This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Yeah we totally had sex."
11945 members | you are not logged in | 20 October 2014




Tweet







February 21 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the second episode of Dollhouse. How was it for you? Also, Eliza is in the new Hulu commercial.

Whoa! Just saw an Eliza/Dollhouse hulu commercial!
Those are really funny. I love the Alec Baldwin one!
I get the feeling it was deliberate when she said "eyes glued to the screen" while taking off that jacket. I was hoping that it was a new Fox promo; it was smarter than the ones used last week.
Here's the link on Hulu for the commercial, which I guess will only work in the US.

[ edited by Rachelkachel on 2009-02-21 02:35 ]
Added a link to the Eliza ad.
That was great! O.K.--I totally bought her as an evil-but-seductive alien; who says she doesn't have the range to pull this off?
THE TONGUE!!!!
My friend who knows nothing of Hulu now recognizes it as "that website you talk about, with the scary commercial." This is not likely to change his opinion but I'll send it to him anyway.
LMAO the Hulu commercial was hilarious. And wow, Eliza. Is there an Olympic event for tongues?
Now that was an opening teaser!
The. TV. In. My. Dorm. Is. Broken.

*has aneurism*
So far I'm a little confused, but in a good way.
Okay, the Hulu commercial made the broken dorm TV situation slightly better.
They have an auxiliary satellite? Whoa, expensive.
Yay, Mark Sheppard! I have a spare satellite... ;)
I'm not sure how Ballard would have been put on to the Cristejo case.
Mark Sheppard was a perfect choice there. Yay!
PETA is already typing their press release.
Haha the tongue remark fits perfectly with the Hulu commercial. ;)
KoC - he wasn't put on it, he was being nosy. And PETA has already given ED grief when she was out bowhunting for real.
"The Most Dangerous Game" -- must say that was kind of obvious. Still awesome, though.
Zeitgeist, I mean how'd he get the scent? How did he see the Cristejo kidnapping as tied to the Dollhouse? That's what I don't quite buy.
I'm enjoying the contrast between the flashbacks and the current story of Echo being spared by Alpha only to be hunted later.
KoC - people talk around the office. The outcome was incredibly unlikely and unexplained, so Ballard looked into Christejo. Its a slight stretch, but I don't think its as much of one as you're thinking.
The Middleman has transformed into an evil freak.
There it is again!

They should have showed this one at the Super Bowl.
"The Most Dangerous Game" was obvious. That cop wasn't.

I thought the first few episodes were stand-alone.
I like the backstory/mythology in this episode.
I was laughing when Ballard's co-worker was talking about granny's sharp teeth.
Hee! Glad they addressed the "why no default ninja skills?" thing. I've seen that question.
So is this supposed to suggest that Topher has a conscience about this after all?
When did anything good ever come from running to the mysterious cabin in the middle of the woods?
Whoa! The body in the closet got me. Cabin in the woods!
Tip to the psycho -- she's not the most dangerous game anymore if you drug her with a canteen.
Who wrote this episode? I missed it in the credits.

This has been a really good episode so far.
Steven S. DeKnight.
writer & director: DeKnight: de Dark Knight

So is this supposed to suggest that Topher has a conscience about this after all?

Huh? I think it suggests that he is still a jerk, but he doesn't like it when the blood and violence intrude in his orderly office.
Great commercial, but CGI tongues don't do much for me.
Reminds me of the imprinting in the A.I. movie a bit.
Am I the only one making Buffy connections unintentionally? Last week with the watcheresque Miss.Post and this week with the Tabula Rasa?! Maybe its just my Buffy deprivation kicking in...

I am really liking this episode though. It's deliciously craztastic!
Interesting drugs. I had a feeling there'd be a twist.
Miracle Laurie is very, very pretty.
This is an incredible episode so far. What a perfect way to set up Echo starting to have an identity.

This would be perhaps Miracle Laurie? Incidentally, I'm calling that she's an Active assigned to watch Ballard. Or just an employee.
Yeah, that's her :)
That's exactly how I'd act if Tahmoh were my neighbor, except in a way more embarrassing manner. I'm loving the Active/Handler bond.
Eliza breaks my damn heart.
In all the right ways.
Ohhh I am so glad they finally subverted the woman as victim/man as predator or protector thing....
oooh she is so going off script!
I suspect this guy has done this with women before. So how many do you think he's killed?

Tens? Hundreds?

I wonder if he played "this game" with men before.

[ edited by crazygolfa on 2009-02-21 03:49 ]
Do you trust me?
No way Boyd tells anyone that her script thing didn't work. I also love that he said he trusts her with his life. He meant it.
I could not be less on the edge of my seat
I'm shipping Echo/Boyd love. Aw. Sorry that I said the S word.
Joss said that Fox asked him to "cut to the chase." This episode is ALL race.
I'm enjoying the very purely paternal Boyd/Echo vibe.
DeKnight (wrote and driected this) posted something on his MySpace:


DEKNIGHT'S DOLLHOUSE! TONIGHT ON FOX!
Behold! My episode of Dollhouse, tonight at 9 on Fox! Thanks for letting me play with all your cool toys, Joss!
- DeKnight

Where's Boyd? Outflank him!
Nathan Fillion would have been great as this guy... oh crap, maybe Nathan is Alpha? He was sitting around naked.
That would rock so hardcore if Fillion was Alpha!
Wow!!! What a hell of an exciting ep. Too bad I have to miss the very end to replay it. :D
I'm not loving this. Boring and predictable.

I really hate chase stories. They put me to sleep.

Still like Boyd and Ballard best.

I know. Alpha is Twilight.

[ edited by redeem147 on 2009-02-21 03:58 ]
Twilight is Alpha.

Actually, Sean Maher should be Alpha.
King, I'm kidding about the shippiness. ;) Nonetheless, I'm getting very attached to Boyd/Echo.
Cold Opening: Well we know what happened to Saunders now. Also fairly clear who that guy from the end of last week's episode probably was.

Act I: 'Tabula Rasa' huh? :P
Written and directed by Steve DeKnight, huh? Expectations set to 'high.' The interactions between the Handler (damn I still can't remember his name) and Topher are pretty ok. Potential there for some good banter, but I think the dialog is still trying to find itself in the context of the tone of the show. Or something.

Hi Mark!

Oh I see what this is. Eliza wants to shoot some arrows. I saw her do that on a talk show one time. I gotta say, this personality isn't really showing my anything new or special from Eliza.

Wait, I'm sorry...is...is that guy going to hunt her? Oh my lord, that's so insane that I find it funny.

Act II: Well, I am suitably intrigued by the entire 'arc' (I guess) of the show/season. The whole Alpha thing, that is.

I just think the whole 'now to hunt the deadliest game of all...man' thing is ridiculous (or woman, in this case). Also, just because Topher is retooling the satellite, shouldn't he still have access to Echo's vitals and see that something is wrong? I'm not really an expert, so I could be wrong.

Oh no! Handler is in trouble! He is my favourite character as of now.

Act III: 'Abra-Kedabra' callback, what what!

Boyd! I will try to remember that.

Yeah, kinda figured that canteen was poisoned. I am not digging on this plot line at all.

Act IV: These flashbacks are doing a solid job of answering some questions about the general concept of the dollhouse. Seriously, though, Boyd is an awesome character. His 'bonding' with Echo is really awesome.

While I really don't like this 'hunting' plot, I'm intrigued by these flashback/hallucination things. And hey, it's that girl who was supposed to be November! Hello!

Act V: Eliza plays this 'in love bubbly' thing nicely. It's kind of interesting how bonded she is with Boyd whenever she gets imprinted, because of the bonding thing, but how indifferent he is supposed to be to it. Really good stuff there.

Uh oh, something is going wrong with her programming. AND NOW ROLE REVERSAL! Oh man awesome. Almost makes up for the lame plot situation. Haha, the 'none of them democrats' line was a nice bit as well. Oh Steve.

Act VI: Where the hell did Boyd go? Oh, still hanging out by a tree. Right on.

Looks like Alpha is doing his own group conspiracy thing? So I guess he's trying to wake Echo up as well? This is the stuff that will keep me tuning in.

Overall, I didn't really get into this episode too much until the fifth act, but then it really got me into it, perhaps moreso than the premier. So overall I think the premier was a stronger episode, but this one had stronger moments, I guess. But that might just me because of how much I disliked the whole 'hunting' plot, though once it was linked to the Alpha plot I guess it wasn't so ridiculous.

Grr! Aargh!
Oh man, every week is just going to be a different mindf**k, isn't it? Very much enjoying this insanity so far. I love Echo's handler.

My roommate and I, in our Friday night college-kids shennanigans, have developed a Dollhouse drinking game.
Everyone must take a shot when:
-the "Twin peaks" music plays behind Echo
-A jossverse actor pops up
-there is nudity.

It hasn't let us down so far.
Wow, Reed is a jerk. That was incredibly rude. Even Topher would never do that.
For a long time, I was not feeling this episode. Too close to torture porn for me. I'm not a fan of horror movies or most thrillers, so I guess it's just not my type of thing. But by the last third or so, it started to get more interesting exploring relationships and characters more. Plus Echo as a victim is getting old fast, so I was sooo rooting for her to kill that bastard. (This after saying that I don't like violent TV shows/movies... haha.)

Also: Without Boyd, this show would be unwatchable, IMO. But he is there so it's all good. :)
I liked this one. They have jumped into the continuing story faster than I feared they would. Eliza did scared well and I liked Topher's responses a lot after Alpha rampaged through the Dollhouse.
Considerably better than the pilot. It was great to establish so much, so early, and so efficiently. Also, I was unsure about character development being possible, but already in the 2nd episode is great.
"Shoulder to the wheel." Nice ending.
I liked the premiere last week but I thought this episode was even better.The Alpha plot looks like it's going to be a good mystery.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-02-21 04:07 ]

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-02-21 04:08 ]
I love how Echo's expression altered against Reed in that final scene and then the fist to shoulder slap. I felt like as the episode progressed I started to see more from Dushku than I'd ever seen from her before.
The look Dr. Saunders threw when Boyd mentioned "maybe Alpha, maybe somebody else" hired this guy to kill Echo makes me think she was behind it. After all, leave Echo alive indicates she means something to Alpha. Saunders, hell hath no fury and all that, might have tried offing Echo to get to Alpha.
That was legen...wait for it...dary. In all seriousness though, I thought that was an extremely well put together ep. Pretty much every potential reservation from the pilot was wiped away and replaced with amazingness...and people hunting. This is going to be a fun ride!
The blown out bright colours work as well here as it did in Out of Gas to show a different time.
That was a really good improvement from last week.
Just tweeted about this, but what's intriguing the most right now is the memory and imprint process.
About "rooting for her to shoot him at the end." Interesting... the whole theme was the grey areas of violence: is hunting wrong? Is the client's hunting of Echo wrong? [yes] Is Echo's hunting of the client wong? [no... I guess] As with sexuality, Joss (and the other writers) are using the plot to force us to examine our beliefs and whether they hold up when pushed to extremes.
Do we know how much time has lapsed between Caroline joining the Dollhouse and this episode? Boyd seems very close to Echo and Dr. Saunders scars looked healed. Although I've got the crappiest reception ever so I'm not sure about the scars. I wasn't sure that was Mark Sheppard, thanks zeitgeist.
After several episodes of "did I fall asleep?", it is going to be pretty emotional the first time Echo goes "off-script".

I'd have to watch again, but didn't it say that the Alpha incident was 3 months before?

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-02-21 04:09 ]
I enjoyed this episode quite a lot. More than last week's for sure. Echo coming back from assignments, in love, and not knowing she's getting ready to be mind wiped breaks my heart!

I'm so very glad that Dollhouse is on the air. Can't wait for next week!
This episode was excellent, I thought. And the dormmates and I have named Laurie "Random Lasagna Girl" until further notice. Seriously though, she IS really pretty. Glad they managed to keep her on after FOX got all FOX-tastic on them.

Liked this episode a little better than the first, though both were good. I'm really liking this show's direction, and I'm really glad that there's still a continuous plot throughout each episode's standalone arc.
Hmm, maybe. It did seem obvious, the way Amy played that reaction. We didn't actually see Alpha's attack on Saunders, so maybe.
KingofCretins, now that you mention it, his physique from the pilot looks like Sean Maher did in "Serenity".
I liked this one a lot. And it took me from tense to laughing out loud in one moment: "Four brothers. None of them Democrats."

Edited to correct the quote.

[ edited by Bobbi on 2009-02-21 21:19 ]
Okay, this episode pretty clearly establishes something:

Don't give Actives drugs if you value their conditioning.
So is Stephen DeKnight's "thing" flashbacks that explain back story?

Also, how do you get slashed in the face with a ten inch blade and not be messed up? If Alpha wanted to let her go, he wouldn't have slashed her at all. He seems very all or nothing killeresque.
Deadbessie, it was three months ago that Boyd joined the Dollhouse.
Great episode! I'm really excited to see where the show is going. It seems to me its only a matter of time before the "client" aspect of the show is taken out. :)
I think DeKnight's thing is bloody violence and gore. It's what I'm expecting from his new show, Sparticus.
they should put up a sign. "DO NOT TAUNT THE DOLLS".
It's too bad that Stephen had to leave the show. I thought this episode was an improvement over the first.
Ok, wow.
Was there a single shot in that episode that didn't end with someone, well, being shot?

I think Joss is trying to set up a background of "the blood and the death and the horror" and then making the amazing non-death of main characters be the highlight of this shiny new show.

Ok, I kid, mostly. That was definitely a seat-edge-gripping episode, though at some points it lapsed into a script I see in my head as "continue chase scene, add some funky music". But a steep improvement upon Ep 1, and I'm sure this pattern will continue to glorious heights.

I was getting a very "Out of Gas" vibe with the episode, in which the flashbacks were the best parts amidst the gasping and the hallucinating and the drinking of what on first sight seemed to me a canteen of formaldehyde, since, hey, psychotic.

I'll have to rewatch the ep on Hulu, which I did for the last ep too, to suss out the confusing bits. Too many faces I keep thinking I know. ("That must be Alpha! No, wait.") Also, apparently I missed a riveting slaughter scene in failing to reach the TV for the first 3 minutes of it.

Also, of course, loving the strengthening of the Boyd, everyone else, etc, characters.
Although we've been told some of the actors' roles were switched from Actives, to just other characters of this 'verse, don't you think Lasagna Girl and Mob Guy might still be November and Victor?
Dollhouse ended 25 minutes ago and I can't stop thinking about it. If the show keeps getting better, Nirvana can't be far off. That or insanity.

Why does there have to be a whole week between Fridays?
I think Lasagna Girl seems just sweet enough that she could get shot in the stomach right as Ballard realizes he likes her. Knowing Joss, that is.
I think she seems sweet enough that she can't be all that sweet. I expect more from Lasagna Girl. I expect Twisty Lasagna Girl.
Again a great episode, better than the pilot. (Although I did love the pilot.) Back story up the wazoo, which is a good thing (but only if you like that kind of thing.) I'm liking the Topher/Boyd banter, Eliza is doing well as Echo and her various other personalities. Laurence is an asshat of the highest caliber. Again, I liked it. I want more.
Kingotnw: "It seems to me its only a matter of time before the 'client' aspect of the show is taken out.."

Huh? That's the whole reason the Dollhouse exists, to cater to clients.

That'd be like a hospital drama where you never get around to showing any patients. Now a hospital comedy, you can do that...

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2009-02-21 04:29 ]
Oh and the Boyd/Echo relationship, getting very cool.
This was my first episode (I forgot last week) and I have to admit I'm intrigued. I guess I'll be catching 'Ghost' on Hulu after all.
I'm just glad Adelle didn't charge the psycho more because she knew what he was really going to do on the engagement. That would've been really fucked up.
On the rewatch, this line still made me lol:

Topher: Are you getting this, mountain man-friend?
I enjoyed this much more than the premiere. The story developments are moving along nicely and we're getting a better idea of the characters. Boyd is already my favourite and his relationship with Echo is touching. I thought Eliza's performance was also a step up. And the character of Mellie in her brief appearance had me wanting to see more of her. Her last line was heartbreaking. Also, can we see Sierra plz!:P
Although we've been told some of the actors' roles were switched from Actives, to just other characters of this 'verse, don't you think Lasagna Girl and Mob Guy might still be November and Victor?

I'm pretty sure I saw "Victor" in the pilot when they all went to bed. Maybe it was just a reuse of old footage, but yeah, I'm still sort of sure that Lubov is still Victor. Not sure about November though, since Joss claims the show moves to fast to do what he planned to do with November, which was more personal missions for the Dolls.
CaptainB: "..don't you think Lasagna Girl and Mob Guy might still be November and Victor?"

...this isn't a given? I've been watching it as a given.

I'm 100% convinced Mob Guy who peed on his own shoes in the first episode is a Deep Under Active. Is that who you mean by Victor? I'm not so sure about Lasagna Girl yet.

Then again, I'm 90% convinced Boyd is an Active. I'm about 50-50 on everybody except Claire Saunders, who I think will be really ticked off when she finds out she's the only one with the same memories she had when she started working there, predominantly cuz by now she's ready for a wipe. And some plastic surgery.

I don't put anything past Whedon. In fact, I'm now under the suspicion that some of you are overdue for your 'treatment.'
I've got to say -- I had never seen Miracle Laurie. And I really had thought that, for all the business there was over her being 'heavy' or whether FOX would want a 'heavy' character or whether it would even make sense for an Active to be 'heavy', I was completely surprised to see that she is in no remarkable way 'heavy'.
I guess Victor could be on assignment as Lubov, but I doubt Ballard's neighbor is still a Doll. Then again, who knows.

About Boyd being an Active, I thought this was the reveal in the scene where he said the wounds seemed "familiar". If they were so gruesome, why did he need to spell it out so slowly, as if he didn't remember the horrific scene? I know I would. Case of "Viewers are Morons" or something more sinister?
So, Lasagna girl is an active set up to watch Paul and monitor his progress. Mob guy is an active sent to run him in circles and lead his investigation down the wrong trail. Could be. Is that what Adelle meant by it's being handled, I wonder.
KoC, while I do think she was chunky, it's in no way "problematic" fat. Remember, this is TV. FOX maybe thought she was "TV" fat which we know is wholly unrealistic standards.
I loved the bonding between Echo and Boyd. And it raises the question of the fine line between fabricating trust and creating real trust. What's real and what's an illusion? When does the illusion become real? Absolutely fascinating.

Boyd: Everything's going to be alright.
Echo: Now that you're here.
Boyd: Do you trust me?
Echo: With my life.

Tactile sensation enhances the bonding protocol. I love how it starts off in the flashback with Boyd completely resistant and derogatory towards Echo. Fabricated trust. Then towards the end the trust becomes real as Boyd returns the declaration that he trusts Echo with his life. The trust becomes real.

And what's amazing is this switch occurs at the exact same moment as Echo and Connell switch positions of hunter/hunted. And Boyd switches from the protective handler to the one being handled. Wonderful topsy-turvy reality.
I guess it doesn't really count, but wouldn't Victor saying "Dollhouse" cause his programming to short? In the pilot, we were told that talking about the Dollhouse would only confuse an Active and make them come back prematurely. But I guess saying the words with no meaning doesn't count as a significant enough jolt.
pat32082: "I'm just glad Adelle didn't charge the psycho more because she knew what he was really going to do on the engagement..."

Frankly I'm surprised she didn't. What the heck kinda place is she running anyway? Doesn't she answer to stockholders or something? There's a lot of money going into this. There's gotta be mad profits.
I'm about 50-50 on everybody [being an Active]...


Prediction: Topher is the only non-Active. He has programmed the entire set of people around himself to create this simulated world in which to play. A bit like "Mr. Universe" from Serenity.
Well, she did say, "my employers," so she is working for someone. It's amazing how much there is to talk about after two episodes.
Ah, the Dollhouse employees...the continuous sniping at their memory-wiped "volunteers" and the lack of prevention of slaughter scenes seems to merit some more accountability.

Also, really lame satellite systems and even lamer back-up in fatal situations? On a scale of one to Topher's man-friend dialogue, this rates a lowly Bad Management.

It's understandable, of course, if they're all robots controlled by the single brain of an evil genius.
I think the fact that Topher and everyone there has explained how unpredictable and cutting edge the science of the imprints is ensures that the (majority of) people who run the Dollhouse aren't imprints or else they'd all go Alpha-crazy and kill each other. You need a control in this kind of situation.
John Darc: why did he need to spell it out so slowly, as if he didn't remember the horrific scene? I know I would.

Uhh... because it happened three months ago (instead of 30 minutes)? And as a former cop (?), he has probably seen a lot of messed up things both before and after joining the Dollhouse, so it might take a moment to remember which horrific scene in particular was ringing a bell.

Jav: really lame satellite systems and even lamer back-up in fatal situations?

Maybe because the client's background check passed with flying colors, so any additional security for a white-water rafting trip would be considered a needless expense.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-02-21 04:56 ]
So, Lasagna girl is an active set up to watch Paul and monitor his progress. Mob guy is an active sent to run him in circles and lead his investigation down the wrong trail. Could be. Is that what Adelle meant by it's being handled, I wonder.

I hope that there aren't a bunch of "they live among us" deep-cover actives. It's more interesting to me if we're watching the story of Lubov becoming Victor. It seems easy to spin scenarios for that from his current situation: he gets too close to the Dollhouse and "disappears", or the Borodins catch him talking to an FBI agent and like Caroline, he "volunteers."

I didn't like this one better than the pilot, but I really liked the pilot.
pat32082: "It's amazing how much there is to talk about after two episodes."

Heck I talked for weeks about this last year before losing my steam and moving on to something else, and all we had back then was "The Premise" and "Whedon & Dushku" to talk about. Ratings schmatings! Even if it's bad it's still pretty good.

SteveP: "Prediction: Topher is the only non-Active."

Ooh that's a good theory. AND would explain why DeWitt didn't fire Topher for making an Active last week with asthma: if Topher's really Adele's boss, programmed by him, and she's just pretending to boss him around, he can do whatever he wants.
Does anyone else suspect that "shoulder to the wheel" was something that Caroline used to say? And that's why it clicked so suddenly when she was with Boyd and realized what it meant and how she had to kill Connell. And that's why it's the first sign we get from Echo that her true personality is emerging. That Alpha told Connell to say that because it would click with the Caroline within Echo.
I'll echo (ha, ha) Zachsmind's, "Ooh," and say I love THAT idea, Emmie.
*sigh*
i hate being in NZ, unable to watch on TV, unable to watch on amazon, unable to watch on hulu.
please somone put it up as a torrent already!!! i'm dying of anticipation.
Can't wait to watch! Woot woot! Suck it, foreigners! Suck it hard!
Ixnay on the orrentstay in comments. Chris - none of that.
sorry zeitgeist.............can you think of a legal way for me to watch the show?

and chris :P
Lalala, not reading the spoilers, just saying that the Hulu commercial was hilarious.
can you think of a legal way for me to watch the show?

There's none currently, put simply.
Tonight's ep should have been the pilot. It was better in every way: better action, dark humor and plenty of it, more subversion of expectations, and overall far more Whedonesque. It also makes the pilot completely unnecessary. When I recommend the show to people, I'll suggest they take a pass on the first episode and watch this one first.

I hope the pilot didn't scare to many people off. If the ratings dive on this 'sode, it is totally Fox's fault. Is this a Fox thing? Fringe had the same problem: long, slow, unnecessary first episode, then a much much better second episode. Fringe is really kicking into high gear with the latest eps, again making the pilot appear clunky and unnecessary.
Hahaha loved the role reversing and of course the "None of them Democrats" line.
First mention of that we see for those of us who avoid spoilers. Also, glad to see Amy Acker with some resentment about the body in her office.
"Four brothers. No Democrats." If it was written outside of a Joss show, I would be kinda ticked. But it IS a Joss show... ON FOX. Works on so many levels, win-win-win, right? I laughed, and the episode could have used a laugh right about... there.

"Some Cabin in the Woods." Hey, we hear your shout out. =)

I'm still not feeling this show. I *want* to love this show, you know? So many internally moving parts of which we get to see a tiny piece. I own, and have studied, every episode of Buffy and Firefly. The bar is set so freaking high... and yet, I have faith. And patience.

(Back to lurking...)

[ edited by Andrea 2s1 on 2009-02-21 06:02 ]
I thought this episode was much improved over the pilot in that it established more in less time, while keeping a fast pace in a story line that was very interesting. It wasn't like she was going out with a sleezy guy - he turned sleezy really quickly, and even I was a little stunned. I actually sat up in my seat and said, "what?!" as he told her she had to go...and it was tricky because we know that usually when Echo is told she has to go, it means the engagement is up, and she's got to leave. But this was a big trick, and I think that's why it sneaked up on me. I thought at first he meant the engagement was over, and she had to leave. And then there was the "head start" part...eeek!

I like Topher more and more, because he is the amalgam the Xander/Andrew/Wesley/Giles in every universe. He's witty and bantery like Xander and Andrew and smart like Wesley and Giles. I loved the "mountain man-friend" line, and I really liked Topher's confidence in his own abilities - he intrudes when he needs to, and it's not out of disrespect - it's because he knows he's the only one who actually knows how all this works, so he's the only one who can fix it.

Now...why is Matt Keesler ALWAYS the bad guy? Everything I've seen him in, he's the bad guy.
My thoughts...

Hats off to Joss for taking the premise of The Most Dangerous Game and making it even more perverse.

Hats off to the fight coordinator. Both big fight scenes were very good. In particular, the fight scene between the fake forest ranger and Boyd in the van was gritty and satisfying.

Joss should continue to crib from his own catalog; there isn't a better source of material (there were several lines that seemd like throwbacks to Firefly, and there were major elements from Becoming, Slayerfest and The I in Team).

Echo's hair and makeup was pretty fabu for her archery lesson, considering she'd spent the day in the forest white water rafting and rock climbing...

In addition to the 5 minute head start, he must have given her time during the commercial break to get her clothes back on.

Fake park ranger guy's voice sounds exactly like Nathan Fillion (e.g. "off the beaten").

I thought the episode was much better than the pilot. The only scene that bothered me was the last one. Why did Boyd suddenly lose his ability to analyze a dead body's wounds? And why was he barely able to remember something that happened just three months prior?

@John Darc: I was thinking the exact same thing about the DO NOT TAUNT sign.
Does anyone else suspect that "shoulder to the wheel" was something that Caroline used to say

Shoulder to the wheel. Prove you're not just an echo.

Yes, definitely.
Now...why is Matt Keesler ALWAYS the bad guy? Everything I've seen him in, he's the bad guy.

He wasn't the bad guy in The Middleman.
The Boyd taking too much time to recall where he'd seen the similar wounds thing threw me as well. And I don't for a second buy the earlier explanation that he's seen so many crime scenes and bodies that it would require some thinking time. Odd.

Hopefully it will come into play and make sense later.
Phong, I gave a possible answer when John mentioned it earlier. This is likely one in a string of gruesome deaths in Boyd's past, so it wasn't as memorable as you might like. Also, since everyone "knew" that Alpha was killed the day after the incident, it took him a moment to realize that the pieces didn't add up.

Andrea: I *want* to love this show, you know?

