Dollhouse Episode 12, “Omega,” Pt. 2
The most awesome thing about Summer Glau is something spiritual.
Attend the tale of the tragic death of The Dancing Girl. That’s who Summer was before we ever heard of her. She discovered early on her love of dance, and it was her life. It squeezed out elementary, middle and high school, where most of us try on a variety of roles dealing with a wide range of people, sampling aspects of the lives we want to lead and the careers we may want to explore. Summer was home-schooled from the third grade on ’til she graduated from the 12th grade. (I was going to write “until she graduated from high school,” but she didn’t go to a high school one could graduate from.)
The time we spent surrounded by kids whose common point was that they were the same age and lived in the same general area — that was time Summer spent learning to dance, surrounded by other people learning to dance and by the dancers who taught them. Becoming the person she always knew she was. Dancing was the subject she knew, the people she knew, the life she knew. During what we call the formative years, she formed The Dancing Girl. It was not a hobby, not a subject, not a phase. It = her life.
Then: ankle injury. That was it. An injury killed The Dancing Girl. The girl survived, but not the dancing, not as something more than a hobby. Not as the life she was living, not the life she hoped tried worked hours and days and weeks and months and years to live. Who is The Dancing Girl when she can no longer dance?
A: A creature of extraordinary grace.
After a loss like this — of career, of future, of the life one had deserved to live (if, by dint of hard work and constant effort, one can deserve to live a certain life) — more than a few people turn to the bottle. Or even the needle.
But Summer, after it was all taken away from her, found out that she was not just The Dancing Girl. Yeah, just like the Buffy season two finale, after Angelus taunts her by asking what’s left after she’s lost everything and she replies, “Me.” But what was Summer’s “Me”?
A person with the most important ability in life. The ability to be reborn. She had to lay to rest The Dancing Girl — that is, to say goodbye to most of her outward parts of her life. Career. Colleagues/Fellow Students/Teachers. Their paths diverged. She had to make a new one. All that was left was what was on the inside.
OK, sure, there was a whole lot of outer beauty, too, but as assets go, that one’s notoriously double-edged. Strength and intelligence are assets that are more likely to lead to good things than bad. Physical beauty, well . . . how many physically beautiful women do you know who are actually happy? When they are, it’s cuz of what’s inside.
And Summer, somehow, knows it’s there. When she speaks, she does not sound overly confident. But she must have a strong sense that she has something good to give the world. After all, when the dancing thing didn’t work out, she thought she might be able to succeed as an actress in Los Angeles, where congregate a surplus of astonishingly good-looking women who have known all their lives that that’s what they want to do. It’s hard for all of them, and Summer lacked their experience or even the standard allotment of extraversion.
But she has something that most do not, something inside that somehow shines through her face. Vulnerable, yet strong. You can see in her the Little Red Innocent, although it’s fairly hard to imagine little Summer straying from the path. We’ve seen her play the Big Bad, the killing machine, out of control and without conscience. (Twice, actually.) We’ve seen her as the Hunter, the hero, saving the day. And she’s not just credible in all these roles, she’s incredible. She’s just beautiful.
A rebirth artist.
The anecdote she told on the Serenity press tours was a story of death and resurrection. When she started out her fight training, she was a vegetarian and learning stylized combat was so hard she cried. But she didn’t give up and she ultimately transformed herself into a sci fi movie’s most special effect. And by the end of her training she was eating steak. A fairy tale in five acts: Couldn’t, can’t, can’t, can’t, and wow. Real magic in this.