PTR Senior Staff Writer
After taking a second second job (got to love this economy, eh?), I have to apologize to regular readers of PTR for getting my Dexter and Dollhouse write-ups posted a wee bit tardier than usual.
Let me sum up last week's episode of Dollhouse this way: Dichen Lachman rocks.
Her portrayal of Sierra stole several episodes away from Eliza Dushku's Echo last season.
As in, Echo who?
There is something about her ability to assume all the different doll personalities that seems so incredibly natural - almost instinctive. So any episode that is going to feature her backstory coming full circle is good by me.
Particularly since when I last left the dolls, I was ... well, let's just say somewhat concerned that the action and suspense of the first season had all but disappeared this season.
Alas, I spoke too soon.
Last week's ep counts as a wow ep for me.
Learning that Sierra came from a mental institution whereby she was deliberately being made coo coo for cocoa puffs by the doctor who turns out to be one of Rossum's biggest clients AND obsessed with her after the fact?
And Topher's emotional decision to have to let Sierra go (per demented doc's request), only to one up the dollhouse, imprint Sierra with her "clean" (as in, NOT coo coo) master imprint to get revenge on dearly demented doc?
We recall Topher has a particular fondness for Sierra. Once a year, he imprints her with "his" perfect geek girl personality to play video games, eat pizza, hang out. It's his reward, as it were, for what he does. Playing on that theme - and giving us the full story that it was, in fact, Topher who saved Sierra from the mental institution - was tight writing. I like it when writers fill in the blanks for us and loop it back to what we already know in such a seamless way that it's as if we already feel as if we knew that element of the story.
Now the love story with Victor ... hmmm. Cute, but I don't get it. Can a doll - in their wiped clean state - really fall for another doll? I guess so.
In any event, this ep was all about Dichen for me. She delivered another powerhouse performance (the mental institution scenes alone were just fantastic) that did not have me missing Echo, Ballard or anyone else for that matter.
THAT is how much of an asset she - and her character - are to this show.
New episodes of Dollhouse air Fridays at 9 p.m. on FOX. For the scoop on the series, head on over to the show's official site.
Keeping to the co-stars-sometimes-rock-it-better-than-the-leads theme, can I get another amen for JC?
That would be Jennifer Carpenter.
The woman continues to impress me season in, season out.
We already know I wouldn't have gotten through last season's doldrums without her. But this past week's episode of Dexter had me watching her take the character of Debra Morgan to a whole new level of mess.
In a good way.
I confess I knew it was probably too good to be true for her to stay in her happy-go-lucky state of grace with Anton. Although the character deserved to at least experience some sort of happiness, you are much more engaged as the viewer when Deb Morgan is struggling with herself.
On all levels.
Emotionally. Mentally. Physically.
And boy did we get it all once again in this ep.
Torturing herself by not taking the pain medication to heal up the bullet wounds.
Breaking down to her brother, feeling as if she is a black mark of doom on everything she touches.
Beside herself on the loss of Lundy.
The wounds of Debra Morgan run ever so deep. Just when we think they might be healing, something tears them open once again. But what convinces us, the viewer, of just how real and painful those wounds are is JC's portrayal. She has an emotional depth that, for me, just pulls one through the screen.
It is intense. I don't care if she's hyperventilating as she confesses to Dex over the spot where Lundy was shot, or running for her life in the film Quarantine, her intensity is palpable. And much like with Dichen Lachman over on Dollhouse, Dexter would not be the same with out Jennifer Carpenter.
In the words of Dexter: "If Deb dies, I'd be lost."
So would we.
Thankfully, she didn't.
But her survival dredged up a whole lotta not-so-goodness.
In other news ... so Dexter's lying finally caught up with him, and Rita is instantly going for ... divorce? Or suggesting the marriage is on the rocks?
Did I miss something, or does this seem a little quick off the draw? I guess we, the viewer, are supposed to understand that there's been "other" stuff going on in the Morgan household contributing to this uncertainty, but I'm not sure I'm buying it on screen. That said, I actually LIKE the conflict and/or the challenge to the relationship (since happy-go-lucky Dexter did NOT work for me). It just seems a little quick. But hey, this is TV.
And I have to say ... did we really think Laguerta's decision to disclose her relationship with Batista WASN'T going to result in brass asking her to transfer Batista out of her squad?
Um, yeah. Even I knew that was coming. Yet, she seemed blissfully ignorant that consequence would ever occur.
It's decisions like this that still make me wonder how Laguerta ever got to be a Lieutenant in the first place. The woman is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
No pun intended.
And while Dex comes ever so close to the Trinity Killer this week, Jennifer Carpenter rocked this episode.
And P.S. ... how much do I love having James Remar in nearly every episode? Love.It.
New episodes of Dexter air Sunday at 9 p.m. on Showtime. Check out the official Dexter Web site for the inside scoop on the series. You can follow the show on Twitter: Twitter.com/sho_dexter; or, become a fan on Facebook: Facebook.com/Dexter.