I liked all the Whedon shows from the beginning.
Only *loved* Buffy at the end of Season 1/beginning of Season 2.
Angel-- around mid- first season
Firefly-- around ep 5 ("Our Mrs. Reynolds")

It has only been two episodes. Don't expect instant magic.
I don't *love* Dollhouse yet, but the right foundation is in place.
And the interviews hint that the show kicks into high gear by ep 5 or so.

Brett: why don't you buy it? On "Law & Order", you have cops who have become so jaded/experienced with murder, that they make jokes around crime scenes that would send the average person into psychotherapy.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-02-21 06:22 ]
Sort of reminded me of a tv version of Wrong Turn.

Still undecided as to how I feel about this show.
I think it was a definite improvement over the pilot:
- More quirky dialogue: "The kind you need to shoot at."
- More funny: Ballard's ironic "that was hilarious" delivery.
- More backstory.
- More lasagna!

In the beginning Boyd had to be instructed to hold Echo's hand to create an artificial connection, but at the end he reached for her hand because of an actual one. Nice.

Some of the wandering around in the woods could have been shortened, perhaps.

It took an unreasonable amount of time for Boyd to connect the dots to Alpha when viewing the body with Dr. Saunders, especially after all the specifics about blade length.

I liked: Boyd having two guns; Echo shooting at Richard as he was about to give a boring speech; setting up the "trust me/everything's going to be OK" rule, using it, then breaking it.

Also, the part about it being a Joss Whedon show, and the part about it being on television? I especially liked those parts.

I wonder how Dominic being such a dick to Echo is going to pay off?
I loved this episode.

The flashbacks were informative. They gave the right mix of answering questions (the face scars) and adding new ones (why did Alpha not kill Echo). I was worried when I saw the previews of Echo running around in the woods, but seeing the story for what it was took my worry straight away from me.

I am sold on this show.

Now, my only major thought is "how do I ensure that this show stays on the air for more than one season?" I wish there was a more active way. Like rounding up all the Nielsen households and forcing them to tune into FOX. Paying off FOX executives. Getting Dollhouse double the views of anything else on Hulu.

Even if you aren't sure about this show yet, I say take it on faith (no pun intended) and spread it around to everybody through every possible means.
I don't buy it because it wasn't just a similar scene but virtually an exact redux of a situation of which he'd been a part just three months ago, If that isn't reason enough, presumably becoming and being part of an organization such as this is substantial enough an occurrence and experience to stand apart from those in one's past. And one on which one would well likely ruminate, particulary with respect to the big moments, of which this was likely one of the biggest.

But more so, the only reason it would seem that such a delayed realization would be scripted as such would be if it actually meant something.

And it's a memory issue. In the Dollhouse...
OneTeV, exactly. I didn't love Buffy at first. I saw the first few episodes and stopped watching after The Witch. Then saw all the advertising for Surprise/Innocence and got hooked after that point. So I think it's a bit much to expect fireworks from the first few episodes in. But I still think Dollhouse has the strongest opening out of the others actually.
My apologies to Mr. DeKnight, as I have probably attributed some of his work to Joss (though if you think about it, it's really a compliment).
Liked it much more than the pilot but it didn't have the pressure of being the pilot. Miracle Laurie was adorable (so that's heavy, hmm, i have my doubts because it looks suspiciously like thin to me) and Lubov's chin still fascinates me but that's another story for another time. Boyd is the man but I don't anyone doubted that after a few moments with him in the pilot. I didn't think we'ds get so much mythology so quick but it was handled in a very casual viewer friendly way. I am looking forward to the Alpha story and how it will unfold. Another wonderful friday night of TV. I look forward to 'em as long as I can get 'em.
Loved it, and really, really hope it sticks around longer than the initial set of episodes. I even have friends watching with me both Fridays so far, and my DAD asked me if I was watching this show. I didn't even have to sway him, he was already doing it?! I'm in shock, but happy shock.
Awesome. Great episode, great to see movement on the arc, crazy twists. I kept on feeling bad for all the girls (in a good way)... poor Echo, poor Claire, and I felt bad for Tahmoh's next door neighbor (despite a suspicion that she may be the measures that the boss lady spoke of)... though also anger at him for not picking up on her signs. :shakes head:

Great to see Mark Shepard, though I couldn't tell if he was doing an American accent or a toned down version of his own. Either way, awesome, and I really hope he continues to come back a lot. I have to say not yet sold on Lubov's accent (especially since I just got finished watching 3 hours of a Russian comedy movie before it... oi). But I haven't given up hope on it yet, which is good.

I'd probably say as good if not better than first episode. Great stuff, let's hope that the ratings pick up.
Wow, that was gripping. I just couldn't turn away from the show tonight. Intense.
Meh. Woods = boredom. Dushku running, boob shots - Tru Calling. Cliche plot, ho hum. Lots of plot holes. But, at least there were a few micro-second glimpses of some very faint Jossness in this one..... The overall story of the DH has got to be more interesting than the sum of it's parts. I hope.
I just went to hulu.com to see if they had posted tonight's episode (they haven't), and I saw that they still have last week's episode as one its featured episodes. Neat.
I just left DeKnight a message at MySpace (why yes, he does have a Space and he posted a bulletin about tonight's episode earlier today). That episode was superb, rich, deep... I thanked him for shocking me, as I am rarely shocked by anything in fiction anymore. I didn't see it coming (the reveal of the engagement). I hate to say the pilot pales in comparison to this, but well, let me put it this way. Lost is most effective when it asks more questions than it answers and when it shows you things it never fully explains. And tonight felt like that for me, with Dollhouse.
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!
It's hardly going to show up on Hulu five minutes after it aired.
Brett, I thought about it some more, and it is completely different scene (and not similar), for the following reasons:

1) Mind frame-- In the past, he asked to examine the body, as he was investigating a murder. In the present, Boyd does not examine the body (Saunders does), because he is under suspicion of murdering the fake-ranger. Boyd is probably wondering if Dollhouse security will make him "disappear" before the facts were in. And until she told him definitively, he had to wonder if he accidently caused a fatal injury. So his mind was not on the body as much as his own skin.

2) The body-- Presumably, the previous handler only had the specific "surgeon" wounds on him. Mr Fake-Ranger was in a fierce fight with Boyd, which means that he was probably covered with bruises, cuts (broken glass), broken bones, a few gun shots, etc. The new wounds may not have been so obvious on top of the previous injuries. And it is not clear that the distinctive (non-lethal) tendon-cuts were applied this time, since he was already tied down in the van.

3) Previous handler was killed by someone he "knew" to be dead, so I don't think his mind would jump to a "case-closed". The hesitation in his response may not have been a delay in recognition, but in piecing together that Alpha was probably still alive.

On a more serious note, add another vote for M. Laurie being majorly cute. It says something about Ballard's focus/obsession that he didn't pick up on the signals.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-02-21 07:20 ]
I thought this episode was great, not just in terms of regular TV but also Joss TV. I thought this was very definitely as good as an episode like Ariel. You know, not Objects in Space amazing, but still absolutely wonderful. I could not be more pleased with this episode. I loved the first episode, though it had some failings, I can't deny. But this was great television, and great Joss. Stephen S. DeKnight is on my supergood list (I'll have to look out for his eps when I rewatch Angel).
It's been more than three hours since the show aired for me. I remember an episode of Chuck or Life being on Hulu around this time, so maybe it could have happened tonight.

And btw, this episode is the bomb.
My favorite thing: That pretty much every question (about potentially obvious plot problems) people had about the premise of this one based on the description actually had an explanation within the reality of what it turns out was actually happening. (Why isn't Boyd rushing in to save her? Addressed. Why would they actually let this guy hire an Active anyway? Addressed Et cetera.)
Oh I absolutely loved this episode, it worked so well at making me love Boyd beyond anything! The climax of the whole thing, for me, was when Echo asked Boyd "do you trust me?", and I burst into tears when he responded "with my life". This was just so beautifully scripted and filmed, when Echo is hugging Boyd I thought I was listening to her hearing his heartbeat... and then it turns out to be the sound of the helicopters coming to rescue them! How cool is that?!?!

And I totally loved the CGI tongue in the Hulu ad! LOL
It's been more than three hours since the show aired for me.

Yes, but they don't go by that time zone. ;)

In the vast majority of cases, next-day Hulu postings really do show up next day. Occasionally, they show up at the very end of airing day.
As soon as I saw Mark Sheppard, I thought "Badger!" which then deteriorated into me bouncing as I mentally chanted "badgerbadgerbadger" and then I realized that excess sugar should never be combined with new episodes of a Joss show. And maybe I just don't watch the right shows, but I thought this was one seriously hardcore hour of television. I love how, with this premise, Dollhouse can pretty much change genres every week. As to Random Lasagna Girl, I'd say there's a pretty even chance of her either being an active there to keep tabs on Ballard or becoming the actual love interest for him (might have been the crappy picture I was getting, but he seemed to at the very least find her adorable, and rightly so) and subsequently getting killed horribly in some kind of crossfire. But hey, with this premise, it could be both. Her final line makes that even more likely, too. And what's this rubbish about her being heavy? Anyway, Topher is really striking me as being a somewhat Warren-like character, from back in his less homicidal, robot-making days. The "shoulder to the wheel" ending was EPIC. I'm ready for it to be Friday again now, please!
Loved the episode, but was anyone else upset by the frequency of the commercials? I don't think I like this new way of showing the commercials. It seems like they interrupt the flow of the show too much. But, that is a VERY minor issue for me.

I though this issue was above and beyond the pilot. LOVED IT. I watched with my boyfriend who refuses to watch Buffy, and typically does not like this "type" of show. He enjoyed it, but he had trouble following the plot, given the frequency of flashbacks and dreamlike sequences. It makes me concerned about the ability of the general public to pick it up and like it immediately. Otherwise, he liked it! YAY! We have something to watch together. =D
Did anyone else notice that TIVO listed this episode as #104? Since last week's pilot was #102, what happened to #103? Is FOX showing these out of order already?

I'm loving this show! Much squeeness!
Are there rules that I'm not aware of? Are we waiting a while before speculating why certain things are happening? I totally was fascinated that Echo was taking up behaviors from Boyd and Insane Archer Dude.

Also, from the preview it looks like next week's going to be totally fun. I can't wait!
I just hope they don't do a lot of Caroline in college, 'cause, sorry, I'm not buying Dushku's acting there. The video (and her acting) seemed really fake and stilted. Otherwise, an intense episode. The hunting people has been done before -- a story at least over one hundred years old -- but some great moments, as mentioned above. Boyd rocks, and the intimate moments were great. Topher's a really creepy geek. I like Whedon's usual lovable geeks (Xander, Wash). His character works, though; some geeks are creepy, and this one seems to have a Texas-sized ego. Oh, and the 'salute' at the end was great. I hope we'll see some more range out of Dushku. I like (even as it makes me go, "GAH!") the idea that Boyd's been wiped. Gah!
I think Topher got really interesting in this episode. I liked just how shaken he seemed about Alpha.
I'm sorry, I'm too tired to read through all these, but you guys noticed how Badger (from Firefly)- sorry, don't know the actor's name- was in this episode of Dollhouse right?
Boyd's hesitation in recognizing the wounds also caught my attention. Also the reversal of the "do you trust me " bit...hmmph.

EvilFirePixie8 said:
-the "Twin peaks" music plays behind Echo

Yeah, that ascending piano bit is very similar, isn't it?

[ edited by Manic D on 2009-02-21 08:18 ]
Zannadoo, the episodes are airing out of order. It was Joss's idea. It looks like, story wise, things have been jigged so it makes sense.

Edit: I'll rephrase that, the episodes have been reordered.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 07:59 ]
When I saw Mark Sheppard, he reminded me that the first time I saw him he was fighting FBI agents on Fox (Mulder and Scully) and now he is one.

I'm trying to think of nice things to say about the show. The back story with Boyd was okay.

It's a bit like watching a show based on the daily workings of Wolfram and Hart, but without Angel. Wolfram and Hart's prostitution division?
Although we've been told some of the actors' roles were switched from Actives, to just other characters of this 'verse, don't you think Lasagna Girl and Mob Guy might still be November and Victor?


Totally:) But the thing about Joss is, he leads you one way so you won't see the other. See magician.

Um...I'll have to rewatch it, but isn't it possible that Boyd is just tired from being bruised and stabbed so he waits for Dr. Claire to finish her sentence? Also, I got the impression that Dr. Claire was told that Alpha was killed because he'd attacked her and she'd worried about it, whereas no one told Boyd anything.

I thought the long-term set-ups were good--why didn't he kill Echo, why was Saunders only maimed, why was Topher shaken but unhurt...but I thought the basic episode wasn't nearly as good as the first one.

Partly it was because I'd been spoiled on the whole sex and hunting thing (damn interviews), but also, I just wasn't surprised by any of the action twists: ranger shows up to question them-they're either going to knock him unconscious or get shot. Echo drinks water in the GREAT BIG TRAP, and it's got something in it. I just was not hooked.

I thought the pilot had some really good Jossian misdirection, like the mysterious roadblock in front of the rich guy on cell phone--that guy is always shot, so having the daughter get kidnapped was a really cool twist. This episode really needed that. Then again, maybe I'll like it better when I rewatch it. The other one grew on me, although I'd liked it to begin with.

The action didn't get me at all, like I said, but the emotion did...every "plot twist" of feeling was brilliant and unexpected--the flipped script and OH MY GOD the shoulder thing!

DON'T TAUNT THE ACTIVES :) What I find really cool about the wiped actives is what they reveal about other people. Not everyone is good with kids, and the way people treat children says a lot about them. Topher is sort of awkward and a little bit of a down-talker "I bet it was something great", Dr. Saunders is concerned and nurturing/respectful, and What's His Face is, indeed, an asshat.

Oh, and Miracle Laurie is not fat (or "heavy" which doesn't fool anyone). She's plump, like Valerie Bertinelli was before she went on her diet and got less pretty. Miracle is totally pretty. Stupid TV people.
Zannadoo, the episodes are airing out of order. It was Joss's idea. It looks like, story wise, things have been jigged so it makes sense.


Wait...I thought Joss said showing that one second was the network's idea because they went "Bow hunting? Must show first! It has action! Adventure! Hot chicks holding essentially phallic weapons!" (Not an actual Joss quote, obviously, just my memory with a little conjecture thrown in.) So then he had to juggle the continuity a bit to make it work.

[ edited by heinouslizard on 2009-02-21 08:23 ]
Thanks for the clarification, Gossi. I appreciate it.
Very much a fan of this show already. And like many of you, I liked this one better. More back story! yay! I'm feeling the Echo/Boyd love. Ahhh...
The episode and commercial were both awesome. "The Target" was so exhilarating! I was so surprised at what the outcome was with that arrow-man. I did not see that coming. Echo/Eliza was fantastic in here. The emotions and actions were all there. My favorite part of the episode was all story of Boyd and Echo coming together.
The commercial was so cool! I love Hulu! and Eliza made me go on the site right when she mentioned it.
Although I'm not totally hooked yet, I'm definitely optimistic about Dollhouse. I've definitely been operating on the assumption that Lubov is Victor, although that obviously could've changed in all the retooling that's happened. I really like the Boyd/Echo relationship, and I definitely want more Amy Acker. Topher creeps me out, although I'm looking forward to more development, I'd be shocked if he didn't become sympathetic.

Honestly, the weakest part of the show has been Ballard. Tahmoh Penikett, who I like on Galactica, just hasn't done much to sell me on the character yet. There were definitely a couple lines, particularly his parting words to Lasagna Girl, that just seemed poorly delivered. I'm sure things will turn around, but for now, the Ballard plotlines are my least favorite part of the show.

And I don't care if hunting is people is cliched as all get-out, it was still awesome.
I've liked both eps about equally. Solid efforts, the two of them. Although putting De Knight's episode, supposedly the strongest of the early eps, in second position means some possible let-down for the following few. It's probably the best strategy, but I could see arguments for having it third or fourth.

Not in love yet, but I think it does take a while for Joss's shows, as other people have noted. Usually because the relationships between characters are a large part of Joss's magic and those need time to develop weight. Boyd and Echo have gotten there in two eps. Not too shabby, ME.

On the other hand, those two kind of had to be developed because who else is there? Nobody on the show so far has any relationship that the audience can invest in. I'm thinking Sierra as a friend in the future, and I could see Claire and maybe Topher having something fairly twisted going on. Adelle seems sort of stranded at the moment. No friends, only subordinates, which may be a situation the writers will mess with soon.

As far as the show tonight, the final confrontation between Echo and her hunter was fine, tense stuff, with some nifty dialog. I enjoyed the line that his dad would have liked her, which had some levels to it. But, in general, the actor wasn't psycho enough for me. He didn't have to be an overt nutcase, but there needed to be some very scary stuff going on just below the surface, around the eyes. I didn't see it.

And that may be a problem with a show where guest stars are going to be important. It's going to be hit-and-miss, so you need the other relationships on the show to take up the slack, but so far, there aren't enough. The arciness has kicked in already though, so that'll help.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-02-21 09:00 ]
The Hulu commercial featuring Eliza at the Dollhouse set kind of reminds me of the old Buffy 1-800-Collect commercials, where they did them sort of in character. I think it's good fun.
heinouslizard, in this months Maxim (interview online) Joss says the reordering was his idea. I'm on board with it, this episode rocks.
did anyone catch that "composite" event or something Topher was saying... does that mean that Alpha not only remembers. He rememberes everything... every imprint.

Hey, I liked Miracle Laurie's "lucky girl" comment when Ballard went inside.
I'm starting to fall in love. I can just feel it. A couple of more episodes like this one, heck a couple of more scenes like the one between Echo and Boyd in the woods and I'm going to be hooked. And I'm dreading it a bit, since who knows if the show will ever go past episode 13. But if this episode is a good indication, it deserves to.

Speaking of Boyd: why did he come to work for the Dollhouse? I'm sure there must be a big, big story there because he comes across as a very decent, very nice guy. The kind who should be appalled by the Dollhouse and actually often looks like he is. I can see him helping Ballard along the way but I want to know why he's there. I'm sure the money must be great but again, he doesn't strike me as the type who would do it for money.

Dr. Saunders: the reason for the scars is a bit disappointing or maybe the word I want to use is banal. But why didn't she get rid of them (plastic surgery would work, right?) And did she survive the psycho killing rampage by happenstance or was she spared? So the "How" she got it wasn't the meaty part. But the "whys" should be. Oh, if a second season happens, I really wish Saunders becomes a regular, main title character. She's the character that intrigues me the most so far. Plus, Amy Acker.
It's weird. Long-established shows are often tracked for the "jump the shark" moment - the exact split second when Fonzie jumps a shark while on his water skis - and the show officially becomes utter shite. Here we are, two episodes in on "Dollhouse," and we're waiting for that polar opposite moment: Jumping the Whedon, when we suddenly realize this is a show we can't NOT watch.

On "Firefly," which I watched in the originally-intended sequence on DVD first time through, it was early on in "Serenity," when they ignite the caulk-gun sticky around the airlock. Not a sound. No sound in space, at last acknowledged in the mainstream. And it got better - MUCH better - from that point on.

For many, it was when Mal kicked Crow into the engine in "The Train Job." And yeah, that would have done it for me, too - if I had seen that first.

Buffy: Not recalling the exact JTW moment. I think it was the end os S1, when Buffy dies. That freaked me.

Angel, oddly, had me from Episode One. I love the noir, which they soon backed away from.

Dr. Horrible: "Smells like cumin."

Is that moment for "Dollhouse" here yet? It is for me. Yet I can't pinpoint it, the exact sequence or scene. I just know I have to keep watching. How about you guys?
My favorite reaction, spied on Twitter, was someone bitching that Dollhouse seemed to be trying to make a "mystery to hook you Lost style" -- as if Lost had invented serial mythology so how dare Dollhouse have serial mythology.
Re: b!x and serial mythology: My favorite shows of all time have BANKED on serial mythology (X-Files," "Twin Peaks," et al.). I love "Lost" bigtime, but they certainly didn't invent it.

And I trust Joss and Co, to juggle serial mythology like goslings.
I really like this episode. That's all I can say right now because I am tired and not with the words.
Also, I got the impression that Dr. Claire was told that Alpha was killed because he'd attacked her and she'd worried about it, whereas no one told Boyd anything.

Sorry, doc, but your parents didn't really send your dog to live on a farm.

Totally on board the Boyd train, and notNovember is adorable. Reed Diamond's great at being a douche.

How did Echo know what she looks like?
The sequence that made me say "wow" was near the end of the pilot, where Echo is standing up to the big bad and says "you can't hurt me anymore", to which he brutally smashes her across the face, yet she immediately comes back with "you can't fight a ghost". Gives me shivers.

I thought tonight's was a pretty solid episode.

The whole, "you are the prey so you better run" twist is familiar ground (just as South Park has complained that the "Simpsons Already Did It", the refrain for Dollhouse could be "Fantasy Island Already Did It"). That kind of took me out of it. But I liked that Echo got to the "I'm going to kill you first" mindset a lot sooner than you normally see. Strong women characters and all that.

I didn't see the "canteen is poisoned" twist coming at all. In fact when Echo first gasped, I thought "my god, this one is asthmatic too!" Seriously.
I thought this episode was fine as wine.

Looked good, sounded good and felt better. I loved the pilot, myself - but I thought this episode did a great job with the continuing mystery of Alpha, the backstory of the Dollhouse - and also had its own good, solid individual episode tale, with suspense and some seriously trippy moments. It felt a bit warmer than Episode 1, but that may just be because I'm now more familiar with the characters.

I continue to like and respect Eliza's acting chops (her face broke my heart when she looked up from the shower massacre), Boyd and Topher both grew on me, I have ideas about Lubov and Mellie, and I can't wait to hear something about what brought Dr. Saunders to work in this place. And poor Adelle - control is her everything, and it's what she's losing. That'll mess her up. I'd like to know more about her story...

Yeah, John Darc, not only should they put up that sign, but Reed Diamond? Crappy management. Not even touching on him being an asshole, but simply from the standpoint of managing your assets - um, don't taunt the Active that is reportedly one of your most requested Dolls - duh. You simply shouldn't take any kind of psychological/emotional risk with someone whose smooth functioning represents big money in the bank. I had a problem with that when it happened - it seems to me that upper management would handle the Actives with kid gloves, since they're so valuable, and regardless of whether they can remember or not - but maybe it's just another sign that he sucks at what he does.

And embers, I loved that, too - Echo listening to Boyd's steady heartbeat - reassuring on several levels - which then turned into the sound of the rescuing helicopters. Already there's been a lot of nice sound and visual touches like that - I did like the filter(s) or whatever processing they used to make the flashback color.

Moi, I looked at the canteen and thought, "no, don't drink out of that doctored canteen, Echo" - but then I make it a habit of only drinking from my own. ; >

Such a little question, but - have we seen any mirrors in the Dollhouse?

ETF: typos

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-02-21 11:38 ]
Such a little question, but - have we seen any mirrors in the Dollhouse?

I think that's a big question. Certainly the dork in me that studied Lacan would like to know! I would guess not. But that's just a guess.
"You're in the middle of 'why would anybody want to be there'. What did you expect, HBO?"

I just want to point out this is one of the episodes Matt from EW said contains no humour. Topher's first line in the episode is a joke. There's many jokes.

QuoterGal, I think the show looks great. The locations they use really work I think, plus the DH looks pretty. I don't know how much they're spending per episode, but I know the total cost of the show is well below that of Firefly. The show looks awesome considering.

One thing which I don't think has been mentioned yet - the direction and editing in this episode are both absolutely superb. Joss, I love you, but Deknight screws you over here with his giant talent. From the steadcam shots inside the Dollhouse, which are twisting and twirling, to the performances from Fran and Harry, to the nifty touches (the helicopter/heartbeat, the slowmo, the CGI shots), this thing is - in my mind - a far, far better episode to Ghost at showcasing what the show can do. Steve earned his pay cheque, and then some.

Edit - mirrors, I don't think we've seen any yet in the show. I have a memory there's a mirror or two by some wash basins, possibly near the shower area of the set.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 11:50 ]

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 11:51 ]
There are mirrors in the credits...on more than one occasion if I'm not mistaken, but I don't recall any in the showers.

I agree, gossi, about the humor. It was definitely there in this episode, along with the heart that was missing in Ghost. Maybe the pilot was intentionally cold?
This was a pretty good episode, but I didn't like it quite as much as the pilot. I again found the engagement a lot less interesting than the inner workings of the Dollhouse itself, and the whole Greatest Game stuff was disappointing. Someone on here said that the guy just wasn't disturbed enough, and I'll agree with that.

However, this episode was wittier, and makes me like Boyd a lot better than "Ghost" did. Not that I disliked him in "Ghost," but I didn't find him nearly as interesting as the rest of the Dollhouse staff. Topher's still the favorite, though. "Mountain man-friend." Hee.

I loved the trippier stuff with Echo hallucinating and becoming more self-aware, but I wish that the action had been more surprising or exciting. It was good stuff, but it felt like Workman Joss instead of Auteur Joss (and yes, I know Steve did this one).

The flashbacks, however? Loving the hell out of them. I adore complex mythologies, and Joss' are always the most satisfying. No changes here.

Based on the strength of one viewing, I'd give this a B, a notch below "Ghost"'s B+.
@Tin Ear Tom: Jumping The Whedon might just be the best phrase I've come across in a long, long time. Thank you for that! =)
I feel so mixed about Dollhouse. I want to love it. I want it to be great. But I just don't think that it is. Yet.
I beg to be proven wrong. I hope it happens. I pray it happens.
OK, I'm totally hooked. I was really critical of the pilot, but a re-watch made me appreciate it much more. But this is the show I wanted. I'm heartbroken that my dearly loved, dark and twisted, awesomely talented Steven DeKnight will no longer be on board. How ironic that this ep had so much more Joss-like dialog than the pilot (unless Joss is still doing the tinkering thing). At any rate, I love it.

This is my first experience watching a Joss show in real time. I will avoid spoilers like the apocalypse, I'm not even tempted. Half the fun is watching it unfold. Loving Boyd a whole lot, also Topher (loving the performance, in Topher's case).I've never seen any of the lead actorts before except Eliza and Tahmon (who is prime leading man material, for sure).
The casting impressed me last week, but two eps in, I'm thinking this is one of the most perfectly cast shows ever.

Happy now :) Great expectations and will keep only optimistic thoughts about the longevity of the show. This week, I feel that Joss is really back.
Re Boyd's memory issues- perhaps someone already said this, I'm sure I didn't totally digest all these comments- and his trusting of Echo- they were both kind of glowing while Echo was getting her dose of trust there in the hot seat. I had assumed that it would make sense to imprint the handlers with a strong bond to the actives they handle- so that the trust runs both ways. And as long as they had him connected, why not take the edge off a few unpleasant, discouraging emotional events...past or even future. Is everyone in the dollhouse working with some impediment they don't realize they have? Maybe this includes Topher, Adele, and whatever Reed Diamond's character is called?

