Dollhouse

Season 2 Episode 1

Vows

5
Aired Friday 9:00 PM Sep 25, 2009 on FOX
AIRED:
6.5
out of 10
User Rating
711 votes
17

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

As part of the Dollhouse's deal with Ballard, Echo becomes the ultimate double agent. Believing that she is Paul's former FBI partner, she goes deep undercover investigating weapons broker Martin Klar. But before she can get the information they need, this investigation is going to lead Echo into Klar's heart, and even down the aisle... Meanwhile Dr. Saunders has to deal with her anger towards Topher and her anxiety about her own past.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Season 2 Vows

    7.0
    The good;

    How gorgeous is bride Eliza? May not have affected ED but made me go awwww! Everything about the Toper/Saunders relationship is fabulous. Love that way that when Khar catches Echo snooping in his desk she almost get's away with her explanation, she's very plausible.



    The bad;

    What the heck happened to Jamie Bamber's hair? He looks like he's one of the Four Seasons, I keep expecting him to break into 'Oh what a night'. Why does Khar just fire 2 shots at Echo when he has a pistol with 15? When the limo blows up you can clearly see it's nowhere near the airport.



    Best line;

    Dr Saunders; (of planting rats in Topher's cupboard) "Just dealing with some vermin"

    plus

    Dr Saunders; "They'll go over your head"

    Boyd; "I'm very tall"

    and

    Topher; "You're human"

    Dr Saunders; "Don't flatter yourself"



    Packing heat; Echo uses a pistol taken from Khar's goons

    Echo;8

    Boyd; 8

    Dominic; 9

    Sierra; 4

    Victor; 3

    Ballard; 10

    November; 1



    Echo kissage;3 at her wedding



    Kinky dinky;

    One of Echo's previous clients was a TV newsreader with a splosh fetish (a desire for sex with people covered in food). We now have Dominatrix Echo in the opening titles each week, much like Buffy and Faith dancing just too damn sexy not to show again and again. Sierra's 50s Princess character likes to be tied up and spanked (so much for Adele's assertion that the actives aren't hired out as sexual submissives). Topher refers to 'deviant excitment'. I never thought Eliza could be more sexy than as the dominatrix but seeing her in her wedding night lingerie she's just stunning and you couldn't pick which you prefer, sugar or spice? (a remark you understand much better if you've seen Batman Forever). Dr Saunders puts on the lacy teddy and puts the moves on Topher. He seems to have erotic dreams about Fozzie bear which is a whole other level of kinky. Topher observes that he could easily have made a willing sex slave but Saunders counters that the real ultimate fantasy is to make someone who initially hated you love you.

    Capt subtext;

    Note Adele stroking Victor's scarred face, remebering their Miss Lonelyheart time together. Dr Saunders keeps her scars because although she knows she's a doll her physical imperfections make her unique amongst them. Echo's handler telling Paul 'You're the client' really hit's home. Echo flashbacks to her and Whiskey done up like Ava Gardener and about to get all kissy at a masked ball. To my shame the first time around I missed the idea that what triggers this memory for Echo is Dr Saunders giving her a gynecological exam implying they did a lot more than just kiss. Dr Saunder's assertion that the ultimate sex fantasy is to make the person who despises you love and desire you is possibly an allusion to Caroline/Echo, Rossum's greatest enemy surrendering to them and allowing them to turn her into their willing plaything, their's to use and humiliate as they wish for fun and profit. Question is did Topher make Saunder's hate him as an aspect of his own self-loathing?

    Echo's remark of 'We are lost but we are not gone' may be an allusion to the whole Dollhouse situation.

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost; Echo and Khar

    Echo; 4 definite, 1 possible

    November; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Victor; 1

    Adele; 1

    Sierra 1 possible

    Topher; 1 possible



    How'd they get away with that?

    .Echo's husband hitting his wife is a true 'Jeez!' moment. He may be an evil arms dealer but even he seems ashamed when she accuses him of domestic abuse. Sierra's anti-Asian racism towards Ivy is also a little hard to take even if played for laughs.



