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March 14 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the fifth episode of Dollhouse. Titled 'True Believer', this one's written by Tim Minear and directed by Allan Kroeker (who also directed the Firefly episode 'Ariel').

Four minutes!
Where's the swarm of people who caught it already this morning? Heh. (Although I guess that would be unfair to the people who like to post/read in real time as it's airing.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-14 01:59 ]
Fantastic ep!

ETA - here, b!X!
This episode .
Crap, there's stupid basketball on here. Anyone else having that?

@swanjun Yes, it's happening in some places. Check the listings to see if it's airing late tonight after the game (it is from some reports).
I have high expectations for this, considering Mr. Minear is behind the pen on this one.
Well, bollocks! It's on at 1a!
Yeah, I kind of don't want to go in-depth until it's over, 'cuz that would totally spoil it for those who didn't catch it earlier.
I don't trust Mr. Dominick. Just a feeling.
It's a darn good thing I'm a RABID college hoops fan, not to mention one who's school is actually playing in the ACC tourney. If I weren't, I'd be so pissed right now.

And thank the gods for Hulu.

Hate to disagree swanjun, but it's not a stupid game. However, I would be furious if it were any tourney other than the ACC. (Go Noles!)

Looks like I have to wait until it's up on Hulu.

Sorry, non-hoops fans. ETA: 1 in the a.m. sounds about right. The next game is a Duke game, total network moneymaker. It will be aired across many markets in the US.

[ edited by April on 2009-03-14 02:10 ]
Watching online, but the streaming is breaking a bit.
I really love Boyd.

That is all.
That music box bit at the end of the theme song gives me chills every time. So perfect.
This is the first time I've really bought Eliza's acting.
Yeah, this is definitely her best performance on the show so far. I was in love with her last week, too, but this really shows growth and range as a performer.

[ edited by UnpluggedCrazy on 2009-03-14 02:17 ]
Heh, April, that must be why they're showing it here. (Noles being in the tourney).
I watched it early today but I'm re-watching. I wish I had a Nielsen box!!

Hee hee a great part is on now!

[ edited by beckyboo on 2009-03-14 02:20 ]
Man-reaction!

No thanks. I'm good for now.
"something just came up"
"Shneezure"

:D


I have laughed more during the first 20 minutes of this episode than all of the previous 4 combined.
Oh, connection I made earlier.

Adam and Eve = Alpha and Echo?
I want to give the composer a firm handshake for his or her work in the interrogation scene.
I move that Mellie is now to be called Manicotti Girl.
Aw. Victor/Sierra.

I'm really liking this episode.

[ edited by Chrisham2 on 2009-03-14 02:32 ]
Dominic, you fuck.

Excuse my language.
I feel that language is justified. He should die. Soon.
BTW, What's his deal???
I'm loving it again-perhaps more on rewatch. It's making me really anticipate the supposedly great episodes that are to follow!
Am wishing Viktor and Sierra many happy tumescences :-)
I agree, death to Dominic.

I love Topher! He has the best lines! And Eliza is totally working it.
I suspect people can stop worrying about lack of publicity after this episode...
So, Victor/Sierra...what does this mean for them now? Will they be killed?
Boyd Rocks!!!

I just have to say I'm LOVING this episode.

[ edited by whedon is GOD on 2009-03-14 02:45 ]
I love these twists.
Uh-oh. Something is up with Seth.
OK, really not buying Echo now - God's message is "move your ass". ugh!
Ok, He SO needs to die. Right now.
Seems to me in that situation, God's message would be precisely, "Move your ass!"
I think Dominic might be Alpha.
DOMINIC! What the hell!!!

Also, "God brought me here. He has a message for you. And that message is MOVE YOUR ASS!"

This episode has GREAT lines.

Dominic can't be Alpha though because everyone in the Dollhouse knows what Alpha looks like, and Dominic was there during the incident.

[ edited by thisyearsgirl on 2009-03-14 02:53 ]
Bix, I agree that might be God's message - just finding her 'personality breaks' way too hard to track.
baxter, I think the point may be that, like Alpha, her personalities are starting to run together and just form one "composited" one. Slowly, but surely.

[ edited by thisyearsgirl on 2009-03-14 02:57 ]
I'm so glad a lot of people seem to be loving it! I'm going to use this episode to again try and get my Joss people to watch Dollhouse :o)
..."Thank God"

AMAZING
I hope Dominic gets shot in the face!
Yeah, but Dominic is an absolutely crucial ingredient to setting up the belief that Echo is in danger from internal forces. He is needed for dramatic conflict.
Kill him Echo... Go Alpha on his ass!
Can't be before episode 8.
Dominic is toast! (go Echo, I'm routing for you to kick his ass!)


[ edited by SteveP on 2009-03-14 03:31 ]
Sorry, duplicates. (*don't hit 'refresh' after posting!)

[ edited by SteveP on 2009-03-14 03:32 ]
I love the character of Dominic, though. He appeals to my sense of irony. He's a nice, healthy, cheery, solid, stable guy who is cheerily and happily INSANE.
Wow, not my favorite episode.
What a prick.

whedon is GOD | March 14, 02:51 CET


Are you referring to Dominick...or to Victor?
I liked that ep. I agree with some people here that Eliza's acting impressed me. I wasn't sure if she'd be able to play a blind religious zealot, but she played it very well.
I feel like there's something seriously wrong with Dollhouse management if their philosophy is "If our technology is broken, let's use more of it and hope for the best."
Every episodes seems to get better and better. Can't wait for next week!
Hmm. I didn't like this one as much as others. Too much Echo as Esther and too little as Echo, maybe. Some good lines and loved the movement in the Ballard storyline though.
I loved it as usual. The whole Victor thing was unexpected, and interesting. Can't wait for next episode! Though I do have to wonder at how Topher and Doc Saunders knew when Victor got it up if the security camera is positioned to always hide everyone's naughty bits. ;)
Better. Still not loving it, but only Tim (or a similarly gifted ME alum) could write man-reaction and not make me wince :)
Definitely my favorite episode, and I typically get frustrated with this type of story.

Feels like the writing was all round more graceful.

[ edited by Brett on 2009-03-14 04:36 ]
I had my doubts about this one because of the premise of the engagement, but I ended up loving it. And the stuff at the Dollhouse. Wow, Topher. Man reaction, indeed. *snicker* Saunders' unflinching professionalism during those scenes was awesome. I'm getting the sense of slow composite building for Echo's imprinted state too, thisyearsgirl. Also, I want to dump Mellie's manicotti on Ballard's head for his continued failure to properly notice her. My suspicions that she's a doll are shrinking even more now that Saunders has berated Topher for reusing the same persona on Victor over extended time periods--but I'm not ruling it out yet. And it looks like Echo is retaining her dislike of Dominic more and more. That should be interesting. The preview for next week makes me think that my burgeoning new hope for Victor/Sierra might be misplaced. But the preview also makes me think that all the hype about episode six being where things get truly awesome wasn't an exaggeration. Can't wait.
Not my favorite episode ever, but the stuff with Victor and Sierra was hilarious.
Loved tonight's episode.Some very interesting developments tonight.Dominic,what the hell is his deal and the way the episode ends,does Echo remember?Is she becoming a female Alpha?

The Victor stuff also very interesting.Man-reaction is my new favorite term.Salute to Tim Minear for that.heh.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-03-14 03:24 ]
This is my favorite episode so far. It's interesting to see that it's not just Echo who hasn't remained a blank slate, but that the other dolls aren't quite operating as intended either. Anyone else smell disaster as it concerns the possible relationship between Victor and Sierra? I'm just waiting for them to in love or something... just before one of them dies tragically, in true Whedon fashion.
Man-friend
Man-reaction

Topher seems to have a man-fixation.
I really enjoyed this one! I was able to suspend disbelief and get into it. I hope that's a sign of the way it's going to be. The side-plot with Victor, though I'm sure it has a serious side and is a concern for them, was FUNNY. The right kind of Whedon-y flavored funny that I love. (Even though Tim wrote the ep...same funny.)
So I wonder, since Dominic was only going to be in the pilot originally, if this episode was even planned until the new shot pilot. Who would have been the evil skeeve?
I hate to be all negative but the main story was my least favorite so far. I thought the line about god's message being "move your ass" was way over the top silly, and not in a good Jossy way. Also, why did her sight return? Seemed random and contrived. And I'm starting to wince every time I hear "did I fall asleep?" On the other hand, I agree that Eliza's acting seems like its getting better. And I also liked Ballard's story progression. But overall, I have to say this episode really made me long for the "game-changer" next week.
Dominic is worried that his boss "likes" Echo too much. Was she also pro-Alpha before it all went down? Did he try to send Alpha to the attic, too? Is that, or something like that what set Alpha off?

Would the Dollhouse want to have a doll in place at say, the FBI? Possibly in charge of investigating dollhouse rumors, and maybe programmed to have some sort of fatal inability to succeed? But maybe, like Echo, he could have some inherent traits that enable him to exceed the limitations of his programming? Or not.

And I need to know more about the Doc. Why is she there; it's mysterious...she doesn't seem suited to the place at all, looking for that story, please?

And, just saying....Victor is such a cutie.

[ edited by toast on 2009-03-14 03:34 ]
As someone on the left coast braving the spoilers to read this thread I must say it has been quite a ride! I can't wait.

And without knowing any context, I am free-associating intriguing images. (Aside,) I would love to someday see behind the scenes out-takes of cast warm-ups - I'm imagining all the actors reading the same lines a la the Echo/Sierra shared imprint from last weeks episode.
First and foremost great episode!

Second... why can't it be next Friday yet? The next episode looks so good I could die!

Third... I can't wait for Echo to royally kick Dominic's ass!
It was not random. The Doc clearly stated that sneezing could mess up the eye camera link. Getting slapped messed up the feed, making her see again. And the line about moving your ass was awesome, IMHO.

I'm also very glad they let the religious nut leader burn.
The slow build isn't feeling so slow anymore. Great episode.
I liked how as we get sick of saying the bit, Topher's face showed he was sick of it too.

edit: Also, Ballard finally got some stuff to do. I like that he has friends and isn't incompetent.

[ edited by John Darc on 2009-03-14 03:35 ]
I also like how Topher seemed just as not-keen as Claire on being told to scrub Victor. And Adelle's no fool. She's onto Dominic, and I wouldn't be surprised if she, not Echo, has something to do with his comeuppance.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2009-03-14 03:39 ]
If I was staring at fire about to kill me and everyone else, I'd say move your ass too. I'm getting very excited now for this grand Episode 6..

Poor Mellie.. Ballard needs to realize you exist and get a "man reaction"
I mentioned it in another thread, but they are hyping the SHIT out of "MotS". I don't know...they've given us too much meat in the Ballard storyline. If he doesn't destroy the entire Dollhouse soon, it will seem like Joss is intentionally holding back.
Yeah, I might say it and you might say it but I don't think Esther would ever say it in a million years -- even in a sudden surge of empowerment. Was that supposed to be Caroline coming through somehow? If so, I think they should have dropped more hints building up to that conclusion.
They had the "potty mouth" line. I felt that was enough. I'm inclined to think it was a bit of Caroline.
If Dominic wants Echo dead, why not let Sparrow shoot her as it seemed he was preparing to do? Am I missing something there? I understand why Dominic didn't shoot her himself: unarmed cultist dead by ATF gun. But had Sparrow taken her out with the AK (or similar-looking gun) there would have been no questions. At least, no questions Dominic had to worry about.
I think Echo had some um tech stuff in her head that could lead to questions. I think Dominic went there not to kill Echo but to be on scene and scope out the potential danger to the Dollhouse and knocked Echo out for "fun".
Echo has been imprinted with a Christian woman, and I know a few who would say "Move your ass" under the circumstances. I was afraid that this was going to be typical 'crazy religious people' stuff, but what I saw were people who were too trusting, a woman of faith (Esther) and a criminal manipulating the situation. Perhaps a bit "Field Where I Died" (X-Files) but that too was based on real cult situations.

My favourite episode thusfar.

Dusty! (Brian Bloom grew up pretty).
This show just keeps getting better and better! Loved the whole shower scene and all the humor this episode!
I thought this was pertinent relating to the science of Dollhouse Scientists erase memories in mice

Not relating to this episode per say, but I wasn't sure where to post it.
Definitely the best episode so far (heh, I said the same thing last week). It's all really coming together. The scenes with Topher and Claire were killer, and Dominic is becoming one of the most loathsome villains I've seen on my TV box in a while (though not as loathsome as Roman Grant...no one is as loathsome as Roman Grant).

True to expectations, "Man on the Street" looks OFF THE HOOK. I seriously cannot wait. That or BSG, that or BSG...motherfrak.
Does Anybody else think that Mellie might be a doll created by Alpha to watch Ballard?

-She brought Ballard the letter from Alpha.
-She is watching Ballard all the time.
-Alpha knows how to wipe dolls, so he might be able to create them.

I am just speculating and have no spoiler knowledge.
Poor Victor. I guess they'll have to neuter him. (Sure, they could get rid of Sierra, but, all things considered ...sorry Victor.)
I was wondering if Mellie is a doll.
And I also got the feeling that the "move your ass" line was a bit of Caroline coming through.

[ edited by mouse on 2009-03-14 04:58 ]
Yay! It's starting in PDT.

The singing is a bit rude - a group all silent has more impact. Osama ben Ghandi - hehe.

[ edited by peacemonger on 2009-03-14 05:05 ]
To me, "move your ass" felt out of character for both Esther and Echo - it tore me entirely out of the show and back into Buffy, because it's exactly something Faith would say (or Eliza would ad-lib?)

Anyway, I had my concerns about the setup but they largely melted away when I saw "Written by Tim Minear" and they were correct to have melted. Great ep, and an ideal lead-in to what looks like the real meat of the arc. Loved all the stuff with Topher and the "man-reactions".
I can see Mellie being a doll. It would make me sad, though. I really like her. I thought the parallels between the religious cult and the dollhouse were interesting. The comment Dr. Saunders made about the snake, while obviously alluding to something else, made me think about it. The Dollhouse really is The Garden of Eden for the dolls. It seems to be suggesting that Eve's temptation was a good thing, for she became self aware. I've heard this take on the story before, and I imagine it would be a controversial parallel to make. Is echo supposed to be Eve, and is her becoming self-aware the equivalent to Eve eating the fruit of knowledge?

I'm not religious, but I certainly find this idea interesting...
Jaynes Hat, I've been hoping that Mellie isn't an Active, because it just seemed like a weird storytelling move to me. If, however, it turns out that Alpha turned her into an Active...that would be cool. And might make her interesting. Apparently I am the only one who still doesn't really give a fig about Manicotti Girl.
Giles_314, very interesting. I didn't give much thought to the Alpha/Echo-Adam/Eve connection I made, but that's some really interesting subtext you bring up.
I'm thinking of this as the Zatoichi episode. Do I hear a smile?
UnpluggedCrazy, Giles_314 Well, if you add in the scrubbing of Victor because of his man-reactions, then you've got the "original sin" angle, too. (Ouch. Bad visual.)

Esther Carpenter. Nice choice of name. Dual biblical reference.

"I see perfectly." Ooooh, this is gettin' good!

Gotta "borrow" Mom's computer this weekend so I can watch last week's - Hulu does not play well with dial-up.
Hmmm. I suppose parallels can also be drawn between the dolls and the religious cult followers. Both chose to be there, but have had their free will taken from them by someone who has sketchy morals at best. The dolls becoming more self aware can be likened to the people running out of the burning building...

Yeah. Methinks I sees some resemblances.
I'm using my first ever post after lurking for all of these years to admit that I have a huge man-reaction for Dollhouse right now!
Back to lurk-mode.
Joss' fingerprints were all over this one; religious faith, awesome. And as shown there are all kinds of faith, particularly the no-nonsense kind where you hear Joss' voice so clearly in Echo's dialogue about choosing life over death, action over inaction, reality over blind faith ... "Thank God" - "I see perfectly." And only a feminist can point out that a woman can easily say erection, while some men have to resort to man reaction. Kudos, Joss.
Welcome, 60APES, and don't feel like you have to lurk forever. :)

Man Reaction. Teehee. I hope that becomes a thing.
I loved this episode: it isn't that easy to play a blind person convincingly and I thought that Eliza did a great job, also I loved Paul Ballard sounding like Captain Tightpants with the line "did I mention I was shot?", but of course the best stuff was w/Topher watching Victor watching Sierra ("something came up", "it ain't oak but its on the way to wood"). There was a lot going on and it was very very fun, I hate Dominic, but he is no match for Boyd!
And only a feminist can point out that a woman can easily say erection, while some men have to resort to man reaction.

I would expect a doctor to be entirely comfortable with the term. I think the exchange says more about Topher than Claire.
Seeing Paul loosen up around that one lady was very, very cool. I loved that part.

Thought the episode as a whole was superb, too. Minear delivered, like always. Can't wait for next week's; Joss is back!
yeah, don't look for something that ain't there.
I also believe that Topher had such a hard time (no pun intended) talking about the man-reaction with Dr. Claire because of his crush on her. Could you imagine going on a Sausage stake-out with a girl you had secret feelings for?
yeah, don't look for something that ain't there.

Excuse me? I see exactly what was there and my reaction to it had nothing to do necessarily with the characters, but who wrote the dialogue, and particularly used that language.
Wow, I haven't heard the term "Sausage stake-out" in a long time.. Seems to me, terms like Man reactions are on the .. ahem.. rise?
I absolutely loved this episode! It is definitely my fave thus far. And I had no problem with Echo saying "move your ass." She's compositing! Reed said so himself! Besides, we have no clue as to how "Esther" was raised. If her parents indeed died when she was a baby then she could have been raised by all manner of people who may cuss like that. I had no problem with it at all.

ETA: Also, I was under the impression that she got her eyesight back because the cameras broke. Seemed pretty straight-forward to me.

ETA Also:

@ unpluggedcrazy

Apparently I am the only one who still doesn't really give a fig about Manicotti Girl.

-hugs you-

You are not the only one! I must say though, my jaw nearly hit the floor when she showed up with more pasta. This girl needs to get a life, stat!


[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-03-14 06:47 ]

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-03-14 06:57 ]

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-03-14 07:02 ]
Woo! Another solid episode with better dialogue and - what was that? Did Helo's storyline actually make some progress? *gasp* It's alive!!

Manicotti Girl bugs. Not so much the manicotti, which was pretty lame, but not noticing that the guy she got the envelope from was the mail delivery guy? Really? I hope she's undercover and that was some form of stealth.

I love the Victor/Sierra development. It's kind of flipping our expectations. Usually, at this point in a series, you start to have some flirtation between whichever two main characters are supposed to be attracted to one another. See: Buffy/Angel, Cordelia/Doyle. Instead the romance is diagnosed and eradicated.

That said, I wouldn't say no to some actual romance at some point.
She's composting!


Like, with rotten vegetables and stuff!? I knew something was up!

I can't really see much possibility for romance in this show. Maybe Boyd and Dr. Saunders.
@ Giles_314

LMAO! Oops.

Yes, God forbid, right?

:-P

In my excitement I seem to have forgotten to spell.
I didn't like this episode as much as I was hoping I would. The things I enjoyed have mostly been mentioned. Eliza's acting was the best she's done so far. Kayl-, I mean Mellie, continues to be winning. Ballard is becoming interesting little by little, as is Adelle, and there were some amusing lines. Some of the guest actors did well too. I especially liked the store clerk and the senator.

I don't think Dominic just knocked out Echo for fun, since he left her in a burning building, presumably to die. Which means he should have let the cult-leader shoot her. If she burned up in the fire, there wouldn't have been any evidence to connect her to the Dollhouse. The only fanwank I can come up with is that Dominic was faced with a guy with a gun who was about to shoot and just reacted without thinking how useful it would be to let things take their natural path.

I didn't like the cultists continuing to sing as they came into the store. It seemed ... written.

That anyone would believe a blind woman hitchhiked to their compound just seemed ridiculous to me. The episode could have convinced me, because I see where the Dollhouse planners were going with the hitch-hiking idea. To most people it would seem crazily risky. But to people who put such stock in faith as a real force in their lives, a blind woman trusting that God would lead her safely to them would actually be inspirational. But the execution of her entry to the compound, meeting the cult-leader, and being instantly accepted by the followers didn't work for me at all.
I figured Dominic shot the guy because he liked killing people. Shoot first ask question later. Not sure why some folk don't like Paul. Maybe because I love Helo, and Tahmoh is awesome, and that is why I like the character. But I think hes a good character, and can't wait tell he meets Echo (or whatever her personality is).
shambleau, I think that we were intended to see the followers as having no will of their own, just like the dolls. While this may or may not be accurate (I've never been involved in a religious cult, as far as I am aware), it would explain why she was so easily accepted. The cult-leader accepted her, so they accepted her.

EDIT: Also, people tend to be naturally accepting toward the blind.

[ edited by Giles_314 on 2009-03-14 07:37 ]
She's composting!
She heard Jewel rap?

I guess "Man-reaction" is the new "I'll be in my bunk."

I love Mellicotti Girl. Also Victor/Sierra.

Boy, the slap rate was high in this episode. Did Echo lose a bet?
I held my breath for a moment during the second slap - and was immediately thankful that Echo didn't go blind again and resume optical broadcast. I should know better than to expect the old standard cliché's. (But I've been habituated.
ETA: But not by Mutant Enemy, of course.)

[ edited by peacemonger on 2009-03-14 07:53 ]
Fair enough. It just didn't work for me I guess. And it wasn't just the "move your ass" line that felt like a hokey break with character, it was her whole sudden burst of empowerment, manifesting itself in ass-kicking and courageous leadership. If she was printed to be a meek little follower like the rest of them, who was this new person? Seemed like kind of a cross between Caroline and Faith, and it came totally out of left field.

