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February 28 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the third episode of Dollhouse. This one's called 'Stage Fright'.

Probably best if you don't mention spoilers for future episodes in this discussion thread.

Very sad to say I'm going to have watch this on my DVR. Stupid life getting in the way of my TV watching! So inconvenient.

Oh well. I'm much more excited about this episode than I was, now that I've watched the four clips you linked to earlier. Well, I watched two of them. But especially the bit with Sierra, I liked. J-Mo in the Dollhouse...
Isn't it a tad early for the thread? Or are we just being prepared?
I'm sad to say I think Terminator is once again a weak lead-in for Dollhouse this Friday. I was a huge fan during Season 1, but Season 2 has continued to drop off in quality for me. And this episode is just confusing me. It's failed to keep my interest.
Where did the chat go?
I think she'll have Randy and Paula, but you can't tell with Simon.

Heh -- "I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm getting bow-hunted." Boyd owns this show.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-02-28 03:05 ]
I was wondering where chat was also.
YAY Eliza singing!!! :)
Eliza singing!

And Amy should be in the opening credits, I say!
Wow...she has a pretty decent voice! Who knew? Well, Joss, apparently.
She has got a great voice!

/Kinda funky platform boots, tho.
Yep, want to punch Topher in the face again.
I'm now imagining Once More, With Feeling with Faith in the mix.

*snark* Scowly babies.
Hey, the manager guy there? The "Butler" from Angel 2.09 "The Trial".
Enver has some serious chin action.
I thought he looked familiar.
Where's CHAT!!!!!
victor! ahhh!! and DAMN our girl can SING!
That was slightly unexpected...
I thought that would happen. The Dollhouse is sure spending a lot of resources just to keep Ballard running around.
Uh oh, that's no crutch! It's a GUN!!!
Sweet! Very "Day of the Jackal" with the crutches.
Is chat no more? Does anyone know?
I don't know why, but I'm liking this one better. Something's clicking for me, I think.

I just started shipping Boyd and Amy's character. Maybe that's it ;)
"Watchmen" is either going to be this year's "The Dark Knight" (critically), or it's going to be the punchline of the year.
That guy is so pale! Automatic psycho.
Heh, she's a southie.

This is interesting... if Adelle hadn't given the order, I would think this was a set up.

HA! That's the hotel they used for Hyperion exteriors.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-02-28 03:27 ]
"I'm a Southie." Loves it!!
Not really unexpected for me...if you saw the original cast photos, he was with Echo and Sierra on the "runway" and dressed like them too and NOT behind them with the others.
JT and MO bring the funny!
Where do I know that guy with Boyd from?
"Got the job done" = graduated/died.
Original pilot dialogue!!... plus, (can we put spoilers?) "did i fall asleep?"

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-02-28 03:33 ]
Kevin Kilner from Earth: Final Conflict!

Okay. I give in. I'm hooked.
Oy gevalt... I don't know about this plot, to be honest. I'm finding myself completely ambivalent toward the existential crisis of a super-hot, super-rich singing sensation. Lady, shut up, buy a place on Long Island and start a record label.
Whoa! Sweet Twist!
Rayna wants him to shoot her? To be free? 'Cause they didn't really establish that she felt like she needed to escape her life.
"i will smack you"
Oh, okay. She's crazy. Now it makes sense.
"You weren't grown in the lab, but I was."

I just lol'd.
There's an Afterschool Special quality to this about the music industry, sexualization, etc. But, much like the Jewel "Intuition" video, it loses much of its "oomph" when being read by a woman wearing a bra and a belt.
King, I just said that on aim. On a very special Dollhouse, Echo relates to a popstar.
I will say, I like the woman playing Rayna, but the character is kinda iffy.

Um... wouldn't Sierra's handler have blown that guy's head off and stuffed it down the neckhole by now?
Oh God... I just realized who's playing Alpha after relooking...
I kinda wish Tom Lenk was playing 'crazy stalker fan' I think he would have totally owned!
Tom Lenk would work better as Topher's twin more than Alpha.
I'm really liking the little things coming through from Echo... didn't think they'd do that this soon, but I kinda like that they are. Plus, the chair thing was awesome!
Favorite line: "You can fire me, but b**** don't think you can take me." Classic! This episode has me (and my very staunch dad) laughing out loud.

[ edited by ricetxpeaches on 2009-02-28 20:26 ]
OK, the crazy putting the rifle together in the balcony - who else thought of Jonathan in Earshot.
Hehe... I love Sierra's plaintive "I do".
Whoooooooooooooooooooooa, that was huge. HUGE.
hmmm...
What's with the nod?
Yeah, it's after-school-special-y, but it's also better than the alternative. You know? It could have been what everyone was afraid of, a glorifying of the exploitative music industry stuff.
Hmmmm, intriguing.
hbojo, I know. It was almost like they knew each other but Echo didn't want Sierra to give them away or something.
Wow! Honestly, the main plot of the episode was a little dull and formulaic, but all the peripheral stuff was FREAKIN' AWESOME. I love the direction of this show. It just keeps picking up momentum.
I love this show so very much.
AMAZING episode.
The nod was so that Sierra didn't act too familiar with her handler watching.
Now I'm officially hooked. Next week looks to be exciting.
Hee...I've only heard the last name Ballard a couple of times maybe in my lifetime but they just talked to a man with that last name on the news after Dollhouse ended.
Next week's episode looks awesome.
Great episode tonight and next week's episode looks even better.
BuffyGroupie, I think that is totally it, they did know each other.. And what kind of dissing of Brittany was going on in that ep!
Jed and Maurissa did a great job with this one. I really wasn't sure where the story was going to take Echo.

[ edited by Lioness on 2009-02-28 04:06 ]
Okay, I was really worried that this episode was going to suck. It decidedly did NOT suck. I am happy. This show better not disappear.
Interesting, interesting. The Dollhouse stuff held my interest better than the whackadoo pop star and her issues. I liked last week's episode better overall but I'm loving the awakening of Echo.

Also, got to love all the funny in this episode....scowly babies!
Not a big fan of this episode, though I can't put my finger on why. Maybe because I didn't give a rat's ass about Rayna, and Eliza simply channeled Faith in Echo's engagement.

That said, there were some good moments in it - especially that very last moment between Echo and Sierra.
Episode was cool but what's really addicting me is the developing arcs. I can't wait until that aspect of the show becomes predominant. Also, I am starting to identify with Echo, notwithstanding the blank slate issue.
Better and better, but I must say I found the main pop-star story less compelling than the tidbits round the edges.
Okay, so there's a metric butt-load of extra security...and they let somebody with metal crutches put them aside and NOT go through a metal detector?

Very big plot hole, methinks, and, no, not sweet homage to Day of the Jackal so much as derivative...also of The Manchurian Candidate.

And, yes, more than a tad too much A Very Special Dollhouse.

That said, I liked it, liked what it portends, but...I really haven't connected to it yet.
Yeah, it was everything except the pop star story that worked for me.
I couldn't hear, but did "Wictor" have a bad Russian accent too? Or is that just from the imprint of Lubov?

Sort of glad that they did away with the conceit that Enver Gjokaj wasn't playing a Doll so soon. Still don't get how Victor is able to freely talk about a theoretical Dollhouse without getting confused and start phoning home, as was implied when Echo was Ellie Penn.
Another good episode, I'm loving the build-up of the backstory stuff. Viktor's a Doll. I knew it. Still don't know about Paul's neighbour yet, but interesting that she seems to be looking out for him. I'm loving this show more and more.
One other thing...what the hell was Sierra's role as a protector in this? 'Cos things did heat up, and she just stayed in mousy Audra role when she clearly could have smacked the psycho gunman down easily.
I liked the pop star story better than the most deadly game story. It was less predictable.
The little shake of the head at the end was probably my favorite bit. It says, no, it SCREAMS to someone paying attention that they remember each other.
It's happening again, isn't it? I'm falling in love and I'm gonna be hurt. *sigh*
It's Joss...that's going to happen no matter what FOX does.
Chris

Sierra was not a protector. They sent her out as bait so the stalker's attention would be diverted. It was the plan for her to get kidnapped so they could follow him and then take him out.
Even though I already knew about Lubov being Victor from the pre-show craze, I was very startled when the camera panned down to show freshly mind-wiped Victor. Topher officially creeps me out as of that scene. And it made me very happy to see that the manager/client bloke was the Trial Master from pretty much my favorite episode of Angel ever. Mellie continues to be absurdly adorable. I fear for her. And am also suspicious of her. Loved Topher's jab at Laurence *while* being semi-throttled by him. The way Echo handled the "engagement" there at the end was so awesome, as was the argument Adelle and Laurence had about it. Also, what was that with Echo covertly shaking her head at Sierra?
Is it me or does it seem like the standalone aspect of each episode is just filler designed to support the far more important (and interesting) ongoing story?
Wow. This finally feels like a Joss show.
me .shaving head.
me .showing junk.
OH! Da' funny is here!
I guess I'm gonna go against the grain here... I thought it sucked. It was exploitive, and I didn't feel invested in stupid bitchy diva, or by the transitive property, Echo's mission. The stuff outside the mission seemed like it could have been interesting, but it went by so fast I couldn't enjoy it. And there was almost no interesting dialog or character development.

I was 50/50 on the pilot, and Target had a few little problems, but I thought it was pretty good. This was just bad television.

[...edited...Sorry, I should take a breather before posting...]

Supposedly it's supposed to start getting good around episode 6, and I hope it does. I don't mean to be ungrateful, but damn.

[ edited by phong on 2009-02-28 05:15 ]
Good episode but didn't anyone notice how almost identical the premise of the show was to a Tru Calling episode? Jaime Lee Kirchner who played Rayna even looks a lot like Tamyra Gray from the "Death Becomes Her" ep of Tru Calling.
Southie. Hee hee.
I so hope that was a voice over singing for Eliza. Hometown girl or not I'll have to hate her if she can sing too. ;p
Damn, those songs were catchy. Put them on iTunes and I'll download them!!

I liked the pop star stuff the best.

[ edited by Riker on 2009-02-28 04:46 ]
First one I've liked. This is more what I was expecting. I hope we get more like this.
Yeah, the stand alone aspect of the show has never really grabbed me, but the ongoing story arcs are really starting to heat up. Was the exchange between Lubov/Victor and Ballard on the balcony in 'Echo'? I think I remember it from the original trailer.
I thought the pop star aspect of the story was most interesting. The Sierra (as the fan), Echo and Rayna all seem to be trapped in their own way. Fan!Sierra was willing to anything Rayna told her to do. Rayna was feeling trapped and forced to give what the audience wanted. It's odd that Echo is giving the 'free will' speech to Rayna, when she herself is an Active.

I don't mind so much the lack of the snappy dialogue anymore, as long as the ideas Joss is presenting continue to intrigue me. It seems a 'deeper' show, somehow.
I mean, is this really a Joss show or is it like Garfield where a committee of idiots puts it together and then Jim Davis just puts his name on it... I guess that's pretty harsh. I only hit because I love you too much!


Phong - consider yourself warned re: committee of idiots, that's over the line.
Srsly? Ragging on Garfield's writers is over the line? Wow.

I thought this episode was a snoozer. The nod at the end was by far the best part of the episode. And let's face it, it was a nod.
Just wanted to ditto on Favorite line above from Eliza! Good episode!
I love Joss and everything, and I look forward to Dollhouse each week more than any other show, but it still hasn't made me fall in love with it the way I love Firefly or Buffy/Angel. The biggest problem in all three episodes has been that the main characters don't interact enough. I want to get to know the main characters, but the engagements get in the way of that by taking up a lot of time with guest characters. And when the main characters are on the screen, they're often in separate rooms talking on cell phones... It doesn't work as well as face-to-face dialog. (With the possible exception of the scene in the first episode where Topher is talking on the phone and the stuff he's saying has two meanings because he's looking at a third person.)

I find myself wishing the engagements were things that happened mostly in the background and the characters just talked about them. The most extreme example of this that I can think of is The West Wing. But also with Buffy, the show is mostly about how the Scoobies as a group are dealing with the monster, not about the monster itself.

I have gotten to the point where I'm able to buy into whatever character Echo is programmed to be even though I know it's fake, but I still long for those moments where she doesn't behave as she should. And I'm sure there'll be more and more of that as time goes on.

And the engagements aren't all bad; I actually thought this one got good once , but it took a long time to get there. And last week's engagement was pretty good throughout. The first one was okay. And they've all been related to the mission statement of the show. I just think they'd be even better if, in addition to all that, they involved characters we cared about. So it ends up feeling like a missed opportunity.

[ edited by gomtuu on 2009-02-28 05:19 ]
I miss South Boston. =)

I think I have the formula down, and I hope it works. Weekly stuff to grab the new viewer's eye -- lots of creamy plot goodness mostly in the back for the hardcores.

Dr. Saunders: "She wasn't always the best." No... I'm betting Saunders was.

Unfortunately... we now know that someone that runs the Dollhouse is very, very not nice: they tried to have Ballard killed. This is above and beyond "we're humanitarians but only kinda sorta." There is a large moral difference between Echo killing to defend her life and Victor sending Ballard to his death.

Interesting times, indeed.
To quote Rayna, this episode was a "hot mess." This week's engagement just did not work. It felt wrong, and weird, and out of place. The performance and writing of Rayna's character was so shallow and unimaginative that I never bought her for a second.

And yet all of the actual stuff pertaining to the Dollhouse was great. Topher gets more snappy dialogue, Boyd is still an awesome guy, and Dr. Saunders just gets more and more interesting. I continue to enjoy Ballard's snooping, and Lubov...wow. Enver Gjokaj is such a presence on this show. He brings his role to life. The reveal that he's an Active was brilliant. I've known about Victor all along, but I thought that he'd been written out of the show, or at least that Lubov would end up getting mind-wiped. I never even fancied the idea that he was already an Active. Great stuff.

Oh, and despite my dislike of the pop star stuff, I loved how Echo turned the tables because she instinctively knew that Sierra was her friend. And of course the little shake of the head at the end. That shit excites me, like, a lot, for some reason.

This would've been a really good episode if the whole Rayna plot hadn't felt so uneven and half-baked. Coming from Jed and Maurissa, I've gotta admit, I'm a little disappointed.

But holy God, next week's looks fantastic!
Dr. Saunders: "She wasn't always the best." No... I'm betting Saunders was.

Really? I was certain they were talking about Alpha.
I thought they were talking about Alpha too, but Saunders gets a little weird when Boyd mentions him. And not just in a "Yikes-that's-the-guy-who-sliced-up-my-face-I-have-severe-traumatic-issues-to-deal-with" way.
And not just in a "Yikes-that's-the-guy-who-sliced-up-my-face-I-have-severe-traumatic-issues-to-deal-with" way.

I guess I'll have to watch it again. (Oh noes!)

Edit: I still don't see it. Maybe it's just because Amy is too pretty and I can't concentrate.

[ edited by gomtuu on 2009-02-28 05:36 ]
I loved it! Thought it was a great episode! Absolutely loved that Echo adjusted and changed the mission and loved that little nod at the end too!
Ok, so they seem to be linking Boyd and Saunders together. Who wants to bet Saunders dies, and then Amy Acker doesn't guest star anymore?
I so hope that was a voice over singing for Eliza. Hometown girl or not I'll have to hate her if she can sing too. ;p


I'm pretty sure it was really Eliza singing. The tone and inflection sounds exactly like her voice.

[ edited by SteveJ2008 on 2009-02-28 05:35 ]
I honestly think that we are going to see much more character moments and character centricnesss at the episode 6 mark and on. To me, you can almost tell that the standalone aspects are being emphasised for new viewers of Joss, while still having those character moments for the regular fans. I myself have been surprised at how well these beginning episodes have had a continued feel to them. With all the talk on boards and interviews of the need for stand alone episodes, I expected them to be even more self contained than they were. Do you know what I mean? I am enjoying it so far and I'm hooked and I have "faith" (no pun intended) I'm going to fall in love soon.
Really nice stuff for Tahmoh, too. That scene in the hospital bed, he looked...I dunno. Messed up. Mentally. End of his rope kinda look.
karosurly,

I think what was over the line was comparing Joss and the writers to Garfield's writers. That was quite a insult to Joss himself.
I thought this was a spectacular episode. I think they're getting better with each one. Jed and Maurissa most definitely delivered for me. I enjoyed both the engagement and the Dollhouse stuff. Glad the Victor reveal finally came--besides the casting of Alpha, that was the last major plot element of the show that I knew. Spoiler free 'till the unaired episodes are released on DVD! (Sorry, I wouldn't normally be so pessimistic; I just needed the rhyme)

And next week's looks to be great as well. I hope the upward climb continues. This show already has earned its place among Joss's other works, to me.
Calling anyone names is grounds for a timeout. If you would like to discuss, please email me.
OK, these are my problems with Dollhouse that I hope will go away later:

I don't care about the engagements. I don't sympathize with or despise the people who pay for the engagements. The reason for the engagements has little connection to anything or anyone; they just fall out of the sky (yes, the singer talking about how she's manufactured does ironically parallel Echo's situation, but that's the reason the writer invented the engagement, not the reason the engagement happens in the fictional universe).

