He makes evil look good.
Title: Dollhouse: Vows
Original Airdate: September 25th, 2009
Availability: Season 2 is now on DVD.
Synopsis: A mysterious and well funded corporation runs a number of underground establishments known as "Dollhouses" around the world. Working in these Dollhouses are individuals referred to as Actives, or Dolls, who have (supposedly voluntarily) been stripped of their memories and programed with temporary personalities and skills. Wealthy clients hire the Actives for various (and often dodgy) purposes. One Very Special Active is Echo (Eliza Dushku) who, unfortunately for those involved in the Dollhouse, is becoming increasingly self-aware as the series progresses. In the season 2 opener, Echo is tasked with marrying arms dealer Martin Klar (Jamie).
Worth Watching? Yes. On a superficial level, Jamie looks amazing. Also, for the first and, thus far, only time Jamie gets to play the bad guy.
Does he live or die? Lives! But given Martin is presumably facing a lengthy prison term and looks like Jamie Bamber, sucks to be him.
Before I begin, full disclosure, I am not a Dollhouse fan. I watched the first few episodes of the season 1 then quit. While I loved (and still love) Joss's previous work and thought Dollhouse presented some interesting ideas the execution of those ideas often made my skin crawl. After giving up in disgust and frustration, I infamously made the statement I would never watch the series again....unless Jamie Bamber was guest starring. Who knew I had that kind of power? I could expound on my issues with the series, but this isn't the forum for a Joss Whedon rant so I shall stick to focusing on the reason we're all here. And zegeekgirl can provide clarification and counterpoints in comments, I am sure. ;)
"Vows" opens by recapping stuff I either barely remember from the little I saw or didn't stick around long enough to learn. Paul (Tahmoh) looks pretty hot in the blue shirt though. And I think several of these actors, particularly Olivia Williams, deserve better. Not Eliza though. I find her unworthy of following in the hallowed footsteps of Clooney, Baker, and Fillion and finally getting herself a series that sticks around.
Martin waits at the alter for his bride to be, Roma AKA Echo AKA Caroline AKA OMG It's Hard to Keep Track!
Jamie! In a tux! Smiling! In the sun! And he's not just a guest star, he's a special guest star. Apparently, Echo has been deep undercover for longer than any Doll before her. That cannot be good for her pysche. On the plus side, she's had the opportunity to have lots of sex with Martin.
Topher (Fran Kranz), the tech guy who creates all the imprinted personalities, makes a Jonas Brothers joke. This is not important to the story, but I must point out how this already feels like a dated reference.
Dr, Saunders AKA Whiskey (Amy Acker) is pissed at Topher AKA The Sociopath in a Sweater Vest. I'm uncertain why she is feeling as she does, but from the little I had previously seen of the character I'm willing to accept "just cause" as a valid reason.
Blah, Blah, Blah....far too much time has passed with no Jamie.
He's back! There's wedding cake and kissing. But no speaking. I'm having Scarlet Pimpernel flashbacks. Finally, he speaks! He's being all adorable! And using his own accent! The real one! Not the Law & Order: UK one. :)
Awww, they look so in love. But white, Echo? Really?
Martin looks very happy. I must remind myself he's an arms dealer and potential terrorist and even though he looks like Jamie Bamber I should not feel sorry when he has his heart ripped out. But it's very hard.
The wedding night. Nuff said.
When Next we see Echo she's meeting up with Paul. Echo believes Paul is still with the FBI, she's his partner and they're working a long term sting to take down Martin, who is the biggest arms dealer on the coast. Paul seems more disturbed by what Roma/Echo has had to do - marry and have sex with Martin - than Echo does. She tells Paul it hasn't been so bad and that the "man's got a work ethic". Heh. Paul's not happy, but comes off as a jealous wanna be boyfriend rather than a concerned partner. Mercifully, we find out later Martin's house is not bugged so Paul hasn't been listening in on the honeymoon.