And it felt like there were other holes and contrivances. To cite just one example, why would this supposedly highly secret organization so cavalierly go to work with the feds? Boyd didn't even attempt to be discreet in front of them either, going out of his way to emphasize that his operative had no real training and that she would accomplish a "miracle." And the feds just accept this? Did her "brain camera" really not raise any eyebrows among the ATF agents? How is it that the federal government pooh-poohs the idea of imprint technology but blithely accepts a blind woman with cameras in her eyes infiltrating a highly reclusive religious cult?

I was also kind of annoyed by all the heavyhanded religious stuff, such as all the talk about "miracles," and seeing an "angel," and bibley speeches about the "garden" and whatnot, as well as the crude stereotypes (e.g., evil and manipulative religious leader and glassy eyed, meek little followers). The Joss I love employs more subtle imagery and complex characterization. And also better dialogue.

Sorry. I don't mean to be a downer, or to detract from the experience of those who loved the episode, but I found it frustrating and needed to vent a little. Hopefully next week I'll be a happy fan again. In the meantime, feel free to counter-vent.
First and foremost... whoa. Strong, strong episode.

Agree with embers about Ballard's "Did I mention I was shot?" line - totally struck me as a Mal kinda thing to say.

Seems clear Dominic and Echo are going to have to face off some time, and the end result will not be favorable for the Domster. But I have this horrible sinking feeling he's going to take someone we care about down with him. It would be such a Mutant Enemy thing to do.

Not spoiling, I have no inside knowledge, and I'm probably very wrong. But you know how they love to give with one hand, and take away with the other.
When Esther was reading the passage about fire, my friend started singing "Walk Through the Fire"... it was a moment of amazingness!

I'm actually starting to really enjoy Adelle. I'm intrigued by her protectiveness of Echo, and enjoy the vulnerability she shows when dealing with the Senior Partners, upper management people.

For the people that are finding the scripted bits annoying, I just think of the fact that having them repeated so often is just going to make it that much sweeter when she goes off-script for the first time. Oh man, that's going to be a jump out of my seat moment!

Everything else has pretty much been stated: loved Topher, thought Eliza did amazing, can't wait for them to knock off Dominic. My partner's theory is that Dominic will come to some sort of realization that he's being an asswipe and come around, just in time to save Echo, and die. But that seems too heroic a death for him IMO.
Well! I thought this was truly excellent. I'm racking my brain for something I didn't like and coming up blank.

Dominic is definitely the character-I-love-to-hate now. And the great thing is, he's almost certainly right: getting rid of Echo is in the Dollhouse's best interest, long-term.

Mellie is too sweet and cute: she must be evil. Or a doll.

Topher and Dr. Saunders should always have scenes together. They play off each other brilliantly and I almost literally fell off my chair laughing. I really love Topher and I really hate Topher. What a great character he's shaping out to be.

I'm dying to know the backstory of Dr. Saunders and Boyd, specifically why are they working for the Dollhouse? I can see Dr. Saunders being lured in by the promise of cutting edge science maybe, but Boyd? What went so wrong in his life to make the Dollhouse a viable alternative for a guy like him? I want to see his dark side ASAP.

Paul's clumsy attempt to charm the other FBI agent to get his database search on Caroline was very cute. "Are you flirting?" "I don't know. It's a been a while" (or something like that). And, yeah, the "I got shot" line totally flashed back to Mal's "I got stabbed! Right here" in Shinding.

Eliza was great and I know I'm completely invested in Echo. I almost whooped when she glared at Dominic from a distance in the final scene.

I felt a lot of sympathy toward the cultists and Esther. The leader was a wacko but at least he was a sincere kind of wacko, they weren't exactly duped by him. And they were all around victims, pawns to everybody's game, while appearing to be fairly harmless and nice people. The parallel to the Dolls was very obvious but, I think, effective.
The Move your Ass line didn't trouble me. The lady hitch-hiked across the country by herself blind, so I'm not surprised she's got some spunk. Also, good catch whoever it was with the potty mouth connection.

As for Dominic shooting the guy, no fanwank necessary. The cult guy had an automatic weapon pointed straight in Dominic's direction when he came in. Anybody with training would have shot.

Yup, I thought the "I got shot" line from Ballard was definitely a nod to Mal from the end of Shindig. And when Esther regained her sight and suddenly blocked the slap, I totally flashed on the scene in the final episode of Buffy where they show all the potentials around the world becoming slayers, and the girl getting beaten does the same.

And yeah, man reaction is now in the lexicon.

[ edited by AlanD on 2009-03-14 08:45 ]
Dominic was only supposed to be in the pilot, remember. So who knows when he will be offed.
Everything I've read says that with next week's episode, "Man On the Street" we're gonna see a sea change, and whoever's been holding Whedon back gets out of the way and lets him do what he knows works. I hope so, but that's not what I just saw. What I just saw was "True Believer" and I gotta tell ya, as much as I wanna be? I'm not. Not yet.

Some of the scenes in "True Believer" seemed kinda rushed and odd. The on location stuff in the commune was top knotch. I am not knocking any of that. I felt that for the first time we REALLY got to see of what this series is capable. Eliza Dushku shined. That stuff was thrilling, even if the baddies were kinda hollow and shallow, and the populous of the commune had to have an intelligence of Star Wars storm troopers to not run away... Okay so I can find fault there too - I don't wanna knock that part of this week's episode.

The stuff inside the Dollhouse itself seemed off the beam. Like they had filmed other stuff before, had to chunk it, and then rewrote stuff and filmed it again. There was a disjointedness to it that perhaps was intentional, but it left me uncomfortable. Particularly scenes with DeWitt in them. Perhaps the intent was to show her torn and stretched and juggling many egos at once both before us and off screen (her bosses) but all I got was an actress who desperately needed a siesta.

And the bits with Topher and Saunders, while funny, made me completely unable to believe these two goofballs could operate on Echo in such a way as to turn her into a living camera without permanent damage.

As for Victor and Sierra.. I understand the need to carry this weave in the series tapestry from one episode to the next: they want us to know the idea of Actives retaining anything between wipes is both a rather new phenomenon and Very Bad. This theoretically could lead to a composite event, or worse, human beings actually having sex. Perish the thought. Still, this episode showing Victor having Man Reactions to Sierra seemed like a sneaky way to give the two actors minimal yet sufficient face time without actually giving them anything worthwhile to do. Same with Millie and Ballard. Oh and by the way, this is speculation and not spoilage, but that's November. Whedon's kinda predictable in that way.

One of the (many) things keeping this show from being as good as it could be is this schizophrenic behavior on the part of the writers. Do you want this to be a show about Echo or do you want this to be a show about the Dollhouse?

MASH was an ensemble piece and while Hawkeye hogged a lot of screen time, the story went where the characters were. It didn't keep looking at Hawkeye when the story became about Radar or Hot Lips. Conversely, Perry Mason (after the preliminary open that set up each murder) always focused on Perry Mason. Is Dollhouse an ensemble piece, or a star vehicle? No, you can't have both. Buffy looked like a star vehicle on the surface, but it was at its best when it was an ensemble. The show was named after her, but it really wasn't about just her. The show became about her friends, because they were why she was fighting.

Does Dollhouse want to put Eliza Dushku in the driver's seat and keep her there, or should Echo only be utilized when that's where the story's going? Logic would dictate the latter, but Dushku's also one of the producers, and something tells me she's wanting more focus of screen time. That's only natural, but it may not be what's best for the longevity of this series. With today's short attention span audiences, writers are increasingly trying to juggle scenes so they can time car chases or other exciting moments to coincide with the commercial breaks. This leads to purposefully telling stories out of order, and other manipulations to keep the audience on the edge of their seat, but these manipulations tax the story, and become cliche very fast. Whedon doesn't want us to know it (when he stopped production to retool the series he took full responsibility but he had unseen input that led him to that conclusion), but it feels like there's some push and shove behind the scenes that makes me wonder how much of this is Whedon, and how much of it is Whedon dancing just as fast as he can to please way too many cooks spoiling HIS broth. Either way, he's gonna take the responsibility and go down with his ship, but who's not bilging with him? Who's not helping him dance? Who's dragging him down when they should be lifting him up?

Dollhouse is a story about broken people. The story itself shouldn't have to feel this broken.
Not my favorite ep, although it had it's moments.
So is the reveal of Alpha's identity (the actor) still considered a spoiler, after tonight's ep? Cause it's just so very happy making. ;)
I sure hope this does not become "who is the last Cylon." Like, who is an active, and who is not.
I loved the episode. Man reaction, lmao. I got shot. It's a miracle. God says move your ass. I see perfectly. Many excellent moments.
This episode was indeed really good. I didn't like the whole Slap-Miracle thing since it was just a bit too much, but it was a rather good episode.

Also, my favourite site has written a review already:

Review of True Believer!
Loved it. I'm not sure if it's my favourite episode so far... I usually get worried when there are cult/religious episodes in any show, but thankfully this was handled rather well. Eliza was great playing a blind girl. And hee, the "move your ass" line was awesome. God would so say that. :D

As to Victor's "man reaction" (which I will now say instead of the other word)... I wonder where that 'error' will go with the story. I'd hoped to see more of Victor and Sierra as actives, but if they're to be monitored then that might not happen anytime soon.

Ballard's storyline was more interesting this week... I think I'm in love with Alpha's handwriting. ;) Back on topic though, I'm really looking forward to Ballard catching up with Echo and dealing with whatever personality she has at the time. And Mellie's continued promotion of her shyness is getting a little too annoying... But I still like her. She seems like TV-Kaylee [not film-Kaylee, who made me want to duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for eternity]... Yes, best to be like TV-Kaylee. ;)
Just my opinion.

Good stuff:

Victor/Sierra. Where will that lead?

Man reaction. Sorry but that made me giggle.

"Was that flirting?" "Maybe. It's been a long time."

Echo zeroing in on Dominic at the end of the show. "I see perfectly."

Bad stuff:

Dominic. What's his agenda? Does he think Echo is a danger to the Dollhouse or is it personal? It does at times seem that he has a personal dislike of Echo.

The cult itself. They never really established if the leader was truly a bad guy. Yes, he was an ex-con. Yes he had a hidden weapons cache. But was what he was doing truly evil? (the singing in the store didn't bother me at all because, hey, the Manson Family women sang in the courthouse on their way to stand trial for multiple murder. Fanatics of any stripe behave differently from what we accept as 'normal.')

"God brought me here. He has a message for you. And that message is MOVE YOUR ASS!" Sorry, but when she said that I stopped seeing Esther or Echo and saw Faith. Maybe it was supposed to be Caroline coming out a little, but I just saw and heard Faith. It could be just me.

Other stuff:

Eliza's acting is improving with each episode.

I've thought for a while now that Mellie/Manicotti Girl was a doll sent to watch over Ballard and keep him distracted (albeit unsuccessfully so far) If not, she's taking the old adage 'The way to a man's heart is through his stomach' a little too far.

I want to know Claire's backstory NOW! There are so many things going on with her that I want to know about. Boyd as well. They both obviously have reservations about what they're doing. What brought them to the Dollhouse and why do they stay if they don't believe in what they're doing?

Adelle is getting more and more interesting with every episode.

I can hardly wait for next week's episode to see if it really is the watershed episode it's been hyped to be.
Yeah, this is definitely her best performance on the show so far. I was in love with her last week, too, but this really shows growth and range as a performer.

Really UnpluggedCrazy ? Personally I think it's just the furthest from Eliza (apart from Echo) - even though she played her well it didn't seem materially better than Echo in 'Gray Hour' or Ellie Penn to me (both of whom she also played really well IMO). The more I read people on Eliza's acting the more I think many of us just have trouble separating her from her previous parts or her own (apparent) personality (it was seeing folk comment on Dichen Lachman that tipped me to this, since she's an actress the vast majority of Americans will have seen very little of, either on or off camera).

baxter, I think the point may be that, like Alpha, her personalities are starting to run together and just form one "composited" one. Slowly, but surely.

Kind of relieved someone else saw that, seemed fairly plain. To me the "Move your ass" line was absolutely perfectly in character. For Jordan (the tough "southie" from 'Stage Fright'). The mean right hook was also consistent ;).

(BUT that said, we don't really know Esther that well, so it's hard to tell, maybe that's the sort of person she was too - maybe a bit about roles in there ? Challenging what we expect her to be like - given she's blind, clearly devout and seems passive - versus what's she's actually like ?)

I'm just feeling better and better about this show. Think I might be starting to love it now.

- 'man-reaction' (and especially "I prefer 'man-reaction'" ;)

- in general, how Topher is quirky and sort of charming and has so many funny lines all of which normally make a character hard to dislike. But is still such a dick. Really. Even his funny lines are dickish - "Sneezure" ? Sure funny. But about someone else suffering permanent brain damage. So also dickish.

- Ballard being a bit more human (even in his flaws - clearly Mellie's into him and either he can't see it because he's so single-minded OR he sees it and is happy to use her, albeit in a relatively harmless fashion. So far)

- good to see the whole dollhouse/Garden of Eden thing that Joss has talked about before actually coming up fairly explicitly. I was worried they might be a bit too "on the nose" with it but I think the right balance was struck.

- and in general, the ambiguity of the beliefs involved. I like that Joss/Tim didn't completely judge the "cult" leader (he actually did nothing wrong until the very end and even then, he only arguably forced Esther to stay - the rest he persuaded, to the extent that Esther/Jordan/Caroline/Echo had to almost force them to leave, and literally did in one case. Seems to be asking "Why is it wrong for him to do it but right for Esther ?").

Watching (and listening to) the "cult" leader reminded me of Orwell's line
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

Seems to me like he wasn't necessarily a bad man (by the time we see him), seems like he might just have been a "rough" one. You can see "sleeping peaceably" as anything abstract to be defended, any right (the most obvious one in this instance clearly being freedom of religion but personal autonomy in general also fits very well with the themes of the show - in that sense it makes perfect sense thematically that it's Dominick, for whom Echo's personal autonomy is an annoyance at best, that kills the "cult" leader who's in one sense her enabler).

- how so much of the dialogue is layered and can be seen to relate to the show's themes. Esther's "You can't force a miracle" (the "miracle" of consciousness is exactly what the dollhouse is trying to "force"). Or Boyd's "No ... she didn't escape from anything" which to me works for his tactical briefing and works to draw parallels between the cult and the dollhouse and also works as a hint that Caroline may well have jumped from the frying pan into the fire, that she "didn't escape".

- like how fast things are moving. Echo has an enemy. Victor's in love. Ballard's got a fairly solid lead (could even end up with Boyd's name - presumably his real one, or maybe he was someone else before he was Boyd Langton ? I don't mean an active, just a change of ID).

- "Take the stairs". Lines like this are why Adelle's English and either upper or upper-middle class. Power and an inherent belief (in fact, it's more "knowledge" ;) of her own utter superiority has to sit easy with Adelle, it has to be like breathing for her. You don't get that quite as much from any other sort of person IMO.

In general, most of what people upthread are complaining about I found to be brilliant touches of ambiguity, places where the show asks genuine questions rather than giving pat answers. Each episode I feel like I know more about the mechanics of the dollhouse and the over-arching plot BUT am less and less secure in the metaphysics of it all (or the morality for that matter).

Yep, upon further consideration, loving it now. So presumably after episode 6 i'll be swimming in Kool-Aid, nevermind drinking the stuff ;).
'Dollhouse' is finally finding it's fan base with this episode. Why? Because some people hate Topher and everybody hates Laurence Dominic (the security dude). If you've got your hate on, the show is working. Onwards and upwards - to find the love.

PS: Eliza rocks in this episode.
So you're saying the next step is Topher/Dominick slash ? ;)
Finally, a good episode. Thank you, Tim.

I was more convinced by Eliza's acting here, and other parts of the story held together much better for me. The "move your ass" line took me a little out of the episode, just momentarily, because it was so Faith-like, and I had otherwise already forgotten Faith. But I accepted it as part of the compositing (composting -- so funny!) process.

I wish we could have had this level of entertainment in earlier episodes so there could be more people watching about now. I'm not sure Fox's publicity strategy for Joss's episode is going to work. But I'll keep fingers crossed, for if they can sustain the quality level of this episode, they'll keep new fans.
If anybody is wondering, Gossi's magic ratings predictions are this episode will have held the 18-49 demographic from last week. The overnights don't come out for a few hours, so we'll find out if my magic system is right.
This was a great episode. Interesting IOTW, fine acting, funny.

Ballards neighbour is really bugging me. If she is really just a neighbour, she is sooo lame. But I don't think, that they would waste a character on that. Someone above there mentioned her being a doll imprinted by Alpha. I am going with that for now. That makes her tolerable.

Again, great episode, can't wait for next week!
- in general, how Topher is quirky and sort of charming and has so many funny lines all of which normally make a character hard to dislike. But is still such a dick. Really. Even his funny lines are dickish - "Sneezure" ? Sure funny. But about someone else suffering permanent brain damage. So also dickish.

I would imagine someone in his position needing to dehumanize the dolls for his own psychological well being. Treating them as meat puppets instead of as people. He might not behave similarly in regards to someone not an active.

- how so much of the dialogue is layered and can be seen to relate to the show's themes. Esther's "You can't force a miracle" (the "miracle" of consciousness is exactly what the dollhouse is trying to "force").

Thought I would expect Topher to not consider it a miracle. He must be a monist who sees the dolls as biological hardware, the divine as an abstraction.

I'm intrigued by how Echo's emerging imprinting/awareness works. And what is up with Claire's warning to not have dolls wear the same persona repeatedly. Certainly his russian Victor persona was used recurringly as well (as the romantic one referenced in this episode.) And do long-term actives suffer a burn-in side effect?

And while I'm going on about this - how will Echo's composite personality unfold? I'm going to have to re-watch the initial episodes, as I've been under the impression that Alpha broke into Topher's lab and deliberately uploaded myriad profiles into himself (including Topher's.) Maybe I imagined this?
'Man reaction' - haha! I loved the Topher/Saunders moments and was glad to see Amy Acker back.

My jaw nearly hit the floor when she showed up with more pasta. This girl needs to get a life, stat!

Mine too! Leftover Manicotti? How much does she make! She seems to make pasta 24/7. Reminds me of Chocolate-cake-girl in Spiderman 2&3.

The show is becoming more solid now; Echo's retaining some elements of her personalities, Ballard is receiving more leads on the Dollhouse (although I still want to see more insight into his character). I agree with your comments Saje on the touches of ambiguity and the parallels between the engagement and the show's themes.
There was a line from the episode, that when I heard it, I thought "the Whedonesquers will be all over that." But I come here and it's "move your ass" and "I got shot." I was busy with work while I watched this, so I can't remember a single thing about the line (who said it, what scene, beginning, end, etc).
Is there a place for Dollhouse quotes, or do I have to rewatch the episode?
man reaction, sneezure... I liked this episode

Next week looks awesome and I can't wait for echo to royally destroy mr. dominic
Well, I realize that we are seeing Echo 'composting', but the abrupt shifts during the engagements seem rather unsubtle. Like, "I'm blind..*smack*...oh, I can see". But I guess we are supposed to understand that anxiety/fear can open a 'personality rift' that permits certain qualities to peak through without a genuine return of 'self' (in the sense of full memories/history that form a person). I just find it takes me out of the story for a few seconds, particularly when the dialogue/behavior is too Faith-like. In contrast, I really like the subtle signs of evolving memory/self in the DH (the head-shake to Sierra, the last line staring at security guy).
Dominic can't be Alpha though because everyone in the Dollhouse knows what Alpha looks like

Exactly, it's not like they have technology to implant people into other people.
But I guess we are supposed to understand that anxiety/fear can open a 'personality rift' that permits certain qualities to peak through without a genuine return of 'self'

Actually I'm pretty sure in this case it was physical, rather than personality. When she was hit it broke the implant that was redirecting her vision.
Has anyone suggested that maybe there's something in the pasta?

Other than garlic and basil...
Poor Mr. Dominick. Yes, definite meany and villain, etc. But this ep did actually give him a bit more depth in his discussion with Adelle before he went to the cult compound. His worry that Adelle is beginning to like Echo is appropriate in two senses: that everyone at this place (except the handlers and, maybe, Claire) seems to value emotional detachment from the actives and that he may suspect that Adelle has another reason to care for Echo (I am of the opinion that the opening video of Caroline in ep one where they refer to a third person "she" suggests that C. and A. share some sort of common history -- was Adelle perhaps breaking some company code by enrolling as an active someone she had a personal stake in?).

Why do Dominick's worries matter (and why should the dollhouse value detachment?)? Simple: Alpha. Dominick has a very direct reason, which he has previously allded to, to not like Echo compositing, so he is not being an idiot to find possible danger in Adelle or others seeming to turn a blind eye to Echo's apparant changes. And am I the only one who suspects Alpha himself was much beloved by the staff before he did what he did? A while ago, I opined that a lot of what goes on in the current Dollhouse workplace is pretty deeply coloured by trauma (these guys were almost all around for Alpha's rampage), and that changes people, not necessarily in nice ways.

Again, not to say Dominick isn't a dick, but to say he is not acting strictly venally or irrationally, given the history of the dollhouse. Joss is quite good at coming up with adversaries that become more sympathetic as you pick up on their motives. That's why Lindsay didn't come off as mere evil tool of W&H.
I loved it too. It's genuinely the first episode where I wasn't thinking about ratings, or how it would play, or anyone's acting, or what people would be writing here. I simply watched and enjoyed.
I found the line I thought was great: "god didn't make me see again so that I could just watch". Less powerful the second time around, but I liked it.
Know what you mean CaptainB, I heard one or two lines that were super-cool but left my head by the end. Sometimes i'm tempted to take notes (except that'd totally spoil my enjoyment of the episode ;).

