“Dollhouse” mini-cap: “Gray Hour”

Welcome to the first mini-cap of Dollhouse. No, not that Heather Matarazzo movie about a homely, unhappy seventh-grader — this is Joss Whedon‘s Dollhouse, the new Fox series starring Eliza Dushku. Yes, I know we’re already on Episode 4, but since the dolls have their memories wiped clean at the end of each illegal mission, every day is Day One.

Apparently, the eternal sunshine of a spotless mind looks a lot like being on Diazepam.

In this episode, we find Echo (Dushku) imbued with the personality of the world’s most expensive midwife: She’s in a ginormous chalet, perched high atop a snow-covered mountain, assisting a preggers woman in giving birth while the father-to-be watches on. Why did they go to the trouble and expense of hiring a Doll to do what any nurse could do? Rich people. Go figure.

I don’t understand the purpose of this scene except to provide the best lines of the episode:

Echo: Now, I would like to say something that might scare you a little.
Mrs. Preggers: OK …
Echo: Little Lucy has linebacker shoulders.
Mr. Preggers: So, she’s going to be a lesbian?

Yes, and her name will not be Lucy, it will be Julie Goldman.

After spanking the newborn, washing her hands, and choppering out of there, Echo becomes Taffy, a cocky safecracking expert whose motto is, “Never second-guess the client, and wear comfy shoes.”

Despite the comfy shoe comment, there’s no lesbian subtext here: Lesbians need to second-guess everyone and everything like other people need oxygen.

Taffy and her team are sent to pull off an art heist in the “gray hour” between one alarm system being shut down and an upgraded system coming online. Things go kerflooey when someone hacks into the Dollhouse’s technology and erases Taffy’s personality and knowledge mid-heist, leaving a befuddled and useless Echo in her place. But not before the team blows the safe, utilizing the same sophisticated techniques any bratty 5-year-old would know.

Meanwhile, the team’s weasel-like art expert pulls a double-cross and steals the art they were sent to steal. Stranded and betrayed, the rest of the team looks to Echo to get them out of the vault, but all she can do is mistake a nearby Picasso for a mirror.

Back at the dolls’ headquarters, Topher, the resident computer genius, programs a doll named Sierra with another version of Taffy. There’s no time to send Taffy 2.0 to the site, so she calls Echo on her cell to talk her through an escape plan, which includes a thorough search of her bra.

Taffy instructs Echo to drill a hole in the vault door but oops — she goes too deep. The alarm sounds. Chaos ensues. Anyone who’s ever called a tech support hotline knows the frustration of trying to solve a complex problem over the phone. This, here, would be worse.

Suffice it to say, the team is extracted successfully, the art weasel is caught and killed for his impudence, the art is recovered, and everyone takes a shower.

Next week: Echo is sent to Sunnydale to track down a rogue Slayer named Faith.