There's more about Martin being thick with some terrorist in the 90s. Which would seem to indicate Martin started arms dealing in his twenties. Industrious!
UGH. I had forgotten about the 'What the Hell Were You Thinking, Joss?!' gyno exam administered to Echo by Dr. Saunders/Whiskey. During the procedure, Echo flashes back to kissing Whiskey while on a previous assignment. The Joss Whedon ISSUES! alarm sounds loudly. But I digress....
Alexis Denisof also is guest starring in this episode, as a senator. And, like Jamie, is using his own voice. So weird!
There's a lengthy conversation between Adelle DeWitt (Olivia Williams) and Paul about the Dollhouse's past and future, all of which means very little to me. Though Paul continues to creep me out with his Echo fixation.
Martin walks down the stairs, hotly.
OK, maybe I’m imagining things, but when Martin first begins speaking on the phone Jamie sounds American. Maybe he momentarily forgot what show he was on? Or that he was allowed to use his own voice? ;)
More kissing and happy coupling. It's gonna be so short lived!
There's some talk of shopping and supper before and after the kissing. Ultimately, they decide to skip the meal and go upstairs. Sadly, we see none of that.
We cut instead to more Topher and Dr. Saunders/Whiskey angst. It seems Whiskey was imprinted with Dr. Saunders personality and skills after Dr. Saunders was killed and they needed a doctor they could trust. Whiskey is now very confused as to who she is, as am I.
Echo wakes up alone in bed. She decides to go downstairs and snoop and show off her cleavage. I mean, seriously, with servants around, who walks around the house with their blouse buttoned with one button and their bra showing? But I digress...
Echo makes a half-assed check to see if Martin isn't around. She then proceeds to try and break into Martin's desk. But guess who is standing outside creepily staring at her through the glass doors? And Martin, of course, isn't happy to find her trying to break into his grandfather's antique desk with a letter opener. Think of the loss in value if it's damaged! Echo claims she was just curious to find out where he was taking her on their honeymoon. Martin's response is to slam her head against the desk and accuse her of betraying him.
The moment Martin turns into the explosively violent, abusive husband, any sympathy I may have felt for him as the hurt, betrayed husband evaporates. But seeing Jamie get to play this type of unrepentant asshole is fascinating and he does a good job of making you hate him.
Unfortunately for Echo, Martin's security guy has pictures of her and Paul together. However, Echo is almost able to sell him on it all being a mistake and her being the loving wife until her programming goes haywire and she forgets who she is supposed to be.
On the way to the airport, we find out the honeymoon was not just a honeymoon, but was doubling as a cover for an arms deal. Martin has a briefcase full of explosives to be used in dirty bombs. On his lap. That can't be a good idea.
At the airplane hanger, Paul suddenly appears. He sensed something was wrong(-er) and calls Topher to verify his fears before charging in.
Tahmoh, I'd forgotten how tall you are!"
Martin's first words upon seeing Paul are, “My God, this is becoming surreal.” I can only assume that as intended to be a little Joss humor as he reunited
At this point there is a lot of hitting going on. Martin whacks Paul with a gun, Paul smacks Echo around to get her to remember (Because Joss could think of no better way to jog Echo's memory than to beat her up. SIGH. And I digress again...) and Echo does remember and begins kicking ass and shooting Martin's bodyguards. Meanwhile, Martin jumps in the car and drives off in it, with Echo on the hood and questionable CGI behind her. She, fortunately, grabbed an explosive device before jumping on the hood of the car and clings to it with one hand while tossing the explosive in the broken passenger side window. I roll my eyes. Martin manages to jump from the car just before it goes boom. Maybe they hoped to have him back, but FOX had other ideas.
So the episode ends with Echo revealing, via some atrocious quasi-zen dialogue, she can remember all of her past personalities. It's then that Paul decides to sell off the last shreds of his soul to the Dollhouse folks and become Echo's handler. It's the only way he can protect her and stay creepily fixated on her.