    This weeks fantasy;

    We see Echo as a bride/undercover agent and Sierra in her Jackie O/Audrey Hepburn personality. Echo also slips back into Margeret from 'Haunted' and Alpha's 'Badland's' style girlfriend Briar Rose from the end of the last season.



    Total number personalitites; one more for Echo, we've seen Sierra's personality before

    Echo; 24

    Sierra; 11

    Victor; 7

    November; 3



    Total dolls;

    8-Echo, Sierra, November, Victor, Mike, Tango, Alpha, Whiskey



    Addy is a bit British;

    Joss seems to have a thing for British authority figures



    Bondage; we don't see any but Sierra obviously has a thing for it

    Sierra tied up; 1

    Ballard; 1



    Knocked out;

    Echo; 2

    November; 1

    Sierra; 1

    Victor; 1

    Topher; 1



    Kills; assuming they die when she shoots them Echo kills two of the arms dealer's henchmen.

    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo; 3

    November;1



    Dolls injured;

    Echo with a big old gash on her head and concussion



    Happy hookers;

    Echo is an undercover agent who wins her mark's confidence by actually having sex with him, the stuff of bad erotic thrillers (Undercover Heat anyone?) something that gives Ballard great moral angst.



    Know the face? Alexis Denisoff, another Whedon hattrick

    9 Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Amy Acker-2 (Dollhouse/Angel), walking action figure-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse), Eliza Dushku-3 (Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse), Jim Piddock-2 (Angel/Dollhouse), Gregg Henry-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Alan Tudyk-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Felicia Day-2(Dollhouse/Buffy), Alexis Denisoff-3 (Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse)



    Guantanamo;

    Paul says he no longer cares about due process



    Reminds me off;

    The way Topher has engineered Saunder's phobias to prevent her leaving the Dollhouse is reminiscent of The Truman Show. The idea that Dr Saunders is reluctant to get her original personality back as that will be akin to dying for her is similar to an ep of ST;Voyager where 2 characters are merged by a transporter accident. Echo clinging to the bonnet of the car reminds me of TJ Hooker who was prone to that.



    Breaking the programming;

    The dolls are noticeably less zombie like and have more personality, I think that was one of the reasons people couldn't take to them in the first season.



    Questions and observations;

    Echo has a new handler but this is the only time we see him. As Joss says the lighting on the Dollhouse is very different. Topher sleeps at work which seems to be a common thing in the Dollhouse. I think I'm beginning to fall a little in love with Ivy, she's a character who keeps growing on me more and more. In reference to the Jonas Brothers do they mean they're Dollhouse clients or that customers hire the actives out to play their roles? Still weird to hear Jamie Bamber talk with his real accent. Adele knows about Echo's unique nature but wants to watch her develop. Echo's remark of the 'Honeymoon is over' may be her telling Paul that from now on things are only going to get harder for them. Shame we don't get more of Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof etc this season but not enough in the budget (perhaps why they dropped CC/Conor from the last season of Angel so that they could have fan-favourite Spike?). It seems Joss' favourite series is BSG. I love Adele's new hair. Everyone seems to be hitting the booze pretty hard, even Dr Saunders (whiskey?).



    Marks out of 10; 7/10 good ep, Joss didn't expect to get a second season so this is a partial reboot for the show

    moreless
  • "Wait, it'll bet better. Wait, it'll get better." Still waiting...

    5.0
    When Dollhouse debuted, I was excited for the next great Whedon show. But then it ended up sucking. But I stayed with it, because everyone insisted it would get better. Waited all through the beginning of the year. And all through the middle. And by the finale, improvements were minor at best, and I realized I had just wasted a season of my life. Now going into year 2, my opinion of the show hasn't changed. In fact, not only was it NOT an impressive return, it was the most boring premiere of the 2009 season. And I've seen EVERYTHING- from Flash Forward to The Good Wife, to even the f'ing Vampire Diaries!) I didn't care about anything that happened. I didn't care about Whiskey's "am I real?" issues. In fact, I was extremely annoyed by her behavior and whining. This is a horrible turn for the composed character. The show has always been desperate to show viewers they are deep, but now that desperation is starting to show. Echo is finally glitching but we knew this would inevitably happen the moment the very premise of Dollhouse was announced, so this was neither interesting nor exciting. There were a couple sprinkles of interesting scenes that woke me up (the confrontation about the desk) but it wasn't enough. I see now that I don't like this show very much, and so I shall stop watching. Oh well. I've put in my time as a fan. No need punishing myself further. maybe Whendon's next show will be better.moreless
  • Worst episode from both seasons so far, too slow, many missed options and trying too hard to look both sophisticated and philosophical.

