Monday, March 9, 2009

1.4 Gray Hour

Echo is a mid-wife at a mountaintop mansion, delivering a baby for a young couple. The birth appears to spark memories of her birth.

Back at the dollhouse, Topher is excited that Echo, Sierra and Victor are eating together at the same table like Bison. He tells Langton that this is not caused by memories, but rather by an instinctual herd or school survival instinct.

DeWitt has a new client – a man hiring Echo as an escort for his son’s bachelor party, or at least it seems. When the party turns sour and she is getting roughed around, she flees and is taken in by the hotel security guard. He offers her a lump-sum payment from the hotel if she will sign a paper agreeing that she will forget the incident and not litigate. Her response? She knocks the guy out. She wasn’t roughed up – it was all a ruse so she could get past security and facilitate a break-in for the same guys who made believe they were roughing her up. With Echo’s assuming the persona of ‘Taffy’, and expert in explosives and safe-cracking, they break into a vault filled with rare and priceless art treasures. All is going smoothly when, suddenly, one member of the team, the art-expert ‘professor’, steals what they came for and locks them in the vault. Echo still has everything under control; she says she can get them out. She phones Langton and asks him to catch the professor, but as she completes the call, a high-pitched sound emanates from the phone, and, suddenly, she is wiped and back to a blank state.

Langton is able to trap the professor and recapture the priceless Parthenon tile that was the focus of the crime, but he is unable to help Echo. DeWitt enlists Sierra, also encoded as Taffy, to attempt a rescue. With time running out, Sierra give Echo phone instructions, but Echo doesn’t follow them to the letter, and alarms go off in the vault. As guards approach, one of her fellow thieves wants to shoot his way out, and wants Echo to do the firing, but Echo manages to avoid that, and instead escapes with the other thief.

Ballard has spent this episode recovering from his gunshot wound and harboring Anton Lubov (Victor) who broke into his apartment and appealed for protection. Ballard initially says he will protect him, but instead, he basically tells everyone he can that Anton is the snitch, then releases him into the world to be killed. I don’t think Ballard is that cruel – he probably does suspect that Lubov is somehow linked to the Dollhouse and is playing him.

DeWitt ups Topher’s security level so she can tell him that Alpha is still alive. She confirms Topher’s fear that Alpha was the one that performed the remote wipe.

The episode ends as a clean slate Echo recreates something slightly resembling a Picasso painting of her face in the mist-covered mirror of her apre-shower.


Eliza Dushku does a wonderful job of portraying the innocent, serene side of Echo, but, at least so far, she’s not quite as good as making a character like Taffy seem completely believable. There’s an element to her portrayal that comes across as too lightweight. All the lines are there – it’s just the way she delivers them. Her multi-personality role on this show is the gig of a lifetime, and it is also extremely challenging for any actor – I just hope she has the versatility to grow into it and make it work.

Other than this, the episode is fantastic – the pacing, tension, and production values are all top-notch again.

A worrying sign for the future of the show are the viewer numbers. For this episode, they are down to 3.5 million, which is well below the 5 million that FOX seems to want to keep a show running. There are other factors involved – like the general low ratings for sci-fi shows like this, and the premiere this week of Watchmen – but anyone with a love of the show and a knowledge of the previous behavior of FOX would be plenty worried at the moment. The show’s future is not helped by my perception from reading blog and forum entries that indicate many people are only lukewarm about it, and are watching in allegiance to Joss and in the hopes that will improve. The latest rumor is that FOX released the reins around episode six, so expect things to liven up then.


I don’t understand how Echo could assume that if she fleed a sexual assault in a hotel, that she could be assured that the hotel security guard would let her inside his office, yet this is the whole key to facilitating the crime. And I have no idea how she was able to escape from the vault just by using the cover of one smoke bomb.

Memorable Moments

  • Echo’s remote mind-wipe while locked in a high-security vault – get out of this one, girl!

Quotable Quotes

"You drop it, I shoot you. Then you don’t get paid, or breathe."
- Langton to the professor

Professor: You shot me!
Langton: Barely.

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