[ edited by toast on 2009-02-21 13:30 ]
Most interesting thing about the Dollhouse is Boyd, IMHO. Probably because he is the only one (so far, although the doc may also prove to be) that appears human and humane. Am liking this more than I did the pilot although the plot holes are still troubling. Still want to see more interaction with the other Actives; since I'm having a really hard time with Eliza's in-and-out of 'tabula rasa' states.
Umm did anyone read the Buffy tie-in book "Endangered Species?" Where some vampire hunter kidnaps Faith from prison and holds a hunting party on a private island to hunt the "ultimate prey" - a slayer? Weird coincidence??

LOVED this episode, either way :)
I thought the episode was better than last week's episode. I noticed that I am not a fan of the engagements of the week. They intrigue me less than the arc of the show. Boyd, Claire, Topher and Dominic had more interesting material to work with. I find all of them really interesting. I am once again disappointed about the lack of good moments for Adelle. I would like the show to be a bit more personal than it is now.

I loved the first appearance of Miracle Laurie. She seems so cute, sort of like the Kaylee/Willow-character of Dollhouse.
Okay, so, this isn't working for me. It's incredibly violent. The guns everywhere - since when was this a thing? In Buffy, guns were always a bad, bad idea. But here we're glorifying gun violence... this does not sit well with me.
Many people avoid watching any depiction of violence, which is fine. However, the fact that violence is shown does not mean that it is "glorified".
Did you watch Firefly, qui_ca?

ETA: Also, toast is extremely correct.

[ edited by UnpluggedCrazy on 2009-02-21 14:17 ]
That was good. Am hooked.
I really enjoyed it. Two episodes into the season and I intend to watch every one to come.
I am completely emotionally invested in both Echo and Boyd, so that means 100% hooked! I also really enjoy all the characters, Topher is a piece of work, but he does bring the funny (the dark bitter ironical funny). I already love this show; it took me way longer to invest this much emotion into Firefly (and I've never loved any show as much as I love Firefly).
Now I'm holding my breath hoping to hear about the ratings, but did anyone else feel that every single ad last night was for cars and/or cell phone service? Clearly they were after that illusive male demographic (so it looked to me like advertisers were finding the show).
Pilot was 'eh' compared to THIS! Whoo! Can't wait till next week. :D
Now that "Echo" is beginning to develop self-awareness, to remember, etc. I think the show is going to start intriguing a lot more people.

I really enjoyed this episode. Little squees whenever Echo in imprinted mode began to defy her programming.
I loved this one more than 'Ghost'. It had more of Joss' humour in it and Topher and Boyd were great! Fast-paced and heavy with the emotion. I loved seeing the bond between Echo and Boyd developing. The Demented-Archer guy had the right amount of creepiness too. Wasn't too convinced with Eliza's acting as Caroline but other than that, she was fantastic! Can't wait for next week!
It's a bit like watching a show based on the daily workings of Wolfram and Hart, but without Angel. Wolfram and Hart's prostitution division?

redeem147 | February 21, 08:02 CET


Hee hee. I was thinking the exact same thing this morning.

Forget loving it, at this point I just want to LIKE it. I have to agree with the negatives people have said here. I won't go through them, it is too painful. I have never actually disliked a Joss show before. Not all his shows spoke to me in the same way, but I liked and respected them all. I really do not want this to be the first, but so far that is the way it is going. Ugh.

I liked the moment when there was the switch between Boyd and Echo's roles. That was nicely done. Other than that, ick. Despicable people working for a despicable organization and this week having a despicable client. Yes there are some interesting things being set up, but every week do I want to watch a bunch of people who are either horrible or cyphers? For me the answer is no. Showing Boyd going from contemptuous of Echo to bonding with her helped his character in one way, but the contempt colored my opinion of him in a negative way as well. I still see no ambiguity in the function of the Dollhouse and no characters I have any interest in knowing better or spending time watching. Terminator also seemed pointless this week, so I had a depressing night of television.

[ edited by newcj on 2009-02-21 15:47 ]
First- welcome back Zachsmind. Good to see you posting again.

heinouslizard's comment about how others react to the Actives was spot on, I think. Initially, Boyd is dismissive- calling Echo "special-needs' and we haven't seen him yet interact with her very much when she is in that state. But I imagine he will be as kind as he is whenever she is about to go for treatment.
Topher is friendly and condescending. I get the feeling that the friendly is purely business - they respond better if he smiles.
Laurence Dominic obviously has issues with them- I imagine he sees them as weak. Will he treat the male Dolls the same way, I wonder?
Now that was more like it! It had intrigue, ongoing storyline, and a single ep storyline that had you on the edge of your seat. Why couldn't this have been the pilot? It would have made much more sense than the soft episode from last week. Pilots should be punchy, and draw you in so you want to keep watching, but it wasn't until this ep that I was convinced that Joss was actually doing this show. It rang true of his style far more than the pilot.

Hopefully the ratings will reflect this either this week or next.
Ok, don't judge me because this is just an observation in terms of evaluating who in my personal friends like the show, and don't.

It appears that my friends who don't like the show are ones who kind of grew up in a bubble, and didn't experience *real-life* to a point. And vice-versa.

Just an observation. I am hooked.
Plus sadly it was announced today that MM is officially cancelled, so this might be my last Matt Keeslar fix in a while, so thanks Joss.
I'm in the mixed-feelings column. On the plus side, this episode was better than last week's. Eliza's acting was better (I like her better when one can't see her "acting"). With the exception of her "college days" Caroline persona, which just isn't working at all, she was more natural. When she can be as natural as Lennix is, then I'll have no complaints. And the episode had Mark Sheppard, which is always a plus. The script had more balance, with the exposition flowing more smoothly.

On the negative side, the plot was cliched. Yes, we are supposed to see her in a cliched situation from which she reaches into the remnants of her Caroline self to save herself, but we've even seen something of that kind of resolution before in other heroes. I also don't want to have to watch a woman or young girl being victimized every week as a means of indicating how far she will "grow."

And I'm uncomfortable with the over-use of Eliza as a sex-object to sell the show in Fox's promos. Yes, Joss has said that Eliza is "comfortable" with her body. That is always BS to exploit the woman for other purposes. Her complicity with the strategy is supposed to make it OK. When nude men are equally used as sex objects to promote a show, then maybe it will be OK. But, considering how uncomfortable James Marsters was with that situation, I doubt male nudity will become commonplace in TV ads in the US. (Why doesn't Fox put Tahmoh lying down nude with the camera lingering over his body, complete with sparkly lights?) I'm not opposed to situational nudity within the episodes. It's the gratuitous nudity I'm objecting to.

Mini rant over.
Ditto Embers - I am invested in the show as well for the same reasons. This episode clinched it. I liked the pilot but I loved this epsiode. If shows like Alias and Lost get 5 seasons, IMO Dollhouse is already quality enough to be renewed for many seasons to come.

Can't wait for the next episode!
Wow. That was kinda brilliant. I loved the Boyd-Echo storyline; loved seeing the vulnerable, terrified side of Topher; and I think I'm gonna love Mellie, too.

I'm surprised at the negative reactions to the dollhouse staff; sure, none of them are noble or admirable, but isn't that the point? I'm liking all of them as characters (though mostly I'd want to avoid them if they were actual people). Then again, Joss had me hooked way back when he first mentioned the moral greyness of this show. Each to their own, I guess.

Re: the end of the episode: I thought Boyd's hesitation wasn't that he couldn't remember, but that he didn't want to believe what he was seeing. Also that he wasn't sure how much he should say to Dr. Saunders. I mean, when you work for a powerful, secret, illegal organization, and you suspect the boss is lying to you--you're going to be hesitant about trusting your coworkers.
Wow, this was actually a lot better than I imagined. And yet, they keep saying, this show takes off on episode 6. This upward curve seems pretty impossible. But hey, that's what they do there. The impossible. :)

Shouldn't the ratings show up like... any minute now? I really hope "The Target" held its fort, or maybe even improved a little bit.
I always get to these threads really late, I guess due to the fact that I have to watch it the following morning. I'm not sure I understand the criticism that the plot was hackneyed. Yeah, some of it was cliche, but then it was subverted, and that's the whole point. The series appears to be one big subversive mind-fuck, and I'm loving it. I'm also surprised at how much I'm rooting for Echo, despite her lack of cohesive personality. Every time she does something or remembers something that she's not supposed to, I do a mini-cheer inside. The very ending with the shoulder pat was perfect.

[ edited by flugufrelsarinn on 2009-02-21 17:12 ]
wiesengrund, the Nielsen overnights come in any minute, I'll put 'em straight up here. Don't count on it increasing; ratings often take a week to take effect. (As in, Ghost may have lost the show some viewers). It's very, very, very rare for a show to gain an audience in it's 2nd episode.
Eliza's doing a damn good job. I'm loving this. Keep up the good work, Dollhouse team!
And did I miss something or was there really no Sierra in this ep? Except for the brief flashback to "Ghost", that is.
Yeah, she's out. No room in story and/or budgetary issues, you decide.

Also, The Dark Shape is very smart.
This was much better than the pilot- yeah we've seen people being hunted before (even in Buffy!) but this was a new take on it. You never really got the answer why- just that he was a psychopath is not enough- especially in Jossworld. It seems clear that Alpha was connected to this whole chain of events- maybe he's testing Echo to see if she is worthy- but clearly he's interested in her. I got the feeling that Alpha was "father" to his own set of dolls- and Richard was one of them- imprinted to be a psycho after echo.
Yes, this week the other 'actives' in the script were kinda... inactive, due to the being... slaughtered.
We should really be worried about it glorifying 10 to 12 inch non-serrated blade ninja violence :) I thought it was a fantastic ep, sold me a whole seat/only needed the edge, etc. Good character moments, twisty/turny, incredible direction and editing. Loved it.
marymary, you think it's like a franchse? Kinda like a uber-amoral, mind-wiped KFC? Cool.
I like to wait out arc-shows to see how they handle the long run rather than pass premature judgment, but so far, I'm not feeling excited about Dollhouse.

So much in the first two eps felt either out of place (which I concede are probably due to the rewriting) or sigh-inducing predictable (hello, poisoned canteen that doesn't even make sense if the guy really wants the ultimate hunting challenge -- as someone above also noted).

That said, I also REALLY want to like the show. I know Joss Whedon can do great things that make me want to kill him for ripping my heart out. So I'll keep watching and hoping the good parts (the back stories and the possibilities) overwhelm the things that drag down my suspension of disbelief (the A plots in both eps so far). It worked for me with Buffy and Angel, and I didn't even need to worry about it in sweet, sweet Firefly, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Also, as a BSG fan, it's nice to see Helo and Romo (nee Badger) on the same show again :)

[ edited by FeathersMcGraw on 2009-02-21 17:32 ]
The poisoned canteen totally makes sense. He only wants to be beaten by someone who is way better than him, someone who could still take him out when drugged and at a disadvantage. People are only skimming the surface of this guy's psychology; you can't just write him off as 'standard psycho'. The episode asks a little more of the viewer than the cliches its subverting do. That's right, I'm blaming the viewers ;) Paging Dana5140!
zeitgeist, if you order within the next 10 minutes, you can get the steak knife set for the same low price!
Now how much would you pay?!
I'm actually saving up for the chainmail bodysuit given all the sharps around!
I was so enamored with Dollhouse that I forgot to switch over and watch BSG afterwards! :)
Thanks for the link, zeitgeist, now I just have to find one that ships to Canada. I'd buy one for Echo but I fear it would be difficult to disguise under those slinky dresses.
I find interesting newcj's comment about the show not appealing because of all the despicable characters. I really don't mind despicable characters, with favourites including classic Spike and Drusilla, Jayne, Niska, and the Operative.

What completely kills a show for me though is having nothing but stupid characters. I'm fine with a few humourously stupid people, but if there isn't somebody with an above average IQ in the mix, then I'm usually cheering for everybody to get killed, assuming I even care to keep watching.

I wonder if that makes me despicable.
Me thinks Caroline was a soldier who did something very very bad on the field (note the hat she clutches in the first epi/flashback).

Am I the only one who thinks Alan Tudyk whenever I see the vagueness of Alpha? I recently had a Firefly marathon, so I might be wishing on the Wash a bit… but I am sticking to my theory until we see Alpha in his --- flesh *snicker*

Mark Sheppard! Yeeee He’s a mean SOB! :D
Many people avoid watching any depiction of violence, which is fine. However, the fact that violence is shown does not mean that it is "glorified".

Personally I think there's far less glamourisation of violence here than in e.g. 'Serenity' (possibly even Buffy). Is it worse somehow because it's guns rather than blades wielded by a balletically graceful psychic ? Why ?

Liked this one though marginally less than the pilot.

- loved the idea of the Boyd/Echo back-story and in a few places it was brilliantly handled but I also thought it was slightly heavy-handed a couple of times too.

- liked the dialogue in general, plenty of humour

- Matt Keesler is The Middleman ! He can't be a baddie. That said, I knew he was a wrong 'un from the climbing section - bastard let go of the rope when she fell ! What sort of belaying is that ? ;)

- re: climbing section, that back-drop was not good, very fake looking. But if it allowed more time to e.g. block out the Boyd/baddie-in-the-van fight then it was money well scrimped on IMO (got a bit of a thing for cramped quarters fights, there was a great one on 'Leverage' a while back set in an airliner toilet).

- liked that the baddies seem to be part of some overarching conspiracy, it's cool to see that Dollhouse has a Big Bad all of its own, someone stalking them almost.

- I thought the thing with Boyd and the murder victim might've been more meta-textual (i.e. playing with our memories a bit - since Dr Saunders uses almost exactly the same words to describe the wounds) and might've worked better with longer between (if it'd been in a later episode for instance). There're all kinds of interesting games that can be played with us but not if they're gonna wait 30 minutes to do it - unless they're making a comment on the MTV generation's attention span ;). And it was 10 cm long BTW, whoever wondered about how much damage a 10 inch blade might do.

- i've been pleasantly surprised by Eliza Dushku's acting, feel a bit bad for doubting her now. Even the short little end-of-engagement snippets feel like they could be of different people. I wouldn't hate seeing a bit more of Boyd being gradually worn down by having to hear her talk with so much enthusiasm about things that'll never come to pass.

In general, enjoying it. Not loving it quite yet but I can see a few ways that I might fall heavy. Re: response, must admit i'm a bit surprised at the extent to which people seem to need their hands holding. They're mostly not lovely characters at the moment ? OK. Don't share a flat with them then ;). Surely a better thing to wonder is "Are they interesting characters ? Are there stories there to tell ?". And even with the most overtly "bad" character, Dominic, i'd say there are. Happy to wait and see how it unfolds personally.

[ edited by Saje on 2009-02-21 18:12 ]
"Seriously. Gun?" ROTFLMAO!

Also, I heart Boyd. Big time.
And once more, the internet writes reviews. I don't think the reviewer-guy quite got the episode, but it's still nice to see that people are paying attention to the show.

"The Target" at the Independent Comics Site!

EDIT: Fixed link.

[ edited by Xyrqurqualym on 2009-02-21 18:17 ]
Thinking back on last night a bit now, I wonder if Dominic taunting Echo wasn't just a bit "too much, too soon." I was so tired last night I can't remember exactly if that was a flashback and in the present he's learned to behave himself more. And if it was a flashback, then it appears that when the Dollhouse first opened up they were sort of a dysfunctional bunch, if sort of = AOK to make fun of someone who's pretty much, disabled. Tres creepy.

I should have clued in sooner about Richard before reading marymary's comment about Alpha. It makes perfect sense that Richard was the "middleman" as Saje put it. At the time of watching last night, it didn't strike me funny when Richard, "the morning after" suddenly looks at his watch and declares it's time for Echo to get up and get dressed. Like he's on a pre-programmed timeline.
Saje said:
Re: response, must admit i'm a bit surprised at the extent to which people seem to need their hands holding. They're mostly not lovely characters at the moment ? OK. Don't share a flat with them then ;). Surely a better thing to wonder is "Are they interesting characters ? Are there stories there to tell ?". And even with the most overtly "bad" character, Dominic, i'd say there are. Happy to wait and see how it unfolds personally.


I agree. I've not understood the comments about how there's no-one nice and no sense of family or friendship. I think the characters are fascinating due to the very fact that they are all morally gray and have secrets, and to an extent keep themselves to themselves. You don't get dynamics if everyone is on the same page.
We're being misled about something big in those flashbacks.
Tonya J, I think Dominic's behavior is more than just picking on a 'disabled' person. To clarify for you, Echo was starting to get her memories back but it's not like Dominic would know that. But for Dominic, it's his job to keep the Dollhouse safe/secure and every time something goes hugely wrong, Echo is at the center of it all. I liked how that scene shows he's coming to hate the 'object' he's meant to protect. He resents her and probably blames her for Alpha. He's probably taking out his anger at Alpha (who massacred a huge amount of employees and dolls its his responsibility to guard) on Echo too since she's the only one around. Dominic seems like a control freak which would fit well with his purpose at the Dollhouse, so it must drive him a bit mad that Echo is there under his roof and he can't neutralize her as a threat.

I don't view that scene with Dominic as something that's meant to make me like him. It's something that made him very interesting to me.
If that's why he was doing it, the way it was shown was too disjointed for me to see precisely why, but then, I'm not a savant. I already "got" all the rest of the plot surrounding the massacre.
I've not understood the comments about how there's no-one nice and no sense of family or friendship. I think the characters are fascinating due to the very fact that they are all morally gray and have secrets, and to an extent keep themselves to themselves.

Yeah, exactly. Is it the sort of place that's going to attract nice, kind, totally undamaged people to work there ? Not so much I reckon. And the thing is, they're not a family, they're colleagues. I'm on civil terms with everyone at work, get on well with most of them even but we're not best pals, we're not like brothers and sisters, we're there to do a job and then go home.

It makes perfect sense that Richard was the "middleman" as Saje put it.

Ah, well, he's most definitely a middleman in that sense too Tonya J but in that specific instance I actually meant The Middleman ;) - it's the only place I remember seeing Matt Keeslar before and in it he plays a character who's so good, so wholesome that he's (knowingly) played as almost too good to be true (guy's an ex navy SEAL that doesn't swear for instance. At all. Now in my experience - and I spent 10 years living about 4 miles from Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy - there's a pretty good reason the expression is "swears like a sailor" ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-02-21 18:43 ]
Wasn't this episode originally going to come a little later? I felt like the scene between Dominic and Echo at the end might have worked better if we'd seen a few more eps involving chaos / death around Echo. Given it was only the second episode, his "blaming" her for people dying might seem a bit extreme, but it didn't bother me at the time.

Anyway, once again I enjoyed the episode. Hardly subtle, but definitely entertaining.
I think we don't know some things about Echo's body count that Dominic does.
I'm in the mixed-feelings column. On the plus side, this episode was better than last week's. Eliza's acting was better (I like her better when one can't see her "acting"). With the exception of her "college days" Caroline persona, which just isn't working at all, she was more natural. When she can be as natural as Lennix is, then I'll have no complaints. And the episode had Mark Sheppard, which is always a plus. The script had more balance, with the exposition flowing more smoothly.

On the negative side, the plot was cliched. Yes, we are supposed to see her in a cliched situation from which she reaches into the remnants of her Caroline self to save herself, but we've even seen something of that kind of resolution before in other heroes. I also don't want to have to watch a woman or young girl being victimized every week as a means of indicating how far she will "grow."

And I'm uncomfortable with the over-use of Eliza as a sex-object to sell the show in Fox's promos. Yes, Joss has said that Eliza is "comfortable" with her body. That is always BS to exploit the woman for other purposes. Her complicity with the strategy is supposed to make it OK. When nude men are equally used as sex objects to promote a show, then maybe it will be OK. But, considering how uncomfortable James Marsters was with that situation, I doubt male nudity will become commonplace in TV ads in the US. (Why doesn't Fox put Tahmoh lying down nude with the camera lingering over his body, complete with sparkly lights?) I'm not opposed to situational nudity within the episodes. It's the gratuitous nudity I'm objecting to.

Mini rant over.

I just want to echo everything that palehorse said.
AlanD (and upon reading the comments above, saje [How ya doin' big guy? E-mail me some time. I'll keep my answer short. ;-) ]) I love a selection of interesting despicable characters when there are other interesting characters that I can care about. I enjoyed all the characters you mentioned except Niska, and could have an interesting discussion on whether all of them deserved to be called despicable. (sigh) Good times.;-) What turns me off is everyone being despicable, personality-less or both at the same time and that is what I am seeing so far in Dollhouse. So far Boyd has the most promise and Topher could be interesting in the long run but for me there is no character to act as a hook to make me want to watch the long run. If people think that makes me shallow, so be it. I will, of course keep watching because it is Joss and things might change, but it is only because it has Joss's name on it, not because of anything I have seen on screen.

I agree, btw, stupid characters have to be used even less than despicable characters. That is why I was annoyed at the stupidity I felt was displayed by Adelle in the first episode.

As far as the comment that Joss made about this show being about exploring gray areas, that is what I have been looking for but not finding. I see no gray. Everything in this show is one color, the color of bad stuff whether that be black or white. Only one is being used. I see nothing positive to make gray out of it.

[ edited by newcj on 2009-02-21 19:09 ]
One thing I wonder about is the economics of the whole Dollhouse. I keep looking at all the personnnel and equipment involved and thinking that is a huge capital investment necessary to start and support an operation of that scale. Which begs the question of just how much people are paying for their time with the actives? $100,000? $1,000,000? Are we really supposed to believe that people, even the super-rich, would fork over that kind of dough just for a playmate to go motorcycle racing with? That, more than anything else, is what give me a hard time buying the premise.
One of the questions I look forward to seeing answered is "Why Echo?" Did Alpha know her before? Were they all pulled in at the same time? Echo is pretty high on the alphabet - she's been there awhile.
Was there something about Echo that caused Alpha to either regain his memories or whatever did happen to him? He's got that video of her- did he take it? Ah. Whedon questions. It's good to have them again.
Ouch! Just spent a crapload of time writing out a response to zeitgeist and then lost it with an ill-timed click of my browser's back button...

But my point was going to be that the idea that Richard was 'not a standard psycho' seems to conflict with the facts of A) his ostensible reason for hiring the 'perfect' prey and B) his apparent connection to Alpha.

If he is searching for the "perfect" prey, well, he got it -- he hired it to spec and appeared to believe in the results. So why would he stack the deck after the fact with the canteen?

I could buy that he didn't plant the canteen and that Alpha did as part of his plan to "awaken" Echo. But then, why would Richard even need to know about it? The only reasons I could see were to explain her hallucinations, to have something to gloat about to Echo and keep them talking despite not being in the same place. I guess you could argue the hallucinations had to be explained somehow, but this way felt contrived to me.

That brings up another problem I had, which was why Echo would, knowing this creep had a plan (and possibly help from another person to slash the raft) to hunt her down, just enter the empty cabin and drink from the convenient canteen, and THEN, after finding the walkie from the dead guy was connected to her would-be killer, keep chatting with him and take the walkie with her without trying to change the channel.

I guess I just have to concede that the drugged-drink plot went down like every drugged-drink plot does -- drink just enough to be appropriately dosed for plot purposes; no more, no less.

But I still don't have to like it :)

Anyway, that's the type of cliches I saw, and I didn't see any being subverted. What did I miss?
(hello, poisoned canteen that doesn't even make sense if the guy really wants the ultimate hunting challenge -- as someone above also noted)

On the one hand, there's zeitgeist's explanation above.

On the other hand, given that "Richard" turned out to not even exist under that name and provided background, perhaps there never was about a "guy [who] really wants the ultimate hunting challenge". Maybe this was about something else. Maybe someone out there is specifically testing/pushing Echo.
Well, I think we have to buy the 'ultimate hunting challenge' at some level. Otherwise, there are a lot simpler ways to off Echo, even on that trip.
I didn't say "off". I said "test" or "push".
Yep, like trying to deliberately create another "composite event" maybe ? Does Frankenstein['s monster] want a bride ?

If he is searching for the "perfect" prey, well, he got it -- he hired it to spec and appeared to believe in the results. So why would he stack the deck after the fact with the canteen?

Well, you might as well ask why would he stack the deck by him having a bow and his 'prey' not ? It was a test in his eyes but from the very outset it wasn't a fair one (presumably because we're meant to realise he's actually inadequate, not up to a fair match - and in fact, when he finds himself in one he loses against a much smaller, drugged opponent).

(and to me he didn't buy the prefect prey, he bought the perfect woman - even says so in fact. And then he tries to destroy that perfection. Metaphory much ? ;)

Are we really supposed to believe that people, even the super-rich, would fork over that kind of dough just for a playmate to go motorcycle racing with? That, more than anything else, is what give me a hard time buying the premise.

We see motorcycling but we're surely meant to think more like "Best weekend of his or her life" i.e. not just good, perfect. Like the fat guy that spends a weekend with Echo not just around him but absolutely adoring him. Trouble with perfect is a) it's different things for different people and b) it's pretty hard to actually depict (hard to tell from looking that it's perfect and not just "really good").

As far as the comment that Joss made about this show being about exploring gray areas, that is what I have been looking for but not finding. I see no gray.

Well, it's early days but right now I see more plot threads being set up than moral greyness, that might come later. That said, the premise has the grey within it and i'm not sure how explicit it's actually going to get in the show. I don't see Dollhouse having overt metaphorical plot-points to tease the greyness out as, for instance, Buffy did (actually, Joss' TV seems to have become less explicit in its metaphors over the years, with 'Firefly' turning it around and literalising things that could be metaphorical).

(and hey BTW newcj, good to see you back. It all went a bit quiet on the email front, I assumed that real life must've intervened)
Maybe this was about something else. Maybe someone out there is specifically testing/pushing Echo.

Bingo. As Boyd points out at the end of the episode, this was about somebody trying to kill Echo. Not about Richard. He was a pawn.
Ok, then it is more likely to be a 'mole' inside the DH, since it would probably be quite difficult to set up and monitor results of what will presumably be multiple 'tests'. Of course, we can also have a second ultra secret highly resourced group just like the DH working to crush/recruit/intimidate them (or just Echo) but that sounds too Man-from-Uncle retro.
Regarding whether Miracle Laurie is really November:

ET end the invisi-text.

[ edited by SteveP on 2009-02-21 19:54 ]
Richard was a pawn but his intention was real. He wanted to have an outdoorsy getaway weekend with a woman which included hunting her at the end of it. The chase is the fun part for him. Drugging her keeps the chase interesting. I think he intended to kill her but after drawing out the chase as long as he could without her actually getting away.
I hope we see more Boyd/Topher scenes in the future. Their relationship is incredibly interesting to me, moreso in the first episode but still in this one, too. I mean, the teaser scene in Ghost, where they're discussing the ethics of what they're doing... it's a very cool dynamic. I like the idea that they don't necessarily love each other--Boyd probably finds Topher despicable, to a point--but they still converse about what they're doing in an intelligent way.

Also loved Topher's development this episode, particularly in the wake of Alpha. Fran Kranz is doing a great job, I think.

And finally, I just want to reiterate how amazing this episode was to me. I don't know when the last time I saw something this good on TV was. A long time ago, though.
<wildspeculation>If imprinting technology exists, how do we know only the Dollhouse has it? Maybe the reason "Richard" didn't really exist was because he was someone else's doll.</wildspeculation>
Wow... I've been hanging around here since just prior to the news Serenity would make it to the big screen. Used to be that I couldn't imagine the day when I'd actually comment on a weekly Joss Whedon show. :)

Agree with many of the observations above, and am thankful for insight from the semi-spoiled re: Lasagna Girl and Mob Guy.

