Saturday, February 28, 2009

Percolated Recap: Dollhouse: Stage Fright (Episode 103)

Eliza Dushku's talents showcased: An episode-by-episode breakdown.

Episode 1: Her ability to sound business-like.

Episode 2: Her athleticism.

Episode 3: Her singing voice.

I'm going to have to keep tabs at the rate this show is going, so I'm starting now, before there's too many to remember, or Fox cancels this show, whichever comes first. Plus, it's easier than covering the previouslies we're now getting every week, or ranting about how much irony there is in reviewing a life the main character can't remember.

Kansas City

We begin with an extended musical moment, which is either meant to introduce pop sensation Rayna Russell, or the next single for the Pussycat Dolls. There's a lot of dancing Britney-style and even skimpier costumes. I think they settled on having a popstar's life in danger to save on the wardrobe.

The song is generic pop and the dancing is generic pop dancing. There's also a couple of moments when her mouth doesn't quite match the lyrics, which means she's lip-syncing, (a phrase which here means I don't see any other problems with my feed when it comes to audio and visual sync). In short, this means Rayna Russell is probably one of the biggest stars on the planet. All she needs to do next is go to rehab and she'll be legendary.

All right, I need to be honest here and say I'm probably going to be a bit meaner to Rayna Russell than necessary. I already don't like her and not because I know what happens. Nope, it's the actress. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a bit of a Renthead. It's a bit difficult to do when one lives in Canada, but, despite this Renthead handicap, I have seen the show 9 times (not including the movie). I say bit, because I haven't seen it hundreds of time like some people. (BTW, those people have my admiration for doing that.) I've scoured YouTube for videos that clearly break the no video or photography rule in the theatres. Thus, I would nominate this actress for the worst Mimi ever. Warning, the proof may make your ears bleed.

If you did click on the above link, you'll understand why I'm confident she was lip-syncing.

When the pyrotechnics go off, one of the backup singers, conveniently wearing a red tunic, is set on fire. Well, guess she's done for, but since Rayna wasn't touched, it'll probably be a blip in the press. As the pop princess is rushed off stage, the camera pans the audience, and finally comes to rest on the one person in the audience who isn't perturbed.


Dr. Fred must've done one of her miracle cures, because, Echo doesn't look the least bit injured from her hike through the woods. She's running as if she's never been shot in the leg, or even
had a motorcycle fall on it.

Sierra's the one looking worse for wear as she nearly passes out after getting off the treadmill, only to be caught by Echo. "I didn't want you to get hurt," Echo tells her, "You're my friend."

"Friends help each other out," Sierra replies. It's a reply that'll play a major role in this episode later.

Whatever miracle cures Dr. Fred works with the dolls are not available to their handlers, as Boyd is still recovering from his arrow-related injure from last week. While Dr. Fred would rather he recuperate a few more days, Boyd would rather not entrust Echo to another handler. The audience knows why this is the case from witnessing the events in the woods, but Dr. Fred's a little more instinctual than that, certifying Boyd for duty because she's afraid, as much as she doesn't want to admit it, Alpha might still be out there.

While I don't mind that these two share a belief in Alpha's continued existence, I do mind the bad attempt at flirting. At least, I think it was flirting but it was so ineptly done, all I could do was cringe at the attempt.


Mellie catches Lubov attempting to break into her neighbour's apartment. Watching Lubov try and come up with a lie - he knew Ballard from the navy, Old Navy to be exact, amuses me and creeps the hell out of Mellie. He leaves her with a card and instructions for Ballard to meet him, but not at work to avoid the bosses a Old Navy getting pissed off.

Mellie backs slowly into her apartment, her astuteness rounding out her character as much as the neo-flower child outfits and bare feet. This is more the Joss Whedon characterization I'm used to.


Adelle is entertaining Biz, Rayna's manager. She thinks it's a pleasure visit and offers to free up the twins for him. I wonder what they would call the twins? Fox and Trot? Tan and Go? Ho and Tel?

I won't get my question answered because he's there for something else, protection for Rayna. Even though she's had stalkers since she was an obvious representation of Britney "singing for the mouse," only recently has someone been trying to kill her. The girl on fire thing was only one of several accidents on her current tour. Biz wants someone, not a bodyguard, willing to take a bullet for the singer, but not look like she's there to protect Rayna.

