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March 07 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the fourth episode of Dollhouse. This one's called 'Gray Hour'.

where is that coolio chat?
On Coolio's website? :)
OMG THIS EPISODE IS-- oh, wait, it's not on here for another three hours five minutes. Nevermind.
Well, you got the five minutes part right.
I was on Twitter just now... there's someone there called Josh Whedon... pretending to be joss.
It's really lame


[ edited by thisyearsgirl on 2009-03-07 03:20 ]
Yay! More original pilot dialogue! (If that had been one episode... man, oh man...)
hmm.. The music reminds me of 70s TV
"Whatevs." - haha yay!

[ edited by thisyearsgirl on 2009-03-07 03:19 ]
Bison :).

thisyearsgirl - Please capitalize/punctuate. Thanks!
I'm glad that rape wasn't real...really gave me chills.
Oh how I'm loving this! With the funny already: 'Man Friend' & 'bison'. And man, Eliza looks good in those leather pants and boots!
Am I supposed to just accept the assignments as mcguffins? Because that delivering the baby thing was just silly. And the robbery is obviously an excuse for her to get wiped in the middle of it.

Because I can do that, and totally concentrate on the other stuff.
Someone really should shut down that hotel if they allow that stuff to happen. Wow, paying off women to not report sexual assaults.
thisyearsgirl- That made me happy too! I use "whatevs" on a daily basis!

I'm loving Topher more and more every episode!
The missions are largely McGuffins, yes, or at least probably not going to be what they seem and not the main focus (though maybe not as meaningless as an actual McGuffin).

So far, BTW, I'm really liking this episode.
Loved this one! I was trying to remember my favorite lines but then there'd be another one and I'd forget.
Bison. Who says this show lacks humor?
I missed Dr. Saunders this episode. And Mellie. But I loved how Echo and Sierra got the same programming, and watching Topher unravel in the face of more impressive brain-tinkering than his was interesting. Echo sans imprint in the vault was very compelling, the wounded guy was very endearing, and when he was explaining art to her, it reminded me very strongly of Book and River in "Jaynestown". Still very much hooked on the show, though the promo for next week looks...different. O_o
I dunno. This episode was probably my least favorite of them all to date. That's not to say I didn't like it, but it wouldn't be listed as my favorite. Why? Because it essentially was exactly what it was advertised to be and no more. The ads say "oh yeah, they're going thieving and Echo gets wiped" and there's really nothing about this episode that couldn't be summarized in that sentence.
The double-Taffy was awesome, awesome. Topher, also woo, and Boyd & Dr. Saunders also very woo. Lots of neat factors introduced, though they all seem to boil inevitably down to Alpha. Waiting for some other intrigue-ish things to be hooked by. Nevertheless, moving along nicely. Oh, also- Sierra is uber-awesome. I need new adjectives. Great acting, also. This is probably my least-coherent post ever. Maybe I'm...broken...breaking? *impossible static*

ETA: I watched the 3rd ep right before tonight's, so I may be getting my "woo" moments mixed up. Also, no disappointments for me cuz I am -devoid- of spoilers and possibly actively repressing (e.g. Victor's revealed dollness was a "whoa!/woo" moment), & it's fairly enjoyable this way. :)

[ edited by Jav on 2009-03-07 04:16 ]
and there's really nothing about this episode that couldn't be summarized in that sentence.


I would suggest you watch again and watch closely, 'cause there was a lot more going on than that :).
Weird news here in Davenport. They pre-empted the show for local girl's basketball, and that cannot be good. I did not see the episode.
Ohhhh, Topher. I absolutely love him. There was a part where his protege/assistant/asian-chick-in-labcoat said "Echo could die," and Topher gets this look -- I'm not sure if it meant 'I don't want to think about that' or 'I'm unable to compute this thing called death'. Either way, I want to know more about Topher. I'm interested in him a lot more than Echo right now, actually. Huh.
Sounds like Davenport to me ;).
I would suggest you watch again and watch closely, 'cause there was a lot more going on than that :).

Indeed, my apologies. I have spoken imprecisely. There was a great deal going on than that, and I have nothing bad to say about that. The problem is that I have this tendency to watch television shows in order to find out what happens next, and as far as that goes, this episode felt very static for me. Nobody changed, we didn't really learn anything new, and the most significant fact to the overarching plotline is probably, as far as I can recall, that Topher now has higher security clearance.

I dunno. Maybe I'd feel better if the majority of the episode wasn't devoted to characterization of people we're never going to see again. Yeah, that's only dubiously true because we WILL see Echo again, but unlike episodes 2 and 3, there's no link, no aspect of the episode that screams at you "this personality isn't forgotten."

In The Target it was the "shoulder to the wheel" at the end. In Stage Fright it was the reminder that Echo and Sierra still remember each other. But as far as I can tell, that role in this episode was filled by the drawing on the mirror at the end. Now that's not to say it doesn't do the job, because to a certain extent it does, but I would have felt better if the pattern she drew was that Cubist painting rather than a smiley face.
It was a callback to the painting, though, even though she didn't draw it directly. It was all about an abstract representation being drawn, then wiped away to reveal the girl underneath. And it was a mirror, which calls back to twin Taffy's and that maybe Sierra is being dragged along on Echo's awakening. Lots to mull over.
Really enjoyed thus episodes. The double Taffys was a great idea., you can see right down to the dialogue how much was imprinted.
And it was good to see more of wiped Echo.
Great episode tonight.Really loving the Alpha arc.
Starting to get more interested in Sierra as of this episode.
Missed the Acker.
Loved the art stuff (her response to the Picasso especially)
I want to know what happens next!
I'm not quite sure how I should feel about the fact that my favorite character in this episode was the dude that got stabbed.
In this very special episode, Echo is sent out on an engagement - but something goes wrong! Boyd must step in to help. Also people get shot.

I found this episode quite enjoyable. The only thing that would have been better is if Topher had programmed in some of Gwen Raiden's skills into Echo...
I guess you can be sure it was a Mutant Enemy production ;).
The most enjoyable episode of the show so far, end to end, but the most mythology-lite (as it were), deliberately so I imagine: note that this week's ep spoofed a certain 'mythology-heavy' show for which Tim Minear was once a writer...

A much much stronger 'inner story' this week than the previous two. I was worried at first about how talky it was but I needn't have been; Craft and Fain (and that Whedon fellow on rewrites, one assumes) kept the thing poppin'.

And Ms Dushku was a good deal looser this time out than she has been, especially in that charming opening (midwife) sequence. Her take on the 'tabula rasa' slowly emerging into consciousness was interesting, though the art-as-mirror stuff got a little on-the-nose in places; the metaphor remains unbelievably rich and I'm actually glad, all of a sudden, that they get to reset next week, to play new variations on the same points.

This show is the philosophical funhouse the woeful Lost was supposed to be. Good on Whedon et al. so far.

All that said, I find Topher too broad a caricature at times - man, I know way too many narcissistic programmers and engineers doing 'creative' work for me to buy this character as currently written - and during his final scene with the British pimp the actor mugged while wandering around in mannered self-conscious fashion, blah. But I'm glad there's someone in the Dollhouse so despicable in every way (including his goddamn outfits - yikes). More places to go later. And I wish to know more about everyone onscreen (except Caroline, paradoxically - which marks me perhaps as one of the horrifying creatures who'd patronize a place like the Dollhouse?).

I'm a fan. Shit.
Does anyone remember that script for the pilot that was posted... and i think that someone posted that it wasn't an actual dollhouse script..

this episode was that.

i only read half of it, because i decided in the middle that i didn't want to be completely spoiled.

But yeah.. I think someone tried to cover it up but this episode script or at least the summary was posted several months ago.
waxbanks - :).

almost cookies - this wasn't any of the leaked scripts that I know of. Though sprinkles of the original pilot do appear in these eps. The only other "leaked" script that I am aware of aside from "Echo" was one that was actually a spec written by a fan.
Maratanos:

I'm not quite sure how I should feel about the fact that my favorite character in this episode was the dude that got stabbed.


My wife had mixed feelings about his fate and felt that the writers bought Echo's escape too cheaply (the AICN fella felt the same way), expecting us (evidently) to forgive the murder of the guy who after all made it possible for Echo to escape. I thought maybe the situation was ambivalently set up, but I agree with my smart/sexy wife that there's no onscreen cue suggesting that Echo did the wrong thing in the end. Hell, she even saved the sensitive art nerd!

My rule of thumb with this show is: I gotta learn to live with mixed feelings.

Actually that should be my rule of thumb for a lot of things, eh?

Maybe that's the point of the show.
It does, indeed, seem to be a large part of the show.
zeitgeist - i remember being told that it was written by a fan, but maybe that was a cover up. it involved the opening hotel scene, the vault, echo being wiped, and sierra coming in to save the day.
This episode was reviewed waaaaaaaay back, when it was intended to be the second episode. It was, however, being presented as the first.

There was also a script that was fan-written, which I didn't read, so I can't say what it did or did not contain. But many details of this episode have been out for a while from other sources.
I actually still have the script that I am referring to and I know it was written by a fan because it was a friend of a friend who wrote it. The teaser/opening is a SWAT team chasing down Echo.

p.s. Pasha, you are still infamous, my friend :).

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-07 05:01 ]
Just checked...this is the fan-written script. It's not "Grey Hour".

[ edited by JMaloney on 2009-03-07 05:00 ]
Again, I loved it. The Paul Ballard/Dubov/Victor stuff was cool (Paul Ballard is a hardass.) Echo being wiped mid engagement was very cool. I like Topher. Dewitt is definitely juggling many balls and upper management is breathing down her neck. Alpha is really playing with the Dollhouse, but especially Echo.
I'm becoming more attached to Echo in her naive state. Feeling more and more protective like Boyd.

I wonder if Joss put a little of himself in to the character of Topher?
Finally, an episode I really liked! I could have used a bit less Topher and a bit more of his attractive assistant... and a LOT more of Sierra, who absolutely stole the show.

I'm glad that Dollhouse is no longer my guilty Pleasure!
I want to love this show. There are so many great pieces. The character development is great... for everyone but the central character! Echo can't develop if she keeps being wiped. In fact, we have the forumla:

1. Engagement!
2. Echo is awesome!
3. Something goes wrong!
4. External means are needed to make the save!
5. Engagement complete, with complications!
6. "Are you ready for your treatment?"
7. ???
8. Profit!

I really hope 7 happens in the "episode when it all changes" in two weeks.
I liked it very much. I was very glad when Echo killed the guy - I love shows that don't flinch from killing people. I was hoping to see Boyd charge in with his revolver and gun down the guards, though him shooting the greedy... what was he? A professor? Must not have gotten tenure...

I have to say though I was surprised they didn't try and grab more of the art. The historian in me was itchin' to look through that stuff (past those ugly paintings) for some Iranian, or Central Asian art (or really any non Greco-Roman Ancient or Medieval stuff)... to give to a museum of course. :)

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-03-07 05:18 ]
So Dollhouse has finally come out of its shell. I was getting a little concerned, because I didn't like "Stage Fright" as much as "The Target," and I didn't like "The Target" as much as "Ghost," but "Gray Hour" blows them entirely out of the water.

This is the Joss Whedon I know: Consistently witty, snappy dialogue; a thrill a minute; great character interaction; symbolism that you think you've wrapped your brain around before being presented another tantalizing nuance. Also, if I had any doubts left about Eliza's acting chops, they went out the window here. (Interestingly, Dichen Lachman, whom I said last week might actually upstage Eliza, didn't impress me overmuch as Taffy 2.)

There was a bit of a Firefly vibe between Taffy and her crew; you could definitely tell that Elizabeth, Sarah--and Joss, of course--were loosening up more than in the past and having fun.

But despite all of this, there's really a very simple reason as to why "Gray Hour" works far better than the other episodes: For the first time the engagement really involved most of the Dollhouse staff, and there was really a lot at stake for everyone. Speaking of the staff, Topher's Random Asian Assistant? Awesome. Though I should probably learn her name.

In summation, the first great episode of Dollhouse, and the first that really lives up to the show's potential.

I'm not sure what to make of the preview for next week's. There are a million ways it could go wrong. Then again, the same could be said about any of Joss' projects.
This show is beginning to grow on me. Knew it was just a matter of time :)
Andrea 2s1, Echo is developing. It's subtle, but there is nonetheless real development going on.
This episode was Laffy Taffy. *Laughs at own joke*

I liked how Topher was freaking out that someone was better than him, and I nearly laughed out loud when his assistant said "You need to take something."

The phone call to Adelle remided me very much of the Angel pilot where Lindsey McDonald makes a call and mentions the senior partners. Very cool.
As to moving the overall plot along, Maratanos, what do you make of the significance of Ballard putting Lubov, who is actually a doll, onto the top of the watch list for various agencies/departure points in L.A. -- to have a super-secret doll who is now, apparantly, being watched by more than one obsessive FBI agent seems a pretty significant moving of the given circumstances of the plot forward. And I wonder why Victor is part of the "book club" lunch group with Echo and Sierra, since we have not seen any Victor/Echo (or Victor/Echo) bonding history as we have (last week) seen Echo/Sierra bonding history

...Also, revealling that Alpha apparantly has skills to rival Topher's -- after "Target," the assumption (mine, as well) was that Alpha didn't program people, he just found people who suited his purposes, but here we have him wiping Echo and Topher stating that Alpha is apparantly the only person he can imagine rivalling his own skills (?hmmm...wonder if Topher had the bad judgement to use himself as a model for an imprint that he could put in a doll, and Alpha ended up with it.

...And that last point brings up the subject of the originals of the imprints...We know from the first episode that the original of Echo's negotiator persona was a real person who recently committed suicide. I wonder where they get these imprints -- is it surruptitious? Is it the equivalent of a sperm bank for personalities that the uniquely talented use as a quick source of major cash?

...One bright thing about a show that is not sure how long it will be around -- it doesn't have to be shy about throwing it's store of idea-candy at us (mid-mission wipes, multiple actives programmed with the same persona, etc.)
Anybody else disturbed that her bosses were willing and ready to kill Echo? I doubt that was in the 'contract'.
Alright, I'd say this was the first episode I really enjoyed pretty much all the way through. Good stuff. Quick thoughts...

An active makes a pretty expensive midwife... Better check that kid for birthmarks.

They're a little bit bison!

Eliza sure likes taking off her clothes...

They're stealing the bona-fide, original, lost marbles, and then she loses her marbles. Oh, that was too clever! I'm gonna be smiling about that for weeks.

"Comfortable shoes" she's being ironic.... Same imprint in two different actives, nice.

The dialog with Topher and Adelle is awkwardly expositiony, but I guess that's for the benefit of possible new viewers and people who aren't obsessed. There isn't a Esperanto shorthand for "Alpha is a super dangerous active that went bad and they said they killed him but he's really alive and after Echo and I figured it out because he wiped her remotely which is hard."

The ending... Not sure where this is going with Victor and Tamoh, or why... Nice callback to the painting in the mirror.

Missing my Dr. Saunders and Lasagna Girl fix!
Anybody else disturbed that her bosses were willing and ready to kill Echo? I doubt that was in the 'contract'.

"I don't have a choice, do I?" pretty much sums it up, actually.

[ edited by Maratanos on 2009-03-07 05:47 ]
Great episode this week. Fast-paced, witty dialogue, full of action and metaphor.

I loved how the vault, the "Gray Hour", seemed to represent Echo's struggle. She's pushed by others programming into this state of mind where she's forcibly wiped and it takes time for her to find her bearings and find her way out. While within the "gray hour" she struggles to learn about herself and eventually finds the efficacy to take action (both good and bad) when she kills the one sadistic, manipulative thief and saves the one who was kind to her and sought to help her understand herself. What's more frightening, that Adelle was prepared to have Echo neutralized or that Echo within 2 minutes saves one life and takes another? What does this tell us about Caroline? Perhaps this willbe foreshadowing for the potential danger Echo will present - a lethal threat to those who the Dollhouse who've used her (Adelle, Dominic) and a loyal friend to those who protect her well-being (Boyd).

I was grinning through Topher's freak-out about conspiracy's and when he first said that the only person better than him was dead, I thought he meant a real programmer that had died. Now I wonder if it was a real programmer who's personality was copied and imprinted into Alpha. Who also was supposed to have died as far as Topher knew. So I'm not really sure which programmer Topher was referring to - maybe both. I guess that's the point really, this show leads to uncertainty. It's also interesting that Topher was obsessed with saying it wasn't his fault - where does responsibility begin and end in his mind?

I agree that one of the greatest strengths of this episode was that we got to see the inner Dollhouse staff all working together. It was a finer balance played between Echo's engagement and the inner workings of the Dollhouse. As I'm looking up at what I just wrote, I realize that I've raised even more questions. Another strength for the episode at this point in the season - raising questions that make me want to see more.
Wow, now that's the way to do a stand-alone episode. I was entertained by the A plot once things got tense I was on the edge of my seat. I loved it!
I think this episode was the best so far. Hooray!

I liked Lachman's portrayal of Taffy better than Dushku's. I think it's interesting that people are split on these two actresses' acting ability. Could it be that there's a non-objective component to judging an actress's performance? (A little sarcasm should be coming through here.)

I'm still not invested in the Ballard/Victor plot. It doesn't seem like either character is acting naturally. I don't get, for example, why they even talk to each other. Their interaction is not fitting into a recognizable TV trope, and my brain wants a trope.

Loving the Jossy humor (or if it was Fain and Craft, kudos).
Maybe the person Topher is referring that was better than him was Dr. Rose that we have learned a little bit about in the R-Prime Lab videos. From the web videos, we know there are imprints of Dr. Rose and Topher out there.
I thought this was the strongest episode so far but...
Eliza didn't do much for me and has yet to sell me on this role. Her portrayal of Jordan last week was Faith. Her portrayal of Taffy was once again, Faith.

