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Belle Chose

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"Belle Chose" is the third episode of the second season of Dollhouse and the 16th episode overall. It was written by Tim Minear and directed by David Solomon. It aired on October 9th, 2009.

PremiseEdit

Echo and Victor’s imprints collide when Echo is sent on an assignment as a fun-loving, seductive college student and Victor is imprinted as the psychotic nephew of a Dollhouse shareholder (guest star Michael Hogan).

Terry Karrens is a wealthy serial killer who collects women. His uncle Bradley knows about this and protects him from the police. He suffered a mishap and ended up poisoned with his own drugs. Delirious, he wandered into traffic and suffered brain damage. Bradley asked the Dollhouse to transfer Terry's mind into another body, but during the checkup, Topher realizes that Karrens is a psychopath.

ThemesEdit

The episode's literary subplot for the first half, in which Echo is hired out by a medieval literature professor, examines notions of empowerment. Professor Edmond Gossen suggests to Kiki Turner (Echo) the example of The Wife of Bath from Geoffrey Chaucer's Middle English poem The Canterbury Tales. Drawing on Chaucer's Wife of Bath, he posits a notion of female empowerment whereby women can utilise sex as a means to manipulate men, insinuating Kiki could seduce him to improve her grades from an F to an A. However, the situation illustrates many ways in which men still retain power in these situations: the entire Gossen-Kiki encounter is a fiction of Gossen's mind, and while Kiki believes she is exercising her own agency in seducing her professor, in reality she is Echo whose consent to have sex is an irrelevancy. A male-dominated world means that these expressions of female 'power' are illusory, as they ultimately serve to satisfy male pleasure. The parallels between Kiki and Echo as separate identities would suggest that under Gossen's view, Echo in the Wife of Bath role must endure the sexual economy of the Dollhouse in order to construct the cognizant identity and in turn power to enact her own nascent plan to 'free' the Dolls. 

The paralyzed women in Karren's lair are of course parallels to the dolls themselves, immobilized and forced to endure suffering and roleplay scenarios, with fleeting moments of agency and designs for freedom.

The episode also makes some questions about gender roles and authority. Ballard comments to Terry Karrens that all of his names are girls' names. When Kiki is transferred to Victor's body, there is no scene which illustrates a realization of a new gender identity; rather, she continues in her ordinary personality, and flamboyant behaviour, which causes club patrons to mistake her for a gay man.


[Please add to this section with your own thematic analysis, while trying to maintain a balance of interpretations as you edit.]

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Recurring rolesEdit

Guest starringEdit

Background InformationEdit

ProductionEdit

This episode was shot before 2x02 "Instinct". The original intended order can be discerned from the fact that Paul is clearly new to his job as handler in this episode and has never been to the part of the Dollhouse where Actives are dressed for engagements, but "Instinct" opens with him overseeing an extended engagement. Also, this episode shows the immediate fallout of Dr. Saunders's departure.

ActingEdit

Enver Gjokaj described his approach to playing Terry Karrens as follows: "I've never gotten the opportunity to play someone like that before. I was able to approach it differently this time, cause if I'm imprinted with someone you've already seen in the episode, as we did with Dominic last season, obviously I'm making their acting choices. They allowed me to establish this character, which means that they shot me first, then had the guest actor.... I guess the rest of it was the writing. There was a gentility and a bizarre self-control that was written into the character because this character feels like if he doesn't control his urges then someone could die or he could basically kill someone -- which he does."[2]

ReceptionEdit

CriticsEdit

"I have to admit, cancellation worries somewhat clouded my enjoyment of “Belle Chose,” an otherwise good-but-not-great hour, because I’m feeling extra impatient about the show’s need to move forward and address the overarching plot. Though maybe a slightly stronger episode than last week’s, it again felt like a more polished and confident version of the self-contained first five episodes of last season."
-A.V. Club Recap


"All in all, one of the most enjoyable hours of the season. Or as Kiki would say, this stuff about “Chauncey ” deserves an A. Or at least an A-."
-EW Recap


"Despite a couple of flaws (...) "Belle Chose" was Exhibit A for how great Dollhouse can be when the concept is handled right."
-io9 Recap


"In "Belle Chose," writer Tim Minear and director David Solomon delivered the best, completely standalone episode of Dollhouse since last season's "True Believer.""
-TV Guide Recap