I guess this is the premium package since we've learned the more dangerous an engagement, the more it costs. The clue to the mystery in this meeting, which is a little more subtle than the I AM PSYCHO cologne last week's baddie was wearing, is that Rayna probably won't care about the extra protection, just like she hasn't cared about the accidents thus far.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

After the tragic fire in Kansas City, singer and former Mouse-we-can't-use-the-name-due-to-copyright-infringement, Rayna Russell has taken on a new back-up singer and BFF.

After wowing the pop diva with a rendition of what we've heard was a song written to sound like an old spiritual, the new BFF was taken on, despite the warnings of Rayna's manager and star creator extraordinaire, Biz. IT was reported that the manager thought the new BFF was "trouble" and has an "attitude."

Rayna, known for her rebellious way of life, immediately put the girl to work. We here at the National Recapper hope that this girl not only has the voice, but the luck of an angel as the accidents that surround Rayna lately, implies taht she needs it.

Creepy music box title sequence.


Dr. Fred isn't pleased with Echo being sent out as pseudo bodyguard, because she's only been cleared for romantic or altruistic engagements. Oh, Dr. Fred, sometimes those are the same thing. Take Topher, for instance. Considering he tries to divert her by implying that the engagement with Rayna could turn romantic, it proves that the types of engagements aren't always exclusive in their purpose.

Topher explains that there are two parts to this imprint. One is the struggling singer, the other is the inherent desire to protect Rayna. In other words, she's a bodyguard who doesn't even know she's capable of being a bodyguard. I have to admit, I'm with Dr. Fred on this one as I don't know how this makes the engagement any better for Echo.

Where Dr. Fred makes her mistake is calling Echo's handler by his first name, allowing Topher, th socially inept genius, to latch on to the simple act of using one's given name as an excuse to do the adult equivalent of "Dr. Fred and Boyd, sitting in a tree." Yeah, this guy is reminding me a lot of Chuck Bartowski's BFF - "there's a million reasons to love him but maturity isn't on that list."

Plus, as if he really needs to prove how wrong she is, Topher assures the doctor that he's sending Echo back-up, in the form of Sierra. Umm, yeah, because I have a past history with Eliza Dushku as Faith, I believe she's capable of kicking someone's ass, but Sierra?

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

We have more information on Rayna Russell's new BFF - like her name - Jordan and her lack of inhibitions. Within ours of meeting Rayna's crew, Jordan was stripping for ratings everyone during a wardrobe fitting. Is just getting fitted or is she trying to fit in?

This new BFF needs to get a handle on Rayna now, as sources close to the singer say that after a dreadful rehearsal with her back-up dancers, there singer had breathing problems because someone was eating a mint. Rayna's long standing issue with mints has been well documented by the press, particularly during the unfortunate incident outside a nightclub when Rayna threatened a mentos eater by promising to "freshen up the fresh-maker."

In an attempt to calm the singer down, her manager, Biz, sent her to the concert venue early, with her BFF in tow.

Posh Party

In the midst of what looks to be one awesome party, Ballard is in search of Lubov. Hello, Ballard, could you be more obvious about what you're doing? You just need a bright T-shirt saying "Yes, I am a Fed."

Lubov is equally as put off by Ballard's complete lack of subtlety, afraid he's going to wind up dead, and not in a peacefully surrounded by loved ones way either. Besides not finding out anything about the dollhouse, besides having his employers think he might be losing it, Lubov has found out plenty about Ballard. The most important thing he's learned about the federal agent is that he's one step away from becoming the Bureau's next Fox Mulder. Although, Ballard has to learn to look like he has sexual chemistry with everything while not emoting in order to truly become Fox Mulder. He also needs a hot red-head. I wonder if Mellie would be interested in applying for that position (pun intended)?

Proving he's the life of any party, Ballard gives a speech about how humanity always comes up with technology and then promptly uses it to wreak havoc on other humans. Sure, it gives us the motivation behind Ballard's character, but I enjoyed this philosophy a lot better when Agent Smith described humanity as a virus.