I don't care about the people who run the Dollhouse. They're not good, they're not evil, they're not in enough conflict with anyone, and they're not striving for anything (money is not an interesting enough goal). We're supposed to accept that they run things just because, logistically, someone has to. I need to know their motives beyond that.

The things that I desperately want to care about -- interactions between recurring characters -- are separated by so many layers of insulation and time that they generate little inertia. Adelle is in a office, describing what happened. Boyd is in a van, listening to what's happening. Topher is at a computer, watching a brain map of what's happening. Echo is off doing something that she'll mostly forget later. Ballard is in another TV show entirely. Lasagna Girl is looking across a hallway or through a window. Characters are not interacting. They're watching and telling stories about other people interacting! And then, at the very end, Echo and Sierra intentionally avoid interacting. It's all a little bit too frustrating.

Perhaps I'm spoiled by watching all of Joss's other TV shows on DVD. Maybe watching TV shows in real time requires a different level of patience?

To end on an upbeat note with the moments I liked:

I loved the "Buffy righteousness" moment when Echo told the singer she had to care about someone other than herself and save Sierra. I have been waiting for more moments like this. Joss's other stories are filled with these moments.

I liked that Echo made up her own solution and exceeded expectations.

I liked the line the singer said: "God put this voice in me
and forgot to make it mine". That's good stuff.
I'd be bummed if they offed Saunders. She's one of the (many) coolest things about the show. Also, forgive me for saying this but Sierra has so much dang presence that I think there's a danger of her upstaging Echo. Moreover, continued and increasing love for Olivia, Boyd and Topher. This group is starting to tie together beautifully. I'm nerding out over the blossoming conflicts and alliances. Oh yeah, and the british music manager guy was a kick. Sweet banter between him and Olivia.

A minor criticism: some of Eliza's fights -- the hitting scene and the pushing scene (more details would be spoilery) -- seemed poorly staged and fake. Especially when compared to Ballard's totally boss fight scene.

Overall though, awesome episode. I see progress, and it looks like more is coming...
I think I'm going to be using the phrase scowly babies whenever I get a chance.
Squishy, we're allowed to get spoilery in episode discussion threads. :-)
The Attic scares me. We don't know what it is but by context, it's probably not pleasant.
Oh, okay then. I was talking about the part when she pushed the Paparazi guy and the part where she smacked the british manager guy. I did not buy those at all. Also, I didn't like it when she said, "bitch, don't think you can take me." It seemed like a bad line from the movie Roadhouse, and it made her seem like white trash. Again though, I mainly want to emphasize that I'm starting to love this show.
I'm starting to like Adelle more after this episode. How she defended Echo's performance when Laurence was suggesting sending her to "The Attic". She may not be so uptight after all.
Sending someone to the Attic makes me think of boxing a Cylon.
Also, forgive me for saying this but Sierra has so much dang presence that I think there's a danger of her upstaging Echo.


Strangely, I'm not completely sold yet on Dichen's performance as Sierra. She's the weak link to me so far. I don't know what it is, but something just seems a bit "off". Hopefully that will change as she gets more screen time.
i thought the same thing, unplugged. come to think of it, there are other cylon/active parallels. cylons, like echo (and to a lesser extent, other actives), were created by humans to serve, but developed their own identities despite their programming, and eventually rose up against their creators (i expect echo will do the latter eventually). also, cylons get reborn periodically, much like actives, who take on a new "life" for each mission.

[ edited by Squishy on 2009-02-28 07:04 ]
Dude, Echo is Skynet!

Awesome.
Sorry, jumping on late here on the west coast. I thought the episode was engaging, and just like last week when Echo did the shoulder to the wheel salute at the end, I nearly jumped out of my chair when Echo shook off Sierra right at the end.

Questions for the group. Now that we've seen how the original pilot was broken up over three episodes, how does it leave you feeling? To me it feels like we got one Joss episode spaced out with some stuff to try and pull in new typical Fox voters. I think we just have to accept it as necessary, Fox won't keep this show on the air with Buffy's numbers.

The spinklings of funny, the fact that it's more engaging than any of the other procedurals on right now, and most especially those moments where Echo goes off script are gonna keep me watching.
Best episode yet. Don't know how anyone could've hated it. More comedy in there, more action, I am actually liking Wiped-Echo a lot now. There's subtle dimensions to her wiped state that are shining in very very subtly and it is awesome. Can't wait for next week!
I enjoyed this episode the most of the 3 which is a good thing, as a show should get better as it proceeds, or so I hear.
It looks like I may be the only person who enjoys the blank slate part of the show.
Still love Victor's chin, and that's still my issue to work through.
And Lasagna girl just continues to warm my heart. She is so freaking adorable. Adorable, I say!
It's sad there are only 3 weeks left of triple threat fridays as I continue to love Terminator and Battlestar Galactica is my favorite show ever. And OT as it is, tonight's BSG may be my favorite episode of the entire show. So good, so, so good.
A tepid A plot (pop diva with no there there), but an A+ on all the surrounding Dollhouse action. And some awfully smart writing (you all provided some examples above) that at least made the faux-Brittany thing bearable. I can see why this episode would be next after last week's. A little fluff to lighten up the proceedings, while we continue to learn very important things about the Actives and Dollhouse execs and staff. Poor Ballard, what he goes through to try achieving his goal (which has lovely reverberations for me): "Save the girl." I don't think Topher's line was quoted (not exact since I didn't write it down): This is my house ... what we have in this room is a genius, and a security guard in a very pretty suit. Oh yes, me likee.
Yeah I've been thinking the exact same Unplugged.

The show is improving every week. I wasn't sure if Lubov/Victor was still going to be an active so definitely smiled at the reveal/confirmation. Loved seeing Sierra so much along with the rest of the cast. its finally starting to feel like an ensemble! :)

I think the freedom song ending scene at the end has me almost hooked on this :P
I really enjoyed the episode too. It's possibly my favorite.

I watched it with a couple dozen people on the tail end of a BSG viewing meetup at a BSG-friendly cafe. Some friends of the owner had come buy and ended up watching Dollhouse along with us. The lady sitting next to me had never seen it before and wasn't even paying attention when it started, but at the conclusion, she was applauding. They were all like, "what is this show called? Is it new?"

Hopefully a good sign. Fingers crossed.

BTW, a sign how far TSCC has declined is that this is a roomfull of serious sci-fi geeks, and TSCC comes between BSG and Dollhouse, yet nobody watches TSCC while it's on. In contrast, when Dollhouse comes on it's dim the lights and turn off cell phones time.

Edit to add: Did anyone else think of Mal when Ballard got all badass after geting shot? I flashed on Out of Gas and the BDM when that happened.

[ edited by AlanD on 2009-02-28 07:45 ]
I'm totally loving 'Dollhouse'! And I've come up with a theory about the cheesy plot points, they are so we will look beyond the standalone nature of the engagements and focus on the story arc about the actives and the Dollhouse itself.
The first episode about the kidnapped little girl who might get abused (and the negotiator who had been) was really about how not all the actives were volunteers, some were kidnapped, and all are abused.
The second episode with the 'Most Dangerous Game' was about how all the actives are being forced to play out the games (many of them dangerous physically, but all could be dangerous emotionally) others set for them.
And tonight with Echo being body guard mirrored Boyd guarding her, as well as everything about prisons and freedom.
I feel that all of this is very playful and interesting and a lot of fun. I'm really loving it.
Normally I would say something philosophical and interesting, but that's not my only mood. Right now, I'm in a happy, "I'm really starting to get into this show"/"This show is really starting to get into me" mood. So...

Re UnpluggedCrazy: Cylons are very strong, yes? Wouldn't boxing them be, like, a terrible idea?
Very true, starting to catch a grasp here. Still trying to wrap my brainpan around Alpha though. Dang, that Joss loves his surprises.
Frankly, from the previews, I was kind of dreading this one. It felt like a transplant from a lesser procedural. And then the premise is completely subverted, when Rayna reveals she freaking welcomes the sweet relief death will bring. Not exactly mainstream procedural, that.

Plus, Eliza can actually sing. My 14-year-old daughter pointed out that it wasn't the most difficult, range-stretching tune... but it was ineffably Eliza's voice. I've since resumed work on the modest shrine in my attic, with photos and candles and one of the bikini tops from "The New Guy." (Kill me now.)

I was concerned the episodes leading up to "Man in the Street" would be mere filler. Stupid mortal, me.
I think this was my favorite episode yet. I actually did like the pop star angle but the fact that she wanted to die was a little bit forced. As the show went on I believed it a little bit more, but I think there still could have been a some more to show just how desperate she was.
There was a lot of inter-Dollhouse interaction that really added to the intrigue.
My favorite parts were "scowly babies" and the "Mama Rose" lines.
I was also pleasantly suprised by Eliza's singing. She doesn't have a *great* voice, but it was solid and worked for the episode. I'm definitely going to have that 'freedom' song in my head all weekend.

Did anyone else think the song that opened the show sounded just like "Womanizer"?
Boxing a cylon is like what they did to PaVayne in Angel season 5.
This episode was really fun. I was worried it was going to be a throwaway, "Look, Eliza can sing!" ep, but I was completely engaged and excited throughout.

I especially loved seeing a few more layers to Adelle's character, and Sierra as the star-struck number one fan was gooey cuteness. I was anticipating that Lubov is Victor/Victor is Lubov from all of the early cast photos, but the way they revealed it caught me by surprise. Very, very nicely done.

I wish they could do something more with Tahmoh. His character, so far, bores me to tears.

But they made up for him this time with that little head shake at the very end.... Oh man, this is getting GOOD! The standalone format for the engagements is ok, but these little nuggets of the developing season arc are what's keeping me interested.

Next Friday can't come soon enough!
Ok people, it's BRITNEY, not Brittany. That's going to drive me insane if it keeps getting misspelled. And actually, I thought Rayna was more a take on Beyonce. Both had that skanky trash thing going on.
I am officially liking each episode a little more than the one preceding it. Hopefully that means by the episode six stride hitting I've heard so much about I will officially love it.

But do you know what I love already? Enver Gjokaj.
I was skeptical, given the ads. Diva pop star episode? Idea didn't thrill. Fortunately much more F'd up than was teased. (All in all, since Dollhouse started this was the best full lineup of Friday scifi. T:SCC, Dollhouse, and BSG all really solid tonight.)
I hope Enver plays a major role in future episodes, I adore him. Here's hoping he becomes a regular in Joss's "people to use" catalog.
I am so confused. I watched the episode thinking the singer Rayna was also a doll. A long-term imprint doll whose handler has the same british accent as the madam of the house. All of the singer's "brewed in a vat" talk, and her feeling trapped reinforced my impression. I guess I'm wrong, but confused.

And I still don't understand why the organization would rent out the dolls. I would think the risks too great, the benefit of having a secret in-house army too tempting.
I was very happy with this episode, I was afraid that it wouldn't be as good as the others, with the premise. But very cool. Sadly I had to wait to watch it (and Terminator and BSG) on DVR since my darn car broke down on the way home. At least I caught them all. Dollhouse as I said was better than I expected, and I really liked the stuff with Paul and Victor, and Sierra as the fan was adorable.

I find it interesting that apparently not only can Topher make people, but store them and their memories. This seems obvious, but its not like Topher keeps on creating Lubov... he picks up from where he was before (other wise he would be a bit confused with Paul). Makes me wonder how Topher gets around the fact that Lubov would have big holes in his memory. Or does he put Lubov on a sort of 'sandbox mode' for back of a better word where he continues to run a normal life, making memories in his computer? I'm probably thinking too into this though.

Terminator wasn't really doing it for me until the end (though I really liked the John and Cameron stuff). The reason why is that I couldn't fathom Sarah, who was in a nut house, would check into any sort of clinic. But the way it turned out made more sense. Really looking forward to next episode, which looks more like a Cameron centric one.
I'm loving it, no issues with anything at all. It's a definite winner in my book, and next week's episode looks intense!
I think the series is coming along nicely. I'm loving my first time watching Joss TV live. It is however hard not being able to just pop the next DVD in the player!
I lol'd at Old Navy.
I was not looking forward to this episode. A plot with a pop star, a bodyguard and a psycho fan? Oh joy, that's kind of my definition of it's-gonna-suck. Plus, novice screenwriters. So, maybe low expectations helped, but I had pretty much the same reaction as most people - it was pretty good. Weak but not terminally horrible central plot, compensated for by lots of juicy side-stuff.

Last week, the only characters who had something the audience could hook into were Boyd and Echo, which was followed up nicely, by the way, with Topher noticing Boyd's new attitude. This week the individuals in Dollhouse management got some meat put on their bones. Dr. Saunders is commencing to interest me. Topher got more colors, as did Adelle. Even Security Guy seems a little less generic. I still consider Paul Ballard a weak link, though I liked his atom bomb speech and his fight. Did he just kill that helpless surviving Russian without a qualm? Yikes. And yay Lasagna Girl for bringing the warmth again.

I don't completely agree with Intelligent Calcium that characters are not interacting. Dr. Saunders talking to Boyd about Echo, for example, is showing more than them talking about someone else - it's building the beginnings of a relationship between them.

There was more of the funny or at least amusing, and from people besides Topher. There were genuine surprises - Victor, the chair bashing, the warning nod to Sierra, Eliza being a good singer. Her duet with crazy pop diva was actually charming, and one of the best bits of the engagement story. I'll stay away from going into that, except to say that it avoided crapitude, barely, which for me, is a minor miracle.

Best acting - Amy Acker, Miracle Laurie and the Trial Master, whatever his name is. Eliza and Lichen were ... servicable. Psycho fan and psycho star were trapped by being generic and never overcame it.

Next week looks good for a lot of reasons, but especially because it may not focus on guest stars much.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-02-28 08:53 ]
Ooh, this is beginning to get interesting! *rubs hands*
The Dollhouse stuff was definitely great. The reveal of Victor. Echo instinctively going off script because her friend was in trouble. Adelle seemed actually proud of Echo there at the end. The head shake was made of awesome. Things are getting intriguing and exciting. It's all moving faster than I was expecting.

Was there something going on between Saunders and Alpha?

Did J-Mo write the songs too?

Do you think Echo and Sierra's connection might be partly due to Echo walking in on Sierra's introductory wipe/imprint? Topher told her she was "a new friend" and they made eye contact. Sierra's still new, so it's interesting that she's already slipping.

[ edited by hacksaway on 2009-02-28 10:48 ]
I thought this was the weakest ep of the three so far. But in the same way that some BtS eps were weak, there was still plenty of good stuff, mainly some great dialog. Also IMO some clunky dialog, so .... unevenness.

Going way back up the thread, because someone else nailed exactly what I wanted to say ....

the main plot of the episode was a little dull and formulaic, but all the peripheral stuff was FREAKIN' AWESOME.
Canonical | February 28, 04:01 CET

Something a number of other comments have reflected, as well.

Someone said that "Boyd owns this show" (I'm still trying to remember the actors names, I avoid all spoilers). I wouldn't go quite that far, but he's definitely my favorite character, along with Topher. Although "favorite" in totally different ways.
Toper still reminds me of a cross between Andrew and Warren, and I mean that as a compliment. Franz (last name?) is just perfect (plus he gets all the best lines).

Love Amy's character too, I hope the show lasts long enough for more character arcs to be revealed and explored, because I have a feeling hers would be one of the most fascinating.

Love Eliza and she knocked it out of the ballpark in the first two eps, but my feeling in this one was that she was struggling not to just phone it in, because of the relatively lightweight subject and the stretching of credibility in the main plot (pop diva has death wish? .... didn't buy it at all). much less, did I care.

I guess I'm in the minority about Sierra. She hasn't had much to do yet, but so far, I agree with whoever said she seems to be the weak link, acting wise. She seemed really wooden in her mind-wiped parts and OTT in the "#1 fan persona.

Too bad about the timing of the Sarah Connor lead-ins, so far. I still love this show, but the first two after the winter break were sub-par. And although I liked tonight's a lot better, it struck me as an ep for those who have closely followed the show and are already deeply invested. Not the greatest lead-in material.
I didn't love the "mission" storyline here but I LOVED the other stuff...everything that happens in the Dollhouse...the head shake, all that. So excited about this show! Next week looks awesome!
I didn't expect to like the pop star basic premise, but the execution was good, and the twist at the end with Echo threatening to actually kill her was very nice. Loved all the little ironies and double meanings, "you weren't grown in a lab", etc. And of course all the tiny little interactions between Echo and Sierra - "Friends help each other out". Was amused that they made Sierra (what was her name? Aura?) Australian. I realized, like others, that I really like Enver Gjokaj, whereas I'd previously been kind of ignoring him as part of the less-interesting investigation.