(IMDB has quotes BTW but i'd imagine it's too early for 'True Believer' to have made it on there yet)

Alpha broke into Topher's lab and deliberately uploaded myriad profiles into himself (including Topher's.) Maybe I imagined this?

Fairly sure we're not told he does this peacemonger. It's possible but my own impression from the start was that it was a spontaneous event i.e. that previous memories/personalities leaked in somehow.

I would imagine someone in his position needing to dehumanize the dolls for his own psychological well being. Treating them as meat puppets instead of as people. He might not behave similarly in regards to someone not an active.

And I would imagine someone capable of dehumanising the dolls for his own psychological well-being to end up in his position ;).

Thought I would expect Topher to not consider it a miracle. He must be a monist who sees the dolls as biological hardware, the divine as an abstraction.

Personally I don't consider it a miracle either (hence the quotes around the word). As to Topher, I suspect he might not have much time for the divine at all but his job (and the premise of the show) would seem to entail more a dualist perspective (hard though that may be to defend) since AFAIK we don't see him talk much about the actual physical brains of the dolls. He presumably sees the brains as interchangeable hardware and the personalities he "writes" as software.

I guess the key thing to remember here is, Topher is often wrong. In fact, it's sort of his defining characteristic ;).

And what is up with Claire's warning to not have dolls wear the same persona repeatedly ... And do long-term actives suffer a burn-in side effect?

Well, Saunders certainly seems to be worried about that possibility. But it's worth bearing in mind that that ended up seemingly NOT being the case for Victor - it apparently wasn't some sort of "burn-in" from one of his "roles", he just fancied Sierra (the implication to me being, he would have done anyway, whatever he'd been imprinted with).

Like, "I'm blind..*smack*...oh, I can see".

I don't really get the issue with this at all. We're told beforehand that trauma could do weird things either to Echo's brain or to the camera implants so it's just a plot-development and that aside, the episode centres around the nature of miracles and faith. Miracles are, by definition, totally out of left-field so I think a show examining them should be given a "left-field pass" personally (it also makes the neat point as per Arthur C. Clarke that "Any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic" - i.e. is it a miracle or "just" amazing technology ? And if the latter, why is that not miraculous ?).

In contrast, I really like the subtle signs of evolving memory/self in the DH (the head-shake to Sierra, the last line staring at security guy).

See, that's less subtle to me because it's explicitly Echo, there's no way it can be anyone else. Seeing small parts leak through while she's imprinted makes me wonder if i'm seeing something from Echo or Caroline or one of the other imprints (and, therefore, what it means to be influenced by your experiences and about how we're all, basically, a collection of snippets from "other lives"). Or even, as I mention above, the current imprint just responding in a way that's out of the "box" we've chosen to put her in. The point being, we don't know Esther baxter, we just think we do.
What I liked even better than Topher saying "man reaction" was his embarrassed little shrug after Dr. Saunders asked him why he preferred "man reaction."
Thoughts on the episode:

1) Smoothest to date!
2) Eliza played the role of blind woman convincingly enough. I've been questioning her range, but she's passing the test so far.
3) "Move your ass!" was no accident. Neither were her quick reactions. I'm sensing both Caroline and a... what's it called? Combustible event? Composite. That's it.
4) "Did I fall asleep?" no longer means what it meant in the pilot. Just a feeling.
5) Adelle really likes Echo. They must have a history.
6) I love the idea of Alpha creating dolls... like previously-speculated Manicotti Girl.
7) Lots of great funny!
8) We must get more Amy Acker.
9) Might as well start a Whedon-character death pool for who gets axed before the finale
10) Spoilers be damned, I'm off to watch next week's preview!
I'm confused by the people saying that Brian Bloom's character did nothing wrong. He had a cache of firearms (which is enough in itself), he pointed a gun at a young woman's head and he had one of his followers set fire to a building full of people.

Perhaps Ballard's neighbour has been imprinted with Chef Boyardee.
how we're all, basically, a collection of snippets from "other lives"
Well, she's definitely channeling the 'smack someone in the back of the head to knock them out' snippet in two of these episodes. Time to stir the 'compost'.

[ edited by baxter on 2009-03-14 16:23 ]
I don't think his neighbor is a doll, that's too obvious. But she's definitely up to something, not just after a little somethin' somethin'.
Am I the only one who has likened Manicotti girl to Cheese Guy from Restless?

Yes? Ok, moving on....
According to Wikipedia
In Italian, cannelloni literally means "large reeds", while manicotti means "sleeves"

So could it just be that she's wearing her heart on her sleeves?
He had a cache of firearms (which is enough in itself), he pointed a gun at a young woman's head and he had one of his followers set fire to a building full of people.

A young woman that could be an agent of evil forces as he saw it (and the ATF guy was very far from squeeky clean so he might've had a point there) or, if she was genuine, wouldn't even know he was pointing a gun at her, a building full of people who wouldn't be harmed (in his view). And a cache of firearms to protect them from unjustified armed incursion (which ended up happening). That he was evil is a circular argument, not based on what we see onscreen.

I've just mentioned on the Minear interview thread that the episode seems to ponder the line between cult and more conventional religious organisations and his actions being ambiguous supports that. I also wonder about the idea of believing in The Bible and yet somehow "just knowing" that parts of it are a bit crazy (cos they may lead you to burn folk to death). Always intrigued me how believers know the difference, seems like it might intrigue Tim Minear too.

(why for instance, is it wrong for him to force people to stay and be saved - as he sees it - whereas it's right for Esther to force people to leave and be saved - as she sees it ? Just because we happen to agree with her ?)
and lasagna means "cooking pot" so she's....I got nothing.
She's ... cooking her heart ? She's a cannibal ? OMG !

Or she may just be cooking her sleeves. In which case, not a cannibal, just slightly odd.
and double-posting to agree with Saje...the whole interesting thing about this cult was that the leader pretty definitely HAD actually had a real religious conversion and was truly trying to look out for his flock, whatever we think of his methods.
And a cache of firearms to protect them from unjustified armed incursion (which ended up happening)

No real Christian is going to have a cache of illegal weapons (or legal ones, for that matter.)
The cult leader was a nutcase, but he wasn't misleading his "flock", he wasn't posing and using the cult as a cover-up for some criminal operation or personal gain. He was genuinely believing his crap. I guess things would have taken a turn for the worse at some point or another because the guy was a crazy zealot and where crazy zealots are involved it never really ends well, especially when they keep an arsenal in the backroom, but the whole situation was precipitated by the personal vendetta the lead police guy had against him. Without the fake accusations, nothing would have happened.
and lasagna means "cooking pot" so she's
Lasagna has many layers, just like her many layered motives.
Now that was a good one :)

Like it that there were no good guys here. The cult leader believed part of his crap himself, but he was still a dangerous lunatic as was the cop, who staged the cry for help to get to the action.

Loved Fran Kranz. He really makes me hate Topher in a good way and he's bringing the funny to the show.
aha! I see! She seems cheesy at first, but then there's another layer that's something else...and then there's another layer of cheese like the first one..like pie!
there's also meat, bechamel and tomato sauce in a lasagna. Or, it could be a veggie lasagna, with peas. Or a white lasagna, without the tomatoes. Lots of possibilities.
Yeah, she seems sneaky - I wouldn't put anything pasta.

... because the guy was a crazy zealot and where crazy zealots are involved it never really ends well ...

Yeah but my point is, what did he say/do that was inconsistent with The Bible ? So why is he immediately a crazy nutcase when others that act consistently with (other parts of) The Bible aren't ?

Another point the episode raises for me is, if you really believe something is wrong what responsibility do you have to try to fix it ? How far should you go, what amount of zealotry is justified ? Esther explicitly ignores the big fella's wishes (forgotten his name) and actually physically forces him to leave when he wants to stay (she cold cocks him). Why is that better than forcing people to stay ? Why's she the hero ?

No real Christian is going to have a cache of illegal weapons (or legal ones, for that matter.)

That's known as the "No true Scotsman" fallacy redeem147, worth a read ;).
I wouldn't put anything pasta
That is now my favorite line from the episode(-ish). :-)
Saje, IIRC, the guy who wished to stay didn't say he wanted to be a martyr. He believed that he would live through the fire because his faith would keep him safe. He didn't want to die. So, a reach maybe, but Esther is the hero because she kept him from dying?
Yeah but only if you don't believe he'd survive right ? And either way, isn't it his decision, stand or fall ? So the ironic parallel to me is, Esther decides he's not competent to make his own choices so she forcibly bends him to her will. She takes away his moral agency, just like the dollhouse does to Echo/Caroline.

(that BTW, was one of the more subtle "leaks" IMO. Esther, from what we see, very possibly would have believed he'd survive but the "Esther" we see at the end certainly doesn't)
Mellie's clearly an impasta.

I'm starting to wonder how much we are supposed to sympathize with Alpha. He has done violent things, he's killed people, but how much of that is his own fault, and how much is the Dollhouse's imprints affecting him?
Man Reaction heehee
AWESOME!!! i totally thought Eliza's acting was by far soooo much better in this episode!!
The Move your Ass line didn't trouble me. The lady hitch-hiked across the country by herself blind, so I'm not surprised she's got some spunk. Also, good catch whoever it was with the potty mouth connection.


Yes to all this."Move your Ass!" felt like a possible flash of Caroline's potty-mouth (but was also not inconsistent with her imprinted personality IMO... she was never a sap with no sense of humor... "I'm a girl?") and was soon followed by Dominic's complaint that she was compositing, which gives us even more possibilities. That all felt like some very tight writing, to me.

Eliza was fantastic in this ep. Liking this more and more, and this might have been my favorite ep. I liked last week's a lot too, but it felt less steady. This one was really well-written, dense, funny, engaging... good good good.

he may suspect that Adelle has another reason to care for Echo (I am of the opinion that the opening video of Caroline in ep one where they refer to a third person "she" suggests that C. and A. share some sort of common history -- was Adelle perhaps breaking some company code by enrolling as an active someone she had a personal stake in?).


ooh, yes!

Re. Alpha breaking into the lab... it's an intriguing idea, but all that's been suggested so far is that he "retained" the various identities and skills he'd been imprinted with in the past. Dominic talks about compositing, and Adelle mentioned in another ep his gifts being "gifts we gave him."

I wouldn't call myself hooked yet, but getting more into it. 13 episodes should do the trick :).
I found it amusing that, in an episode dealing with faith and whatnot, Ballard's FBI colleague Loomis was played by the fake voodoo lady from True Blood.
Well, no, I don't believe he would have survived. Neither would devout Christians, including Esther,IMO, or you'd see little sects of people setting themselves on fire to prove their faith, a la the snake handlers of Appalachia. Preventing some guy from jumping out of a plane without a parachute because he believes he'll survive is not taking away his moral agency. He really is not competent to make that decision. It might be different if people know they will die and want to anyway. Christian martyrs, terminally ill people, etc. are examples where there's at least some moral ambiguity. But this is not a case like that.
Agreed. As Esther says, You can't force a miracle.
CaptainB Perhaps the line you noticed is the one where the senator used the phrase "an unquestioning serenity" while describing the state of mind of the cultists. That jumped out at me.
He really is not competent to make that decision.

Uh huh, clear-cut, simple as that shambleau ;). Why would God not protect him ? As he says, they've just witnessed a miracle (Esther was blind and now she sees). What better evidence is there for God acting in the world ? Why would Esther not believe, she'd been given a vision of something that turned out to be true ?

I think you're conflating what we know to be the case and what the case would appear to be for the people in the episode (including Esther).

(I personally "know" there's no afterlife so surely I should prevent people martyring themselves under any circumstances ? Is it OK for me to take their choice to do so away ?)

Agreed. As Esther says, You can't force a miracle.

I'm reminded of the old joke (or I guess it's a parable to some people, to those folks I mean no offence ;):
So there's this huge flood one day, and an entire town looks like it's going to be swallowed up by the waters. And the Police and Rescue Agencies are running all over the place trying to get people to safety.

So they send the rescue boat over to this house where a guy's sitting on the roof with the water lapping around his ankles and they say "Come on, quickly, there isn't much time"

To which he says "Nah, it's ok, God will Provide"

So about an hour later they're zooming past in the boat again and they notice the guy's still there, only the water's up to his waist, almost at the top of the roof.. "Quick" they say, get in the boat, it's going to get worse before it gets better.

"Nah, don't worry - God will Provide"

An hour after that a rescue helicopter flies over the area and notices the guy, who must be standing on the peak of the roof now, with only his head and shoulders out of the water. "GRAB THE ROPE!" they cry "IT'S YOUR ONLY HOPE!"

"Don't worry" he replies calmly "God will provide."

So he gets drowned of course. And he goes to heaven, and is a little ticked off with god for drowning him like that, and expresses his concern saying "I had FAITH, I BELIEVED in you - and still you didn't help me"

"HELP YOU?!" God replies "What MORE did you want - I sent you two boats and a helicopter!"

Was the cult leader a criminal for storing a cache of weapons? Yes. Was he a criminal for setting fire to his flock? Yes. Was he a true believer who thought he was right? Possibly. Was I ever in a cult? Yes. Did the episode push a few buttons? Yes.
Okay, that was by FAR the best episode of anything I've seen in a while, including Dollhouse. Everything's really coming together. I'm so excited.
Actually, and this comes from complete ignorance, what are the laws for possession of firearms? I mean, if those weapons were obtained legally, what law is broken? I'm not suggesting they were obtained legally, nor am I trying to nitpick anyone's points. I simply want to know if it's the possession that gets him in trouble or the manner in which they came to his possession.
Neither necessarily (the cache only served as cause for a warrant, presumably because of his past and the quantity of weapons). We don't know whether they were illegally held or not (and neither did the ATF - if they'd entered peacefully and found the weapons were all legally obtained/held then presumably they'd have had to leave again).

ETA: Just to be clear BTW, I don't see how they can all be legal myself, just too many.[/ETA]

And of course, if they hadn't forcibly entered private property and if Echo hadn't been sent in with the camera eyes (and subsequent miracle) then he never would've chosen to rely on God to protect them and set the building on fire (either through misplaced faith in a non-existent God or a too literal reading/misinterpretation of The Bible, depending on how you look at it).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-14 18:49 ]
I don't see ED's acting level changing at all through these five eps. What I do see is the audience beginning to let go of a previous character and starting to accept seeing Eliza as these varied characters. Occasionally an audience member fails. It isn't Eliza. It's you.
Saje, I never said I would prevent people from martyring themselves under any circumstance. In fact, I said there were times where there's a case to be made for not interfering. But, again, the guy wasn't trying to be a martyr.

I'm not disputing his right to hold a belief, but am I supposed to honor it above my own? If I am sure someone will die in a situation where they believe the opposite, aren't I obliged to operate on my belief? Wouldn't my agency be taken away if I didn't act? Would you really feel obligated to do nothing while someone douses himself with gasoline and sets himself on fire, thinking God will protect him? Is his agency that sacred?
Occasionally an audience member fails. It isn't Eliza. It's you.

That's a matter of opinion, of course. I've been finding some of Eliza's acting dodgy at times. She's really great in this episode, though.
I am finally invested in Echo and her character, this was the best episode to date. I can't wait to see Joss's eppy next week.
The Echo/Boyd dynamic is superb and reminds me of the Buffy and Giles dynamic. So much to love about this episode. Tim brought it. This show is going to be a huge success. I can feel it. :)
Saje, I never said I would prevent people from martyring themselves under any circumstance. In fact, I said there were times where there's a case to be made for not interfering. But, again, the guy wasn't trying to be a martyr.

Yeah but why do people martyr themselves shambleau ? In service of a belief, yes ? So why is that belief more sensible (to you) than "God has shown me a miracle and I believe he will protect me" ?

Would you really feel obligated to do nothing while someone douses himself with gasoline and sets himself on fire, thinking God will protect him? Is his agency that sacred?

My point is, where faith and belief is concerned I think it's at least not a clear-cut case of "I'm right, you're wrong, therefore you must be mentally incompetent to make your own choices".

Or to put it another way, given what The Bible actually says and that many people claim to believe some or all of it, how is one person that believes something crazy definitely mentally incompetent whereas someone else that (to me personally, maybe yourself also) might believe something just as crazy isn't ? And is it just self-harm ? Or maybe just fatal self-harm (would you stop a flagellant for instance ? Or to take religions out of it, would you stop a masochist ?) ?

In practice, I don't know what i'd do (in these situations I think if you're going to act you basically act without thinking anyway) BUT if I didn't have other reason to believe the person was actually non compos mentis and had to make a clinical choice (i.e. had time to think) then i'd struggle to make a moral case for stopping them exercising their freedom of choice.

As JS Mill put it in 'On Liberty':
The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
(my emphasis)
Occasionally an audience member fails. It isn't Eliza. It's you.


Really?
I actually see it as better direction, folks. Eliza's been doing a decent enough job acting in all the episodes, but as a director myself I've noticed little Eliza-ticks that I would have gotten another take, without, in every ep but this one. I noticed a leap up in shot choice and lighting in this episode, simple tricks that showed a bit more judgment, and Eliza's acting comes up a notch? That's a sign someone's directing, including their actor, better, instead of just saying, "Now go squee!"

As much as I love em, I have tiers of talent in my head with Joss's recurring writers and directors. Craft and Fain are at the bottom. Their episodes of Angel felt a hair away from Charmed, IMO. DeKnight's stuff is better, but still has a bit of that Supernatural/SG-1 thing, where there's no edge. Tim Minear's stuff, since Firefly, has impressed me. He sold me on everything, and Allan Kroeker seemed a higher level of directing. He also directed "Ariel", BTW. The top? Joss, of course, but also Jane Espenson and Marti Noxon. I've rarely, if ever had even a simply adequate experience when they wrote an episode, and I can't wait for Jane's Dollhouse ep.
Simon, I really think it explains about 90% of the less thought out knee jerk "ED's acting isn't good" comments here and in the press. YMMV
In Italian, cannelloni literally means "large reeds", while manicotti means "sleeves"

So could it just be that she's wearing her heart on her sleeves?

Or she's got something up them.
Apart from her arms ?
Her arms are in the manicotti? That's cannibalism!
Auto-cannibalism if she eats any herself (presumably someone else would have to help her with the knife and fork).

She may or may not eat hearts too. If I were Ballard I might get another dead-bolt.
And a nice red.
Also I want to mention that I think there's a difference between a long-term engagement (i.e., if Lasagna Girl is an active that isn't being used for other engagements) vs. a repeat-engagement (i.e., Victor and Lonely Hearts). Getting re-imprinted with the same image over and over again likely has more ramifications than having one imprint for an extended time. I mean, the dolls were people before, with one long imprint, right? But they could make new experiences, change over time. Then they were wiped, and it's assumed that there aren't any immediate remnants of those personalities, otherwise Echo and Alpha wouldn't be special. But repeatedly being made into the EXACT same person probably begins to leave traces, like writing the same thing on a piece of paper over and over again, erasing it, but each time it gets a little bit harder to erase.
Good analogy, PuppetDoug. I like that.
Jumping on board with Saje again (but without the elegance of J.S. Mill to back me up)...There are a number of examples other than faith/belief parallel to shambleau's question ("If I am sure someone will die in a situation where they believe the opposite, aren't I obliged to operate on my belief? Wouldn't my agency be taken away if I didn't act?"). Medicine is the obvious example, where, not only in extreme situations but even in general day to day office situations, doctors and similar practitioners have to bow to the patient's decisions, even when the docs have pretty strong evidence that harm will come if the patients do what they want to do. As for agency, one part of agency is identity, and one way I expect doctors or priests or lawyers (etcetera) get around feeling like these experiences do nothing but rob agency from them is to build into their identity as doctors/priests/etc certain notions of supporting or accepting the patient's wishes. (And, yes, of course there are myriad examples, dominant in the past and still around in the present, of doctors and others being more "paternalistic" than this, but I believe the trend is towards greater attention/respect for patient wishes.)
I agree with Saje that the cult leader isn't bad or good in a clear-cut way when it comes to how he deals with his flock. However, I think there exists some evidence that he isn't the nicest guy - how many times did he backhand Esther in this episode?
He wasn't Koresh, but he was of the ilk that demand absolute respect (Do as I say, or else), and that does make him a dangerous type, or at least, a very harsh taskmaster. And yet, I saw sincerity in Bloom's eyes and face through his performance. I note that the FBI agent in charge may have told a lie about him liking underage girls, also as part of his ruse to be able to get the warrant for spying on the group. There was a scene, the second time Esther was touching his face, that he abruptly pulled away and I wonder if that meant he was attracted to her but couldn't allow himself to go there. That speaks of someone true to his vision of a real religious family, not a lunatic.

I have a favorite old Hollywood film, The Story of Ruth, and though I am not a Christian, it has some lovely moments that anyone can relate to. This quotation has obvious ties to Esther's character within Jonas Sparrow's group but strong, worrisome reverberations for me about Echo's position within the Dollhouse.

Do not ask me to leave you, for I never will. Where you go, I will go; where you live, I will live; your people shall be my people; and your God shall be my God. Where you die, I will die, and be buried. Nothing but death itself shall part you and me.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-03-14 21:36 ]
Eliza did a great job and Tim Minear is one of my favorite writers. But this episode, IMO, it was sadly typical in its marginalization of fringe religious groups. It showed governmental violations of the Temple members' 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Constitutional Rights, as if it were normal and acceptable. I was disturbed by issues such as, why was the government allowed to track that religious group for so long? A recent complaint might have given cause for an investigation. But to spy on them for years, was it? In the hopes that someday they might find a violation to justify breaking them up? I found that incredibly disturbing. That's truly scary!