    4.5
    Very slow, too slow episode with scenes that just don't work and look childish. Also, very bad acting from Fran Kranz(Topher) and Olivia Williams(Adelle DeWitt). The character of Topher has to go, it's not useful to the show anymore if he ever was. The pacing is completely off overall. The only good things where brief moments of Echo glitching and the last bit of the closing part with Echo talking to Boyd. Anyway the way the character of Boyd has been written in the new season doesn't make any sense at all and it's so out of character. For the whole first season we were told that he was going to get killed to save Echo, he would have done his best to achieve that and then he joins forces with the Dollhouse and uses Echo as a puppet to put some criminals in jail in a sort of a deal? It doesn't make much sense, it looks childish written overall and it's not looking good for the rest of the series. Unless the upcoming character of Summer Glau is going to save the show if next episodes continue like this first one then the show will get cancelled for sure.moreless
  • *** Spoiler-free *** Old episodic format, dusty story and unexploited secondary characters but emotional Dr. Saunders's arc and Amy Acker's charming talent

    5.0
    Even if season 1 finale, Omega, convinced me that Dollhouse had potential I hesitated a long time to give its second season a chance. In fact the summary I read of this episode sounded boring and episodic when Joss Whedon said the new format would be arc-y. Now that I have seen Vows I'm sure of one thing, that the show deserved to be canceled. First the format was as episodic as in season 1. Echo had a new engagement and that arc was boring and unoriginal. We had already seen her as a beautiful bride and the story was as old as the one from episodes like True Believer and Haunted. I'm surprised they picked such a predictable and linear plot for a season pilot. However even if I was generally disappointed by it I have to admit that Vows had its own share of pros. Of course Topher was annoying but I found his scene with Dr. Saunders quite interesting thanks to Amy Acker's convincing performance. So for once the writers focused more on some secondary characters and it was a pleasant surprise. However it only lasted a few minutes and the story went back to the engagement. The other element I relatively enjoyed was the relationship between Paul and Echo. It's far from perfect but it could lead to some interesting scenarios. But in the end what ruined the episode, and probably the whole season 2, are the cons imported directly from the first. Victor and Sierra were only featured for a few seconds when their performers are good and the characters intriguing. How could we forget them after Spy in the House of Love ? The ending was predictable even if I found Dr. Saunders's decision quite inspiring. Dollhouse could be so much more if it didn't focus so much on Echo, the episodic engagements and Eliza Dushku's sex appeal. It's like if Joss Whedon decided to cook his old Buffy recipes instead of following the new books to direct his show.moreless
  • Honeymoon's Over Written And Directed by Joss Whedon

    8.0
    Echo (to Paul): "I remember everything. Sometimes I'm someone else and then I come back but I feel them, all of them."



    Blimey, this show might not be longer for the world but it's reassuring that Sci-Fi didn't waste time in deciding to air the second season. Their treatment of the series is easily better than Fox's when you think about it.



    Season One had some great episodes, especially towards the second half of the season but it was marred with many problems. One of the biggest was Paul's obsession with Echo. It lacked emotional content and was clearly superficial. If this premiere episode is anything to go by, a degree of substance was thankfully injected into his fixation with her.



    He did the slightly uncouth thing in becoming a client. I know being inside the belly of the beast means you're more than susceptible of being infected by it but even I thought that Paul would show a little more restraint. Luckily for us, Paul didn't hire Echo out as personal slave for himself.



    Instead he used her talents in a desperate bid to snare Martin Clar. Played by Jamie Bamber, Clar was our opening villain and in the hands of a lesser actor, he'd be a one note adversary. Not that the characterisation for him is particularly extraordinary but Bamber does do a good job with him.