Random Notes after Ghost, The Target:

palehorse, nothing would make me happier than gratuitous Helo, I mean Tamoh, I mean Ballard, nudity. See? I can't remember his name yet, either. Since it's Helo, I'm giving him and his character more time. ;)

Dumbing down the pilot seemed to lower expectations for the following eps. Is that why I liked The Target so much better than Ghost? Seriously, the second episode felt much more like a Joss & Co product...

Zooming in on Echo sitting among the dead, her completely inoocent reaction, wow, I felt some early River right then.

Echo as the hunted and later as the hunter, wham, hit by a few early Buffy episodes. What's so cool about these moments, however, is that they don't feel like repeat snippets of their earlier stories. Dollhouse stands on its own.

It's so much more apparent in every way that The Target has GrrrArgh influences. You just couldn't feel that with Ghost.

Loving that Topher inspires as much serious like as serious dislike. (It's kinda early for love/hate, but maybe that's just me.) He's going to be very, very important according to my guts, which are occasionally right.

Maybe it's not too early for love/hate. I think I'm going to love Boyd, if I don't already. Obviously going to hate Blonde Corporate AssHat, because I can't remember his name.

Unlike the others above, I took Boyd's seeming inability to connect the dots to Alpha not as a lapse but as his own way of knowing not to say much. However, that it might be a true memory lapse intrigues me, as I'm pretty sure everyone in the D. House is subject to wipes and imprints at any given time. I'm banking on a slow reveal of who has and hasn't been wiped/imprinted, as well as why and how, along the upcoming ride.

Tin Ear Tom: Great question about the Joss hook. I haven't had it yet for this show, but it's coming soon. Can't wait to squee about it here! Becoming cemented my devotion to both Buffy and Angel, which I experienced through repeats. With Firefly, it was actually in the original Serenity, as Mal looked up, the Alliance crafts descended, and the opening credits kicked in. With both BSG and Lost, it was at the end of episode four. Joss or one of his cohorts will throw out one of those unexpected yet wildly satisfying nuggets pretty soon, and the addiction cycle will be complete.

Each episode totally grew on me more upon re-watching.

And yes, the flashbacks worked very, very well in this episode.

At the moment, I'm quite content knowing great developments are in progress.

If for any reason the show gets less than a full season, I'll be so ticked. And I only give it a full season anyway because it's Fox. I just simply set my expectation of Dollhouse at some sort of complete story, no matter how long or short. In other words, if all I get is one 12-13 episode DVD, I'll be fine, because expecting anything more from Fox is an investment I'm not willing to make. Anything beyond a full season is BONUS!!!

ETA: Mirage, I'm certain I saw Wash in a long distance/cell phone type of ad thing last night. That had to be him. As Adam? Whoa, far, far better.

[ edited by April on 2009-02-21 19:51 ]

ETA: better grammar

[ edited by April on 2009-02-21 20:14 ]
Bingo. As Boyd points out at the end of the episode, this was about somebody trying to kill Echo. Not about Richard. He was a pawn.

gossi | February 21, 19:29 CET


If it was about trying to kill Echo and you have the money to hire someone to and to hire an active, why not get the active (Echo) to be the perfect victim and then just kill her? You can tell the company that your fantasy is to save her, whisk her off to somewhere private so she can then show you her gratitude. I'm ready to throw up just typing that, but it would still make sense if all you want to do is kill her.

I was going with the idea that someone up thread already mentioned that someone was trying to activate Echo's memories through trauma. That was something that seemed to have the promise of being pretty interesting.(sigh)

(Saje, I e-mailed twice way back when, but you did not answer. Did you change your address again, you social butterfly of the Whedon-world? ;-) )
Personally I think everyone who thinks this was a reworking of 'The Most Dangerous Game' is off-Target. It seems so clear to me that that was merely a hook upon which to hang the much more important story about Boyd bonding with Echo (since she bonded to him via programming), and of course with all kinds of additional threads of no one being who they seem to be. Everyone being off-Target. The lasagna girl is not some random neighbor, Alpha is not dead, and we are in a far more complicated/convoluted world than Joss has created before. It is all gray areas and nothing is as it 'should be' but everything actually seems more like real life, with all the twisted motivations and justifications and childhood traumas. I know, I've said it before: I'm in love.
@Saje: "to me he didn't buy the prefect prey, he bought the perfect woman - even says so in fact. And then he tries to destroy that perfection. Metaphory much ? ;)"

That's what he told the Dollhouse, but was that his true motivation? I don't think so, but right now no one can say for sure.

But as you say, it's early days.

Btw, I took the bow vs. unarmed scenario to be just an extension of some hunters' notion that what they do is a "fair fight." It can be challenging, and it doesn't have to be senseless slaughter, but it's still not "fair."

As for the super-exclusive perfect-person factory of the premise, Brewbunny, I have decided to try to ignore questions of why anyone would actually do it. It doesn't seem likely to me either, but I have to suspend some disbelief. :)

But as far as each ep, I want to see either answers or an elegant arc. It may be too early for answers, but I would like to see more of the elegance and less of the clunky-convoluted.

It's like, the surface of the plot doesn't make sense, but neither do the deeper levels that I can see, when taken as a whole.

But of course what is clunky and what is elegant is a matter of opinion. ...
Am impressed with the 2nd episode. More backstory, dark and dry humor and definitely more Joss to see. Really liked this one. Not so much on the chase though, been there, saw it, have the t-shirt.
The whole Alpha deal is going to be interesting to follow!
That's what he told the Dollhouse, but was that his true motivation? I don't think so, but right now no one can say for sure.

No, it's what he tells Echo (just before he starts to hunt her he says "You really are the perfect woman" - course, since he knows she's artificial there're a couple of levels to that). I think his true motivation was to hunt her for sport and then kill her but there doesn't seem to be much doubt that it was part of some bigger plan that someone has for Echo/the dollhouse.

And at 2 episodes in I think it might be a tad early to judge the elegance (or otherwise) of the arc. Especially given that we've been told the first 6 episodes aren't even that arc heavy.
OK, I'm going out on a limb here, but I suspect Lasagna Lady is Alpha (an 'echo' of the Ben-is-Glory moment)!
Hmmm, interesting theory baxter. I was thinking that perhaps Echo was actually a re-wiped incarnation of Alpha.
Did no one here pick up on the fact that last night's episode was yet another variation of Richard Connell's classic short story "The Most Dangerous Game"? Not that Dollhouse is the first TV show to use Connell's plot; it was also used for episodes of I Spy, Xena Warrior Princess and Relic Hunter, among others. In fact, it's just about the most ripped-off story in the history of TV and movies.
BrewBunny, I can't believe they would give Topher another crack at wiping Alpha after that debacle. Plus, with my theory, there is actually a reason for FBI-dude, who has had precious little to do in advancing the story beyond showing how incompetent the rest of the FBI is and thereby explaining why they can't find this organization whereas a whole lotta clients clearly can! In my arc, LL-Alpha draws him in over time with cheesy goodness and gets him to unwittingly assist her in bringing down the DH. She is clearly pissed that she gave them five years of her life when she could have been cookin' up a storm and mass-marketing her pasta creations. However, FBI-guy will have fallen in love with Echo based on viewing a few photos of her as Caroline and maybe the vid as a student, and he will turn the tables (or the oven, maybe) on LL-Alpha at the last minute, saving Echo so they can ride off into the glorious sunset (probably in one of those supervans) together. Sweet!
Did no one here pick up on the fact that last night's episode was yet another variation of Richard Connell's classic short story "The Most Dangerous Game"?

It's within the first 25 comments of this very thread, actually.
Also, kinda obvious when the hunter's name is Richard O'Connell; presumably that wasn't meant to be an obscure reference.
Two things about the episode bothered me.
A. How the hell did Boyd get the arrow out? I get why they didn't show it on screen, cause it would be bloody. But if I'm not mistaken, the arrowhead is barbed, and design to cause massive blood loss. So, he would have to push the whole arrow through him (from the back to the front IIRC). We know that the arrow is out when he leans against the tree. I guess it just occured off screen thanks to the darn censors, and I shouldn't worry about it, but I really was wondering about it.

B. You can't dodge a bullet or an arrow, even in bullet time (which I hate). They go fast. Echo I could see jumping away while firing, especially since maybe some of her super warrior skills could have leaked over, but I have a harder time believing firing off an arrow with that compound bow monstrosity while jumping away safely.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-21 20:43 ]
I'm in the poison & trauma for reactivated memories camp. Plus, there was no need in a simple hunter/prey plot to reference a father who would really like Echo.

The badness that befell Caroline and caused her to sign up is going to very interesting to find out and see how it all locks together.

Conjecture - If you were Topher, would you be arrogant enough to imprint your personality on a doll? Perhaps if you were working out the procedure? ..in like the 'alpha' test stage?
SteppeMerc
You have a hard time believing the bullit stuff but the very concept of Dollhouse you do believe? It's like saying you don't believe it's possible for Superman to fly. And then there's the whole Alpha deal cutting people in 8 seconds..
Have you sat down to count off 8 seconds? It's not super quick. (And it's not like they were saying he cut all those people in 8 seconds total.)
And then there's the whole Alpha deal cutting people in 8 seconds..

Yes, but that would be no problem for an expert pasta-chef, now would it? hmmmmm...... I think I'm chaneling Joss!
I have no problem believing crazy science stuff. Hyperdrive works cause it has to, mindwiping works because Joss tells me it does. No issue. As for Alpha, he's obviously a near superhuman with a great deal of physical and mental skills, and besides, the jerk security head could be wrong or lying to Boyd. But it is physically impossible to dodge an arrow and especially a bullet. Its hardly show breakers for me as I know that kind of stuff is apparently common in TV and movies. It just bugs me.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-21 21:00 ]
Err, he doesn't dodge the bullet, he gets shot in the side (we clearly see the bullet enter) and Echo doesn't dodge the arrow entirely either, it grazes her arm (which seems at least possible given that he looses it more or less as he's starting to move - if he'd hit her square on it might've been even less believable).
Steppe, just before they fired at each other, Echo remarked how he may have trouble hitting the mark with the injured arm (and he was pretty shaky). I think he just missed.

But I loved how the hunter wasn't just hunting her for sport (like the "Most Dangerous Game" story). I took it as he thought she was perfect - perhaps a great candidate for a mate? - so he wanted to see if she "deserved" to live, proving herself worthy (to be at his side?). It goes back to the speech he gave about hunting deer, which he repeated a few times later.

edited: my bad. mistyped the name. I was pondering Alpha while writing.

[ edited by JerrodBalzer on 2009-02-21 21:52 ]
Ah, I must have gotten confused by the whole bulletiming thing, then them moving. I had assumed that they were trying to convey them moving to get hit on the side faster than the bullet/arrow or something like that. That's one of the reasons I so hate the bullet time effect, its sort of difficult to follow as opposed to if they just showed it in normal time.

And I do know that the hunter fellow (can't recollect his name) should have missed Echo. But I was thrown off by her rolling to the side, since really the arrow would have been past her when she did that. But whatever.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-21 21:21 ]
B. You can't dodge a bullet or an arrow, even in bullet time (which I hate). They go fast. Echo I could see jumping away while firing, especially since maybe some of her super warrior skills could have leaked over, but I have a harder time believing firing off an arrow with that compound bow monstrosity while jumping away safely.

SteppeMerc | February 21, 20:42 CET


As they discussed lowering their weapons, I was figuring that it would be a good deal for her. You can't dodge an arrow or a bullet but in this case, she was dodging someone repositioning and shooting a bow rather than an aimed arrow ready to be shot.

SteppeMerc
You have a hard time believing the bullit stuff but the very concept of Dollhouse you do believe? It's like saying you don't believe it's possible for Superman to fly. And then there's the whole Alpha deal cutting people in 8 seconds..

Krusher | February 21, 20:53 CET


This has been raised before. Is it going to be an argument that if someone is willing to accept the premise that absolutely everything else must be accepted? Somethings are going to bother people and pull them out of the created reality. It is going to be different for everybody. For some it will be dodging bullets, for others it will be something else. If the show is compelling enough and there are not a lot of those things, they won't matter. If it is not compelling enough, they will all matter.

Echo being able to dodge an arrow is not like Superman flying. In Superman, you have to accept that he has superpowers and flying is part of that. We have not been shown that this is a world where superpowers exist, which is what dodging a bullet or arrow would entail, if that is what happened. The Alpha deal with the 8 second butchery...perhaps he had former imprinting of an assasin, a surgeon and a habtchi/suchi chef? Nasty combo. Just a thought. ;-)

ETA: As usual everybody got there before me. :-D

[ edited by newcj on 2009-02-21 21:21 ]
Just so much better. I'm feeling for them. :)
Actually, the only thing I hate about "bullet time" is that this isn't really "bullet time", which isn't simply "slow motion with a CGI bullet mapped in" but a far more convoluted process involving multiple (still?) cameras.
I expect Twisty Lasagna Girl.

That would be Fusilli Girl, her evil sister.

SteppeMerc--I was bugged by the cliche John Woo "mexican standoff" scene, too, but for a different reason. I can kinda buy the "fire and simultaneously dodge"--what I simply can't buy is why you hesitate to fire just because someone else has a gun (or arrow) in your face. You somehow think they're more likely to be able to kill you if you've shot them than otherwise? You're waiting for them to undergo some kind of moral growth? It made no sense for either the hunter or Echo not to fire as soon as possible. The hunter wants Echo dead, he know's he'd better fire that arrow before she kills him. Echo knows he's trying to kill her, but if she puts a bullet in his head he's a lot less likely to succeed.

I just don't get this imagined scenario in which you've just shot someone in the face and they say "ouch, that really hurt--right then, now you're for it, I'm going to fire an arrow back at you and you'll be very very sorry!"

As for the program as a whole? I liked it, but not as much as the pilot. Newcj, above, was complaining about the lack of moral "grays" in the program. I thought the first episode was all grays (they save a little girl from kidnappers, one of whom has rape on his mind--how can that not be at least in part a 'good' outcome, Newcj?)--if some of them very, very dark.

This one, to me, lacked some of the richly disturbing moral complexity of the pilot. The client was a nutjob (possibly programmed to be such), the whole A plot was kinda hackneyed (not badly done, but uber-familiar). You knew you were rooting for Echo, you knew you wanted the nasty man with the bow dead, you knew pretty much how it would end.

That said, I did like the back-story stuff, and was glad that the "longer arc" stories are getting up and running so early in the piece--so far Dollhouse is actually less episodic than, say, early Angel, early BtVS, or the first couple of (aired) eps of Firefly--making me wonder what all the chat about Fox forcing Joss to be more "episodic" was really about. The Boyd/Echo bonding stuff was very good (and, again, Newcj--doesn't that relationship give you "positive" human values and emotions to root for? I think you're slightly misreading Boyd's initial reaction to Echo--I think he finds the whole premise of what the Dollhouse does creepy and morally disturbing, and his refusal to engage with the 'wiped' Echo was part of his profound disgust with the entire situation he'd found himself in.) The Alpha story is obviously going to be intriguing (I'm guessing he has a bond with Caroline from the past--has anyone else speculated that he might be the guy holding the video camera in the college yearbook scene? It occurs to me that the scene at the end of the pilot might be Alpha sitting in his own parents' house, watching the video that he himself shot. If he killed his own parents, that would certainly make the "Lizzie Borden" reference of his nudity make sense, wouldn't it?). All in all, a solid followup, but not as thematically rich as the pilot.

Oh, and palehorse, leaving the show's promotion to one side: haven't we actually seen far more, percentage-wise of Tahmoh's body in this show than of Eliza's? (Think the kickboxing scene).
Snot, I guess I didn't have in issue with the premise of the scene because I'm a fan of Sergio Leone's westerns, which of course are big on the Mexican standoff (though to be fair the most famous one at the end of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is with holstered guns). Sure its unrealistic, and doesn't make sense at all. But it is epic, though not nearly as epic as if there had been closeups on the eyes, with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme playing very loudly in the background. Hehe.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-21 21:35 ]

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-21 21:35 ]
snot monster I don't think that the kickboxing scene tops the combination of 'micromini dance scene' and 'naked in the shower full of dead people' scene.
Really? I'll give you the short dress scene, but the naked with dead people around was hardly sexy. It was freaky. Besides proportionally (that ain't the right word, but whatever) we've seen way more of Tahmoh bared. And it's likely to stay that way.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-21 21:53 ]
A good/positive ending (saving the kidnapped girl) is not the same as a moral one. I'm guessing there's no pro bono work at the DH and that were it not for the substantial sum paid, the request for help would have been referred elsewhere.
snot monster I don't think that the kickboxing scene tops the combination of 'micromini dance scene' and 'naked in the shower full of dead people' scene.

That micromini scene is a fascinating example of how suggestiveness is more powerful than actually revealing something. If we'd seen Eliza in a swimsuit, we'd have seen far more of her than we see in that scene, and hardly anyone would be commenting on it. Yeah, we saw her legs. We saw most of Tahmoh's legs in the kickboxing scene too. We could have seen more of them without anyone caring very much, either.

As for the "naked in the shower" scene. Yes, we could see that she was naked, but what we saw of her was no more than she would have been able to reveal in polite company in a backless dress. Again, we actually saw more of Tahmoh's body (a higher percentage of the total area of his flesh, if you like) than we've yet seen (or are likely to see, I should say) of Eliza's.

I'm pointing this out only as a quirk of how we think about the sexualization of the body, by the way--not to suggest that "the show is being just as exploitative of men as it is of women." If we were a society in which men's bodies were highly fetishized and revealing them was considered to be erotic, provocative, to advertise the availability of the body to sexual exploitation etc. etc. etc. then the kickboxing scene would be seen as basically porn (it's not one but two buff guys in nothing but pants). If you reshot the scene with two women in the same costumes, you couldn't even get a cable channel to air it.

But of course, we're not in that society. We're in a society in which women's bodies get fetishized (more, at least--I'd say to the extent that things are "equalizing" in pop culture it's happening via the fetishizing of the male body: think of how ripped most young male actors and popular music stars are nowadays and how often the camera will linger lovingly on their sixpacks etc.--all utterly unlike the days of my youth), so Eliza's micromini takes on a different resonance from Tahmoh's low-riding boxer-shorts.
A good/positive ending (saving the kidnapped girl) is not the same as a moral one. I'm guessing there's no pro bono work at the DH and that were it not for the substantial sum paid, the request for help would have been referred elsewhere.

Yeah, was there someone in this thread who said that this was a "moral ending"?

Note that the Dollhouse wanted to drop the case as soon as they risked exposing an agent. They'd already received their payment at that point. Sending Ellie Penn back into the field was not motivated by monetary considerations. It was done at considerable risk to the outfit and done as a result of Boyd reminding DeWitt that "she liked to tell herself that what they were doing helped people."

Now, as it happened they scored the 8 million extra dollars as well. But, again, no one said they were "great humanitarians." What I said was that this was "dark gray" morality and not simply "black."
Snot, I guess I didn't have in issue with the premise of the scene because I'm a fan of Sergio Leone's westerns, which of course are big on the Mexican standoff (though to be fair the most famous one at the end of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is with holstered guns).

Ah, but a three-man "Mexican Standoff" makes perfect sense (and strictly speaking a "Mexican Standoff" is a three-or-more player situation). It's the John-Woo style one-on-one one which always bugs me.

Different again, of course, is the classic western "shootout" scenario. There, the point of the "rule" (which, of course, is utterly unhistorical) of waiting for the opponent to draw first is that it's supposed to be legal to draw your gun in self-defense, but "murder" if you draw first. So you wait for the other guy's hand to move towards his gun before you draw yours.

But once you've drawn your gun and he's drawn his and you've both got them shoved in the other guy's face, the only rational thing to do is to shoot and hope you do enough neural damage to prevent your opponent from pulling his trigger.
Ah, I see. In that case I agree with you, though I would think that trying to talk one another down from possibly both dying is logical (though Echo, or whatever the person she was should have known that talking to him would have been pointless). Of course there is the kind of person who would shoot first and to hell if they die as well. I would have assumed the hunter guy would have been like that, if he was legit about his babbling about deserving to live and all that, which I'm guessing he wasn't, or at least not entirely.
I thought this was a vast improvement on the first episode. Still can't stand Eliza, but overall it was much better.
Lasagna Girl reminds me of Tara :(
I was bugged by the cliche John Woo "mexican standoff" scene, too, but for a different reason. I can kinda buy the "fire and simultaneously dodge"--what I simply can't buy is why you hesitate to fire just because someone else has a gun (or arrow) in your face. You somehow think they're more likely to be able to kill you if you've shot them than otherwise? You're waiting for them to undergo some kind of moral growth? It made no sense for either the hunter or Echo not to fire as soon as possible. The hunter wants Echo dead, he know's he'd better fire that arrow before she kills him. Echo knows he's trying to kill her, but if she puts a bullet in his head he's a lot less likely to succeed.

For me those scenes only make sense if there is a reason that they do not want to fire. In this case the hunter may not have wanted the hunt to end and/or may not have believed Echo was capable of shooting a human being. He may have even been compelled by his own obsession to find out if she could kill him. I even wondered in the end if the guy had a death wish and had wanted to find someone who would actually win his little game and kill him.

Echo, on the other hand, may hesitate because she has never killed a human.

I thought the first episode was all grays (they save a little girl from kidnappers, one of whom has rape on his mind--how can that not be at least in part a 'good' outcome, Newcj?)

Well, I don't want to rediscuss the first episode and I think I did answer this on the first episode megathread. The short version is that the fact that when things went wrong they were going to bail and leave the girl to her fate was used to reinforce the innate immorality of the Dollhouse and Adelle...among other unfortunate things. The fact that she was rescued was nice, but it did not add moral ambiguity to the Dollhouse because the default of the organization was to cut and run. It was made it clear that when you hire an active, you are hiring a mercenary organization with no interest in the welfare of the client in spite of Adelle's words to Caroline about doing good. Reminding someone that they like to tell themselves that they do good, also reminds her that she tells other people that they do good, and if she is going to keep up that pretense she will need to finish the job. This is not gray, this is unadulterated badness.

The Boyd/Echo bonding stuff was very good (and, again, Newcj--doesn't that relationship give you "positive" human values and emotions to root for? I think you're slightly misreading Boyd's initial reaction to Echo--I think he finds the whole premise of what the Dollhouse does creepy and morally disturbing, and his refusal to engage with the 'wiped' Echo was part of his profound disgust with the entire situation he'd found himself in.)

The Boyd Echo stuff that is developing, I have already said was the one thing I liked. That said, he seems more than just not engaged with Echo at the beginning. His attitude seemed contemptuous. Yes, it could be misdirected disgust with himself and his situation...because it really is a disgusting job...but I still found it made me dislike him at the beginning and that colored my feelings for him as he developed.
Isn't it kind of dangerous to shoot someone who's already drawn their bow and pointed it at you? It's not the same as a standoff against another gun-wielder. If you miss, they'll shoot you. If you hit them, even kill them, then there goes the muscle control stopping the arrow from coming at you, and that's not the kind of range at which you want to take chances about the guy's aim, whether or not you've managed to shoot him. Therein, I believe, would lie the merit of opting to at least attempt a mutual backing off situation instead of getting trigger-happy upfront. I thought the standoff was excellent.
Right Taaroko. I think hunter guy even mentions that to Echo.
Re: standoff. Normally I would agree with you Snot Monster, however, in this case, if you shoot somebody holding a drawn bow and arrow, then what happens is they release the arrow. The arrow moves forward and the bow moves backward, but still gets some resistance from the extended arm that was holding it. The arrow won't fly as fast or true as if shot normally, and perhaps wouldn't that be dangerous, but at that range I wouldn't want to risk it. That's why Echo didn't shoot first. Maybe this would be a good thing for Mythbusters to test.

Richard didn't shoot first because he's a freakin' wackjob.
The fact that she was rescued was nice, but it did not add moral ambiguity to the Dollhouse because the default of the organization was to cut and run. It was made it clear that when you hire an active, you are hiring a mercenary organization with no interest in the welfare of the client in spite of Adelle's words to Caroline about doing good. Reminding someone that they like to tell themselves that they do good, also reminds her that she tells other people that they do good, and if she is going to keep up that pretense she will need to finish the job. This is not gray, this is unadulterated badness.

Aren't you short-circuiting your argument here? You're simply assuming that "telling herself" really means "advertising to clients" and therefore the only reason she agrees to Boyd's request is because she wants to be "consistent." Now, she doesn't explain her motives to us, so you might be right that those things play in. But its ALL assumption. Seems to me that if you're simply going to assume the worst--with no supporting evidence at all--there's no way you won't see it all as "black" rather than "gray."

For me, it seemed precisely the initial desire to "cut and run" (bad) which strongly suggested that the decision to continue the mission (good) was because of Boyd's (morally upright / appeal to DeWitt's better half) arguments in favor of doing so: hence, gray. I also thought that it was further complicated (darker gray) by the unnecessary carnage wrought by Sierra, and the fact that the Dollhouse scored the 8 million in ransom money (darker gray again).

His attitude seemed contemptuous.

Really? Well, I guess it's possible that that was what they were going for, but again, why assume the worst in the absence of a definite statement? My feeling was that he was repulsed by the idea of a "wiped" person (and who wouldn't be?)--that it creeped him out, and that he didn't think there was any point in establishing a "human" connection with her because she had, after all, been dehumanized.

In a way Boyd stands in for the viewer who is saying "who am I supposed to empathize with here?" He thinks he can't empathize with Echo because she's been rendered "personality-less"--but discovers (as I hope other viewers will) that despite that there remains some essential human 'core' that remains and that deserves our sympathy and our respect (the lesson that Dominic and to a lesser extent Topher seem not to have been able to learn).

Isn't it kind of dangerous to shoot someone who's already drawn their bow and pointed it at you? It's not the same as a standoff against another gun-wielder. If you miss, they'll shoot you.

I think if I'm weighing risks, I'll take the risk of an unaimed arrow being released by a body reacting to being hit in the face with a bullet over letting the homicidal maniac whose been hunting me shoot first. As someone said above, if both parties have some reason to believe that the other one might be persuaded not to shoot at all, there's a good reason not to shoot. That really wasn't the case here.

Now, it is possible that the hunter was not programmed to actually kill her (although having shot arrows at her from a pretty long distance, he was clearly willing to take the risk that she would die). But really Echo had no reason at all not to think that her death was his sole desire.
Maybe this would be a good thing for Mythbusters to test.

Idea for Dollhouse episode: "Hello Dollhouse, this is Mythbusters, we'd like a few actives programmed to test an interesting problem..."
That would be the BEST MYTHBUSTERS EVER.
In regards to the stand-off... I can't say why HE didn't shoot right away, since we are certainly given the impression that he has murdered before. But Echo... presumably, her imprint didn't include homicidal tendences. Survival insticts aside, most people are reluctant to take another's life.

According to Lt. Col. David Grossman, an expert on the psychology of killing, "During World War II, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. S. L. A. Marshall had a team of researchers study what soldiers did in battle. For the first time in history, they asked individual soldiers what they did in battle. They discovered that only 15 to 20 percent of the individual riflemen could bring themselves to fire at an exposed enemy soldier.

