This episode made me realize that I’m more — how do I put it — comfortable with Eliza Dushku playing different flavors of bad girl than anything else. This time, her character Echo is playing a safecracker who’s doing a heist for a client. Things go wrong, of course, somewhere in the middle of the operation. Someone manages to remotely deactivate her new persona, and she’s back to being Echo, who’s of course bewildered with her surroundings and wants to go back to her dollhouse with the throw pillows and zen pools.
Does Echo survive? Sure. But not before catching a glimpse of what passes for herself for a few minutes, while she’s stuck in a vault full of works of art. Things get hairy for a while, when the gray hour ends (the period of time where the security systems are offline for upgrades), but they all manage to pull through (well, except for one guy) with the help of Boyd (sort of a younger Giles when he’s not pretending to be a librarian, played by Harry Lennix). Who, by the way, is awesome. If they gave him more things to do, he’d be the show. He coldly shoots the fleeing thief in the leg, and hauls him off to the van to be delivered later to the client. There’s a lot of flashbacks and revelations of backstories in this show, but they don’t really reveal much about Boyd’s history. He seems like a decent man, an ex-cop who looks like he took this job because he had no choice, seeing how critical he is of the whole Dollhouse operation. And yet he will calmly shoot a man in the leg.
Anyway, back to Echo. It’s the first time we’ve been showed a mind-wiped active in the real world. They’re basically babies, but with language and motor skills. The recurring question is, “Is there a soul in there?” Without memories, without experiences, are we still the same person deep down? In their mind-wiped states, are these actives (Echo, Sierra, et al) perhaps the happiest people on earth? Echo is ultimately forced to act on her own, taking down one of her remaining team members and dragging the other, wounded one, out to freedom. “He’s broken,” she tells Boyd. Then inexplicably, she adds, “I’m not broken.”
Like the last two episodes, things start out with a lot of setting up. The best parts are in the last fifteen minutes. I’m not sure if it’s deliberate, or if the writers are still getting used to the longer running time (something like 5-10 minutes longer than a regular hour-long show). Still, “Grey Hour” is my favorite episode so far.
I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been missing in this show, and I finally figured out that of all the Whedon shows, it has hardly any comedy. Yeah, I’m guessing it would be difficult to include the same humor, say, Firefly and Buffy had. I suppose I either have to get used to this lack of “I-mock-you-with-my-monkey-pants” humor, or the writers find a way to add the funnies.
Maybe I just demand too much from my television.
Now excuse me, I have to get back to my sniffling and other flu-related items in the agenda.