In a moment which makes me slap my head against a wall for missing it earlier, Lubov, though believing there isn't a dollhouse, wishes he could sign up if there were one to "wipe all of my terrible burdens away."

"I'll keep you in mind," Ballard replies. I groan.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

Is Rayna Russell's new BFF a back-up singer or a bodyguard? We at the National Recapper are uncertain since she's noticed holes in the security Biz and the security team missed.

We're starting to wonder what Jordan's real agenda is.


While Topher is trying to tell Boyd how much he'll hate Sierra's handler, Joe (a phrase which here means, want to beat senseless due to a complete lack of professionalism), Boyd's got something else to worry about: Echo's debut as a singer. He's acting more like a nervous parent than a handler, much to Topher's amusement. Sure Boyd tries to cover it up with fear for Echo's safety, but he's really worried about protecting her from making a fool of herself.

Topher, after being disappointed that Rayna is like every other vapid and narcissistic pop princess on the planet, reveals that he can multi-task. He can wipe Victor's imprint while helping monitor Echo and Sierra.

Concert Venue

Crazy fan from the beginning, limps into the concert hall, crutches and all. Sometimes, evern though a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, a crutch may be a crutch for something else.

In this case, the crutches hide all the pieces necessary in making one hell of a high-powered rifle.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

While last night's performance was a knock-out, the focus on Ranya's new back-up singer and BFF, leads this reporter to believe it was as much a showcase for Jordan as it was for Rayna.

The audience did not seem to notice the shift in focus as one fan, a mousy Australian named Audra gushed, "Rayna was awesome! I don't know what you mean about someone else being up on stage. All I saw was her."

After last night's smash performance, a strange incident at the after party put a damper on the evening. No, it was not the presence of Rayna's "Number 1 fan" Audra, nor was it a creepy red-headed man who managed to sneak into the party, even though he looked more like he should be in his mother's basement playing D&D. Surprisingly, it was not a temper-tantrum from the pop princess herself, as is usually expected.

No, Jordan, the mysterious BFF who this reporter has been unable to find a damn thing about, like she just popped into existence yesterday, thinking she was protecting Rayna, attacked a member of the press by pushing him over a railing. Perhaps the paparazzi might want to think twice about snapping Rayna's pic if Jordan is around.

Unfortunately, this means we may miss Rayna, just for kicks, convincing her biggest fans to run down the street, naked. We've been told by reliable sources that her fans are willing to do that, even if underwear is optional.


Setting up Agent Ballard, Victor/Lubov sends the fed on a wild goose chase to the derelict Devonshire Hotel. If Victor/Lubov thinks the agent inspires pity before this, Balard single-handedly beating the crap out of Russian mobsters, after being ambushed and shot by the three of them, might inspire a shit-load of fear instead. Even with a bullet in him, he's able to interrogate the one conscious mobster about the dollhouse. Like all good red herrings, the mobster knows nothing.

Once all three of the Russians are taken out, Ballard is still able to stay conscious long enough to call for help. He's either the sturdiest man alive or half-terminator. I'm going to withhold judgment on this until I get more evidence.


Sierra's handler is quite an ass, taking a 40 minute coffee break and not bringing Boyd back anything. Joe isn't the least bit interested in the job, but he is interested in whatever Boyd is looking at on the internet.

That is, he's interested until he realizes it might be some actual work. Boyd's looking up Rayna's fan sites, hoping to find the crazy stalker before Echo is put at risk. In fact, the only interesting thing Joe Hearn can bring to the table, is his experience. Since Sierra is new, Boyd rightfully asks what happened to the old Sierra. The answer Joe gives is very generic, (she got the job done) but the subtext is clear: Boyd shouldn't get attached as there will be a new Echo, someday.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

Reports have surfaced of Rayna Russell's erratic behaviour. Considering her recent brushes with death, the singer was upbeat before tonight's disastrous performance. She was described as "manically happy" one source close to the singer said.

An inside source says the singer's dressing room was filled with white orchids. She also received fan mail, something her spin team has been telling the press, isn't supposed to happen. Rumour has it she's only been keeping one particular fan's mail and calls the writer her number 1 fan. I guess we aren't the only ones wondering when Rayna's finally going to go off the deep end and shave her head.