I'm still not really connecting to Paul and I did see a lot of Faith in Jordan (which won't help with the critics), but I think I'm in love with this show. Dr. Saunders definitely has something going on there. I'm wondering whether Adelle's (speculated) previous connection with Caroline is the reason she's willing to cut Echo some slack now - though you'd think she'd avoid the more dangerous engagements in that case. Maybe she just doesn't want to lose her best active. (Another reference to "the attic". Is that where the previous Sierra went? Incidentally, this weakens the idea that Alpha was the very first active, though of course it doesn't disprove it.)

I think this is my favorite so far but it might just be the cumulative effect of three all working together, so I suppose I'd better rewatch them all a couple times. Just to be sure ;)
Now I haven't seen the epi, but have some food for thought for those of you who are criticizing the plot points, or perhaps more aptly, the missions the dolls are being sent on.

When you think back on 'Firefly', it's not the episode's job or scam that you focus on. In talking about 'Buffy' or 'Angel', it's not the demon-of-the-week that stays with you long after the episode is over.

It's the slow leak of puzzle pieces, what we learn about the characters through their interactions, and their relationships with each other that really matter.

Joss has proven to be master at building these up, long term. So my judgment will indeed be retained for the long term. Which, being antipodean and anxiously awaiting the show to even START here, will be very long term indeed!
Both had that skanky trash thing going on.


If people weren't allowed to call folks idiots further up, what makes you think that calling people skanky trash was going to fly? Consider this a warning.
Oh my god, that episode was incredible. The dialogue crackled and made me laugh numerous times, the camerawork was beautiful, the mystery was really nicely and subtley handled (unlike 'The Target' IMO) and Dichen was really cute as the fan (as someone who has criticised her acting in Neighbours, I'm now very happy to eat my words). The Paul Ballard and Liubov stuff got interesting, and their scenes (which I think were taken from 'Echo'?) had a real intensity and beauty to them (especially that fight scene, and the balcony scene). I'm looking forward to reading all your comments when I get a chance, but I just loved this episode.
Show keeps getting better and better... And funnier too. :D I think I laughed five times as much as I did during "Ghost". ;)

Shey said:
she seems to be the weak link, acting wise. She seemed really wooden in her mind-wiped parts and OTT in the #1 fan persona.

Um, maybe she's supposed to be? But then, maybe that's how Dichen Lachman is whenever she acts in anything... I've only got Dollhouse and Neighbours to reference. Hopefully soon I understand why she was cast in this. ;) Other than that, I enjoyed her silly part in the episode.
I liked the first two episodes. This one... not quite as much. The engagement kept reminding me of "The Bodyguard". It was nice to hear Eliza's singing voice though. What I do love is the backstory. I can't wait to see more of it! And the promo for next week looked very interesting!
I concur with many of those above. The engagement really detracted from the episode. Unlike last week, which had far more or the story arc and history of Echo/Boyd, this ep had just too much of the engagement. About the only thing I noticed within the engagement of importance to the story arc, was that Echo was programmed so deep to protect the diva that even when she was fired, it was strong enough for her to go back when reminded.

I liked how Topher seems to get more and more arrogant, and Claire seems more and more frightened of people, and oddly, she doesn't seem to agree with what goes on, but stays in the job anyway.

I'm still expecting Miracle to end up as a Doll, but not be revealed for a while.

Loved the last exchange between Echo and Sierra. Would seem Echo is not the only one functioning outside of parameters.
No one has mentioned yet what might be my favourite line: 'You're in my house. Out of the two people in this room one is a genius. The other is a security guard in a very nice suit'. Hell yes

Is anyone else thinking the writers are setting up a future love interest between Boyd and Dr Saunders? (I just loved 'you can call me by my first name' being undercut by 'why would I want to?')
Oh and I went to the ballet last night, and Petrouchka reminded me a little bit of DH. Someone in charge, pulling the strings, telling you what to do or be. I wonder if Joss has seen it.
No one has mentioned yet what might be my favourite line: 'You're in my house. Out of the two people in this room one is a genius. The other is a security guard in a very nice suit'. Hell yes
Let Down | February 28, 13:50 CET


Really, no one else mentioned this? I didn't realize that, or I'd have mentioned it myself. ;)
And I hope you're right about Boyd and Dr. Saunders, I was wondering about that as well.
I found this to be the worst episode of any Whedon show yet... and I didn't mind the second episode.
Would you care to elaborate on what worked and didn't work for you in this ep (maybe the others if you feel like it since you haven't posted about the show before)?
I thought this was pretty dreadful. Much of it had my wife and I rolling our eyes. 2 minutes thought about the set-up would demonstrate how thin it really is. No one at the DH is good, not those in the leadership roles, so why should we care about them at all? Echo's warning at the end, and Sierra's seeming acknowledgment indicate that both of them have some increasing awareness. Topher kills the story whenever he shows up, and I would consider this worst casting decision is any of Joss's shows. Now, I know I will be in the big minority here, but this was the deal breaker. I was engaged by TSCC before this, but just sat there in sad astonishment when this was on.

And has anyone noted how much flesh gets shown in this show? Is part of the lead-in an attempt to get young men to tune in as a result? That is not Jossian, at all. If the feminist conceit here is that Echo manages to be become self-aware and gain control over her own life, well, that's obvious. And she is gaining control over, uh, another woman who runs the center and is amoral. And then why the hell would she have needed to do this in the context of signing a contract with the DH? Why not grab control of her life when it really was her life, before she signed herself away? None of this really hangs together right if you give it some thought.
No one at the DH is good, not those in the leadership roles, so why should we care about them at all? Topher kills the story whenever he shows up, and I would consider this worst casting decision is any of Joss's shows.


Obviously, I'm going to have to disagree that no one at the DH is "good". There have already been signs of both "good" and "bad" folks, and even that mix of both within each person that we always enjoy 'round these parts. Its interesting to me that its mostly men complaining that "this is not feminist". And, really does everything have to be explicitly feminist? Can't the show be feminist by working the radical theory that Eliza is a person and that her journey of realization transcends the need to explicitly jump out and shout "girl power" like Daisy at an interview (Spaced reference! I win!)?

And then why the hell would she have needed to do this in the context of signing a contract with the DH? Why not grab control of her life when it really was her life, before she signed herself away? None of this really hangs together right if you give it some thought.


This will all hang together way better when you've seen the entire first season, I am sure. I also don't think that not knowing why is the same thing as it not being workable and/or realistic. If she had a way to get control of her life before then we a) wouldn't have a show and b) why doesn't everyone who is out of a job just GET one and why don't starving people just EAT something? Why don't gamblers just stop gambling and alcoholics just stop drinking? Apparently by the third episode, a show should give you all of the answers while making you dinner :) Tell it to the folks on Lost/X-Files/Heroes/etc. <-- see also, joking. Maybe its just not your cup of tea?

ETA - I felt this weeks story was a bit rushed to fit into an hour and suffered from that tonally. There was a LOT going on!
Dana5140:
Topher kills the story whenever he shows up, and I would consider this worst casting decision is any of Joss's shows.


I couldn't disagree more there. Fran Kranz is amazing as Topher. The Topher character is fairly ugly, I'd agree, but it's wonderfully acted.

I agree with your point about the amount of flesh being shown... but then trying to second-guess what the conceit is at this stage is a little premature (we don't even know if there was a contract yet, amongst other things).

---

Personally, as far as this episode goes, it wasn't until half way through that I actually felt connected to it. This week's story didn't do much for me, but there were moments (Amy Acker's scenes, for example, and the Victor reveal) that were really intriguing. The head-shake at the very end was very strange. It seemed like they both knew far more than we thought, as if they were just pretending to be in the doll state. At the very least, it seemed like they were a lot more self-aware in that state than we'd been lead to believe before. But it was such a brief moment that it'd be easy to read far too much into it; it could just be the way the scene was played was not as the writers intended, or something like that.

I also loved Sierra's Australian accent (I appreciate it's authentic, but it was just nice that the director didn't ask her to play it up, like I'm sure Olivia Williams has to with her English accent).

Bad points: I wasn't sold when Echo got the job at the audition and she was all "squee! OMG!" I also thought Sierra's handler was a little flat. A hint of some backstory would've been nice there. The meta-conversation where the singer said, to Echo, "you don't know what it's like to be made in a factory" -- that seemed a little heavy handed there, even if it did get the point across.

[ edited by MattK on 2009-02-28 15:09 ]
Would you care to elaborate on what worked and didn't work for you in this ep (maybe the others if you feel like it since you haven't posted about the show before)?


What worked:

+ I liked the interaction between Dr. Saunders and Boyd.

+ I also liked the final confrontation with Echo working outside the box to solve the problem.

What didn't work:

- The opening of the episode with the live stage performance and girl on fire was really over the top and just annoyed me. Oh and not to mention the music really sucked.

- The whole cheesy 'pop star that wants to die scenario' was just stupid.

- The actress that played Reyna was really grating. Maybe it wasn't completely her fault as the character was written to be a shallow, vapid girl (since when does Joss write such weak female characters :) )

- The fight scene with FBI Guy.. I can't even remember the guys name! Mainly as he hasn't done anything remarkable in three episodes, but yeah the fight was just total crap. Does this guy have superpowers that we don't know about?

- I don't care about the FBI Guy... so why should I care about his stalker next door neighbour. Get her off my TV screen.

- Sierra's actress does nothing for me either. Not great casting there.

[ edited by TwisTz on 2009-02-28 15:15 ]
TwisTz, I tend to agree about Ballards character... so far. He's been a bit of a waste of screen time, because until Victor was revealed, he just seemed to be annoying. I think he needs a more personal reason to find the DH. I'm sure it will be forthcoming. Joss rarely does anything without a reason. But he feels very detached from the storyline, especially before the Victor reveal.
Some of those criticisms are pretty bizarre, TwisTz. The music sucked? It was supposed to be a pop group and Jed did a great job of imitating that sort of music; it sounds like something that could easily be a top 40 song. I don't like that sort of music either but so what? We're not supposed to. Did you hate it when the odd awful band played at The Bronze?
TwistTz:
so why should I care about his stalker next door neighbour. Get her off my TV screen.


Luckily for the rest of us, the show isn't made just for you.
Well, maybe we can find a way to get her off TwisTz's TV screen but leave her on ours
Did you hate it when the odd awful band played at The Bronze?


Not really because the music wasn't featured throughout the entire episode.

I don't really understand how it is a "bizarre criticism", others above have mentioned cringing during the opening scene. Did we need to see as much bad singing and on stage stuff as we did in the episode? No.

Luckily for the rest of us, the show isn't made just for you.


Well, maybe we can find a way to get her off TwisTz's TV screen but leave her on ours


Whoa. Jeez. I'm asked for an opinion and I get canned for it. Calm down guys.

[ edited by TwisTz on 2009-02-28 15:22 ]
Ok, can I kind of OT fangirl for a moment? The girl who played Rayna plays Mimi in the National tour of RENT (i'm a RENThead, i admit it) I was wondering why: a)she looked so familiar and b)why the performance reminded me of Out Tonight from RENT (the movie version of the performance and to a lesser extent the stage version) good I found that out early enough after seeing this before it drove me crazy.

Ok, back to your guys regularly scheduled, dissecting of ep ;)
If we can just avoid words like sucked and idiots and skanky trash, it will be far easier to discuss this without people getting upset with one another. I thought the singing was well done and did what it was meant to. Is it the type of stuff I listen to normally? No, but that doesn't mean it automatically isn't any good.
I thought it was a neat ep, loved the Paul/Victor/Mellie stuff and the Boyd/Topher/Saunders stuff, and I felt that the A-plot was perfectly servicable too. I love the feeling of being drawn deeper into this world - what could the Attic possibly be? All I know is that it scares me. Next week looks great too, I'm loving this show.

(Also, I seem to remember that episode three of Buffy featured a girl on fire in the teaser as well. Poor old Amber Grove.)
Have to be honest, wasn't digging this ep ... but still love the show and still gonna watch ... wanna get more into the Alpha storyline
TwistTz is entitled to her/his opinion. I wasn't a fan of the music, either.

To me, these opening episodes work, but they are messy. The different plot points don't connect yet. I know that's the point, but it's difficult to connect as an audience member to Paul and Mellie when you don't yet understand why they're doing what they're doing. I really enjoy the stuff inside the Dollhouse and the mythology aspects, but the missions, on the whole, don't work for me.
I enjoyed Sierra's character and saw it as a nice change from what little we have seen of her before. I hadn't considered before that Echo and Sierra first seeing each other in Toper's "house" might make for a strong bond but I could see it might be so. I have to now go back and watch it again for hints that they are both more aware of each other than they should be.
I found it intriguing that Sierra wiped still knew and reacted immediately to the head shake where I might have expected her to be puzzled by it.
I wasn't attacking you TwisTz, just joking around. You're welcome to your opinion even if I do think it's bizarre :)

I do agree with many of the criticisms of the A plot. I didn't hate it but I could have done without the unsubtle parallels between the singer and Echo. But when it felt it starting to drag there was always something that jolted the thing back to life. When Reed Diamond's character barged in and slammed Topher against a wall and we got all that great dialogue. When Liubov turned out to be an active etc.
Was a bit disappointed with this episode. The main storyline was just a little too preposterous for me (and I like preposterous).
Found myself reaching for the remote to fast-forward through the whole Sierra as a hostage section (but I didn't to be a fair reviewer). The other parts of the episode (FBI, Dollhouse, etc) were more interesting to me.
it's difficult to connect as an audience member to Paul and Mellie when you don't yet understand why they're doing what they're doing

I agreed with that sentiment up until seeing this episode, gossi. After seeing 'The Target' I was resigned to having Paul Ballard and Liubov being introduced to the viewers in a different way each week; I didn't expect any advancement in their stories until episode 6 at least. But to me this episode was when they started feeling like a part of the show with a reason for being there. The scene where they discuss the Dollhouse on the balcony was great - I liked Ballard's little speech about splitting the atom and I think Liubov saying he sees the appeal of being a doll cut right to the heart of one of the best questions the show raises. Paul's fight scene was really well staged and filmed. And the reveal of Liubov as a doll worked for me.

I think most of all this episode has made me start to get attached to the characters. It's all in the little moments rather than the main plot:

- Saunders not using Boyd's first name but then accidentally using it when he's not around
- Adelle taking a genuine interest in what Echo was going to do
- Boyd protectively talking about how Echo can sing
- Topher dressing whatshisname down

Those are just a few of many and I can now really see myself loving this show
Who is Lasagna Girl? Is she a doll?
They keep her in very Bohemian wardrobe...
I quite liked this episode. I loved the Boyd/Saunders interaction - I love Amy Acker as Dr Saunders. Echo and Sierra's increasing self-awareness at the end was interesting, as was the revealing of Lubov as a Doll.

But I wasn't too keen on the pop-diva-has-a-death-wish storyline either.
The meta-conversation where the singer said, to Echo, "you don't know what it's like to be made in a factory" -- that seemed a little heavy handed there, even if it did get the point across.
I was thinking that too; they could have done that more subtly.

I also agree that Ballard's scenes seem too detatched from the main storyline - we need to see a stronger, more personal link to the Dollhouse for him. Still loving Topher too, although we saw a lot less of him due to the amount of engagement scenes. However, I thought the way Echo handled the mission was really good. I still want to see a lot more interaction betweeen the main characters though.
Who is Lasagna Girl? Is she a doll?
They keep her in very Bohemian wardrobe...


Well, we know that she's sweet and motherly and we always see her either baking or making coffee while barefoot.

Yeah, definitely not my fave character so far.

She is stunningly pretty though.
Sierra's still new, so it's interesting that she's already slipping.

I'm not convinced she is. She smiled at Echo at the end, but I think that's just because the blank dolls are friendly to each other and/or she remembers Echo from before the engagement (the treadmill scene).
Did anyone else think the song that opened the show sounded just like "Womanizer"?

mle, that was my immediate reaction. "Shaved head and showing your junk" kinda sealed it. :) And am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the Freedom song.

After re-watching, I decided the pop star thing felt fake not because of the actors, but because her "shows" looked so fake. Chalking that off to budgets, and moving on.

Nice twists I didn't quite see coming. Still mostly unspoiled here, so the Victor reveal was great. Rayna welcoming death didn't surprise me, but Echo's knocking her down with a chair caught me by surprise. And of course, the little bits that all show us she never forgets that Sierra's her friend.

I love Sierra, and I agree with the sentiment I've seen above and in other threads. I think in terms of acting ability, she might just upstage ED. I'm fine with ED's acting. Sierra's (can't remember the actor's name at the moment) roles just seem natural for her. Think about assault-rifle rescue team Sierra vs. Audra. Girl's got some range, no doubt about it. And she's established a believable "blank slate" if that's possible.

LOVE Boyd and Topher and Saunders. Love, love, love.

Kinda loved the Simon Cowell (sp?) guy just because he was so Simon. Disclaimer: I like Simon because I haven't seen AI in years.