I think she improved on being Echo which is probably most important thing but when we're seeing a different character for 90 % of the episode, it's really not. Dichen has nailed her roles so far and it's dissapointing that when I'd rather a secondary character be the lead over the actual one. :/


Postives for me were that everything gelled a lot smoother this week and the A plot was actually investing.

Also, next week looks awesome. I love me some Tim Minnear. I also really missed Amy this week so happy that she's back next week.
I don't understand how anyone, having watched four episodes, does not love this show.
This is totally Joss!
Once again, the A plot pales next to what's going on at the Dollhouse headquarters, really serving to show us they are indeed, as DeWitt mentions, "not all powerful," and that there is someone out there that can screw with them.

Really love the shift from DeWitt being the smooth, cold woman in charge to fearing who's on the other end of the phone, totally stressed out (as much as DeWitt can be), again emphasizing the things aren't what they appear to be, theme. I see the answer to a Joss question from Hulu in this episode (there will be dual assignments) and some of the original pilot script made it in there as well. Worked wonderfully, too.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-03-07 07:14 ]
Oh I loved every single thing about this episode! Great dialogue and filming, wonderful characters: the stabbed guy was so great, and having Echo & Sierra getting the same role was awesome.
I loved the broken art imprisoned in the airless vault, accessed during the 'gray area' of the security uploads; again making the entire 'mission' just the metaphor for Echo's situation. This episode is going to be a pleasure to watch several times!
Halfway through... Lovin' this. The malfunction of the personality-imprint is fantastic.
I really enjoyed this episode. This show just keeps getting better and better each week - and boy do I wish the ratings reflected that.

The cast is definitely starting to gel, and I definitely agree with those of you above me that it was nice to see the main staff of the Dollhouse working together. Though Topher was excessively annoying. Kranz was overacting and over-gesticulating a bit too much for my taste, but that's a small quibble in an otherwise enjoyable hour of TV.

I'm really curious to know more about Adelle and who in the heck she's working for. And can I just say that seeing Sierra as Taffy making Adelle uncomfortable but somewhat proud of her creation was made of awesome.

I can't wait for next week!
Easily my favorite episode of the first four. I liked how the middle 15 minutes or so were the complete opposite of what I expected - instead of shoot 'em up excitement, we get Echo and the cute artsy guy, just talking, about identity and art. Because what else are you going to do when you're locked in a vault filled with rare art?

I did not get how Echo and cute artsy guy escaped. Why didn't they just go out the back in the first place?
I'm thinking that they could only get out the back once the doors where opened by the security guys getting in.
I wonder what it means that this episode discussion thread is underpopulated compared to how the other ones were by the time I could check in on them.

Anyway, this likely is my fave so far. Glad the "grouping" conversation made it out of the pilot script. Hoping (no one tell me!) that the "tie" conversation does also, at some point.
Seen it all now, and... yep. Favourite ep so far. I hope the ratings have improved. We need to find these Nielsen viewers and imprint them with personalities that watch Dollhouse. ;)
That's an excellent idea, Braeden Fireheart! Where are Topher and Adelle when you need them?
I wonder what it means that this episode discussion thread is underpopulated compared to how the other ones were by the time I could check in on them.

I was surprised by the lowered postage also. But I can personally account for the lacking of at least 20 posts here in this thread. As I watched the other episodes live and was posting reactions during commercials (annoying or not, it's fun), but I didn't watch it live tonight and only posted once after the fact (now twice).

Maybe the shine is off the pretty and new Joss toy for some fans. Which is a shame 'cause this was a great episode.
Eliza didn't do much for me and has yet to sell me on this role. Her portrayal of Jordan last week was Faith. Her portrayal of Taffy was once again, Faith.


Eliza's portrayal of Taffy was not Faith. If you paid close attention you would notice that the voice inflection and vocabulary were different, and it was less street smart and more professional-jewel-thief smart. There was a definite difference. I was watching that closely and noticed it right away. But then again, I'm not expecting Faith from Eliza's performance, so maybe there's the difference.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2009-03-07 08:22 ]
I'm totally with electricspacegirl on this. There was a world of difference.
The easy escape is the one thing that really bugged me when I watched it. Now though I wonder if something didn't happen in the smoke that we aren't meant to know about yet. Something with Alpha lending a hand, or maybe with Echo tapping into something.

Or maybe the footage they took of the escape turned out to be crap and they had cut it in editing. It can't be easy filming in smoke.

Time will tell. Maybe.
I always found Faith to have an underlying desperation, imperfectly hidden under her bravado, and none of the characters Eliza/Echo have played thus far in Dollhouse were anything like that. Oh Faith was more confident on Angel after the jail break, but then she had an underlying bitterness and self loathing, also nothing like anything Echo has shown us. Personally I feel that a lot of people don't give Eliza enough credit, I've always found her performances to be layered and interesting (plus being vulnerable and accessible).

I'm guessing a lot of Whedonesquers couldn't resist immediately watching BSG tonight because that was quite the cliff-hanger last week, but personally I'm saving it to watch tomorrow.
We need to find these Nielsen viewers and imprint them with personalities that watch Dollhouse. ;)


Win!
Eliza's portrayal of Taffy was not Faith. If you paid close attention you would notice that the voice inflection and vocabulary were different, and it was less street smart and more professional-jewel-thief smart. There was a definite difference. I was watching that closely and noticed it right away. But then again, I'm not expecting Faith from Eliza's performance, so maybe there's the difference


I'm not expecting Faith either. I want to believe Eliza as new person every week but I'm just not being convinced. I feel like she's improving and I hope she can impress down the line but she's currently just not doing it for me.
I was comfused for a while as to whether some of the other people on the caper were Actives or not, especially because they had suicide needles. But since they weren't, I guess, why not? Or why not program Echo with all their skills and avoid complications? Was the Greek who was paying for the art a representatrive of the Greek government? If they know about the Dollhouse, that's pretty widespread knowledge.

I liked Dichen's Taffy more than Eliza's. Hope Asian punk/nerd girl is a recurring character, she was great - someone besides Lasagna Girl and Boyd that you can connect with.

Topher gesticulating wildly with Adelle about Alpha was painfully over-acted.

I'll have to watch it again, but I wasn't as involved in this one as the others. A re-watch often changes things for me, so we'll see.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-03-07 08:47 ]
I wonder what it means that this episode discussion thread is underpopulated compared to how the other ones were by the time I could check in on them.

I was surprised by the lowered postage also.


Well it may not be why but I just thought I'd point out that Watchmen opened in theaters tonight....it could contribute to why.
I hope FOX goes easy on Dollhouse tonight with Watchmen opening...
Interesting, I had a hard time with this episode. I actually liked Target and Stage Fright more than this one... despite the big reveals and advancement of the overall Dollhouse story. It just felt really . . . plodding, as if it wasn't quite paced right.

Also, Topher's role as "information provider while being snarky" is wearing a bit thin. And the "did I fall asleep" with every week with the vapid party girl (even if it's a jewel thief playing a vapid party girl) is getting, repetitive. I almost feel I can start in the middle of the episode and I'll get pretty much where I need to be with story, trusting that either Topher/Boyd or Adele/Dominick will discuss the lessons we were supposed to learn.

It's interesting, though, how varied the reactions are. I'm looking forward to seeing how people react to episode 6, it's been so hyped as the one that finally fires on all cylinders that I'm worried it won't satisfy when it finally airs.
All the cool nerds saw Watchmen at midnight like me. So, of course, I presume everyone here did as well...

;-)
Yeah that's been worrying me too gus.
Shambleau, I agree about Topher. I have really enjoyed his character up till this episode, but he was really starting to get on my nerves in that scene. Also, the outfits are getting more and more ridiculous. Sweater vests? Fine. Disco pants? Whaaa?

Other than that I really liked the episode. Not as much as The Target (which is still my favorite) but better than last weeks. I liked how Echo found a way to save herself from that guy with the gun. I also enjoyed the addition of the Asian nerd/programmer girl, and the footage from the original pilot was great. Lubov was great as well. Oh yeah, and Sierra kicked butt.

Next weeks episode looks like it's made of awesome, so I can't wait for that :-)
But as far as I can tell, that role in this episode was filled by the drawing on the mirror at the end. Now that's not to say it doesn't do the job, because to a certain extent it does, but I would have felt better if the pattern she drew was that Cubist painting rather than a smiley face.

Art shows us who we are. In her blank state, she's pretty much a generic smiley face. Except it didn't look very smiley.

Interesting that "no one knows the details of the engagement" but the client. I know the hulu blog says they enter it into a computer, but aren't all the engagements monitored? And Topher has to design a specific personality. How do they do that without knowing the details?

I'm looking forward to seeing how people react to episode 6, it's been so hyped as the one that finally fires on all cylinders that I'm worried it won't satisfy when it finally airs.

Seems like the initial hype was on The Target, and people seemed pretty happy with that one. It'll probably go the same way.
All the cool nerds saw Watchmen at midnight like me. So, of course, I presume everyone here did as well...

I have no idea when I'll get to it. I'm waiting for the nerdgasm to subside, when the OMGers suddenly come down and realize it wasn't all they thought it was. ;)
I don't think that it is at all Eliza's fault that a few people insist on seeing Faith and it is certainly not a lack of acting ability. My opinion is that some are still having difficulty disassociating an actor from a character.
As for Watchmen I had the chance to go with my friends at 12 last night, since both Friday and Saturday we have bday parties for my friend (I waited going till Dollhouse was done, then sneaked away with my friend at 12 to watch BSG). But the fact that I had a midterm at 9:45 today meant I didn't go last night. Probably won't see Watchmen till later this week, hopefully Tuesday. My friends said it was awesome, and all the reviews I read said it was "too faithful to the comic", which ain't bad in my book.
hacksaway - I didn't realize Target had that much hype. I tried to avoid spoilers, reviews and press but even I heard about the episode 6 marker as when the show is supposed to fall into place. I feel like there are a lot of people waiting to fall in love with the show and pinning hopes on episode 6. But maybe I'm just externalizing my own attitude toward the show.

But on the positive side, Topher's assistant, was a solid yay for me. I missed Dr. Saunders and not just because I like Amy Acker. I'm actually really curious about her character. And I enjoyed two dolls being imprinted with the same personality. I liked that jerky thief's expressions he made when he was figuring out Taffy, Victor as Lubov is fun (Sweet Home Georgia!) and I really, really liked Echo trying to deal with the weird world (I liked less the bits where they discuss art).

The Tabula Rasa state isn't really flowing for me yet. I don't blame anyone though because how do you act/convey innocent emptiness? That's got to be hard!
Sparks, I'm thinking all the Nielsen viewers have been "imprinted" already, how else do you explain all the CSIs shows (Note: No harm or mistreatment was performed on average television viewers during this trial.).

b!x, seriously! I thought you'd be all over this. Well, we're a patient mob at least :)
Well it may not be why but I just thought I'd point out that Watchmen opened in theaters tonight....it could contribute to why.


I was wondering the same thing. Be interesting to see the DVR figures for last night.
I liked the episode a lot. Not sure if it's my favorite yet - it'll probably require a re-watch to decide.

I do hope they have "Ivy" (asian girl) in more episodes. I recognized her from recurring appearances in both NCIS and Dexter.
Best episode so far, can't wait until next week it looks awesome! just keeps getting better and better

[ edited by gingyfromshrek on 2009-03-07 15:14 ]
Best episode so far! I can't wait for the rest!
I do hope they have "Ivy" (asian girl) in more episodes. I recognized her from recurring appearances in both NCIS and Dexter.


Yes, it's nice for us girl geeks to have our kooky lab technician to identify with.

I do wonder whether we are going to have a form of sexual assault presented every episode, and if so whether this is something good (unflinching portrayal of the nasty core of female exploitation) or bad (gratuitous T&A that kind of undermines the whole point).
Great episode, though I have to say that the most important development I see in the episode is that Echo, Sierra, and Victor are grouping, and that seems to worry the people who run the Dollhouse. It also implies that maybe what's happening to Echo is also happening to the others as well - which could bring about all sorts of interesting stories and twists in the arc.

Also, I think the character of Topher is intriguing, down to his interesting clothing choices. His garb sort of reminds me of the Joker or the Riddler in its colorful super-villainishness. I want to know more about him and his application to the Evil League of Evil.
Does anyone else think that Lubov looks a little bit like Muppet Angel? I don't mean that as an insult. I mean that Muppet Angel looks more like a muppet of him than David Boreanaz.

Random I know.
I guess some girls are used to stiletto heels, but to my mind, those were definitely not "comfy shoes" Taffy was wearing- to continue with the randomness.
Was the Greek who was paying for the art a representatrive of the Greek government?

At the end of his scene, he says something about it being a gift. So, independent rich guy who will be giving it to the Greek government.
electricspacegirl says that she sees subtle changes in inflection and vocabulary, in Eliza's character. That may well be but if she is a different person, then the changes shouldn't be subtle. They should be as obvious as when Jordan got the singing gig and she squees.
I think some of that is the vocabulary. If she keeps being given tough girl lines, then it is harder to find a new and different way to play it. I'd like to see side by side how the two Taffy's delivered the line which ends with wearing comfortable shoes. How different, how much alike? We know nothing about Sierra before she was wiped, whereas we have seen something of Caroline and compare.
I think the Greek's line about it being a "gift" was supposed to be that he was giving the active to his nephew as a gift (setting up the misdirection that this was just another prostitution engagement).

I actually really liked all of the misdirection around that guy's character. First, he's a sleazeball using Echo for sex (or, unwitting beneficiary of his uncle's sleazeball-ness). Second, he's even worse, an attempted rapist. Third, he's not a rapist, he's a thief, and not so bad (he even asks her out, which is sort of sweet). Fourth, he's a jerk/monster who beats up on Echo when she's wiped. Fifth, he's a manipulative selfish asshole who is willing to sacrifice wiped Echo to shoot his way out. Sixth, he's dead.

Overall, I liked the episode a lot. I agree that there were... err ... echoes of Faith, but I think that, as Lioness points out, that's partly an artifact of her being given the same "tough girl" roles.

I enjoyed the heist-y-ness of the episode. I think it's fun to see the actives on capers, especially since we know they're going to go wrong.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the "comfy shoes" comment was sarcastic... both times.

ETA: I wonder what Maurissa (sp?) has to say about Ivy's character, an Asian scientist. Maybe she plays the violin, too?

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-03-07 14:35 ]
I'm right there with electricspacegirl, UnpluggedCrazy and embers, with the admiration of Eliza's action skills.

I always found Faith to have an underlying desperation, imperfectly hidden under her bravado, and none of the characters Eliza/Echo have played thus far in Dollhouse were anything like that.
embers | March 07, 08:24 CET


That sums it up very nicely, embers

I liked this ep a lot but it wasn't my favorite. I seem to be in a distinct minority, but there's something about Dichen Lachman that I find seriously annoying. Maybe I'll get over it as her character develops, but I suspect it's the actress. No big, just an observation and it may change.

I really want to know who or what could inspire such fear in Adele.
As much as I love Topher, Fran was a little OTT this time out, but again, a minor criticism and keeping in mind it's only the fourth ep (loved his assistant, hope we see more of her).

I seriously loved the little drawing on the mirror at the end and I think it was done just right - subtly, not too much "in your face" with the symbolism.
I thought this episode was better than the earlier ones, but all involved clearly don't know much about art, and they were counting on the audience to be pretty ignorant, as well. The idea that one could put a fragment of the Parthenon frieze with a full pictorial representation in a duffel bag had me LOL, and not in a good way. Any portion of the frieze showing as much of the figures as shown in the drawing the thieves had would be about three feet in height. (It's easy to find reproductions of the Elgin marbles online, as most are in the British Museum.) And the drawing looked like a drawing of Mithras and the bull--Mithraism being a Roman religion, and thus about six centuries too late to be on the Parthenon. The fragment the thieves held with the gnome in the tree trunk was decidedly NOT Greek. And the Picasso was clearly a reproduction on a paper surface, not canvas. Also, Lord Elgin shipped his booty back to London in the first years of the 19th century, not the late 19th century, as the script had the actors saying. (I'll stop here, but many of the other works of art represented were way off in scale.)

I know, I know, this is fiction, but the art part so totally took me out of the story that I could hardly get into the drama.

Anyway, I did appreciate the joke of the "lost marbles" and Echo losing hers. And I liked the small touch of her looking into the mirror of her compact at the beginning of the heist and her looking at herself in the mirror at the end--in each case not really seeing "herself." Nice bookending frames for the story.

And Topher's request to add juice boxes to the food list reminded me of Andrew.
People, please, get off the Eliza as Faith fixation! Enough with the comparisons to past characters already. And if ya'll start poking sticks at Reed Diamond for supposedly channeling his Mike Kellerman character from Homicide: Life on the Street...then prehaps its not just the Actives what need their memories wiped.

P.S. Where is that Home/Hotel/Lodge/Whathaveyou in the opening shot? I want to go to there.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure the "comfy shoes" comment was sarcastic... both times.

I dunno. I've seen enough episodes of What Not To Wear to think that well-made well-fitting high-heeled shoes can be quite comfortable.
Every episode gets even Jossier - yay!

Topher was a little OTT for me in that last scene when discussing Alpha with Adelle but other than that, I'm loving him even more - he's the most Jossy character so far. The opening scene with Echo as a midwife was good; it made a nice change.

I missed Amy Acker. I loved the art metaphor: and Echo's reaction to the Picasso piece as well as her drawing at the end: deep, symbolic and very Jossian. I didn't think Eliza's portrayal of taffy was Faith-ish either and I agree with electricspacegirl on that. They both had confidence, but Faith had the guilt and self hatred underneath as well. The phone call to Adelle in the beginning reminded me of Lindsey and the Senior Partners too.
Try 'em on, Alan. Believe me, though they may look good enough to be worth it, on the Comfort-to-Pain scale, they are definitely on the right side of center. I'd say a foot cramp mid-heist would be a definite non-asset.