Pop-diva Rayna Russell's night ended with a bang. Well, more like a gunshot. In the middle of her performance, an unidentified suspect to a shot at her, and this reporter does not mean a shot at stardom. Without the quick thinking of Jordan, the mysterious new addition to Rayna's posse, Rayna would have made quite a splash; the type of splash the audience would not be able to wash out of their clothes.

Later, reports surfaced that a background singer, Jordan, the newest addition to Rayna's entourage, found a threat underneath some orchids delivered to the singer's room, saying this even would be her last. Even though Jordan was supposed to be on stage, she was spotted rushing around backstage, trying to notify the security of the impending threat.

Allegedly, Jordan attempted to warn her boss, moment before she stepped on stage, but Rayna's response was only the cryptic, "I want to be free." This reporter wonders what exactly she needed to be free from? Her money? Her good looks? The constant adoration? The hypocrisy of people seeking fame only to complain about being famous?

At the time of the shooting, Rayna had just introduced her "number 1 fan," Audra, was also in the line of fire. Without the quick thinking of the backup singer, who used a spotlight to blindthe shooter, Audra might just have easily been shot. While Rayna may do whatever she wishes in her own life, will she really maintain her fan base if not only will she put fans at risk, but also call everyone, from an innocent Australian to a crazy stalker, her number 1 fan?

Despite all the panic, everyone was ushered out safely.


I have to scrap my terminator theory, since all the emergency personnel are still living, despite treating Ballard. Plus, he has a heart attack. Again, since it's way too early to be killing main characters, I'm not getting the sense of urgency I think I'm supposed to have. Nor was I fooled by not showing the patient immediately as if I was going to fall for some lame trick that it might've been someone from the concert.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

The aftermath of the shooting has brought some harsh realities about the woman idolized by millions, into the light. Rayna Russell was more upset about not dying than she would have been if she had actually died.

Please note: The Daily Recapper does not support or deny the existence of the afterlife and the above statement is simply a turn of phrase.

Unnamed sources claim that Rayna is angry about being a "factory girl" and everyone's fantasy. She is supposedly afraid what will happen to her if she isn't everyone's ideal being. What's exciting her most is the idea of a reaper being out there, who will one day come and free her. Considering it is believed she had this conversation with Jordan, the mystery backup singer / BFF / ninja we're told that, in a meta-way, the singer was being bluntly ironic.

Shortly after this heated debate, Jordan's rise in Rayna's world came pouring down as the singer was fired.

The National Recapper has just been given an exclusive! After the attempted assassination of Rayna Russell, the young woman, Audra, who was one of Rayna's many number 1 fans, was abducted by the failed killer.

The video shows a crazed, red-haired man, angry with Rayna for not dying when he tried to kill her. He also threatened to kill Audra unless the diva came to meet him, in person. The most shocking detail of all, Rayna has his phone number.

The National Recapper has to ask, what kind of influence is the singer having on her fans, if she promotes crazed stalkers? Do women not have enough difficulty in this world?

Rumour or Reality? Rayna Russell's recently released BFF, is still around. Is she there to really help the singer, or does she have pity for the abducted fan? More importantly, what is reality and what is a rumour in Rayna's life, may not be so clear cut after all?


In what is the most pointless scene thus far in the series, we learn that Sierra's purpose is to draw the attention of the crazy person away from Rayna. Thus, all is to plan.

Why Adelle asks Dominic whether or not he likes Rayna's music, I don't understand. Well, I can answer that question. Considering how he treated Echo last week, he definitely doesn't like anything that's been overly manufactured.

Crazy Stalker's House of Crazy

Okay, I feel terrible for Sierra. What do you want me to say? Do you want me to say I feel worse for her than I would if Echo were in the same situation? Do you want me to say that while the crazy stalker makes Sierra sing the lyrics to one of Rayna's songs, only to join in, that I get the idea of being trapped since the cameras are practically up the actors' noses?

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

Poor Rayna Russell, she can't get a fair break. Of course, unless that break is a chair over her head, which is exactly what we here at the National Recapper have been told was done to her by her former BFF, Jordan. What caused the sudden rift between former friends? Allegedly, it's over Rayna's lack of action in the case of her missing #1 fan.