I'm not bothered by the clunky weekly filler. It's the same as early Buffy and Angel monster-of-the week stuff. Over time, most of the weekly stuff got better anyway, and after the first seasons, it was all about the arc and not the weekly stuff. It's necessary if a major goal is to attract new viewers.

Some of the criticism I've seen is fair, but some is a little harsh. Re-watch the first few episodes of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly and then you'll think Dollhouse is doing well after three episodes.

Loving the character development. The criticism about the characters not interacting enough are valid, yet they are nonetheless developing. We're only three episodes in... I expect some unexpected events just as soon as they interact a little more. Now that the Dollhouse's role has been firmly established, we'll get so much more of that.
Funny, I was just reminded of season five of Buffy with the appearance of Glory. I seem to remember it taking halfway through the season before we learned who/what she was. So if things aren't moving fast enough on Dollhouse, how did we ever manage to wait so long for the revelation of Glory?
When getting roughed up, Topher has a line something like, "First of all -- OW!" That felt like Joss dialog to me, and I smiled.
Yeah, I can easily imagine Xander saying that
I feel like the dialogue since the pilot (that is, since after the pilot) has been almost 100% Jossy. Topher in particular. Scowly babies, deep deep man love, etc.

And I like when Topher gets defensive. I adore his character. My only complaint with this episode is I wanted more Boyd. Because I always want more Boyd.

Oh, also, Saunders deserves to be in the opening credits.
zeitgeist

Um, because I'm talking about Beyonce. I didn't realize there was a "Beyonce protection" plan at Whedonesque!
Funny, I was just reminded of season five of Buffy with the appearance of Glory. I seem to remember it taking halfway through the season before we learned who/what she was. So if things aren't moving fast enough on Dollhouse, how did we ever manage to wait so long for the revelation of Glory?
CMarlowe | February 28, 16:11 CET


I was thinking the same thing! Not knowing who she was must have had people going crazy. Also not knowing what was going on with Dawn for the first couple of episodes. We have just been so spoiled by DVDs that we forgot how to enjoy a show live!
I was utterly exhausted when I watched this episode - like, mind-blowingly tired - so I'm not sure how incisive my thoughts are about it. Still. I loved the Dollhouse stuff. Echo's nod at the end really threw me. It looked like a warning nod, like it was several steps beyond just a nod or look of vague "hey, do I know you from somewhere outside this place?" recognition. Weird and intriguing.

As for the singer and her death wish, it was okay, I guess. The reveal that it was all her own thing felt a little 1980s TV cheesy to me, but it's all a genre mashup anyway, isn't it?

The security guy at the Dollhouse isn't really working for me. I can't put my finger on it. Loved the Victor reveal.

Overall, though, I'm struck by the fact that we're only three episodes in. Only three episodes! Of course we don't know everything yet. This is not CSI. He's building a tangled web, not wrapping up stuff with each episode with just the smallest amount of character development over a season. Were so many people this disgruntled during the Buffy/Angel/Firefly run? Glory must have done a lot of people completely in. Her character and about a million and a half other ones, plus various and sundry plot developments. Obviously, people can and should approach Dollhouse with a critical eye and there are things to criticize, like with any show. But...I feel less "hey, let's let this sucker develop, that's what arc-driven TV shows are all about" than I'd like.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-02-28 16:37 ]
Sorry I'm a little late to the party.

Sorry, I'm challenged at quoting and this was said near the top of the thread. "And Amy should be in the opening credits, I say!"

I smell a Tara!

Also, does Topher remind anyone else of Warren? I think it's the laugh...
Indeed. If they put Amy in the credits now, it will be her kiss of death. Wait until the beginning of season two for her to be a main titles. Much safer.

And, yes, Topher does remind me of Warren.
My wife said "he reminds me of Warren" last night, yes, and I had to agree.
I tend to agree with the majority of you here... I found myself daydreaming off into a world of only shrimp when the show focused on the poor little rich singer who wants to die storyline... however EVERYTHING else about the episode was brilliant... I loved the Boyd/Claire interaction and then the Topher's reaction to hearing Claire calling Boyd by his first name... That's quality Joss right there!

A couple of good one-liners from Eliza, but I didn't like her imprint in this one (very Tru Calling). I thought Sierra was quite sweet in this epi, but wasn't exactly stretched.

I am just so desperate to see more of Echo and Sierra interacting whilst in the dollhouse! Loved the bit at the end... though I don't think I fully understand it... Are they aware that they shouldn't talk? Do they talk whenever they are not being watched? So many questions!

Looking forward to next week!
My wife said "he reminds me of Warren" last night, yes, and I had to agree.

phlebotinin: Were so many people this disgruntled during the Buffy/Angel/Firefly run? Glory must have done a lot of people completely in. Her character and about a million and a half other ones, plus various and sundry plot developments.

Yes, but.

The other shows are immediately gripping, even without any notion of the amazing developments to come. The Glory arc works to a great extent because it's the FIFTH season of Buffy, and seasoned Buffy watchers know to be patient, to savor the unveiling of things. Season 1, while uneven, was wonderfully expositive even while telling wonderfully integrated standalone episodes. I'm enjoying Dollhouse, but don't sense that nearly seamless integration of plot and character development that we've become accustomed to.

Oh, we'll watch (actually, we got DVR at long last expressly to tape the whole season, touch wood.) But the immediate connection that I've seen so many people feel with Buffy et. al. isn't quite there, not yet at least.
Does anybody actually know what the security guys name is? Me and my friend just call him Reed.

I still think the show is (deliberately) very different to Buffy, Angel and Firefly. It's not about found family, which those shows were. This is about not knowing who your family is.
ShanshuBugaboo, I'm hoping that Lasagna Girl managed to put on shoes when tried to visit Paul in the hospital (effectively barred by police protection). I'm loving not knowing who (or what) Lasagna Girl is, but she certainly had no residual knowledge of Victor (who managed to be kind of creepy/threatening in that scene - very cool).

I have a lot of friends who are not loving any of these characters, to the point where I feel that I'm watching a different show! I fell totally in love with Boyd last week, and I'm finding Tophe,r and Amy Acker's character, more and more interesting/compelling. Really all of the characters are working for me, even our security guard in a nice suit who keeps threatening Echo with that attic.
Riker - we don't call anyone names. There is an "everyone" protection plan here, we are equal opportunity.
ChrisiV, I, too, found the other shows immediately gripping - although a lot of people at whedonesque have posted at various points that they did not. So I'm with you on that. Dollhouse hasn't gripped me in quite the same way. But I still don't quite get some of the criticism I've been reading about not enough explanation happening. This is, as sodding nancy put it somewhere above, a bit of a mystery show. Mystery and intrigue and "what the hell?" are built into the thing.

To tell the truth, what I miss the most so far is that feeling of "found family" you get instantly in Buffy/Angel/Firefly. That cozy, almost instant, it's us against the crazy world feeling. But for a show about uncertain, shifting identities, I kind of don't mind. Ooh, gossi just posted what I was about to add with another sentence. Yes.

And Topher reminds me of Warren, too. With a lighter comedic touch. There's some caring in him, also. He seemed genuinely upset when Boyd was in obvious peril during the last episode.
When are the overnight ratings coming out? (*Bites fingernails*)
Yes, gossi, his name would be Laurence Dominic.
Really, no one else mentioned this?

I quoted the Topher to Dominic lines as best I could from memory upstream. ETA: Must be that cloak of invisibility I wield.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-02-28 17:13 ]
Reed is a better name, I'm sticking with that. Lasagne Girl is called Mellie by the way.

Ratings due in 20 minutes.
To me, the a-plot was uninteresting and not well done. Mostly it just dragged on and on and I really don't care about pop divas with death wishes - whatever.

I liked the Dollhouse-stuff around that a lot though. Topher is just great. Well written and played.
We need to have some background on Mellie soon, otherwise she will just be a girl with a crush on a guy.

But guys, the show is coming together. If these are the less good episodes, the "good" ones will rock so hard!
Sending someone to the Attic makes me think of boxing a Cylon.

Yes. Dominic's creeping me out big time.
Reed is a better name, I'm sticking with that.

I'm thinking of calling him Frosty for his warm demeanor. It was fun watching Topher get annoyed with him and his main ammo to be "I'm a genius! You're just a security guard in a nice suit!"
I'm wondering if what's happening to Ballard is a test. Whether he's being considered for working at the Dollhouse.

Or is he just the McGee to Dollhouse's Hulk?
I just realized that just like the third episode of Buffy, this opened with a dancer catching on fire. Intentional?

Also, both feature a powerful woman with bad intentions, who just turns out to be raving loonies. The more I think about it, the more it feels like when they suddenly had to do "engagement of the week" plots, they just looked at early buffy episodes and lifted the beats...
7 years of monster / teenage issue of the week tends to use just about anything out there.
When getting roughed up, Topher has a line something like, "First of all -- OW!" That felt like Joss dialog to me, and I smiled.


Yeah, I can easily imagine Xander saying that


I hope we can ALL easily imagine Xander saying that, since he did say almost exactly that (in "The Yoko Factor," I believe, when Anya slugged him after Spike started in on the whole "Xander's joining the army" angle). Perhaps a little shout-out to the lifers in the crowd from J-Mo.

I liked this episode, what with the whole "Echo has her own motivations" turn (plus, whacking diva twerp with folding chair). I (apparently unlike many) did not spot Rayna's death wish before it was revealed, I suppose because usually your ditzy pop diva is more impulsive than existentialist, and therefore would probably take a lot of pills rather than engage in months of correspondence with Cap'n Looney Tunes.

And did anyone else get a cheesed-off-Buffy vibe from Echo/Jordan's "you want to kill her, she wants to die--everybody wins!" riff? Starting to feel Jossy, indeed.

And, FWIW, I think Sierra's job on this one was not to get kidnapped; the handlers rolled with it but I rather suspect "extreme circumstances" does not mean damsel-in-double-distress Sierra, but rather grab-handy-firearm-and-wipe-out-room Sierra. I think "Ghost" showed that the DH guys (Adelle et al., not Joss et al.) are not inclined towards subtlety in dire straits, and by making Sierra's first imprint the Terminator, they tip off that that's going to be her main angle when things hit the fan.
phlebotinin: To tell the truth, what I miss the most so far is that feeling of "found family" you get instantly in Buffy/Angel/Firefly. That cozy, almost instant, it's us against the crazy world feeling.

I have heard much the same from many people. Almost verbatim, in fact.

Still looking for it, or something different that could be just as compelling.
It's a human trafficking operation. You're going to get some relationships, like Echo and Boyd, Echo and Sierra, but I really doubt there's going to be a found family of any kind. It's not that kind of show. I do find these developing relationships compelling though.
I don't like the engagements-of-the-week. But then again, I didn't like them on Buffy or Angel, or any other TV show I watch, so again, it's actually a problem of me-the-viewer disliking a basic structural element of television. (I was whined and nagged for years into watching Buffy, and refused to until after I saw Firefly/Serenity and fell in love; I like B/A in spite of the MotW element.)

I think honestly my problem is that I've tasted the milk before buying the cow. Because I've read/heard so many interviews about Dollhouse and where it's roughly going, I don't want to have these introducing-the-concept episodes; I want to jump right into the mythology.

Though I was pleased at something: I just realized that the word "treatment" is a trigger for the Actives; when they hear the word, they stop the persona's goals and prepare to go back to the Dollhouse. Good thinking.
Oh boy, I can't wait for the moment they drop these imprint-of-the-week episodes and start steaming on the actual plot. The pop-star thing was just boring and bland, but the few glimpses of the real arc were gripping. 1/3 good of-the-week so far. Lets hope they get better, as I suppose there will always be some elements of them looming around.

Anyway, show is clearly starting to move. I can't wait for the next episode, which is always a good sign.
I think my main problem with Dollhouse is that, by the way it works, about 75% of the story is focused on things that aren't advancing the main story I want to follow. I like looking at Eliza Dushku, of course, but dealing with the pop star's issues isn't expanding the story of the Dollhouse itself, and that's what I want to learn about. I'm enjoying the show, of course, and I'll still watch it, but it is a bit frustrating sometimes.

Also, I'm expanding my crazy conspiracy theory about the story, too: Makes a bizarre sort of sense, no?

[ edited by kishi on 2009-02-28 19:23 ]
Haven't read the thread yet, but thought I'd add one observation that on a quick search doesn't seem to have been made. We've got another implicit Shakespeare ref. in this ep. Echo's way of "curing" Rayna of her desire for suicide is clearly an allusion to Edgar and Gloucester in King Lear (the fake suicide leap). Interesting, because Edgar, of course, like Echo, has taken on an assumed identity (Poor Tom) when he leads his father to the top of the "cliff."

"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport." Could be something of a motto for Dollhouse no?
Another connection that doesn't seem to have been brought up yet is the Angel episode "Eternity" (the one with the actress who is losing her first blush of youth and whose manager is arranging fake deranged-fan attacks on her to try to generate publicity).

I mention this because those of you saying "why do there have to be these 'stories of the week' when they should be getting on with the big arcs" seem to have forgotten what a big part "stories of the week" used to play in Buffy, Angel and Firefly. So far, Dollhouse is actually paying more attention to the longer arcs than the first three eps of any previous Whedon show.

Another observation: it looks as if (as I suspected) they're simply not going to bother trying to make the Active's engagements plausible (that is, there's no reason at all for the manager guy to pay some absurd amount of money for one extra security person just because he can get her on stage with Rayna). But I can live with that: it never made a lick of sense that someone would hire a spaceship just to move some cattle around, either.
So far, Dollhouse is actually paying more attention to the longer arcs than the first three eps of any previous Whedon show.

Yes, thank you.
First off, I enjoyed this episode, more than I thought I would. It was a nice reprieve from some of the darker undertones (rape/human trafficking) of the first 2 eps and the show's central concept as a whole. It's good to take a moment to breathe before diving back into these really challenging themes, which Joss does so well.

I think it's interesting that so many people are impatient with the long-term pacing of these first three episodes, especially when comparisons to the first seasons of Buffy and Angel and eps of Firefly come up. Almost the entire first season of Buffy are episodic, and it takes a while for the stuff with the Master to really come up.

I think we're looking at a different television landscape then when Buffy or Angel was coming out. Joss has been a kind of game-changer. The kind of long-term arc storytelling Joss perfected on his previous shows has shifted the way television viewers approach a show - they expect continuity and arc development from the very start, and forget that it took a while for Buffy and Angel to hit their stride. I think our patience and attention levels as viewers have decreased, and we expect more right away instead of letting it develop naturally.

I don't think this is necessarily a good or bad thing, but it shows what an influence Joss's earlier work has had on the television industry and audience, and I think it's pertinent to keep bringing up how it took more than three episodes of any of his previous shows to build up a solid arc.
it looks as if (as I suspected) they're simply not going to bother trying to make the Active's engagements plausible (that is, there's no reason at all for the manager guy to pay some absurd amount of money for one extra security person just because he can get her on stage with Rayna)


I've actually been impressed that they DID work pretty hard at making the Dollhouse the service of last resort. Manager guy wasn't looking for a security guard--he had a lot of security guards, but increasing the number of burly security guards meant little, as none of them could be in close proximity to his unbalanced diva without her freaking out. The idea was to have someone dedicated to protecting Rayna beyond price, whom Rayna would trust, and who could be on stage during shows without Rayna even knowing what was going on. That person, if he/she exists, is very hard to find on a short schedule--and with anything else, manager guy is taking on what is, for him, unacceptable risk. So... Dollhouse. Same for crazy hunter guy, who's been looking for a worthy adversary who's also hot, and for gangsters-have-my-daughter guy (less plausibly for him) who wants a ZERO risk negotiator (and would've had it if not for that freak incident with Miss Penn's profile).

This was always going to be a tricky angle (so of course they had Ballard address it in the pilot) but I think they've done well so far. The show's far from perfect, of course, but they haven't skimped on commitment to internal consistency.
This was a good episode, has anyone seen any Dollhouse/Bioshock comparisons out there? I'd be quite interested to read them.
...went into this episode consciously thinking much along the lines of those who commented above about lacking that invented family feeling of Whedon shows. Oddly, this was the ep. that started to flip it for me. Part of this may have had to do with the fact that the "A" story happens in a much more insular world (All those backstage spaces and dressing rooms almost seemed lit like Buffy interiors) that lent a certain intimacy quite aside from any plot points going on. But also the fact that we are now being encouraged to look at the dolls for traces of the significance of their interactions when not active. I am not sure if Sierra was meant to be remembering at the end, or if it was only that Echo, beginning to catch on to things, realized it wouldn't be good for Sierra to get associated with her, even if Sierra didn't remember anything other than their treadmill encounter...

