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"Do you want to be punished?"
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April 04 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the eighth episode of Dollhouse. Titled 'Needs', this episode is written by newcomer Tracy Bellomo. And if you missed it, 'Needs' is now available to watch for free at Fox on Demand and Hulu and can be purchased at iTunes.

Ooh, is this the one where Alpha is revealed, then?

One more hour.
Nah. Vincent Ventresca is in the episode, I think I'll edit the entry in case people get the wrong idea.
*waiting to watch East coasters post*
I have to miss it cuz I'm stuck in an airport waiting for a delayed flight. Dang it!
Time to pack up laptop and dog and walk allll the way across the street (in the rain) to watch at my cable having sister's house. (I"m not the only one who refreshes this page every commercial and reads out comment highlights to others in the room... right?)
Oops, I took a tiny step and there conclusions were. Or maybe I jumped. ;) At least everyone who visits this thread can be confused now-- "but WHY did she think that?"

Coming up, regularly scheduled Dollhouse discussion.
(I"m not the only one who refreshes this page every commercial and reads out comment highlights to others in the room... right?)


I knew there's a reason I turned my computer into a tv :)
Obvious dream...
I love Amy Acker.
Seconded, CaptainB
And there it is, I want to punch Topher in the face again.
Already better than last week. That meeting had "human reactions" by the characters (annoyance, sniping), which wasn't true for Echoes.
I wanted the dream to be real until she was all dead-like..
thirded... I missed her last week.
I'm with you (re: punching Topher in the face)
With just one look at Sierra and I'm getting the warm fuzzies for Victor.
It's like "Tabula Rasa" all over again, and last week was "Spin the Bottle". And even though this is premature to say, I think those cases work best when we have long histories behind the characters. Still, good.

[ edited by CaptainB on 2009-04-04 02:16 ]
Run! Strategically.
CaptainB - With a series based on the investigation of memory, identity and consciousness, this show was inevitable.
Edited to remove snark since original was edited :)

[ edited by C. A. Bridges on 2009-04-04 02:17 ]
That is a *beautiful* set.

And the dream was necessary to tip of Ballard that something was fishy about his apartment.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-04-04 02:15 ]
And, BAM, all my Dr. Saunder's theories are looking good.
Holy frijoli!

Wow!
Geez, Victor was having problems in the showers even before he had memories back...
I don't really know what to think.
Thanks, C. A. Bridges. I was posting fast to pay attention to the episode, so I figured I should explain myself if it seemed dismissive.
So far this episode is FUN! And quite funny too.
I know just what you mean. I rushed to defend the show, saw your edit, went "oh, crap, that sounds reasonable" and rushed back to edit my response.

[ edited by C. A. Bridges on 2009-04-04 02:25 ]
Victor is so sweet...
Oh, come on. The Victor/Sierra twist for this episode... already predictable.
Oh, dear. Didn't see that coming at all. (The "I have a baby" thing, not the "V/S" thing).

[ edited by Fredikins on 2009-04-04 02:31 ]
I did not put Sierra in the Dollhouse.
Surrrrreeee you didn't.
Raaar. I'm still missing it!
josswhedonaddict, after you are done punching Topher in the face, you got to find Nolan!
So that was all planned? Sneaky, sneaky. Wonder if Dr. Saunders knew about that? Probably not. I was suspicious that no one stopped them within.
Or just hand Echo a fire extinguisher when Nolan is around. Ouch!

I'm watching this Serra/Serena commercial, and wondering what it would be like if they added Sierra. :-)

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-04-04 02:39 ]
I liked Adelle's immediate turn-around regarding stopping Echo. Very funny, though laughing felt a little inappropriate right then.
"A little while" Good one.
See, that isn't me.
Okay, Nolan deserves way worse than being punched in the face, but thanks!
Wow, Nolan is kinda meaner in person than on this site.
Was that what you were prediciting, Canonical? Yeech, Nolan makes Topher look like Santa Claus.
"I'm just the science guy."

Son, so was Josef Mengele.
No. I was way off. I assumed it was Victor who put Sierra in the Dollhouse.

And that last reveal (DeWitt's appearance) was awesome!
Is anyone else really enjoying the whole Topher-being-humiliated thing?
I'm glad you were way off. But it was a fear for me too.
QuanticoMVP: Fuck yeah. Also loving NOT-Echo.
Yeah. I'm with you too. Topher's character shouldn't be so obnoxious. I blame Fran Kranz in large part.
Tear it all down, Caroline. Adelle and this Dollhouse can talk all they want about what's "relinquished", but that's the kick of "inalienable rights", and why that phrase was chosen -- what's inalienable can not be relinquished.
Actually, I was thinking the same thing about Victor/Sierra, but the "predictable" mantra is starting to bug me. A roller coaster ends where it starts, but that doesn't take away from the fun of the ride.
At first, I thought Caroline was a moron. But it does fit with her whole 'self-righteous' angle.. So, I'm liking where this is going now.
WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOA!
What was I thinking? "Did she know"!?!? It was Saunders' idea! Are there really that many dolls?
That is a satisfying ending. Saunders putting the rats in the maze, yikes.
Nice, convenient 'sedative.' I want me some of that.
I... officially despise Saunders now. Didn't think it was possible to dislike Amy Acker.
"She wanted to free us all." Us all?
Amy Acker's definitely gotten a lot of 'actorly' moments in this episode, though. Woot.
C'mon, give us a sign, some head nod guys.
If Echo slaps her shoulder right now, I'm gonna be so PO'd.
now, I'm curious how Dr. Saunders ended up at the Dollhouse.
Next week looks like fun.