"That is the reality of the battlefield. Only a small percentage of soldiers are able and willing to participate. Men are willing to die, they are willing to sacrifice themselves for their nation; but they are not willing to kill. It is a phenomenal insight into human nature; but when the military became aware of that, they systematically went about the process of trying to fix this "problem." From the military perspective, a 15 percent firing rate among riflemen is like a 15 percent literacy rate among librarians. And fix it the military did. By the Korean War, around 55 percent of the soldiers were willing to fire to kill. And by Vietnam, the rate rose to more than 90 percent."

He goes on to explain the conditioning process used by the military to first debase the soldier and then rebuild them without the typical societal mores, by rewarding desired behaviors and by dehumanizing the enemy. Echo's imprint is just a thrill-seeking outdoorsy type, not a soldier, not a sociopath. It's perfectly believable to me that, in spite of her bluster, she was reluctant to pull the trigger.

ET correct typo.

[ edited by QingTing on 2009-02-21 23:39 ]
That is certainly my understanding too, QingTing: that most people cannot shoot and hit another person the first time even if they have had training with targets. That evidently there is some tendency to miss, so I wasn't surprised at Echo's reluctance either. Now we noticed that Boyd was much more experienced at the whole shooting people thing!

[ edited by embers on 2009-02-21 23:43 ]
You're simply assuming that "telling herself" really means "advertising to clients" and therefore the only reason she agrees to Boyd's request is because she wants to be "consistent."

We see her tell Caroline, why wouldn't she use it other times when it seemed useful? ...and I did not say to be "consistent", I said to keep up the pretense.

His attitude seemed contemptuous.

Really? Well, I guess it's possible that that was what they were going for, but again, why assume the worst in the absence of a definite statement?


Because that was what I saw on the screen. If you are only going to go by the words spoken, it may as well be a book, cause even radio has inflection that can give you added information. Course now that I think about it, there were contemptuous words involved as well.

Oooooo, Mythbusters. Yessssss.
I just realized Adelle perhaps really wanted Echo dead. She acknowledged the risk and higher price when the deal was made. Maybe she was willing to play along in the hope Echo wouldn't return at the end of her shift. We saw Dominic showing Adelle the fake-everything client file, yet Adelle earlier knew enough to acknowledge danger in the transaction. How much danger did she really acknowledge?

Still wondering what else happens in a composite event.
On another note mentioned by others here:

What the heck could the back stories be for the (presumably) non-dolls who work at the Dollhouse that would make them go/stay there?

Other than the obvious moral black area of the dolls themselves(sorry but even with a 'voluntary' contract with the original personality, I just can't see what the company does to the dolls as morally ambiguous), the rest of it is so gray and creepy that I can't imagine how you could know the deal and not wonder whether Topher has ever put you in the chair.

And once you wonder, could you not lose your mind eventually?

I'd like to see that concept to be dealt with in some way in the future.
During World War II, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. S. L. A. Marshall had a team of researchers study what soldiers did in battle. For the first time in history, they asked individual soldiers what they did in battle. They discovered that only 15 to 20 percent of the individual riflemen could bring themselves to fire at an exposed enemy soldier.

I haven't read Grossman, but if he's relying on Marshall's "ratio of fire" research then he's a bit suspect. Marshall's methodology has been severely criticized and his research is widely regarded as worthless.
Yeah, loved Firefly. Loved Buffy. This is different. I'm a huge (HUGE) Whedon fan, but this... this is something else. If Joss is worried about his fan base being turned off by some of the 'darker' elements of the show, then I guess it depends on what he means by that. If he means a meditation on human trafficking and the value of human life, then I'm completely there with that darkness, and I think many others will be too. But if by 'dark' is meant 'FOX network-style sexualized violence' or 'if you didn't know Whedon was doing this show, you'd flip past it and wince,' then count me out...
@April -- I just took that to mean that his backwoods adventure tour was the 'moderate danger' that prompted the additional fee.

But I guess anything's possible at this point. That is one thing I do like about the show; all the main characters are so ambiguous.

Part of that is that it's only 2 eps in, but I could see the ambiguity working as Echo really starts to "wake up." Not only will she not know who to trust, but neither may we.
We see her tell Caroline, why wouldn't she use it other times when it seemed useful? ...and I did not say to be "consistent", I said to keep up the pretense.

But you are, again, merely assuming that it's a "pretense." I mean, shouldn't you have some evidence that she merely "pretends" to think that she "helps" people before you say that all instances of her acting so as to help people are just part of that elaborate facade? (ETA: and isn't "keeping up the pretense" the same thing as "being consistent"--about, you know, the pretense?)

I just realized Adelle perhaps really wanted Echo dead. She acknowledged the risk and higher price when the deal was made. Maybe she was willing to play along in the hope Echo wouldn't return at the end of her shift. We saw Dominic showing Adelle the fake-everything client file, yet Adelle earlier knew enough to acknowledge danger in the transaction. How much danger did she really acknowledge?

I thought that was just a little game with the audience. Adele says "this is a risky encounter" and you immediately think "Hmmm...so what kind of evil, kinky stuff is this guy into?" and then you see them white-water rafting and think "oh, that kind of risk. What a silly I am." I think it was ultimately meant to make the turn to actual risk more surprising.

I really don't see why Adele would go through an elaborate game like this in order to deliberately get Echo offed. Something tells me that if Adele wants an Active, um, de-Activated, she can just give the order. What was it Dominic said about putting Echo in the "attic"?

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-22 00:09 ]
Added a link to the Eliza ad.


That's the Eliza that Fox should have used for those promos last week. She's excellent in that Hulu ad.
What I take away from this episode is that hot chicks always go for the guy who turns into a jerk after they sleep with him. That and how a fat guy - however nice - can only land the girl if he is rich or she is programmed or both.

Oh, and that trust must be both given and earned. I guess.
I really liked this episode. And the bunny and rabbit reference was great.
But you are, again, merely assuming that it's a "pretense." I mean, shouldn't you have some evidence that she merely "pretends" to think that she "helps" people before you say that all instances of her acting so as to help people are just part of that elaborate facade?

The evidence that it is a pretense was stated earlier and more than once on the first episode thread. That being the fact that she had to be convinced to try to save the client's daughter. The fact that the default position of the Dollhouse organization is apparently to wash their hands of the client and his daughter when things go wrong because of the Dollhouse's own error. The fact that the results of what those actions will cause is not being taken into consideration. None of those things points to any kind of humanitarian mission, only a mercenary one.

(ETA: and isn't "keeping up the pretense" the same thing as "being consistent"--about, you know, the pretense?)

You did not say what she was trying to be consistent about. Being consistent can be an end in itself, and that is different from keeping up a pretense. Since I was not the one to use the word (even though you put it in quotes) how would one know what you were referring to?
Snot (Really?)...

I'll pick up where newcj left off since he defended the same point about which you questioned me.

I think the evidence of Adele's moral ambiguity is in her running of the DH itself. The pimp with the heart of gold is still a pimp.

And it's just as (I'm tempted to but won't say "more") likely that her concern for Echo is not about her physical well being but about losing her most requested active.

[ edited by Brett on 2009-02-22 00:57 ]
I'm as big a reactor to "women used as or reduced to sexual object" as you're likely to find on here - leaving the Dollhouse promotion aside, because I really have done all my stuff about that on other threads - and I've really found very little so far that smacks of being directed at titillating the audience.

It's a tricky line the show is walking - and I did think Eliza in that micro-mini fell over it - showing as content how women and men sexually objectify each other without using it to exploit these actors all over again - but for the most part, I'm quite happy about the way the show is walking it.

In no way did I feel that naked & bloody Echo seated in the middle of those naked and massacred Dolls was an attempt to titillate the viewers. Their nakedness showed their vulnerability in the most vivid way possible - and the exploitation of the vulnerable is emphatically one of the themes we're exploring in the Dollhouse.

Aside from the fact that Eliza would probably be sexy and beautiful unless you gave her a beard and false warts all over her, I don't think this show has been particularly exploitive of her - or anyone else - in this way. I'm actually pretty impressed by the way the show itself is dealing with this issue.

My attachment to the show has geometrically increased with this episode - I see so much room for it to venture into promising story realms - and from what I'm seeing, I have more trust that Joss was able to keep his hand on the helm.

(BTW, for anyone with the illusion that the cancellation of this show will bring about some other mythical, different and more "Jossian" TV - pop that bubble right away. I believe that the failure of Dollhouse would decrease the chances of you seeing more Joss-TV, for a variety of reasons.)

Okay, I've iTuned and I've hulu'd, and now I'm gonna re-watch 'em both for the sheer joy of non-commercially-interrupted viewing.
Finally had time to watch it, and for me it was a pretty close tie with the first ep. In some ways I liked it more--loved the backstory, the Boyd/Echo bonding etc., the fight scenes, Echo's drug-induced memory flashes, and the pacing felt a lot tighter. Definitely more edge-of-my-seat than the pilot. And I really liked that the psycho was hired as part of a plot (because I was thinking it was a pretty ridiculous screening-process fail until that was revealed).

However, I completely agree with what snot said about the A-story. I just loved the meatiness of the kidnapping story, the way Eleanor Penn was a real (even if composite) character with an arc of her own. I hope we see more of those stories.

As for "Mexican standoffs," it doesn't seem to me that logic would be a person's main driver in that situation. Echo's imprint was not that of a killer and psycho-guy was getting his jollies from the "game." Makes perfect sense to me that they'd delay before shooting, logical or not.
With all the talk re: titillation, did anyone notice how white Keeslar--the supposed outdoorsman--was in contrast to Dushku during their sex scene?

No, not paramount; just an observation.
The evidence that it is a pretense was stated earlier and more than once on the first episode thread. That being the fact that she had to be convinced to try to save the client's daughter. The fact that the default position of the Dollhouse organization is apparently to wash their hands of the client and his daughter when things go wrong because of the Dollhouse's own error. The fact that the results of what those actions will cause is not being taken into consideration. None of those things points to any kind of humanitarian mission, only a mercenary one.

But, Newcj, you're arguing as if I'm saying they're a bunch of saints. We agree that their first instinct was to wash their hands of the situation. I've already said that. But they didn't do that. They went back out--despite the fact that they'd already received their fee for the job, despite the fact that their instincts told them to cut and run, and despite the fact that they thought their client would probably die. For you to prove your "they're evil, through and through" line (which is opposed not to a "they're angels through and through" line but to a "they're a mix of very black and some lighter grays") you have to show that it is somehow demonstrated that when Boyd says to Adele "I know you like to say to yourself that you're helping people" all she hears is "I like to spin this line to other people and if I don't act as if I occasionally help people out of the goodness of my heart now perhaps some clients will hear about me not acting well and decide that I'm lying when I say that we help people." That's a pretty tortuous thing for her to think, let alone for you to regard as the "obvious" way of reading the scenario.

It seems to me far more plausible to think that Adele was simply persuaded that saving Davina was the "right" thing to do and that she was willing to give doing the "right" thing a shot because A) she's a complicated person who is capable of both good and evil (like most real "bad" people) and B) she figured that the risks to her Actives were acceptable and that there was a chance of recovering the 8 million dollars and of being able to chalk up a "successful" mission, which would be good for business.

I think the evidence of Adele's moral ambiguity is in her running of the DH itself. The pimp with the heart of gold is still a pimp.

I think you lost track of who was arguing what here. I'm the one saying that the show is full of interesting moral ambiguity. Newcj is the one saying there's no ambiguity at all, and that it's all "black."
With all the talk re: titillation, did anyone notice how white Keeslar--the supposed outdoorsman--was in contrast to Dushku during their sex scene?

This is just fanwank, of course, but: could that be a clue that he is in fact "imprinted" with the outdoorsy-knowledge? He's never actually done any of that stuff before...
Perhaps he's an outdoorsman who knows the dangers of skin cancer and so uses lots of sunscreen?

Also, I'm pretty sure his story was less than true. Maybe he did have a hunting thing, but perhaps he isn't as normally outdoorsy as that. Since he was hired presumably, and it seems unlikely for an assassin to always arrange his hits to be outdoors. And as an incredibly pale person, I have to say I didn't notice it... of course I really didn't notice him at all in the scene, so...
No, sorry, I know who's saying what. But right, bad cutting and pasting on my part.

What I meant was that the fact that Adele is running the DH is evidence enough to suggest that she could easily be pretending to think, as newjc suggested, that the job was about helping people.

That's what people do--convince themselves that the wrong things they're doing are somehow exceptions to the rule. And while anyone can do this, it seems far more likely that someone in as deep as Adele would be more prone to, willing to, and needful of taking such a position.
I thought about someone bringing up sunscreen myself and almost preemptively addressed it and that's when I realized we're all in WAY too deep... ; )

If it was a clue, which I doubt it was but good call, I think it would have made more sense if Echo noticed and mentioned it, as I think only a very few people would have noticed.

Weird that I did. And I'm color blind.
I'm just going to call it now...

Alpha is Twilight.
Adelle's the authority figure and she went from disapproval of a subordinate's very manner and presence to carrying out his crazy idea like gangbusters after just a few moments of consideration. Which to me says whatever else is true, whoever she really is deep down, she really does believe what she says about helping people.
We'll be able to tell if he speaks in funny, wavy lined words.
What I meant was that the fact that Adele is running the DH is evidence enough to suggest that she could easily be pretending to think, as newjc suggested, that the job was about helping people.

That's what people do--convince themselves that the wrong things they're doing are somehow exceptions to the rule. And while anyone can do this, it seems far more likely that someone in as deep as Adele would be more prone to, willing to, and needful of taking such a position.


I'm quite sure that much of the time when she says "we help people" it's a convenient sop to her conscience. That's not the issue here. The issue is whether the decision to go save Davina was an "evil" one taken for the "evil" reason of "keeping up the pretense" that doing good is one of their motives, and that in no way was their motive in part the "good" desire to save a little girl from a child rapist.

Newcj, and perhaps you, have put yourselves in a position where it is clearly "evil" of the Dollhouse not to want to save Davina, but equally clearly "evil" of them to change their minds and decide to save her after all. That strikes me as, well, odd.
Adelle's the authority figure and she went from disapproval of a subordinate's very manner and presence to carrying out his crazy idea like gangbusters after just a few moments of consideration. Which to me says whatever else is true, whoever she really is deep down, she really does believe what she says about helping people.

No, you don't understand. Apparently it was him saying "you like to tell yourself what you do here helps people" that made her understand that the REALLY evil thing to do was to actually help Davina while all the time knowing that she was only doing it so that she could look like she was helping Davina...

Yeah...what you said.
I don't think that's necessarily the issue. I never said anyone was evil. What I originally wrote that you questioned (I let our discussion merge with yours and newjc's because they started off kinda the same but now they're sorta splintering...) was that a good ending didn't equal a moral one, and if said ending was realized for reasons that were not altruistic, then the results did not speak to morality at all--at least not in the sense most expected.

You contend (I think...) that it does because Adele made the decision to send Echo back into the situation due to Boyd's reminding her of her stance that the DH was about helping people.

I'm maintaining that she might (Only theorizing, devilishly advocating, not decided...) have done so just because she wants him to believe that, particularly since she even spoke (Wish I had the recall some of you have...) to his being an unlikely choice of employee for the organization.

I'm sure Adele's morality or lack thereof is not pure black. I'm just suggesting it's likely dark enough to make me not want to have her over to dinner.
I would *love* to have Adelle over for dinner. People with dubious morals make excellent dinner conversation. She's definitely got layers. Just because she values helping people doesn't mean she's a goody two shoes. It took Boyd to convince her to save Davina, and we've seen her reject a particular kill order but that implies she's approved others in the past when she agreed with Dominic.
Sun...

That's your call. Please don't sit me next to her. Or serve anything requiring a knife...serrated or otherwise...

[ edited by Brett on 2009-02-22 02:02 ]
I don't think Adelle's danger is of the stabbing kind.
Not firsthand. But she might well get someone stabbed...
Not unless you're furiously investigating the Dollhouse or something. She's a businesswoman, not a serial killer.

Although if you have any young attractive acquaintances maybe don't invite them.
I don't think that's necessarily the issue. I never said anyone was evil. What I originally wrote that you questioned (I let our discussion merge with yours and newjc's because they started off kinda the same but now they're sorta splintering...) was that a good ending didn't equal a moral one, and if said ending was realized for reasons that were not altruistic, then the results did not speak to morality at all--at least not in the sense most expected.

You contend (I think...) that it does because Adele made the decision to send Echo back into the situation due to Boyd's reminding her of her stance that the DH was about helping people.


Brett, it's been a long thread. I think you must have missed my original reply to you. Search for this post:

A good/positive ending (saving the kidnapped girl) is not the same as a moral one. I'm guessing there's no pro bono work at the DH and that were it not for the substantial sum paid, the request for help would have been referred elsewhere.

Yeah, was there someone in this thread who said that this was a "moral ending"?


I think that snippet alone should disabuse you of the idea that I'm arguing that the "good" (to the extent that it was) outcome was somehow a "moral" one.
Although I can see why people enjoyed this episode more than the first one - more action, more humour, better self-contained plotline - it didn't leave me as impressed as the premier, and I think they chose the first episode well. My main problem with this episode and biggest concern for the show is that I'm not sure who I should be rooting for here, the Dollhouse company seem to be the bad guys so its difficult to feel the same kind of connection to the main characters (namely Echo) as I did with Buffy, Mal etc.

If Echo breaks her programming and becomes on the run from the Dollhouse company (sorry, I'm sure these actually have a name I haven't picked up on yet) then I reckon the show would be much more gripping, but I can't see this happening for some time, possibly not in this season.

This isn't a show-stopping concern, I'm still liking it a lot and more than a little intrigued by the various aspects to the plot. I hope everything comes together within the next few episodes, I'm pretty excited about what's in store.
I'm just going to call it now...

Alpha is Twilight.


Already called by someone upthread. ;)
Snot...I saw your response, but clearly I'm still missing something.

You wrote: they save a little girl from kidnappers, one of whom has rape on his mind--how can that not be at least in part a 'good' outcome, Newcj?

I thought that that was in response to newjc writing: I see no gray. Everything in this show is one color, the color of bad stuff whether that be black or white. Only one is being used. I see nothing positive to make gray out of it.

Thus, I assumed that you were using the fact that there was a "good outcome" as a positive with respect to the graying of morality, suggesting said outcome came as a result of Adele's morality.

That's why I wrote: A good/positive ending (saving the kidnapped girl) is not the same as a moral one, since I am not sure of Adele's motives.

But you're saying that you're not relating the positive outcome to a moral one there despite it being in response to newjc's request for an example of something that's "not the color of bad stuff."

Clearly I'm clueless--Harmony clueless--as to where I've gone wrong here...
Sun...

See, there's the problem. I'm young and attractive...
Re: a bit up-thread; debate regarding the sexiness/objectification/skin attributed to FBI-guy vs Echo. I honestly don't think any of this is 'sexy' (in the turns me on sense) but I think one can easily argue that while the proportion of 'skin' may be similar, only Echo is enlisted to be a whore (to motorcycle-racer guy, tubby guy, lots of other guys of which we know nothing) in ways that remove her opportunity for genuine consent or reflection on a regular basis. I also don't find that 'sexy'; rather sad actually.
what is true for me so far....

...people who are traumatized... This episode gave us a backstory of an entire workplace that is only a few months removed from real trauma on the level of surviving Columbine or getting out of one of the Towers...for Amy Acker's character, not only the physical scars are obvious: she still acts traumatized. I wonder how the Alpha massacre influenced the Topher or Adele we see? Is Topher almost intentionally callous in his discussion of the dolls (as seen especially in the pilot) in a way he might not have been three months ago? Does he give the lie to the callousness when we see him deprogramming the actives – he is surprisingly gentle with them "for a little while" each time. ...allusions upthread to whether the associates who work at the dollhouse act like "family" or like W&H employees – Since a Joss show always ends up being about family, has he intentionally started with a shattered/traumatized family as a new way to examine this issue?

...commercials...watched it today for first time with none, but could still FEEL them, especially later in the show when, I believe, they had to show way more of Echo running through the woods because they had to reestablish the momentum every three minutes after another commercial. This could lead to unfortunate pacing even for those who never see this show until it is on DVD. Of course Joss has mentioned in interviews that there is a new structure on TV these days, and if anyone is up to the challenge of figuring out how to make the story work in this new rhythm, it is him.

...I fully believe that Bowhunter dude had another agenda besides hunting Echo, especially when he mentioned her name. Even if he has done this to dozens of other women as a straight "dangerous game," I, like some others upthread, have no difficulty imagining Alpha giving him some instructions to try to traumatize Echo into compositing, which explains why he takes so long to get face to face with her when he clearly has her sighted/sited several times earlier. Also might explain the canteen-o'-wonders. This doesn't mean he wasn't planning to end the game by killing Echo after he shook her up, but I suspect Alpha would have had something to say about that if it truly got that far. The shoulder to the wheel gesture was so over the top that I have to believe it was also intentionally part of Alpha's instructions to hunter dude as a sort of trigger that relates to Caroline's past.

...if Joss Whedon does a show with lots of guns, you can trust him to absolutely insist that they be truly deadly and dangerous in a way most other shows fail to do (River, put the stick down!)... two episodes in and two clients either critically wounded or dead....

...jumping the Whedon. For me on Buffy, it was the last few seconds of "Me Robot," with the "we're all doomed!" line and the long pause as their faces fell. For Angel, it was probably the death of Doyle...not so much jumping a shark as blithely running into one that has inexplicably turned up in your bathtub...does not lead to a cheering crowd on the shore.
What about the whole Dollhouse=Hollywood metaphor? What does the dubious morality of the Dollhouse say about Hollywood as an industry, and how it treats its actors/actives? Pretty bleak picture if you ask me, which of course drips with irony.
Speaking of Adelle in the pilot episode, it was amusing to me how her greed gave way to self-interest. Boyd trying to convince her to let Echo go back out in the field to attempt saving the girl. Adelle: "We don't have a client." Boyd: "But we have a mission." Clearly, to me anyway, self-interest won out as she pondered how it would look if the now-dead client's daughter also became a casualty and word got around the exclusive world they operate in. Then I start wondering about Adelle. What's in it for her? Don't the very rich and powerful sort of get bored with that after a time? Is Adelle really the apex of this organization or is there someone or something else bigger than her. Doesn't matter to me if those questions get answered. I enjoy ambiguity, up to a point.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-02-22 04:05 ]
Huh. I search this thread but I don't see it: Did no one notice Boyd jutting out his chin like Brando after Topher snarked the name at him?
baxter: "Re: a bit up-thread; debate regarding the sexiness/objectification/skin attributed to FBI-guy vs Echo. I honestly don't think any of this is 'sexy' (in the turns me on sense) but I think one can easily argue that while the proportion of 'skin' may be similar, only Echo is enlisted to be a whore (to motorcycle-racer guy, tubby guy, lots of other guys of which we know nothing) in ways that remove her opportunity for genuine consent or reflection on a regular basis. I also don't find that 'sexy'; rather sad actually."

Well, I'll be watching area this myself - but so far, we haven't seen enough to know how this is going to be handled in the long run. It is Joss' stated intent to be looking at, along with other questions of objectification, power & vulnerability, the specific question of what constitutes genuine consent.

And showing - so far - only women hired for sexual purposes doesn't mean that they are advocating this imbalance, nor that they will handle any of these issues in a sexist fashion - though two factors I can think of will no doubt affect the ratio of women to men in this respect: 1) Eliza, the star, is a woman and will be highlighted in the show and 2) it seems likely that in society - and thus in the Dollhouse - the majority of sex-for-hire situations are men hiring women for sex.

That said, I will nonetheless be looking to see in the subsequent episodes if the male Actives get much play in sexual Engagements - or in featured Engagements at all. If they are just background, it's not really gonna feel quite right to me.

However, I myself am not advocating Equal Opportunity Sexual Exploitation ; > - just that we maybe get a chance through the Dollhouse to look at some of the ways men are exploited or objectified, and that the show doesn't veer too closely into "this week's chance to see a women hired for a sexual fantasy yet again."

But I got some trust in Our Jossir. ("Do you trust me?")
I think a double/multiple engagement would go down well, in a more mission sense of the word rather than a sexual sense.
I thought the pilot was OK, and I liked the second show better - more flashbacks and action. It's early days, though, and I am looking forward to some pithy/silly/strange Jossness dialogue-wise.
This show is growing on me. I love the idea of it, but don't love it---- yet. But I will. All is going as I have foreseen.
I can't decide if it's sad or awesome that I've read every comment in this thread. Granted, I was following it more actively the night Dollhouse aired but I'm caught up with the recent posts from today finally.

Re: the upthread with nudity and Echo being sexualized - First, I feel like I've seen an equal timeshare of naked women and men. Did no one notice the completely nude man lying behind Echo who was shyly only showing her back while this guy was lying down with his leg brought up to cover what needed to be covered? Or does the nudity of major characters only count?

Now to Echo being used sexually, that's something that's equally true for all the dolls both male and female. I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and realize that both genders are being abused, maligned and sexualized at an equally horrific level.

Better?
I liked the first episode, but it was the second episode that solidified the show for me.

While it did establish the world and set up some interesting avenues to explore later, the first episode had more exposition, which is understandable, considering not everyone who tuned in obsessively searched for every shed of info about the show before it aired like some of us, lol. I did like the Ellie Penn story line, and that they use a compilation of real people complete with their weaknesses to create the personalities for the Dolls.

(Speaking of...I somewhat guiltily adore Topher.)

The second had a more familiar feel to it for me, with the humour and snappier dialouge it ironically seemed more like Joss’s style. And it answered some questions, while making us ask even more.

And if we are debating our feelings and thoughts in response to Dollhouse’s manipulation of memory and identity, love, sex, and what constitues consent, and what makes a person human... Arent we really questioning our own society? And isn’t that the whole point?

And moral ambiguity isn’t exactly new to the Whedonverse. How many characters in Buffy or Angel went bad before being redeemed? And Firefly/Serenity? Come on, they weren’t exactly always about keeping the law and order. And there was the whole Companion sex-for-hire thing there too...

Overall,I think Dollhouse is a difficult concept to pull off but if it could succeed in anyone’s hands, it would be Joss et al’s....it has a whole lot of potential and I just hope it gets the chance to prove it can live up to it.

(Emmie, personally I’m going with awesome...makes it feel less time wastey and more like an accomplishment.)

(Edited to correct annoying typos.)

[ edited by RedSkye on 2009-02-22 05:51 ]
Miracle Laurie is chunky in the same way Amber Benson is chunky...not really chunky at all. Just not "petite". She sure is purty though.
Thank you, Brett. That last post was a good run down. I came back to the thread and was getting ready to do a similar post, but then read yours and was so glad I didn't have to. :-D

I don't even want to start on figuring out how there can be moral ambiguity whenever Echo is used as an active when she was coerced into becoming an active in the first place. That is like the guy asserting it was not rape because a woman said yes when he was threatening to hurt her if she said no. After the coercion, everything done to Echo is victimization of her mind and body. Again, it is evil, not ambiguous.
First ep was enough to get me interested, really liked the second ep.