...By the way, for those who really hated the "I'm so gifted, I want to die...maybe I can convince someone to light me on fire while I dance" plot, for what it's worth, the plot it reminded me of was less the 3rd ep of SEason 1 Buffy and more "Once More With Feeling," which, as I recall, involved a young woman given great gifts who thought maybe dancing until she burned up was a good way to go. Obviously, that one had fiva and a half years of character history behind it for we, the viewers, but otherwise, not too different for the character at the center of it all...
I bought the idea of a diva who wanted to die when she was still on top and be remembered forever. Besides, the fanguy was pushing her to do it.

Then I looked at the newspaper today and it was even more plausible.

Encouraged to suicide
I don't really mind the IOTW-Concept with the What's-going-on-with-the-dollhouse-storyarc developing over the season in the background. That's what I liked about Buffy and Angel and lots of other great shows. Seeing Willow again as vampire in doppelgangerland didn't do much for the Season 3-Storyarc, but was entertaining as hell. So, who could mind an episode like that.? But if, on the other hand, the IOTW is boring, it's just a waste of screentime.
Anyway, there is going to be better IOTW and as some people have alreade pointed out - we have already gotten tons of Dollhouse-storyarc so far.
I'm still sadly not impressed with the series thus far but of course I'm still on board until the end of the thirteen-ep-run. This episode I supposed was a slight improvement over last week's but there is still something inherently-missing for me to truly become engaged and fully-committed. Wish I could identify what that missing link is for me...

On a side note, the thought I had the most during the episode: why don't they install some kind of GPS or tracking device inside the Actives so instead of searching around for them when they get into trouble they could just go right to them? It would certainly be a less risky and more cost-effective method for out in the field and -- well -- all-too-logical, no?

[ edited by J Linc on 2009-03-01 02:20 ]
OMG SO AMAZING. Hands down favorite episode of the season. The parts where Echo revealed her memory still partially intact was incredible! I loved the freedom song. Oh and the manager was definitely the butler from the arena. Good call on that. I'm a southie... WOW. If FOX doesn't give dollhouse a second season I will become their "Number one fan".

Gotta find the freedom, that's promised me. Freedom from my troubles and my misery.
Did he just kill that helpless surviving Russian without a qualm? Yikes.


I don't think that Paul Ballard's parting shot at the final Borudine killed its recipient.

That having been said, it quite possibly killed his face. Ouch.
Hmph. I don't know if it's the writing or the acting by Jaime Lee Kirchner but I didn't believe a bit of that "Oh, God, I wanna die so I can be free!" piffle. I'm thinking more the writing because there were a number of scenes that felt really clunky to me. That makes me sad because Jed and Maurissa wrote it -- but hopeful because they're newish to this game and they will get better.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the rest of the episode and love how the series arc is revealing itself.
I bought the idea that she felt trapped and wanted to die. I could also buy the part where she's corresponding with the crazy fan and wants him to kill her, shares responsibility for other people in her show getting seriously hurt, or does a 180 at the end because things got too real... but not all of the above.
My favorite line of the episode:

Topher (to Dr. Saunders): You guys should get married and have scowly babies.
On a more meta note, I'm still very curious/perhaps confused about how exactly Echo is breaking out of her shackles, so to speak, when her memories are supposedly erased. But I suppose that's to be revealed/developed over time.
Finally saw the ep and could thus read this long thread. Unlike a lot of people, I like the weekly engagements, partly because they're showing us glimpses of Echo--the things Boyd was saying at the end--she can think on her feet, find novel solutions for problems, and now we know she's loyal and protective of her friends. And I liked the Buffyesque-ness of her saving her friend while at the same time solving the diva's problem by teaching her that she didn't want to die.

But I did find the diva story a bit weak, and I think Sunfire has explained the main reason. Couldn't buy all that character development in five minutes from her. I think it would've worked better if her death wish was something that became apparent to her/us near that final attempt on her life instead of being a long-term plot she'd cooked up with her crazy fan.

I also agree with zeitgeist's comment way up there somewhere that they fit so many things into this episode that the pacing was kind of awkward.

But I'm completely intrigued by this show, and it really doesn't feel like any other show to me--feels like something new.
And I really liked the funny in this episode.
Didn't have time to watch it till this morning. After the first six minutes I thought to myself 'this is like watching an episode of Angel'. Me likee.
Liked it though as others have said the engagement of the week was the weakest part.

Really think that the show is suffering from excessive expectations syndrome, this episode wasnít the best thing since sliced bread but it wasnít as bad as some critics have described it either.

The positive: A few surprises starts to pop up, always a good thing, Victor confirmed as an active was a good thing.
Some nice dialogue in the Dollhouse is starting to give a feel for these characters, Topher really believes he is a genius and irreplaceable, Boyd and Saunders connecting makes sense.
Yay for Dominic the Security guy making the sensible suggestion, Ė Lets send Echo to the Attic/box her and eliminate the potential problem before it gets out of hand. Now the writers will have to give Adelle some reason apart from stupidity for not doing it.
Eliza gets to hit someone with a chair, always a good thing.
The headshake at the end spoke volumes, when the blank actives are no longer blank where do we go from here ?

The Negative : The engagement did make me think of ĎThe Bodyguardí and not in a good way even if the writers did twist the concept around somewhat.
I did not understand what Sierra was imprinted to do in this engagement, was she really supposed to just be a bystander or what ? Having her there to act solely as a hostage makes no sense to me but I might have missed something.
Adelle should be better defined by now, I can understand why the writers want to keep some mystery for later big reveals on the background of her and the Dollhouse, but personally Iíd have preferred if they gave us something and then later said haha tricked you, than leaving an unexplained gaping black hole in the middle of the Dollhouse.

Other thoughts:
Just rewatched the first two episodes of The Pretender since I remember that show as having a very similar structure to the Dollhouse. Thought they did a better job of introducing the characters and the set-up.
The main trio of Jarod, Sydney and Miss Parker was quickly defined giving the the audience the chance to connect while gradually adding other aspects of the show.
Given the magical powers of hindsight would Dollhouse have gotten off to a better start if Ballard and the FBI track had been introduced in episode 4 or later ?

Rated 7/10, yes I believe this was as good as last weeks outing but no better, still plenty of room for improvement.
Honestly, the first two episodes I was a little bit underwhelmed by DOLLHOUSE, as I thought it could be better, even though there were some thrilling elements there, but "Stage Fright" now has me completely hooked, because things start falling into place, we see more of the other characters and that really has me totally excited.

I also don't understand about people complaining about missing humor. Sure, there was not a lot of humor in the first two episodes, but "Stage Fright" really delivered more humor. I'm also starting to get into all of the characters (well, maybe except for Adele, she has a lack of interesting scenes so far).

Best casting of the show: Miracle Laurie. I'm madly in love with her. She's just so cute. Joss really has put together a great cast. Fran, Harry, Olivia, Enver, Reed, Tahmoh, Dichen, even Eliza is growing on me. I think she is doing a better job than people give her credit for.

I will be so disappointed when the show gets cancelled. Since FOX hasn't announced an official fate for the show, I'm still hoping for the better, but the ratings are just disastrous.
We have had three episodes in a row where key scenes have had women crying and begging for their lives while on the wrong end of a weapon.

Combine this with the incessant scenes of tight-bodied, scantily-clad women and you've got me very much on the verge of saying "fuck Dollhouse." The show's pandering to someone I don't want to know.
We've also had three episodes in a row where the asshole of the week is a man that died for his making women cry and begging for their lives two out of three times.

I wanna get back to what John Darc said:

Still don't get how Victor is able to freely talk about a theoretical Dollhouse without getting confused and start phoning home, as was implied when Echo was Ellie Penn.


Was this ever addressed on the show? How can Lubov talk about the Dollhouse or even hear the name without getting all dreamy-eyed?

All in all, good episode. I enjoyed it, although maybe not as much as "The Target". Have to rewatch it with subs, though, and I'm very angry that there are none released already. Seriously... Spanish, Greek and Italian, but no English? Grrr.
(Re. Topher's line: "First of all ... OW")

I hope we can ALL easily imagine Xander saying that, since he did say almost exactly that (in "The Yoko Factor," I believe, when Anya slugged him after Spike started in on the whole "Xander's joining the army" angle). Perhaps a little shout-out to the lifers in the crowd from J-Mo.


I was going to mention that, LeafOnTheWind. Not likely it was a coincidence, good to see the homage tradition still in play. ;)
what I miss the most so far is that feeling of "found family" you get instantly in Buffy/Angel/Firefly. That cozy, almost instant, it's us against the crazy world feeling.
Chris inVirginia | February 28, 17:59 CET


I understand this, that element was the most endearing theme in Joss's other shows, for me. On the other hand, I'd have been disappointed if he'd gone there again, I was ready to see a different dimension of his creative mind.

I've remained as unspoiled as possible from the start, but just from the discussions I've read/participated in, I got the impression early on that this one was going to go in a very different direction, with alienation the main touchstone for the "search for identity" theme, rather than "us against the world" connections.

I imagine that theme will enter the mix, if the show lasts long enough. But I'm betting it will still have a tone of distance and wariness, very unlike the warm and fuzzy of Joss's previous work.

So far, I'm pleased with this very different direction.
"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport." Could be something of a motto for Dollhouse no?
snot monster from outer space | February 28, 19:44 CET


Yay! .... brilliant. ;)
just to point out i am a huge joss whedon lover he is one of my hero's... that being said i think this is one of the worst episodes i've ever seen on television so absolutely horrible.

there wasn't even 1 moment worthwhile in the whole episode it is one of the alltime worst.

if this wasn't a show by joss whedon i would love to see the reviews by people in this thread and if it was different then it being joss.... i am down with joss to the end and will follow anything he does including this show but this episode was a disgrace to joss and his legacy.
not even worthy of a f grade... so bad it should be removed from the dvds... it makes "black market" from bsg look like a masterpiece of motion picture.

JOSS WHAT ARE YA DOIN hope the show gets better than what's been put out there so far.
lovelessdreamer, why didn't you like the episode?
well first i should say i am a huge tv/film lover it is my life for the most part and there is not very much things i dislike... in almost everything i usually take away something from the art if it be a scene where i laugh hard and i remember it and i smile.. or if it be something that makes me cry or just an interesting moment that made me thing... just something that affects me or moves me or touches me.

this episode being a rare thing didn't have even 1 moment of this.

honestly i didn't think the other 2 episodes were great but they had the moments i spoke of... the last episode had some touching moments and it built relationships and made you care about the show.

i didn't like the writing // didn't like the subject of a singer and stalker i mean what is that? and the axctress they chose as the main character was horrible... all the acting was very bad except from tahmoh and his admirer next door - making that horrible actor with the accent one of the dollhouse people is a very bad idea.

man oh man it was just a failure on every single possible level a show could be.... i've never seen an episode where it didn't at least have just 1 moment where you walk away and say well it wasn't the greatest but that 1 moment ya know what i mean.

YIKES!

i love joss but im not going to blindly kiss his butt i will say something sucks or i don't like it even if he is almost a god to me.
maybe the next 1 will be better though i do think the show has portential with the idea of it and some of the actors involved... they need to get down and dirty and start developing characters you care about... like i fell in deep love with buffy xander willow giles and like 20 other buffy characters.... so far i am reallt digging boyd and the scientist guy who wipes them... tahmoh and i find his admirerer interesting..

but they need to give "badger" from firefly more of a role and focus more on the writing and create something to really care about.

bring in some new actors please. :P
badger/tahmoh/boyd is great --> build on these and bring in some talent.

eliza is not very good as a main character all i think about when i see her is how awesome sarah michelle gellar would be in this role.. she is definitely no sarah.

bottom line though the show needs better writing
guys hunting girls with xtreme sports bows and singers being stalked by fans is not the way to go.
get more deep... get more emotional and real... make us care about things.. make us feel...
LOVE YA JOSS DON'T GET ME WRONG! LOVE YA 4EVER
lovelessdreamer could you use proper grammar and punctuation per our rules, it makes your posts easier to read. Thank you.
if i knew proper punctuation and grammar i would of used it don;t ya think? hehe.
that is a very weird thing to say.

i don't follow "proper" punctuation and grammar as i never learned it due to a rebellion against all things with structure and boundaries and blah blah blah
believe me now i wish i studied it so i could avoid answering to the 1 thousand grammar nazi's i encounter on the internet every day hahahaha.
Well, I'm very late to this already-off-the-front-page discussion thread, so I'm just coming in to say: I liked it! The dialogue was much more consistent and better than in the previous two episodes (and hey - original pilot dialogue both on the 'previous on' and on the discussion between Ballard and Victor, nice), the main story engagement - like Caroline also mentions - reminded me of an Angel episode and the shake-of-the-head at the end was made of awesome. Truly the single best moment of the show so far to me.

All the Dollhousian subplot stuff was handled very nicely, and there were some interesting developments that have already been pointed out by everyone else above. The acting was a bit better than in previous episodes as well, which was welcome. Eliza knocked it out of the park as far as I'm concerned (she's only been weak in the pilot so far), but was still upstaged by Dichen who was amazing as a shy fangirl. Her strange walk, awkward way of moving and stammering was just pretty much perfect and contrasted heavily with her 'strong woman' persona in "Ghost". Indicative of her impressive range, I'd say. Plus: natural precense. I like.

As for Fran Kranz as Topher - he's still not my favorite actor in this thing. Yes, the character gets good dialogue, so I see why he would be a favorite to many, but I still feel Kranz' delivery of the lines is "off" somehow. I can see him acting, which means it doesn't really flow very naturally. But that might just be me.

Oh, and crazy-stalker-actor totally reminded me of a younger, paler Jake Gyllenhaal.
Well, lovelessdreamer, until you learn to spell and not talk back to the mods like a spoilt teenager, you're not posting here.

For the record, no one is expected to be a faultless speller here. But we do appreciate it if our members make an effort.
Best things about this episode: Victor reveal, Victor's conversation with Ballard; Tropher's confrontation with the 'suit', Boyd and the Doc at the end.
Worst things about this episode: the A story including every single moment of interaction between the Diva and Echo/Jordan; Eliza's in-and-out Southie accent; Ballard's fight demonstrating 'superhuman' abilities in taking down the Russian crew and ignoring the effects of major injury until he could make the 911 call. I'll be here next week since I want to see how the major arc plays out, but I'm hoping that the pacing, acting, and the dialogue can show some more consistency.
As for Fran Kranz as Topher - he's still not my favorite actor in this thing. Yes, the character gets good dialogue, so I see why he would be a favorite to many, but I still feel Kranz' delivery of the lines is "off" somehow. I can see him acting, which means it doesn't really flow very naturally. But that might just be me.

I buy Topher completely AND I think he is "acting." He's one of those painfully self-conscious people who is always "performing." I think the actor is doing a fabulous job with him.

We have had three episodes in a row where key scenes have had women crying and begging for their lives while on the wrong end of a weapon.

Really? I'm wracking my brains but can't remember any scene with a woman "begging for her life" in either Ep 1 or Ep 2. Sierra did in Ep 3, of course--but then we also rather suspected that between Crazy Stalker Guy and Sierra, it was CSG who was in more danger.

The idea was to have someone dedicated to protecting Rayna beyond price, whom Rayna would trust, and who could be on stage during shows without Rayna even knowing what was going on. That person, if he/she exists, is very hard to find on a short schedule--and with anything else, manager guy is taking on what is, for him, unacceptable risk. So... Dollhouse. Same for crazy hunter guy, who's been looking for a worthy adversary who's also hot, and for gangsters-have-my-daughter guy (less plausibly for him) who wants a ZERO risk negotiator (and would've had it if not for that freak incident with Miss Penn's profile).

The only one of those that "makes sense" (in a "would this happen in some plausible real world" way) is the Crazy Hunter Guy. Because he was specifically sent to the Dollhouse by Alpha.

As for Rayna's manager. A) the episode just skipped over the biggest problem: how do you make sure that Rayna will "trust" this Active. Sure you can imprint Echo to want to defend Rayna with her life, but unless they imprinted Rayna there was no way to know that she'd want to keep Echo close.
B) and what difference does it make, really even when that plan comes together? Look at real-world security. Lots of stars and other famous people have crazy stalkers out there. That doesn't mean that they put security people right beside them on stage. Nor, really, is that likely to help much. Which brings me to
C) it didn't actually help in the Ep. Anyone could have checked Rayna's dressing room after she went on stage and found those Post-Its of Doom. Sure Echo ran out on stage to use the spotlight, but there was no reason for security not to have spotlights. Echo could have done the job the manager wanted without ever even saying "hi" to Rayna (which means that the manager could have gotten a lot more bang for his buck with a conventional security firm: i.e. a lot more bodies on the ground).

This isn't a gripe, by the way. I said in an earlier thread that every genre show has some enabling fiction where you either suspend your disbelief and hop on board or you don't. BtVS is my favorite ever TV show, but in the real world Sunnydale High would have been closed down and the army sent in to Sunnydale about half way through S1.
Ballard's fight demonstrating 'superhuman' abilities in taking down the Russian crew and ignoring the effects of major injury until he could make the 911 call.