[ edited by toast on 2009-03-07 15:34 ]
I actually hadn't watched any Buffy in a long time, and I went back and watched a couple Faith episodes after seeing people here complaining.

Aside from the fact that it's Eliza playing sexy bad girl characters, the performances feel nothing alike. As someone else mentioned, she did an especially good job with Taffy, using memorably unique vocal inflection. I love Faith, but she's nowhere on Dollhouse.
Septimus, again with the quickness! Had already headed of to the Doc Horrible lyrics to quote regarding Ivy, and I totally missed the Greeks-bearing-gifts reference, which seems particularly nested...the Greek client sneaks a a group of thieves into the vault inside the "trojan horse" of partyers, but there is a secret thief inside the group of thieves who wants to steal all the marbles, but then is "Taffy" a trojan horse but then...but then...

And, yes, whichever writer initially came up with the lost marbles trick for this episode is probably still cackling to themselves...or maybe chortling.
I just got that this line was a callback to the midwife gig:
Echo (looking at the painting with a mountain): "When I'm there, my name is something else."

A bonus moment of Echo remembering.
I just got that this line was a callback to the midwife gig:
Echo (looking at the painting with a mountain): "When I'm there, my name is something else."


I actually thought that reference was to Target. Either way, I also loved it as a 'moment of Echo remembering'.
I also liked some of the subtle cues ('when I'm there...', the face in the mirror) but others felt a little 'loud' (such as the 'broken' leitmotif). However, I was definitely more drawn into this episode than previous ones. Nonetheless, I have to wonder how much longer they can use Echo as an active given that something gets screwed up on her engagements each time. If the whole organization has that level of (in)competency - after all the body count is beginning to get awfully high for a super-secret organization that the FBI can't even find - it is no wonder the uber-bosses are getting tetchy.
Lioness: electricspacegirl says that she sees subtle changes in inflection and vocabulary, in Eliza's character. That may well be but if she is a different person, then the changes shouldn't be subtle. They should be as obvious as when Jordan got the singing gig and she squees.


Interesting. Maybe it's fanwank on my part but I don't consider Echo a different person which each engagement, just a different personality. I've got a friend who suffered a traumatic brain injury and his personality changed completely after the accident but his voice, vocabulary, speaking patterns and such all stayed the same. He's the same person, just kind of a dick sometimes now.
There are different styles of acting. One is that the actor take on a completely new personality. Another is that the actor always play the same person, basically themself, but the acting is in the honest portrayal of emotion. Then there's Spencer Tracy's famous, "Remember your lines and don't bump into the furniture." So we all have different expectations of actors. That makes judging performances subjective. Am I overly impressed with Eliza's portrayal? No. But she does have her moments. This is a part that will help her stretch her abilities.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who found the pseudo Elgin Marbles a strange choice. Surely there were other antiquities that could have been reproduced accurately. Though it was nice to see Angel alumnist Tony Amendola again. (Paranoia demon, Are You Know or Have you Ever Been)
There be a review now and it raises an interesting point about how the Actives or rather the actors handle a new "Active Assignment"

Review of "Gray Hour!"
Redeem147, one of the funny things about Spencer Tracy's seeming put down of acting was that he was known for disappearing into his roles, in fact he rarely got recognized on the street (ie he could disappear into a crowd too).

I'm guessing that the Elgin Marbles were chosen because they are more broken art, and maybe for the losing the marbles joke too (good one palehorse!). I thought they said 'end of the 18th century' which is correct for 1799 , when the looting of the Acropolis began. I would have to watch again to check the dates stated, but it didn't take me out of the story (and I was an art major, taking many many art history courses).
Oh, I'm not quibbling that Tracy was a great actor. It's just sad that some actors have taken that comment to heart. :)
how much longer they can use Echo as an active given that something gets screwed up on her engagements each time. If the whole organization has that level of (in)competency - after all the body count is beginning to get awfully high for a super-secret organization that the FBI can't even find - it is no wonder the uber-bosses are getting tetchy.baxter


...Not sure how much of the screw-up can be laid at Echo's feet, and only slightly more at the organizations feet: In episode 1, the "screw up" was an unknown personal history in the imprint (abuse victim). In "Target," the "screw up" was apparantly Alpha orchestrating the bowhunt scenario. In this episode, the "screw up" was someone, presumably, Alpha, mindwiping her in the field. Because each of these is somewhat of a previously unknown-or-thought-impossible situation, some blame lands at the organazation's feet (Topher, Adelle), but it is hard to imagine being the pioneers of such an "out there" new technology and completely anticipating all of these, especially those caused by Alpha once he's rogue.

About the only "screw up" that seems more intrinsic to Echo is the way she goes about her mission in last weeks episode, where she seems to preference saving Sierra over saving Rayna. But that also brings up two things to watch, one of which somewhat ameliorates Topher and Adelle's blame, and may explain why they would be eager to KEEP seeing what Echo can do:

(1) How much of the retaining-of-imprinting is specific to Caroline/Echo, and how much is true to a greater or lesser extent for any doll? (if the latter, then even Echo's actions in week three are not really Echo's screw-up, and if the former...

(2) Each "screw up" has built the theme that Echo is, for whatever reason, and unless completely mindwiped, astonishingly GOOD at inventively solving the problem created by the screw up. In episode one, her memories of abuse and insight were what allowed her to play the bad guys against each other, and she was about to walk out clean with the girl before Sierra was sent in. In episode two, she protected both herself and her handler despite supposedly being on a "romantic" engagement, persona-wise. In episode three, the point is made that her extreme approach to the situation may have more truly "saved" Rayna from wanting to die than a traditional approach would have. This is why I say that those most intimately aware of what might be unique about Echo (Topher, Adelle, Boyd) may be more, rather than less, interested in figuring out what makes her tick and (in at least Adelle's case) to find a way to gain advantage from this. (And this is leaving aside the suggestion from the pilot that Caroline and Adelle have some sort of history, or shared mentor: we know from "grey hour" that Adelle will call in a hit squad on Echo if needs be, but I think we are meant to think she is more closely concerned with Echo than with most of her charges.)

Of course, the most recent episode is the one where Echo herself doesn't come up with the creative solution, but this is in the context where another active using (?interpreting) the same imprint helps to solve the situation (not perfectly, but, hey, at least got the safe door open and kept Adelle and co. on task!)

So, all in all, Echo is not generally the screw up, and even the screw ups might prove fertile opportunities in the eyes of the organization, if they can just avoid getting killed by that pesky Alpha...
Any portion of the frieze showing as much of the figures as shown in the drawing the thieves had would be about three feet in height.

Actually the frieze itself is only 3 feet high, so a broken fragment of the frieze (which is what was shown) would of necessity be smaller than that. If you consider the possibility that the object contained "background" figures on the frieze (and not, therefore, full-size), the dimensions we saw aren't necessarily wildly off.

I really enjoyed the episode, although I found it a little less rich in "long arc" stuff than the first three (but then, they can't all deliver on that stuff). I did remain puzzled, though, by what the Ballard/Victor stuff was about. Why did Victor want to go into Witness Protection? What would that have achieved? Are we really meant to think that Ballard just wants the Borodines to kill him so he can 'read' the message sent by the corpse? Is he that much of a cold-hearted bastard?

As for Eliza's acting: my biggest problem is that she has a very distinctive set of gestures and movements that she uses for every character she plays (the "oh no you di'in" head roll; the slightly exaggerated snap-back of the head [think "Damn, B! You really have changed."] to mark surprise or to signal a change in the emotional direction of the conversation etc. etc.). She's always very mobile, slightly exaggerated, highly reactive etc. Now, that works great for someone who is meant to be putting on a bit of a front all the time (hello Faith), but it was really jarring in the buttoned-down hostage negotiator of "Ghost."

Now, I don't actually care all that much about this. I think that you can fanwank it away with some sort of "these are parts of Caroline that come through in all of Echo's personae" kinda thing. On the other hand, Dichen Lachman really showed how one actress can sell two utterly unrelated characters in last week's show and this week's. Her mousy Aussie fan and her version of Taffy were, simply, different people in a way that ED's different characters never are.

I did love having Sierra be imprinted as exactly the same person as Echo, though. And I loved even more that it didn't help at all--that was a twist I didn't see coming; it seemed so obvious that it would be "Sierra to the rescue of Echo!"
Yeah, the Elgin Marbles were an odd choice in terms of realism. But, I think they were chosen for their metaphoric resonances (broken, arguably stolen therefore making the Greek theft more righteous, Trojan horsiness, maybe even the "lost marbles" pun). By the way, I always pronounced it with a soft "g" but on the show they used a hard "g."
So, all in all, Echo is not generally the screw up

True enough, but there is the problem that we're seeing quite a high number of cases go pear-shaped. I think the question is partly: why is it that billionaires are hiring this highly illegal organization if it is basically the gang that can't shoot straight?

I think that this is actually one of those "but why would they leave Sunnydale High open when so many of its students get eaten?" kinds of questions. For the sake of drama we need missions that don't run smoothly. Just as medical shows need a wildly improbable number of rare and complicated diseases. That's why we get those opening teasers like the motorcycle one in "Ghost" and the ob/gyn (WTF?) one in "Gray Hour"--to show that there are cases going on perfectly successfully as well.
I find it interesting that Saunders was nowhere to be seen during what amounted to an attack by Alpha.
I find it interesting that Saunders was nowhere to be seen during what amounted to an attack by Alpha.

So...you're saying that Saunders is Glory? Sorry, I meant, Ben is Alpha?
Yeah, SMFOS, you are right about the necessities of serial storytelling, no matter what the set-up. One thing I've found myself thinking when I read many of the critiques of the believability of this or that aspect of the Dollhouse is that, back in Sunnydale, since the playing field was the supernatural, we could better avoid getting too wrapped up in "but that's impossible!" As I recall, Joss' commentary about the origination of "Phlebotinum" was quite up-front about the writer's willingness not to require TOO pure a logic of how all the supernatural pieces fit together as long as it serviced the things they were really interested in (like the emotional journeys of the characters). Absent the supernatural medium, even we -- Joss' own fans, and veterans of "genre" TV -- get much more demanding of plausibility. Unfortunately, when it comes to the wider general public, I think they will remain willing to drink up huge amounts of improbability on their cop and doctor shows, but have difficulty extending the same favor to a lot of "genre" television.

Ah, the burdens we must bear... In the meantime, for me, since this is a Joss show, I want the writers to strive to make the logic of the functioning of the dollhouse internally consistent, but really try to let go of the smaller "but that couldn't really..." stuff. A spoonful of phlebotinum is part of a healthy balanced diet.
I agree with snot monster's take on ED's acting style. In some interview recently, she mentioned that she's never taken an acting lesson. She's come up with these gestures, which work fine with some characters, but not others. I'm mostly not that bothered by it either, because her general charisma keeps me watching, But for others, who don't have a reservoir of good feelings for her, her limited chops are going to make them like the show a little less.

I thought the review above was wrong on one of its points. The reviewer chided the Dollhouse and/or the writers for not just sending in another Active to bust them out. But the guards were sent specifically to guard the perimeter during the gray hour, so an Active would have had to be driven there AND break through the guards in about half an hour. No way.
@snot monster: If you look at the Parthenon frieze, you'll see that there are no background figures in the sense of being smaller in scale. A fragment showing all that the drawing suggested would still have to be in the vicinity of three feet in height.

@embers: I wish I could take credit for being the first in the thread to post the "marbles" joke, but I wasn't. I came a little too late in the discussion to be able to be the first. But the joke was worthy of another mention.

I agree that the Elgin marbles (yes, the hard "g" is correct) were chosen because they were stolen, and broken, and work with all the ideas everyone here has mentioned. My beef was that they could easily have created both a drawing and a prop sculpture that (a) looked Greek and (b) looked more like the Parthenon frieze figures in scale. There are fragments of the frieze that show, say, a leg and foot, or a head -- which would be a size that truly might have fit in a duffel, and would work better, I think, in terms of the idea of the fragment, in all its metaphorical associations.
Right on, doubtful, right on!
palehorse, is it possible that the marbles were intended to be from part of the pediment rather than the frieze? If so, my memory is that the figures were proportioned smaller and smaller as you worked towards the corners of the pediment. (I'll have to re-watch to see if they specifically mention the frieze, and I admit I have no memory of whether the Elgin marbles actually included any part of the pediment or only figures from the frieze.)
Actually, palehorse, if you look at the Parthenon frieze you'll see that there are rare instances of background figures in the sense of being smaller in scale.

Also, my memory of the drawing is that it showed a bull's head with half-bodies behind it, didn't it? Unless it showed full-size standing bodies from foot to head, there's no reason for it to be three feet high (the full height of the frieze). If it showed half-bodies it would be more like 1-1.5 feet high, even if they were "full scale" bodies.

In my memory it was an image related to this one, which is widely regarded as one of the possible sources of Keats's "heifer lowing at the skies" in the "Ode on a Grecian Urn."

Still, I could be misremembering the drawing. Perhaps it did show full-length figures. If so, I agree that it's unlikely to have come from the frieze (although did they actually specify the frieze? I can't recall)--but even so I think you're overstating what an outlandish absurdity this is.
You know what, I just went and looked at the drawing on Hulu. Sure enough, it shows that Keats-related one. And it is just the head of the "heifer" and the man's chest and head. It would be about 1-foot by 1-foot. So they're actually pretty much spot on.

Of course, the British Museum would be puzzled to find that they're missing not just a panel from the frieze, but a chunk of one of the panels--but apart from that, palehorse, they were entirely within the realm of believability.

The Keats connection opens up some interesting thoughts, doesn't it?

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

There's something rather poignantly Echo-ish about that, isn't there?
An excellent episode. When Sierra awoke as Taffy at the act break I had to get up and do a little happy dance.

At that moment, I fell in love with this show.
The bit about why clients keep coming to the Dollhouse doesn't bother me at all. It seems like wondering why some demons didn't just take Buffy out with a sniper rifle. I think the "higher demands for realistic setting" are definitely in play here. Might have been better to set the Dollhouse further in the future. (But then you need all that CGI.)

I was surprised when they said the bit about no one knowing exactly what's involved in an engagement. Did we know that before? It seems to take care of the problem of why clients would go to the Dollhouse in the first place, (we want this baby delivered in secret & we don't want ANYONE to know about it) & I could see how Topher could get the necessary skill sets & personality requirements from the computer without knowing what's specifically involved, but with the handler following the active around, it doesn't seem like much of a secret. That's not making sense to me.

Ooh, on preview just saw the Keats. Thanks, snot. Very nice. Poignant "echoes" indeed.
At that moment, I fell in love with this show.

I was already hooked, but that was definitely an "oh yeah, now we're beginning to see how fast this baby can go" moment for me, too.
I was surprised when they said the bit about no one knowing exactly what's involved in an engagement. Did we know that before?

Oh, I wanted to comment on that too. We've had it implied, of course ("the confessional"), but this was the first explicit statement. But it's a lie, right? I mean, the handler follows the engagement very closely, the Dollhouse command always knows exactly what's going on (I mean, there was nothing about this engagement that they weren't aware of, was there?). I think the so called "confessional" is probably just a fancy tape recorder.
Do love Keats. Nice connections, Snot Monster.
...is it going too far to say that any reference to the Parthenon brings us to the Athena image: Zeus worried of Metis' offspring so swallows her, then Athena (goddess of both technology and battle) is born, not traditionally, but after Hephaestus takes on the midwiferly duty of splitting open Zeus' skull with an axe. With Topher in the role of Hephaestus liberating the imprint from one mind to take form in another.

...as for the confessional, I took away that, of course, Adelle/Topher, etc know the basics of the assignment (hostage negotiator, sexbot, thief), but possibly the computer does some amount of work of boiling certain key components of the mission or fantasy into persona types or skill sets that might be necessary. Perhaps "particularly twisted fetish interests" translates into "active must be very "comfortable in her body" (to paraphrase a quote from Grey hour) and "might involve international diplomatic faux-pas" or "better know her ancient greek relics" gives a sense of the style of thief that might succeed. I'm not expressing this well, and I know its asking a hell of a lot of that computer, but what I imagine is that the "confessional" involves, not the client free-associating ("I want a girl just like the girl that married dear old dad"), but the client working through a guided question set based on the general category of engagement anticipated ("true or false: the active will be expected to interact with people of a particularly technical background/of a criminal background/etc.). A guided confessional like this could gather details about the genereal milieu, the particular categories of knowledge, some of the social expectations, etcetra, in a way that would mean something to Topher when expressed as categories of persona and skillset.
...is it going too far to say that any reference to the Parthenon brings us to the Athena image: Zeus worried of Metis' offspring so swallows her, then Athena (goddess of both technology and battle) is born, not traditionally, but after Hephaestus takes on the midwiferly duty of splitting open Zeus' skull with an axe. With Topher in the role of Hephaestus liberating the imprint from one mind to take form in another.

Interesting. If nothing else it adds an ironic twist to those who call Topher "lame." But there's definitely stuff to think about here. The actives are, in a sense, people "born" from the "head" rather than the body. Topher said that Echo once wiped would be a like a newborn (and this, perhaps, gets us to why the ep. begins with the birth sequence). Joss is big on the "male envy of female reproductive powers" idea, so the idea of the Actives as a "male" birth-from-the-head which nonetheless gives rise to a powerful female goddess is a really interesting one.

Oh...and thinking of this, one of my favorite Joss-y jokes in the script was "Gods!....and goddesses!"
I kind of thought that telling the client that no one knows what will happen in an engagement may just come under the heading of plausible deniability (ie a lie). It means if the client gets caught then they can't name the Dollhouse as their accomplice, but in reality I think it is clear that the monitoring of their active is as thorough as they can arrange for it to be.
And I seriously love the imagery of the Athena connection, born from Zeus' skull.
Topher reminds me waaaay too much of Warren, like exactly, for me to like him at all.

I liked the "herding" at lunch with the three actives.
I liked the shot thief as well. Good acting is very helpful.