"Maybe this would be a good thing for Mythbusters to test"

Well... one of the Mythbusters IS a fan (of Firefly/Joss/Dollhouse) Mythbuster Twitter post
I knew it was Adam! He even looks a bit like Joss... similar hair color, receding hairline combed in a similar way, and now the beard... and while Adam always wears his cowboy hat, I have seen some pictures while filming Serenity with Joss with a hat on.

They should do a Joss special... see how hard it is to stake someone with your bare hands, if Vera would really need a space suit around it to fire, what really happens if you strip someones amigula etc. And then Grant can build a robot to see if the Buffybot is possible. Or something.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-22 08:55 ]
Though I found the pilot to be a little tighter and more emotional for me personally (something about the abuse victim facing her abuser who actually never abused her--fantastic), this little trek through the forest was a helluva good time. The raising of the stakes (and body count), the rogue doll gone mad and we never see his face (am I the only one who thinks it's NPH? Joss--shamelessly banking off of previously successful material, putting the sequel to Dr. Horrible in a Friday night drama... you should be ashamed. When we find out that your entire musical internet phenomena was just a false imprinted memory from a schizophrenic elderly gentleman with an obsession with Doogie Howser M.D., I will be very upset.), this show is a refreshing slice of great television. Brilliant.

Freely choosing to avoid this program is quite possibly a moral wrong. Ask Kant.





My unrelated question to Joss Whedon...

Since you got Penikett working for yah and relationships with Jane Espenson, etc... Do you have privileged information about Battlestar?

I mean there's no way you're not nudgin' shoulders, "Hey, Agathon. C'mon. It's me. The Joss-Man. Give me the skinny. The scoop. What the f**k happens? When's your character die? Did your attraction to Olmos ever ruin a take?"

Deny all you want, Joss. We're onto you.
Finally watched it (I've been flying). I thought it was a pretty cool episode but I liked the pilot a fair bit better and I suppose I expected something great from De Knight (Deep Down and Dead Things are two of my favourite Buffy / Angel episodes). But, still, it was a pretty good epsisode - a sort of less good 'Out of Gas'

I'm now completely baffled by the people who are saying that the show has no humour ('Deep, deep man love'. 'None of them are democrats' etc.)

Miracle Laurie's character is giving off major Kaylee vibes. 'I should thank you by, you know, thanking you' (Compare to: 'It's not a problem because ... it's not')

Looking forward to episode 3
And RE the Miracle being too "heavy" to be an active, well i think that's absolute BS. She may not be a size 2, but to be honest, I think that makes her just as likely to be an active as anyone who is supermodel sized. It seems to me the Dollhouse aims to provide you with what you want, in both appearance and personality. There are enough guys out there who would prefer miracle to Eliza, so it makes sense to me that the Dolls would come in all shapes and sizes. Certainly, those with a more tone physique might get the more physical based imprints, but I see no reason to think there wouldn't be a desire for someone as pretty as Miracle. FOX are just being absolute jerks over it, and frankly showed their own shallowness and disconnection with the average viewer.
So, a thought occurs to me: what if the trust-programming thing was directed at Boyd as much as Echo? That is, not in terms of character development, but in terms of the actual science. I'm wondering because I just rewatched the scene where Topher stops Boyd partway through and says he should hold her hand for increased results, or whatever.

Maybe it's grasping, but I could see this as the Dollhouse's way of ensuring that the handlers care for their actives as well. A reciprocal relationship, to ensure that no handler continues to feel the way Boyd initially did.

Just some thoughts as I rewatched this glorious episode.
Newcj, who was threatening to hurt Caroline if she said no to signing up? IIRC, Adelle said, roughly, sign up with us and we'll get you out of the mess you're in. Caroline had a choice - face up to whatever it was she'd done or "escape". She has no moral culpability for taking the easy way out? She's just a helpless victim? I admit we don't know how much she knew about what Actives do, so it's ambiguous as to whether she knew exactly what she was agreeing to, but she certainly had some idea.

We don't know if some Actives go into this with their eyes wide open. It's possible that some people are quite happy to give up five years of their life in return for massive wads of cash, whether they're in trouble or not. They may think they won't remember any of the bad stuff and they'll be rich - a fair tradeoff. Would you consider those cases more grey than black?
Wait... someone thought the Lasagna Girl (Miracle? So she was originally going to be November... interesting...) was too heavy? Huh? Are they blind, or just stupid? I happen to think that Eliza is gorgeous, but Miracle is quite pretty, this from an incredibly scrawny guy (not that my weight has anything to do with it, other than saying that its not like I'm 5'4, 300 pounds saying she ain't fat). I know in my head I was screaming at Ballard for ignoring her obvious attempts to connect, and I was wondering why someone like her wasn't living next to me, offering me food. Of course I'm not an FBI agent, and don't look nearly as good as Tahmoh (Joss' shows make me have many Stupid Sexy Flanders moments, I'm coming to realize), so that could have something to do with it.

I am guessing she's more like Kaylee, a slightly more 'average' girl, though again very pretty. I don't really see the Tara comparison, since I didn't really find her to be very pretty. Not ugly or fat for sure, but not my cup of tea.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-22 10:00 ]
Call me the village idiot, but wasn't the whole point of this show to give Eliza something to do other than be a scream queen? This plot was almost exactly the sort of thing she's supposed to be getting away from.

Also, far too much exposition for episode two. Not earned.
Ok, late to the party but need to put in my inflation adjusted five cents worth. Loved it! First few acts I thought, kay, seen this before, then it just kept getting better and better. This is what I miss, as Joss has put it, the "wow" unexpected subversion of the cliche moments, (ok, 'twists' for those of you who are in a hurry and also,... mmmm...words...pretty). Anyways, at the end of the last few acts, I couldn't wait to see what happens next. Loving the Alpha arc, can't wait to find out the back stories of everyone and excited about the different possibilities. Anyone can be an active. Is Boyd one? 'Things are not what they seem.' Why is Caroline there? Not at all worried about Echo's lack of personality, she's got a new one every episode and can't wait until she remembers part of her past assignments and uses them to kick ass...again!
Yep, the shoulder thing at the end could be said to be the first direct sign of Echo. I like the fact that it's an act of defiance, even if she's not totally aware of that yet. When she arrives I think I might like her ;).

That would be the BEST MYTHBUSTERS EVER.

Never was Adam's tagline more appropriate - "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" ;).

Caroline had a choice - face up to whatever it was she'd done or "escape". She has no moral culpability for taking the easy way out? She's just a helpless victim?

Glad someone said this. A choice made under pressure is NOT coercion and certainly not coercion by Adelle. She was free to choose, they may not have been good choices but she had one (in practical terms, as an individual that wants to survive or avoid prison or whatever the stakes were then maybe it was "forced" in the same way a least worst chess move can be "forced" but ultimately, still her decision). And it seemed at least possible she was in that position because of her own choices (we don't know enough yet).

For me that makes it much more interesting because it speaks more to the way women are "forced" to be complicit in their own objectification (in order to "get ahead" for instance). What does it mean to have a "free" choice where society's concerned and is an entirely unpressured choice even possible ?

We don't know if some Actives go into this with their eyes wide open. It's possible that some people are quite happy to give up five years of their life in return for massive wads of cash, whether they're in trouble or not.

Something I found mildly disturbing was when we first found out the premise on here and several folk said they found the idea quite attractive. Personally, I can't think of anything worse than the loss of self, seems like that's all any of us really has to begin with (everything else worthwhile, like love etc., follows from that).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-02-22 11:38 ]
Good stuff, as so many have said before a nice improvement on ep. 1.

The positive: The mission/engagement of the week really had some tension going, even if the story is a rethread it's one that I haven't seen in a while.
The Whedon history of leaving bodies on the ground actually made me worry for Boyd there for a moment, should've known the additional person in the van was a redshirt though.
The nice and quick opening up of the backstory, some comments about several pilots made worry about when we would be starting in on the raw meat of the story, this episode provided enough food for tought.

The Negative : I keep harping on it but I love stories where smart people gets dumped on despite their foolproof intricate plans, plots that rely on peoples stupidity or incompetence turns me off. So Security failing in the vetting of customer, not good.
The Dollhouse creating it's own monster, Topher - Hey this is not an oilchange it's an artform so sometimes we just wing it and see what happens. Should've been a scene where Boyd points at another large bloodstain and asks - Who was that, Adelles response - Previous management and head of research, the board insisted on a downsizing.

Other thoughts:

The whole concept mentioned upthread that we dont know who of the staff of the Dollhouse could be actives as in mindwiped themselves makes my head hurt in a very good way, a couple of reveals in that direction in later episodes would make me a happy camper.

I believe Saje mentioned Frankenstein, I wonder how many writers in Hollywood have looked at their fansites (or possibly an actor or two) and wondered if they had created a monster of some kind.

Rated 7/10, there is still room for improvement.

And yes, there is a cabin in the woods and we're heading towards it.

[ edited by jpr on 2009-02-22 13:23 ]
Rated 7/10, there is still room for improvement.

Heh "Could try harder" ;).

So Security failing in the vetting of customer, not good.

Hmm, to me this was mainly to demonstrate the resources behind "Richard". It was an entire personal history from birth to maybe late 20s early 30s that passed the dollhouse checks (which, it's at least implied, have never failed before now). That says something about who's behind it.

And yeah, I was talking about Alpha as Frankenstein's monster and how he might want a bride (Frankenstein being the dollhouse in that instance) but as a few people have mentioned before, Joss is the ultimate Frankenstein on the show and all the characters are his monsters. Which ties in nicely to stuff he's said about his own personal responsibility for what happens on his shows and maybe how closely he feels comfortable treading the line of examining exploitation and becoming an exploiter himself.
I really liked how "Richard" was essentially a made up character, much like Jenny. Fake backstory and everything. Alpha is playing their game.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-02-22 13:35 ]
Good point, it's almost as if Alpha's consciously using their 'weapons' against them. And if the detail of the fake backstory is anything to go by, he might well be a lot better at it.
"which, it's at least implied, have never failed before now", I guess it could be been interpreted like that, but given the whole Alpha incident and the actives walking around unsupervised and the somewhat imperfect technology they are working with I tend to believe they are the incompetents rejected by Section and SD-6.
ETA, If Alpha turns out to be a better wiper of minds than the 'experts' at the Dollhouse I would not be surprised.

Well if Richard was a mindwiped character whose memories had he been implanted with ?

Likewise the lasagna lady, who many seems to think is an active, what kind of memories does she have ?
The kindly nosy next door neighbour, with a brief to watch and report or the kindly next door poison murderer specializing in the infamous poisoned pasta ?

[ edited by jpr on 2009-02-22 13:59 ]
I thought the biggest laugh in the programme was the cut from Echo firing an arrow to falling on top of Richard after having sex.

Eliza was great - stepping up from "Ghost". I can only add to the praise given to Harry J. Lennix. I am currently very disappointed in Miracle Laurie's role but, of course, there may be surprises in store.

I recognised Matt Keeslar from his role as sleazy Roddy in an episode of The Inside. Amber Benson played his disturbed wife.
I thought the biggest laugh in the programme was the cut from Echo firing an arrow to falling on top of Richard after having sex.

Well, the French do call it "la petite mort" ;). Not so "petite" as far as the stag's concerned of course.

And Miracle Laurie's character is more than she seems, pretty certain of that and so reserving disappointment.

I guess it could be been interpreted like that, but given the whole Alpha incident and the actives walking around unsupervised and the somewhat imperfect technology they are working with

Well, Alpha and missing the back-story are entirely separate incidents and Alpha is hardly a security problem (it wasn't a lapse in security that allowed it to happen, it was an unforeseen consequence of the technology). As to the actives wandering around unsupervised, they're obviously not doing that or Alpha wouldn't have had a chance to kill Echo's previous handler (cos he wouldn't have been there).

ETA, If Alpha turns out to be a better wiper of minds than the 'experts' at the Dollhouse I would not be surprised.

I don't mean Alpha is literally using their weapons against them i.e. I don't think he's wiping minds with technology, I think he's using bits and pieces (a psychopath here, a professional killer there etc.) mixed with false backgrounds to achieve his aims, he's improvising in the field basically. I'd actually be a bit disappointed if e.g. "Richard" turned out to just be an imprinted doll, it'd feel a bit too simplistic to me and not as interesting as using pre-existing "components" (that society has already damaged) to mash together an anti-dollhouse campaign. The idea of him twisting such an already twisted idea is quite satisfying to me.
"Alpha is hardly a security problem (it wasn't a lapse in security that allowed it to happen, it was an unforeseen consequence of the technology)." It's definitely a problem with their internal security that an "unforeseen consequence of technology" turned into a disaster with X # of deaths and it seems business continues as usual :)

Would not want to be chief of security when (as seems likely) the next walking timebomb blows up.
- Hm, You could have put electronic locks on the doors.
- Yea we didn't think about that.
- Hrmm, You could have identified potential actives as threats and kept them sedated between engagements.
- Yea, wish we'd thought of that.
- Hrmmm, You could have asked for a review of the mental status of the actives.
- Yea, but Topher was so sure there was no problem and he really knew his stuff.
- Hrmmm, You could've made sure no potential wepons where available to the actives.
- Yea, but that didn't seem neccessary since we knew they were harmless.
- Hrmmmm, You could have made sure that actives with similar operations profile as Alpha was eliminated from the program.
- Yes, but Topher said ...
- You seems to have left the next of kin information on your insurance form blank, why dont you fill it out now
- But if I could just explain ...
- Better hurry up with that, we need it for the records.
Did anyone else see bits of River in Echo in the last second there?
It's definitely a problem with their internal security that an "unforeseen consequence of technology" turned into a disaster ...

Well, disasters tend to happen when things are unforeseen. In fact, most of your points are covered by "it was unforeseen". And we don't know if they've taken steps afterwards, it's possible Topher has changed something so that another Alpha couldn't occur or that they've tightened surveillance or hired more guards or taken steps to secure all edged objects or etc. etc. If it happens again, then we'll know they didn't, until then ...

(incidentally, the fact that it was a 10 cm straight edge bears on this. It's not like it was a hunting knife that was just lying around, it's something fairly small, something that might - without the benefit of hindsight - have seemed fairly innocuous)

But they're not going to start sedating the actives and they're not going to start locking people in their rooms because that interferes with the fundamental premise of the show, part of which is "On the face of it, being an active isn't so bad, you're pampered like a film star between engagements". As Joss has mentioned a few times.

(sometimes, unfortunately maybe, what might seem like good sense to us is going to take a back seat to how the show works. 'Twas ever thus, especially in Whedon shows)
"(sometimes, unfortunately maybe, what might seem like good sense to us is going to take a back seat to how the show works. 'Twas ever thus, especially in Whedon shows)
Agreed, I'm still going to point it out though, for future generations of tv writers to ignore :)
Heh ;).

OK, here's a textual reason - the actives have to stay physically healthy, partly through exercise and partly through general happiness and well-being (neither of which seem to be well served by long term sedation/confinement). How's that grab ya ?
And we don't know if they've taken steps afterwards, it's possible Topher has changed something so that another Alpha couldn't occur

I did wonder if his insistence on giving Eleanor Penn not one but two physical flaws might have been one such change. Also the security guy's speech to Echo at the end did make it sound as if he at least would rather they were all kept in locked rooms but had been overridden. After all it's not going to do much for customer confidence if they find out their perfect dates have to be quarantined like a rabid dogs between engagements.
Client: "What do you have in 'not psychotic' ?". ;)
Glad someone said this. A choice made under pressure is NOT coercion and certainly not coercion by Adelle. She was free to choose, they may not have been good choices but she had one (in practical terms, as an individual that wants to survive or avoid prison or whatever the stakes were then maybe it was "forced" in the same way a least worst chess move can be "forced" but ultimately, still her decision). And it seemed at least possible she was in that position because of her own choices (we don't know enough yet).

co⋅erce
–verb (used with object), -erced, -erc⋅ing.
1. to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, esp. without regard for individual desire or volition: They coerced him into signing the document.
2. to bring about through the use of force or other forms of compulsion; exact: to coerce obedience.
3. to dominate or control, esp. by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.: The state is based on successfully coercing the individual.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/coerce


In a very large sense we all have choices, and coercion is not always bad. The school and I use coercion and bribery to get my son to do his homework and study. Generally it has to do with denying television and computer time and giving good grades and praise.

When the choices escalate into a choice between becoming a mindless slave for 5 years or have something she dreads even more happen, it is a choice, but in my book falls under the dictionary definitions 1 and possibly 3 above. Caroline makes it pretty clear she does not want to become an active, "I don't deserve this." We don't know what the other half of the equation is, but would giving someone the choice of total mind and body slavery when they did not want to do it, ever be a moral choice, no matter what the other side is? Adelle is indicating she has the power to make Caroline's problem go away, Caroline just has to give up total control of her mind and body for 5 years to Adelle or whoever has Adelle's job. However culpable Caroline is in the situation Adelle is taking advantage of, how can there be any moral greyness in what Adelle is doing? --Which has always been my point.
"the actives have to stay physically healthy, partly through exercise and partly through general happiness and well-being (neither of which seem to be well served by long term sedation/confinement"
Well the logical thing to do would be to separate the actives into two groups the ones with the ninja/assassin mind update and the others. The slightly more ruthless option would be to put down the potentially dangerous ones as the "rabid dogs" they have the potential to become and focus on the softer and gentler occupations.
Even if that is not an option previous events seems to indicate that keeping the potentially more dangerous actives under lock and key and close observation until the 'flaws' in the imprinting process have been identified makes a lot of sense.

"Client: "What do you have in 'not psychotic' ?". ;)

Dollhouse rep. - Sorry we're fresh out, but why not consider our our good looking but flawed line, they can handle smallarms, got great legs and only displays personality disorders and mental problems when under stress.
However culpable Caroline is in the situation Adelle is taking advantage of, how can there be any moral greyness in what Adelle is doing? --Which has always been my point.

Because she's offering a choice. She's not making her take it.

We don't know what the other half of the equation is, but would giving someone the choice of total mind and body slavery when they did not want to do it, ever be a moral choice, no matter what the other side is?

What if the other option is execution ? A chance at life isn't (at least arguably) better than that ? And i'm not saying it was a moral choice (by which I assume you mean 'moral' as in morally good rather than just a choice about morality) and I never have. I'm saying it was a choice, pressured by circumstances most definitely but not coerced.

And who ever thinks they deserve what's happening to them ? It's just as valid to read that as a refusal to accept responsibility for her actions on Caroline's part, as I said, right now we don't know enough. Unless, that is, you've already decided that Caroline is an unalloyed victim and Adelle is the evil victimiser.

Well the logical thing to do would be to separate the actives into two groups the ones with the ninja/assassin mind update and the others. The slightly more ruthless option would be to put down the potentially dangerous ones as the "rabid dogs" they have the potential to become and focus on the softer and gentler occupations.

Sure, now that they know what can happen. But since they don't use the ninja update anymore, why take steps to avoid the (potential) results ? Again jpr, your points depend either on perfect foresight (to avoid the first occurrence - which Topher describes as something that can't happen) or on the assumption that the situation hasn't changed since then (which in at least one major way - the ninja update - it has).

Nit-picking is fine, even fun, I actually once owned "The Nit-picker's Guide" (Next Gen edition, and man, those guys put us in the shade ;). But in that book the golden rule was if there's any way to assume that what you think's a mistake isn't a mistake then you have to extend that latitude (at least until it's proven otherwise). Pretty good rule I reckon.
...agree with Jobo that the imprinting is as much aimed at the handler as the active, although I think that what makes it subtle and beautiful is that Topher doesn't need to have some special tech toy to "imprint" Boyd – he just needs to know enough about human psychology to know that the natural ways that we come to imprint on those we care for can work to his advantage and make sure that the handler is put in a position where he is likely to lose his objective distance even as Echo is more technologically "imprinting." There's a reason they hand the newborn to the parent (and a reason they often try not to if the child is going to adoptive parents)...

...Saje likely right about why the Dollhouse is set up like a space age yoga studio. Not hard to find normal UN-imprinted athletes, actors, musicians who spend much energy arranging their daily life so that it leaves them open to/able to access those states of inspiration or concentration they rely on to do what they do...that said, it does seem you need to be a little careful about what toys you give these simple inter-mission (um, engagement) darlings, which is why I was so worried when Baltar brought them all those guns...

...I interpreted Topher's lines last ep about nearsightedness and asthma not so much to say that he purposely added flaws so much as to say that he knew what he was doing was inexact enough that he had to be okay with accepting certain flaws that came with the combinations he put together...the fact that he can make the brain think its nearsighted I did not take to mean that he specifically sought to alter that part of the perceptive mechanism so much as acknolwedging that at the same time as he made the brain take on many other ways of operating, he had to be at home with the fact that he was inevitably also "making" the brain do things like think it was nearsighted...

...casting: Joss, to me, seems to have a loyalty to unknown performers that impress him but not an urge to "pity cast" – I don't believe he would cast Miracle Laurie (or the actor playing Lubov) in a small role if he had to cut an earlier planned large role for them...I think he would gladly have them show up in his next project in a role tailor made for them (Summer Glau)...if they remain in this project, then they are either actives or they are going to turn out to be important to the plot in entirely different ways. Me, I had no idea what Miracle Laurie looked like, but got such a strong vibe off the neighbor that something was odd about her place in the story that I went to IMDB to figure out who she was, and that was when I realized she was Miracle Laurie, whose name I had heard in previous Dollhouse press...

...still looking for a phrase for the opposite of "jumping the shark"...

....accepting the lasagna?

....meeting the new principal?

....kissing the vampire?
Watched a second time on Hulu. Liked it even more. I searched the topic to see if anyone had already mentioned Tabula Rasa. Indeed, nice shoutout to the Buffy episode as wiping a person's memory, either through a scientific treatment or a magic spell, has moral implications. Also, "now-ish". Edited because it sounds even scarier: Familiar Whedony signposts to cling to as we continue sailing into uncharted, uncomfortable waters breadcrumbs we cling to as we walk further and further into Hansel and Gretel's dangerous forest.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-02-22 18:07 ]
I had my first Dollhouse dream last night! I was explaining the show to a friend, who thought Amy Acker was playing Fred. I explained it took place in a different universe.
"Sure, now that they know what can happen" And that covers 95 % of what I'm saying Saje. My nitpick is that after they know that some actives can go berserk they still act as if they will remain harmless, forever. No big deal and the writers could've already made this moot by ensuring that nothing similar happens in the Dollhouse. But if something happens I'm going to laugh. And laugh some more. Quietly. In my head.
I'm not sure why tabula rasa needs to be a Buffy shout-out just because Buffy used it too. I mean, it is a real term, and it's directly relevant to the Dollhouse.
Tabula rasa (Latin: blank slate) refers to the epistemological thesis that individual human beings are born with no built-in mental content, in a word, "blank", and that their entire resource of knowledge is built up gradually from their experiences and sensory perceptions of the outside world."

And especially in this context it could be referring to the same idea independently since 'The Blank Slate' is quite a well known pop-sci book by Steven Pinker about, yep, how much of human nature is in us from birth and how much we learn from the world. It might well be the sort of thing Joss read as part of reading around/researching the ideas in the show.
I don't even want to start on figuring out how there can be moral ambiguity whenever Echo is used as an active when she was coerced into becoming an active in the first place. That is like the guy asserting it was not rape because a woman said yes when he was threatening to hurt her if she said no. After the coercion, everything done to Echo is victimization of her mind and body. Again, it is evil, not ambiguous.

Newcj--sorry I had to duck out of the discussion yesterday: real life intervening. Can I ask you what you would consider a morally "gray" situation? From your objection above, I can't see how you wouldn't say that all situations are entirely "white" or "black." If you're saying "once one bad thing is done, then anything associated with that action is evil" then how can there be any "gray" at all, for you?

Anyway, if you could give an example of something you regard as interestingly "morally gray" rather than sickeningly "morally black" (as you see Dollhouse), it might help me understand the point you're trying to make.

Mind you, given the argument above I don't understand why you were trying to push the "Adele DeWitt didn't really care about Davina" line. In your view it wouldn't make any difference at all, would it? I mean, if "anything Echo does is evil, regardless of the motives of her programmers" then what does it matter whether or not part of Adele's motive was a genuine desire to help Davina?

So, I guess, another way to put the question: if the show had in fact made it absolutely and explicitly clear that this was part of Adele's motive (which, I, in fact, think they did--but let's assume that they threw in a narrative eye-of-god voice over that simply said that this was so), would you then agree that the situation was a "morally gray" one, or would you still say "no, so long as Echo is being programmed, the situation is simply an evil one"?

Thus, I assumed that you were using the fact that there was a "good outcome" as a positive with respect to the graying of morality, suggesting said outcome came as a result of Adele's morality.

Brett: that rather depends what you mean by "Adele's morality." If you mean that I think that "Adele is a moral person" in the sense that "she's a fine upstanding person" then no. I think she is running an organization that is morally corrupt. If you mean "was she motivated in part by morally good impulses in her decision to save Davina as well as in part by morally bad ones" then yes, that's exactly what I mean. That's what I call moral ambiguity or "moral grayness."
Snot...

I understand your point even if I don't quite no how it meshes with the redux I provided above, but no worries about that 'cause, wow, a lot of time spent there already. And as I wrote earlier, I agree re: there of course being gray areas in Adele's moral code as well as everyone's (I guess after all of the above confusion we'll just have to agree to agree...).

My point, though, and it is perhaps (?) newjc's as well, is that after a certain level of moral bankruptcy, I'm not so much interested in the ambiguity, and am reasonably comfortable slapping someone with the label of "immoral."

Not that that makes it absolute; just far enough past that which I subjectively find acceptable.
I find war to be immoral. Even moreso if the soldiers are drafted into fighting it against their will. And yet, said immorally drafted soldiers could end up engaging in moral actions -- say, saving a child. But the fact that I find war immoral and drafting people to be an immoral abuse of them as people wouldn't negate my seeing the morality in the act of saving that child.
TOTb...

Without even getting into the validity of the statements you made on their own (Not necessarily countering; just not addressing...), comparing the situation you noted to Adele's saving the child is an apples and (perhaps blood) oranges thing.

Adele is in a situation of her own making, or at least choosing. So any contextual immorality is of her own design to start. Even still, her decision to save the child would have to be morality based in order for it to be a moral act (See much above...). And while I'm not saying it isn't, perhaps it's not, and at best it's a morally based decision within an immoral construct of her own design.

And further, all issues of consent on the part of recruited dolls aside, she's risking someone else's life to achieve her perhaps moral end and that, at best, muddies any moral intent on Adele's part.
I wasn't specifying what I was reacting to, sorry. That wasn't what I was reacting to, heh.

Someone upthread, earlier, seemed to be suggesting that because Echo is being victimized (and victimized, period) nothing she does on an engagement could ever be considered moral. I was reacting to that.