The BATF didn't know about the guns until they had all but made the decision to invade. They were looking for an excuse to invade, and that's a big story in and of itself. Having a lot of guns is not necessarily illegal. The fact that there were lots of guns meant absolutely nothing, as long as they were obtained legally. The temple and its members were not advocating violence or the overthrow of the government. The government went in just because they didn't like the way it looked. That is unconstitutional, but it was written as if it was acceptable.

Describing citizens as "cultists" makes them seem less-than-human to outsiders. If we don't see past the propaganda, we become sheep that look the other way when those people are denied their consitutionally-guaranteed rights. "It's all right, they're just cultists." Think about Waco for a moment. Every government representative and newscaster used the word "cultist" to describe the people living there. Sure they had a lot of guns and ammo. But every gun and cartridge they owned was purchased legally. Had the media called those people "citizens" (which they were) instead of "cultists", how do you think the public would have reacted to what the government did? "Federal agents are firing on the citizens in the compound" sounds a whole lot worse than, "Federal agents are firing on the cultists in the compound". If the former happens, we become alarmed. When the latter happens we turn away, thinking they must somehow deserve it, and it can never happen to us.

While the episode showed an individual law enforcement agent as a bad person with an agenda, it barely questioned the larger issues of government doing end-runs around the Constitution, selecting certain religious groups or believers for persecution, and generally intruding into the privacy of citizens. It was like an elephant in my living room, and I couldn't see around it to just enjoy the story. With Mr. Minear being an avowed Libertarian, I'm a little surprised he wrote it this way. I would love to hear his take on these issues.

[Edited for spelling.]

[ edited by Amrita on 2009-03-14 21:49 ]
Fan-friggin' tastic episode. I wish I didn't have to stream them online just to catch em', but whatever. I love this show!
Having a lot of guns is not necessarily illegal. The fact that there were lots of guns meant absolutely nothing, as long as they were obtained legally.

That's very, very scary.
Welcome to America.
It might not have meant anything in legal terms. That's not saying it might not mean, or at least indicate, suggest, etc., anything at all.

And it also might mean that the legal system is questionable.
While the episode showed an individual law enforcement agent as a bad person with an agenda, it barely questioned the larger issues of government doing end-runs around the Constitution, selecting certain religious groups or believers for persecution, and generally intruding into the privacy of citizens. It was like an elephant in my living room, and I couldn't see around it to just enjoy the story. With Mr. Minear being an avowed Libertarian, I'm a little surprised he wrote it this way. I would love to hear his take on these issues.

Could that have not been Minear's take on current anti-terrorist laws in the US? If he is a big L Libertarian, then I'm not surprised at all that he wrote it the way he did.
There's a little bit of explanation in the Tim Minear interview linked here on the front page:

Tim Minear: Well, Joss wanted to do a cult episode. The only real edict was that the culties should have a point of view -- that they shouldn't just be crazies. In fact, they should be right. I liked that notion.
Isn't it completely illegal for an ex-con to own a gun? And I thought Tim did a great job showing that the ATF was in the wrong here. The lead guy had to lie to a judge and fabricate evidence in order to get a warrant.
Amrita, with full respect, I could not disagree more strongly about how the episode attempted to portray the group and the dynamics with the government/surrounding community/etc. As a metatextual starting point, there is Tim Minear's remark, noted in the interview on the front page of Whedonesque today, that one of the criteria Joss insisted on for the group was that the leader actually be right about the threat facing his group. It appears to me that, in scene after scene, this script went out of its way to draw the group and the leader in ways that resisted easy interpretation in the worst of Koresh stereotypes...The leader goes out of his way to declare himself not a particularly special man, not to have visions. He is a man with a past and a certain "paranoia" (for lack of better word) about the threats to his group, and yet, he is, at least briefly willing to see Esther as a recipient of a miracle. The show makes it quite clear that the arms cache was NOT a part of any attempt to attack preemptively, or to keep people from leaving, or to be used for smuggling.

I was struck, even on a first viewing with how strong were some of the writer's choices made about how the group worked. For instance, I saw the singing during the town visit in this way: a strategy for a group that believes that it must retain its godliness/purity/innocence/(please help me with a better word) by isolating itself from opportunities for corruption by the outside world, as well as a strategy to maintain a "serene" (to take the senator's word, but not necessarily his definition) attitude in the face of things like the hostility they meet. There is meant to be, certainly, a superficial "red herring" narrative layer about cultists keeping members from escaping early in the show as part of the set-up.

I would go further and note that, at least in this episode, the constitutional machinery performs quite well: while it is not surprising that the bad seed ATF agent, and probably numerous others, remain suspicious of this group because of its leader (and, really, given the leader's history, can you blame them, even if they are ultimately wrong about his motives and intentions?), it is notable that, for several years they have FAILED to get a warrent because they have no basis, and even the warrent they get at this time is incredibly limited, lasting 48 hours, and not likely with the judge knowing about how an active would be involved. (and again, though we know the "save me" comment to have been a ruse, can you blame the judge for finding probable cause for at least a "look-see" warrant in that evidence?)

I was equally impressed by how the leader, when referring to Biblical scripture, made a point of referring to "our book" and similar locutions instead of "the Bible," which I strongly suspect was a move by the writers to avoid bringing in the reflexive, even reactionary, response that a secular viewing public can have to "the Bible" when mouthed by a preacher character of even vaguely questionable character in a pop culture medium, and a similar response by some communities of faith to exactly the same word and situation if they feel pop culture is too faciley taking a jab at them.

If there is any moral/ethical bleed onto the "cult" in this show, it is from two sources. The first is the leader's ultimate tendency to extreme action, but I think this character is remarkably well set-up as a reasonably complicated figure with real faith and real flaws, both connected to his history, and as such, I believe a reading of him as an attempt at a stereotypical bashing of fringe group leaders would find only weak grounding in the text of this episode. The second source is, of course, the comparison to the Dollhouse and its own need for purity and paranoia about federal interference. And this, as any number of exchanges on this web site following previous episodes, remains a very vexed question: There is much that is distasteful about the dollhouse, but the mysteries of its full motives and how much those motives might or might not justify its actions are still very obscured at this point.

As for whether a show is placing itself beyond the pale by using words such as "cult," or for that matter, by using scenarios that have obvious and intentional resemblances to real life events we are aware of, I will admit that we are now on the territory that is a peeve of mine: I have no interest in or belief in the relevance of any arguments that such things must be avoided for fear of offense. I believe no subtle point about any issue can be made if the narrative vocabulary is bowlderized, and I believe that no event of our communal past as a society is off-limits for use. I am not sure this particular point is one you are even arguing, and if you are not, my apologies, but there you have it.

Finally, I would note that there has been, since the Waco and Ruby Ridge events, a significant portion not just of the religious population but of the secular center and left in this country that came quickly to feel that the government was out of line in its handling of those events. There have been a number of books and a widely distributed documentary, for example, of Ruby Ridge created by people who have no stomach at all for many of the beliefs of the Weaver family, but who believe the evidence is clear that Randy Weaver was essentially set up unfairly in a way that is offensive to most people's sense of the Constitution. I would imagine, from this script and his comments, that Tim Minear would have some strong sympathy for this view.

All in all, while this episode portrays a particular leader who is ultimately capable of extreme action and uses the shared narrative language (both of words and events) of our culture to tell its story, it is ultimately one that provides very weak evidence for the sort of demonization of fringe religious groups that you suggest.
Yeah, I think it was incredibly fair. Of the three "zealots" in the belief triangle (Sparrow, Esther and ATF agent) i'd say it was actually the ATF agent that was treated least sympathetically. He was still acting on his beliefs for what he thought were good ends, just like the other two, but there's no time when we're encouraged to think he's right, we're never really on his side at any point (except maybe right near the start).

Course, the main point is, Tim Minear isn't obliged to write a story that strictly adheres to his (or our) own political beliefs and he didn't sign a contract that says he has to treat all his characters with impeccable fairness according to our own interpretations. He can write what he likes (if I were a writer I can't imagine much more boring than always writing characters and events that I agreed with 100%, to me fiction's a good place to play with ideas you don't agree with).

Isn't it completely illegal for an ex-con to own a gun?

I guess they could be officially not his ? Or is it illegal for an ex-con to even live in the same place as guns are kept (genuine question) ?

Must admit, it seems bonkers to me for that sort of arsenal to ever be OK but from what I gather in the US the starting position is, it's fine to have guns unless there's a reason you shouldn't (whereas over here you have to justify ownership from the start in order to obtain a licence).
Having a lot of guns is not necessarily illegal. The fact that there were lots of guns meant absolutely nothing, as long as they were obtained legally.

That's very, very scary.

People minding their own business is very, very scary?? Frankly, I find the idea that the government or even other citizens can feel free to mind my business for me, decide for me what my business is, manipulate the legal system to have their own ideals written into law, and use whatever force they see fit to enforce those ideals far scarier than anything my neighbors may be into. That's actually a pretty good incentive for the rest of us to stay armed and dangerous.

By the way, I'm not a Christian myself, but I know lots of people who are; quite a number of those own guns; and whether or not they're "real" Christians isn't defined by what someone else thinks of them, any more than their beliefs define me.
Purely for the sake of argument, how would you suggest lawmakers or law enforcement handle it when they have (undefined for our purposes since that's a debate unto itself) reason to believe that what you call people minding their own business may actually be some people being systematically victimized in terms of the law by people supposedly minding their own business, included in that victimization being the inability (again, undefined) to help themselves or seek help from outside sources?

My point... It's not that simple.

[ edited by Brett on 2009-03-14 23:44 ]
On tv it usually is. Real life not so much.
Usually, yeah. S'just one of the things this ep did well IMO.
True it handled the story-telling well but it only handled the issue well by circumventing it via the forged note.

Not saying that's a bad thing; just a thing.
Well I think that "circumvention" might be the episode's actual position on the subject i.e. there basically isn't any way to handle it, that it's probably too dangerous to introduce into the legislation the ability to just forcibly enter without due cause, that isolated occurrences of people being victimised in that way is a (very) unfortunate price we have to pay for freedom.

Basically, perfect security isn't only unattainable in practice, it's certainly mutually exclusive to freedom. Unfortunately I don't think we have any choice but to accept that.
Exactly. But it didn't seem like the above acknowledged the price we have to pay for this reality. Rather the post struck me, perhaps incorrectly, as possessing a passion a little too grandiose in light of this fact.
It was a solid episode as expected from Mr. Minear. Although something bothered me during the whole experience: the shots felt claustrophobic. Everything was composed to the middle of the screen and it really started to bring down the experience. It felt dull. Could've used much more dynamic compositions.

Now it might be due to a studio request to keep it simple for the 4:3 AR, but still. This was the 1st episode that really bothered me in that respect.

Still liked it quite a bit. Some really snappy dialogue to boot as well. Can't wait for next week's episode!
Brett - when some hotshot cop breaks into your home in the middle of the night because he "knows" you're guilty of something and doesn't want to follow the rules to prove it, you can come back and tell me how "grandiose" it is that I actually believe in the principles that this country is supposed to stand for. Which is more important to you, justice or expedience? Frankly, I don't give even a tiny bit of a damn that following the rules is inconvenient for some law-enforcement members. Those rules are there for a reason, and they know it; if they don't want to follow them, then they need to get out of the business. Or be taken out of it, either way's okay with me. People who don't believe the law applies to them have no business being the ones enforcing it on anyone else.

You have to either stand on principles or stand and watch them fall. And that's some more reality for you.
Of all the many things I'm considering writing, the only one I will is to ask you to, if interested in understanding, go back and reread what I wrote. Maybe you'll see that I am not on the other side of that angry conversation you're having.
Okay, I went back and read, and I concede your point. However, I still object to the "grandiose passion" portrait. It's a good thing, IMO, that there are still a few people who care about the principle of the thing, because there seem to be more and more people in law enforcement who seem to feel that the "little people" don't count, and that cops shouldn't have their "hands tied" by having to actually obey the law themselves. I don't like that attitude; I never did, and I like it less the more I see of it.

Purely for the sake of argument, how would you suggest lawmakers or law enforcement handle it when they have (undefined for our purposes since that's a debate unto itself) reason to believe that what you call people minding their own business may actually be some people being systematically victimized in terms of the law by people supposedly minding their own business, included in that victimization being the inability (again, undefined) to help themselves or seek help from outside sources?

My point... It's not that simple.

Actually, it is. Follow the rules. "Reasonable suspicion" (aka "probable cause") is required for getting a warrant - whether it's a search warrant, a survellance order, or whatever. If LEOs have probable cause to get a warrant, they should be able to do so. If they have to lie to get a warrant, then they clearly don't have probable cause.
I was so conditioned by past treatments I have seen of "cults" in tv dramas, and by my own perspective on charismatic type religious groups, that it took me a while to understand that the leader was actually sincere in his beliefs.

I kept not understanding why he didn't realize at once that Echo was some kind of imposter or plant, since she came in recognizing him from a vision. I thought surely he knew she couldn't have had a vision, since I had presumed he was manipulating the group cynically, for some straightforward criminal end-even though I thought there was something rotten about the Feds from the start.

At first I thought he just had to pretend that it was possible that she was the real thing, because his flock would think it could well be true. It was just so well done...from, say, Esther's perspective, well , it was a miracle that she came, that she could see, and that her sight came with insight...a gift.

I thought it was really well done, the way my expectations kept being thwarted, and everything looked so different, and way more ambiguous to me in the end than in the beginning. Kudos to Tim.

Saje: Re: interfering with the agency of others...it is kind of inherent in the religious perspective, isn't it. Folks decide they know what their god has to say on the situation, and act accordingly- regardless of what the actual decision of the other people affected might be. Generally they feel quite justified, and that they are doing others a favor, which they are not sufficiently enlightened to realize.

[ edited by toast on 2009-03-15 02:48 ]
I liked this episode a lot. We got to see Agent Ballard talk to someone he has a bit of a rapport with, there was a naughty element to the shower (finally, it's been 5 episodes!), everyone hilariously treated that with a mix of awkwardness and DANGER DANGER alertedness (except the doctor), Boyd had a big heart-bouncing day-saving at the end, FIRE, and I get to hate Dominic even more.

Also really dug the new FBI character (Loomis?) and the nuances in the Topher/Saunders scenes here. Not to mention A plot twistiness, always a favorite of mine and thus far not a strong point in these early episodes. Minear totally brought it here.
Yes, Tim did a wonderful job. And I mistakenly thought Joss had written the episode, even though I felt shades of Joss all through it.
I always feel bad about that (i've a habit of saying "What Joss has done ..." when it could well be someone else entirely). I just realised a little while back BTW (this has probably been transparent to everyone else for ever) that Tim wrote 'Firefly's fifth (broadcast) episode too in 'Out of Gas' (another episode that most seem agreed is a bit special).

I thought it was really well done, the way my expectations kept being thwarted, and everything looked so different, and way more ambiguous to me in the end than in the beginning.

And as b!x points out, there's an extra layer of ambiguity toast because he could still be insincere (I don't think he is personally but it's not inconsistent).

... because there seem to be more and more people in law enforcement who seem to feel that the "little people" don't count ...

C'mon Rowan Hawthorn, that's a bit harsh. It's only the bad "little people" that don't count (and nobody else has anything to hide, right ? ;).


ETA: ... it is kind of inherent in the religious perspective, isn't it.

Yep, it is but in fairness, there's an element of it to any belief system I think (or at least, any belief system that doesn't advocate non-interference). I mean, if you're going to act in the world at all, eventually you have to pick a position and act as if that position is true (even though you can never be certain it is). But the episode asks interesting questions about where you draw the line I reckon, when should you stop acting as if your position's true or alternately, when should you stop acting as if other people's position might be true ? The old liberal conundrum of how much tolerance is too much (or is too much tolerance even possible) ? Good stuff.

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-15 02:56 ]
Also: this cult seemed to me (minus the leader) like a less apocalyptic version of the Lord Our Righteousness Church. There's a documentary on the group that's pretty fascinating but also very disturbing.

It could just be that I've seen this group documented on film and they're my most detailed frame of reference though.
Rowan...

Well, my first thought is that I like you a lot more than I did a little while ago. Insert mood-lightening emoticon here...

That said, re: the grandiose passion point, in fact, I couldn't agree more regarding the disdain I have for any abuse of authority, and within law enforcement especially. I'm actually extremely well know for this attribute, have written dozens of (every one effective) complaint letters in my day, and even had a brief discussion with my best friend about this just last night (with respect to the protrayal of police officers in another TV show actually).

My point with respect to grandiosity is that despite both of our falling on the same side of the argument, I acknowledge, with no practical bow to the other side, that our laws aren't perfect; they're just the best of which we're or have thus far been capable. And as that is the case, while I (in general terms (only since we haven't even defined exactly those of which we are speaking)) support them fully, I am aware enough of their shortcomings and the grave price people in this country must pay every day as a result of them to feel respectful of and appreciative for, but not necessarily so, well, grandiose about them.

And with respect to your warrant/rules discussion, again, I fully agree. By not that simple, I again meant that while I support the aspects of the legal system in question, that doesn't make them fool proof, and there is another side to the discussion that, while not changing my mind re: those aspects, is sobering enough to make me not celebrate them so vociferously.

[ edited by Brett on 2009-03-15 03:39 ]
There's a documentary on the group that's pretty fascinating but also very disturbing.

Interesting. Ever noticed how, when these folk calculate their "day of judgment" they never end up about 20,000 years in the future ? It's always like "next October the 10th" or "four years next Saturday". Fishy ;).

The scariest one i've seen was by Louis Theroux about the Phelps family (the self-styled "most hated family in America", those folk that picket soldier's funerals etc.). "Enjoy".

(stuff like that makes you take Richard Dawkin's claims about raising kids as religious being child abuse just a little more seriously)
Ever noticed how, when these folk calculate their "day of judgment" they never end up about 20,000 years in the future ?

I don't think they'd be capable of dealing with the Morlocks (which is about as "likely" as The Rapture).
(which is about as "likely" as The Rapture)

Or even slightly moreso. I mean, he was right about mechanised warfare ;).
TamaraC said:

I don't see ED's acting level changing at all through these five eps. What I do see is the audience beginning to let go of a previous character and starting to accept seeing Eliza as these varied characters. Occasionally an audience member fails. It isn't Eliza. It's you.

I beg to differ. One of my big reservations about the show from the start has been how un-whelmed I am with Eliza's acting and her shifts between personalities. I can never shake the feeling that I'm watching an actress going through the motions of a drama class exercise. That sense was only reinforced in the previous episode by the juxtaposition of both Eliza and Dichen Lachman playing the same active personality imprint (Taffy) - I found Lachman's character shift much more convincing. And while you may disagree with my taste, it's a big leap to declare it "audience failure." Fan failure, perhaps?
Saje: I'd certainly agree that there is an element of it in any belief system. It's just when the system is assumed to come directly from on high, there's a certainty and enthusiasm which can be pretty daunting to a person just trying to do their thing without bothering anyone else too much. There are some non-religious belief systems that can be pretty daunting too, of course.
Yep, agreed toast, God's kind of the ultimate enabler for some folk ;). Also true, people can be just as crazy about e.g. science but the difference is, science doesn't really have too much to say about how we should act, it's more about how we do act (descriptive rather than prescriptive). Most religions though, have a lot of "oughts" embedded within them and that can lead to all sorts of problems (especially when they run into a different set of "oughts").
Brett:
And with respect to your warrant/rules discussion, again, I fully agree. By not that simple, I again meant that while I support the aspects of the legal system in question, that doesn't make them fool proof, and there is another side to the discussion that, while not changing my mind re: those aspects, is sobering enough to make me not celebrate them so vociferously.
Gotcha. I'll just note that I'm not so much celebrating them as desperately clinging to them like a shipwrecked sailor hanging onto a life raft...
Unlike many of you, I was a little mixed about this episode - not because of the subject matter, because I liked that it wasn't straight-up "cults are bad, m'kay?" nor because of the MacGuffin/phlebotinum of Eliza's blindness/miracle sight, 'cause I could suspend disbelief in that just dandily, nor because it was Tim's episode - because Tim is one of my favorite TV writers ever.

And Eliza's acting was - as I've thought all along, and in every episode - damn fine. She is, imo, quite the talent, and has been since her first episode of BtVS. She just gets better. And all of the ensemble were their usual great. (BTW, I was thrilled to see Loomis played by the riveting Aisha Hinds, who portrayed Miss Jeanette on "True Blood." Also cool to see David Alpay, who I remember and noticed as Patrick/"Romeo" from Slings and Arrows.)

I'm just going on my reaction as I watched. I hope it is just that I'm staring at the thing too hard, or that I hiked my expectations up too absurdly high - but I kept getting thrown in and out of the story - the writing made me too aware of itself.

I agree with Den of Geek's Billy Grifter, whose review was linked to in another thread - that this episode was a combination of the good, the bad and the tantalizing. From small things like the *sigh* drill bits and Echo's silhouetted high heels (really? Were they from the blind lady costume or the Homespun Prairie Cult outfit?) to larger issues: what felt like abrupt and and either over-or-under-emphasized reveals and the whole thing overall feeling a little... choppy and oddly flat, even as it was unpredictable and twisty.

I dunno - I bought it on iTunes and I'll give it another watch. Maybe I just need to step back and turn off the spotlight and let go of the loud critical voice that played in my head while I watched. I've really enjoyed most of the episodes prior to this one, and some of them had stuff that strained credulity, too - though I'm careful to keep it in the context of fantasy/genre/sci-fi, etc. It's just that I kept getting thrown out and had to work to get back in, and I'm not sure that a good thing. It's usually not the case with me, because I'm the Queen of Suspended Disbelief - I actually believe that the kids of South Park exist. ; >

I will say that all of the Topher/Dr. Saunders stuff was ace, as was the reveal of Viktor's "man-reaction" (yes, a classic line was born) to Sierra. And I thought the Adelle stuff was beautifully written.