I found the comfy shoe line confusing and jarring, given the shoes they were wearing. It didn't strike me as sarcastic. Just like the costumer didn't read the script.

The FBI stuff is boring me.
Pretty much everything Xane just said - except I do enjoy Topher. He's not as subtle or as creepy as Warren but he is a lot like him, and both fun characters.

I liked this episode, which was a relief, because I didn't like the last one much at all. I pretty much agree with what others have said re. Eliza's acting... although it's good enough that I'm not bothered during the show, and she really is such an alive, magnetic presence. IMO that's as important as being able to "disappear" into a part. It's a different kind of skill, and it generally commands less respect, but it's definitely enough to keep me coming back for more.
Topher reminds me waaaay too much of Warren, like exactly, for me to like him at all.

Topher is very different than Warren. He's blond.

Was I the only one who thought that "like a little girl" line sounded very like Warren? Like 'Killer in Me' Warren?
I never think of other characters when watching the show. They are who they are. Except the actives, then they are who they aren't.
Oh yeah - I should clarify - I agree with those who think Eliza seems to have kind of a limited repertoire of gestures / expressions etc. but I don't see Faith at all.
For what it's worth, antiquities guy, upon being presented with a piece of the Elgin marbles says "This is one of the missing Elgin marbles. But, we're looking for a frieze frame, not a metope panel. It's not clear whether he steals the metope panel that he was shown or whether he was supposed to have found the (perhaps larger) frieze frame (though, Echo does say that "he has what we came for," and everyone seems to assume as much). At the very least, we don't actually SEE the panel that he stole, just when its wrapped up.

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-03-07 22:31 ]
I'm finding the constant picking apart, and not only here, of Eliza's acting ability distasteful (was this much negative energy devoted to what she did in her two other Whedon outings?). I think she is indeed an everyman actor, not a precise, character actor like Dichen. One isn't necessarily better than the other, both fulfill specific purposes, but the central role Eliza fills is one that we, the audience, can better relate to; Eliza in continual adjustment to her given circumstances as Echo, episode to episode, engagement to engagement. But not only Echo, Eliza the actor as well. And with each passing episode, I feel more connected to Echo, and Eliza's acting is more nuanced.
Topher is growing on to me, I really start to like the dude with his weird and quirky way of beeing. Loved the woman who was with him, she's funny!

Overall, liked this episode. You can see the (bigger) story getting unfolded in the little moments.

And for what's it worth, Eliza is doing a great job. Must be daunting for an actor playing a different character every week.
I may be alone in this, but this is the first Whedon show that the main character is my favorite character.
I actually think my favorite character may be emerging as Lubov...He's funnier than Ballard, seems insightful, and, of course, carries the tragic burden of not really being a person at all. And, as one of the dolls, he is the only one who we've seen returning over and over to the same persona, such that I think a lot of us would be sad if the Lubov character disappears for good. In some ways, his ability to mock one of the more earnest characters while remaining blithely unaware of his own tenuous position reminds me of Cordelia. But the leather coat and the increasingly desperate situation leads me to think that Lubov (although not, of course, Victor) may really more closely resemble...Well, just picture him finally coming to terms with his half-doll/half-russian ganster identity, giving Ballard a big kiss, then jumping out over a pit to turn a handle that frees a thousand enslaved Russian human smuggling victims...and suddenly Ballard gets visionary headaches everytime Topher imprints an active...
For what it's worth, antiquities guy, upon being presented with a piece of the Elgin marbles says "This is one of the missing Elgin marbles. But, we're looking for a frieze frame, not a metope panel. It's not clear whether he steals the metope panel that he was shown or whether he was supposed to have found the (perhaps larger) frieze frame

That is possible--but if you look at the drawing 'Taffy' is holding and look at the "lowing at the skies" panel I linked to above, you can see that the thing he makes off with is about the right size to be a that 'chunk' of the frieze panel.

I'm finding the constant picking apart, and not only here, of Eliza's acting ability distasteful

Why "distasteful" Tonya J? I mean, I agree that the "Royal College of Cleavage" stuff is distasteful, but do you actually think it's unfair to discuss the quality of someone's acting in general?

Topher reminds me waaaay too much of Warren, like exactly, for me to like him at all.

I've been pushing the "Topher is very like Warren" line from ep. 1. I don't think we're supposed to "like" him--although I think we are supposed to find him troublingly charming at times.

FWIW, though, I don't think he's "evil"--I think he's a lot more like some kid who's not yet able to empathize with others properly. In that way, actually, he's not unlike Warren when we first met him. Remember that Warren had made a sexbot robot, but then had discovered he found her a bit of a drag compared to a real person. He had handled that situation pretty appallingly, to be sure, but I think it showed somebody who was actually capable of moral growth. Of course, it didn't happen for Warren, who "chose unwisely." I think Topher could become a more morally aware person, but I also think he'd be capable right now of seeing all the Actives killed without turning a hair if it preserved his life and his ability to keep playing with his toys.
A friend of mine complained that we didn't get much development in the main Echo storyline here as opposed to eps 2 and 3 (with the shoulder-to-the-wheel and the head-shaking going on).

But I thought Echo dealing with situation in the vault was completely "not normal" for a wiped person and that it showed us more of Echo developing or "coming out."
I really liked seeing Liza Lapira on my TV again. I remember her with great fondness as Russell Tipper's (Oliver Platt) assistant Maggie on Huff.

I'm digging this show. More, please.
For the Actives as being identifiable characters themselves, whenever the Dollhouse people prioritize "extracting the Active", I have to remind myself that the Actives are real people (victims of...volunteerism?) whose bodies have coincidentally been programmed to be kick-ass, and that their lives matter as much as the normal-people clients or bystanders they don't manage to save when being all extracted. Maybe it's in the way they're pretty much used and then shuffled off to the spa-house, leaving little room for 'character'.

Personally, I like Dr. Saunders, and also some of the imprinted personalities (including Victor's long-term-ish one), many of which I picture as lying in a scrapbox of Joss characters that may one day be resurrected.
Ronald_SF, I think the drawing the pattern on the mirror thing was enough development for me. And remembering the baby engagement during the vault engagement.
smfos, because she doesn't deserve this level of critique. I don't believe in the theory of celebrity inviting any and all scathing commentary: "Well, they chose to be an actor and put themselves out there ... let the paint ball games begin." And Whedonesque topics and members, while very debate-y at times, hugely opinionated, sometimes start to take on, in some topics, a thinly-disguised veneer of hostility that bugs me. When talking about Joss, his colleagues, including actors, I prefer to not say anything here that he might see and be offended by, while still maintaining my right to an opinion.
And remembering the baby engagement during the vault engagement.

She did? Crap, I must have missed that. When did it come up?

But I thought Echo dealing with situation in the vault was completely "not normal" for a wiped person and that it showed us more of Echo developing or "coming out."

Yeah, I think some people (including me!) missed the fact that a big chunk of the "A" story this week was actually directly addressing the season arc stuff. Seeing Echo having to explore her own resources in the 'wiped' state (and coming through in a rather "just what did River Tam do to those Reavers?" way) was actually a huge advance in the overall story.

Leads to interesting (if necessarily inconclusive) speculation about what Alpha's up to, doesn't it? Is this all an attempt by Alpha to 'wake' Echo? Is there some theory that it's only by forcing her to fight for her life she'll somehow tap in to her essential 'self'?

Whatever Alpha's up to, you have to say that he is clearly willing to risk Echo's life in the attempt to wake her. There's no way he could have been sure that she'd survive either 'Target' or 'Gray Hour."
snot, check out when she's looking at the snowy mountain painting. The baby thing was in a mountain. She's just staring at it.

Tonya, I've had a lot of trouble with that myself. I know cast members and Joss read this site. And I hate offending people. At the same time, though - do I think everything about this show is perfect? Far from it. I prefer to think of myself as the drunken, well meaning friend.

With regards to the episode, another thing which has slipped under the fandom radar I believe - who the hell was Adelle speaking to on the phone? What were the implications of that phone call?
smfos, because she doesn't deserve this level of critique. I don't believe in the theory of celebrity inviting any and all scathing commentary: "Well, they chose to be an actor and put themselves out there ... let the paint ball games begin."

I think if you reread most of the comments on her acting in this thread, Tonya J, you'll find that that hardly characterizes what is being said.

I think all most people have said here is that she's not a 'chameleon' kind of actor. Heck, Joss himself has said that in interviews (and added that he thought it was o.k. because it fit the plot: i.e., that she is struggling to rediscover a constant character underlying these multiple identities).
snot, check out when she's looking at the snowy mountain painting. The baby thing was in a mountain. She's just staring at it.

Staring at the mountain painting is when she says, "When I'm there I have another name" or whatever the line is.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-07 23:53 ]
m'cookies actual: I'm so with you on the Liza Lapira (and Huff!) love. :-)
snot, check out when she's looking at the snowy mountain painting. The baby thing was in a mountain. She's just staring at it.

Oh, I thought you meant something more concrete. I agree that this could be part of why she's fixated on that image, but there are other possibilities, right? It becomes an image of 'freedom' (the great outdoors, infinite possibilities, 'blue skies' etc.).

With regards to the episode, another thing which has slipped under the fandom radar I believe - who the hell was Adelle speaking to on the phone? What were the implications of that phone call?

Yeah, I think there's some comment on that way up in this thread. It sure struck me, though. I'd thought she was pretty near the top of the Dollhouse hierarchy. But that conversation looked like middle management talking to a very big boss.
I couldn't see the actual panel they showed well enough, but I don't think it WAS the lowing at the skies bull. That is not to say that the professor didn't find the target "lowing at the skies" fragment and steal it.

I think criticisms of Eliza's acting are quite appropriate. I'm not sure why they wouldn't be. It's her job. We're watching the product of it. Saying we shouldn't critique it is like saying we shouldn't critique an author's writing or a painter's painting. (This is, of course, very different from critiquing how a celebrity lives his or her life or something like that.)

Oh, and she remembered the midwife engagement in the vault when she looked at the picture of the mountains and said "when I'm there, my name is something different."
I don't think it WAS the lowing at the skies bull.

I'm not talking about the panel they find--I'm not sure it's shown clearly enough to recognize. I'm talking about the drawing that Eliza has. It's very clearly the bull's head and the man leading it from that panel (I froze it on my hulu feed and flipped back and forth from it to the photo of that panel).
wow i was really bored with this episode, i skipped through sections of it... ANGEL already did this kind of plot where they tried to steal the shroud of Rahmon (or whatever it was called) and things go bad. I'm not saying that the two episodes are even remotely related, but eh the plotline of this ep just didn't hold my interest.
And the nerdy guy who programs the dolls, whose name escapes me at this moment, I really cannot stand his over-acting, especially at the very end where he finds out Alpha is alive and well.
I most definately agree with Tonya J.
I'm not mis-characterizing anything. In every topic, for every episode, Eliza has been slammed regarding her acting ability. Every.single.topic. I'm not saying stop, that's the mods' job. I'm having my say, and that's all I'm gonna say about it, since I've had it.

ETA, Thanks gossi.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-03-08 00:11 ]
Yeah, absolutely, snot monster. That's my point. They find one panel (that we see). But we never actually see the fragment that is stolen. We only see it wrapped up in the duffel bag, making its size somewhat harder to determine. I have no reason to doubt that it's the bull.

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-03-08 00:05 ]
Oh, and speaking of Adelle on the phone, I assumed that when Lubov showed up at Ballard's apartment again, that was at Adelle/Dollhouse's bidding, i.e. it was designed to bring Ballard "closure."

I can't figure out HOW that was supposed to bring him closure, exactly, but evidently, they thought that Lubov approaching him and asking for help would be what he wanted.
I wasn't sure whether the painting scene was a reference to the midwife thing, Echo (though the Dollhouse has no sky), Caroline (in the real world) or any other engagement. I also wondered whether the "blue skies" thing would come up again.

I always thought Adelle was middle management. She seems somewhat torn between doing her job while finding it hard to stay completely detached.
Just rewatched the episode, and a couple of things caught my attention.

When Echo is wiped following the childbirth engagement, there seems to be a lot of emotion under the surface as she delivers her standard "did I fall asleep" lines. Shades of the not-so-clean slate analogy.

And at the very end, when she draws a face in the mirror, that is definitely no simple smiley face. And frowny if anything.

Also, still not bothered by the shoes thing. Seen too many high-heeled haters recant on WN2W, and rave about their comfortable new heels. I don't think Cole Haan makes thigh boots, but there must be high-end pairs that are comfy, and I don't expect the Dollhouse would cheap out on clothes.
I'm not mis-characterizing anything. In every topic, for every episode, Eliza has been slammed regarding her acting ability.

It's the price you pay for being the lead of a show, people are going to notice your acting ability and if some find it poor they're going to comment on it. In the same way that people who think her acting's great will also comment. That so many comment on issues with her acting may less be a sign of the meanness of posters and people picking on ED but because a fair number of people aren't impressed by her acting.
I'm not sure what their goal is with the latest Lubov assignment, but I guess we'll find out soon enough. I did find it nicely ironic that Ballard was being so callous with him, yet this guy is actually one of the people he's trying to save.

Also, the wipe rewind seemed especially long in this episode. On purpose or just filling time?
In every topic, for every episode, Eliza has been slammed regarding her acting ability.

Well, this thread has as many people praising her acting highly as it does those criticizing it. And those criticizing it are, almost all of them, saying that she's extremely charismatic but just not the type of actor who disappears into different personae (i.e., she's more 'star' than 'character actress').

Perhaps this analogy will assuage you a little. I worship Humphrey Bogart as a film actor. I admire Alec Guinness as a film actor, but he's not, for me, in the same league as Bogie. But there's no way in hell I'd ever have cast Bogie in a film like "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (where the actor has to play a whole slew of different people--men and women), while Alec Guinness was clearly made for the job. ED is more the Bogie type: she makes every role she plays a version of her 'star' persona. Dichen is, from what we've seen, more in the Guinness mold: she disappears into the role.

It's not a 'better/worse' thing (except insofar as you're "better" or "worse" at that specific skill)--it's a "horses for courses" thing.

O.K.?
Okay, one more thing and I'll stop on this topic. I don't need to be assuaged, I don't need people to pat me on the head and say, "Hey Tonya, we're not really picking on poor Eliza." No (and how insulting is that, anyway). What I'm saying even more explicitly, is that there is an acceptable level of critique, and then there is over the top pecking, that if it were a chicken, would peck your head bald if you let it, just as there is an over the top other side of the pendulum; a Whedon actor luvvie so entranced by that actor, that they can do wrong, not even have an off episode.
When Echo is wiped following the childbirth engagement, there seems to be a lot of emotion under the surface as she delivers her standard "did I fall asleep" lines. Shades of the not-so-clean slate analogy.

That moment of the Active's awakening from the wipe is becoming more and more horrifying/fascinating to me. Every time I find myself tensing up: "will this be the time they go off-script?"

What I'm saying even more explicitly, is that there is an acceptable level of critique, and then there is over the top pecking, that if it were a chicken, would peck your head bald if you let it, just as there is an over the top other side of the pendulum; a Whedon actor luvvie so entranced by that actor, that they can do wrong, not even have an off episode.

Uh-huh. So...comparing ED to Humphrey Bogart is "over the top" criticism, but you aren't saying that we can't be critical. I see.

So...would acceptable criticism, for you, be something like "Eliza Dushku is clearly the greatest actress who ever lived, but I suppose it is possible that some day in the distant future there may be someone even better." Or would that be too cutting?
snot monster, you're going very OTT in your posts so cool it. Consider this a first and final warning.
The range of responses to performances is always weird to me. Specifically, this time around, the people having issues with Topher in this episode. Every time I see someone point out what to them is a problem with Fran's acting I end up instead seeing just the way Topher is as a person.

I think most of what we see of Topher is an act, a public persona he pushes, perhaps to maintain a detachment. Which itself then becomes an aspect of the show's exploration of the question of identity.

Contrast it with seriously dangerous moments like the flashback in The Target to when Alpha escaped. Topher was much more subdued, because (I'd argue), maintaining his "over the top" front persona wasn't as quite as important in that moment as it usually is.

So, for me, it's not that Fran is sometimes "over the top". It's that Topher's method of detachment is.
Re the fragment, we do briefly see the recovered fragment in Adelle's office near the end. Screencaps, rotated to match. It is the one with the guy and the bull, though the bull is hard to make out.
Wait B!x, Topher seemed subdued to you when Alpha escaped? Because I seem to remember him running around like a fool demanding a gun.
But I'm not complaining about Topher or the actor playing him, I'm loving the character and thinking that Joss is kind of pushing the envelope here. Xander and Wash were both the funny/weak male who kind of represented Joss, in a way. But with Topher we have a much more maniacal manipulative, and perhaps even menacing version of the funny weak male.
snot monster, you're going very OTT in your posts so cool it

Simon, any chance you could email me and tell me which posts you consider OTT. I don't want to break any rules here, but I'm not sure which of my posts you consider are doing so. I have to say the warning came as a surprise to me.
When Echo is wiped following the childbirth engagement, there seems to be a lot of emotion under the surface as she delivers her standard "did I fall asleep" lines.

Glad to see someone else thought this was significant. In all previous instances, "did I fall asleep? / shall I go now?" sounded like honest questions, with a note of confusion. This time around, it sounded more like a self-aware Echo running through a script, statements rather than questions.
Wait B!x, Topher seemed subdued to you when Alpha escaped? Because I seem to remember him running around like a fool demanding a gun.

Subdued compared to normal Topher? Yes. He basically stands still and has difficulty stringing sentences together. (I just re-watched it, to be sure of how I remembered it.) No running around. And hardly a demand, more of a whimpering request. Very different Topher.