That seems an odd complaint for someone who presumably likes at least one other of Joss's series--where the same things happened regularly.

Ballard did nothing "superhuman"--not, any any rate, by the standards of genre TV. I mean, he didn't fly, or hand suspended in midair, or catch bullets in his teeth or something. Remember the fight scene everyone complained about in Ep 1? Well, part of the point of that scene was to show us that Ballard trains hard at martial arts. He's meant to be a lean, mean, fightin' machine. By TV standards, that's all we saw in that fight scene.

As for the injury--we didn't get enough medical detail to judge how seriously affected he ought to have been. I took it that the main reason it nearly killed him was from blood loss. Obviously he would be less affected by that immediately after receiving the wound than he would be later--after he'd lost a lot more blood.

Again, though, whether or not it's believable IRL that he could fight on after getting shot that way, it's definitely believable In Television Reality.
In general, I'm kinda lukewarm so far (partly, I suspect, because I've been interrupted during every freaking episode and wasn't able to actually pay as much attention as I'd like.) But, having watched that "vast wasteland" since the 1950s, I can state categorically, indisputably, beyond any question or quibble, that this was NOT even remotely close to being the worst episode of TV I've ever seen (not even the worst episode of the subset of "pop-star diva in danger" episodes...)

Re: Ballard's injury, the only thing consistent about Real World(tm) bullet wounds is that they're remarkably inconsistent. Look up info about the James gang's Northfield, Minnesota raid for an example of just how much damage a human body can soak up and still keep fighting. On the other hand, there was a local man a few years back who got shot in the stomach with a single .22 bullet and died instantly. Go figure.

[ edited by Rowan Hawthorn on 2009-03-01 16:58 ]

[ edited by Rowan Hawthorn on 2009-03-01 16:58 ]
Loved it. The arc is really starting to flow, and the characters starting to fall in to place. Best bit for the second week running was the very end when Echo is supposed to be in her blank slate but does something she shouldn't be able to do.

I'm not sure I understand people who are against the story of the week. They are weaker than the arc elements, but they haven't been shallow and irrelevent as some claim. Every story of the week so far has thematically said something about the arc and the Dollhouse situation. Themes of identity, freedom, exploitation. I think it's very clever writing. I also think, knowing Joss, that things that currently look like plotholes will be explained at a later date.
lol, Rowan Hawthorn, you ain't kidding. Seen far, far worse on the boob tube :)

Just wanted to bring something up that I haven't seen anyone else comment on yet (may have missed it if they have) - what was the deal with Sierra and the dizzy spell/near collapse after she was exercising on the treadmill? Seemed kind of odd to me and a little much just as an excuse for that "Friends help each other" moment.
JossIzBoss, I twigged on that exact moment. Didn't fit right.

Something I haven't seen anybody else mention yet: this is the second Sierra? That means there's way more than 26 possible Actives, doesn't it?
It seems implied that the first Sierra isn't around anymore, so 26 at the time would still be the asssumption.

[ edited by jpr on 2009-03-01 17:22 ]
I took the dizzy moment to mean that wiped Actives aren't so good at self-moderating their activity.
I thought Sierra was having residual effects from a wiping.

And the first Sierra thing is interesting--they certainly didn't make it sound like she got her old identity back & merrily returned to her old life a much richer woman, did they?
Nope! And that doesn't seem to be on Dominic's list of options for dealing with Echo's alarming behavior, either.
I'm pretty sure that the first Sierra was sent to the Attic.

And wow, I've realized that I've yet to comment on Dichen Lachman. I think she's great, and I do think there's a very real chance of her upstaging Eliza. Granted, we don't have much to go on so far, but I thought she was totally natural as Rayna's #1 fan.

Plus, she's a cutie.

Also, I think I might be the only person not down with Mellie right now. Thus far, she just seems so...superfluous. And kind of cliched. But hey, we're only three episodes in, so I'm trying not to be too judgmental as far as character development goes.

[ edited by UnpluggedCrazy on 2009-03-01 18:02 ]
"And that doesn't seem to be on Dominic's list of options for dealing with Echo's alarming behavior, either."
Now that's an interesting thought, if he had suggested to give Echo her memory back and send her on her merry way, I'd really have been shocked out of my conditioned responses to evil secret organizations.
I thought Sierra was having residual effects from a wiping.


I was wondering if that had anything to do with Alpha. Is he interferring with the wiping somehow?
Now that's an interesting thought, if he had suggested to give Echo her memory back and send her on her merry way, I'd really have been shocked out of my conditioned responses to evil secret organizations.

To me it's the neatest solution to a sticky problem. Assuming they actually get their own personalities back and paid at the end of the contract. Which I'm not really assuming at this point. But if it is true, that's what I'd expect would happen in cases where an Active just isn't working out. It seems like there'd be some clause where if things don't work out the contract is terminated, they're released somewhere, either with no payment or some amount prorated to the term they served, and they remember nothing.

This reminds me that I wondered during "Stage Fright" about their other employees. What if Dr. Saunders or Boyd quit? Surely the Dollhouse doesn't rely on some confidentiality agreement to keep its secrets. Are their memories of the place removed, and a fake job's memories implanted? Seems like it'd be done without their consent. Or maybe it's in their contract.
Very true, just didn't occur to me that this secret organization had a much better method of keeping secrets available to it than you average evil organization.
What is the purpose of the attic then, temporary storage ?
I came back to read more comments and saw this: We have had three episodes in a row where key scenes have had women crying and begging for their lives while on the wrong end of a weapon.

Combine this with the incessant scenes of tight-bodied, scantily-clad women and you've got me very much on the verge of saying "fuck Dollhouse." The show's pandering to someone I don't want to know.


frostcircus, just want to point you to something Joss said in the 4th video interview with TV Guide (I transcribed some of the questions over there) in part:

I would consider myself absolutely a feminist, and I think a lot of people who watch Dollhouse are going to be challenged by that because itís a, itís a very touchy show, itís gonna deal with some ugly issues ...

Don't give up yet, but if you can't take the rough material, the ideas that they're playing with, you'll continue to get upset, rather than challenged. Just my 2cents.
I sort of think the Attic is kind of like Cylon boxing, and maybe Actives *don't* get a happy ending at all. But they're going to have to explain more for it to make sense if that's true.
I had a more sinister understanding of the "first Sierra" and the "what was Sierra's actual mission here?" issues.

When Boyd asks what happened to the first Sierra, her handler says that she "got the job done." And one of the possibilities here was that Sierra's assignment was to get in the way of the would-be-assassin (which she did). Could it be that her actual mission was to get killed herself? Could that have been the first Sierra's "job" as well?

Now, of course, people will say that the Dollhouse is very protective of its dolls and that they make Richard-psycho-killer take out extra insurance and stuff. Plus, aren't dolls a precious commodity? But, I think, maybe in the cruel economic/trafficking logic of the Dollhouse, individual dolls may not be all that precious. I mean, the real economic investment is in the technology and security and stuff, right? Individual people may not be all that hard to come by. (That being said, they seem to treat the dolls really well, not like human traffickers sticking them in a damp cargo ship or something, but that may be because they fetch a higher price that way.)

(I feel kind of dirty even writing this comment. It's just a vile way to think. But maybe the people running the Dollhouse ARE just vile. Maybe Adelle, who seems more protective of Echo than she needs to be (and more than she is of other dolls?) will have a realization about this...)
While I certainly wouldn't rule out the Dollhouse being evil, the fact that they have contracts and service limits should keep them from deliberately putting you on an engagement to be killed. Whether they'd hold the contract in good faith is another matter. But it seems hard to even pretend you do if you knowingly accept that job.

Was this ever addressed on the show? How can Lubov talk about the Dollhouse or even hear the name without getting all dreamy-eyed?

Do they actually have a blocker on Dollhouse talk? I think they just aren't programmed with any information, so if you ask/tell them about the Dollhouse, they'll be confused because they just don't know wtf you're talking about. Victor was probably specifically programmed with the urban legend theory.

I'm still suspicious of Alpha and Dr. Saunders. As they said in the second episode, she got off way easy with just the scars. Why didn't he kill her? Did she help Alpha escape? Where did he get the blade?
Septimus, however much the writers try to insert pro-bono cases and 'nice' engagements Adelle still have to understand that she runs the best little whorehouse in wherever, unless the offering of the twins in this last episode was for their conversational skills.
So far the protectiveness of the actives seems to be for the benefit of the house no one else. If the writers tries to get around this somehow they will stretch my suspension of disbelief far beyond the breaking point.

Sunfire, re. the cylon boxing, yes that was my first thought as well, but why keep former actives in a storage facility if you can just implant some suitable memory and send them on their way, heck implant a tracker if you think you might want to retrieve them later, the writers will have to come up with some interesting angles here.
OK, so I got here really late (b/c I watch all my TV online, after the fact), but looks like the conversation is still going strong, so:

I am still not sold on this show. The premise and the peripheral stories are still very interesting to me, but I agree with the many others who aren't buying the "engagement of the week" parts.

As to the comparison with stand-alone eps in Buffy and Angel, I think that the format of those series ("us against the world," as someone above put it) may have allowed those eps to feel more natural, because the constant was always the high level of interaction among the main characters, from the very first episode.

In Dollhouse, the A-plots continue to feel to me like this (thanks, Intelligent Calcium!): "that's the reason the writer invented the engagement, not the reason the engagement happens in the fictional universe"

In other words, as I watch the story advance, it FEELS like a lot of the action and much of the dialog are happening because they MUST to fit the point the writer is trying to convey, not because it makes any particular sense inside the story.

This leads, for me, to a feeling not of an organic story unfolding, but of watching the man behind the curtain pull the levers.

That said, I didn't have as much of a problem with this episode, because it seemed like a bit more time was spent on the premise of the series as opposed to the A-plot.

Another thing; some have argued that starting off with stand-alone eps is a Joss hallmark, or that viewers have been spoiled (possibly due to Joss' use of the long arc) into wanting to know all about the long arc from the beginning.

I think the first is sort of irrelevant; a lot of people thought early Buffy/Angel eps didn't work well, and some thought they did. But unless every person who is troubled by early DH was also skeeved at early Buffy/Angel, I'm not sure that's an argument in and of itself.

As for the second, I would argue that if we are saying Joss' series helped change the TV landscape to something where arc-dependent series with relatively little stand-alone content such as Lost and BSG are successful, then why revert to an old form just to ARGUABLY do it less well?

This may well be a network problem more than a show problem, but I think Lost and BSG HAVE proven that viewers with nothing invested going in will follow a well-told, complex and often unexplained arc from the start, as opposed to having to be spoonfed episodic stuff for the first couple eps.

And sorry this is so long, but one more observation -- re: Buffy season 5. It's true that the Dawn/Glory thing wasn't immediately explained, but as others have said, that plot was introduced after years of character development -- if S1 ep 1 of Buffy had ended with the Dawn/Buffy scene, it would have had zero resonance.
WOW

that was even longer than I thought it would be...
Right, it would make more sense to rotate the dolls out and send them off with wiped memories. It seems risky, but wouldn't it be more dangerous to keep physical evidence of murders in your attic? Though it would be a pretty creepy scene to have Echo discovering a room like that.

Where is the "attic" anyway? I got the idea that the Dollhouse was literally underground. Since Adelle could dim the sun, it seems the view is fake. Kind of like the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter...
Now if the 'attic' actually is a above ground resort, club Mediterranee style, where the mindwiped dolls are reintroduced to society then wow, I'll be impressed.

- Cousin Fred, where have you been ?
- I was at this resort, having a great time.
- For five years ???
- well, it was a nice resort.

The glass I assumed was leftovers from the W&H clearance sale, necrotempered and all.

[ edited by jpr on 2009-03-01 19:40 ]
Re: the glass, I also thought of W&H/Bladerunner.

I may have to watch again, but the look on Adelle's face at the mention of the "attic" did not make it seem like a happytime option.
Yeah, a far as the "attic," I'm picturing more "The Hunger" than "Club Med."

(Oh, and, jpr, I never thought the Dollhouse was anything other than manipulative and evil; I was just questioning how manipulative and evil.)

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-03-01 19:47 ]
Where is the "attic" anyway?


Just to the right of Michael Bay's The Island.
Got it, Septimus, that's just where I am too, where in the hierarchy of evil are they ? 'a contract is a contract' evil or the 'let's dump their bodies in the river when we're finished with them' evil.

"The Island" nooo, that would just be to evil, almost as evil as making someone watch the film over and over and over.

ETA, Though if they were selling the bodies for spare sparts after they have finished with them they really would climb the evil scale quite nicely.

[ edited by jpr on 2009-03-01 20:01 ]
If they don't ever honor their contracts to free the Actives (i.e., if they just kill them when they become inconvenient), why bother with the "contract" talk at all? Why, in the first scene of "Ghost," not just have Adele pull out a dart gun and tranq Caroline.

By the way, did anyone think it possible that Rayna was some sort of long-term Active? I first wondered because of the manager's apparently close relationship with Adele, and then because of Rayna's talk about being grown in a lab etc. I mean obviously at one level it was all ironic real-world parallel with the Dollhouse, but I wondered about a possible second level of irony. The point being that programming the perfect pop-tart superstar would actually be quite a good way for the Dollhouse to make money.

It's very unlikely, of course, but it did make me wonder. There was something about Adele's almost maternal interest in Rayna and Rayna's well being that seemed too "possessive" if she was just some random star.
Snot, re. contracts one of the many things we don't know yet, but Caroline could be the exception to the rule in more ways than one.

Re. Reyna, no evidence one way or the other, but no one would be surprised if the Mouse House was a big customer of mindwiped pop stars from the Dollhouse, Britney might be just one of Tophers more flawed creations.
Tonya J, that is a fair point. I remember that interview now. There was also Joss' damning piece on the advertising for Captivity. Remembering these may help me not think of the show as fear porn.

Well, he's not kidding about the ugly at least. And I know it's not like his previous shows were all sunshine lollipops and rainbows all the time, but it was never so... consistent with the ugly. The other shows were never so open with the T & A, either, and it's the combination of these two recurring themes that bugs me the most. So I consider myself still on the fence, wagging a disapproving finger that may shift my centre of gravity.

But I must admit it does help that Joss acknowledged parts of the show to be upsetting. I would be happier if the show itself would acknowledge this, but for now it will do.

As for the defense that it's always A Man on the other side of the weapon, I frankly think that's a pretty crap message in itself - but it also brings to mind a line from Momus' (excellent) Pan's Labyrinth review: "Just because it shows brutal violence mostly being carried out by characters it has designated "brutally violent" does not exempt the film itself from the charge of brutal violence."
At the moment I am enjoying Dollhouse, but I am also finding it extremely hard to be objective. Having said that, the show really isn't grabbing me as much as I would like it to. With Firefly I was hooked by half way through Serenity (the pilot, not the film, hehe). I think Dollhouse has some very interesting ideas, but it doesn't grab me, there is no '*gasp* I have to continue watch it, lest I die!' feeling yet.

When Victor was revealed to be a doll, that was a similar feeling, and when Echo and Sierra exchanged their glances. I am also thinking that each episode is focusing far too much on Echo, I want to see much more from the other dolls, it would be nice to see the action cut away to Sierra on a separate mission. I realize that we have been seeing Victor's missions to some extent, but we didn't know he was a doll then.

I think the major failing right now for me is that Echo has no character. I can't empathize with her because we never see her being herself, and even if we did see her in her blank state more, you can hardly empathize with an empty personality. Something is going to have to change very soon, we need to see who Echo was before, otherwise, why are we meant to care? We can't yearn for her old self, because we haven't seen it, and we can't grow attached to whimsical, humorous, smart, adorable doll-Echo, because obviously she is none of those things when a doll.

I am really enjoying Boyd and Paul, but Topher really annoys me. Amy's character feels a little flat at the moment, but Olivia's character is starting to get interesting. Also major love for Miracle Laurie!

It is early days yet though, I still think the series has great potential, I think by the middle (if not, then the end) of the season we will all be gagging for more. And hopefully there will be more!

[ edited by Vortigun on 2009-03-01 21:36 ]
we need to see who Echo was before, otherwise, why are we meant to care?

Because she's a human being, regardless of whether or not she understands what that means?
Sure, on a very basic level, but that is surely true for all the dolls, they are all human beings. The only reason Echo is special in that respect is that she is the protagonist. I mean we can't care for her in the more personal way until her back story is developed or she starts to experience her own consciousness.
I guess that's just not how it's working for me. I don't have to have seen Caroline's life to be emotionally invested in Echo's well-being.
According to your theory B!x it sounds like we should be equally invested in the well being of all characters whether they are main characters or extras with one scene ? Thats not the way it works for me. It's the job of the writers to make me care for some of the characters and dislike some of them.
My theory speaks to how I'm responding, not about how anyone else should respond. For me, the writers have done the job of focusing on Echo and making her matter to me. I can't speak for whether or not what the writers are doing is working for anyone else.
Echo asking Dr. Saunders if not remembering should bother her, the way it was played by Eliza, got me to care about Echo. I think it was Simon who said in another thread that it's sort of like watching a little kid who you know is just so vulnerable.
The two best things about the episode "Stage Fright":
1."Hey, it's Kevin Kilner on Dollhouse"! Loved him on "Earth: Final Conflict"! Hope he gets a regular gig on Dollhouse.
2.To whoever invented the mute button on TV sets. Thank You!:)
The glass I assumed was leftovers from the W&H clearance sale, necrotempered and all.