I almost kept out of this thread altogether (and delayed it until most everyone had come and gone) because I honestly didn't want to be Debbie Downer about this show - which I really like overall - and Tim's episode in particular, because he is Teh Writer I'd Most Like to Hear Piffling and Riffing on Any Subject Under the Sun - even topics on which we're likely to disagree...

But - it kinda left me uninvolved and pouty and a little bored, and if there's one subject that can usually get me all riled up and interested it's religious passion like the kind pictured here, as can the topic of government control/intervention and officialdom's lying and manipulation. Plus, Tim's the Man who wrote "Out of Gas" and all the stunning AtVS-Darla eps, and did The Inside and Wonderfalls... so I'm left a little surprised and disappointed.

Hell, maybe it is me. I'll go watch it again. As you were.
Just a thought...

I feel like if Amy did something "Fred-like" people would be like "aww, that was so Fred-like." Or if SMG did something "Buffy-like" in a movie people would also be endeared. I know I have a friend who often says "Oh that was soooo Angel!" when watching Bones.

Maybe it's because I love the character Faith that I don't care or mind if Eliza has Faith moments (which, yes, there are a couple, but not often IMO). Maybe a lot of what irks people is that they are reminded of a character they didn't like? As in, some people really didn't like Faith (how dare she hurt Buffy!), and therefore if they get reminded of her in Eliza's acting it turns them off?

I don't know, maybe not. It's just a thought. I'm just trying to understand.
Well I have to say I loved the drill bits, so I would be inclined to think you were just in a bored and pouty mood.... but I agree 100% on the high heels silhouetted as Boyd carried Echo from the fire (wtf?). Actually the shoes in almost every episode seem to be an issue (do you think that that is the product placement? ).
Just saw the ep. Reactions: OMG (holy crap) moment with the Dominic showing up gunning for Echo. Liked the follow-up with her 'seeing perfectly' at the end.

I also enjoyed the bits with Dr. Saunders. The religious cult stuff, well, fairly trite covered background material. Nice bit with the vendetta/'Save Me' twist, though, & it leading to Ballard's non-info. Though I'm surprised Ballard just kind of left the guy alone - *that* close to finding Caroline, and really just laying off like that?

Ok. Now time to consider reading the other 245 comments. yeeks.
Lots of awesome points above; I completely missed the cult-to-Dollhouse-to-(insert zealots here, exclude the audience) parallel. Quoted doubtful guest below:

The second source is, of course, the comparison to the Dollhouse and its own need for purity and paranoia about federal interference."

and some other nuances to the cult & cult-leader I noticed without *really* noticing, which makes a difference to my thoughts on this episode.

As to the question of acting, some bits at the end felt iffy, after Esther 'lost' her blindness, and apparently lost all of her passivity and tonal modulations as well. But overall everything was well-acted.

I'm glad I didn't notice the shoe silhouette. That would've been a meh moment inside the awesome Boyd rescue. Outfitting was the peeve that took me out of a lot of Buffy scenes, and so far I haven't felt that too much for Dollhouse.
@shanshubugaboo,

I think it's just cause we were told she would "be" a different person every week. So we are looking for her to wow us.
Darc,

I guess it's a tall order, but personally I think she's doing fine. Like I said, there were a few moments in episodes 3 & 4 where I felt reminiscences of Faith, but they were fleeting, and I didn't mind them. I think it was also because the characters were written as very tough-girl-esque.

Caroline, as well, seems to have a few characteristics similar to Faith, so when Esther said "move your ass" last night, I took that as a part of Caroline coming through...or Echo "composting," as I said last night in my drunkenness ;-) Hehe.
I thought "composting" was funny, ShanshuBugaboo - and maybe that's exactly what they're doing. ; >
I definitely feel this was the strongest episode yet. Anything involving the Dollhouse was awesome and Eliza did a good job.

However, I did find the episode a little underwhelming considering it's Tim. Most of the cult stuff just didn't end up being that exciting or well interesting. Most of what QuoterGal covers how I felt.
Yes. Echo is composting, Mellie may be an impasta and (sleeve?) cannibal, and Victor had a man-reaction.

I like silliness.
The only thing I know Eliza from is Bring It On and I'm still in the "meh" category.
I'm wondering if by not demonizing the cult and making them truly vile, that made them less interesting. Can't win for losing is what I am thinking.
You ever see "The New Guy"?

She's the best part of that movie. And that's only cause she's half naked through parts of it.
Nevermind.

:-P

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-03-15 08:35 ]
Regarding the topic of whether or not this episode showed religious zealots in a good light, or whether or not the government was showed in a manner of usurping inalienable rights from its victims... That's not what this show is about.

In fact, just like Firefly, Dollhouse is amoral when it comes to stuff like that. The story doesn't go there. Echo is not programmed to question whether or not bad cops should go to jail or if an ex-con can become a religious leader. She's programmed to believe whatever Topher tells her to believe. If Boyd tries to use his own morality to determine his path, Adele DeWitt will call him on the carpet. His job is to follow DeWitt's orders and protect the Active assigned to him. That's it.

Dollhouse will NOT insure for us that the good are rewarded and the bad guys are punished before the last commercial break. We're in the JossVerse. Since when does any of that happen? Even in Buffy, those lines were often kinda blurry.

Notice that Boyd, our EX-cop and resident handler for Echo, didn't give a rat's ass about helping the ATF guy do his job. His focus was on getting Echo in and then getting her safely out. However, he DID point out the ATF guy's blatant hypocrisy and disregard for justice because of his own agenda. Because the ATF guy "knew" the ex-con turned religious zealot. Boyd didn't push the ATF guy up against the car to turn the guy in or make sure justice was served. He just needed enough leverage to get into the compound without the ATF guy shooting at him.

If you're looking for a show that has a moral compass, Try reruns of Charles In Charge. Whedon ain't messing with moral compasses and thank [insert your personal diety or lack of one here] for that!
Boyd is never gonna turn anyone in unless he can deliver a complete cast-iron case along with them because he can't testify in court or even really be interviewed by the police etc. But yeah, point taken, Echo is his priority (he's willing to torture and kill to protect her, turning a blind eye to the odd bent cop seems like small potatoes). He's meant to be a father surrogate basically and what father wouldn't move the world to protect his daughter ?

... and Echo's silhouetted high heels (really? Were they from the blind lady costume or the Homespun Prairie Cult outfit?)

Hah QG. Must admit, I noticed them when she was sitting in the "church hall" and thought "Maybe they help with her blind balance or something" ;). In fairness, they maybe dropped the ball showing us them but i'd assume it was mainly cos Eliza's a bit on the not-tall side (i.e. for eyelines and shots she shares with other actors) since AFAIK we don't ever actually see her shoes in "Look, her shoes !" stylee.

(and I dunno why drillbits either, did they think "just" sticking needles in her eyes wouldn't be bad enough ? Cos I mean, everyone has a "thing" with eyes right ? Like, ewww etc. ;)

It's interesting to me BTW, that people seem all over the map on this show. Then again, i've never commented on a Joss show as it ran, maybe this is always what it's like (and it's only afterwards that people seem to broadly agree, maybe because of some sort of unconscious filtering effect) ?
Good episode, best so far. Allan deserves great credit for his directing. I'll have to keep an eye out for other stuff he's done to see if there's a certain style.
I'm enjoying the show and all, but I don't get how on the one hand agent Ballard is having trouble tracking the Dollhouse and even convincing anyone it exists, and yet on the other hand the ATF are hiring their services.
bivith: The senator who arranges the for Echo's services uses the dollhouse for his own private (presumbly sexual or other desires) purposes, and wants the ATF project to succeed because he is worried that the cult's presence in his state is going to result in political fallout for him. so he arranges this thing for ATF. The ATF guy in charge of this operation is willing to accept this weird help without questioning its origin, because he is powerfully motivated to bring the guy down for his own reasons.

[ edited by toast on 2009-03-15 13:51 ]
It's interesting to me BTW, that people seem all over the map on this show. Then again, i've never commented on a Joss show as it ran, maybe this is always what it's like (and it's only afterwards that people seem to broadly agree, maybe because of some sort of unconscious filtering effect)?


Saje's longish comment is the sharpest I've seen on this episode and bears rereading. As for this quote:

I made the mistake of following the fan websites during the end of Buffy Season Six and through Season Seven (spoiled for the former because I'm an idiot and didn't realize what I was missing, as unspoiled as possible for the latter). Indeed I committed the most foolish possible act of that sort, and regularly read The Kitten Board, a forum for Willow/Tara shippers and representative of just about everything that irritates me in media fandom (in terms of self-centeredness, wish-fulfillment, etc.) My one comment - of the form 'I think Whedon knows how important Tara's death is, and not watching the show just means running away from what it makes you feel' - was summarily deleted after a few minutes. But that's an extreme case.

I read Whedonesque from the beginning and it's always been more or less the same: a realtime record of people's desires - which quite naturally tend to be deferred or denied most of the time, that being the nature of serial TV - and a litmus test of how clearly marked are the various shows' satisfactions. With analyses interspersed in varying proportion. Firefly was always a satisfying show, as was Angel in its final season (particularly S5's continuity-heavy back half). People reacted not to the meanings of those shows but to their twists, their processes - so when characters were down, the fanbase was down (oy vey, Buffy S6), when victories were won everyone cheered about how strong the shows were, etc. The complaints with new shows are 'I can't get into it' and with old shows 'are 'This is incorrect,' and both reactions are about the hardening of viewers' beliefs.

When Angel S5 ended, as you'll recall, many fans seemed to think it went out on a cliffhanger - a matter of conditioned expectations vs. Occam's Razor. ('Surely there must be more! Because why would even this relentlessly downbeat show be about anything but winning? Rather than for instance fighting...etc., etc., etc.)

Dollhouse is unusually unsatisfying, for various reasons (sorry self-link). But to my eyes the fan reactions show the traditional scatter around a different center. Apologists sound as they always have ('No you just have to give it a chance...'); critics still carp about their hobbyhorses by proxy, talking about 'acting' and 'writing' when what they mean is 'I can't love' or 'I haven't believed' or even 'This wasn't clear'; fanfic is still fanfic, alas, dictation from the ego dressed up in some id; and afterward the fan favourite episodes are obvious, in part because they provoke feelings to which we can give names, like 'This was funny' and 'I like sexy' and 'Echo is brave.' The mythology stuff is almost always just dress-up.

I enjoyed the twists in 1x05 and liked its ambivalence toward the cult, though the ending was foreshortened too heavily for my tastes, a little too schematic. But then 50 minutes is 50 minutes. What are people praising? Funnier, more relationship-y perhaps, the neighbour girl is adorable (frustrating in a familiar way at the moment - and familiarity makes frustration comfortable, because it offers us the feeling of mastery: 'If only they could see what I see'), Ballard is getting somewhere, the insufferable programmer-nerd is cracking Xander-style jokes sometimes. The more familiar the show gets, the more 'likable' it becomes. Minear's an extraordinary writer, no question; didja know Whedon called him the best writer bar far that he'd ever met(!!)?? But it was also more pleasant than the foregoing; Boyd isn't good he's really good, Dominic isn't bad he's really bad, DeWitt isn't mean she's really mean, etc.

And so the people who've made up their minds to dislike had more to be irritated by, while those who loved it knew with more certainty what to love, that they were right to do so. That's not to say anything about the merits of the episode itself - again, I liked it, thought the cuteness of certain line-echoes was balanced by the fast-increasing intensity of the proceedings. But in terms of what people like, it's the usual: what people say is less important than what they do. For the most part what we do is act grateful for being allowed to feel strong things that do not lastingly disturb us.

Dollhouse is the first Whedon show that bugs me as much as it heartens me; I don't want to lose that feeling. What bugs me about it is irresolvable moral problems wrapped up in cleverly genre-marked plots, surrounded by a knotty mystery story in a viscerally exciting, gross narrative world. With at least one jaw-dropping line per week. Down deep in the middle there, I'm rooting for whores, pimps, enforcers, liars, betrayers; I'm trying to see them as people. Long-term, that's where the worth of the show is found.

Friday nights, I like comfort as much as everyone else does. And Whedonesque is a record of a group of people seeking to be justified in seeking to be justified. Like most such groups. Doesn't seem odd this time out.
People minding their own business is very, very scary??

I find private ownership of guns very scary, and lots of them very, very scary. I find cult membership scary. And yes, that's a personal opinion from personal experience, and no, I'm not an American.

The question for me isn't whether the cult leader is honest or not in his beliefs. It's whether his actions put people at risk.
waxbanks, you are clearly a guy with some massive critical theory skills at your fingertips, and your earlier article about the response to Dollhouse is one of the more insightful out there. I think everything you describe as going on in the fanbase's head IS going on, to some extent, both on this site and in each and every one of our heads. I am afraid you (or at least this thread) is about to, as Mal might say, "experience some slight turbulence and then...explode" because your post seems to end a bit reductively of a bunch of other impulses driving the postings here. All I will add is that there are at least a few things that make the posts here somewhat unique to this moment. One, you've already noted, is that this is a show that is clearly aiming at more uncomfortable territory (in both content and narrative design) than any of Whedon's previous series. Another is that this is the first new show in the wake of fandom's experience of Firefly, so there is a certain heightening to be seen in the attempt by people here to simultaneously (a) vent their emotions on the tenuousness of the show's survival and (b) (for at least a good portion of the posters) to try to step back and see if they can actually take a stab at identifying more objectively what is and isn't working on the show.

I lied. I will add something more. Something about the Whedon fan base has proven odd or sui generis enough that it gets mentioned a significant amount in the TV/media world by people who do not count themselves as part of it...Even when I hear coverage of new shows by or interviews with other massively lauded TV producers like Alan Ball or David Milch, I don't hear the interviewer feel so obliged to comment on the peculiar fan dynamic or suchlike. And it may be that Whedon is just particularly good at creating vehicles for the sort of desire-play and wish-fullfillment you allude to. But I think at least one other thing going on here is people honestly trying to figure out how to understand what their own connection to the work is, and why it seems so specific to this guy's shows for so many. In my case, I caught the last two thirds of an episode of the first season of Buffy (and not a generally much-loved episode -- it was "me robot, you jane") and, for the first time (and to date, only time) in my life, I was suddenly dragging friends in front of the T.V. and putting up with some teasing. I know a little about what hooked me, but remain a bit puzzled to find myself a part of such an oddly extended fandom (if it matters, I didn't discover the on-line fandom until just shy of the "Angel" finale). So I remain curious about what it is about Whedon's place in the pop culture cloud that is somehow much more specific than the ending of your post seems to suggest.
Love you blog, waxbanks!
I read Whedonesque from the beginning and it's always been more or less the same: a realtime record of people's desires


Bear in mind what you see here is filtered and controlled. If it wasn't, a different picture would arise. We're not that true a representation of fandom.
What waxbanks said above and in his blog. Joss is deliberately provoking us to question much of what we take for granted, and I like that. I also love the show.
Also with the waxbanks love


Bear in mind what you see here is filtered and controlled.


That makes Caroline Adelle, then.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-15 16:55 ]
waxbanks and Saje - big love for your fantastic posts, and those are just two in a thread filled with things that had me nodding or shaking my head, but most of all thinking. So much for uncritical fanboi/gurl-ism.

Must admit, it seems bonkers to me for that sort of arsenal to ever be OK but from what I gather in the US the starting position is, it's fine to have guns unless there's a reason you shouldn't (whereas over here you have to justify ownership from the start in order to obtain a licence).


Owning them is fine unless there is a reason you shouldn't, though there are other restrictions around purchase/ownership. Where it gets a lot more restrictive is concealed carry where you need to justify it.

I find private ownership of guns very scary, and lots of them very, very scary.


I find the inability to defend oneself from the tyranny of a government gone bad (or from criminal assault on home and family) very, very scary. I also know that criminals are by definition law breakers, so I don't think that more hoops to jump through for folks legally entitled to own guns is the answer. I think that the idea of people owning guns without proper training and respectful treatement of the gun for what it is - a deadly weapon - is terrifying. There are people who take gun ownership as a right, but ignore that it is also a responsibility. THAT is terrifying.

Its understandable that someone who is not used to guns and just hears scary statistics to be terrified by them. I could probably write a lot about guns as "the other" and have myself a big meta-critical wankfest, but I think I'll pass.

The question for me isn't whether the cult leader is honest or not in his beliefs. It's whether his actions put people at risk.


Absolutely. Personal liberty balanced by personal responsibility and whether your actions infringe on the liberty of others.
I thought it might be beneficial to see the gun laws I'm used to, and the attitude of the Supreme Court to guns. Canadian gun laws

I had a friend who shot someone, and them himself. I don't like guns. Yes, I know that doesn't bear on the legality of guns in the episode, but it does point towards my personal bias.

Most of the arguments I have heard in favour of the private ownership of guns in Canada relate to hunting.
So much for uncritical fanboi/gurl-ism.

JOSS ROXXORS LOL !

(what, a guy can't have layers ? ;)

Liked your blog entry Waxbanks (bit controversial ;) which I saw a few days back linked from Alex Epstein's blog (i'dve posted it here but i'd been away for a few days and, frankly, assumed it already had been) but my issue with it is similar to my issue with your post above in that all the "symptoms" you describe 'Dollhouse' as having would also fit if it just wasn't very good. In that way it's an interesting take (one I share in large part) but kinda preaching to the converted.

Dunno if you read comics but 'Final Crisis' is a great recent example of this. Morrison wrote one of, if not the, most ambitious "event" comics ever IMO but part of its ambition was deconstructing not just the DC universe but also the nature of story itself. Towards the end it becomes progressively more choppy and stilted as, to me, a sort of multi-layered comment on muddled narrative continuity (which DC's 'Crisis' events have been all about correcting, dating back to 1985) and on what it'd be like if stories didn't exist at all (and specifically if we didn't have engines for their creation like the DC universe).

And it turns out that's really hard to do while still writing a good, coherent story. So complaints about it being a bad comic are kind of justified when the whole gist is to question what a story even is in the first place. But they're also kind of not justified because that's the gist. I.e. he succeeded brilliantly in making us actually feel what it would be like to lose stories, he just did it by losing the story.

But it was also more pleasant than the foregoing; Boyd isn't good he's really good, Dominic isn't bad he's really bad, DeWitt isn't mean she's really mean, etc.

While that's true I dunno how much of it is just a result of the season moving forwards ? I mean, the stakes have to be upped right ? And additionally, Dominick is really bad here (because he's now Echo's enemy) BUT I think it's significant (and in keeping with the rest of the episode) that he's also right - Echo is dangerous for the dollhouse and it certainly appears that she is headed for a composite event (so possibly also dangerous for all the people in the dollhouse too, at least in his experience).

(I also feel like Boyd is maybe being setup to have done something pretty heinous in his past, that we're being "suckered" into really liking him. Cos much as I do, the guy's almost too good to be true and as many of us have noted, if he's that great a guy what the hell is he doing working at a place like that ?)
Cheers, redeem147 and I think that you reference a good point tangentially; the guns for hunting in Canada is important, and also a thriving concern in parts of the US and with certain kinds of guns whereas, given the history of our nation, our preoccupation with other kinds of guns and other uses for them is kind of an expected outcome.

Saje - you're a pretty great guy and YOU work for the Dollhouse. Please explain!
And it turns out that's really hard to do while still writing a good, coherent story. So complaints about it being a bad comic are kind of justified when the whole gist is to question what a story even is in the first place. But they're also kind of not justified because that's the gist. I.e. he succeeded brilliantly in making us actually feel what it would be like to lose stories, he just did it by losing the story.


I do wanna respond to your post later, Saje, because you're onto a whole bunch of things (Boyd is Shepherd Book, perhaps?) but I need to make a confession en passant (pretentious!): Morrison flat-out pisses me off about 90% of the time, and my favourite book of his by an enormous margin is All-Star Superman (too long since I read Doom Patrol to remember how I felt about it). Since A-SS is a deliberate, controlled four-colour exercise, it's not hampered the way the insufferable The Filth was by Morrison's 'subversive' pomo cleverness (like The Invisibles, something I suspect one has to have read at a certain age). Which is at day's end not new nor particularly entertaining to me and I'd rather return to my Pynchon, thanks much. :)

I've heard very mixed things about Final Crisis but if you say it's good I'll give it a spin - do I have to give a damn about any of the other DC Crises other than Identity Crisis? Because I don't.

(And don't even get me started on Ellis, Ennis, Gaiman, Millar...the British Intermittents.)
I actually really enjoy Gaiman, but remain mostly un-thrilled with the others on your list and don't think that he particularly belongs amongst them. Ennis seemed interesting at first, but he's been mostly writing the same story over and over again for like a decade (aside from his war books, maybe?); he's like the Aerosmith of comics writers. I'm always vastly amused by interviews with Ellis and Millar, but that's the only stuff involving them I hasten to read. I know, to some people, that makes me a bad person :).
zeitgeist:

I count Gaiman as one of the punk-fantasy Brits of a certain era; Alan Moore's anarcho-mysticism bridges between Gaiman's tweepunk delicacy and Ellis's it's-all-connected/the-Illuminati,-man!/'we could beat back The System if we were just super cool enough' posturing. The kind of writers who see John Constantine as the model hero: cynical, very British, self-destructive but in a 'cool' way, freakishly powerful and 'correct' in a way that validates his sociopathy, etc. Gaiman's sort of off to the side of the rest, but with Moore as the middle term one can imagine a continuum in which they all fit.

Each writer has surpassed himself at times (dunno about Ennis actually), and Moore is the broadest-minded of the lot, but the commonalities put me off.
I think "intermittent" is the closest i've seen to a single word that captures Warren Ellis but I keep checking his stuff out for the hits ('Fell' was excellent for instance but seemed to stall - production wise, not narratively - after a few issues, as seems to happen with a lot of his stuff that appeals to me).

