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Review: Dollhouse - The Left Hand

by Brad Trechak, posted Dec 5th 2009 10:00AM
Dollhouse(S02E06) In our last episode, our hero Echo was tied to a table and getting her brain fried by the evil and deranged Bennett Halverson. And now, part two ...

Admittedly, the "two parts in a single night" works well with this show and its current penchant for cliffhanger endings. Plus we don't have to wait until next week to see how our heroine Echo gets out of her current trap.

Tonight we also discovered a new application for Dollhouse technology: the ability to experience other people's memories without actually taking their personality.
Okay, Summer Glau ended up not being a Doll. As mentioned, it was too obvious. However, she already had her hands on Topher's disruptor and the opportunity to study it. She could have developed a countermeasure.

The series was created partially in order to give Eliza Dushku more of an acting range, but I think the person who best qualifies for the "biggest acting range of the series" award is Enver Gjokaj (Victor). His Topher character was spot-on and the interplay between the two Tophers was utterly hilarious. Favorite line: "Think John Cassavetes in The Fury as a hot chick." (Of course, nobody mentions what happened to Cassavetes at the end of that film.)

He's the Devil! He's Stewart Lipman! He's the Devil AND Stewart Lipman! It was very exciting to learn about Ray Wise's appearance on this show, and while there was one or two moments of greatness in there, the end result seemed a little disappointing.

His character wasn't quite as over-the-top or snide as his Devil in Reaper, plus he didn't get a lot of screen time. Perhaps the creators thought he would take too much attention away from everyone else, and they would probably be right. It was pretty obvious what Adelle was doing in his pants before the story got to the rather painful-looking conclusion of that angle.

Back to Bennett, was she a student at the university where Caroline was committing her eco-terrorism? Something about that entire flashback scenario doesn't work for me. Was Caroline a bad person? That doesn't jibe with what we previously learned about her. This may be a case of a psychosis on Bennett's part in which she's misremembering certain aspects of the past in order to fit her worldview (next up, an army of killer robot Jews).

The entire scene between Topher and Bennett seemed a case of asking who was using who. Both had ulterior motives that they didn't want the other to know about. The scene in which Bennett changed Echo's assassin trigger to the word "puppies" was cute.

In the end, Rossum did not get what they want. Of course, this is only a setback as they could always set up a similar scenario in the future at a different Dollhouse.

The title of the episode appears to be a reference to Bennett's inability to move her left arm and hand. The theme was continued at the end of the story when the stop signal (which could be interpreted as a left hand, depending on your angle) turned to a walking person go signal. Did I overlook any other thematic occurrences? Is there a literary or film reference I'm missing with that?

Another great episode. On to next week's double-feature.

[Watch clips and episodes of Dollhouse at SlashControl.]

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Damir Secki

Enver Gjokaj is now on my top fav actors list! His range is great... and he nailed topher one hundred percent! And the resemblance with my neighbor is astonishing :) (maybe there were triplets :) )

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December 19 2009 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Greg

These 2 episodes prove that if you let Whedon do his thing a show could be great. The Friday time slot, the poor advertising campaign and meddling with Joss' plan all lead to the demise of Dollhouse. I believe the audience didn't know whether if this show was an engagement of the week type show or an episodic serialized show and it kept the viewers away. Looking forward to see how Whedon ends the series.

December 07 2009 at 4:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anthony

At the end scene with Echo crossing the street and the piano playing I believe is an homage to The Incredible Hulk. Bag on shoulder and melding with the crowd. I believe that is the reference you were thinking of.

December 05 2009 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
IGPNicki

In regards to the Dollhouse technology which makes you see other people's memories. Wasn't that similar to what was used in Epitaph One, or am I wrong? I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. Sure, Rossum's grand scheme was fairly predictable, but man Topher and Topher. Not to mention Topher and Bennett. Definitely an excellent episode!
http://www.igp-scifi.com/dollhouse-episode-guide-2.html

December 05 2009 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Gunter

Oh and "Victor" (not gonna try and spell that real name) if nothing else gave his own career and shot in the arm big time.He was fantastic!With this plus his other work he has shown tremendous range.

December 05 2009 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Gunter

This is why Joss Weadon's efforts should never be judged to quickly.Dollhouse last night proved it's great,has legs,can be funny,scary,dramatic and deep all at one time and should be allowed some way or another to grow.Weadon should talk to Comcast I mean NBC about moving it to Sci-Fi I mean SyFy.

December 05 2009 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Trevor

"The title of the episode appears to be a reference to Bennett's inability to move her left arm and hand. The theme was continued at the end of the story when the stop signal (which could be interpreted as a left hand, depending on your angle) turned to a walking person go signal. Did I overlook any other thematic occurrences? Is there a literary or film reference I'm missing with that?"

I kind of figured that it was a reference to the 1955 Humphrey Bogart film "The Left Hand of God," the ending of which in particular seems to be quite similarly thematically to "Dollhouse." Plus, the relationship between Topher and Bennett in this episode seemed like it might be somewhat analogous to that between Bogart and Gene Tierney in that film.

December 05 2009 at 11:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MCW

Enver Gjokaj wins. I've seen Franz Kranz do funny, but Enver killed it last night. That's the kind of thing I'd want to see every week.

By the way, why couldn't I have been given a cool name like Summer, Dushku or Franz Kranz? Where do they find these people?

December 05 2009 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steven

"In the end, Rossum did not get what they want. Of course, this is only a setback as they could always set up a similar scenario in the future at a different Dollhouse."

You're missing the point: Rossum DID get what they wanted; at the end, Perrin framed a lot of Rossum's competitors, solidified his place as the crusading young senator, and put himself in the position to write legislation governing the use of neuroscientific techniques to Rossum's liking. It's exactly what they wanted, just achieved a little differently. If anything, Perrin's "wife" dying made everyone more sympathetic to him.

As for the left hand imagery... maybe the idea of the left hand not knowing (or absolutely knowing) what the right is doing, as evidenced by Topher and Bennett trying to outwit each other?

Further, Echo gaining control of her left hand, overcoming the implanted memory, shows the brain taking control of BOTH proverbial hands, much as Echo's learned to do with herself, despite both Caroline and implanted personalities asserting glitchy control.

December 05 2009 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Steven's comment
chrissthomas

The left hand not knowing what the right was doing is the whole theme. Everything was determined by that. The tension between the DC and LA dollhouse, between Topher and Bennett and between Mellie/November and those who were "handling" her. There was also the symbolism of Echo conquering the malfunctioning hand and gaining control. I am not sure if the sign at the end had anything to do with the title.
The reviewer mentioned that Bennett changed Echo's assassin command to puppies but I think she was actually renaming an assassin command and planting it in Perrin. She renamed it so that Topher wouldn't notice. That is how I took that who thing. Great episode.

December 07 2009 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leroy

I think you're wrong about Rossum not getting what they wanted, if what you mean by that is Adele's arbitrary assumption that the DC Dollhouse was trying to bring down the LA Dollhouse. It was clear that the Senator was reprogrammed long-distance via Topher's technique just in time to present the testimony Rossum wanted the public to hear: Rossum=good, Rossum opponents=bad.

December 05 2009 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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