ETA the relevant clip via Hulu.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-08 00:55 ]
I also find it interesting upon rewatch that whatever connection DeWitt might have to Echo, Dominic might perhaps know about it. His "I'm sorry" to her at the prospect that Echo might have to be terminated suggests that, anyway.
nasarius, I noticed the same thing and thought it was very interesting and telling. She seemed to be trying to remember what she was supposed to say.

bix, I totally agree about Topher. It isn't Fran Kranz overacting, it is Topher being Topher. I know people like that. People who talk just a little too loud so that everyone within earshot (and beyond) can hear what they are saying and know just how important and smart they are. People who desperately need to be the center of attention and desperately crave approval from others. People who make everything drama drama drama, and then fold in any sort of real crisis. I really dislike/hate people like that and Topher pushes all my buttons as that kind of dude.

That being said, the character fascinates me because I don't have to like characters to be entertained and intrigued by them.
electricspacegirl says that she sees subtle changes in inflection and vocabulary, in Eliza's character.


I did? Well, only if the word "definite" now means "subtle".
Interesting quote...
Echo as Taffy: I know who I am and what I do, but I didn't sign up for that.

There seem to be a lot of double meaning lines like that sprinkled in the episodes. Also, "When this is over, feel free to forget I exist," but that one's more obvious.
Wow, B!x, how cool is that: you could make a specific hulu video capturing the scene! I love it (and I did remember it differently, I stand corrected). Like TamaraC, I'm finding Topher very entertaining and intriguing, and I'm thinking he is the character most likely to sell out everyone for his own advantage.
I love Hulu's clip ability. This is the second time I've used it in a Dollhouse discussion.
I've been working on a paper about the Republic of Georgia all semester, and whenever people ask and I say "It's about Georgia", they get all confused. It's been driving me nuts!
But now, I get to say "Russia Georgia, not Sweet Home Georgia"... and of course they'll be all confused still, but at least it'll be fun for me!
I can't imagine to many Georgians would be happy hearing it described as "Russian Georgia..." of course it was a Russian saying it, and maybe he's still stuck way back in the CCCR. And of course its a lot easier for Americans to understand... plus you know, funny.
Ooh, cool Hulu clippage. I have to think of a reason to do that.

I think FK is doing a great job as Topher. He seems like an over-self conscious phony because he is one. Never got where people were seeing Xander in him. That clip shows us a bit of the frightened kid inside.

I'm very curious about Adele's bosses, and I'm wondering if we're going to learn anything about them. I imagine this season will close out the Alpha arc, but I'm afraid the bosses will remain a Senior Partners-type mystery unless we get another season.
Interesting quote...
Echo as Taffy: I know who I am and what I do, but I didn't sign up for that.

There seem to be a lot of double meaning lines like that sprinkled in the episodes. Also, "When this is over, feel free to forget I exist," but that one's more obvious.

Yes, indeedy there are quite of few of those sprinkles. Unfortunately to me they seem very 'obvious' (kind of like banging on an anvil) and therefore they take me out of the story as I consider yet another precious allusion. I don't need to see the writers grinning over the script - in fact it kinda ruins it for me as a viewer although if I was doing a textual criticism I'm sure I'd be delighted to consider them in greater depth.
I always found Faith to have an underlying desperation, imperfectly hidden under her bravado, and none of the characters Eliza/Echo have played thus far in Dollhouse were anything like that. Oh Faith was more confident on Angel after the jail break, but then she had an underlying bitterness and self loathing, also nothing like anything Echo has shown us.

I see the exact same thing in Faith, and it's communicated by a very striking set of behaviors that I haven't seen in any of her Dollhouse characters.
Great episode, I liked it a lot. Aside from a few continuity moments, it was very much a filler ep, but that's exactly what the show needed in my opinion.

Best episode so far, really proved to me how/that the show can work.
I didn't like this one as much as the last, for some reason. Maybe because I watched the first part (up until the remote wipe) in a rush before work, and the rest, which I did enjoy, after I got home. Topher continues to interest me, and is so far one of my favorite characters. I love the little bit with the mirror at the end, but I've been looking at that shot in the credits and loving it for a while, so I may be predisposed toward it.

To [fail to] answer a question somebody had upthread about the building at the very beginning where Echo was being a midwife: I thought I recognized it, from somebody giving examples of stuff in one of my architecture classes, but I couldn't tell you what it's called or anything but that it's in some Scandinavian country. On top of a mountain. I'm going to try googling and will edit if I find it...
This might be a good thread in which to ask this. Are Dollhouse casting spoilers considered to be hard spoilers? I just thought I'd ask because I know there's a big casting spoiler going around and I don't want to be spoiled for it. I'm worried I might come across it accidentally.
I find Topher annoying. An immature individual who gets away with petty domination ("And some juice boxes") because of a certain skill. (And apparently Alpha's better than he is.)

Simon, thank you for noticing snot's snarkiness/condescending tone. I concur with Tonya.

The show's coming along, Joss always has more to give.
I'm in the same boat as you, esg. I haven't looked beyond the current episode for casting, plot points, or anything else, and I would prefer such spoilers to be kept confined to threads specifically about those spoilers, if possible.

falina, please leave the moderating to the mods. Ta.
Oh, and regarding Nielsen (Neilson?) raters. I was acquainted with 2 of them in North Texas. Neither would care much for anything Joss did, but one did give support to BtVS that week because she knew I liked Buffy.
When Echo is wiped following the childbirth engagement, there seems to be a lot of emotion under the surface as she delivers her standard "did I fall asleep" lines.


I noticed that too.

Glad to see someone else thought this was significant. In all previous instances, "did I fall asleep? / shall I go now?" sounded like honest questions, with a note of confusion. This time around, it sounded more like a self-aware Echo running through a script, statements rather than questions.


It takes some nuanced acting to convey that as well as Eliza is. I'm just saying.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2009-03-08 05:31 ]
I was impressed by that moment too - how clear it was that she remembered something, that this wipe wasn't complete.

We're probably all done with it, but re. Tonya J's response to the criticisms of Eliza's acting, I just wanted to say that I get what you're saying there. After watching a show, obviously a lot of us are excited or disappointed or whatever and we come here to talk about it, and we talk about the performances too, but there is an intense focus on Eliza doing Not Faith, and Eliza being the Star this time, and when each of us says a little something, en masse it can feel ... massive, and of course there's the awkward balancing act of coming here to talk about a show with other viewers, but also knowing that the people involved may well read what you're saying.

I've noticed a few people saying that the negativity or the obsessiveness about ratings is getting to them as well. I've come on here and commented in various threads and enjoyed the discussion, and other times I've turned up and thought "I need a break from all this Dollhouse obsessing." So... do I have a point?... not really... but as someone who both participates in the nit-picking and then sometimes finds it all a bit much, I see where you're coming from and I think a lot of us are going to feel a bit irritable about some of the discussions here while there's a show actually on the air.

This place is getting noisy ;).
I'm in the same boat as you, esg. I haven't looked beyond the current episode for casting, plot points, or anything else, and I would prefer such spoilers to be kept confined to threads specifically about those spoilers, if possible.


Thanks, SNT.

BTW, in regards to the mountain picture that Echo was starting at: I too believe it was reminding her of her midwifing engagement, and I think those mountains we see in the beginning of the episode look very much like the mountains in the painting. In fact, I'd love a screenshot comparison to see if I'm right. I'll have take some caps when I rewatch the episode.
embers: "I always found Faith to have an underlying desperation, imperfectly hidden under her bravado, and none of the characters Eliza/Echo have played thus far in Dollhouse were anything like that. Oh Faith was more confident on Angel after the jail break, but then she had an underlying bitterness and self loathing, also nothing like anything Echo has shown us."

Sunfire: "I see the exact same thing in Faith, and it's communicated by a very striking set of behaviors that I haven't seen in any of her Dollhouse characters."

Yeah, I agree - Faith also seemed to possess an underlying slightly-bruised weariness - both pre & post-prison Faith - that I've not seen in any "character" or role that she's yet played as Caroline/Echo.

I'm completely loving on Eliza's Dollhouse acting, and I've seen very little of anything that reminds me of Faith - other than a certain amount of strength/warmth that she always exudes which is probably so core-essential that I think you'd need a lobotomy to remove it from her. Among other feats, I'm very impressed by the way she's subtly building an Echo persona so that after every wipe, there seems to be a little something more retained - which tends to show best under pressure, as in this episode. (I too noticed the post-wipe retention...)

snot monster from outer space: "Joss is big on the 'male envy of female reproductive powers' idea, so the idea of the Actives as a 'male' birth-from-the-head which nonetheless gives rise to a powerful female goddess is a really interesting one."

This made me think about Topher in a new way. Leaving aside the more flawed aspects of Topher's personality (his arrogance, his patronizing attitude, his panic, etc.) we have noticed - and Joss has mentioned - a similarity between Topher and Joss with respect to their mutual roles of creating "characters." It occurs to me that both Topher - and Joss - are male artists able to "give birth" by making people up "out of their heads."

Huh. That's all I got on this so far, but it is interesting.

Another birth "echo" is, of course, the passage/transition from "asleep" Active to awakened personality - a journey that Echo/Caroline appears to have well begun. The underwater imagery - much re-used, but first seen in the earliest trailer - hinted at this connection to the birth process, which moved Echo in its beginning from sitting fetally to popping out of the water gulping air towards the end.

I really liked this episode - if I have to rate, I'd say the best so far, although that might also be because now we have enough to build on from the previous episodes. I stayed riveted throughout, really liked the art/life discussions with Taffy-wiped Echo & the nicer thief-colleague, and thought it was an artful balance of arc and impersonation-of-the-week.

BTW, I'm sure Fran Kranz is not overacting - this isn't community theatre, and everyone involved knows what they are doing. It appears to be an intentional illustration of the wafer-thinness of Topher's front of composure and confidence. The "don't blame me" attitude does seem immature, but I think it's also an indication of what employment in the illegal Dollhouse by those mysterious bosses is like. I don't think their review process is, you know, Department of Labor-approved.

Finally, I'm wondering about the need and feasibility of trying to determine who's "doing a better job" or "blowing who out of the water" or "is so much better than who" between Eliza Dushku & Dichen Lachman. Must their performances be assessed as competing? Enjoy one, or like the other, or not care for one of their performances - I'm not sure it's all that helpful or possible to decide who's doing a "better" job. I loved Alyson and Sarah and Eliza and Juliet and Amber and Emma in BtVS, but I never found any need to decide who was wiping the floor with whom. It seems unnecessarily competitive. Most actors find it preferable to approach ensemble acting with a more cooperative perspective.

Oh, yeah, this episode answered my question about mirrors in the Dollhouse with lots of mirror-echo-y goodness.

And I think the mountain painting has echoes to both the "Target" run-for-her-life and her "Gray Hour" midwifery, as well as serving as a general symbol of uplift and effort and freedom.

ETF: stutter

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-03-08 06:46 ]
Oh, this:

I've seen very little of anything that reminds me of Faith - other than a certain amount of strength/warmth that she always exudes which is probably so core-essential that I think you'd need a lobotomy to remove it from her.

The mountains are kind of similar, and I agree they were totally reminding Echo.

I do notice that the exterior shot of the house in no way matches the scenery from inside. Outside, the weather is clear and sunny and the house is perched high on a rocky ridge with no vegetation, yet from inside it is snowing and surrounded by trees. Oops.

You would think they could have found an exterior shot of a cabin in the woods easily enough, but then I guess they then wanted mountains to tie in with the painting, and that may have screwed them up.
Just checked and the mountains don't really look the same, but when Echo wass staring at that painting, I immediately thought of the house where she delivered the baby.
Ok, am I the only one that noticed this?

I just rewatched...

When the hotel guy is offering money to Taffy, it cuts from him to her and we hear a voice over "You can go anywhere, you can be free," or something along those lines, and I could swear that it's Boyd's voice, and not the hotel guy's.

Anyone else?
Brilliant post QuoterGal. And not just because you're the only one other than me who detected a connection to Target in Echo's fascination with the mountain painting, as well as the connection to the location of her midwife gig. :)

Glad to see someone else thought this was significant. In all previous instances, "did I fall asleep? / shall I go now?" sounded like honest questions, with a note of confusion. This time around, it sounded more like a self-aware Echo running through a script, statements rather than questions.

It takes some nuanced acting to convey that as well as Eliza is. I'm just saying.

electricspacegirl | March 08, 05:28 CET


Couldn't agree more. Lots of nuanced stuff from Eliza, really impressive.

[ edited by Shey on 2009-03-08 12:59 ]
snot monster from outer space: "Joss is big on the 'male envy of female reproductive powers' idea, so the idea of the Actives as a 'male' birth-from-the-head which nonetheless gives rise to a powerful female goddess is a really interesting one."

This made me think about Topher in a new way. Leaving aside the more flawed aspects of Topher's personality (his arrogance, his patronizing attitude, his panic, etc.) we have noticed - and Joss has mentioned - a similarity between Topher and Joss with respect to their mutual roles of creating "characters." It occurs to me that both Topher - and Joss - are male artists able to "give birth" by making people up "out of their heads."

Huh. That's all I got on this so far, but it is interesting. QuoterGal | March 08, 06:40 CET


Interesting indeed. I'm a huge fan of Rhoda Wilcox (Why Buffy Maters) and how she relates Joss's characters' journey's to the 'hero's journey' in Greek myth, as interpreted by Joseph Campbell.
More fun stuff to chew over, considering the Greek art heist.
Paraphrasing from memory but someone way upthread mentioned how sweet it is to hear 'Jossian' dialog again ....

Echo:"Old stuff expert guy ... old stuff, over here." ;)
Re the mountain painting being a shout out to "The Target" - not so much. This episode (Gray Hour) was shot as episode 2, before "The Target" was shot. Hence why some of the "Previously On" moments on previous episodes have been in this episode.
I keep trying to pin down (at least for myself) what I find lacking in Eliza's performance. It's not that I keep seeing Faith or even 'one-note', it's that I see her acting each and every time, whether as Echo or as another personality. At first I thought that was simply because I knew she was acting (e.g., not a 'real' personality in any of these cases), but having watched Dichen (as Sierra and in a few roles) and Enver (I was indeed surprised at the Viktor reveal) and perhaps even Miracle (should Lasagna-lady be shown to be an Active), I realize that I don't have the same complaint about any of them. It's almost like Eliza doesn't have the depth rather than the range to carry this on her shoulders. Just my opinion of course.
Of course, two of your three examples have only had to play one "imprint" and "blank", so its not exactly a damning indictment.

Re the mountain painting being a shout out to "The Target" - not so much.


It may not be, but your reasoning for it isn't really all that solid either. Do you think they didn't know about the "The Target" when they were filming "Gray Hour"? I honestly wouldn't put it past Captain Foreshadowing (see any dream episode of Buffy) to do this. Do I think it was a foreshadow-y shoutout? Not really.
zeitgeist, they knew about 'The Target' as a concept for a while - Joss and Tim were kicking around as episode 5 originally, I think, back when the show was first in development. But "Gray Hour" was always supposed to be the 2nd episode of the series, so having her remember an engagement before it even happened wouldn't make sense.
Electcspacegrl said:
"electricspacegirl says that she sees subtle changes in inflection and vocabulary, in Eliza's character."

I did? Well, only if the word "definite" now means "subtle".

I should have been clearer- that was from a comment on twitter you had made.
In any case, I have never felt that Eliza can't act, and people are pointing about all sorts of nice bits, but she does have a bunch of set mannerisms that she falls back on.
I think of one interview with Joss where he says that Eliza is a hair actor - not those words precisely- but that he decided to do scenes with her hair up, so she didn't have her hair to act with.
I think he is pushing her and that she will get better and better and I look forward to seeing that.
I'm not saying she actually "remembered" it, I'm saying the fact that she looked at it while she delivered the line could conceivably have been foreshadowing. Plus, I don't believe that we are shown every engagement; its also possible that the episode order we see isn't necessarily the order that Echo experiences things in. And, yes, it is far more likely a shoutout to the midwifery. Am I saying that any of this is the case? No, I was just really making a point that when examining this show, being rigid in your thought process does you a dis-service.
No, I was just really making a point that when examining this show, being rigid in your thought process does you a dis-service.

I think the only way to factually analyse a show is to use facts, to be honest.
Of course, two of your three examples have only had to play one "imprint" and "blank", so its not exactly a damning indictment.

zeitgeist, I'm not certain that this comment refers to my post immediately before it, but I think it does. First off, I think you will appreciate from the tone of my post that I am not attempting "a damning indictment" of anyone, even ED! I am simply trying to understand/communicate why I am not over-the-moon with her acting as are some other viewers. And, I think you miss the point, in that as I indicated it is not range (i.e., how believable in various roles) but depth (i.e., how believable in any role) that was the heart of my comment. In that sense, only one 'persona' can suffice although certainly seeing more gives greater opportunity to see whether it 'sticks'. Again, just my humble opinion.
I wasn't all too thrilled with this ep at first, but after some rethinking I actually fell in love with it.

I love the title commenting the show itself: Dollhouse is, indeed, a gray hour in the TV landscape.
baxter - I get that it was depth vs. range, but they aren't completely divorced from one another. If you only see one role played, then its just possible your ability to judge depth is affecteded by the lack of an opportunity to judge range. I didn't miss your point, I just don't completely agree, and its all subjective anyway, as you say :)

I think the only way to factually analyse a show is to use facts, to be honest.


Ah, the mythical factual analysis. Good luck with that in a show that plays with concepts of perception, memory, identity, etc. Yes, I realize you mean "factually" from an outside the show perspective, but even getting meta there is room for interpretation in art even before you get to the "facts" of what ep was supposed to air when.
I love Hulu's clip ability.

On the subject of handy online video tricks, here's another one: By adding #t=1m15s you can link to a specific time in a youtube clip. My example will jump to 1 min and 15 sec. Pretty handy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXXXXXXXX#t=1m15s
Nice tip (beats telling people where it starts and them then having to wait/scroll through).

Liked this one, still not loving it but some great bits.