I've heard very mixed things about Final Crisis but if you say it's good I'll give it a spin - do I have to give a damn about any of the other DC Crises other than Identity Crisis? Because I don't.

Well, i'd say it's "worth checking out" waxbanks, i'm still not decided whether i'd call it good or not ;). I'd probably describe it as an "arguably-glorious failure" (which in some ways i'd rather have over an above average success). And you can get quite a lot from it without knowing a lot of the events of the previous Crises but I think you'll struggle if you don't at least know why they came about and have a reasonable familiarity with the DCU (it also ties into Morrison's run on 'Batman' over the last couple of years, in fact, technique wise it's sort of the culmination of that).

I agree BTW that Morrison's sometimes too clever for his own good (and, more often, for the story's own good) and could do with if not reining in, then at least not making "pomo cleverness" the sole point of (some of) his stuff. But admittedly I haven't actually read that much of him.

Saje - you're a pretty great guy and YOU work for the Dollhouse. Please explain!

Sshh, i'm undercover ! (and i'm not saying as which ;)
I can see them on a continuum, I just disagree with your assessment of Gaiman's work and I think he is actually the broadest-minded among them with the most diversity of subject and theme. Moore has his own preoccupations - usually of the kind that Ellis also loves - we can't trust the government, the super hero, the biscuit tin, etc. I think JC is far from Gaiman's ideal hero, though Gaiman's heroes do tend to have big flaws.
redeem47:
I find private ownership of guns very scary, and lots of them very, very scary.
Funny that, since the government (pretty much any government, at any level) owns far more than any private owner, and governments in general are historically far more of a potential threat to the public than any handful of isolated incidents.
I know you guys have moved on to gun ownership & comics, but I finally had time to watch the episode and read this monster thread, so I just have to stick in my 2 cents. I agree with everything Saje said in that initial post way up there somewhere & with much else that has been said on this interesting thread.

It really struck me in this episode how perfect it is that some people early on were seeing Xander in Topher and some were seeing Warren. He's such an interesting combination of the two--funny lines that make us laugh with him instead of at him (like Xander) combined with a monstrously self-obsessed personality (like Warren). He manages to be funny, pathetic, and horrifying all at once.

I don't care about the characters in this show as deeply as I do in other shows, and it is at times kind of a bumpy, clunky ride, but I'm awed by the ambition of it. In some ways I'm finding it the most interesting thing I've ever seen on TV. I would so love to see it get a second season.

Irrelevant side note: when Adelle referred to the senator as an "asset," for a second I thought she meant he was a long-term Active, but I suppose she just meant he was an influential client.
Wait, Saje is a guy?

(I was confused because I know a girl named Sayje!)
Yep, I am indeed a guy. I'm descended from a long line of women though ;).

(S-A-J-E are just my initials backwards)
Well, I don't know what else to say about this episode that hasn't already been said. I really liked the episode; it is my favorite episode so far.

I actually like the "move your ass" line from Esther/Echo/Caroline. I do believe it is Caroline not-so-subtly coming through her programming. I personally believe that no matter how much a person has matured and changed, a person's core personality is still there. So even though there is supposed to be no Caroline in Echo/whatever personality she is this week, Caroline will subtly or not subtly come through in certain situations.

In regards to Mr. Dominic, I agree with Saje, he is right about Echo. She is a complete threat to the Dollhouse. Either by compositing or not exactly following her programming to the T. She could actually expose the Dollhouse by no exactly following her programming. She probably does need to be taken care of, however, Mr. Dominic is handling it all wrong.

I have liked all of the episodes but not loved them. I probably grade them between a B- (Stage Fright) and a B+ (The Target and True Believer). I can't wait until next week.
I loved this episode, my favorite so far. Actually I did like them all, I just didn't get caught by "Stage Fright", and the pilot wasn't exactly what I expected. "The Target" and "True Believer" are my favorites so far. I really found myself caring for Echo in this episode. I wish men would stop slapping her so much, poor thing. And I think Eliza was amazing, and I can't understand why so many people see Faith in these characters she's playing. I didn't see any Faith residuals in Esther. And a lot of people keep saying Taffy from episode 4 was all Faith, but to me she was the exact opposite of Faith. Faith was a high school drop-out and she could never open a safe using knowledge, for one thing. Taffy was smart and she knew what she was doing.
Saje,

(which is about as "likely" as The Rapture)

Or even slightly moreso. I mean, he was right about mechanised warfare ;).


You could be right. Too bad we won't be there to know - I like to see how things turn out.
I've finally had a chance to watch this week's episode again, and after reading some of the comments here, I think I'm just glad the girl with the pasta doesn't have a cookie dough fixation. :)

I did think it was weird that Esther/Echo was placed in a small space full of weapons and ammunition and didn't react? Wouldn't you think she'd smell the gunpowder? hear the gun being loaded and know it for what it was? (that's a pretty distinctive sound) I should think that even if I were blind I'd react to having a gun pointed in my face. The odor of gunpowder alone would be clue enough, and kind of scary, don't you think?
I don't know what gunpowder smells like. Do you?

Also, it's not a Civil War musket. The powder is in the shell casing, I think.
Gunpowder smells like fireworks. However, I don't think you can smell it on a gun unless it's been fired recently and not cleaned.
Yeah the powder's in cartridges (ammo), so there shouldn't be any smell to give away the weapons cache in the background. And we have no reason to assume Esther would recognize the sound of a gun being loaded. It seems like she'd need some familiarity with guns for that to be true. She has no reason at that point to suspect there would be any weapons around, either.

She just knows Sparrow suspects her of being an outsider up to no good, and picks up on the tension between what he wants to believe and what he suspects both in what he says and how he says it. I interpreted the gun pointing to be a test of her blindness and her authenticity, since I didn't read any reaction to it whatsoever in Eliza's face or speech. I don't think she's even aware he has a gun pointed at her in that scene. It seems like his sudden movement would give something away, and she does seem aware something's up because of how intense he's gotten, but I don't think she's fully aware of what he's doing there.
Gunpowder smells like fireworks.

Black powder does, but not modern smokeless powder, which all of those guns use. It has a fairly sharp, acrid odor if it's out loose. Loaded ammunition in quantity does have an odor (especially if it's older stuff - like military surplus - that's been in storage for a while,) but unless you've been around it enough to be familiar with it, it's doubtful you'd realize what you were smelling.
Clearly, I know nothing about guns ;) Thanks for the info.
Just watched it again. Who else thinks Dr. Saunders is one of the most interesting characters? I can't wait to see her backstory. Adelle seems to have a pretty dark past too. Doesn't she dress too well for work?
I think I gasped for the first time during an episode when they mentioned Ms. Lonelyhearts for the first time. I thought that story was thrown out.
I really hope not, I think it'd be worthwhile/important to see a male doll in what could be perceived to be a sexually exploitative situation.

Re: guns BTW, i'd imagine the smell of gun oil would be fairly strong in that room (since the guns are apparently laid up for long term storage) but again, it depends on Esther knowing what that smells like (and there's no reason she should). And my feeling is she had no idea the gun was being pointed at her head. It's probably intentional that, IIRC, he doesn't cock the hammer, which is a sound most of us would probably be familiar with (even Esther) just from films and TV.

Too bad we won't be there to know - I like to see how things turn out.

Yeah it's a damn shame isn't it Tonya J ? Ah well, whaddya do ?

(although current evidence isn't inconsistent with the idea that i'm immortal so i'm still hopeful. OK, "current evidence" apart from my knees some mornings ;)
Does anyone remember the first leaked casting sides a year ago? Stuff that was not even used in the "Echo"-script? I was sure it was gone. Guess it's not. I'm buzzing again.

Oh, how I should not talk about this!

Instead, I wanna chime in on the waxbanks and Saje love. As for this part here, Saje:

Liked your blog entry Waxbanks (bit controversial ;) which I saw a few days back linked from Alex Epstein's blog (i'dve posted it here but i'd been away for a few days and, frankly, assumed it already had been) but my issue with it is similar to my issue with your post above in that all the "symptoms" you describe 'Dollhouse' as having would also fit if it just wasn't very good. In that way it's an interesting take (one I share in large part) but kinda preaching to the converted.


I do feel that Dollhouse is tricking me into stuff that no series has tricked me into before, and that that stuff is largely questionable from my point of view. I am amazed by how un-cool this show is and how I am also rooting for "whores, pimps, enforcers, liars, betrayers" (waxbanks). And I tend to see a questionable morality (or a show that tries to question your own morality of watching TV and how you operate with your belief systems [and why you watch TV that hardens them]) as something different than a show that just isn't very good. Dollhouse bugs me in a totally different way that Fringe an TSCC bug me. Dollhouse's un-coolness is part of the narrative I have construed for myself, part of the framework that I use to read the show. Dollhouse's uncomfortableness isn't just "bad TV", I choose to make it part of the point (and we have some interviews telling us that we are not alone in that regard and that the writers also thought along similar lines).

Now, clearly, this is influenced by my being a fan, and by how much I love Buffy S6, and I do read Dollhouse in the same way I read S6, partly because Joss told me to do so. So, yeah, there's no denial that the beliefs I have acquired till now influence my liking of Dollhouse and my liking of its unlikeableness. That's definitely there. But right now, I believe that Dollhouse will take me places. I think there is a point to it. I think it wants me to play with it. If by the end of the season it turns out to be bad TV, then I've learned something too. (Kinda like Paul from Lubov's body. :)
I usually don't bother commenting, because by the time I've watched it, the thread's exploded and I don't have time to read all the comments. But I just had to say this is the first episode of Dollhouse that I really enjoyed. It finally feels like Joss (and Tim) are back on tv. :)
Dollhouse's uncomfortableness isn't just "bad TV", I choose to make it part of the point (and we have some interviews telling us that we are not alone in that regard and that the writers also thought along similar lines).

Sure wiesengrund but I think you'd be hard pressed to win over someone that doesn't see it that way with that sort of argument (at the moment anyway) because the nature of the discomfort is also consistent with bad TV.

I mean, there's a very fine line between a show shifting ground and metaphysical goalposts or providing few characters to identify with in order to create discomfort due to an active agenda and a show that's just muddled with poorly written characters that no-one identifies with due to incompetence, especially if the show doesn't at any time make explicit what it's doing (because to do so would be to provide comfort when the whole point is the opposite).

That's the problem with ambiguity as complete as 'Dollhouse' may be aiming for, you almost can't actually do it within the existing framework for telling a particular sort of story (or maybe for telling any story) because to affect people with your ambiguous show (to bring the ambiguity home to viewers) it has to absorb them and touch them emotionally but to be genuinely ambiguous it has to basically throw away the tools you'd normally use to achieve that.

That's why Buffy's an easier "buy" for most of us I reckon - Buffy wore its subversion on its sleeve, it was subverting the depiction of reality, it was messing with us but we were in on it (to the extent that we could pat ourselves on the back and say "It's not messing with us, it's messing with them"). 'Dollhouse' seems, in a sense, to be trying to subvert reality itself, it's (possibly) messing with us but isn't willing/able to let us in on it. When something's really pressing your buttons and really questioning your assumptions about the actual world it's much harder to take a step back from.

Or it could just be a new show by a talented creator that struggled to find its feet at first. The line between's so thin and grey that, as with yourself, I come down on different sides of it depending on, like, phases of the moon or wind direction or somesuch ;).
I don't like fictional TV shows about religious cults, mostly because they are not done very well. Where this one falls FLAT ON ITS FACE, however, is the detail of the shoes Echo/Esther was wearing as Boyd carried her out.

It would require way, way beyond the normal suspension of belief needed to enjoy a TV show to even imagine those shoes on a rural cult member who arrived with one small bag. Without discussing philosophical concepts, this detail made the show a fiasco. I won't say it ruined the whole episode, (it was ruined before I watched it) however this seems to be a small note they should have corrected.

The show's coming along, I was glad to see Dominic exposed and some of the touchy issues (Victor/Sierra) start to come forward.
With apologies if someone already mentioned this, I would like to propose that Mellie brought the letter to the FBI office and made up the guy in the hall story. Notice how she starts with a very vague description of a guy, then lets Loomis fill in the details, which she agrees with. Notice how she seems to take a moment to decide to agree that the guy had a cart. Of course, this marks me as one of those who believes Mellie is, if not doll, then at least involved in the game on some deeper level.
I remember seeing the shoes in the glow of the fires' light and it never fazed me for a second. Not all religious groups wear sackcloth and MaryJane flats.
Yeah, I can understand the shoes being a factor but I must admit, it's tough for me to see it as a dealbreaker considering i'm happy enough to accept implanted brain cameras ;).

(and to me it's more like a "goof" anyway, a sort of continuity error akin to Topher's hair being parted on different sides since i'm not necessarily convinced that Esther was even meant to be wearing those shoes, seems like it might just've been a production issue with Eliza's sightlines/relative height)

Notice how she starts with a very vague description of a guy, then lets Loomis fill in the details, which she agrees with.

I think that's a good call doubtful guest or an interesting possibility at the least (hadn't considered it before but in her own very nice, inoffensive way she did almost seem to "cold read" Loomis and Ballard). Personally i'm torn between assuming Mellie is in on it to some extent (either a doll or an agent of Alpha or in some other way) and on the other hand wondering if she might end up being the only completely unalloyed, unambiguous victim in the entire show (maybe a victim of Ballard's obsession, maybe in some other way), that she's the only character that ends up suffering while entirely blameless - she really is as good and kind and nice as she seems and she ends up paying for everyone else's flaws.

(a point against that possibility is that it's maybe just a bit too much like Tara's story but I wonder about it because it fits with the sort of "spectrum of victim-hood" idea that seems to fit the show)
Saje said:

Sure wiesengrund but I think you'd be hard pressed to win over someone that doesn't see it that way with that sort of argument (at the moment anyway) because the nature of the discomfort is also consistent with bad TV.


Absolutely, it is nearly impossible. I didn't mean it as a "winning somebody over"-type of argument, more like a self-justification. I actually don't try to win people over who have given it a try, and didn't like it (at least not beyond a comparison to Buffy S1) because I believe that it really is their choice how to spend their time, and I do want to stick to my "I've watched the mini series and 6 episodes of S1 of BSG and I stopped."-tale unharmed. ;)

(I do appreciate it though, when someone tries it as eloquently as waxbanks has done it.)

The other question I see with that "winning over"-thing is: How do you get out of the "Wait? You're saying I don't get it?!"-problem.
Dunno, extreme violence maybe ? ;-)

I don't mean "winning over" as in brow-beating into submission, I just mean it as a convincing enough self-justification that other people, on reading it, might think "Hmm, he/she may have a point there, I might look again" (for the most part that's all you can do in subjective affairs - explain why you think something and people can take or leave it as they see fit).

And in this specific instance i'd get out of the "Wait? You're saying I don't get it?!" problem by admitting that even in my own opinion, there may not be anything there to get i.e. i'm on the "it's deliberate" side and even i'm not 100% convinced ;).
Something I'm seeing that bothers me is how so many people are trying to reduce Joss to a one trick pony. (OK, 2 tricks, counting both Firefly and BtVS.) Every character in DH has to be someone else - Mellie/Tara, Topher/Xander, Boyd/Book, Echo/Faith - or not, etc.

The characters are not allowed to be new creations. Granted, there are parallels, all being bipedal humanoids so far, but there are so many comparisons. It doesn't look like DH can stand on its own, it's always relative to which other show is referenced.

I do see this show as separate. Topher was less annoying, although still acting immaturely, in this episode. I found Xander annoying at times also, but Xander was a goof until late in the game and Topher is supposed to be GENIUS. I, should I care to try, could see some parallels among the various actors' roles but why would I waste the time.

Dollhouse is new. No, everything isn't perfect, but I think it's doing really well, creating a world for itself within what appears to be comtemporary society.

From what I've read in various places Joss wanted, with this show, to bring up issues that everyone recognizes and has some feelings about but are not generally discussed. I'm pretty sure people have their own conclusions about many of the issues, and that is NOT what Joss was interested in. Joss was interested in the discussion, whether the subject is about religion, or power of the state, fame, or prostitution, etc. And the ability to put forth interesting and sometime profound vehicles to get those discussion points out is why I think he has an incredible gift.

No, the shoes aren't important. It just seems sloppy to me. I expected better.
Way upthread:

If Dominic wants Echo dead, why not let Sparrow shoot her as it seemed he was preparing to do? Am I missing something there?

I thought he did this because this has gotten personal between Dominic & Echo. Dominic= protector of Dollhouse. Echo= face of "badness" to Dollhouse. Therefore, Echo is threat to Dollhouse & it's Dominic's job to take her out. But, since Adelle seems to ignore his recommendations, he's going with the theory of "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission" route.

There's a face to his threat. Why else would he take off his mask (where there's a risk of smoke inhalation), look Echo in the eye, and hit her in the face with the gun? Those are all up close & personal acts to do to a person.

Why not kill her? I don't think she's hit his "kill" level yet. Alpha is on the kill level, religious fanatic is on the kill level (especially with a gun), but Echo hasn't personally harmed anyone yet. To leave her in a burning house seems to equal being stored in the attic.

....

Glad people caught the "move your ass!" to be an Echo moment, and not an Esther moment. I missed that until I came here. But it makes more sense now. Very cool.
falina, your point is well-taken. And there is no denying that we, as fans, will also always have a perhaps regrettable tendency to try to convert the new characters into the ones we already love. At the same time, I would twist the whole Topher/Xander etc. issue a tad by saying that one big reason these comparisons get raised is because one thing we can probably expect Joss (or any writer) to do is to return to certain roles or personas and tweak them/try them out from a different angle. The most obvious version of this is the one Joss admits to -- even mocks himself for -- in any number of interviews: He likes to give young girls impressive superpowers as part of his concepts. (Apparantly, what he really likes is to have creepy and/or shadowy men inflict those super-powers onto young girls.) But this doesn't mean that what he chooses to examine about the implications of this in Buffy vs. River vs. Echo (vs. Kitty Pryde, whom he claims as his originary model) aren't very much different projects. Since Xander is an admitted sorta-self-portrait, it is not surprising he would riff on this character as well. Xander is a loveable geek when we first meet him. Topher seems like what you might get if you said "ok, what if you had a character who was a lot like Xander, but who didn't, for whatever reason, quite learn to step up like Xander does and ends up being sort of a dick?" Elsewhere, it has crossed my mind whether we are meant, for example, to compare Adelle to Giles: She has the inside info on what's going on, just as the watchers generally did, but instead of being a closely connected mentor/parent figure for her special charges, she is a distant/absent parent to her dolls, and one who apparantly lacks Giles' ability to tell her superiors when to f*** off when things get creepy. I might be wrong about this connection, but I gotta say that, if I were the creator and wanted to play with this implications of twisting the mentor archetype that Giles fills in Buffy, I would probably strongly consider casting the new role to be the only British voice in the initial set-up as one way of hinting at the game I was playing.
I only made through about half of this thread. I'm really late to the episode, and it's off the front page, so it's entirely possible that no one will see this... But:

Did anyone else notice that Sparrow only put his faith in a miracle because the Dollhouse gave him one? When Esther regained her sight, he and his temple were given a validation that they wouldn't have otherwise gotten. He had been planning to fight to protect them, and to empower them to fight to protect themselves. Only after Esther's miracle, did he think to brave the flames.

Also, notice his similarities to the Operative? Sparrow was willing to do anything to give his followers a better world, even though he saw himself as damaged and undeserving of it.
I'm really late to the episode, and it's off the front page, so it's entirely possible that no one will see thi


This discussion is linked to on the sidebar on the front page till Friday.
I took Dominic's knocking Echo out and leaving her in a burning building as an attempt to kill her. Seems dumb to go all that way and not just shoot her outright though, so maybe I've missed something. I have been thinking he's connected to Alpha and was the reason Alpha could get a fake ID through the vetting process, but my impression is that Dominic wants Echo seriously dead or "in the attic" whereas Alpha wants something very different.
I should point out for the sake of prosperity that the lead villain in Lost Boys: The Tribe appeared in this episode.
doubtful guest, good points - however I don't see Topher "refusing to step up" after 5 episodes as a permanent defect. I do think he (Topher) has dick-like qualities NOW, at this moment. And I can only take Xander's "lovable geek" persona so far. While he ends up on the upside, he pulled some fairly nasty tricks along the way.

I'm in agreement people will see parallels which certainly exist. I just think it shortchanges the Dollhouse cast. Other than the British accent, in fact, I don't see parallels between Adelle and Giles. And Giles took a very long time to defy the Council. Buffy was the one who stepped up.

I don't like Adelle almost exclusively because I find her voice/accent grating, never mind what she does. Very superficial, I know, which leads me on to a more major point in this episode.

I currently reside in Texas, and the fiasco a few months ago, referenced by name at least twice in the episode, deserves more outrage than this would have given it. The Yearning for Zion cult committed actual crimes against underage girls - the cult on DH seemed as innocuous as the Hutterites or Amish up north.

I know, DH never claimed to be a documentary, but I do think there was less meat put on the table in this episode than there could have been. It was more Ruby Ridge than David Koresh.

At any rate, I think there are enough significant differences in the shows to move beyond comparisons and allow DH to stand on its own with its own unique characters. As long as one considers the range of human emotions/reactions finite, there will be duplications. But I think the setting of mostly adults in a much more wide open setting (neither crammed in a space ship nor a high school) can lead to a different atmosphere, allowing for expanded storytelling.


And in conclusion, I think Dominic wants Echo out/dead, preferably in a way that leaves his hands mostly clean.

[ edited by falina on 2009-03-16 21:42 ]
Saje - You make an excellent point about the triviality of the shoes compared to the eye/camera thing. Sometimes it's easier for me to swallow the clearly improbable/impossible than a tangible detail like too-high heels. After all, how hard would it be to find another pair of shoes while she's being carried? I could see the need for heels (covered by the long dress) for camera purposes.

