Fox's Dollhouse may be in trouble, but you wouldn't know it from this week's episode, "Belonging," which we can only describe as breathtaking.
This is the episode that should have started off the season. This is the sort of writing that makes Joss Whedon fans so loyal. These are the performances that have made people follow Whedon alums to whatever project they do. And, sadly, this is the last episode you're going to see until Dec. 4.
Whedon himself remains positive, if not exactly optimistic: In a comment on the Whedonesque.com Web site, he says that his decision to direct an upcoming episode of Glee doesn't mean Dollhouse isn't getting more episodes. "Our numbers mean that! But I kid. Okay, we're not exactly saving all the good stuff for 14-22, but nobody's closed the door."
Keep your fingers crossed, Whedonites. In the meantime, here's why tonight's episode will restore your faith in Dollhouse.
Excellent direction by Johnathan Frakes. Number One does a bang-up job, making the action scenes compelling and frenetic while getting a performance out of Topher (Fran Kranz) that will make you fall in love with the little worm.
Dichen Lachman. Many fans have been publicly complaining that Dollhouse has become nothing more than an Eliza Dushku fashion show and that we never learn enough about the other Actives. In "Belonging," we get an entire episode about Sierra/Priya. We learn more about her relationship with the well-connected man who forced her into the Dollhouse, whether she'll be betrayed by Adele (Olivia Williams) and whether her attachment to Victor (Enver Gjokaj) can survive continual imprinting. Lachman gives such a powerhouse performance that you'll wonder why she's been largely relegated to the show's sidelines.
Writing by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon. The Dr. Horrible alumni have written what are arguably the best episodes of Dollhouse, including the unaired "Epitaph One." They made us laugh and cry with the critically acclaimed Web series Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. (They also appear in small roles.) And in "Belonging," they bring back the snappy gallows humor and compelling pathos that Whedon fans have come to expect.
We may have to wait until December to see Summer Glau's appearance, but "Belonging" will leave you hopeful. The show may not make it, but with episodes like this, it will certainly go out with a bang. Dollhouse airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.