Perhaps. But check out the skyline. If that were real, Adelle's office would be pretty high up. I highly doubt that can be the case for the rest of the Dollhouse. So if her office were that far away, it'd be even sillier for Boyd to try to run all the way down in the pilot. I don't think there'd be much need to bring attention to the windows if it were just some kind of advanced tinting.
Have any of you watched Damages? None of the characters are likable, but I am deeply invested in all of them. I don't understand this need for people to like the characters in order to be interested in them. Unlikable characters are far more interesting. Flaws are always more interesting than perfection. I am actually rooting for Mellie to be evil. That would make her character a lot more compelling.
Tamara, I'm hoping her lasagne she offered Paul was poisoned.
I agree with Tamara.
...Victor: His being able to talk about the Dollhouse. I took the discussion between Adelle and the Client in episode one to be making the point that you shouldn't try to talk to the actives about how they aren't actually who they think they are (exactly the thing that the client can't keep himself from doing a little bit during his evening with Echo while waiting for the kidnappers' next call). I didn't take it to mean that words like "dollhouse" were supposed to be fruity-oaty-bar triggers. So Victor, I think, can talk about the Dollhouse just like anyone else. But if Ballard were to start saying "hey, you're not who you think you are! You just got programmed an hour ago," and forcing the subject, then Victor might run into an incongruity or contradiction in trying to make sense of his "memories" that might be troublesome...

...Sierra: This episode started to allow me to appreciate the actress playing her (?Dichen?)...Prior to this episode, we saw her as either a blank or as a sort of cipher of a hard-ass SWAT team character. I thought she went all out on the geeky fan role, and it worked...without overblowing the metaphor, it's sorta like how the ultimate proof of what a good actor Sean Penn is is not so much his serious Oscar-bait roles (good though he is in them), but rather how perfectly he can pull off Spicoli, who seems so opposite the self-serious Sean Penn we usually are shown in the media. As for the fainting, my assumption was that we were supposed to see this as a link to Sierra's specific situation: either that the "real" person recruited as an active has some problem, or that being trained into being a new active is a tough thing to go through...

...the Dollhouse itself: So far, we (and, for that matter, the outsiders, such as Ballard's fellow-FBI agents) seem to be assuming that the majority of the missions the actives are used for tend toward the "sexbot" end of the spectrum, with the action/adventure scenarios being the unusual cases, and that does generally make sense with what we've seen. And this is, of course, a large reason for how icky or evil the Dollhouse PTB seem to us. BUT WHAT IF there is a very much larger overarching mission that is the "real" focus of most of the Dollhouse's efforts, and not only the sexbot stuff, but even the majority of the other "stand-alone" missions are a cover (and a bill-payer) for the larger mission, whatever that is. That mission might itself turn out to be good, or evil, or (this is the Whedonverse) troublingly difficult to categorize as either...

...Why would this matter? Well, it solves several problems both within the show and "meta" to the show. For one thing, it gives us something to discover about Adelle that might make her motives more interesting to tease out. For another, it might mean the "monster of the week" storytelling that the series has started with might lead somewhere else down the road, where the missions week to week start to have some interconnection that needs to be deciphered, and that might make it worthwhile for both Echo and the audience to stay interested. This might also answer something of the critique made on the IO9 site about whether this show is really ultimately workable as a TV series. (To my mind, it would also make more sense of why the Dollhouse is going out of its way to do things like send Lubov (?and Lasagna Girl? or is she one of Alpha's plants?) out to mess with Ballard, which otherwise seems an odd allocation of resources.) Any thoughts on this?...

(edited for spelling and clarity)

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-03-01 23:34 ]
I don't want Mellie to be an assassin. Wouldn't surprise me if she's an Active though.
I'm pretty much gonna do a lotta What They Said (WTS) in my post, 'cause you'all did it for me.

Sunfire: "I bought the idea that she felt trapped and wanted to die. I could also buy the part where she's corresponding with the crazy fan and wants him to kill her, shares responsibility for other people in her show getting seriously hurt, or does a 180 at the end because things got too real... but not all of the above."

cabri: "I'm thinking more the writing because there were a number of scenes that felt really clunky to me. That makes me sad because Jed and Maurissa wrote it -- but hopeful because they're newish to this game and they will get better."

Yup - What They Said. I thought there was great stuff in this episode, but overall it didn't quite ring my chimes. I wanted it to, but there now, a rollercoaster's gotta have its ups and its downs. Every show I've liked has these episodes - with some parts that've become my favorites, but overall not quite jelling for me.

Re: the feminism issue/the skin issue/the oppression issue/the exploitation issue/the trafficking: I'm hardpressed to know how Joss et al. can deal with these things as content if they can't show them.

In addition to Tonya's quotes from Joss' TV Guide answer, let me add these excerpts from what Joss said in response to a question, posed just before the first Dollhouse broadcast by pinkraygun.com (sorry to repeat these remarks yet again, but I think people who are upset might want to see them:

"it brings up what is ultimately the touchiest issue of the show: are we actually making a comment about the way people use each other that is useful and interesting and textured or are we just putting her in a series of hot outfits and paying lip service to the idea of asking the questions?

I think there are going to be things that people react to differently. Some things will offend some people, some things will not. There are things in it that Iím not positive I support and some of the things that bother me donít bother any of the other writers. Thatís something Iíve been a little bit afraid of, but havenít shied away from because part of the point is to look at these grey areas and see what of this is innate in us, what do we need from each other, how much do we objectify each other, how much to we use each other - both men and women - and what is actually virtuous.

One of the problems I ran into early on, and this is the only real dissonance between me and the network. was that they didnít want to deal with these issues. Having bought the show, they didnít want to deal with the idea of what they are now clearly marketing, the sexy side of it. Itís a classic network problem; you want to evoke this, but then they donít want to say anything. They donít want to be specific about it. So, weíve struggled with that. Weíve struggled with making sure that the show doesnít, by virtue of playing it safe, become offensive. Because the idea of this show was never to play it safe. The idea was always to be in your face about it.

So, the answer to your question is kind of both. It is just a standard, scantily clad babe come on, and it is ultimately a deconstruction of shame. But, not so much that I would say itís just done ironically and therefore I am blameless. We are absolutely saying that Eliza is a sexual creature and people desire her for that reason. The idea is to get the audience to look at their own desire and to figure out what of it is acceptable and what is kind of creepy. In order to do that we go to a creepy place sometimes. Iíll be interested to see if people find it empowering or the other thing. I may have crossed the line. Letís find out."


I think maybe you have to invoke some desire and show some exploitation before and/or while you are writing these aforementioned stories examining this kind of objectification and exploitation.

This is serial storytelling, so I don't have to have all my answers and every character's immediate and eventual response to this bleak situation all at once. I have some faith that the Joss - and showrunners and writers - I know are very consciously dealing with these concerns - while they spin the tales that come to them. I want them to tell the tales they need to tell, not write a tract for me. I can get those elsewhere.

In the three episodes I've seen so far, Joss hasn't crossed my line at all.

And re: a character to care about - in just a few short shows, I've come to care about Echo/Caroline - partly because of the writing, but also due in no small part to Eliza's ability to express her humanity, without having one secure or stable persona to cling to. Good on her - I can wait and see how all the other characters grow (or don't) while I have one main character to identify with most of the time.

She may be a cypher/amalgam of constantly changing personality fragments - but that just makes her like most of the rest of us.

ETF: funked-up link - thanks for pointing that out to me, electricspacegirl.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-03-03 08:27 ]
BUT WHAT IF there is a very much larger overarching mission that is the "real" focus of most of the Dollhouse's efforts, and not only the sexbot stuff, but even the majority of the other "stand-alone" missions are a cover (and a bill-payer) for the larger mission, whatever that is.

I think that's ingenious but might get a bit too tangled. A variant on the idea might be not so much that the Dollhouse has some higher "mission" but that someone with very deep pockets might start turning to the Dollhouse regularly to help it advance some agenda. The government, say, could start hiring Actives as deniable agents (playing up, of course, the "Mission Impossible" aspect of the show). You could do some nice "how deep does the cover up go" stuff with the Paul Ballard plotline in such a story.
Re: the feminism issue/the skin issue/the oppression issue/the exploitation issue/the trafficking: I'm hardpressed to know how Joss et al. can deal with these things as content if they can't show them.

Oh, I don't know. Maybe one of the Actives could be hired by a college professor to be the "perfect student" who listens to a 44 minute lecture on gender and performance theory in popular culture?

(P.S. QG--I lost track of another thread in which you posted a link to an annotated Hamlet soliloquy you'd done--brilliant stuff!).
I also watched DH on the computer. Having read through all previous posts, I am continually amazed at 1) How people can have such astoundingly different reactions/interpretations of what I would think is the same show; and 2) How strongly they seem to rely on TV show episodes, e.g. "worst" or "best" thing they've seen on TV ever.

I think DH is neither BtVS nor A nor FF (nor Dr. H) and I'm pretty sure it was never intended to be. I do recall reading somewhere that the first 6 or so episodes were intended to be more standalone to build an audience before the mythology kicks in.

Personally, I think it's early days yet. Does no one else remember what I think is the UNIQUE, MOST INTERESTING factor in Joss Whedon shows: that the characters fundamentally change over time???? After all, in 20 years Matt Dillon stayed sheriff, never moving up to Governor or State Senator; Mary Richards stayed at the same station in Minneapolis; the lawyers on Law and Order stayed lawyers - OK, Sam Waterston is now D.A., I think, but still a lawyer; the doctors on ER are doctors(yes, Abby went from R.N. to M.D. but that was an exception).

In contrast, remember Wesley, fop to Rogue Demon Hunter for real; Willow, shy geek to killer witch; Cordelia, teen queen to decent human being; even River, insane young woman to sane young woman, etc??? For there to be a change, though, there has to be a baseline. That, I believe, is what is happening in these early episodes.

No, not every episode (of all THREE) of DH is the wittiest, most fabulous use of time and film on U.S. television in the history of the galaxy. While I really liked Echo smashing Rayna with the chair, I was even more annoyed that Echo didn't just shoot the client hunting her in "The Target".

Yes, there are elements of the episodes I'm not crazy about, but to me it seems to be improving and there are other things I do in life besides obsess on a TV show. The clients in DH are just vehicles for Echo to 1) show us different situations and 2) introduce new characters/bind with continuing characters and 3) allow her to gain new experiences (this last is my own supposition).

That's what I think. That, and Joss Whedon is the most brilliant entertainer ever.
Oh, I don't know. Maybe one of the Actives could be hired by a college professor to be the "perfect student" who listens to a 44 minute lecture on gender and performance theory in popular culture?

LOL.
...Victor: His being able to talk about the Dollhouse. I took the discussion between Adelle and the Client in episode one to be making the point that you shouldn't try to talk to the actives about how they aren't actually who they think they are (exactly the thing that the client can't keep himself from doing a little bit during his evening with Echo while waiting for the kidnappers' next call). I didn't take it to mean that words like "dollhouse" were supposed to be fruity-oaty-bar triggers. So Victor, I think, can talk about the Dollhouse just like anyone else. But if Ballard were to start saying "hey, you're not who you think you are! You just got programmed an hour ago," and forcing the subject, then Victor might run into an incongruity or contradiction in trying to make sense of his "memories" that might be troublesome...


Yeah, that seems to be the best explanation, doubtful guest. I guess I took the "any discussion of this place"-line from "Ghost" way to seriously.
Dana5140 sez:

I thought this was pretty dreadful. Much of it had my wife and I rolling our eyes. 2 minutes thought about the set-up would demonstrate how thin it really is. No one at the DH is good, not those in the leadership roles, so why should we care about them at all? Echo's warning at the end, and Sierra's seeming acknowledgment indicate that both of them have some increasing awareness. Topher kills the story whenever he shows up, and I would consider this worst casting decision is any of Joss's shows. Now, I know I will be in the big minority here, but this was the deal breaker. I was engaged by TSCC before this, but just sat there in sad astonishment when this was on.

And has anyone noted how much flesh gets shown in this show? Is part of the lead-in an attempt to get young men to tune in as a result? That is not Jossian, at all. If the feminist conceit here is that Echo manages to be become self-aware and gain control over her own life, well, that's obvious. And she is gaining control over, uh, another woman who runs the center and is amoral. And then why the hell would she have needed to do this in the context of signing a contract with the DH? Why not grab control of her life when it really was her life, before she signed herself away? None of this really hangs together right if you give it some thought.


I couldn't disagree more.

A couple of hints to help viewers get over their 'eye-rolling' affectations and realize what they're seeing:

* The inner stories are melodramatic potboilers with a twist. They're the A stories of the episodic show Echo is forced to act in every week; they're Eliza Dushku's day job doing insipid Hollywood bullshit for money. Having sex with strangers for money doesn't make her a prostitute; being part of people's ongoing fantasies (from Topher's to the client's) in this way makes her a prostitute.

* If you're only capable of caring about characters who are 'any good' then you might ask yourself whether you're not a little too parochially screwed-up to safely experience American pop culture, and just stick to your wish-fulfillment (Bibles, Tom Clancy novels, pre-'Seeing Red' W/T fanfic, etc.). Regardless of the general concern, I'd argue you're completely wrong about these characters in any case: Topher cares about his art, the British pimp-lady goes back and forth about her whores, Saunders cares about the other people in the Dollhouse, Boyd clearly feels something like love toward Echo (and he trusts her - a well of strength). You can understand Boyd as Giles in 'Checkpoint,' slipping Buffy the drugs and agonizing about whether he can protect her, whether it's worth it, etc. A good person doing bad things. You really think Whedon's gonna make a show about an ensemble of Essentially Bad People? Get your head out of wherever it is...

* Whedon's TV shows are always seeded with possible romance plots, but not this one. Yet you're conditioned to be dying for the divine Tahmoh and the divine Eliza to Get. It. On! (Because that's divinity's earthly task: to create unity, *poof*, out of nothing.) Consider that this might be in the way of your affection - especially if you're a self-identifying 'shipper.'

* Joss Whedon is, as I understand it, a professional writer/director of TV and feature films. If he's instructed this Kranz fella to play Topher broadly, gleefully, with an adolescent amorality to him - well, Topher acts like a software-pirating mp3-downloading juvenile assclown, a callow youth with technological tools whose effects he can't imagine (and pretends he doesn't have to). He's convinced himself none of this stuff matters. Yet he does the right thing sometimes. He's in a line with Malcolm Reynolds and most especially our young Dr Horrible. Indeed I don't know why 'Billy buddy' isn't universally seen as Topher's direct antecedent.

* Remember how subtly the darkness in Dr Horrible was laid in over the three acts, and Joss allowed viewers to watch Billy's megalomania as comedy up until the awesome cackling-villain solo at the press conference (not coincidentally after revealing the depth of the quite-possibly-an-actual-hero Cap. Hammer)? This show is in even less of a hurry than Dr H. We're right in the middle of Act One, folks, and if your worries take the form 'I don't know how I'm supposed to feel' then rest assured that the writers haven't even begun to show their cards. We're talking about the man who wrote Our Mrs Reynolds, for god's sake. When he wants to pull the rug out from under you, you'll know it's happening by the entire world being upside down and bonking you on the head.

I'm loving this show and cringing at it for long stretches of time, and the latter is part of the former. Cue Joker voice: 'It's all part of the plan.'
Nice catch about Billy, haven't thought of that before. Goes along nicely with what William B commented on your post about Topher being Joss, just like Billy before him.
well, Topher acts like a software-pirating mp3-downloading juvenile assclown, a callow youth with technological tools whose effects he can't imagine (and pretends he doesn't have to). He's convinced himself none of this stuff matters. Yet he does the right thing sometimes. He's in a line with Malcolm Reynolds and most especially our young Dr Horrible. Indeed I don't know why 'Billy buddy' isn't universally seen as Topher's direct antecedent.

I think the "callow youth" bit of this is mostly spot-on. I don't see the connection to Dr. Horrible so much, though. The key to Dr. Horrible was a kind of deep melancholy, which is right there from the start. Topher is too "look how smart I am, look at the cook stuff I can do" for that.

Topher kills the story whenever he shows up, and I would consider this worst casting decision is any of Joss's shows. Now, I know I will be in the big minority here, but this was the deal breaker.

Dana1540: I think that by any objective measure, Topher is clearly the character getting the most favorable responses in the responses here. So you could only fairly say it was Joss's "worst casting decision" if his sole desire was to please you and your wife.

