Tonight's Dollhouse episode is clearly better than last week's Britney-wants-to-die splashorama. We got an early review copy a while back, and here's our spoiler-free exultation.

When we begged Fox for review copies of Dollhouse episodes, they sent us copies of the first two episodes... plus tonight's leather-clad imbroglio. It's clearly better than last week's stumble, and here are a few reasons why.


For one thing, Echo gets way better outfits than last night's WTF tube top and dancer gear. Most notably, the leather pants and spike-heel pumps. (Although, she says several times that she always wears comfortable shoes, while prancing around in those pinchy-looking stillettoes. As Blastaar would say, "Eh?")

For another, it's pleasingly twisty and turny. There are enough flips and swerves over the course of the episode to keep you pretty engaged, even allowing for the extra-long running time due to remote-free viewing. (Curse you, Fox! Who told you I wanted to be free of my remote?) A few times over the course of the episode, I thought I knew where it was going next, and then I guessed again.


Also, we get another huge piece of the puzzle about the show's ongoing mythos tonight, and some real answers to some questions that have been floating around about the Evil Naked Guy (TM) and just what his game is. Not all the answers, mind you, but a healthy serving. And we get to see the "programmable mind-puppet" concept applied in a new, and somewhat original, way.

And once again, Echo is more than just a funky robot. She's a funky person. With funky desires, and occasionally funky initiative.

Best of all, FBI agent Paul Ballard, Tahmoh Penikett's character, stops being quite such a pasty (patsy? Oooh, I suck at tough-guy talk.) He finally starts to seem like a bit of a badass, not just a cool kickboxer with a "kick me" sign glued to the seat of his pants. Oh, and the Boyd love continues to flow with tonight's episode.

Oh, and best of all, no singing. Or dancing. Or vogueing or vamping. Or sashaying. Anyway, I doubt "The Gray Hour" will be considered the best episode of the show's run once we have 100 other Dollhouse episodes to compare it to. But it's good fun, and well worth checking out if you're not going to see some movie about a guy with a Dalmatian mask tonight.