Last night, Dollhouse served up a blend of the Borg, The Matrix and The Cell... and then revealed how they all fit together, in a wholly original story. And then we finally learned the secret origins of Rossum. Spoilers ahead.
Over the past few weeks, Dollhouse season two has started reminding me of Jericho season two — both shows came back from cancellation, with a limited number of episodes. Both shows' fans cherished hopes that they'd continue past those truncated second seasons, but the people making both Jericho and Dollhouse seemed aware that they shouldn't save any trail mix for the hike back. Both shows abandoned their slow, incremental approaches and started racing forwards... almost too fast. But I'd way rather have too fast than too slow... or a setup that never pays off.
The other comparison, while we're at it, is that both Dollhouse and Jericho have pretty unique spins on the apocalypse — both involving an evil corporation and entitled assclowns who just have to control everything.
So last night, Dollhouse served up one decent episode, and one great one. In the first hour, we learned, yet again, that you never really leave the Dollhouse. Victor's contract expires, and he gets set free, wealthy but adrift, and unsure why he's in love with a woman he can't remember. He's so used to doll life, he sleeps in his bathtub because it reminds him of his coffin. And then he gets kidnapped/recruited to become a soldier in a new Rossum unit, that's basically a linked group mind. And then in the second hour, Echo, Victor and Sierra get sent to the Attic, where they encounter Mr. Dominic, and a serial killer... who turns out to be one of the founders of Rossum Corp.
The first hour was a slight disappointment, but only a slight one. After seeing so many hints about Victor's war-related PTSD, I figured we were in for an exploration of the ways in which trauma comes back even after you think you've defeated it. Even though Topher seemed so confident that they'd "cured" Victor's PTSD, I assumed we were going to learn otherwise. But after waving a bit in that direction, the episode lurched towards the "hive mind" soldiers thing — which was a really neat concept, and yet another fresh spin on the Dollhouse's tech. (The execution was pretty good, but the "chanting soldier voices" thing veered towards being cheesy once or twice.)
Mostly, instead of being an homage to Kimberly Peirce's underrated movie about PTSD and getting re-drafted against your will, the episode "Stop Loss" served to show us just one more way in which Rossum is evil. And at this point, we're pretty much primed to think Rossum is more evil than a dozen standard evil corporations put together. So it's just as well that the show is moving forward beyond showing us how evil Rossum is — towards explaining how Rossum got that way, and how our heroes are going to fight it.