Although I'm sure research is being done on the eye/camera thing.
Late comments on American gun laws.

1. The perceived need of civilians for access to firearms to defend against violent criminals is a positive feedback loop. The criminals steal the guns and commit more violent crimes.

2. Canada got its independence without a fight. Canadians occupied the lands formerly held by native peoples with a good deal less killing on both sides than Americans, AFAIK. There never was a time when two-fifths of the population in several Canadian provinces was forcibly held in bondage. Canada never had a civil war that left those slave provinces ruined and bled dry by the armies of the central government. Even though Americans don't know a lot about American history, we seem to know enough about it to feel a need to look after our own security, rather than leaving it entirely to the government.
I should point out for the sake of prosperity that the lead villain in Lost Boys: The Tribe appeared in this episode.

Yes, not that anyone but you and me care, Simon (do you like prosperity better than posterity? :=]). Angus Sutherland indeed played Lilya (I found a clip), the character who spits in Esther's face. With that mop of tangled brown hair, I did not recognize the beautiful blondish-brown haired man from Lost Boys: The Tribe. Joss, Angus is so very, very pretty. Please use him in another episode (well, maybe you have already) but if not, then Season 2? I promise you no one will recognize him if he looks more like himself. Oh, those Sutherlands and their strong Scottish stock!

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-03-17 03:04 ]
Gun laws: Wow. Lots of opinions here.

Shoes: I, personally think too much of a big deal is being made of this.

[ edited by Giles_314 on 2009-03-17 03:16 ]
I didn't notice the high-heeled shoes, actually. When do we see them? I was a little bothered by Dominic apparently wanting Echo dead but shooting the guy who was about to make her so, and then taking off his mask to hit her (so we viewers could see who it was). I suppose it's possible to fanwank that in various ways, but it seemed clumsy. I would have preferred if he hadn't taken the mask off and maybe even tussled with Boyd... and then we could guess it was him when Adelle asked him about the private jet. But I am not a writer on the show, obviously!
Thinking about why, it comes to me that Dominic had been twirling his Snidely Whiplash mustache long enough, with his anger at Topher for the tech mishaps, his insulting Echo in a Dollhouse common area, his sparring with Adelle about wanting her gone (attic/death/?). Why not just lay it all out there on the table that he's an evil prick who'd go behind Adelle's back to accomplish it? Not a surprise, but a solid confirmation. Seemed a great way to do it, on a mission, let the mayhem cover up his dirty work.

ETA - Heh, just to finish up my cartoon analogy. Dominic/Snidely wasn't betting on Boyd/Dudley Do-Right to rescue Esther/Echo/Caroline/Little Nell from the "train tracks" as efficiently as he did. In other words, Boyd drank Dominic's milkshake, and you have to love it.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-03-17 04:38 ]
Gun control argument? Really? In a Whedon thread? He once had Buffy use a missile launcher.

I'm a Constitutionalist, which means I uphold the second amendment. I'm also a pacifist, which means I refuse to own a gun, or even have one in my presence. Of course, if someone ever entered my presence with a gun and an intent on using it and a general tendency to not give a rat's ass that I don't want one in my presence, the contrast and even hypocrisy of my opinion will be a moot point.

You can give everybody a gun if you want. Doesn't matter. Hell, you can give everyone the power of a Slayer. You can make everyone gods if you want. The power itself is not relevant. It's what people do with that power. Guns don't kill: people do. Gun Control isn't the problem. People control. See? There's your problem!
Gun control argument? Really? In a Whedon thread? He once had Buffy use a missile launcher.

Guns are as interesting an issue as religion and mind alterations to a lotta folks. So why not in a Whedon thread ? Also, not everyone is familiar with North American attitudes and laws regarding them, so this thread has resulted in a talking point.

Heh, hardly see Buffy's use of a missle launcher as Joss' ringing endorsement of firearms (though I'm also not sure if Buffy's "I-don't-like/use-guns" policy was revealing of his personal stance--has he ever talked about them?). Or do you mean that there wasn't any big debate about that instance of use ? Probably because the fandom was smaller back then and it took place on a fantasy show. Plus its use (both times, like in Season 7's "Him" when an entranced Buffy almost shot Robin Wood before Spike tackled her) was pretty comical. She had to use it to blow up an unkillable demon, there were no big moral issues surrounding it (unless you wanna harp on the gang for stealing from the military, but it's either that or let a whole lotta townsfolk get burned up).

Some gun control is necessary and (perhaps falsely) comforting, IMO. I know criminals will obtain them regardless of what we do, they'll always find a means, but there are also some people in the population who apply who should not be allowed to have them. After talking to a number of people online about the subject (and my father, who has them purely as a hobby, for shooting competitions and whatnot, though he's hunted a little as well), the much more thorough system for obtaining one in Canada is somewhat more reassuring (although they're also punishing responsible gun owners more and more with registrations fees and restrictions), but mental cases can still fake stability enough to trick the system. While the whole Second Amendment thing is fine, it is way too easy in some parts to obtain one. The right to bear arms should come with more stringent stipulations. And Wal-Mart, of all godforsaken places, I mean besides that being a really embarrassing sales venue ? Is that really sane ?

I won't even get into the awful cases of kids getting into their parents' improperly stored firearms, or the unfortunate risk of having a hotheaded or desperate person reach for one and having it there for misuse in the first place, I know those are isolated (however common) incidences and that the vast majority of the legal gun-owning population is responsible. Even so, I understand how the untrustworthyness of people can make some feel nervous of the idea of a large portion of a population in some countries owning these...especially when they own more than is required, or guns that are more powerful/destructive than makes sense.

Plus, as has been brought up in this thread, people often bring up the two major reasons for having them as "to fight back against the government" and "criminal invasion". Criminal invasion is more reasonable and more likely to happen in an individual's lifetime in current Western climates. If you have a gun or two in the house, locked away safely but close at hand for that reason, I wouldn't call you paranoid, it's a reasonable precaution. Probably a smart "just in case". But often people will list the government as the first reason for having them, and that puzzles. I know a favorite line of gun enthusiasts goes something along the lines of "disarming the population is the first warning sign of [insert upcoming form of tyranny/oppression]", but do folks in the States honestly believe they have to worry about it getting that bad ? Do you see any sign of that happening ? Economy's in the shitter and threats from abroad are more in the public consciousness now, but given the improvement in regime (yeah, to be fair, it's only been a couple months, so yeah, we'll see) and the fact that there is no sign in the way things are currently going that the big shadowy government is coming to get you, what's up with that particular form of paranoia ?

[ edited by Kris on 2009-03-17 13:00 ]
I understand it from a rights point of view but I guess it baffles me from a "protect myself against tyrants" perspective. Do many US gun owners actually think their .45 ACP is gonna save them if an evil dictator wielding the power of the state comes a knocking ? Got my doubts personally, that seems like a comforting story people tell themselves based on what happened 200+ years ago, when the state of the art of war was vastly different.

The stats are murky on home protection too BTW (with some claiming many guns are taken away from the owner in that situation and then used against them) but then "murky stats" pretty much sums up the gun control debate since it's so emotive for people on either side.

Guns don't kill: people do. Gun Control isn't the problem. People control. See? There's your problem!

Yeah but it's an intractable problem, at least in any society that claims to be free whereas for some people controlling guns is a) more practicable and b) not inconsistent with a free society - others clearly differ on one or both of these points ;). And besides, people kill people but they can do it more readily, more impulsively, at greater emotional distance and with the application of less skill of any kind if they use a gun. It's trite macho bullshit but there's also an element of sense behind the phrase "Guns for show, knives for a pro" - it takes a different kind of person to get right up close and grapple with their victim as they stab them to death. A rarer sort of person IMO.

(my own feeling BTW, is that America's well past e.g. a handgun ban just because there're so many of them, they're so widely owned and the US has such long land borders with other countries so that they'll always be hard to stop coming in illegally. And anyway, the high gun murder rate seems more complicated than just "They have more guns", seems like there's something bigger going on there when you compare it to other countries with high gun ownership like e.g. Switzerland but vastly less gun crime. Could be there's some maximum population density that humans just aren't good at tolerating for instance or maybe it's more about cultural acceptance of violence ?)
I'm not sure this will be seen, or thought about, but I figure what the hey.

Do you think Dominic could be the Sparrow of the Dollhouse?

I say this because we see the mirror of the Dollhouse & the cult all throughout the show... why not including the workers in it as well? Dolls = purists (of course), Handlers = that Seth guy (2nd in command; only other one with gun)-> he has a more personal connection with the Dolls (I think this is the weakest link), and is always bidding for their communication & understanding. And Sparrow = Dominic. Both are "enforcers", out to keep the evil from their gardens. Both don't aspire to be more than what they are. We see this with Sparrow in this episode (I am a "weak" man...), and we see Dominic not denying Topher's claim that he's "a security guard in a suit" (Stage Fright conflict). Both of their solutions to a problem is very violent fashion. And both believe in their calling/mission.

The only difference would be that Sparrow has no "boss" to keep him on a leash; he only has his vision of his mission from God. Dominic, however, while he has his mission, is chained by Adelle. She has enough influence on him to keep him in his place, and to only let him off of his leash when necessary.

And because there is no "chain" of balance with Sparrow, his life is cut short while Dominic lives to fight another day.
For many of the reasons listed above, this episode was the hands-down BEST handling of religion in the Jossverse. Unlike everything Book ever said, "You can't force a miracle" rings 100% true as the thing a True Believer would say to a cultist.

Unlike various other manifestations (Our Mrs. Reynolds's biggest wart, in my view...), the Bible quotes aren't made up. For all I could tell, they used entirely real Bible quotes, just like a real cult would. Of course, they could have improved the realism by using the King James Version, as almost every cult does, but that would have dropped the audience accessibility a bit.

The guns weren't the issue in the episode, really. Actually, placing such an event in a world in which Waco happened 15 years ago is a forced suspension of disbelief: you know darn well any federal judge is going to look very, very hard before signing any armed, no-knock warrant to be served on a purported bunch of holed-up religious nutjobs with guns. Ditto with the ATF really not wanting something like that being handled except at the highest levels. Oh, and no private security contractor, recognized as an ex-cop or not, gets to be armed in the presence of federal agents. I just don't see that happening, really.

But all that is vanishingly minor compared to the fun ambiguity which the cultists had, and the lovely parallels between they and Saunders/Topher working at keeping "purity" from outside (sinful) influences.
"Unlike various other manifestations (Our Mrs. Reynolds's biggest wart, in my view...), the Bible quotes aren't made up."

Yeah, the Serenifly quotes are sort of like the Biblical references in the Koran. Shepherd Book's denomination appears to be a sect of Christianity that doesn't exist yet; it is organized like the Protestants but contains monastic orders. Our Mrs. Reynolds is set five centuries in the future; in the interim, someone may have had a new revelation and rewritten the Bible.

"For all I could tell, they used entirely real Bible quotes, just like a real cult would. Of course, they could have improved the realism by using the King James Version, as almost every cult does, but that would have dropped the audience accessibility a bit."I

I noticed that. Sparrow is independent enough to have persuaded a bunch of people to follow him out of the existing Zion cult; maybe he's independent minded enough to prefer a more modern translation as being more direct and easy to grasp. Another explanation would be that Sparrow had a conversion experience in prison and that the minister who led him to belief used a version of the Bible other than the King James.
The story of Esther in the Bible is a story of sex, politics and male control of women. Yes, Esther's influence (sex) saved her people from the evil high priest (politics). From her uncle to the king, she was used/prostituted (male control of women).

As for the "entirely real Bible quotes", that carries little weight with me. You can find pretty much whatever you want in the Bible (using both Testaments), from justification of slavery, murder, war to their opposites.

Regarding those Second Amendment rights in the U.S., the words "well-regulated militia" invalidate the sacred 'right' many people claim for personal possession. I'm not saying only law enforcement should have guns, but I do think there are too many guns out there.
As for the "entirely real Bible quotes", that carries little weight with me. You can find pretty much whatever you want in the Bible (using both Testaments), from justification of slavery, murder, war to their opposites.

Right, which is why I was so disappointed "Our Mrs. Reynolds" didn't even seem to make an effort in that direction. "True Believer" wins accolades from me for doing it well.
For me, the bottom line is that it is just too easy to kill or severely injure someone with a handgun. You don't even have to really mean to.

You have to be pretty angry and/or determined, to kill a person with a knife, or beat them to death..that's got to be hard work. But the newspapers are filled with stories of children shooting their friends while playing with a gun they found in a closet, angry feuding gun-toting neighbors losing their tempers, and folks mistaking family members for intruders.

It would seem to me, that even if there are intruders in your home with guns, the intruders are not less likely to shoot you because you have a gun, too..even if you shoot first, unless you are willing and able to kill them dead with one shot before being threatened. Which would be neither okay in my book, nor easy.
Regarding those Second Amendment rights in the U.S., the words "well-regulated militia" invalidate the sacred 'right' many people claim for personal possession.

No, it doesn't. You should look up the meanings (contemporary to the framing of the Constitution) of both "well-regulated" and "militia". And regardless of that, as has been stated before, the Constitution does not give anyone any rights, it merely acknowledges that those rights exist and forbids the government to infringe on them.

You have to be pretty angry and/or determined, to kill a person with a knife, or beat them to death..that's got to be hard work.

No, it really isn't, and that misconception is what leads to some people being killed with knives or blunt instruments, because they're under the impression that it's an easy defense. It isn't.

It would seem to me, that even if there are intruders in your home with guns, the intruders are not less likely to shoot you because you have a gun, too..

Really? Put yourself in a criminals place: would you rather face an unarmed homeowner or someone who can and will shoot back? Bullets don't care if you're the biggest badass in the 'hood, a 90-pound grandma with a .357 magnum can kill you just as dead as you can kill her. Think that's true of knives?

even if you shoot first, unless you are willing and able to kill them dead with one shot before being threatened. Which would be neither okay in my book, nor easy.

?? I'm sorry. Didn't you just say:
For me, the bottom line is that it is just too easy to kill or severely injure someone with a handgun. You don't even have to really mean to.

Rowan- I'm sure you realize that it isn't a contradiction...it is too easy to make a mistake, and hurt someone with a lethal weapon. Not the same thing as being a brilliant shot who can take out anyone whenever you care to, right?

If I was a criminal, I would avoid facing anyone, if possible, assuming that I wasn't crazy as well as bad. Likewise, as a potential victim, I would also avoid facing a criminal, if possible, with or without a gun. Brandishing a gun at someone carrying a weapon seems very likely to inspire a similar reaction from them.

Another reason that guns are dangerous is that they make potential victims feel more powerful than they actually are.

Also, I wasn't suggesting that Granny defend herself with knives. Or patrol her house with a gun and the diminished reflexes, hearing and vision which often come with age. This is not condescending...I'm Granny myself.

[ edited by toast on 2009-03-19 02:06 ]
In OMR, there wasn't an effort made to have real Bible quotes because Saffron was a conwoman. I thought the fake Bible quote from the fake religious girl fit perfectly with the fake myth and the fake sexual attraction to everybody.
Rowan- I'm sure you realize that it isn't a contradiction...it is too easy to make a mistake, and hurt someone with a lethal weapon. Not the same thing as being a brilliant shot who can take out anyone whenever you care to, right?

Most shootouts - from a criminal/victim standpoint - occur at virtually point-blank range: the generally accepted average is around three to seven yards. Especially if it's inside the victim's home, where both participants are in a constricted area.

If I was a criminal, I would avoid facing anyone, if possible, assuming that I wasn't crazy as well as bad. Likewise, as a potential victim, I would also avoid facing a criminal, if possible, with or without a gun. Brandishing a gun at someone carrying a weapon seems very likely to inspire a similar reaction from them.

Unfortunately, once someone actually has you cornered, you don't have much choice. You either fight back or you throw yourself on their mercies. I haven't noticed very many instances of home-invasion where the perpetrator has demonstrated much in the way of mercy.

Another reason that guns are dangerous is that they make potential victims feel more powerful than they actually are.

Well, between a) huddling on the floor hoping the five-time loser who just kicked in my door might decide to just rob me blind and go away without hurting me or my wife and b) snagging the pistol hanging in its holster on my bedpost and opening fire, I know which scenario gives me a better chance. Even 50-50 odds are better than slim to none.

Also, I wasn't suggesting that Granny defend herself with knives. Or patrol her house with a gun and the diminished reflexes, hearing and vision which often come with age. This is not condescending...I'm Granny myself.

I'm old enough to be, and despite years of training, I don't really feel like engaging someone half my age and twice my size in a "fair fight" these days; anything I ever had to prove in the ass-kicking line, I proved long ago to those it concerned. The only "fair fight" is the one I walk away from; if the other guy don't, he might should have thought of that before he started something.

By the way, back in my wife's home town, there actually was an instance about maybe five or six years ago where a guy was released from the local jail and went straight down the river to break into a house not much more than a mile from the jail. The 87-year-old lady who lived there alone shot him...
Assuming he actually went straight down the river from the jail, I guess Granny was the only one packing a gun in that encounter then?
I would imagine. But without it, you think he would have had much trouble taking her out? Maybe she should have given him the opportunity to get a good grip on her throat and start squeezing before she shot him - just to make it sporting, eh?

[ edited by Rowan Hawthorn on 2009-03-19 17:50 ]
Or maybe he was not interested in taking her out? Do you think it's okay to shoot anyone who you find in your home unexpectedly, or is it only okay if afterwards they turn out to have a criminal record? What about if their criminal record is for say, computer fraud? Or what if you don't recognize your neighbor, and he's got a key and was coming over see if you are okay because you didn't answer the phone??? Shoot first, ask questions later?

Maybe he was a convicted axe murderer, could be. Another time,maybe he does have a gun, you wound him, and then he kills you. I really, truly doubt if your actual chances of surviving a murderous attack are better with a gun. I do think you might feel bolder. Hopefully, your feeling of increased personal power won't be too great to keep you from running from danger if you have a chance.
He had no business breaking into her house, so he gets what he gets (sorry to be cold about that, but...). Prior record is immaterial and your neighbor would doubtless make a lot of noise declaring him/her to be your neighbor. Your chances of surviving a murderous attack are very probably better armed against an attacker, though if only one of you is armed a lot of other factors come into play. Surprised? Have quick access? Physical size/strength differences?
Or maybe he was not interested in taking her out? Do you think it's okay to shoot anyone who you find in your home unexpectedly, or is it only okay if afterwards they turn out to have a criminal record? What about if their criminal record is for say, computer fraud?

So now a homeowner should stop and ask someone who breaks in their home for a copy of their rap sheet before defending themselves?

Or what if you don't recognize your neighbor, and he's got a key and was coming over see if you are okay because you didn't answer the phone??? Shoot first, ask questions later?


Well, sure, I've had to check on a number of my neighbors and I know my first choice was to break a window or kick the door down and go in unannounced. I would hope my neighbor would ring the bell/knock on the door/yell as they entered, or something.

Maybe he was a convicted axe murderer, could be.

There's a first time for everything. And a first kill for every murderer. Do a little research on how many of those first kills are "crimes of opportunity", triggered by being caught breaking into a home that the criminal thought was empty. Or, I dunno, maybe it's okay if it's their first.

Another time,maybe he does have a gun, you wound him, and then he kills you. I really, truly doubt if your actual chances of surviving a murderous attack are better with a gun. I do think you might feel bolder. Hopefully, your feeling of increased personal power won't be too great to keep you from running from danger if you have a chance.

Cool! Then we can disarm all of our police departments, 'cause, y'know, if their chances of surviving an encounter isn't better by being armed, then we're wasting a crapload of taxpayer money buying all those guns for'em. If you know any cops, ask them if they share your doubt enough to disarm themselves (I notice that some of the most vocal opponents of private gun ownership don't have a problem with hiring someone to carry a gun for them.)

And it's time for me to just shrug and drop this, because the arguments have reached the usual ludicrous levels for the subject.
I know where toast is coming from with the speculation about the "not interested in taking her out" angle, 'cause some break-ins are done by people who purely want to steal but have a weaker stomach for killing (or no intention of killing at all, although anything can happen in the heat of the moment and with the sudden heightened possiblity of getting caught when the residents wake up or turn out to be home after all--in my old neighborhood, we had break-ins happen on each neighbor on either side of us, but our house in the middle was luckily left alone. The kids who did it were eventually caught, they were in their late teens, apparently found to be not armed later--my memory's a little fuzzy on this, but one of the neighbors was a retired cop, so my dad got the inside word on it--suffice to say, we got an alarm system that week and I guess there wasn't so much worry because my dad already has the guns, though he doesn't keep them in a holster on his bedpost, I'm not sure if that's legal here). So I understand where you're coming from toast, but I also don't understand the sympathy for the one perpetrating the crime in this case. zeitgeist and Rowan are right on this one. You either take the opportunity to defend yourself while you've got it, or you stupidly risk letting the invader end you.

"Do you think it's okay to shoot anyone who you find in your home unexpectedly, or is it only okay if afterwards they turn out to have a criminal record?"

Depends on the situation. At one point, when my sister was still living at home, she gave her boyfriend a key. They'd been together for a year or so, she trusted him, he was very much a part of the family, so he would sorta come and go as he pleased when she was here (and during regular waking hours, although sometimes he'd leave at 4am). Even now, without teenagers coming and going at all hours, I'm sure everyone in my house would be sensible enough to check who it is moving around at night, turn a light on to identify them, etc. Of course you're not just gonna randomly shoot at the shadowy figure. Unless you live alone and have absolutely no reason to believe there is any excuse for someone being in your personal space, then maybe I can see shooting first rather than risking being a victim (or calling the cops and locking yourself in your bedroom/bathroom--by the way, having a lock on the bedroom door makes so much sense to me but so few people bother--or getting the heck out of there, for those of us who don't own guns). Bottom line, you only get this one life. You have a right to defend yourself. I'm not talking about brandishing weapons in public. But no one should be in your personal space uninvited.