I don't mean that as a snark, by the way. If an actor doesn't convince you, they don't convince you and there's nothing you can do about that. But clearly Topher convinces most of us.
I wonder if anyone else is actually a little worried about how the writers will deal with the implications of the head shake at the end of the ep? It was a fabulous moment, but it seems to take us a bridge too far. Are we now assuming that Echo is not just accessing fragments of memories in her "wiped" state, but is actually consciously playing a double game? More problematically: are we also to assume that Sierra is in the same position (otherwise, why would she understand Echo's signal? Why not go up to her and ask naively "what's the matter? Why are you shaking your head?")?

There are ways to fanwank around these questions, of course, but I'm left wondering if ep. 4 will present us with a radically reconceived Echo, or simply ignore the implications of what was a pretty startling moment at the end of ep. 3.
...I'm gonna really revel in this (brief) chance to spend more time wondering and hypothesizing about what is going on than I spend judging the craft of the show. This is what reading Waxbanks posting here and on his own site has helped me crystalize, something I think I was trying to get at in some other posts and really hope is appealling to some of us. Here is what I mean: we manifestly are not far enough into this show to have much grounding for our judgements (good or ill) of the goals of the show, the acting of the players, the morality or insight of the characters. But we can try out every version we can of "perhaps..." I'm enjoying trying to put together scenarios about what might be going on for Adelle, Topher, others, knowing full well that most of what I come up with will be wrong.

I'm never wrong about who Glory is or whether Joss can convincingly bring Buffy back from death, and, for the most part I can speak pretty confidently about whether the actors in that show rose to the challenge of their roles as the seasons wore on. If we look back at Buffy or Firefly, we are lucky if we get a brief moment of our own or from another fellow traveller that gives us a truly surprising new insight into these things. Soon other common favorites like Galactica will be done revealing their secrets, while Lost is far enough along that it takes as much effort to keep track of all that is already known as it does to hypothesize about the next revelation (fun tho it still is).

Of course, I can't turn off my judging impulse any more than most of us can when I watch an episode, and of course I get no special votes about what is discussed here. But, for me, whether this show ends up among my favorites or not, whether this show runs thirteen episodes or seven seasons, there will be plenty of time for me to figure out what judgements I think the characters, the actors, the plots, and the writers deserve. For now, I'm going to revel in not knowing if there is something going on behind this character or that subplot that will force me to reconsider any moral or aesthetic judgement I think I've already seen enough to make and have fun trying to figure out what might be going on. WHEEEEEEEEE!
What doubtful said; until we've seen the season, we don't know if anything we've seen yet is good, bad, or indifferent.
Let's just watch and enjoy (and yes, I am enjoying Dollhouse - I'm not sure what people who have said negative things about the early eps were looking for that has so disappointed them).
I just got to watch today. The plot of the week was just servicible, but I feel like defending it because people have taken so many shots. The crazy guy has an advantage - he has an inside man, who is also the victim. So he gets access to the soundcheck. The security guys aren't in on it, so he hides the weapon in the crutches, which he hands around the metal detector, as anyone would be required to do with a metal object. He assembles and hides the weapon during the soundcheck in the Extremely Convenient Disused Space with a View (cheezy but time-honored, see The Manchurian Candidate and two-thirds of all other assasination movies). He walks away, returns clean through the probably tighter security at the show, goes back to the ECDSV, and waits for his cue from Rayna to shoot. Also: Echo auditions with one of Rayna's favorite songs. Who knew? (Topher); Area security fails, as it has before (inside man).

Like most, I enjoyed the episode mostly despite the main plot, for the juicier Dollhouse stuff. It was also the first one so far that looked and moved as good as a Whedon show should. Thank you David Solomon.
Echo auditions with one of Rayna's favorite songs. Who knew? (Topher)

Is that meant to explain why Echo gets to be BFF with Rayna at such short notice? Seems a bit of a long shot. Unless Topher has access to some pretty specific info about Rayna's subjective opinions (which is possible, re my "Rayna's an Active" speculation above), it's hard to see how he could 'program' Echo to sing the song in exactly the way Rayna wanted to hear it. Would you be more or less likely to immediately love someone if you heard them giving a (to you) crappy rendition of your "favorite song"?
Actually, s.m,f.o.s., we also have Rayna's manager (who contracted the Dollhouse's services) playful reverse psychology about Echo having too much attitude, which is meant to incline Rayna towards Echo (atop any other stuff he, the manager, who has known Rayna for something like a decade, as I recall, might have passed on to the Dollhouse about Rayna's preferences -- maybe she really likes singers who like to spontaneously harmonize with her?)
One thing I haven't heard discussed is the Borodin thugs' attack on Ballard. I assumed that Victor set him up to be killed, which would mean the Dollhouse PTB decided to finish him off. Why I wonder? One reason might be that Mellie is a doll and reported that Ballard had a photo of Caroline.

Other than that, I can't figure out what would have changed to make them want to eliminate him. Stringing him along seemed to be working, until the Caroline photo anyway. Plus, wouldn't his death have made the FBI more interested in the case? I guess they could have spun it as just the Borodins being angry that Ballard was nosing around.

Maybe they were just supposed to rough him up, but that doesn't seem likely.

On TamaraC's point about not needing likable characters to be invested, I'm with her. But I would be, since my favorite shows include Damages, The Sopranos, Deadwood and Arrested Development. But I do think that many people find their way into a show by liking or admiring certain characters and rooting for them to succeed. They were going to have a hard time with something like this and they are.

Oh, and Giles gave Buffy the drugs in Helpless, not Checkpoint.
It was a setup for Ballard's death. It would be totally unremarkable since he's been pissing off dangerous people, so much so that his bosses have warned him off it. He overstepped one time too many, which is a good story. More interestingly, it means that the Dollhouse has someone the Borodins listen to. We don't know if that's Lubov or someone else.

The plan only failed because of his freaky ninja skills. It was a good plan, but like Mulder before him, he can't be stopped.

ETA: I imagine he's just getting too pesky for the Dollhouse. Maybe they know about the photo, but even if they don't, he had a pretty blunt talk with Lubov/Victor about how much he's figured out about the mindframe behind the thing.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-03-03 04:29 ]
Yeah, it's not exactly clear why they tried to take out Ballard. And, I agree that they were trying to kill him, not just rough him up.

I would contend that it's not exactly clear who tried to take out Ballard either. It's possible that Victor came up with it on his own or at the bidding of the Borodins.
I'll be very surprised if it wasn't Laurence and/or Adelle. They wrtr talking about it before, and we just found out that Lubov's really their guy.
Oh, and crazy-stalker-actor totally reminded me of a younger, paler Jake Gyllenhaal.

Thanks for that, GVH. I spent half the ep trying to figure why he looked so familiar. :-)

Love the Lear observation, snot monster--just reread it this weekend, but hadn't made the connection.

As lots of people have said, though, the Rayna character didn't work for me overall--but everything Dollhousy was great. Can't wait for the day when it's less Client-of-the-Week, more mythology.

I love the theory that Sierra somehow "imprinted" on Echo as a result of seeing her during her initial wiping. I hadn't thought of that--but it would explain her instinctively trusting Echo and following her lead, even though (as Dichen's said in interviews) she's "not as self-aware as Echo."

Also, if I read the opening scene of the pilot correctly, Adelle and Caroline knew each other. (Wonder if Dominick knows this?) Which might explain why she's protective of Echo . . . she might actually approve of the crazy improvising on engagement, or she might just care about Caroline.
Are we now assuming that Echo is not just accessing fragments of memories in her "wiped" state,but is actually consciously playing a double game?

I was kind of assuming that Echo's reaction was largely reflexive/intuitive--i.e., she senses that they need to keep their friendship a secret even though her memories are fuzzy & she doesn't know exactly why, and that Sierra responds to her because they've established a bond of trust that memory-wiping isn't erasing. Of course, I don't have any real reasons for thinking this except that it seems too soon for Echo to be in full-on "double game" mode.
OK, this is really bugging me. Nobody's probably reading this thread anymore, but I just must get it off my chest anyway.

At the end of "Stage Fright" when Echo shakes her head at Sierra, Sierra is only responding to Echo shaking her head no. She sees Echo shake her head, knows not to go talk to her and just seems to go "Oh, ok" and passes her by. There is no evidence to support the idea that Sierra is already compositing, so I really doubt that is happening. If that's what the moment was supposed to convey, they sure did a flimsy job trying to show that. It was echo that was remembering, not Sierra.

*Whew* Glad to get that out of my system. Carry on...if there's anyone here anymore to carry on at all...

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2009-03-03 08:13 ]
Sierra's obviously not where Echo is, but there's something going on there. She is drawn to Echo. She changed directions after seeing Echo to walk toward her. If there was no connection there, why would she do that? They shouldn't recognize each other at all. Sierra isn't necessarily getting the awareness that Echo is, but if they had a bond imprinted like a handler's, that's not going to disappear with a regular wipe.
Put me firmly in the camp that guesses that blank slate Sierra ended up with a connection to blank slate Echo because the latter walked in on the former's first "treatment", and therefore the final Stage Fright moment was blank Sierra connecting to blank Echo, but blank Echo -- being not as blank as she ought to be -- shaking Sierra off because she saw that Boyd, Saunders, and Hearn were all watching.
I also think Sierra's look in the pilot, when Echo walked in on her treatment, might be crucial. We know looking into dreamy eyes can make a difference at certain imprints.
I wonder if the Dollhouse does any permanent reprogramming? Maybe Rayna is a permanent Doll--hell, she could be the old Sierra...we all assumed that the old Sierra was killed (probably by Alpha), but maybe her retirement was to the life of a tempestuous pop star with a love/hate relationship with her manager (who recognizes that her tempestuousness is inseparable from her success). The chronology probably wouldn't work out there (the old Sierra, one assumes, was "retired" recently), but still I don't think this is impossible. And then she could programmed to respond instantaneously and powerfully to a certain kind of harmonization.

Anyway the Rayna material as presented is fairly pulpy, but I didn't find it all that bad--a bit exhausting, very cliche, but relatively well told and with a few unexpected twists; her death wish being entirely genuine really did surprise me. I like waxbanks' interpretation that the A-plots are deliberately generic, or at least that they are more...hollywood in style than the show proper might be. If that is the intention, it's still probably possible to make them better--really good shallow entertainment A-stories with depth behind them ala Douglas Sirk (whom Tim Minear mentioned as an inspiration for him and Joss in his commentary for "home," when he was talking about naming the anti-Wesley Sirk character), rather than simply servicible shallow entertainment A-stories with depth behind them. (But I still have liked the show!)
Yeah, I agree that the A-stories could be better even with the restriction of making the first several shows act like pilots. I wonder how well that strategy has paid off. There's quite a lot of looking forward to episode 6 and onwards, but are casual viewers liking the initial procedural format? Is the show attracting new viewers each episode who would be confused if we were already well into an arc? Without some detailed breakdown of the ratings, who knows. I suspect that if Joss had just been left to do his own thing, the buzz around the show would be better and the ratings higher, but that's purely my biased opinion ;).

I felt like quite a few things clicked into place for me during episode three, so I expect that it won't take many more episodes before I'm a huge fan of the show. I've been more concerned with ratings than quality up until now, but it seems like we're pretty certain to get all of season one on air, so I'm just going to enjoy the rest of it (and obviously hope for that second season).
Interesting suppositions. I think the First Sierra did die in performance of her duties - like taking the bullet meant for her charge. I do think she's dead, and her handler does not inspire me. Is he Sierra 2's permanent handler???

If the first 6 episodes are designed to attract new viewers, it makes sense that they are superficial and glitzy with only hints of deeper meaning. As to if the first 6 episodes are increasing viewership, only time will tell.
At the end of "Stage Fright" when Echo shakes her head at Sierra, Sierra is only responding to Echo shaking her head no. She sees Echo shake her head, knows not to go talk to her and just seems to go "Oh, ok" and passes her by. There is no evidence to support the idea that Sierra is already compositing, so I really doubt that is happening.

From what we've seen of the wiped Actives before, quickly picking up on subtle hints has not seemed to be their strong suit. I'm not suggesting that Sierra and Echo are meant to be read as being fully self-conscious ("holy hell, what am I doing in this place? Last thing I remember was talking to Adele in a little office..."--that kind of thing). But it does seem to me that for Sierra to have A) shown a particular warmth towards Echo and B) realized that Echo didn't want that warmth acted upon suggests that she, too, is not quite as "wiped" as the Dollhouse expects her to be.

I like the idea that Echo's having interrupted Sierra's initial programming has created some kind of special bond between them. I still think that Echo's action itself moves the "season arc" story along by a remarkably large jump. For Echo to think--at a minimum--"hey, I know those guys, they're dangerous to me in some way--and it's especially dangerous for them to see me being friendly with Sierra; I'd better make sure that she doesn't show any special friendliness towards me"--requires a level of self-consciousness, insight, memory, and initiative in her 'blank' state which is multiple orders of magnitude beyond the fragmentary and transient 'echoes' that have characterized her 'malfunctions' thus far.

As to Rayna/Sierra--that's an interesting idea. I speculated before in this thread that Rayna may be a long-term active. I still think the almost maternal way Adele spoke about Rayna was distinctly weird (and what about that little photo-covered shriney thing that Adele was looking at while she spoke to the manager guy? Did the manager bring that, or did Adele just have that already? I got confused and haven't rewatched yet).
I think that was a diorama that the stalker made for her. The manager said something about Rayna working for the Mouse, so she's probably been doing this for quite awhile. If we assume Alpha was the very first active, and he only went rogue a few months ago, then the Dollhouse must be not more than a few years old and mostly still in its first iteration of dolls. So that would mean that the former Sierra's term (what do we call it?) probably was cut short for whatever reason. I'm guessing it's too early to have anyone's 5 years be up yet. Sticking with the assumption that they honor that.

It's not even just that Echo was aware that she was being watched. She was actively checking her surroundings to see who was watching. Maybe it's just a deep instinct to do that and she's not entirely conscious of why she's afraid yet, but it's definitely intriguing.
If we assume Alpha was the very first active

Do we have reason to think that other than the name "Alpha"? I mean, we know there have been previous Sierras, couldn't there have been previous Alphas?
It's often the first experiment that goes horribly wrong. Other than that, no, I don't believe there's any reason.
while my gut feeling is in agreement with hacksaway that the Dollhouse is a relatively new operation, thus with relatively few "previous" or otherwise retired dolls, does anyone recall more specific info to suggest how long this has been going on with or without Caroline/Echo?

(I would say that the apparant ages, not only of the dolls, but of the staff, most particularly Topher, suggest relatively new operation.)
Well, if the rprimelab.com promotion took its timeline information from actual series background (and, you know, who knows), the early pre-Dollhouse imprint experiments were around 1999 or so?
Just want to say, thank you! to sunfire for:

... but like Mulder before him, he can't be stopped.

I should have parsed that before, Ballard being the odd-man out agent pursuing this case. It's the perfect analogy:

I WANT TO BELIEVE
Well, if the rprimelab.com promotion took its timeline information from actual series background (and, you know, who knows), the early pre-Dollhouse imprint experiments were around 1999 or so?


So, conceivably at some point after Buffy took off, they kidnapped Joss and backed up his brain, then imprinted it back with a modification to make him create a show called Dollhouse to make any REAL investigations seem incredibly silly? What? Its a valid theory ;).
Couple more things I picked up on re-watch. When Echo is helping Sierra recover from her near faint, a trainer, in the background at an exercycle with another Active, starts watching them. Echo notices they're being watched and there's the barest flicker of something dawning in her eyes. Also, when she whacks Rayna with the chair, she says "Friends help each other out" or something almost exactly similar to what she said to Sierra, when they're both personality-wiped.

Noted one more quick manipulation of Rayna by her manager to help her bond with Jordan/Echo, a suggestion that they wait a little before Jordan joins, which Rayna immediately overrides. Still think a line or two about how they'd imprinted Echo with traits that Rayna had been drawn to before would have made their sudden friendship more convincing. Still, the issue wasn't totally ignored.

And yeah, Ballard didn't kill that thug, just knocked him out.

There are a couple of moments that I hadn't picked up on with Ballard before that are making me like him a little bit more. They are the speech with Lubov and the way he looks lying in his hospital bed, with Mellie trying to visit. There's a melancholy there, an underlying sadness to him to go with the bulldog tendencies. I hope they develop that side of him.

Oops! eta: Echo's name instead of Alpha's. Sorry.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-03-04 00:03 ]
Why do you keep referring to Echo as Alpha? Heh.
Hey, WHAT IF...when they say Rayna was a product of "the Mouse" they DON'T mean the beastly corporation of the apocalypse we all know and, um, ?love, but, um, a mouse. Ultimate shocker reveal!
She was created by a mouse? Oh god, the laboratory comment makes so much more sense now. The "factory" is actually an organiztion run by the Brain to take over the world.

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