Dollhouse Discussion (whoopsie)

Forgot to post yesterday (and won't watch till later today):  

Needs. Awakening within the Dollhouse, with large parts of their original personalities having returned, Echo, Sierra and Victor plan an escape. 

Comments and conspiracy theories below.

6 thoughts on “Dollhouse Discussion (whoopsie)”

  1. First of all: love Victor. “Okay, who doesn’t want to put alien guy back in the box?” I’m thinking in his old life he must have had some strategic/military training, from the way he took charge of the escape, and it looks good on him. I’m mildly annoyed that he gets to run around being all take-charge while November’s central issue is a child and Sierra’s central issue is rape, but it’s balanced out somewhat by the fact that Echo’s central issue is this socio-political urge toward justice. Also, Victor’s position in their group as the protective competent fighter fits such a cliched pattern that it’s easy to overlook how unusual it is for a tv show to put that guy basically in the service of the female characters’ personal development arcs. Generally it works the other way around, with the helpful girlfriend doing everything in order for the lead guy to have his Meaningful Moment of revelation or whatever. Sweet that Victor was the one focused on falling in love.
    Apart from that, I was a little disappointed with the so-called awakening; from the preview I’d hoped that they might actually be breaking out, so to see it all done under Dollhouse control made that less satisfying, though more believable — if that’s a word that can even be applied to this show? In any case, it was good to get a glimpse of who these people “really” are, because it makes me like them all a lot more. (Except for November, who’s still reading dull to me. I feel like she’s supposed to be the Tara here, but I’m just not feeling it.) Love that Caroline made contact with Ballard.
    The most powerful thing this episode did was to reframe the Dollhouse in unequivocally malevolent perspective. Especially following the episode where we considered it from Patton Oswalt’s cuddly point of view. Seeing the Dollhouse reflected through the eyes of Echo’s team without context, it hits all sorts of nightmarish buttons: alien abduction, government experiments, military black ops, whorehouse. I think this was very well done, giving us the chance to view it from the inside out, via dolls stripped of their layer of docile consent. In that final scene when they’re all blank again, something’s changed: we can no longer imagine that they’re happy with their circumstances. We know for sure that there are real people under there who find this whole thing horrifying. So that ups the ante.

  2. I agree with Karen’s comments — although I confess, I like the episode far more in theory than execution. Sierra and November’s storylines especially were too truncated for me to care much about their particular resolutions — Sierra’s confrontation with the guy who “sold her” was particularly flat and insert-villainous-guy generic-feeling.
    Adding to that feeling: I’m not yet warming to the actress who plays Sierra. She’s very beautiful but she almost seems to avoid connecting with the camera … one reason I think I like Victor so much is the actor who plays him. Good chemistry between them, though.
    And now a small, small note — Why was November (Tara 2.0) so Oompa-Loompa orange this episode?! It looked like she had suffered a bad run-in with a bottle of Cover Girl matte foundation before taping. I kept on not wanting to notice but. couldn’t. stop.

  3. I’m with the above comments RE: thinking that this didn’t quite live up to the hype. If last week’s ep was “Band Candy,” then this was “Tabula Rasa”–too literal, perhaps, but it played out similarly, except (again) without any lasting implications.
    I was prepared for the inevitable reset going in, but I did hope that one or two of them might get away and make the show, I don’t know, interesting? That’s harsh, but I’ve been thinking a lot about The X-Files and this show lately, and how that show was great at changing everything in the course of an hour, only to restore the status quo at minute :56. This show not only does that every week, it’s actually built into the premise; I still don’t see how they’re going to get around it. It’s doubly frustrating because Buffy was one of the shows that proved there was another way to do things, and so far this show ain’t Buffy by a long stretch. As Abigail said on her blog a few weeks back, if it wasn’t Joss I’d have given up on this by now.
    What I did like: Adelle is great, and I’m starting to wish the show was more about her than Echo. She’s so slippery and ruthless and smart. Seeing Topher helpless was very satisfying, although not as satisfying as seeing him dead would be. (I don’t like Topher, which I guess is the point, so score one for Mutant Enemy.) I liked the reversal of Amy Acker’s character, and also the fact that the scars are healing. Agree on Victor being awesome, and Melly (despite her hotness) coming across a bit listless, even when she’s not in doll-mode. I like Sierra, though, and I’m pleased that she has some backstory that I hope will come up again.
    The more I think about it, the more I think the ep itself was well done, but it appears that in the larger context of the show it’s not going to mean anything, which makes me insane. Hopefully I’m wrong about that.
    Also, what was up with them talking openly about Alpha being alive when just a couple of episodes ago Topher was brought into the big secret loop about that fact? Did I miss something or are they just being wildly inconsistent?

  4. I think that the series, in terms of originality, hasn’t done enough with the concept. I remember reading a short story from the Year’s Best Science Fiction series edited by Dozois a couple of years ago which had a story in which characters had their memories wiped and imprinted with temporary new ones. This led to rich people using these imprints to carry out all sorts of schemes on the personal and global level. Whoring was only the tip of the iceberg. Heroes, which has slowly started trying to recover from a horrible first half of the third season, takes their characters into very interesting situations across the world or even the US while Dollhouse seems to be very limited in change of scenery.
    The feel of the series doesn’t match the same level of chemistry, wittiness, and setting that Buffy and Firefly had. I do think that the actress who plays Sierra is gorgeous and has great chemistry with Victor. I don’t get or like November she’s so passive. Loved that Vincent Ventresca from Invisible Man made an appearance.

  5. One of my problems with this show is that the concept means nothing can be taken at face value. At least BSG limited the number of cylons. And no memory or personality can be believed. Am I the only one who saw the recovered memories as all planted, to deal with other trauma? So we don’t know anything about the “real them”.
    Siera-rape as a doll. With the rapist/abuser dead, yet the trauma continuing, they created a different abuser for her to confront.
    November-her loss is as Ballards’ nurturer (she made him food, comforted him, etc.). So they created another nurture-loss, that of a child, to mourn. (a gravestone with no birth, death, last name, and not the child’s full first name?). There is no dead child.
    Echo-about freeing the animals in cages. Her fighting skills were not Caroline’s, but the imprint so that this time she can be the rescuer she needs to be. Her contact with Ballard was also programmed.
    Victor-I’m less sure here, but this satisfied his need to love/be loved/protect Siera.
    If all the backstories ARE true, then the people who run the dollhouse are stupid in that why are all the dolls kept in their hometowns, when there are other dollhouses? If November’s daughter is real and buried here, she runs the risk of running into people who “knew her when”, as did Siera. While we’ve seen that is true for Echol (the professor on the campus), I’m willing to overlook it/justify it for one doll; but for all of them? Another reason I don’t think these backstories were real.

  6. I wondered about that too, but I’m afraid I just chalked it up to the show being fundamentally kind of silly and unrealistic. The woman who recognized Echo at school seemed to be a real professor of hers, which tipped the balance for me. But it’s certainly a bit more interesting if your take on it turns out to be true.
    I’ve been wondering ever since we saw the Caroline flashbacks to her student activist days whether any of that was what really happened. I’m prepared for it to turn out that absolutely every character on the show is programmed to do what they’re doing, etc. But if I’m going to care about the show, I just really need to believe in a glimpse of humanity, even if the personality I’m caring about is a false implant.

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