I could also get into the whole "an animal will attack/defend itself if another has invaded its nest/cave/burrow, so why should we not have the same right to do so in our homes, with more discrepency of course to allow for mistakes or whatever". I mean, we do technically have the right, the ability, to defend ourselves, but I'm not well versed in the laws in any particular region of North America on the legality of what actions you can and can't take. I'm pretty sure that even if you went overboard in the eyes of the law though, there will be sympathy for you seeing as you were put on the defensive and technically started out as the victim.

A neighbor you've given the key to would definitely announce themselves/knock on the door, unless they suspected foul play ahead of time and were creeping in fearfully to make sure you're okay (although they should call the cops first if they're worried you're in trouble or dead, as silly as it might feel to do that, that's one of the things they're there for). But again, you would identify by sight the noise you hear in your house before just randomly shooting into the darkness, at least I would, maybe Rowan has a different take on that. If your neighbor comes upon you with your gun drawn, oh well, they explain themselves, you explain, you thank them for checking on you but remind them to call the police first next time, and no accident happens. Ideally. Yeah, accidents happen, but this comes back to my point about hoping there's tough screening for paranoid/skittish/crazy individuals, ie, they shouldn't have them if they're gonna wave 'em around at the drop of a hat, at one little sound startling them. If you're gonna get a gun, take some courses, go to the firing range a bunch (so you can be accurate with it and avoid hitting the wrong target should you ever be forced to use it), get comfortable with it, assess whether you are an individual who would best be served by a gun for protection. Unfortunately I think there're many people who aren't smart/responsible about gun ownership, but since I can't control who does and doesn't get a gun, what are ya gonna do, aside from have discussions on internet message boards or, if you're really ambitious, get into a field that would influence/decide policy on this, if you care that much about this particular issue...or just become a politician I guess and win and lose votes with banning and unbanning certain things.

"What about if their criminal record is for say, computer fraud?"

Fine, they did a much less rotten thing compared to the convicted murderer who managed to cut a deal and only serve 10 years or whatever, but still, why are they in my house ? Should I allow them the opportunity to step up a level on the ladder of criminal offences ? Whether they're a five time offender or this is their first time, they're still capable of doing you harm or killing you. Whether or not they "deserve" to die (and I don't fully know how I feel about capital punishment given all the recent reversals of convictions, but let's not bring that into this, I'm coming at the unfortunate risk of killing someone from a self defense perspective here), that's not for you to worry about in the heat of the moment when your life is potentially in peril.

Personally, I like to think if a break-in happened and I was someone who owned a gun...and assuming for a second just for the sake of argument that it's an ideal scenario where I've spotted the invader before they've seen me...if I don't see a weapon drawn, I like to think I'd shout something like "Get the fuck out of my house!" and then probably some really badly worded threat of what I'll do if they don't, 'cause I'm a verbal klutz like that sometimes, but either way it should do the trick if they see a gun point at them. They leave, I call the cops immediately (I've probably locked myself in a room at this point, 'cause I'm definitely not roaming around the house to determine the point of entry and to try to seal it up or anything, seems kinda foolish in case they're still lurking around). If the situation is worse, if they have a gun drawn, whether it's down or pointed at you, what you personally believe to be the best course of action...it's up to you. I'm not an expert on this sorta thing, these are just guesses on how one might react.

Rowan, what is the law regarding how to store your firearms where you are anyway ? I did a quick google search on the States (but I have a feeling it differs from state to state, as with so many other things), but I couldn't find what I was looking for. You just got me curious with the holster on the bedpost comment.

Don't leave the discussion yet, understanding the other guy's perspective can happen. I've seen the gun debate a bit before (usually don't participate, really not informed enough), but it always stupidly ends with shouting on either end or ridiculous accusations backed up by little to nothing. Gun enthusiasts often resort to the usual "You really don't get it/you'll change your tune when they take your rights away/you owe yourself and your family better protection/it's your right to hate and/or not own a gun, but you're a stupid liberal pussy!" and the anti-guns usually, well...you've read it all already probably.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-03-20 02:48 ]
Yeah, in the US, at least, the law pretty much states you are allowed to use lethal force against intruders in your home. There are so many variables in the kind of scenario being discussed here - how is a criminal to know which homes have guns if it's a question of "choosing" not to face one, how advisable would it be to get in a gun fight if there are others, such as young children, in the house, where do you err on the side of keeping a gun safe from accidents but ready for quick access against the frightening but seemingly less likely scenario of a break-in in the middle of the night - but, if you live in a high crime area or there's a recent crime wave, how much more likely and reasonable would it then seem - but this would seem to be rather tangential to the original subject, of the cult's arsenal - unless anyone's arguing that one should have dozens of automatic and semi-automatic weapons on hand specifically to defend against a would-be robber/invader? ;)

As to the armory on view in "True Believer", it does seem likely there's some violations there. If it is correct that felons cannot legally own firearms - at the least, it seems unlikely the background check would allow Sparrow to purchase assault weapons - and most of the flock was indeed unaware of the weapon cache's existence, then all the weapons, if legally registered, would have to be in Seth's name, wouldn't they? You're not alowed to purchase that many guns all at once, right? How long would it take one person to legally obtain all of that firepower? If nothing else, unless even more gun laws have been allowed to lapse than I'm aware of, the AK-47s we see are illegal in this country.

(OTOH, it's theoretically legal for a private citizen to own even a bazooka or a tank in the US, but it seems unlikely anyone in the cult would pass the very strident FBI evaluation required.)

To the episode in general: I quite liked it, myself. While I leaned more towards Sparrow being a cynical manipulator, I can see that it's more gray than at first blush. (If he believed in the righteousness of their cause, why keep the armory secret from most of the camp? On the other hand, why set the fire if he didn't truly believe they would be protected from it? Why would he switch from armed resistance to willing martyr?) Saunders and Topher and the man-reactions was the biggest outbreak of humor so far. And Dominick going that far that fast was a surprise. I agree that he likely truly believed that he was acting in the Dollhouse's best interest, and can also understand why some posters are saying "He needs to die!" I really don't want him killed off, though, because I don't want to see Reed Diamond (hey there, Mike Kellerman!) unemployed!

And reading this thread has helped me in seeing reasons why Dominick shot Sparrow before he could shoot Echo - another or related thought I've now had being that maybe he was trying to take out a little frustration at Alpha by personally killing what he sees as "the next Alpha"? And, I've also learned that Mellie is possibly an impasta, imprinted (perhaps by Alpha) with the personality of Chef Boyardee ;)

For me, this episode was a welcome rebound after what had been my least-favorite ep, "Gray Hour". Conceptually, "Gray Hour" seemed interesting, but I just found myself the least connected to it of any episode so far; I just didn't "feel it" as much as the others. And still, I wouldn't call it a bad ep by any means, and still say it was better than most hours of televison out there. So, yeah, even before "Man on the Street", I'm quite on board with Dollhouse; can't wait to see how I feel tomorrow night ;)
Rowan- Sorry you find these issues ludicrous- I don't. For every "success" story of an armed citizen shooting an actual intruder, there seem to be several headlines of children accidentally shooting each other with their parents firearms. There was one in my local (Pittsburgh)paper yesterday. The ten year old is dead. His dopey father told the kids to clean the guns for him.

And despite the fact that you seem to think this is a joke- we may, in fact, be wasting some of the money spent on police guns. Many Western nations do not arm their beat cops with handguns, for example, and yet have proportionally less violent crime than we do in the US.

And I do have a problem with hiring someone to carry a gun for me- especially if that person is paid so poorly that they have a real reason to resent the people they are supposed to protect.

But hey, if you don't want to discuss this stuff, I obviously can't make you.

ETA: I missed the two comments in between- going to read them now.

I really meant my questions as ethical, rather than legal questions...I am a lawyer and pretty familiar with then general "defense of the homestead" and self-defense kinds of rules. Lots of stuff is legal, but still not okay in my book, and I was wondering how far Rowan was prepared to go on these questions, and why.

Because it's not only sensible people such as yourselves , who would check to make sure it's not their neighbor, who make sure they know how to use their guns properly, and don't offer them to their children as toys, who are allowed to have handguns. It's pretty much every non-felon, no matter how foolish or intemperate, who can get one under present US laws. Hell, inattentive and angry people do an incredible amount of damage with their automobiles, which are not even (supposed to be) weapons.

[ edited by toast on 2009-03-20 03:08 ]
Kris, I live in Kentucky, and there's no particular "storage law" here, although I'd imagine you could be found liable under some statute if a child, for instance, found your loaded gun and hurt themselves or someone else. I have no children, or any visiting me, so it's not an issue for me. We've only within the last few years passed any sort of concealed-carry licensing law; prior to that, concealed weapons were illegal, period, but I could - and have, many times - carried one openly on my hip (primarily while going to and from a shooting area where the pistol I was using was either too bulky or otherwise not suited for concealed carry. Otherwise, I carried, and still do, in a shoulder holster. I figure what somebody doesn't see won't hurt'em. Unless it needs to...)

Sorry you find these issues ludicrous
Not the issues, the arguments. Nor do I find them a joke. On the contrary, I take them dead seriously. Or as dead seriously as I can take the suggestion that guns are so dangerous that a child can accidentally kill another, but so useless that an adult has no better chance of surviving a violent encounter by being armed than they would without a weapon (if nothing else, where does that leave the adult who's the aggressor in that encounter? Why are they assumed to have a better chance of surviving than the defender? If possession of a weapon doesn't help in a fight, then both parties would seem to be at the same disadvantage.)

And I do have a problem with hiring someone to carry a gun for me- especially if that person is paid so poorly that they have a real reason to resent the people they are supposed to protect.
I'm pretty sure that private personal bodyguards stand to make quite a lot more money than the average beat cop. But the simple fact is that no matter how much they make, it's always going to be a pittance compared to the income of the sort of people who can actually afford to have their own private personal bodyguards.
But hey, if you don't want to discuss this stuff, I obviously can't make you.

It's simply a waste of time. Assuming you really believe that an armed adult has no better chance of surviving than an unarmed adult, where in the world can the discussion go? Over the last forty years, I've learned literally dozens of ways to kill and/or maim opponents - many of those using no weapon at all, let alone a gun. I know how easy it is to kill when you don't want to (hit someone in the head with a full-armed swing using a club, and you'll be picking pieces of their skull off the ceiling), and how hard, it is to stop someone in their tracks when you do want to. The Real World is a very different place from TV Land. Once upon a time, I might have taken my chances with someone if it was just me, but if anyone else's safety depended on my success or failure, then no. Whatever gets the job done.

I really meant my questions as ethical, rather than legal questions...I am a lawyer and pretty familiar with then general "defense of the homestead" and self-defense kinds of rules. Lots of stuff is legal, but still not okay in my book, and I was wondering how far Rowan was prepared to go on these questions, and why.

No sane person wants to kill another human being. But if the choice is between me or my wife and someone who's putting one of us in danger, there's only one choice, and I made that long ago. Taking chances with your own life or a family member's is a fool's game, and the only law that counts is the law of survival. I'm 53, been carrying a pistol since I was 18, and never had to shoot anybody. But I have had to draw my pistol three times, and the only reason I didn't have to shoot any of those was because they not only believed I'd shoot them if they pushed any further, they were dead right.
Rowan said:
"Over the last forty years, I've learned literally dozens of ways to kill and/or maim opponents - many of those using no weapon at all, let alone a gun.

...I'm 53
"

Man, you've picked up dozens of brutal/fatal moves/skills since you were thirteen ? That's some kind of rough life you must've had starting early, or at least grown up somewhere rough. Is that you Bruce Wayne ?

Do you carry a gun in your shoulder holster every time you leave the house, or only when traveling to certain places ? Is this more a precaution (sounds like, from what you've said so far) or a little stronger than that and you feel your life is at risk constantly (well, everyone's is at any time, to be fair) ?
Well, Rowan, if the "only law that counts is the law of survival", I guess there really isn't a lot of point in continuing the discussion...and I wasn't talking to the person I thought I was talking to.
Kris:
Man, you've picked up dozens of brutal/fatal moves/skills since you were thirteen ? That's some kind of rough life you must've had starting early, or at least grown up somewhere rough. Is that you Bruce Wayne ?
No, just the target of constant bullying when I was a kid. About the time I was in 8th grade, I'd had enough and started learning how to stop it. In the process, I kinda got obsessed with things like improvised weaponry, empty-hand techniques for incapacitating an opponent quickly, etc. Pistols I just sort of had a knack for since I was a kid.

Do you carry a gun in your shoulder holster every time you leave the house, or only when traveling to certain places ?
In the shoulder holster, mostly just when traveling in certain areas at certain times, although at one time (when I owned a small retail store) I carried it whenever I left home. It's always in my glove compartment if it isn't under my jacket. And when I'm playing a gig in some dive, it's always handy on stage; I've seen too many things happen in the blink of an eye, and when you need a gun, you need it now, not in five or ten minutes.

Is this more a precaution (sounds like, from what you've said so far) or a little stronger than that and you feel your life is at risk constantly (well, everyone's is at any time, to be fair) ?
It's simply precautionary. Nobody's out looking for me (if they were, I'd find them first...) But shit happens, and when it does, it happens fast. It would be nice if all you ever had to do was just hunker down, yell for help, and wait for the White Hats to come riding in. But that's just a pretty dream. It doesn't work that way very often in Real Life, as news accounts should make abundantly clear.

Haunt:
Well, Rowan, if the "only law that counts is the law of survival", I guess there really isn't a lot of point in continuing the discussion...and I wasn't talking to the person I thought I was talking to.
Truth hurts, huh? See my previous paragraph in response to Kris's post.

Look, in the final analysis, that's the only law that counts because that's the only one you can guarantee will be there to save your ass when some predator decides to chew on it. Dunno about you, but I don't have my own personal S.W.A.T. team standing by to take care of things for me, and neither do most private citizens. The law can sometimes do a good job after the fact, but... well, what good does it do me if my killer goes to jail? "Hey, cool, he got life! That's wonderful news! I'm dead, and he's gonna spend the next sixty years with a roof over his head, food on the table, and a chance of parole in five years, but hey, justice was served!"

No, thanks. If you can stop a situation without killing somebody, that's great - I have, several times. But if someone's going to die, I'm going to do my best to make sure it isn't me or someone I care about. Whatever it takes.
You know,Rowan, I've lived all my life in an urban neighborhood which suburbanite co-workers think is "dangerous", by myself, I take public transportation, I work in the city, and I'm an old lady and a widow. I raised my daughter by myself here, and sent her to the city schools, where she prospered, and grew up pretty confident, despite the fact that they are supposed to be scary.

I've had my apartment burglarized a few times, and been followed down my share of dark alleys, run away from some scary people, and am undoubtedly lucky never to have experienced serious violence directed against me personally since the schoolyard.

I'm reasonably careful, but I don't flee from strangers on sight, stay in at night or restrict my activities in fear. I wonder why I find life so much less threatening than you do.

I'd guess you would have to tell yourself that it's because I lack your extensive life experience, and therefore just don't get it? I don't think you would be right about that, if so.

[ edited by toast on 2009-03-20 12:46 ]
That aspect is interesting to me. I've some experience of it myself because in the early 80s I went through what sounds like a similar thing to Rowan Hawthorn, not with school bullies (a swift kick in the nuts generally worked there ;) but with superpower "bullies" (couldn't reach theirs ;) i.e. I was terrified of nuclear war and so set about learning all I could about surviving one and its aftermath (including a lot about guns, I even used to know muzzle velocities etc. of guns i'd almost certainly never own. Weirdo ;). A friend and I had contingency plans for surviving a (limited) nuclear exchange, we even explored the local sewer systems (and by 'explored' I mean 'trespassed in' ;) to see if we, with our families, could live down there.

Anyway, we didn't all die (yay ;) and I guess I came to terms with the idea that not every variable is controllable, that sometimes you just have to say "Bugger it" and get on with your life. My interest in "survivalism" wore down to just a general love of the outdoors and apart from occasionally terrifying those around me with what's seen (in the UK) to be an unhealthy knowledge of weapons while watching films, i've pretty much forgotten most of it. But I do wonder what might've happened if i'd lived in the US, where gun ownership and interest isn't only freely available but in some places even actively encouraged. This idea of defending yourself against all potential threats seems like the sort of attitude that might feed off itself to some extent, if there's no external check on it.

(it also seems like a lot of hassle - isn't a gun fairly heavy to carry everywhere for instance ? Statistically i'm fairly sure you'd get more benefit from cutting down on saturated fats and checking your smoke alarm once a week ;)
I'm reasonably careful, but I don't flee from strangers on sight, stay in at night or restrict my activities in fear. I wonder why I find life so much less threatening than you do.

I'd guess you would have to tell yourself that it's because I lack your extensive life experience, and therefore just don't get it? I don't think you would be right about that, if so.
And you'd be wrong if you think I do any of the things in your first sentence above. As for the other... I'll leave that open, except to say that yes, you've been lucky. Seriously, I'm glad for you. Too many other people haven't been.

Saje, I've never been a "survivalist" in the commonly accepted sense. Explored and experimented with lots of stuff, but it was mostly out of curiosity. But there has to be a happy medium somewhere between living inside a bunker and going blithely along with head in the air trusting that everything will be okay. I believe in taking some responsibility for my own safety.

As far as packing, I usually kept a smaller, lighter pistol for everyday carry (my "just in case" gun). Usually a .380 Colt or Browning. In a horizontal shoulder holster, they're barely noticeable, and easy to just tuck into your jacket pocket or waistband if you need to. I swapped them out with bigger calibers if I was going to be in rougher areas with higher risk of something going wrong.
Believe me, I never thought you did any of those things, Rowan. you've made that more than clear. Rather, I figured that you'd think I'd have to do them, since I don't carry a gun. My point was, for me, it's not necessary to carry a gun to avoid living in fear.

And as for "blithely going around with my head in the air", and not "taking responsibility for my own safety"- your assumption that that's what a person is doing whenever they don't carry a gun would be akin to me assuming that you are carrying a gun because you are looking for a fight. I don't assume that at all, because it would be unfair stereotyping.

In addition to being lucky not to have been attacked, I'm even luckier (statistically) not to have been run over by a bus, or had a heart attack.

[ edited by toast on 2009-03-20 14:16 ]
Rather, I figured that you'd think I'd have to do them, since I don't carry a gun.
No, why? My father, a Korean war veteran, never carried a gun, either, in his civilian life. But in later years, he did keep a couple at home, and since he passed away, my mother keeps a snub-nosed .38 in her bedroom. But none of us ever lived in fear, though we've all been pretty realistic about the world. Even my brother the journalist gave up and started throwing his pistol in the car after he wrote some articles exposing official corruption. He'd already spotted some of the local cops following him a couple of times, and one night when doing his part-time radio show, he had to call me to cover him because someone was prowling around the station. That convinced him.
I can't help but feel we're veering off at a tangent here so if we could get back to Dollhouse discussion that would be lovely.

The Flickr Libary is very good for off-topic chat if you want to carry on the gun discussion there.
I dunno that you are actually more likely to get hit by a bus than to be assaulted/mugged/burglarized. I also don't believe that the child getting killed by a gun is more likely an outcome than the successful home invasion prevention. What I do know is that the media LOVES the downer stories, so I guarantee you that the child getting shot gets more coverage. Let's all try to dig up statistics if we are going to make claims about relative likelihoods. It also might be a good thing to carry this on at flickr if you folks are up for it.

ETA - as Simon said.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-20 14:34 ]
Let's all try to dig up statistics if we are going to make claims about relative likelihoods.

OK. 10 ! I rest my case.

I dunno, mods run amok. It'll be centres not holding next, you mark my words.

(does this mean I have to try and remember my Flickr logon details ? Pshaw and Pphooey)
Yeah, you know I'm king of the tangent mods, so :) I used to be a regular fixture on flickr, but it's been pretty busy and my free time has been devoted to lurking here with occasionally posting flurries :).
Never been to the Flickr site that I can recall, but I don't mind moving it over. Have to wait until I get home tonight, though, as my office restricts access to a lot of popular domains (I'm actually surprised I can get on here, to be honest.)
No Flickr experience here either.
Not about to join up at Flickr, sorry, but this discussion has been intriguing for sure.

Heh, like saje (well, the `80s version of him), I find survivalist methods interesting, not because I believe any number of disasters are seriously likely to occur in my neighborhood, but the idea of being ready in case they do appeals to me. Haven't taken any significant measures. Read a bunch (any time the subject comes up in newspapers--there were a lot of articles the year after the power blackout happened a few years back and I clipped a whole bunch out--a lot of stuff online too), but no, haven't gotten around to making an emergency preparedness kit or anything like that (our First Aid kit isn't even very good, bare minimum basics). There's the question of how far you take it too...camping gear at the ready, flak jacket, gas mask, etc ? How paranoid/thorough do you feel like being/feel compelled to be ? Could get costly too. Having a bunker would be cool just for the novelty of it and the sliver of a chance peace of mind I suppose, but likely a waste of money in most people's lifetimes.

I wish there was something more effective than a gun to stop intruders, I'm pretty sure I don't want to own one and likely won't get around to going through the whole process of getting one. Multiple locks on the door(s), motion sensor lights outside, and an alarm system will have to do for now. When out and about, guess I'm at the mercy of the world, heh, no self defense skills whatsoever. It does feel kinda foolish to not step up your game in that area, but...just not an area of self improvement I can see getting around to any time soon.

Oh yeah, I forgot, tangent over.

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