    Having Echo actually marry Clar was certainly a new one in terms of what we've seen clients try and get away with an Active. Paul certainly had a hard time witnessing Echo and Clar consummate their marriage from afar as well. Sometimes, it's nice not to have the audio.



    A part of the episode did confuse me when Paul and Echo were talking about being partners for so many years. Paul even tried to contain his latent jealousy with Echo. Not that he was really that convincing though.



    The unfortunate part of Paul's general little plan was the lack of foresight. In all of these double agent scenarios, there was going to be someone who would figure out that Echo was more than a blushing bride. Needless to say, Clar actually found out halfway through the episode thanks to a nameless lackey.



    The original part was that Echo nearly convinced him that she was nothing more than a dutiful wife. Of course the jig was up when she started glitching at the most inappropriate of times. Glitching that Paul also took some hearty advantage of as well.



    Getting Echo back into the fight mode she was in during their face off in "Man On The Street" was definitely one of Paul's stronger ideas. Much as Paul annoys me, this episode nearly went over the top in people slating his abilities. Both Adelle and Martin had some zingers at his expense in a good few moments.



    However because of Paul's bright idea, Echo was able to go into fighting mode and do away with all of Martin's cronies. Hell, even her apprehension of Martin (after blowing up his car) was something that wouldn't have looked out of place on an episode of Alias.



    Of course the meat of the Echo/Paul dynamic in this one was Paul making the transfer from unwilling helper to handler. There was no way he wasn't going to cave in the end, thanks to what we've seen in "Epitaph One" and the scenes between him and Echo when she talked of her emotions had the emotional punch that lacked between them last season.



    However it wasn't just Echo getting all the meaty storylines this season. The cat and mouse antics with Paul and Adelle are a joy to watch. Paul might have noble intentions to take down the Dollhouse but Adelle has more than stressed that he's out of his league. Perhaps Senator Daniel Perrin can succeed where Paul has failed.



    Another cast member from the Whedonverse, Alexis Denisof is a nice choice for Perrin. I actually do hope that the nobility we see with Perrin is something that is maintained throughout the season. I know he poses a threat to the Dollhouse but come on, only a serious nutter would want him to fail. Hopefully he's also less annoying than Paul was during most of the first season.



    Speaking of annoying, I might have felt sorry for Topher in the unaired episode but I got something of a kick in Claire screwing with him in this one. Does that mean there's something wrong with me? The question's rhetorical.



    Amy Acker is such a great actress that it's such a shame that she has to go to Happy Town instead of staying here. Claire's breakdown is Whedon writing at its strongest and most insightful. All that anger, self-loathing and confusion certainly made for some powerful and potentially dangerous moments.



    Topher deservedly bore most of the brunt of Claire's anger. Old footage, rats and a creepy sexual pass were certainly Claire's means of getting her own back on the man who created. Claire talked about not being human and wanting to die. Personally I'm glad that she's alive, even if she had made the right decision in legging it from the Dollhouse.



    Boyd earned some respective points for asking out in light of knowing about her Whiskey origins. I guess he really does like her. I also know that in spite of this series fate that Claire will resurface again this season, so that's something to be happy about.



    Also in "Vows"



    The credits contained more shots of Eliza Dushku. I like Eliza but come on, even Whedon's other shows had everyone in the opening credits.



    Victor: "You're touching my face."

    Adelle: "Moving along."



    Nice to see that Adelle didn't wait too long to get Victor's scars removed but why didn't she extend a similar courtesy to Whiskey after Alpha attacked her?



    Sierra: "I'm not comfortable with Orientals."

    Ivy: "This'll only take a minute."



    Claire (to Boyd): "I like my scars. They bring out my eyes."



    What the heck kind of persona was Sierra supposed to be this week? Both she and Victor were disappointingly underused in this episode.



    Echo (re Martin): "Is this about the sex?"

    Paul: "I think you're a demon."



    Claire: "Alpha cut up my face, do you remember that?"

    Echo: "Why?"

    Claire: "So you could be number one."

    Echo: "Am I?"

    Claire: "Yes."



    There was a scene with Echo and Whiskey in flashbacks that will undoubtedly inspire a lot of femslash fanfiction.



    Paul: "You're a sick lady."

    Adelle: "I'm not asking you to handle me."



