Emily’s insecurities mount as she struggles to cry on demand for a key scene, while at the same time Dolly is wowing the cast and crew on set in the third episode of Doll & Em.
One star waning, the other rising
Em has a tough time as her worst fears for the funeral scene we saw her rehearsing in the pilot come true. She finds herself unable to cry to order despite having gone through the same thing in real life.
Doll, cast as a mourning extra, has no such difficulty, breaking down in floods of tears. Her performance unwittingly upstages Em, who is left aghast and responds by storming off to her dressing room and locking her friend out.
Em’s paranoia is further fuelled as Doll, who finds herself elevated from ‘friendly PA’ to ‘actor’ on the set, is befriended by John Cusack, one of her co-stars, and is welcomed with open arms on to the crew’s table at lunch.
Finally realising she’s being a diva, Em apologises and offers to take Doll for coffee. However, when her casting agent stops by to talk about a potential project, Em makes matters worse when Doll reminds her she hasn’t paid her. She responds by unfolding a wad of cash and then asks her to fetch coffees for the crew as well while she’s out, unwittingly putting her firmly back in her place.
Disgruntled, Doll parks in a disabled bay at the coffee shop, for which she is harangued by another driver. She attempts to demonstrate that she is disabled with a silly walk, but falls flat on her face and ends up on crutches.
Back home and in bed, Doll poses as Em to order her a new credit card and ends up talking about her acting process and how she was unable to cry, not realising that a fuming Em can hear every word.
The cracks in the friends’ relationship continue to become ever more apparent, although again Doll is far more aware of her position in the pecking order than Em, who remains unaware of the impact of some of her actions in reinforcing the master/servant hierarchy.
After last week’s excellent party piece, this episode felt a bit flat and slow – not least because the pair’s can’t cry/can cry scenario had already been played out in the first episode. Halfway through its six-episode run, it feels like the overall story arc remains underdeveloped and in need of acceleration. In fact, I can’t help but feel that the pacing of the overall story would have worked better as a film rather than a set of six half-hour episodes.
This week’s cameo comes from actor John Cusack, best known for films such as Grosse Pointe Blank, Being John Malkovich, Say Anything and High Fidelity. He’s a big fan of Dolly’s, and helps carry her back on set after her accident.