Updated: I just discovered that the episode talked about below (which was my favorite of the series so far) was directed by none other than Jonathan Frakes. And if you don't know who he is, then SHAME. For he was Commander Riker on STNG. I am very impressed since the direction of this episode, especially the sequence where Topher et al. had to dispose of Nolan was beautifully done.
Wow, I never thought I would say this. But...I kind of liked Topher in Dollhouse this week.
Up until this point, I've really hated Topher. And I haven't been exactly quiet about it. He just came off as a cheap imitation of Andrew from Buffy, but without any of the underlying sweetness (as much underlying sweetness as someone who brutally murdered his best friend could have). Topher was always just too much of a smartass and instead of coming off as funny, to me he always came off as asshatty.
While at Comic Con we saw a screening of the unseen Dollhouse episode, Epitaph One. In this episode (set in the future) we saw Topher had been driven insane by as of yet, unknown events. I think in this past week's episode, we might have seen the beginning of the cracks in his psyche. And it made him more interesting, and more importantly, more quiet.
I used to think that Topher's annoyingness might be the fault of the actor, Franz Kranz, but after seeing Belonging, I realized that I really underestimated him. The way he portrayed Topher through the entire last act was really surprising. I mean he had to show Topher dissecting and dissolving a dead body in sulpheric acid. That's not easy to sell, but darn if he didn't do it.
Throughout the series Topher has been portrayed as incredibly amoral with a touch of sadness, but now for the first time he struggled with a real ethical dilemma and made a choice with disastrous consequences (see above dissecting and dissolving dead body). Who's to say if he had made the other choice things would have turned out better, but in any event, I'm loving how this season is showing Topher's infallibility and ego slowly wither away.
I'm not completely willing to admit that I was wrong about Topher, I stand by my hatred of his first season self, but I'm definitely liking what I'm seeing so far in Season 2. In fact, observing the evolution of his character will probably be one of the things I miss most when the show is inevitably cancelled. I think it just goes to show that Dollhouse is a far superior program when it takes the focus off the black hole of fun that is Echo.
Topher, you're so much more adorable when confronted with an ethical and moral dilemma! Also, after I found out that you have a tattoo on your ankle that reads, "NC1701." Awesome.