    Claire (re programming): "Why didn't you stop there?"

    Topher: "Because I was designing a person, not a robot. I needed you to be whole."



    Given the way Topher talked about caring more than he appears to, does that mean we'll get something of a backstory or more information on him prior to joining the Dollhouse?



    Topher: "So you were never gonna sleep with me?"

    Claire: "I can't stand the smell of you."



    Claire: "I'm not better than you. I'm just a series of excuses."

    Topher: "You're human."

    Claire: "Don't flatter yourself."



    For UK viewers, Sci-Fi aired both this and next episode, "Instinct" as a double bill. Review for that episode coming soon. Echo was also Roma in this episode.



    Topher: "Do you have a better plan?"

    Paul: "No but I have a worse one."



    Paul: "You're making a mistake."

    Martin: "I think you're the expert in that field."



    Chronology: It's been a while since "Omega", hasn't it?



    "Vows" made for a good opening episode and definitely showed improvement but with the lacklustre ratings in America, it feels like this show is on the way out. A shame about that.moreless
Ben Hermes

Ben Hermes

Handler

Guest Star

Jesus Ruiz

Jesus Ruiz

Justice

Guest Star

Eileen Gonzales

Eileen Gonzales

Reporter

Guest Star

Amy Acker

Amy Acker

Whiskey

Recurring Role

Liza Lapira

Liza Lapira

Ivy

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Echo: I'm justice. I'm blind when I need to be blind.

    • Claire: How do I live? How do I go through my day knowing everything I think comes from something I can't abide?

    • Topher: How many more today?
      Ivy: Well, the Jonas Brothers are back in town, so...
      Topher: Say no more. Voracious little nippers.

    • Ivy: So... do you want to know what I've been doing while you've overslept?
      Topher: If you tweaked an imprint, I'll throw you through that window.

    • Boyd: You seem to be having a hard time.
      Claire: My entire existence was constructed by a sociopath in a sweater-vest. What do you suggest I do?
      Boyd: Have dinner with me.

    • Echo: Is this about the sex? I know, for you, the act of love is the most intimate and precious thing two people can share. But it's just bodies. It's useful. And with Klar, it's pretty damn fun. Man's got a work ethic.

    • Adelle: Well, this is charmless, isn't it? What do you think, Mr. Langton?
      Boyd: I like his suit.
      Adelle: You may well be missing the point.

    • Topher: She could be concussed. I'm calling it.
      Paul: You move in now, Klar will kill her for sure.
      Topher: You got a better plan?
      Paul: Not, but I do have a much worse one.

    • Claire: Let's stop playing games. (Topher jumps away from her)
      Topher: OK, how does this not qualify as not playing games?
      Claire: Because this is the end game. This is where is all leads. You design someone to hate you so you can convince them to love you.
      Topher: Hey, I could whip up a love slave any day I want.
      Claire: But that wouldn't be a challenge would it? Slaves are just slaves and winning over your enemy, the one person guaranteed to reject everything you are, that's real love. More real than anything up in the world. And I understand it now. I love you. I love you.
      (he pushes her away and she smacks him)
      Topher: You need a friggin' treatment.
      Claire: Why shouldn't I love you? Aren't you lovable? Aren't you Big Brother? Aren't you the lord my god? Why should I fight your divine plan?
      Topher: Because you're better than that. Because you're better than me...

    • Adelle: Echo has three more years on her contract. I would prefer her to have someone in her corner who really cared about her, even unreasonably.
      Paul: You're working an angle.
      Adelle: with the exception of the very special and the comatose have you ever met someone who wasn't?

  • NOTES (2)

    • International Airdates:
      UK: October 20, 2009 on Sci Fi
      Czech Republic: March 5, 2010 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: January 19, 2012 on JOJ Plus

    • Music: Hunt Quartet - Adagio (Joseph Haydn), Lark Quartet - Adagio Cantabile (Joseph Haydn), Hazy (Rosi Golan Feat), The World (Earlimart)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Topher: It could have been Fozzie Bear and I would have...

      Referencing the orange fuzzy bear created by Jim Henson as one of the Muppets for The Muppet Show. Frank Oz and later Eric Jacobson performed the role.

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