One open question... What was Mike's need? Was he an innocent chamber-mate, or did he have a pressing need to be manhandled by two bouncers? :-)
KoC, I think your anti-Saunders feelings are premature. That was a twist, but I think it's throwing you off from the fact that she really is [possibly] THE good guy.
First ep I fully, thoroughly felt and enjoyed.
What was Mike's need?

Perhaps he didn't have one.
Definitely dug the ending :-)

The rest of it seemed a little slow...or maybe my attention span wasn't as good tonight as it was in the past 2 weeks. Still, i'm becoming more impressed every week--even if it's something small. Not that I doubted the potential for amazingness...
I'm hoping she is the mole. Of course that's what makes me fear for her safety all the more. Maybe she felt for Alpha so that's why he ultimately spared her after he attacked her.
So now we know why Amy didnt feature in Echoes...
To OneTeV I don't think Mike had a need. He was kind of a "control" for them to see what was going on.
The episode *needed* that ending. This is a very challenging direction for the audience -- the characters in the Dollhouse that we've been rooting for have officially lost all the development and progress for the entire season, and in some ways, the next episode might as well be the pilot. I was hoping to see some residual sense of identity from them at the end there. Renewing Ballard's mission with the message is about the only thing this episode leaves us in terms of continuing plot.

Nah, I can't reconcile good in anything Saunders just did. All she did was pull a Matrix and dig the Actives that much farther into their enslavement. And I do consider them slaves -- I'm very much a Jeffersonian sort of thinker about individualism, and the rights that they sign away in those contracts cannot *be* signed away, no more than you can consent to being raped and murdered before the fact. If Saunders was a good guy, let alone THE good guy, I find it hard to believe she'd do that.

I can see only one way out for her, is if she did it precisely *because* she's a known doubter and was securing her place as an asset to the Dollhouse. I could believe she'd do that if she was the insider -- hell, even her knife wounds could be part of her cover if she has agreed to help Alpha.
Loved it and the Dr Saunders reveal at the end was perfect. She cares for all of them and they're safer in here than out in the big bad world.
Topher's character shouldn't be so obnoxious. I blame Fran Kranz in large part.


Yeah, tonight's episode really drove home that point. I'm wondering if there's a point to his character being unlikable/grating, because we all know that it is possible to have a neurotic-ish character that's not annoying (e.g., Xander).
They're only "safer" in the Dollhouse in their slave state, which is by no means something they are resigned to. If she wanted them to be safe in the big bad world, she'd be helping to give them their big bad lives back.
Nah, I can't reconcile good in anything Saunders just did.

Maybe the plan she pitched didn't permanently undo the actives' awakenings, not only temporarily suspended it, buying some time and convincing the powers-that-be that the danger has passed.
What did Nolan call Sierra when he opened the door? I totally didn't catch it...!
Good episode. This fan from LINCOLN Nebraska appreciates the second Nebraska reference in a Whedon show. :)
...I, too, am hoping that Mike had a need (that was ultimately unsatisfied by his early re-programming). Otherwise, he ends up as just a red shirt (or, um, red towel) for the episode.
Great job great plot l especially loved the part where echo had topher at her mercy By the way great concept naming the characters after the navys' phonetic alphabet yay yay keep up the good work
Well, that was depressing. Not what happened; but,that every single thing that happened was predictable, from Mellie's dead daughter, to them getting out because they were actually let out, to the seeming reveal that Saunders came up with this, to everything. To even the "let's answer the critics" comments that allowed Echo to talk about free will. Y'know, it was done a whole lot better the hour before on TSCC.
Dammit, that marks the third episode that ended with an obvious anticlimax.
b!x, there's nothing in the episode to reassure us that that Echo, Victor, Sierra, and November aren't back completely to square one in terms of their identities. I was very much hoping there would be.
The episode *needed* that ending. This is a very challenging direction for the audience -- the characters in the Dollhouse that we've been rooting for have officially lost all the development and progress for the entire season, and in some ways, the next episode might as well be the pilot.


This episode's message was: 'My job isn't to give them what they want, it's to give them what they need.' Such a nervy story: the first third structured as 'Great Escape!' Then we know it's a test and still hope for escape. We want Acker's character to be good because she's Amy fucking Acker, which makes us pathetic children wishing for unsurprising comfort. Then we get the moments of triumph/defeat/symbolic power and at the moment everyone gets their Big Character Goal for the hour, they shut down, because we (the audience) are programmed to want only that. Then Saunders turns out to be the villain and Paul's a loony and -

I feel violated and manipulated, but I loved it.