My mistake, I meant to specify or quote what I was reacting to, and I forgot.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-22 21:25 ]
Sorry. Came in the midst of our morality discussion. Equally my bad then.
Tabula Rasa is absolutely relevant to Buffy and to Dollhouse - that reference cannot be avoided. The only reason you're putting it down and many of my comments lately, is to stick it to me and I'm not going to take it. Do me a favor, don't comment on what I write anymore.
Who's that directed at ?
Me. However: I never said it wasn't relevant to Buffy. I said it likely wasn't a reference to it (although obviously they would have known they also used it in Buffy). That's not putting anyone or anything down, it's making an observation.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-22 21:44 ]
On another note, Joss's own Fray does the stand-off situation better:

Guy: 'It appears we have a stand-off'.
*Melaka Fray zaps the other guy in the face*
Melaka: ' I don't have a stand-off'
Whether or not you call it coercion, my point that started the symantic discussion was that there was no gray in the Dollhouse's business or practices. If you agree that Adelle's actions of in the very least taking advantage of people who are in trouble in order to enslave them is immoral rather than a gray area, my point is made.

Saje, by your definition coercion does not exist. People almost always do have choices. The rapist who holds a knife to the victim's throat may give her a choice of being raped or killed. The thief who hijacks a car may give the victim a choice of giving up the car or being beaten or again killed. They have choices, does that mean they are not being coerced?

As far as Echo's feeling she does not deserve it, I mentioned that only to reinforce the fact that this is something she did not want to do. As far as the actuality of her deserving it rather than her feeling sorry for herself, does anyone deserve enslavement and forced prostitution?

Can I ask you what you would consider a morally "gray" situation? From your objection above, I can't see how you wouldn't say that all situations are entirely "white" or "black." If you're saying "once one bad thing is done, then anything associated with that action is evil" then how can there be any "gray" at all, for you?

Sure. The original premise that Joss talked about seemed like it would have plenty of gray areas. Originally he said that the actives will have volunteered. The question of how true that actually was would then be explored. We had a thread or two where people discussed why people would volunteer. How the Dollhouse used volunteers could create plenty of gray. Whether they actually were volunteers could create plenty of gray. If the Dollhouse was set up with a clearer pretense of having altruistic motives but when forced into a corner made morally ambiguous choices, I would find that gray. I could go on, but I hope you get the point.

Today I was talking to a friend who I have just introduced to BtVS (and is loving it, of course.) She could not watch the 2nd episode of Dollhouse in full. She turned it off just after Boyd got shot. The Dollhouse organization, the villian, the victimization was all too ugly and unrelentingly evil. She saw no gray either.
So, she's not a fan of the Sopranos or Deadwood, I assume.

Your examples of coercion have always been of someone being threatened with violence if they don't comply with someone else's wishes, which is not what's going on here. Even in your example of your son's homework, penalties will be applied by the school or you if he doesn't do what you both wish.

Adelle never says you must do what we wish or else. She says here is an option for you to consider. Caroline is free to go, to search for alternative solutions, unlike your son or someone being threatened with rape. If Caroline says no, she's not going to be hurt or punished by the Dollhouse in any way.
If Caroline says no, she's not going to be hurt or punished by the Dollhouse in any way.

We don't actually know that, technically.
What b!X said. The context of that scene isn't know, and by the end of the series, everything said will have meaning.
Well, if they punish you if you don't join, it's no longer just an unpleasant choice, and I'll agree that it's coercion.
Call it coercion or not, my point is as stated above. Whether the Dollhouse will harm them itself or it is bottom feeding by finding people who are so out of options that they will agree to allow this to be done to them even though they do not want to, they are still an intrinsically immoral organization.
We don't know if this is the Dollhouse's standard operating procedure or an aberration. We don't know Adelle's motivations. We don't even know whether they found Caroline or Caroline came to them. For all we know, Adelle is doing somebody a favor by taking Caroline on. Maybe once all that becomes clear, the Dollhouse will be as morally black as you think. I'm going to wait to make that judgement.
The fairy tale theme in the first two episodes isn't an accident. A young woman who's in a lot of trouble and looking for some kind of safety or solution, only to find herself trapped in something worse, and an object to almost everyone she meets, is a stock fairy tale. Men usually go out looking for adventure or treasure or a bride in those stories, but women are usually running from something. They get forced out of safety.

Or to look at it another way, Adelle's the Devil, and the Actives are Faust. With the added context that maybe they're people in various kinds of dire need when they sign on, and the timeline's backwards. She takes their soul for a time and in return promises them an incredible reward once their time in Hell is up. And, I presume, their soul back. There are a lot of circumstances in people's lives that would make that quite an attractive deal to someone.

We don't yet know Caroline's exact circumstances when she became an Active, but as usual the point of putting her into a very dangerous place with the wicked witch or the awful man chasing her is to find strength in someone who could be just another damsel in distress, but isn't. Of course the Dollhouse isn't a moral organization. They're the bad guys in a lot of ways. That's rather the point. You can't explore these issues with a moral organization, because it wouldn't go anywhere near what Echo's going to do every week. But the interesting part about that is that the Devil may be convinced he's doing people a real favor by giving them such options. And maybe sometimes he is. Some people cheat the Devil, or want the thing he's offering so badly they really don't care what they're trading for it. It doesn't make him any less the Devil.
Bravo, Sunfire.
I see the morality of the show as gray for a few reasons.

Granted, the Dollhouse appears to be acting nefariously and evilly. But, honestly, we really don't know what is gong on behind the scenes, why the Dollhouse exists, who is controlling it, or why. We do not know what brought Caroline there. Clearly Caroline is being used, but it is possible that it is the best option for her at that point in her life - it could still be a good act making her an active. There are other reasons (besides our ignorance) to wonder whether the Dollhouse is not all evil: Boyd seems to be the most moral person we have encountered and, while he questions the nature of the Dollhouse, he seems to support it; perhaps he sees something good there.

The other possibility is that the premise is that the Dollhouse IS evil, but that the true morality of the show lies elsewhere (in Echo/Caroline? in Boyd? in Alpha?). As others have mentioned, an amoral or even evil situation or setting or main characters do not mean that the show itself lacks morality (The Sopranos and Deadwood are perfect examples).

Joss knew he was going to be tackling difficult issues and doing so in a way that was not going to be easy on him or on the audience. He knew it was going to tread the line between exploring sexism/misogyny/exploitation/etc. and exploiting them, in order to examine them better, and in order to implicate himself and his chosen media and his audience in it.
At this point I just find it interesting that this many people here seem to believe that there could be a moral justification to use distressed people in this way.
I said the Devil might think he's righteous, and that that is interesting. Whether or not I agree with him is an entirely different question. I didn't think Giles killing Ben was right, but it remains one of the most interesting moments his character has ever had onscreen. Staying in a safe moral space is not good storytelling if the things you're trying to get at include moral questions about how people treat one another.
Gosh, we know so very very very very little about

-Caroline's backstory
-Adele's backstory
-much if any addtional backstory or contributing motivations to either of the above or the company they are both now associated with, willingly or no

might be an advantage to tabling the overarching general back and forth about the whole grey/black/white/"could X possibly be justified-slash-not-absolute-evil" until we have a few more tidbits of these backstories to ground any of this in.
I don't think we need to table the matter. But it does make sense to not get ahead of ourselves in terms of plot certainties we can't know yet.
Like Saje for zeitgeist - I now see the need for "What Sunfire Said" (WSS). 'Cause her last was on the nose for me.

I don't want to be best buds or work for or with most of these characters - especially Dollhouse management - but I do want to watch them, and want to see what they'll become - if they're redeemable. I want to know why they work in this place. I'd like to know how this place "became" - because I think it is a pretty despicable place. I'd like to find out about Adelle's bosses... I'd like to understand folks like this, because I currently don't.

And my way in - my identification - is currently a combo of Echo and Boyd (and I'm sure from time to time, it will be be to folks on the outside, including Paul.) Do they both have a lot of stuff to learn about each other, and being more fully human? Yep - and there's reasons this ex-cop works in this illicit place - I'm sure we'll find out his damage, too. 'Least, I hope we do...

And I've said this before, but I'll repeat myself - I think Topher's will prove to be a most interesting character arc. I haven't liked him much, despite his snappy dialogue and charming vests - but after the 2nd episode, I could imagine him cracking or hitting bottom or something that will push him towards epiphanies, and then I'll like him better. I see him as having a lot of potential to change...

In a lot of ways, this is a very timely show - what could be better than getting to watch lots of self-indulgent and and highly-privileged rich folks who get to buy expensive fantasies and having them to loathe week after week? ; >
At this point I just find it interesting that this many people here seem to believe that there could be a moral justification to use distressed people in this way.

I've already suggested one: to save them from a fate not worse than but exactly death. Another one might be to save even more distressed people. Is Adelle doing that ? We don't know yet (though we do know she at least likes to tell herself she is). Is that even a justification ? I think that's at least up for debate, which makes it grey.

The question of how true that actually was would then be explored.

To me the question of how true that is is still being explored. Two episodes in, with plenty of uncertainty involved in everyone's motivations, is much too early to decide IMO. But i've never really been squeamish about watching apparently despicable characters, so long as they're interestingly despicable.

If you agree that Adelle's actions of in the very least taking advantage of people who are in trouble in order to enslave them is immoral rather than a gray area, my point is made.

I don't agree that that's necessarily the case (I said I hadn't claimed it was 'moral as in good', I didn't say I definitely thought it was immoral either - that's kind of the point in fact, the undecided aspect). B!x raised the example of being drafted to war before and previously i've mentioned the idea from the past of men sentenced to hang or serve prison time instead being offered the option to join an army at war. This isn't necessarily dissimilar in my view.

If Caroline says no, she's not going to be hurt or punished by the Dollhouse in any way.

We don't actually know that, technically.


True but we don't know she is either and my own impression of the meeting between Caroline and Adelle is, it's not "sign here or we'll make you sign here anyway". Apart from anything else, Adelle doesn't seem to be the sort of person that would waste time persuading someone that she intends to force anyway (and it's not like Caroline/Echo's gonna remember it afterwards).

Apart from that, WSS ;).
So human traffickers who buy poor people's daughters to use in brothels are in a gray area because it keeps the poor from starving? The ends justify the means? That is the moral gray that people are finding here?

I have never said that there would never be any gray in the show, I'm saying there is little to none now. I am hoping this becomes a show I can like and even love. Right now, if it did not have Joss's name on it, I would not give a second thought to never watching again. It has Joss's name, so I will be there again this week.

In a lot of ways, this is a very timely show - what could be better than getting to watch lots of self-indulgent and and highly-privileged rich folks who get to buy expensive fantasies and having them to loathe week after week? ; >

QuoterGal | February 23, 08:06 CET


Put like that, just about anything. Thanks for summing it up for me. ;-)
So human traffickers who buy poor people's daughters to use in brothels are in a gray area because it keeps the poor from starving? The ends justify the means? That is the moral gray that people are finding here?

No, the moral grey would be "Do the ends justify the means ?". If there's a question to be answered then it's a grey area. It's the same question 'Angel' asked for instance though admittedly not until we'd had a few years to get to know and like the characters.

And it's interesting that your examples are always at the relatively clear cut end of the means/ends spectrum newcj (and not always necessarily comparable to Caroline's situation either - are the daughters all adults making an informed choice for instance ?). Don't fancy tackling conscription to fight a just war then ? ;)
I think there must be grey to it, otherwise everyone would agree. ; )

Is Dollhouse evil? Maybe. What they are doing, playing with and abusing people's memories and bodies and sense of self (I think) is. But that doesn't mean everything they do will automatically be evil. After all, they did save a kidnapped girl, and I'm pretty sure she and her dad would agree that that is a good thing. And if there's one thing I've learned about Joss's shows, it is that not everything is as it seems, and no matter how big bad, innocent-killing, world-ending one may be, redemption is still possible.

On an unrelated note, after rewatching the second epispode, it occured to me that regarding the stand-off, maybe a partial answer as to why neither took the shot lies in what Richard says to Echo when he's first showing her how to use the bow, something along the lines of "Don't ever take the shot unless you know it will bring the target down." And clearly neither of them were certain they would hit the other... Not that it really matters. It was dramatic and Echo didn't die and that was probably the main idea.
You know, it also possible that the Dollhouse is not evil because they do exactly what they said they would do. That is to say, they enter into a contract with someone and five year later they pay out on the contract. Now, of course, that's not in and of itself not evil; contracts can be coercive and bad for one party. But, the other possibility is that it is not bad for either party. What if it actually works? What if a doll has no bad memories and suffers no ill effects whatsoever from being a doll and then is restored to her former self five years later and many millions of dollars wealthier? Unlike the human trafficking or slavery examples, it's harder to say that she has actually been harmed because it's not entirely clear that "she" actually experienced anything at all (this, of course, brings up all kinds of what-is-identity issues). Would an offer to pay someone millions of dollars for them to sleep for five years be evil? And, furthermore, even if that is not what actually happens (as it clearly is not in the case of Echo/Caroline who has started to remember), various moral characters could BELIEVE that was what was going on and work at the dollhouse.
Unlike the human trafficking or slavery examples, it's harder to say that she has actually been harmed because it's not entirely clear that "she" actually experienced anything at all (this, of course, brings up all kinds of what-is-identity issues).

Totally agree Septimus, this is another of the "big questions" it asks IMO. Is Echo even a slave ? Because, as far as we know, imprinted Echo always wants to do whatever the engagement is and unimprinted Echo doesn't know the difference either way (except when it all goes pear shaped, as with "Richard" and even then, she won't - in theory i.e. as far as the dollhouse knows - remember it afterwards). That, in fact, seems to be one of the biggest selling points - she's not pretending to love you for money, she really loves you (except of course, does she really ? ;).

Another possible way of looking at it is like saying to someone that owes a huge debt (maybe it's money) "You can face up to the consequences of non-payment OR you can go into suspended animation for 5 years BUT even though we'll take numerous steps to ensure this doesn't happen, bear in mind, there's some risk you'll die or come to other physical harm in those five years. All being well though, afterwards you won't even know it happened and we'll clear your debt".

Is Dollhouse evil? Maybe. What they are doing, playing with and abusing people's memories and bodies and sense of self (I think) is.

Well, again, i'd say what extent it's an informed choice and to what extent it's an unpressured choice to sign up is at least relevant to the discussion. Is it evil to sell alcohol even knowing what damage it can do (ignoring, for now, the obligation to people that're physically addicted to it) ? Is it evil to look for surrogate mothers ? How about if they're desperate for money ? How about so desperate it's either come up with the money or die/go to jail ?
Unlike the human trafficking or slavery examples, it's harder to say that she has actually been harmed because it's not entirely clear that "she" actually experienced anything at all (this, of course, brings up all kinds of what-is-identity issues).

Oh yes, and that is what I love about this show. If it happened to your body but not "your" mind, did it happen to you? (This is making me think of demon possession.) And conversely, what about the people whose memories (minds?) are installed? That's why I liked the 1st episode A-story better than the second one--There was a sense that the little girl who was abused by her kidnapper got some payback and closure. But then the girl was put back in storage, Echo was erased & the kidnapper was killed, so it became a sort of tree-in-the-forest thing. In my eyes, gray and disturbing in a most pleasant way.
So human traffickers who buy poor people's daughters to use in brothels are in a gray area because it keeps the poor from starving? The ends justify the means? That is the moral gray that people are finding here?

Is killing people ok if it keeps Serenity's crew alive and flying? It didn't bother you when you realized Zoe would shoot anyone Mal ordered her to, without question? When Jayne made his speech about the many reasons he's killed people, all of them really petty? Is shooting a psychopathic killer out the airlock into space for an unpleasant death really a happy ending? Is what Inara does for a living moral? Is teaching young girls her skills a good thing?

What if killing someone saves the world? Are just demons ok in that instance, or humans too? Humans who host a demon and have no choice in the matter? Anyone who stands between Buffy and saving Dawn? She wasn't bluffing there, I'm pretty sure. Can all demons be dusted with confidence that the world's been rid of evil and human lives have been saved? Or do some deserve more than a quick stake to the heart? Why are they stakeable until proven otherwise while the most vile human villains are still wrong to kill? Can someone who tried to kill all of her friends regain their friendship? Can a guy who killed his best friend in cold blood ever be anything but a loser? Will everything good Angel has done really ever atone for what he did before? Because he did things that make the Dollhouse look like amateur hour.
Humans on camper van roofs are fair game. I draw a moral line under anyone standing on less than e.g. a VW Beetle though, their lives are sacrosanct.
Killing humans with swords = rousing battle music. Killing vampire with sword = music of deep sadness.
I'm very impressed with Miracle Laurie. I realize that her first appearance was (unfortunately) quite short, but she has a presence about her. I see her easily becoming my favourite character on Dollhouse. It's really a shame that she isn't playing the character of November (or is she?) because she's clearly perfect for that role, and I'm really interested in seeing her play multiple roles. She seems to have the chops for it. I -R E A L L Y- like her character though and I really hope to see more of her.
Sure. The original premise that Joss talked about seemed like it would have plenty of gray areas. Originally he said that the actives will have volunteered. The question of how true that actually was would then be explored. We had a thread or two where people discussed why people would volunteer. How the Dollhouse used volunteers could create plenty of gray. Whether they actually were volunteers could create plenty of gray. If the Dollhouse was set up with a clearer pretense of having altruistic motives but when forced into a corner made morally ambiguous choices, I would find that gray. I could go on, but I hope you get the point.

Newcj, sorry--had to go away again. And in the meantime everyone else has made lots of great points about this. I, however, would still like it if you could sketch an actual situation that you think would be "morally gray" in interesting ways that, in your view, Dollhouse fails to achieve. I mean, what you describe above says nothing other than "it could have been morally gray if it were different"--there's no specifics there.

It might help if you would pick a scenario from BtVS or from Angel or from Firefly, or even from outside the verse. Is, say, Jasmine's one-world-order "morally gray" because it would provide a greater sum-total of human happiness than we would achieve otherwise, or is it simply "evil" because it deprives us of free will? Is, say, Ford's desire to become a vampire in "Lie to Me" "morally gray"? Or do you think that at the end Giles is not, in fact, 'lying' to Buffy when he says:
The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.

Is Ford simply and unproblematically "evil" because he's willing to sacrifice the lives of others to achieve his own 'immortality.'? How about when Angel allows Darla and Dru to kill the Wolfram and Hart lawyers? Is there any measure of "grayness" there, or did the series just lose you at that point because it had a "hero" who was willing to commit evil and unpardonable acts? I'd really be interested to know. None of these strike me as simple and obvious questions to answer, so I'd be interested to know how you answer them.

As to the question of "coercion." let me post a real-world dilemma to you. You brought up "selling of daughters" which, as Saje pointed out, is hardly comparable to what we see happening in Dollhouse (no one "sells" Caroline, she makes a choice). Consider this scenario, though: say I live in a really, really, poor part of the world. Say I run a brothel--I see it as the only possible way for me to make a living. Say, though, I'm a very ethically enlightened brothel owner. I treat my employees well. I make sure that clients use condoms. I make sure that no violence is allowed against employees. I don't take an unfair percentage off the top. Let's say, then, that working for me is seen as one of the cushier niches in the sex-work biz in this place.

However, let us also say that sex-work in my country is not prestige work. Girls who go into the biz are regarded as social outcasts, and are considered to be morally compromised. So it's not some futuristic utopia, in other words. Now...let us say that some young girl comes to my office and says "I'm in terrible debt. There are no jobs available where I can earn enough money to pay my debt off, and if I don't pay, the loansharks I borrowed from will beat me up!"

Now...I think we'd all agree that if I said "don't you worry little lady, here's an interest free loan to pay off your debt" that that would be a "morally white" response, right? But is it a fair to say that I'm a bad person if I don't offer that response? I mean, is every random person's suffering my direct responsibility? If you say so, you'd better not be living better than the poorest third world peasant or you're pretty much a hypocrite. Why aren't you helping out all the suffering people of the world if it is morally wrong not to? Go to kiva.com and get to work!

So...we'll agree I'd be an angel, going above and beyond the normal call of duty if I simply 'fixed' her situation. We'll also agree I'd be a villain ("morally black") if I called out to my goons in the next room and had them kidnap the girl and force her into prostitution. That's easy.

But what if I say to her: "I can fix your problem, but I'm afraid it will mean taking a job with me as a prostitute. I'll pay off the loan, and you can pay me back out of your wages over five years. Once you've paid me back, you'll be free to go or to keep working as you see fit. In the meantime, I will try to make your working conditions as safe and as pleasant as possible."

Is that "morally black" too? Equally "morally black" to the "alright boys, kidnap this girl" scenario? I mean, after all, I'm offering her a choice, but I do know that she's in a tough spot. Even if I'm not going to punish her for turning me down, others will.

Seems to me that this is pretty clearly "morally gray" and also pretty clearly equivalent to the choice Adele DeWitt offers Caroline (at least as we currently understand it). What do you think?
And it's interesting that your examples are always at the relatively clear cut end of the means/ends spectrum newcj (and not always necessarily comparable to Caroline's situation either - are the daughters all adults making an informed choice for instance ?). Don't fancy tackling conscription to fight a just war then ? ;)

Saje | February 23, 12:49 CET


Well of course they are at the clear cut end of the spectrum. I am arguing that this is clear cut. :-) As far as the conscription thing, I did not go into it mostly because my vacation was over and I had to do some work that had to be on desks by 9:00 this morning. I also did not think that it really has anything to do with this.

Conscripted service to your country can be full of gray areas partially because, in the USA at least, conscription was supposed to be to protect the homes and families of you and of your countrymen. It was not always seen that way, which is why we have had riots and demonstrations at various times when we have had the draft. If I recall, only citizens could be drafted so in theory the men being drafted had representation through their vote. During Vietnam it was pointed out that 18- 21 year olds could be drafted but not vote, thereby denying them a say in the country's policies while still compelling them to serve it. The voting age was lowered to 18 to deal with this problem.

The Dollhouse on the other hand, is not a governing body trying to protect the populace from invaders or even a perceived threat. The actives are not share holders or citizens of this entity with voting rights to help decide the Dollhouse's policies, structures, personnel or purpose. i do not see a parallel.

Totally agree Septimus, this is another of the "big questions" it asks IMO. Is Echo even a slave ? Because, as far as we know, imprinted Echo always wants to do whatever the engagement is and unimprinted Echo doesn't know the difference either way (except when it all goes pear shaped, as with "Richard" and even then, she won't - in theory i.e. as far as the dollhouse knows - remember it afterwards). That, in fact, seems to be one of the biggest selling points - she's not pretending to love you for money, she really loves you (except of course, does she really ? ;).

So if you can brainwash someone into "wanting" to do whatever, it becomes okay? Abusers of various sorts do that all the time. There all kinds of named syndromes connected to it. Hey, there are even nifty drugs to help too. Our judgmental up-tight society calls them date-rape drugs, but they obviously aren't seeing the gray.

As far as it being alright because she won't remember, there are other wonderful examples I can think of where the mind will not remember. Having sex with someone in a coma or unconscious for instance. They won't remember, so what's the harm?

Sunfire and Snot Monster I am not going to go through every scenario from every show to discuss where the grays are. Sorry, I just do not have the time. (My son has an indoor soccer game in less than 30 minutes and then an archery lesson after that.)

Suffice to say that there have been vast swaths of grays throughout all Joss's shows and that is what I like. Sometimes I thought characters were more wrong in their actions than other people did and sometimes less. I think my examples of what IMO would have made the Dollhouse a grayer place were pretty specific.

As far as my tolerance for dark gray, does it tell you anything you are interested in that my favorite BtVS season is 6? I never actually thought of Angel as anything but a man trying to keep his darkest side from taking over, so him going that dark was just one more element of a complex story that had plenty of basically good, though wonderfully flawed characters in it. And that is the crux. In all the others there is a wonderful mix. So far I don't see a mix.

As to the whole brothel in a third world country thing. Besides not having time, it is totally off subject. I brought up the human trafficking thing because I was trying to make a connection between an organization that uses the misfortune of others to line their pockets when they could do any number of other things instead. Adelle is hardly a third world business woman who has no other options. She is a product of western society running an organization that chose to offer this particular service and used a woman's distressed situation to put her into service that she did not want to do. If she was such a humanitarian, wipe her slate clean after she serves as the receptionist.

Gotta stop here. We're late for the game.
I am not going to go through every scenario from every show to discuss where the grays are. Sorry, I just do not have the time. (My son has an indoor soccer game in less than 30 minutes and then an archery lesson after that.)

Actually I asked for just one. It really would help me to figure out what your point is.

As to the whole brothel in a third world country thing. Besides not having time, it is totally off subject. I brought up the human trafficking thing because I was trying to make a connection between an organization that uses the misfortune of others to line their pockets when they could do any number of other things instead. Adelle is hardly a third world business woman who has no other options. She is a product of western society running an organization that chose to offer this particular service and used a woman's distressed situation to put her into service that she did not want to do. If she was such a humanitarian, wipe her slate clean after she serves as the receptionist.

We know nothing at all about Adele's background or why she works for/runs/owns/whatever the Dollhouse. If that's your only reason for saying that my scenario doesn't count (notice I never said that the brothel was in a third world country, all I said was "Say I run a brothel--I see it as the only possible way for me to make a living"), then let's change that. It's all the same only we say that there's no info available on whether or not I have or believe that I have other options for making my living. Again, would the girl who comes to me in need be "coerced" into working for me if she chose to, or would it be somewhere in between the clear "morally black" of me kidnapping her and the clear "morally white" of me simply giving her the money to pay off her debts?

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-24 01:09 ]
As far as my tolerance for dark gray, does it tell you anything you are interested in that my favorite BtVS season is 6?

Actually, there's something interesting to work with there. If you love S6 I take it you don't loathe Willow and find her so utterly despicable that you can't get interested in her story, then?

And yet she selectively mind-wipes her dearest love, Tara, and completely mind-wipes ALL her friends without offering them any choice in the matter whatsoever (OMWF and "Tabula Rasa"). Moreover, she tortures and executes someone for a crime that not even the sanguinary laws of the US would see as a "death penalty" crime. But Willow's actions are "gray" and the Dollhouse--which does give its Actives a choice, after all--is utterly and irredeemably "black"? Really?
As far as it being alright because she won't remember, there are other wonderful examples I can think of where the mind will not remember. Having sex with someone in a coma or unconscious for instance. They won't remember, so what's the harm?


Well, that's not exactly what's going on here, is it? Those are situations where it's wrong because the person would not consent if they were given the choice. This is about whether one can consent ahead of time to things that they will not remember, and if so, what kinds of things would or would not be acceptable.

Also, you're kind of ignoring the fundamental question about whom exactly is being abused here. Is Caroline having sex with clients? Is Echo? It's not jsut that Caroline won't remember what she has experienced in 5 years, it's that it is not really clear whether she will have experienced it at all.

Also, also, do we really know that Caroline was coerced? IIRC, she says that she "has no choice," right? Given the little we know about her, maybe she has no choice not because she is forced into it but because she knows it is something she has to do (maybe even something she must do to so what's right).

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-02-24 01:52 ]
Also, you're kind of ignoring the fundamental question about whom exactly is being abused here. Is Caroline having sex with clients? Is Echo? It's not jsut that Caroline won't remember what she has experienced in 5 years, it's that it is not really clear whether she will have experienced it at all.

