Warning - Don't read this if you haven't watched last night's episode and you intend to:
Well, THAT was an improvement. A highly entertaining hour of television. Last week, I felt like I was kind of grading on the curve...if it hadn't been a Joss Whedon creation, I probably would have been a lot harder on it, but because I WANT it to be good I gave it a pass.
No need for a curve on this week's episode...that was an intense, tightly written episode. The two main concerns I had last week were Eliza Dushku's acting and the lack of a compelling reason for the client to engage the Dollhouse. I had neither of those concerns after this episode.
This week, I was very impressed with Eliza...you would expect her to do well in the kick-butt outdoorsy persona, and she did. But she was also more believable in the other aspects of the character as well, like when she was terrified in the cabin and, especially, as she went through the internal struggle when Boyd was trying to get here to "come in." Her facial expressions started to go "soft" as the "Everything is going to be all right" conversation started, but then you saw her imprinted persona (maybe...or maybe it's Caroline's persona?) take over and she flipped the script, literally, on both Boyd and the client. Nuanced and effective performance.
As for the client, well...it makes perfect sense for him to go to the Dollhouse for this particular little "adventure." He needed somebody that wouldn't be missed if she didn't get away, and somebody who wouldn't/couldn't go to the authorities if she did manage to escape. Also, he's obviously done this many times before, and was looking for more of a challenge, so the idea of having the "perfect" prey would have certainly appealed to him. Psycho.
Also, got a good bit of background on Boyd and Echo's relationship, and the active/handler relationship in general, as well as the Alpha story (think he's the creepy naked guy who is helping out Ballard?).
Wish this one would have been the pilot...hopefully, enough of the "casual" fans who tuned in last week decided to give the show another chance, because this one would have hooked me even if I wasn't predisposed to enjoy it.