Though it was, perhaps, inevitable, there are many reasons I am going to miss Dollhouse. Right now, Fox is in the middle of its episode clearance sale, throwing up back-to-back episodes every Friday until their warehouse is empty. And while it’s nice to see such a serialized show in larger chunks, it also feels a little cheap, because it’s very clear that they are just trying to get to the end of their deal as fast as possible and fill the time slot with some trite garbage. I know Dollhouse isn’t a perfect show but it could have gotten pretty close. It has the strongest ensemble cast on TV right now. Sure, Dusku lowers the curve a little bit. But there are so many candidates for valedictorian that it still looks like a class full of geniuses.
We’d already seen what many of these actors were capable of. Amy Acker played two roles on Angel: The beloved Fred (though it took me a while to warm up to her) and the powerful god in an indifferent world, Ilyria. She played the latter with complexity and deadpan humor. Harry Lenix played the conniving Aaron with a hint of sympathy in Julie Taymor’s Titus. As Miss Cross in Rushmore, Olivia Williams played a widow and scholastic Helen of Troy and it was clear what all the fuss was about. Even Fran Kranz, whose character started out a little on the annoying side, has turned Topher Brink into an incredibly multi-faceted persona with almost an excuse for his moral dubiousness.
And then there’s Victor. When we first met this doll, played by Enver Gjokaj, he was acting as a Russian informant, and leading FBI Agent Ballard astray in his Dollhouse investigation. His accent was terrific, or, at least, nothing like Harrison Ford’s in K-19: The Widowmaker. But what else could he do? It turns out, a better question is what CAN’T he do? Along the way, he has shown the most astounding range in doll characters. From dashing to dorky, and with all the necessary accents, Victor is easily the most versatile doll they have in their arsenal. Even his blank slate “doll state” is full of personality, as he exhibits a love and loyalty to fellow doll, Sierra, that no machine can erase. The narrative also hints at some sort of post-traumatic combat stress from his former life, though we still haven’t seen (and perhaps never will) his backstory. In one episode, he is imprinted with the mind of a comatose serial killer and plays it with all the necessary Anthony Perkinsness. Later, in the episode, his personality switches with Echo’s light-hearted party girl, and his transformation is flawless and hilarious.
Most recently, he was imprinted with Topher’s personality to hold down the fort in Topher’s absence. Gjokaj’s performance is air-tight. He nailed the cadence and mannerisms that Fran Kranz has built for his character. Even without the sweater vest ensemble, it was immediately clear who Victor was on that particular day. That level of acting goes a long way toward being able to use “show-don’t-tell” writing.
So who is this Enver Gjokaj fellow? Why have we never seen him before? And when can we see him again? He played “remote pilot” in Eagle Eye and a few bit parts on other TV shows, but that’s about it for priors. He has all the potential to be the next Gary Oldman. I sincerely hope that other casting directors see this too so that he’s not relegated to a career in doomed Joss Whedon projects.