"Friends help each other out." Jordan was reported as saying, seconds after knocking the singer unconscious. The voice did not sound like the South Boston girl the press has come to know. Instead, her voice had lost the accent, as if she remembered something from another life.

Crazy Stalker's House of Crazy

A raid by SWAT (or Dollhouse security, it's unclear) reveals a message from Echo's most recent incarnation, promising him Rayna in exchange for Sierra. The deal is supposed to go down at the concert hall.


Okay, so trying to rough up people is a major motif in this episode because Dominic tries to take a piece out of Topher, thinking that something's gone wrong with Echo's programming. Dominic demands to know if the recent glitches are accidental or Topher being a crappy people programmer.

Trying to regain his dignity, Topher goes with the old standby that smart people will often use, insulting the other's intelligence. The problem with that is that Topher didn't have the proper intelligence (as in the information gathered, not gray matter) to know that his defense is meaningless, since Echo/Jordan is now threatening Rayna.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

The National Recapper will be dedicating an entire issue to the background of Rayna Russell's former backup singer, BFF, and potential killer, just as soon as we find any background information on the woman. No documentation of the Jordan exists, and all Rayna's people are telling us is that "Jordan left to pursue other opportunities. This life wasn't for her."

Considering last night's events, this is hardly shocking. We've received unsubstantiated reports that Jordan is single-handedly responsible for saving the kidnapped fan, Audra, keeping Rayna out of the clutches of her stalker.

How was this achieved? By threatening Rayna's life, and throwing her off a balcony, with only one wire wrapped around her hands. While the singer was dangling for her life, and remembering the reason she wanted to live, Jordan apprehended the stalker. The man was later seen with what looked to be cuts and bruises about the face, muttering, "she was just a little girl."

Beyond Rayna's expressed relief at the rescue of Audra and the capture of the suspect, all the singer would say on the subject was, "I want to live."

We tried to reach Audra for comment but could not find an Audra fitting her description in the Brisbane directory. She was last seen being escorted out of the theatre, by a man anxious to get her away from Jordan. Perhaps this man knows more about the mysterious woman and we here at the National Recapper highly encourage him to call us. We pay. No we don't.

The National Recapper is now on the hunt for Jordan, who was last seen in the presence of an unidentified man. More evidence that Audra and Jordan may have a past together was evident, since Jordan was asking to beat up the man who took Audra away.


Sure, Adelle and Dominic were listening in on the events and Boyd was ready to intervene at any minute, but the the head of the dollhouse and the security chief, have vastly different takes on what occurred. Dominic thinks that Echo is becoming a risk, while Adelle thinks Echo performed perfectly, even thinking outside the box. The person most likely to hurt Rayna was Rayna , so Echo had to make Rayna face herself.

Thus Adelle won't see Echo relegated to the attic, whatever that means, but despite what Adelle thinks, I have to ask myself one question.

We flip to the living quarters, where Boyd is expressing the same pride in Echo that Adelle is. Dr. Fred is equally worried about Echo as Dominic is, just for entirely different reasons. The last active that was as good as Echo was Alpha.


There's a brief scene change, where we see Rayna singing the same faux-spiritual Jordan did at her audition. Honestly, I think Eliza Dushku's version had more feeling in it. It may be rougher, but it sounds more genuine.

We flip over to the hospital, where Mellie is trying to talk her way in to see the injured agent Ballard. He doesn't even respond to her as there's no way he could miss hearing her outside the door to his room. Bastard. I bet you'd respond if she brought lasagna.

Back at the dollhouse, Echo and Sierra cross paths. Just like last week, when Echo remembered the whole shoulder to the wheel thing, she remembers that it wouldn't be good for the two of them to appear to close to each other. Somehow, despite being in the Quaker state, Echo puts together that with Boyd, Dr. Fred and Joe (and who I assume are other handlers) watching, she needs to be like everyone else.

Therefore, I can only come to one conclusion about Echo's increasing awareness, as she shakes her head, baffling Sierra and sending her away at the same time.

1 comment:

  1. You missed Alumni #4!!!!!!!!! The guy who was Rayna's manager was also the Mayor from Buffy season 3. Heh heh. I win.