Since I had to watch another episode, I tried to go in with an open mind. Maybe the writing got better. Maybe the themes were less sketchy. Maybe Eliza took acting lessons over the summer. But fifteen minutes in, I realized all the old issues I had were still there. So, if you love the show, you may want to skip what I have to say. If you love Jamie Bamber and/or Amy Acker, you may wish to read what I have to say. And if you are going to try and convince me why I should love the show, please don't waste your time.
I must confess I had a bit of a fangirl squee moment when I saw "Special Guest Star Jamie Bamber". He wasn't just a guest star, he was a special guest star.
I'm won't dwell on the superficial because when doesn't Jamie look good on screen? I only wish he could have stolen the wardrobe for personal use. ;)
Though I'm used to hearing Jamie's British accent, I did find it odd to hear it on an American television show. It's probably just me.
I may not care for the show, but I was very pleased to see Jamie show more range. The two roles he is best known for (Lee Adama, Archie Kennedy), he is more often heroic than not. He has played some less than admirable characters in supporting roles, but he's never played the bad guy. I do wish Martin Klar was a better developed character and that the A storyline was not the weaker of the two, but Jamie made the best of the material he was given.
I found buying Martin as an international arms dealer difficult. Joss needed to address, at least briefly, how Martin came to be in the line of work he was. However, I was able to accept Martin as the loving husband one moment and abusive husband the next. He was downright scary shifting from calm an collected to smashing Echo's head against the desk, then telling her it was all OK, he could have the desk refinished. I've heard enough stories from victims of abuse on TV to know this could be a real scenario.
Also, Jamie finally getting to take down Tahmoh? Priceless.
The other highlight of the episode for me was watching Amy Acker. The moment when she confessed to Topher that she knows she is in someone else's body, but is afraid to give it up because it would mean here death was heartbreaking. I've read comments by others that Amy should be the star of the show. And I wholeheartedly agree she is a far more compelling actress than Eliza, but I can't see her as Echo nor could I see Whiskey as the character front and center in the Dollhouse. I'd love to see a series starring Amy/Whiskey in which the ramifications of the 'job' on the dolls is the central story and directly confronted, but that's not the show Joss is writing right now. .
I'm not going rehash my list of previous complaints other than to say, in my opinion, the show is misogynistic and the dolls are still being raped, mentally and physically, each week. Adding insult to injury, Eliza continues to parade around in skimpy outfits and push-up bras (which, as a producer, I blame her for as much as Joss). And I was positively revolted that one of Echo's memories is triggered by a gynecological exam and that memory was of girl on girl action with Whiskey. Really, Joss?
My other complaints are less rage inducing and consigned more to the episode itself:
Eliza really needed to practice walking down the aisle more.
The Jonas Brothers? Yeah, that won't seem dated in a few years.
As I mentioned, Jamie wasn't given much to work with. The writing of his storyline was weak and riddled with plot holes. I don't know much about bomb making, but I do know the capability exists to make a dirty bomb with readily available materials. Why would any terrorist need such a high tech device? Especially one that doesn't seem to have much more impact than a bomb triggerd by a cellphone.
It was bad enough that Joss stole the Wolfram & Hart set for the series, but now he's stealing Angel's fifth season arc. Angel made a deal with his enemy to save his son; Paul made a deal with his enemy to take down the guy he couldn't take down when he was with the FBI and, presumably, save Echo. It's an interesting conceit; Paul destroying himself for what he believes is a greater good. But it also has a been there/done that feel. And Paul is supposed to have some sort of connection with Echo, yet the two lack chemistry together. I thought Paul and Adele's scenes were much more interesting. Though, in another Angel flashback for me, they had a sort of Wes/Lila vibe to them.
When Martin finally came face to face with Paul he said, "My God, this is becoming surreal." Did anyone else feel that was written after Jamie had been cast?