reluctant to have their current identities taken away, regardless of how unnatural their whole situation was.

Wesley's revenge. I don't think Wesley was ever able to get even with Faith for all of the torture (both physical and psychological) she put him through. Perrin finally got his chance to get a few punches in on Echo while he was operating in the "assassin" mode. It was Echo's turn to turn the other cheek and take what he was giving out because Perrin was the one who had turned all psycho against his will.

All in all, I think the writers did a wonderful job in creating a long-overdue homage to the wonderfully complicated Wes/Faith relationship.

Closing Thoughts. I was terribly disappointed in these episodes the first time I saw them. I wrote quite a nasty little mini-review, where I even denigrated Alexis Denisof's acting ability. When I saw the episodes again about a week ago I enjoyed them a lot more. The mistake I made during my initial viewing was that my standards were set way too high. I hadn't seen Dollhouse for an entire month, and I had to re-learn all over again that the episodes always come off as being somewhat haphazardly cobbled together. The series rarely draws me in closer to the characters. As a matter of fact, there seems to be an underlying (and slightly annoying) undercurrent of melodrama throughout, manifesting in a particular sort of stylized over-acting. Viewed within this context, some of Alexis' more cringe-worthy moments as the bewildered Senator Daniel Perrin seem to make more sense. As long as I put myself in a sort of Matinee at the Bijou mindset where I get past, and even accept, the overall style of the series, I can enjoy myself a lot more.

It would be harsh to say that I have to lower my standards when I watch Dollhouse. I just need to adjust or recalibrate my attitude.

I thought Stacey Scowley was terrific as Cindy Perrin! I loved it the moment she showed her true colors and became the Professional Evildoer working on behalf of the D.C. Dollhouse. It's too bad she wasn't up to the job of masquerading as Mrs. Daniel Perrin. I think I would have been able to perform her duties with a lot more enthusiasm.

My timing, as usual, is impeccable. I'm still talking about episodes that aired two weeks ago, and I just finished watching yet two more awesome episodes tonight, 2.09 "Stop Loss" and 2.10 "The Attic". It's like I showed up at the Christmas feast with the green bean casserole just about the time the pies were being cut for dessert.

I told my husband that the key to watching Dollhouse is to always trust Adelle and her staff, no matter how many creepy deeds they perform. Tonight's episodes were no exception, although I do have this heavy and ominous "waiting for the other shoe to drop" sort of feeling hanging over me.

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