- the bait-switch-switch at the start with what looks like the first actual prostitute engagement turning into a story about rape turning into a story about a professional of another stripe entirely. At the first switch I thought it was actually the security guard's fantasy of being the knight in shining armour coming to Echo's rescue. Should've guessed from the safecracker boots though ;).

- "I'm not broken" ... "No, you're not". He's starting to like her. Awww ;).

- when nice-guy thief tells Echo about how prison's a place with no sky, the look on Eliza's face was really nicely played, totally Echo at that point IMO.

Dunno which mountains she was specifically thinking of BTW but the painting certainly looks a lot more like the alpine landscape from the "midwife" engagement than the wooded/sandy cliffed terrain from 'The Target' (and if it's not that she was thinking of, why have the midwife segment at all ?). Still, as QuoterGal says, mountains mean freedom in general and they certainly mean sky (cos you can't help but look up when you see them) so I guess it doesn't even need to be specific to work.

- also when he tells her not to play with the smoke grenade, nicely observed "little girl chastised" look

- and boy Topher just gets dickyer and dickyer. Fran Kranz is playing him well I think, he does a good job of showing his cracks come unpapered at the first sign of trouble. There's not much to like or admire there but you still kind of like him (or find him entertaining at least - he does get a lot of the old skool Whedony lines).

Re: Dichen/Eliza, ironically enough for a show partly about roles and their expectations, I think it's maybe because Eliza being the star of an action show means she doesn't really get to play the extremes of parts that the supporting roles get to play. So Dichen can be the geeky fan one week and the cynical professional thief the next but Eliza isn't allowed to play completely "weak" characters because she's the hero. Her range shines in the tiny subtleties as we see Echo develop IMO (which BTW, is happening a bit quicker than i'd imagined. Not complaining - it's the good quicker ;) - just observin').
What is the connection between the painting and the episode "The Target"? I'm a bit lost.
I'm not convinced personally but some folk upthread thought it might be an allusion ('The Target' obviously also being set in the mountains and Echo equally obviously being someone else for that episode).
Do we know for sure that the midwife stuff was an engagement? It's the hardest situation for me to believe that someone would hire a Doll for. I can't remember if they show a memory-wipe of that or not. Could we have seen a Caroline memory?
being rigid in your thought process does you a dis-service

Such a rigid statement. *flee*
They show a memory wipe for the midwifery, yes.
Well, clearly the baby was a big secret (thus the delivery in the middle of nowhere), and if the Dollhouse is the place to go when you really need your secrets kept...I can buy it.
I'm not convinced personally but some folk upthread thought it might be an allusion


Not it! (just to be clear, I figured it was a callback to the beginning of the show)

Such a rigid statement. *flee*


Such a rigid response. *flee*
But those weren't snow-covered mountains in The Target. I think that's reaching quite a bit. I considered it a call back to the first scene and it seemed to give the episode a lot more cohesion.
I don't think it matters what the reference is to, just that Echo has a vague notion that she's someone else when she's there. Hypothetically, it could be a mission we haven't even seen. Doesn't change the meaning.
Well, it could matter from one perspective: We don't yet know exactly how long Echo's awarenesses of other times stick around. So whether or not it was the recent midwifery mountain would have bearing on that question. (That piece of speculation said, for the current purposes within the context of this episode, I agree with you that it doesn't actually matter. And I also come down on the side arguing that it in fact was written as a callback to the midwifery mountain.)
Yeah, can her memories survive more than one wipe ? Something seems to (see her and Sierra) but how much ? And associating mountains with being someone else is more than Topher's instinctive bisonism, got a bit of the person about it IMO.

Not it! (just to be clear, I figured it was a callback to the beginning of the show)

Yeah, yeah, a likely story ;-).

Well, clearly the baby was a big secret (thus the delivery in the middle of nowhere), and if the Dollhouse is the place to go when you really need your secrets kept...I can buy it.

C'mon people, the alpine setting, the need for secrecy, the father's suspiciously brown hair - surely i'm not the only one thinking , right ? more like.


... i'm the only one aren't I ? I'll get me coat.


edited Pour Pointy ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-10 13:09 ]
Awww, I missed you :).
I’m a little puzzled as to why the midwife assignment seems to be such a disuspension of belief thing. Surely if there’s one event the super-rich might want to spend big money on making sure goes designer perfectly it’s the birth of an heir. As for hiring a real person I’m assuming that while Echo has been programmed with all the empathy and practical skills of the perfect midwife she also has the surgical know how of the world’s best obstetrician jammed in there just in case things go wrong. Which would be a combination (surgical skills and lack of arrogance) that really wouldn’t co-exist in real life.
Oh, all things considered, I imagine that it must have been a specific call-out to her Mountain Midwifery, but that in a larger & looser sense (which honestly was the main sense in which it interested me) "mountain" (whether snowcapped or not) does work as symbol overall of Echo/Caroline's remembering, which in turn would appear to be the key to her freedom.

Missed you too, Saje-acious one.
We also have no idea what additional parameters might have been part of that engagement. Maybe they needed somebody who was also an expert couples therapist. Or maybe it was an emergency, with poor weather preventing a helicopter from landing, so they needed an expert OBGYN who also has parachuting, skiing, and mountaineering skills.

One of the big selling points of the dollhouse has to be that that you can custom order unusual skill combinations, with absolute expertise, and get them relatively quickly.

(also - yay Saje!)
Am I wrong in interpreting Adelle's "no one knows the details but you" as a big fat lie she tells clients to make them feel comfortable? How could Topher customize personalities unless he knows exactly what they're supposed to do? And the whole team is really familiar with the details of the theft once they find out things have gone wrong.
So, the clone of Hitler is a girl with linebacker's shoulders?
Coming into this thread late, and having read almost the entire thing (ouch, eye-hurt), I'll just give you guys the small: "really liked this one", comment. The show is starting to click in my mind. I found Fran Kranz to be better as Topher than in previous episodes (possibly because I've gotten more used to him and because he got more screentime here, so felt more "real" as a character) and this time the engagement was actually, y'know, interesting in itself. It didn't feel padded either (like especially 'The Target' did). All in all: still no "well, now I'm a fan" from me, but this was a good, solid IotW-episode that made me care more about certain characters and what has been happening.

Also, the bison line (hello there original pilot script)? Funniest line of the show so far. Roll on next week!

ETA: yes, septimus, didn't you know hitler played ball?

[ edited by GVH on 2009-03-08 22:03 ]
Were the bison painted red?
So, the clone of Hitler is a girl with linebacker's shoulders?

Yep, Hitler was a rugby player in early life. And a woman. Fact.

(c'mon, would anyone wear that moustache except as a cunning disguise ? Exactly. I rest my case. And then I step back and pretend it's someone else's case because of how silly it is. If that case were mine - and i'm not saying it is - it would now be dead to me)

Am I wrong in interpreting Adelle's "no one knows the details but you" as a big fat lie she tells clients to make them feel comfortable?

I guess the clients might be anonymised somehow so that only they (and Adelle presumably) know who it's for ? But yeah, Topher at least must know all the details of each assignment. I guess it's a bit like medical records nowadays - we kid ourselves that only our doctor sees them but I bet someone else types them into the computer or updates them. And the surgery's tech support is gonna have access too i'd bet.


ETA: And cheers BTW folks, I am indeed returned from the world without - next time I may arrange a system of flags or something to avert potential picnics ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-08 22:28 ]
Well crap, if it's like a hospital, they're telling each other stories about the best bits from the files over coffee. I guess that's why they need all those security clearances. I would guess only a handful of people know the details of a mission. It could be limited to Topher, Adelle, Laurence, the handler.
Yeah, agreed. In fact i'm not even sure about the handler except in particular situations (they'd know where their active is and they'd have their telemetry but not necessarily all the details of the assignment - Boyd doesn't always seem to know exactly what's in store for Echo for instance).
Yeah, I guess it's those core 3 and handlers on a need-to-know basis. Which is weird, since Topher's interactions don't exactly read like he's their head science guy. He acts like an arrogant tech but not the go-to person for big science problems. I guess maybe that's just how Topher presents himself though.
"Well crap, if it's like a hospital, they're telling each other stories about the best bits from the files over coffee."

Sadly, that's so true, Sunfire - especially here in L.A.

Which brings up another thought: I'd love to see behind-the-scenes at the Dollhouse - not just the offices of Adele or Dr. Saunders, but where the sleeproom attendants hang out and gossip - or the lower functionary's cafeteria. Who keeps the Dollhouse's books? Who cleans the Dollhouse, and how do they keep those floors so polished? ; > Is there a wardrobe room? Or do they acquire outfits as needed?

Whenever I see a fancy place, I can't help thinking about its less fancy areas - like the boiler room or the vending machine area - and of all the people who "really" keep that place looking good and running smoothly.

Re: "need to know" - there was something in "Ghost" - I think - that in one instance, because that particular task of the engagement was so dangerous, Boyd would have to listen in completely instead of just monitoring vitals. It does seem like there's at least some elementary attempts to give the client a little privacy.

There's something else that's nagging at me - think it's from "Ghost" as well - where I think Boyd is yelling at Topher for putting flaws into Echo to build Miss Penn, and Topher retorts, "That's her business." This seemed really odd to me. Did anyone get that?

(I guess that's enough trivial observations and questions for the moment...)
It seems to me that Topher could get all the information he needs without breaking client confidentiality. The computer could tell him they need a woman who can be a party girl/ace safe cracker with many levels of unflappable--but he doesn't need to know the name of the hotel, the other robbers or the client.
Well that was an interesting aspect of Sierra-Taffy - she talks about 10 months planning etc. but who did that planning ? Given that we see the client and we're given no reason to suppose 10 months pass between that meeting and the job then surely Topher would have created the plan (and so would know everything, down to blue-prints of the hotel etc.) ? Or did they "awaken" Taffy to plan the job and then store the memory for later use (maybe just making her think it was over a period ten months) ?

(and yeah QG, 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' did an excellent episode called 'Lower Decks' which is similar to that sort of idea. It's cadets rather than cleaners/support staff etc. - not sure they even have those in Trek, sounds a bit not-quite-utopian-enough - but they were basically the "red shirts" i.e. the disposable characters in the background that everyone knows won't survive the episode and nobody really cares about. This episode made you care. Good idea, well implemented)
she talks about 10 months planning etc. but who did that planning ?


Maybe the personality is being kept alive artificially in a computer rather than just being stored?
I will admit to admiring Adelle's posh office space, wondering who cleans it, realizing it's just an office and not a big deal, and then wondering who cleans Topher's office and the various Active spaces.

Security for the evil elite always gets so complicated once you hire minions to do all that stuff.
Taffy stored in a computery box, I've accepted. Taffy living in a computery box, yikes.
I would assume that if they can construct a hostage negotiator personality that knows years of training and education, they can construct a bank robber that knows ten months of planning.
Well yeah, the question isn't can they make her think she's planned for ten months, the question is where does that plan come from (if it's Topher he must know everything). There's a difference between mashing memories of past assignments and creating a specific plan for a particular vault etc.

Taffy stored in a computery box, I've accepted. Taffy living in a computery box, yikes.

Yeah, that'd be something new and though it might sound like an extension of what they have it's actually a pretty different technology (i.e. another sci-fi leap requiring suspension of disbelief).

Not saying it's not the case, just saying the evidence for it is pretty thin right now.
Oh, that's true about the plan. I didn't think of that. Could be I'm better off not thinking in too much detail about the whole brain-scanning thing. A bit like trying to work out the cosmology of the Buffyverse. Except I didn't care much about that, but with this, I really want to know how it works.

Hopefully all of those people aren't "living" in the computer. That would make Topher even more monstrous.
My guess is that that the client had the plan (along with the other three robbers) and just needed the perfect person to pull it off.
When Taffy mentioned how long she had been planning, it made me wonder some more about how they get the persona -- obviously whoever the "real" Taffy is (or the safecracker who is factored into Topher's creation of "Taffy"?), she obviously didn't know specifically about THIS job, but what if one way you get a certain person's skills into the data banks is by hiring them for a (fake) job, then somehow introducing the downloading thing (by force? by paying?) late in that job, so you essentially have not only whatever that person's specialty is, but you have them sort of keyed up in the late planning stage of their type of project, the energy of which can be merged with the real job you ultimately have a client paying for.
Actually, do we know exactly when the client came in to hire a doll vs when Echo went active as Taffy? I'm thinking he had the plan and they just inserted it into her head so that she thought she had been planning the heist for that long.
I assume people are living in the computer. I mean Lobov remembers Ballard, and doesn't question the fact that he'd presumably have large parts of his memory missing for every day other than when he needs to interact with Ballard. Besides, who knows when the Dollhouse started? Some folks may have been scanned years ago (though not too long, given the presumably cutting age tech), and they'd need to know what year it is.

Hardly a huge issue for me to mull over, but I did think about it, and it makes more sense than having to create (or take from some else) memories to make up all the ones from the day they were scanned.
I don't know how actives in ongoing engagements deal with the missing time, but I seriously doubt their consciousness is living in a computer.
In response to some earlier comments in here, Eliza is NOT playing Faith.

Faith was a character she played a long time ago for Joss Whedon on another show on another network. The fact is, Dushku does have a range, but she also seems to have a couple places where she feels safe as an actress. Playing overconfidence is apparently very easy for her and it's where she goes whenever a character on The Dollhouse needs to be assertive and in control.

Don't expect Lon Chaney. Dushku's not THAT versatile, but this role doesn't require that. Think of Caroline's body as a vase. Topher pours different kinds of liquid into the vase but it's still gonna look the same. There's subtle differences in personality, but some things are going to remain the same because Topher will need those same tools in Echo when she's on the field. Confidence and leadership skills will often need to go in the vase.

Jordan at the end of Stage Fright looks a lot like Taffy early in Gray Hour. However, neither of these are Faith. When Dushku was playing Faith, it was false bravado and very broken inside. All the time. Taffy didn't break until the phone call, and then she deactivated and we were watching Echo in a new environment. VERY different circumstances. Notice that what "blue skies" meant to Taffy was remarkably different from Echo looking at the painting of a sky. When Taffy was saying "blue skies" she wasn't referring to atmosphere. I can see how Faith fans would think "blue skies" and "five by five" are alike. They are not. They are both of course triggers that writers put in for the actress to help get a handle on the character.

Five by five meant Faith was functioning within normal parameters. It meant she's good to go. Maybe things weren't perfect, but they'd do. Faith was never quite goal oriented. She was always trying to get by. She wanted to do just enough to survive and live to the next party or vamp dusting. Her plans for the future were never very concrete and sound. One could argue that might have ultimately been her tragic flaw - she lived for now and had a myopic view of her future.

Blue skies for Taffy meant that she was in a state of grace where she felt uninhibited and free to go or do whatever she chose. She knew her place in the world and from her perspective, she knew the world knew better than to tell her where she belonged in it. Taffy knew the importance of flying under the radar, and she knew the glory and danger of reaching for the stars. She had her target acquired and nothing monumental stood between her and her goal. Unlike Faith, Taffy was VERY goal oriented.

Five by five was about hitting the ground running. Blue skies was about aiming high and riding clouds like they were horses. These two are not the same character.

When Dushku's got cameras in front of her nowadays, I'd be willing to bet a dollar that the last thought on her mind is "am I being too much like Faith when I play this role?" That was a long time ago. She's moved on.

Strange that we haven't.
I don't know how actives in ongoing engagements deal with the missing time, but I seriously doubt their consciousness is living in a computer.

I assumed they would react the same as a wiped doll...just thinking that they fell asleep for a while.
This may be the most stupid post of the week but I felt the compulsive need to clarify:

When I said Eliza's portrayal of Taffy and Jordan was Faith, I was saying that in the sense of behaviour and mannerisms they were very similar. I don't actually think Eliza is trying to play Faith when acting as these characters if that's what your implying Zachsmind.
ElectricSpaceGirl: "I seriously doubt their consciousness is living in a computer."

Not 'living' in a literal sense. Caroline's consciousness is the engine currently running Echo and her many masks.

Caroline's memories are on file.

Probably on a hard drive not much larger than the one currently in the computer you are using to read these words. In fact bits of her might be copied onto other hard drives and then merged into one or more of Topher's masterpieces. He uses human memories the way we might use paint or lego blocks. In fact, every time he's "wiping" an Active, Topher should also be moving all those memories to disk for possible use later. If he's the ubergeek he pretends to be, he should be saving everything.

The 'agreement' between DeWitt and Caroline in episode one was for five years. Presumably after those five years, DeWitt promised Caroline she'd get her life back and the vague problems that led Caroline to DeWitt would have by then been taken care of. DeWitt could have been lying, but I get the feeling the plan is to let Caroline live out a normal life after she's no longer in her physical prime. Think like how football players can make hundreds of thousands of dollars until they can't play anymore.

It's just that Caroline has the added trouble of waking up five years later dead, or missing limbs, or scarred for life, if an engagement goes down poorly.
Rhodey, if that's your concern, that Faith Jordan & Taffy happened to look alike, that's because the same actress happened to be playing them.

Did you notice that many of the roles Tom Hanks has played over the years have similar mannerisms? That's cuz he's Tom Hanks.

Eliza's not going to bother losing or gaining fifty pounds every other week. She's not even going to change her walk every time, or dramatically alter her center of gravity, or fake an accent. She might do things like that every now and then, but like I said, she's not Lon Chaney. That's not what this particular role requires.
GVH wrote:

Also, the bison line (hello there original pilot script)? Funniest line of the show so far. Roll on next week!


I was actually missing the even funnier line that kicked off that dialog in the original pilot script: Boyd's "There eating lunch. Thank god you called."

(I was also unhappy about Victor's/Lubov's/Keenes' missing "I've seen aspects of humant nature made my eyes wanna vomit."-line during the balcony-scene in "Stage Fright". Although I do love the "Yeah, people are mostyl crap."-line that replaced it. I guess that's what Joss meant when he said that some of the darker and edgier elements of the show had been scrapped.)
Did you notice that many of the roles Tom Hanks has played over the years have similar mannerisms? That's cuz he's Tom Hanks.