That's one of the ones that I find hard to wrap my own mind around, actually. I mean, I don't much like the idea of prostitution, say, but I think in a sane world, people would have the right to exchange sexual services for cash (in a safe, clean environment where they're protected from nutjobs etc.). Now, imagine I was desperate for money and I was given a choice: either you can go into this room and make love with someone you don't know and don't care about and live with that memory for ever, or you can go into this other room and get mindwiped, and then someone will make love to you. You'll never know anything about it, and afterwards we'll restore your current consciousness.

To be honest I don't know which I'd choose (assuming, of course, I had very good reason to believe the person offering this choice that they would in fact restore my personality and that I would still be "me" afterwards etc.). I think part of me thinks that nothing is scarier than simply "losing" myself: one reason I've never been into mind-altering drugs. But part of me also thinks "hey, it'd be a lot easier not to have to live with the horrible memories." Tricky--and creepy.
Wow; a lot has been written here since I last looked at the thread.

As for the morally gray/morally black question, I don't think we KNOW enough yet to determine the shades of Echo's contract or the Dollhouse's business in general.

But it appears that a lot of the comments arguing against the "darker" view use that lack of specific knowledge as backing the "lighter" view, but themselves presume things we don't know -- such as that the example of the indebted girl who approaches a brothel owner is more comparable to the Caroline-Adele convo than the brothel that approaches an indebted girl and offers protection for a price.

To me, there is a world of difference between those two scenarios. In the first, the girl, in seeking out the brothel, has already decided independently that she is willing to trade her debt for the use of her body. In the second, the girl is asked to make that choice under the influence of another entity.

Until we know whether Caroline approached the Dollhouse (based on that scene -- as well as the secretive nature of the organization -- I think it unlikely), then I don't see the latter as more valid than the former.

If she were approached and offered a deal (life in prison or death penalty, or work as an 'active') then while that would seem to me like a pretty clear-cut case of coercion, there still are many levels of grayness to be examined.

Interesting me is, if you decide that despite any coercion, Caroline's choice was informed and therefore she is not a victim of what happens to her, then what happens to the calculation of grayness after the first "wipe," when that personality has been removed/irrevocably altered?

As Echo becomes more aware, doesn't she have a right to say no to this existence, even if her former self was A-OK with it? And isn't the mechanism of the Dollhouse intrinsically opposed to her having a say?
The actives are not share holders or citizens of this entity with voting rights to help decide the Dollhouse's policies, structures, personnel or purpose. i do not see a parallel.

How about they both feature people being "forced" to do something they might not want to do for the sake of the greater good ? Or what might be the greater good anyway (not all wars are just and not all wars that might initially look just turn out to be and either way, lots of people are killed). And since it often happened to younger men and national elections aren't usually annual, there's a good chance they'll never have had any say in whether it should occur or not ("Older men declare war. But it's the youth who must fight and die" as Herbert Hoover said). Coercion of the first water by your lights surely ?

Why is being "enslaved" and having the experiences wiped afterwards worse than being "enslaved" and having to live with those experiences until your dying day (as most ex-soldiers do) ? I'm guessing it's because one prospect is much less appealing to you personally newcj (and I get that, i've already said I can't imagine much worse than the loss of self myself - heh ;) - even though that's not a particularly rational perspective. It's like a non-believer being afraid of death - when you're dead you're not experiencing anything so non-believers should be afraid of dying - the initial imprinting process - but not of being dead - the imprinted and/or default state)

Well of course they are at the clear cut end of the spectrum. I am arguing that this is clear cut. :-)

Heh ;). OK but using those examples to prove it's clear-cut surely means you're saying the situations are comparable ? And yet Caroline, a grown adult, under stress but otherwise apparently compus mentis, is being offered a choice and the sex-trafficked daughters (presumably) weren't (or, if they're young enough, can even be said to be incapable of making an informed choice).

Neither is your person in a coma (at any point - as Septimus says, another grey area is whether Caroline's decisions carry over into what happens to Echo i.e. can you consent to a series of moral choices even when you're only aware of the first one ? And even if so, what does it mean to consent to a moral choice for someone who's effectively not you ? E.g. can Echo be seen to be Caroline's "child" in some sense, someone not fit to make her own moral choices so that Caroline can/should decide for her ? Again, it at least depends how informed they are when they sign up IMO and underlying it all is the question of what it even is to be someone in the first place - what constitutes personhood).
(one-time-only borrowing of snot monster's trick - look, not a monster post but two slightly less monstrous posts back to back ;)

As Echo becomes more aware, doesn't she have a right to say no to this existence, even if her former self was A-OK with it? And isn't the mechanism of the Dollhouse intrinsically opposed to her having a say?

The "mechanism of the dollhouse" currently doesn't accept that she's even capable of having a say - as far as moral agency goes, to them Echo is at best like a child (possibly quite a young one, those details are still a bit ambiguous).

So for me Adelle's big hero moment could come when she realises that the dolls do/can remember what's happened to them and start to develop the capacity for moral agency themselves (i.e. to make informed decisions about their own best interests). The clear-cut moral choice then would be for her to immediately cease all operations because then it's unambiguously slavery (assuming they don't choose it for themselves of course).

(and equally, Adelle's big villain moment could come when we find out she's always known they can become morally aware - though even then, you/she could make a "greater good" case for continuing)
one-time-only borrowing of snot monster's trick

They all say "just this once"--but soon they're back, craving more sweet, sweet double-decker posts...

But it appears that a lot of the comments arguing against the "darker" view use that lack of specific knowledge as backing the "lighter" view, but themselves presume things we don't know -- such as that the example of the indebted girl who approaches a brothel owner is more comparable to the Caroline-Adele convo than the brothel that approaches an indebted girl and offers protection for a price.

To me, there is a world of difference between those two scenarios. In the first, the girl, in seeking out the brothel, has already decided independently that she is willing to trade her debt for the use of her body. In the second, the girl is asked to make that choice under the influence of another entity.


Good point. To me there's certainly a difference between the two scenarios, but not the difference between "white" and "black"--rather the difference between "lighter gray" and "darker gray."

The point which, I think, newcj is arguing is that "bad is bad is bad." I.e., he's resistant to making distinctions among severity of crimes because--and again I'm assuming here--s/he fears that if you start to make distinctions between how "evil" different varieties of evil are, you'll end up in a world of sheer moral relativism. That is, I think newcj's resistance to even thinking about shades of gray in the Dollhouse world is that to do so might seem to be suggesting that there can be "good" human traffickers.

The problem to me with that kind of position, although in some ways I sympathize with it, is that it leads to the kind of thinking where you end up executing poor people for stealing a loaf of bread. Moral casuistry gets a bad name, but I also think it's essential for genuine moral judgment: we have to understand the ways in which circumstances alter cases--even if it means getting into very upsetting territory: at the limit, the attempt to understand what makes a monster (Nazis, child rapists etc.) into a monster (the old problem of "tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner").

If it is clear that there's something "worse" about the situation if the Dollhouse people seek out women in distress to offer them a Faustian bargain, it is equally clear (to me, at least) that this is still a great deal "better" than, say, kidnapping these women and wiping their personalities against their will. If the latter is utter moral "blackness" and the former is "dark gray" then that opens an interesting room for moral speculation about what, exactly, constitutes the difference between the two. What do we mean by "free" consent? To what extent do we "freely" enter into an agreement if none of the options we're confronted with are ideal etc. etc. Do I have the right to speak for the personalities that will be implanted in me in the future? Do I have the right to speak for my "wiped" personality--to the extent that it is different from "my self."

All of these strike me as fascinating moral questions that Dollhouse opens up for exploration. All of them are in "shades of gray" rather than what newcj sees as unrelieved and boring black.
The "mechanism of the dollhouse" currently doesn't accept that she's even capable of having a say ... to them Echo is at best like a child.

I agree with you about the Adelle hero/villain scenarios, but I'm not so sure about either part of the above comment.

First, the simpler for me to explain: If they have no idea thus far about the ability of actives to "awaken," then that's based on the fact that the Dollhouse mechanism, as I put it (the business of wiping and imprinting personalities) is specifically designed to put/keep the active in that childlike state.

Second, the incident with Alpha suggests that the company already is aware that some type of "awakening" is possible.

Now maybe Adelle et. al. think that the post-Alpha protocols have made that impossible or at least super-unlikely. Maybe Claire's question "does that bother you?" is specifically meant to help detect such an awakening, and maybe they have good intentions in the event an awakening is discovered. We don't know.

But if the company does know "awakening" is possible, and has changed protocols to prevent it, then that could qualify as a villain moment.

Not sure how clear all that was, but I'm going from the presumption that Echo, who it appears will become an amalgam of Caroline and imprinted bits, has rights separately from the old Caroline, despite the fact that Caroline signed off.

So I've made at least one personal judgment about the morality of the Dollhouse. But I agree that the real meat of this show should (and seemingly will) be in the examination of various characters' actions and reactions in the context of Echo's development.

Who will support Echo and why? Will Echo even want to keep her memories? If so, can she reconcile the things Caroline was never supposed to remember with the fact that she isn't even Caroline anymore, and that her former self may as well have been someone else forcing her into those experiences?

Could it turn out, in regard to Echo if not her pre-active past, that Caroline is a villain?

I guess that all depends on how you define the self, and it seems this show is going to challenge viewers on that point as well.

But now I have a headache. At least we're thinking though :)
Baxter said:

marymary, you think it's like a franchse? Kinda like a uber-amoral, mind-wiped KFC? Cool.


yes, of course! That is exactly what I was thinking! :)
I am not in a great mood. Perhaps as a result I am getting tired of how the simple thing that I am saying about Dollhouse is being used to make rather wild assumptions about me, and my opinions. I should probably have refused to go off on the tangents by restating my original posts every time people seemed to be misinterpreting the point of what I was saying, but in the interest of not repeating myself I tried to explain it in another way. Unfortunately that seems to have opened the door to more wild assumptions that have nothing to do with my point. I will restate the one last time as simply as possible.

As of episode 2 of Dollhouse, I do not like the show because at this point everything they have shown us is ugly and horrific. So far it is about a woman who, clearly did not want to, but under duress signed up to allow an organization to do whatever they want to her mind and body. This organization has various employees who treat her with contempt and condescension as people will when the people they control are powerless. This organization apparently exists to supply people as playthings to the rich and has shown through actions to have default policies that do not use ethics and morality as a guide. Besides there being this horrible organization that controls her, there are psychotic clients and pedophile opponents. The characters who are not openly doing bad things are forget-able or have no personality of their own.

So far IMO, this has not been the exploration of the grays of human behavior and morality but two hours showing how ugly humanity is...and I know that already. As I have said repeatedly, Joss may be able to turn this into a series about morally gray areas, etc. I hope he does. The fact that Boyd has started acting less like a jerk by the end of the most recent episode and showed signs of the ability to connect with Echo helps a little. For me and some other people I am running into, it is not yet enough to make watching this show worthwhile in and of itself, rather than something one watches because it has Joss Whedon's name on it.

The End (of my point)

Now, for some reason some posters have wanted to assume that I see all things as bad or black and white in general and can never see gray. To be blunt, I have no great desire to spend time explaining/defending/protesting about assumptions made about me because it is too time consuming and a great big bore. So I'll try to be general enough to answer a bunch of things that were "assumed." Since people seem to want to bring other Whedon shows into this, I will.

No, IMO as soon as a character does something bad it does not wipe out everything good they have ever done. I expect good people to do bad things, bad people to do good things etc. I don't think either one necessarily signals a change in who the person is fundamentaly, unless it becomes a pattern of behavior. If something Wolfram and Hart does when being run by Holland Manners actually ends up helping someone, that does not make W&H suddenly a morally gray organization. That is especially true if that good thing was an accident or could have happened if Wolfram and Hart had not been involved and some reputable organization had been.

I do not have a problem with prostitution per se. I do have a problem with bottom feeders who see the opportunity to make money by taking advantage of people's misery in any area of life. I also do not think that someone doing something worse than you are doing somehow puts your actions into a more gray area. If I kill victims for the fun of watching them die, and someone else tortures them before he kills them, it does not make my actions less bad than they were before, just not as bad as his. Neither person's actions are on the gray scale.

Joss's other shows started with a variety of characters who were engaging, multi-dimensional and sometimes likeable. He then highlighted the darker elements and made the audience realize that the pretty package often contains bad things as well as good. In Dollhouse he is starting with an ugly situation and group of people. It is logical to assume that he will therefore need to show that there is good even in bad if he wants this to explore the gray areas. Indeed that is what some people here have been advocating, to give everyone the benefit of the doubt...except Caroline interestingly enough. So is the point of this show that we should see the possible good in and give the benefit of the doubt to human traffickers, and organizations that are set-up to dehumanize the distressed to use for the convenience of the rich? There are an awful lot of posts on this thread that seem to advocate doing just that. I wonder if that is something Joss was going for.

I'm done. I told you I was in a bad mood.
Well if you're done you probably won't read this but on the off chance ...

So is the point of this show that we should see the possible good in and give the benefit of the doubt to human traffickers, and organizations that are set-up to dehumanize the distressed to use for the convenience of the rich? There are an awful lot of posts on this thread that seem to advocate doing just that. I wonder if that is something Joss was going for.

That's one of the worst straw men i've seen in ages (or one of the best, depending on how you look at it ;). Must admit, I didn't previously assume you saw things in black and white terms newcj but after that comment i'm starting to wonder. Seriously ? Because we see this situation as having shades of grey, because we're even willing to consider a means/ends moral argument on the basis that we don't have all the information yet then we're giving the benefit of the doubt to human traffickers ? WTF ? Simplistic much ?

Apparently the irony of complaining about wild assumptions at the top of your post and making one (and a more insulting one to boot IMO) at the bottom is entirely lost in the paragraphs in between.

Indeed that is what some people here have been advocating, to give everyone the benefit of the doubt...except Caroline interestingly enough.

Extending Caroline the benefit of the doubt is NOT the same as assuming Caroline is an entirely helpless victim from the very outset that's acting purely from coercion without any moral agency (or assuming that there's nothing she could have done to "deserve" to be where she is). Again, i'd made no assumptions about how black/white you saw things but time and again where Caroline's concerned you seem to be saying there's no sliding scale from persuasion to outright coercion, no grey between a choice under pressure and one made under duress (or even no choice at all) - seems pretty black and white to me to be honest.

And several people arguing the grey side have said (several times) that we don't know enough to decide yet i.e. we need to know more about what Caroline did, about why she feels she has no choice. We need more of an inkling as to how much she knows about the life of an active, we need to know more about Adelle's motivations (maybe they are just to service the rich but isn't it even possible that she has more altruistic motives as well i.e. is there no situation - consistent with what we've seen so far - where you could justify offering a desperate person the choice to become "enslaved" and still achieve a net moral gain ? Because if you can, surely that makes it a grey area ?).

If loss of self is as bad as most of us seem to agree it is, isn't the idea that someone would agree to it without actually being physically restrained and/or threatened with immediate death (which, to me, qualifies as unambiguous coercion) even worth wondering about ?
It's definitely worth thinking about.

In my mind there is two scenarios where Adele could claim at least some grey in the very very dark business she's in. ( Though I'm sure the writers have something entirely different in store for us)
Either the 'the end justifies the means' scenario where the actives gets sacrificed for some kind of greater good, though nothing we've seen so far of the engagements/missions and the organisation seems to support this kind of theory.
Or what I'd call the 'suicide by proxy' theory, what Caroline had done was something so bad that she was no longer able to live with it and the Dollhouse offered itself as a 'we will kill your mind and make use of your body' facility, possibly providing some benefits for relatives etc.
This scenario still leaves Adele on the hook for the engagements/missions but less so for the acquisition of the actives themselves.

Other possible scenarios includes the 'Nikita/B5' scenario where the people behind the operation consider it an alternative to the death penalty which enables them to treat you any way they want cause the active is in some way 'repaying their debt to society', could be hiding behind the scenes.
The 'Paycheck' scenario where it is implied that your mind is put in storage somewhere and the body will be returned to you after a specified time period and you will receive repayment in some form for the use of your body.
The 'Trafficking/Kidnapping' scenario where bodies are bought and sold from third parties without the owners consent in any form.

The last three scenarios doesn't seem to fit with the information given so far but we also doesn't know if all the actives are 'recruited' through the same method or 'acquired' through different means, if the Dollhouse required a specific personality profile that was currently not in storage would they turn down the engagement or somehow work to acquire that personality ?

[ edited by jpr on 2009-02-25 14:37 ]
newcj obviously you're not enjoying this discussion, so I'll drop it. I do just want to say that you're not just wrong but demonstrably wrong in thinking that I have been "making wild assumptions" about your position. If you look back over my posts to you in this thread, you'll see that I repeatedly say that I don't understand your position and would like to hear more from you because I'd like you to clarify it. I have offered you a series of both hypothetical (the brothel) and preexisting (from Buffy and Angel) scenarios and asked you to state your opinion of them. For whatever reason, you're unwilling to do so and unhappy to have been asked. The former is your prerogative and the latter is unfortunate, but no one has been making any "assumptions" about how you would answer those questions if you were willing to do so.

ETA: oh, and just to address one example that you do bring up in your last post. You mention Wolfram and Hart, and say that if they did one uncertainly-motivated good deed, would that fundamentally change our judgment on them. It's a good question, but hardly parallel to what we so far know about the Dollhouse. If Wolfram and Hart were engaged in saving innocent kidnapped children from rapists in 50% of the episodes in which they featured, I think we'd feel very differently about them. Maybe what we witnessed in the pilot was a bizarre freak and from now on the Dollhouse will only engage in acts as unequivocally "evil" as Wolfram and Hart's actions, but as yet there's no evidence to suggest that that will be the case.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-25 20:48 ]
I may have been done, but you know I cannot resist reading anything of yours, Saje.

I can absolutely see why you would fell that way about what I wrote in the last post. I did not express myself well at all. It is a danger of writing when you are tired, in a hurry, upset and depressed about the human condition. That last one being something that people in general, Dollhouse and this thread were promoting in me. Maybe I have just been around too many victims of things lately.

snot monster you are right I am not enjoying this discussion. The reason I did not answer a lot of these questions from you is because, as I have said, I just do not have the time and they are pretty much in left field. Even now I am squeezing this into a few minutes I have before I am late for something else. (Actually, now it has made me late. Damn.) The assumptions were often in the questions and though they did not bother me for a while, the post where you literaly talked about the assumptions you were making and how they would lead to poor people getting shot for a loaf of bread or something just really annoyed me. (See above about not having time to go back and get it right.)

So yeah, I won't be reading Dollhouse threads unless Dollhouse gets a lot better. Why agravate and depress myself and others?

Anyway, the assumptions I was objecting to were about things that we were not talking about, and I had said nothing about. If they had been about things we were talking about based on things I had said, they would have been fine. (Honestly, I do not want to or have the time to go back through all the posts to find them and do a run down.) For instance, the assumption that I am much more suspicious of the motives and actions of people who have power over other people, especially if they are trading in human flesh would be absolutely true.

So is the point of this show that we should see the possible good in and give the benefit of the doubt to human traffickers, and organizations that are set-up to dehumanize the distressed to use for the convenience of the rich? There are an awful lot of posts on this thread that seem to advocate doing just that. I wonder if that is something Joss was going for.

That's one of the worst straw men i've seen in ages (or one of the best, depending on how you look at it ;). Must admit, I didn't previously assume you saw things in black and white terms newcj but after that comment i'm starting to wonder. Seriously ? Because we see this situation as having shades of grey, because we're even willing to consider a means/ends moral argument on the basis that we don't have all the information yet then we're giving the benefit of the doubt to human traffickers ? WTF ? Simplistic much ?


As harsh as it sounds, however, I do not think my statement is a straw man or a simplification. You just said it, yourself, "...because we're even willing to consider a means/ends moral argument on the basis that we don't have all the information yet..." We don't have the information yet, so why try to find a moral argument for their actions? That is trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and I do not really understand why that is a considered a good thing.

Maybe the problem in understanding each other on this is that I take a drama at face value as the information is given and go where the story takes me. That does not seem to be what other people are doing. I look at what we know now, draw conclusions that may change with future information and wait to be given more information.

I am not assuming for instance that Caroline is anything other than someone who has done something that got her into trouble. She and Adelle also apparently know each other or have a history. Caroline may have worked there. Caroline may turn out to be a worse human being than everyone else. That does not mean she should have to sell her mind and body when she does not want to.

To my mind, people are being rather cavalier about that aspect. Selling your mind and body when you don’t want to, for any reason, is a horrendous thing to have to do. Being a person that takes advantage of people put in that position, is not someone I automatically give the benefit of the doubt to for motives, morals, or ethics. I do not think it is unreasonable for them to have to work very hard to win any kind of sympathy or moral standing at all whether in fiction or in life.

...being physically restrained and/or threatened with immediate death (which, to me, qualifies as unambiguous coercion"

So I take it you are not going to take that job as a victims rights advocate. ;-)
The assumptions were often in the questions and though they did not bother me for a while, the post where you literaly talked about the assumptions you were making and how they would lead to poor people getting shot for a loaf of bread or something just really annoyed me.

Newcj: I said, in that post:
The point which, I think, newcj is arguing is that "bad is bad is bad." I.e., he's resistant to making distinctions among severity of crimes because--and again I'm assuming here--s/he fears that if you start to make distinctions between how "evil" different varieties of evil are, you'll end up in a world of sheer moral relativism. That is, I think newcj's resistance to even thinking about shades of gray in the Dollhouse world is that to do so might seem to be suggesting that there can be "good" human traffickers.

I want you to notice two things here. One is that I didn't just "make an assumption" and impute an argument to you (something that you would be quite entitled to be angry about--that would be a straw man). I said explicitly that I was "assuming" because I had not been able to get you to clarify your argument. In other words, by saying "I'm assuming here" I was saying "I could be completely wrong, of course, but this is as close as I can get to understanding newcj's position--please clarify if I'm wrong." That seems to me to be an entirely fair form of argument because it explicitly warns the reader that this may not in fact be the position held by the person whose position you're attempting to describe.

Secondly, it turned out that I wasn't wrong in any case. This is exactly your objection, as you said in your big "angry" post:
I do not have a problem with prostitution per se. I do have a problem with bottom feeders who see the opportunity to make money by taking advantage of people's misery in any area of life. I also do not think that someone doing something worse than you are doing somehow puts your actions into a more gray area. If I kill victims for the fun of watching them die, and someone else tortures them before he kills them, it does not make my actions less bad than they were before, just not as bad as his. Neither person's actions are on the gray scale.

As to the comment about stealing loaves of bread: well, that's my personal objection to this kind of argument. If you refuse to make distinctions between "degrees" of evil because you're afraid of moral relativism, you run the risk of not being able to distinguish between "black" and "gray"--that seems inevitably true. I was, though, equally clear that there's a risk involved in the other approach: tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner. It can leave you incapable of condemning any action because you're always engaging in casuistic logic-chopping.
Actually you are not right. You are using "severity of a crime" an "degrees of evil" as synonyms for "gray area." They are not the same. I was very explicit that there are differences in severity of the crime.

"If I kill victims for the fun of watching them die, and someone else tortures them before he kills them, it does not make my actions less bad than they were before, just not as bad as his."

What I am disagreeing with in that statement, is putting the lesser immoral action in a gray area of being partially good simply because there are worse in the world. A gray area requires ambiguity of whether something is actually bad or not. It requires an element or possibility of actual good. It is not shades of bad or degrees of evil. That is a different matter.

Shades of gray will usually, but not always have to do with intent and circumstances. That is why my comments to you in the first place about how gray areas could have been established for me in Dollhouse was the best answer to your question I could give. I gave various ways we could have seen or thought we saw an element of good to create gray. (To reiterate one simple one, if they had let the audience think the actives are volunteers, it could done the trick. If people truly want to do something that does not hurt other people, having a place that suits their needs could definitely establish a gray area. If they later showed it not to be true, then the gray area disappears, perhaps to be replaced by another. The show chose to do the opposite. It is their choice, and, since they are very intelligent people, I figure they are not going for a gray area at this point.) That is also why I harkened back to the purpose of the Dollhouse as shown through its policies and actions rather than its results in my judgments about them.

In any case, to say that I refuse to make a distinction of degrees of evil, when I am very specifically saying that I will not assign good to a lesser evil, is a misinterpretation. To say that I am "...resistant to making distinctions among severity of crimes..." because I do not see any good in the Dollhouse organization or its people the way it has been presented so far, is absurd. That is probably the main reason I was ticked off.
Bringing this one back from the dead briefly (been on holiday, whaddya do ;).

As harsh as it sounds, however, I do not think my statement is a straw man or a simplification.

Pretty sure it is because by definition if you're a human trafficker in the sense we're talking about you're NOT giving your victims an informed choice. Whereas Adelle is (or might be). This is one grey area and it's one you seem completely unwilling to accept newcj. Adelle as far as we see is NOT forcing Caroline into becoming an active, she's presenting her with an option in a situation where Caroline feels she has no choice but to accept for reasons we don't know at this point (i.e. circumstances are forcing her to sign, not Adelle - again, that's just from what we see). Just about to watch 3 and 4 BTW so that might have changed since.

Claiming "There's no grey because look, that situation which has no grey is the same" when it isn't the same is pretty much the definition of the straw-man fallacy. Or if the idea of whether it's the same or not is actually what's up for debate then it could be a case of begging the question. Either way, not really a solid argument.

...being physically restrained and/or threatened with immediate death (which, to me, qualifies as unambiguous coercion"

So I take it you are not going to take that job as a victims rights advocate. ;-)


If someone IS a victim then i'd be a vehement advocate for their rights. But i'm not going to assume they're one on incomplete information either because they're a woman (who've traditionally played the victim role in most human cultures) or because they claim the victim position and i'm not going to tell them they bear no responsibility for their own actions (because actions do have consequences and more to the point, IMO actions should have consequences). So in your sense of 'victim' I totally agree, i'd be a very poor advocate.
I totally posted this in the wrong topic.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-08 14:19 ]
Saje is back! We can stop picnicking. ;)
You guys had a picnic without me ? Were there bees ? ;)
We were convinced you were dead, or trapped in a cellar somewhere in dire need of rescue. We were breaking into teams to fan out and search the web for you. Don't you realize you have to let us KNOW when you're going to disappear? It's so irresponsible to just go on vacation as if you didn't have a job to do here. My giggles over breakfast rate has been way down all week, my quotas are completely shot.

Um, I mean, welcome back, hope you had a nice time :).
Look, it's Saje! He was hiding in the second episode spoiler thread all this time! ;)

ETA: but, yeah, we might've had a minor in-between-regular-meals picnic here, which I may have made inadvertently explicit by asking where the heck you were ;)

[ edited by GVH on 2009-03-08 14:36 ]
Think about it - me, in a spoiler thread ? It's the perfect hiding place ;).

We were convinced you were dead, or trapped in a cellar somewhere in dire need of rescue.

Heh, nah, not dead, just in the Peak District. Which has more, y'know, peaks than yer average cellar (pretty damp though so not entirely dissimilar ;).
Yeah, we miss you & you need to tell us before you go away!
(Just think--it's like having hundreds of Moms. Yay!?)
Heavy on the !? ;-).

(I feel guilty enough making one Mum worry when I go hiking, hundreds of lots of guilt might be too much to bear ;)

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.



joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home