" In some ways, “Belle Chose” feels like what the show should have been from the start. There’s basically no advancement in the series’ overall arc in the episode, but the standalone story is one of the strongest the series has come up with, both deepening the series’ major themes and offering up a number of compelling character moments and plot twists. In short, this is probably the best pure standalone “Dollhouse” has done yet, and while that shouldn’t sound as impressive as it does, it’s taken this show quite a while to figure out how to tell the kinds of stories it likes to tell in a format where the story is over by the end of the episode."
-HitFix Recap


"With the third episode of Dollhouse’s second season, the show has hit its stride. “Belle Chose” is the first self-contained episode that's fully held-up on its own, that didn’t feel like an intermission or unwanted distraction from the broader story arc. While the latter are always the highlights of the Whedonverse, the show needs these single-episode stories to work. When they are successful, they help draw in new users and they keep the series from being one giant extended tease. But, more importantly, they give the space and concreteness needed to ground the drama and character development, without which the arc matters little. And, at last, we have a self-contained storyline that works wonderfully."
-Paste Magazine Recap


"Despite initial appearances’ this is a forgettable episode. The logic holes undermine the story at each stage but in general the plot doesn’t go anywhere and follows the repetitive pattern of each episode this season."
-The TV Critic Review


RatingsEdit

"Belle Chose" reached 2.24 million viewers, a 1.4/2 Rating/Share, a 1.0/3 Rating/Share in the 18-49 demographic and a 1.1/3 Rating/Share in the 25-54 demographic. It ranked No. 3 in the hour among Adults 18-49 and Teens and No. 2 among Adults 18-34.

The half-hour breakdown showed 2.295 million viewers, a 1.0/4 Rating/Share in the 18-49 demo and a 1.0/4 Rating/Share in the 18-34 demo between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and 2.198 million viewers, a 1.0/3 Rating/Share in the 18-49 demo and a 1.1/4 Rating/Share in the 18-34 demo between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

The episode received a 1.4 Live+7 Rating/Share in the 18-49 demo, which is a 40% past airdate demo increase via DVR (that's the second biggest percentage increase for broadcast TV shows of that week). 29% of all demo viewing happened past airdate via DVR, that's the second biggest percentage for broadcast TV shows of that week.

Quotes Edit

"Goodness gracious."
-Terry Karrens
Kiki Turner: Did I win a prize?
Franklin: You are a prize.
(Franklin leads Kiki off to pick out some clothes. Ballard sits down next to a weary-looking black handler.)
Handler: (sighs) I don't even do this for my wife...


Kiki Turner: OK, so, I probably never should have taken this course to begin with, but, I figured it was mid-evil lit, not advanced evil... how hard could it be? So I skipped "intro to evil", or whatever, but, how is it that I get an "F" when this guy that we're reading, Chancey, can't even spell?
Edmund Gossen: It's "Chaucer". It's Middle English....
Kiki Turner: Right, like Hobbits or something.
Edmund Gossen: As I said, my office is open, if you'd care to discuss it.
Kiki Turner: Yeah, I'd care to discuss it. I'm like the Scarlet Lady with the "F" on her chest.
Edmund Gossen: "A"...
Kiki Turner: If only!


Topher Brink: This is a brain. A healthy brain... Frankly, an overly smart brain. It's my brain. And this is Terry Karren's brain. See these dark areas, how they extend all the way out to here? Know why that looks like that? That's because Terry Karrens doesn't use that part of his brain. And that's where you'd find stored such things as empathy, compassion, and aversion to disemboweling puppies. Basically, this is what some of your more famous serial killer's brains look like.
Adelle DeWitt: You're quite certain of this?
Topher Brink: Sure enough that I have serious ethical problems waking him up.
Boyd Langton: Topher has ethical problems. Topher.


(Ballard walks in with Victor firmly latched on to him)
"I see you've made a new friend."
-Adelle DeWitt

MusicEdit

  • Little Boots - "Remedy" plays in the disco where Kiki is dancing.

Promotional PhotosEdit

Notes & ReferencesEdit

Geoffrey Chaucer; Sheila Karrens; Beverly Hills; Remote Wipe

  1. 1.0 1.1 Seidman, Robert (October 10, 2009). TV Ratings: Dollhouse rises; Ghost Whisperer leads CBS to win. TV by the Numbers.
  2. Phillips, Jevon (2009-10-10). 'Dollhouse': Victor the serial killer, and the actor who plays him. Show Tracker: What You're Watching. latimes.com. Retrieved on 2009-10-11.

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