Point made, but a little OTT, ZM.
Whoa, way to misinterpret what I said. When did I say anything about her physical appearanceZachsmind? I said it was in the way she acted .

Eliza's not going to bother losing or gaining fifty pounds every other week. She's not even going to change her walk every time, or dramatically alter her center of gravity, or fake an accent. She might do things like that every now and then, but like I said, she's not Lon Chaney. That's not what this particular role requires.

Nor am I saying it is. But for example, Dichen has convinced me in all the roles she's played so far and brings something different to each one whether it be in posture, tone of voice and yes even the way she walks.

[ edited by Rhodey on 2009-03-09 16:49 ]
Why does "Bison" have to be capitalized? If its a reference to the animal, it is fine to write it in lowercase.
I wasn't saying to capitalize bison; the two thoughts in that post are completely separate.

Maybe the personality is being kept alive artificially in a computer rather than just being stored?


Hmmm, maybe the bank of traits/skills/personalities is being kept "alive/aware" in a Matrix-y kind of virtual world?
Ok.

Regarding Dubov/Victor - why does he have an accent when he is blank? Is this not caring (is it the actors natural accent?), or a message (to the viewer)? Accents are not in the mouth but in the mind. I'd like to know are they "erased" to a lower state of their previous being (they still now how to walk and talk in that state) or are they getting a 'dormant' personality for when at the Dollhouse - a tranquil slightly dense personality who shall do know harm.

After all Echos handler asked (not in this episode) why they didn't all have defense skills as a default, and Topher answer that they had tried that and it ended badly.
I think I need to watch this one again and more closely, because honestly *ducks and covers* I was slightly underwhelmed. BUT like I said, I probably need a second viewing and one where I have more hours of sleep under my belt too ;-)
Not to nitpick, but it's Lubov - need to rewatch 'cause I'm not remembering whether I heard an accent on him in his wiped state. It is possible that the "wiped" state is actually a low level version of their own original personality.
I definitely heard a "Standard American" accent for wiped Victor, vs. whatever accent he's supposed to have (Russian?) as Lubov. We haven't seen much of him yet, but he seems really great - looking forward to more of him.
I didn't notice an accent on blank-slate Victor, but I think the actor has one? Maybe he has trouble masking it. And yeah, in his engagement with Ballard he's Lubov.
Accents are not in the mouth but in the mind.

Everyone who speaks has an accent. Therefore, Actives must have them too. Even in a wiped state.

Coming in from a somewhat different angle, knowing how to feed yourself is also in your mind. They have some base level skills, among them speech. Which means they need to speak in some style or other. Standard American English sounds nice and non-geographically-tied to American ears, which goes well with the they-are-now-wiped-hooray! magic trick, given the intended audience, but that still means they are from somewhere, and that where is the USofA.

Of course, I doubt any of them has any remote clue where they are from. They're just talking. About the swimming. Again.
To extend what Sunfire just said...we've probably all had the experience of someone who, to our ears, has a strong accent reminding us that, to their ears, it is we who have the strong accent. I can't quite tell if Victor has/is intended to have a "neutral" American accent, but it would not be at all a break of the reality of wiping if he had, basically, any accent, "strong" or otherwise. If he speaks, the muscles of the mouth and etcetera follow some pattern -- you can't wipe this down to zero unless you posit that all the dolls, in their wiped states, speak in some incredibly artificial "basic muscle movement" of mouth/tongue/pallatte that would be inhuman-sounding to ears of any accent/background.
Anyone else think the "old stuff expert guy" is not likely to survive his encounter with the original client?
Regarding Dubov/Victor - why does he have an accent when he is blank?

Victor does not have the same Russian accent that Lubov has. As to ponderings if Enver typically has this Russian accent- he says in a video (I believe) that he was called the day before shooting and was told that he has to learn a Russian accent.

Now, as doubtful guest & Sunfire have said, that's not to mean he doesn't have his own accent (his Victor/American one), mind you. But I could definitely tell in the show that the way he spoke when he was Victor was different than the way he spoke when he was Lubov.
I think a lot of this "Eliza is playing Faith" is because that is the only think we know her from. I didn't watch much of Tru Calling, so the only acting I have seen her do is as Faith, so when I see the same mannerisms, the same way of delivering a line, Faith is what I think of. Had I seen her in lots of things, I'm sure that wouldn't be the case.
In regards to the midwife & safe-cracker cohesion, Pointy wrote a nice bit about how these two are connected, are useful metaphors in the Dollhouse, and for Alpha. Check it out.

ETA: And cheers BTW folks, I am indeed returned from the world without - next time I may arrange a system of flags or something to avert potential picnics ;).

Just so we're clear, Saje, I in no way missed you, worried, or picnicked while you were gone. But you better leave a note next time! *brushes away angry-joyful tear*
buffyfanatic18, I was in the same boat on this episode, but, for me, it definitely played better the second time. In fact, they all have.
Why, look, Saje is back! :D And he's brought us a souvenir from the Land of Spoilers. Invisotext that puh-lease.

ETA Thank you, Saje, Fox is saving that for sweeps. Or is it the History Channel that always does ?

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-03-11 04:57 ]
Has anyone theorized yet that the nice thief was Alpha, or someone connected to/employed by Alpha ? He was way too nice/understanding/patient with wiped Echo, it felt like the show was brazenly giving something away without telling us it was giving something away.

I have bad memory, what happened to that nice thief after they escaped ? Did Boyd see him ? What did they do with him ?

I realize if he was Alpha someone from the Dollhouse would probably recognize him, but then again...if he's Alpha, he's probably smart enough to go get plastic surgery.

Crazier theory (though not really, given this show's premise). What if Alpha has somehow gotten a hold of Dollhouse technology (hey, if he was the one who remote-wiped Echo, it's not out of the realm of possibility) and imprints himself on others (probably unwilling). That way he can send copy personalities of himself out into the world, all looking like different people, and effortlessly coordinate and work toward his goals in an unheard of fashion. One mind to keep things in order and many hands make light work.

Even if the original Alpha dies (and some of the folks at the Dollhouse believing he had died could still be true, if the original somehow got his personality onto someone else before being killed), the copies would carry on his work, potentially without the knowledge that they're not the original.

This is getting way ahead of where the show's at, revelations-wise, but the sci-fi tech shown to us in this series offers so many storytelling possibilities (also the risk of getting convoluted, but we'll see).
Yeah Alpha imprinting others is a possibility people mentioned in connection with "Richard" in 'The Target'. Personally I sort of hope he isn't (or maybe just himself - my most 'out there' speculation in that regard is that he might've spared Saunders because he imprinted himself onto her, maybe even as a sort of subconscious implant) since it maybe seems a bit obvious and also not quite as dark or thematically rich as using pre-existing psychopaths in his plans but we'll see.

(actually, thinking about it, if Topher was imprinted - even subconsciously - with Alpha it'd explain how this supposed genius seems to screw up so much. Over and above his arrogance I mean. He'd be "screwing up like a fox" so to speak)

I think a lot of this "Eliza is playing Faith" is because that is the only think we know her from.

Yeah, exactly Lioness. I'm sure if more people had seen more of Dichen Lachman (i've only seen her briefly in 'Neighbours' and also briefly in what looked like a Sci-Fi original called 'Aztec Rex' - this'll amaze most of you but it featured Aztecs and a T Rex !! Long mental journey for that title, clearly ;) then we'd be spotting lots of little "Dichen-isms". Or maybe she's that rarest of beasts, a very good-looking actor that also totally submerges herself in a part.
Kris, the nice computer guy was seen by Boyd. Boyd carries him on his shoulders to get him some help.

I don't think he's Alpha though. (It is fun to hear your theories though.)

I think he was just nice to her as Echo to help reinforce the change that has occurred. When she was Taffy, the mean guy was nice to her (even wanted to get a drink afterwards) and the nice guy was second-guessing her (which is why she had to choke him).

When she got wiped (and was then Echo), the mean guy dropped her like a heavy brick (and punched her). But the nice guy also switched gears and ended up looking after her.

She's the same "person" (body), but each guy was drawn/repelled by different personalities (Taffy/Echo).

So I don't think he's Alpha... but that doesn't mean that he's not the "client" who doesn't want to be known. Who even maybe planted a weasel that he knew would double-cross him (maybe gave him the incentive for it) so that he could control the bad situation & wipe Echo all with a little remote. :)
Kris -- you reminded me of a thought I'd had watching the end of Gray Hour -- The nice computer guy who is broken, has seen, Boyd, etc -- what are the odds he is offered or "given" the opportunity to be a doll? If you are the dollhouse staff, one way to get rid of annoying loose ends, if they come in relatively young, pretty (and in this guys case, healable) bodies is to recruit them rather than worry about the messy loose ends of killing them, etc...

...like the idea of Alpha intentionally multiplying himself. There was a novel out a year or two ago that got some attention called "The Raw Shark Texts" that had a major character who did a version of that...

...My personal speculation on Dr. Saunders (why she was spared, why she was "defaced" and why she has the particular relation she does to the Dollhouse) is that she was herself a doll (either an early attempt or someone who didn't go the full five years, if my speculation about how long this place has been active is correct). In my speculation, she took the offer as a way to afford med school, but something about the experience left her feeling, perhaps, beholden to her fellow dolls. If Alpha knew her and her history, that might explain why he would take pity on her. It might also explain the scarring -- either as a pseudo punishment or as a way of protectively marking her so that the organization would not feel tempted to re-"activate" her as a part of cleaning up after/chasing Alpha (since she would no longer be standard pretty enough to be an active) (yeah, don't worry, like every other fanboy out there, I still think Amy Acker/Saunders is utterly beautiful even with the scars -- shades of Buffy not noticing Angel's vamp face at the ice rink?)...

eta: wouldn't it be fun to have a thread just for speculation on how the mythology might develop or character backgrounds or whatever? Where do the rest of you go to do that?

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-03-10 18:56 ]
Lots of speculation on Alpha now. I've even seen some that he's Ballard. But since there's a scene where Adelle is looking at a dossier with photos of Victor/Lubov and Ballard, it's not possible, short of the plastic surgery option.

It's interesting that Dichen's acting is getting raves compared to Eliza's. I recall some posters who were appalled that Dichen had been hired because, according to them, her acting was horrible on Neighbors.

On Korkster's point about how each guy reacted differently to the two different personalities, I don't think it necessarily shows that the "nice" thief was actually a good guy. It could have been all about power dynamics for both men. When Taffy was in charge, the one guy sucked up to her, while the other guy challenged her, which could be how he reacted to anyone who had power over him.

When Echo was weak and helpless, the "bad" thief saw a power opening and took it. The "nice" thief was no longer threatened by a strong female and could afford to be protective of her, but it was because Echo was so childlike. He got pretty sharp with her when she picked up the smoke grenade, like a stern father.
shambleau -- your point is good. And in the Whedon world, an inability to accept strong women not only as friends but as potential leaders is never a good thing. The one twist I would add: Since he is injured, possibly dying, this may have helped adjust his perspective. And I really can't hold his response with the smoke grenade against him -- she was basically a "talking cucumber" at that point, so stern paternalism is probably a better option than reasoned cooperative problem-solving (and as for the cucumber remark, well, I really wouldn't expect anyone unfamiliar with imprinting to spend time with wiped Echo in a stressful situation and not arrive at a similar judgement. What is telling is that he remains kind to her, even tries to save her, when he thinks she is so broken.)
I picnicked while Saje was away. I went with some friends and we had a nice lunch at a table in the park...
and that's not the kind of picnic people mean is it? I'll go away now.
wouldn't it be fun to have a thread just for speculation on how the mythology might develop or character backgrounds or whatever? Where do the rest of you go to do that?


I'm glad that you asked :) Come with me now, gentle commenters to a land we like to call Whedonesque.org's Dollhouse Forum.
... and that's not the kind of picnic people mean is it? I'll go away now.

I bet there weren't even any bees. Call that a picnic, pfft ...
On Korkster's point about how each guy reacted differently to the two different personalities, I don't think it necessarily shows that the "nice" thief was actually a good guy. It could have been all about power dynamics for both men. When Taffy was in charge, the one guy sucked up to her, while the other guy challenged her, which could be how he reacted to anyone who had power over him.

When I said "nice", I didn't mean "good" necessarily. I meant what you said, actually. I assigned them "nice" & "mean" labels to label the way they treated Echo when she was... Echo.

And to expand your "death" perspective, doubtful guest, we actually get to see both men in their death vision. The "nice" man waits for the guards to come in (without fighting back). The "mean" man was injected with death serum (?) continued to fight & provide cover for Echo & "nice" man... even though there was no way for him to live. He lived by his mantra (don't get broken. do the breaking), while the other succumbed to his fate.

Saje, there were no bees because we saved the honey for you. But there were TONS of potato salad. And ants.

zeitgeist, I guess your .ORG option is better than my "de-rail the thread and continue theorizing after people leave" idea. ;)
shambleau--glad it wasn't just me. i'll definitely give it a second viewing :-)
Good golly, that was a kickass show. Really, Dollhouse just gets better and better with each episode. I honestly wasn't really feeling the show as much the first two episodes, but they've been steadily building up in a lot of ways and I'm really enjoying it.
Saje, there were no bees because we saved the honey for you. But there were TONS of potato salad. And ants.
And don't forget the pie! There were 3 kinds of pie.
None of it American, I hope.
I am so not going to make the obvious response to that.
zeitgeist, I guess your .ORG option is better than my "de-rail the thread and continue theorizing after people leave" idea. ;)


Yes, *ahem*... there IS a topic, one gathers. Perhaps we should wander back towards it.
Oh, hey. How about that. I didn't even realize we were bordering towards pie. My, my. ;)

I have been trying to limit my "DOLLHOUSE IS MY LIFE" proclamations because that makes it sound like I have no life outside of this 'verse (not saying if it's true or not). But I do talk an awful lot about Dollhouse. What I truly love about this place is the bouncing of ideas off of people and getting more insight from their views. It's probably the best part about this place (besides my other fetishes).

Q for you, z, which thread on .org should we carry this conversation? I don't see any "updated" posts. Could ya start one? *puppy dog eyes*

IF the Dollhouse is sponsored by the government, how do they cover such a thing up? Where's all the red-tape & paper trails that make working in a normal job so dreadfully boring? Or is the "contract" between Caroline & Adelle the paperwork? Would the government only rent out dolls for high-risk (cult) assignments & wars, or would they also be used to pleasure the government officials (like Clinton)?

From future photos (& Ep 3), we see more than one doll working together. What would be the benefits of putting more dolls on assignment? Why don't they just make the dolls fight our wars, fix our problems? Why sprinkle in people for those assignments anyway? When is it okay for a doll to mingle with other dolls outside of the Dollhouse? Is there any risk when that occurs?

better?
In case anyone's interested, I have a poll about what everyone has thought of Dollhouse so far here (unfortunately only open for people with LJ accounts).
Not me then ;).

Could ya start one? *puppy dog eyes*

You could start your own korkster e.g. for specific episodes (unless the Dollhouse thread's different to the rest of 'em). Just go into the Dollhouse subsection and click "New Topic".

IF the Dollhouse is sponsored by the government, how do they cover such a thing up? Where's all the red-tape & paper trails that make working in a normal job so dreadfully boring?

It might well just fall under the "black ops" umbrella. In fact, i'd surmise that it'd actually be easier to cover up than some black ops because the Dollhouse wouldn't need any money (and the - limited - paper trail that involves) since it funds itself. Not saying that makes it more likely to be government sponsored BTW, just speculating.

Why don't they just make the dolls fight our wars, fix our problems?

Well, for me the show's (partly) asking "Do we already ?" i.e. like a thought-experiment, it's presenting an extreme version of reality and using it to examine the actual situation, asking "Is this different ?". And is it a difference only of degree or is there some difference in kind (and where's the line) ?

I mean, it's widely reported that basic training is about breaking recruits down to build them back up in the army's "image" (dunno how true that is, never been through it) - is that qualitively different to starting from a "blank slate" and adding the components you want to achieve your ends ?

And BTW, the fact that they don't seem to use the dolls as soldiers/cannon fodder lends a bit of weight to the "contractual agreement" aspect IMO.
Sorry. Don't do LJ. Have W'esque for that.

And Saje, I could start my own, but then I would have wasted my *puppy eyes*. They're particularly large to reach even through the internet & touch your "aaaw" spot. See? *eyes you* No? Okay, maybe cereal box toys don't work..

Well, for me the show's (partly) asking "Do we already ?" i.e. like a thought-experiment, it's presenting an extreme version of reality and using it to examine the actual situation, asking "Is this different ?". And is it a difference only of degree or is there some difference in kind (and where's the line) ?

Oh, yes, I'm with you on this train. Anything that *breaks* individuality and replaces it/molds it with skills needed to accomplish the mission can be seen this way (military, school, job training). To not just do the job, but to do the job a certain way is what irks me about society. I don't think like others. It's not something I can control, so why would I want others to control that? OR... if you train/teach a person to handle a problem a specific way, how will we ever know that there is another (potentially different/better/worse) way to handle that problem? To "think outside the box" that has been ingrained into you is pretty exhausting, and likely to be a losing battle... probably why I empathize with Echo so much.

BUT, Saje, I was trying to narrow this to what's going on inside the show (so I didn't go off on tangents, way to go). And to that the:

"Do we already ?"

Seems to be a "no". I mean, true, we only know that Echo was a doll in the bank heist, but the others didn't seem to report to the dollhouse, so I took them to be human (could be proven wrong later). And if that's the case, then why not send only dolls into the bank? Why send the faulty humans at all? 3 humans went in with Echo, and only Echo was the one who returned "not broken" (no gunshots, no scratches, no syringes to the neck).

Is it a money thing? Well, if the clients pay for it, and it's run by the government... did our tax money not cover it? We are in a recession, so... it's possible. Is it too risky for the "black ops umbrella"?

And BTW, the fact that they don't seem to use the dolls as soldiers/cannon fodder lends a bit of weight to the "contractual agreement" aspect IMO.

But why not? Or how? By saying "no" does that mean the imprinting process won't work? And if all it takes is "I don't have a choice"... there are plenty of people in debt who could opt if this is all it takes to get into the dollhouse.
And BTW, the fact that they don't seem to use the dolls as soldiers/cannon fodder lends a bit of weight to the "contractual agreement" aspect IMO.

I think the contract is probably real, although I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's rather twisty and maybe sometimes not honored. The Dollhouse staff may have reservations about what they do, but knowing a contract was signed and believing in their terms for it and the signee's terms for it makes it psychologically acceptable for a typical person to do some pretty awful things and still go home and sleep soundly at night. "We have an agreement. It's in the contract. Look, they volunteered for this. We paid for their services. They knew the risks. We are a legitimate business," and so on. I think Dollhouse is party about a group of people who individually maybe have varying levels of reservation about their jobs but who together form an organization that has no qualms whatsoever.

That said, I imagine a successfully disappeared and wiped Active maintained at peak health and with an incredibly detailed log of recent history is *quite* a valuable asset. I wouldn't put them at more risk than a given situation and fee warranted if for no other reason than they're worth far more than a new acquisition. I imagine they are some criteria they're looking for in new Actives, anyway. I doubt it's so easy as picking a pretty face with a clean bill of health off the street and offering them lucrative terms.

That's how I think about it so far, anyway.
True but they're valuable because they're rare so in that sense it doesn't answer the question of why there aren't more of them (which could then be used as cannon fodder). I like that it's how dollhouse employees justify it to themselves though, that makes a lot of sense to me. It helps Adelle tell herself that she's doing it to help people (as Boyd puts it).

(I was listening to a podcast the other day about the evolution of morality and an author/professor described a survey where people were asked "If you could flick a switch so that a runaway tram moved onto a different track and killed one person in order to spare ten, would you ?". Something like 90% said yes. But when they were asked "If you saw a runaway tram hurtling towards ten people and could push one person onto the track to definitely stop the tram before it hit them, killing the one but sparing ten, would you push that person onto the track ?" the percentages were reversed. It just needed that disconnect of not actually touching/being near the one "sacrificial victim" to make all the difference, part of the stories we tell ourselves I guess)

But why not? Or how? By saying "no" does that mean the imprinting process won't work? And if all it takes is "I don't have a choice"... there are plenty of people in debt who could opt if this is all it takes to get into the dollhouse.

Well in practical terms, we don't know if imprinting is stable long-term. From the pilot it certainly seems a bit fragile, the wrong word here or there and you could have dolls breaking down left and right (and obviously the more you have out there the worse that problem would be). It'd also be harder to keep secret the more actives you have in play.

That said, I think you're sort of asking "Why is the premise not different to what it is ?" and the answer to that is basically "Cos that's not what Joss came up with". The premise could have involved mass slavery of an underclass e.g. the long-term unemployed being pressed into "working" as actives, some sort of bleakly dystopian social system BUT to me that would then make it harder to ask "How true is this in the real world ?", partly cos it'd be too distant from it, it'd become about the scale of it rather than the idea behind it. It'd be saying "Gosh the people in this fictitious world should have a revolution to bring them closer to our world" instead of (what it's now) asking "Should we have a 'revolution' because this world is already here ?".

I.e. to me it's not meant to be a cautionary tale, not saying "Beware what could happen", it's meant to be an illuminating tale, saying "Be aware of what's already happening". But without being dull and preachy like I made that sound ;).
I doubt it's so easy as picking a pretty face with a clean bill of health off the street and offering them lucrative terms.

Well I don't know...Carlos Jacott didn't have too much trouble finding hundreds of slaves for his hell factory without drawing much attention.
But without being dull and preachy like I made that sound ;).

*wakes up* Oh, wha? Um... yes, that was dull & preachy. Especially because you're arguing with me even though I'm agreeing with you.

*rubs crusties out of eyes*

I.e. to me it's not meant to be a cautionary tale, not saying "Beware what could happen", it's meant to be an illuminating tale, saying "Be aware of what's already happening".

Definitely. That's what the show is about. The point of it. The re-examination of our own lives/morals/boxes of our own reality. Absolutely.

As for what I actually asked... I like Sunfire's idea. (Is canon fodder something they make up so we can't ask these questions? I may need a definition.)

Would the age of the Dolls also be considered canon fodder?

I think for these questions I ask about the Dollhouse world (not message) is mostly for speculation fun. I'm not expecting a real answer (because we have none), but maybe someone saw something in an episode that I missed that might aide in "finding" these answers.

And in no way, Saje, would I ever ask "Why is the premise not different to what it is ?".

Pretend I'm in a sandbox. I'm playing with action figures & smurfs in a desert, but I'm trying to figure out which desert, and which direction they should go. And why they are out there to begin with. And if they're there, why can't they retrace their steps back to civilization.

You don't need to tell me that I'm not in a desert, and that I'm actually playing in a sandbox. I know that. But I'm trying to play in the 'verse. Play with me.
I think I've confused whatever was originally meant by cannon fodder. I thought it had to do with inferring whether or not the contract is a real thing or just a smokescreen.

I also don't quite understand the Carlos Jacott comment. Basically I just meant before that a good Active probably requires more than a pretty healthy person Adelle can talk into signing a form and sitting down in Topher's chair. (Although that's not a small order either.) I expect it's like most things-- all or most people could go through the process and be wiped, but just given what I know about biology (and scifi conjecture), I'd expect there are some traits that make some people better Actives than others.

I could of course be completely wrong about that. Joss's answer to the question about why Echo's so requested was basically "because she's Eliza," so who knows.
I think the Carlos Jacott was a call back to "Anne" on Buffy (season 2). But even then, he wasn't looking for everyone; he was looking for "street rats" that have no home & want to be no one. And he "gives" them what they want... in which turns out to be what the fear/the destruction of them. (Reminds me of the diva...)

Yeah, I have no idea what canon fodder is now or was then.

But I think you're idea does have truth to it (and may serve as canon fodder) that the workers of the dollhouse "need" it to be signed for their own peace of mind.

If the government does own the dollhouse... could they call open a draft of some sort? Then the peace of mind transfers from "they chose it" to "it's good for our country". As done with the military. *taps chin*
Heh, I like canon fodder (so long as everyone's careful to only use it where it can't be confused with 'cannon fodder' - which obviously has a clear and widely known definition already, as per my usage).

And in no way, Saje, would I ever ask "Why is the premise not different to what it is ?".

You asked:

Why don't they just make the dolls fight our wars, fix our problems?

and

But why not?

when I talked about it lending weight to the idea that the contracts are genuine and not just a smokescreen in Sunfire's words. I explained that in order to use the dolls as soldiers the premise would need to be fundamentally different since it would take more actives (so they wouldn't be rare, so they wouldn't be valuable) and it would clearly and unambiguously require them to be forced to become actives. It would require the dollverse society to be vastly different to ours (whereas you seem to agree the show needs a world not that dissimilar to ours to work thematically). Assuming you don't disagree with that (and you haven't said why if you do), in what way are you not asking "Why is the premise not fundamentally different ?" korkster ?

I'm playing with action figures & smurfs in a desert, but I'm trying to figure out which desert, and which direction they should go. And why they are out there to begin with.

Yes, but the thing is, the answer to the question "which desert and which direction ?" actually is "The desert Joss made up and the direction he chose". Using dolls as soldiers is a different desert/direction, it's like asking "Why doesn't silver harm Buffyverse vampires ?" or "How can they cross running water ?" - you can come up with speculative within-the-verse "reasons" all you like but the actual truth of it is "Cos Joss decided it didn't/they could" (i.e. the answer is without-the-verse, it's meta-textual).

And so for me, those speculations amount to heating the air - they're not going to offer any insights into the show as it currently exists (except possibly, as an indication of what Joss wants to do with the show - which i've already talked about and you've agreed with) and so there's not a huge amount of point to them. They're no more worthwhile in the context of a Dollhouse discussion than any other random, unrelated question.

(we might as well ask "Why was Firefly set in space ? Or why the future ?". The answer, unsatisfying though you may find it, is basically "Because it let Joss tell the stories he wanted to tell")
Mal would totally have a monopoly on space smuggling in the current era. Also no clients, alas.
Of one thing we can be sure - if there were people on Mars today they would love those dolls !
Ah Saje, I'm starting to regret missing your comments. ;)

Again, as I have asked before, I'm not sure what canon (not cannon) fodder is. What is it? Couldn't find definition on-line.

"Why doesn't silver harm Buffyverse vampires ?" "How can they cross running water ?" - you can come up with speculative within-the-verse "reasons" all you like but the actual truth of it is "Cos Joss decided it didn't/they could" (i.e. the answer is without-the-verse, it's meta-textual).

Yes. Joss decided that silver doesn't harm Buffyverse vampires. Absolutely. And it was stated in the show that silver doesn't kill. It then went on to explain what does kill vampires. And any time there was something that had an exception to Joss' rules, he came up with an explanation for it, in the story. Absolutely.

...when did he state in the show that there aren't more dollhouses? gossi, whom I thought was a good source (until recently), hints that the government is *aware* and actually uses the Dollhouse (as we'll see this Friday (ep 5). Which, on doubtful guest's request, lead to speculation.

And your thoughts on that:
And so for me, those speculations amount to heating the air - they're not going to offer any insights into the show as it currently exists (except possibly, as an indication of what Joss wants to do with the show - which i've already talked about and you've agreed with) and so there's not a huge amount of point to them. They're no more worthwhile in the context of a Dollhouse discussion than any other random, unrelated question.

Absolutely. Of course speculating doesn't get us anywhere (neither does playing in a sandbox- which I could scold you on the truth that none of the objects are "mine" but the speculation is, which you seem to miss). It was just supposed to hold me off until Friday. And then you had to go and try to correct me over something as silly as speculation, by providing your own speculation into the mind of Joss and the premise of Dollhouse (as we know it) which is just ludicrous. As I tried to explain to you before:

I think for these questions I ask about the Dollhouse world (not message) is mostly for speculation fun. I'm not expecting a real answer (because we have none), but maybe someone saw something in an episode that I missed that might aide in "finding" these answers.
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It would require the dollverse society to be vastly different to ours (whereas you seem to agree the show needs a world not that dissimilar to ours to work thematically). Assuming you don't disagree with that (and you haven't said why if you do), in what way are you not asking "Why is the premise not fundamentally different ?" korkster ?

My questions are to ponder about what will happen (which provide no insight because I can't see the future). If no one wants to play that's fine but I don't want to be misunderstood for my questions. I agree with your summation about the premise. That's not to say that we *know* what's really going on... for all I know Joss could flip it on its head and all this time I would have been in the wrong. We'll see.

My fun, stupid speculation:
Since the government is involved in Ep 5, when they hire Echo, they are aware of the Dollhouse. And, as has been leaked before . That's where my question comes from. If the government is aware, could they mobilize the actives to do what they want? I'm curious about what limits (like the agreement contract) they place on themselves to make it easier to sleep at night, especially since the government, like the Dollhouse, is an entity, not an individual. Is the government in fact Adelle's boss? Does it ever point to one single person? In reality, the answer is "no", because we, in the end, vote for these people. We elect officials to decide that a war on terrorism is necessary who train people to fight and kill and who sometimes end up dieing or never being the "same" again. The military soldier/active parallel I think can be seen. Can we at least agree on that?
Again, as I have asked before, I'm not sure what canon (not cannon) fodder is. What is it? Couldn't find definition on-line.

Err, I don't know either, it wasn't me that used 'canon fodder' (one 'n') first it was you korkster in this post upthread - I assumed you'd made up a jokey phrase alluding to the canon discussions we've had in the past.

'Cannon fodder' (two 'n's, as I used it originally) as a quick look at Wikipedia or dictionary.com makes plain is "an informal term for military personnel who are regarded or treated as expendable in the face of enemy fire." or "soldiers, esp. infantrymen, who run the greatest risk of being wounded or killed in warfare.". Sorry, wasn't trying to be obscure there, thought it was fairly widely known or at least easy enough to look up.

The military soldier/active parallel I think can be seen. Can we at least agree on that?

Since I suggested it I think that's pretty much a given.

...when did he state in the show that there aren't more dollhouses?

He didn't. What does that have to do with the government using the dolls on a large scale as soldiers ? I.e. as a sort of army, to fix our problems.

My questions are to ponder about what will happen (which provide no insight because I can't see the future).

Ah, so you're saying it might turn out that the US army consists of dolls (or maybe some doll regiments or whatever) and the normal folk of the dollverse haven't been told/found out ? Maybe. I really doubt it but maybe. To me it's more interesting that there're similarities between what actually happens and imprinting - if it turns out soldiers are actually imprints it feels a little bit too "on the nose".

(i'm assuming that's what you mean by using dolls as soldiers BTW, if you mean more like occasional "special forces" well I think that's probably quite likely and no different to any other client hiring a doll to use as a mercenary)

But the premise as we understand it now is that that's not the case, that the dollhouse is smaller, not society wide and secret. Maybe that'll turn out to be false (it could even be the "game-changer" element of episode 6). My point is, that sort of speculation is along the lines of "Maybe they're all in the Matrix" or "Maybe they're all actually in a lunatic asylum". Maybe anything basically, you can offer any speculation if it doesn't need to be related to what we've seen so far, it just doesn't seem very worthwhile. By all means carry on of course, i'm certainly not trying to stop you speculating however you want if that's your bag.
(pulling on his helmet before stepping in front of all those wild cannons and canons)...Looks like Saje and Korkster are slowly but surely narrowing in on some areas of common agreement and understanding (always heartening to see the smurfs and the action figures starting to get along). My two cents before I go off to explore this .org thing: There are some facts that suggest the scale of the dollhouse at this point: Topher's comments in the last episode seem to suggest there are very few in the world who could do his sort of job (specifically, he addresses who could REMOTE wipe dolls, but he seems to suggest the pool of people who could even be "out for his job" is small). Also, Toph is relatively young, and if he is as integral to prepping dolls as he seems, then the operation likely hasn't been around long enough to "go wide." Also, Ballard's comments and lines of inquiry seem to suggest that he believes the dollhouse to be an L.A. phenomenon. Any of these could prove untrue (and, certainly, how accurate Ballard's info or hunches are is up for grabs), but these all seem to suggest a current set of premises built around the dollhouse being a small/isolated phenomenon.

Now, if you want speculation -- who would win: smurfs or action figures? I say smurfs: articulated limbs really get gummed up in a sandbox.
I could see the military taking the technology to use for special ops. But not in place of a draft or normal recruiting, because, frankly, they don't need to. As for the "contract" I'd imagine they already have protocols in place for the people who do those things. I can't imagine they'd hire one of the current Dollhouse actives for anything major; Topher certainly doesn't have clearance for that. It'd have to be in-(notdoll)house.

(And the Jacott thing was mostly a joke. But I think somewhat relevant in that he targeted homeless people for a reason, and I think at least some of the people who sign up for the Dollhouse are in similarly desperate states of minds.)
LOL. That's so funny.

Saje, I had mistaken your canNon fodder for caNon fodder. And, yeah, cannon fodder exists while canon fodder doesn't. (And, before I realized that, I had thought your take was "canon" fodder, funnily enough... which would have been funny by me if I realized it sooner. Alas, no. Which is why I dove off that deep end.) One day we'll look back on this and chuckle (as we do with the also/all so wars). :)

Yeah, I was trying to play with what we know (or I guess what was considered "canon") and try to elaborate with it (not dive into Matrix junk). And because Joss didn't say (and really we know) there are more dollhouses, I was arguing that until he says that they don't exist (when really they do) that it was fair game in the speculation (with Joss rules).

He didn't. What does that have to do with the government using the dolls on a large scale as soldiers ? I.e. as a sort of army, to fix our problems.

I don't see it as fixing our problems... more of causing them, actually. But again, this was totally my fault for confusion.

Ah, so you're saying it might turn out that the US army consists of dolls (or maybe some doll regiments or whatever) and the normal folk of the dollverse haven't been told/found out ?

Yeah, like they program what they need. In times of war, people don't know how they contribute to the big picture; they just play their part. Just like the actives are imprinted to play a certain part. And the employees of the dollhouse do their part by contributing to the process without ever really knowing to what end it meets. (Adelle said that the details/needs of the assignment are given to a "confessional" computer and that no human really knows what the engagement is for. Of course, they can guess, but you get what I mean. Hopefully.) It probably seems a little "V for Vendetta"-ish, but having family that work in the lower ranks of the government, this is what happens in times of peace & war. The lower worker bees box themselves in, limit the creative thinking, and narrow their vision of the cause they're with. We all do it, actually. I do it at my work. I get focused on what projects I need to do that I forget how this helps our corporation.

And this doesn't have to be seen literally on the film, because it does relate so well with the "real" world. But, to better mirror our world, it should (in my mind). There is always someone higher up that we pay tribute to. Even people who own their on businesses pay taxes- an entity that demands a certain proof but doesn't give one in return.

To me it seems necessary to sprinkle dolls into the government because they've gotten so good at limiting growth, boxing people in, that not everyone has the skills needed (or can learn them) to perform special jobs. Almost as if they've handi-capped themselves with the narrow vision.

...

But, that all is a wash since it was built on a "canon" theory of Joss' rules. And doubtful guest has pointed a flaw in my ointment- Topher. If he is so special, then it does limit the possibility of other dollhouses and how "wide" this really is. (Then again, how many of us have come to believe that we are exceptional at our jobs and cannot be replaced.)

...

I still can't believe this all stemmed from my confusion on canon vs. cannon fodder. And smurfs totally. They are lower to the ground, shorter bodies can stand the heat longer than tall action figures (who are often pale-skinned).

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