'Make the audience feel what the characters feel.'

'Show don't tell.'

'You should be happy.' 'I'll work on that.'

Most self-referential hour of Whedon in a long, long, long time - and the best Dollhouse yet by a long leap. Heartbreaking and demoralizing and thrilling. Joss is a bastard and I love him for it.
I guess we know what Victor wanted to forget. It's the Mets' end of season collapses from the last two years. ;) If I was a Met fan, I'd want to forget them.

Once again, this show makes me uncomfortable watching it. Echo/Caroline is right, all that dolls are lab rats that are being used for other people's benefits. That's a hundred kinds of wrong.
I don't see why every character has to be likable in any tv series, but I am hoping that personal growth is the eventual intention for Topher. Hey, it's the kind of thing that turned Buffy's version of Wesley to Angel Season 3's Wesley.
For about five seconds, I mistook that tech guy helping Ballard for Alan Tudyk and about had a heart attack. But then it wasn't him. The dream sequence at the beginning was rather eye-pokingly obvious in its dream sequenceliness, but that was the only thing that bugged me about the episode. I feel so sorry for November's real self--and Sierra's...*shudder*--, and I think I shall be very cross if the "closure" Victor gained about Sierra means that there will be no more cuteness between them in future. Dr. Saunders currently seems to be leading the field in the morals department. That dolls as dogs instead of children analogy was very telling.
I've been thinking the mole is Topher's assistant, that he's always sending on mundane errands, whose name I couldn't remember right now if I was promised a walking tour of Joss's brain as a reward. Anyone else on that wavelength? (The mole, not Joss's brain. That one's a given.)

I have all this weird affection for Topher. I know in my heart he's got questionable morals, but so did Andrew and I had affection for him, too. Geek solidarity FTW.


doubtful guest said:
...I, too, am hoping that Mike had a need (that was ultimately unsatisfied by his early re-programming). Otherwise, he ends up as just a red shirt (or, um, red towel) for the episode.


Lol forever. Live long and prosper, Mike. Maybe his need was to be hauled away against his will by the Men In Black, therefore proving his alien conspiracy theories?
@Dana5140 - Sorry, but I don't believe that you predicted what happened, and you seem to have missed that this episode was about narrative satisfaction and identification as such. You've said a few times you don't care for the show, etc. Well, swell. Posturing isn't argument.

/adhominem
b!x, there's nothing in the episode to reassure us that that Echo, Victor, Sierra, and November aren't back completely to square one in terms of their identities

The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The episode wasn't required to spring that now, if it's the case. Why can't it leave things unfulfilled until later? It's a series after all, not a one-shot.
The One True b!X and kira29, next time I'll use the winky face instead of the smiley face.

Why are people so caught up in the likability of Topher? The character is an asshole, so be it. Maybe his character arc will end up in him being likable after he gets a humility injection (probably by Alpha).

Prophecy Girl, I forgot about the alien conspiracy, perfect!

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-04-04 03:20 ]
Topher's character shouldn't be so obnoxious. I blame Fran Kranz in large part.


I think Topher is supposed to be that obnoxious. I'm not sure his character would work really if he wasn't. And I've enjoyed Fran Kranz's acting, moreso than almost anyone on the show.

Personally, I have to wonder whether or not this experience will change some of his behavior. It's obvious that he's never really thought about the ramifications of what he's doing. Maybe this experience will send him in that direction.
Good post, wax, but where's the loony with Paul? The dream? That seemed pretty normal type of dream for someone under his particular set of stresses -- he *is* obsessed/in love with Caroline, doesn't think he can save her, torn about feelings about Mellie, etc. Paul and Boyd are still my rocks in this thing.
While i I found it to be stronger than last week, I'm not sure how I really feel about it.
b!x, point taken, but I'm making my assumption based on what *was* shown, where you're assuming contrary to it.
The dream sequence at the beginning was rather eye-pokingly obvious in its dream sequenceliness, but that was the only thing that bugged me about the episode.


Yep, most attentive viewers (and what are we fans but pathologically attentive viewers?!) are able to identify dream sequences that involve antagonists meeting in the dead of night to exchange crypticisms and kiss in the teaser of an hourlong drama. In the context of a frankly nasty story about audience manipulation it takes on additional resonance.
I'm not assuming in either direction, actually. I'm just saying we don't know, and arguing that it wasn't required to tell us now.
KingofCretins: I, too, often forget that the "unalienable rights" is a beautiful Jeffersonian phrase but is not actually in the U.S. constitution: the battle rages day to day in the real world about how to determine which rights are "natural" and, once you've found them, how we get to protect them, and, as much as it would be nice to think so, the beauty of a Jeffersonian phrase is not actually anything much more than argument-from-authority, which is usually seen as a logical fallacy.

and, really? you can't see any version of events where a character like Saunders (who seems to have natural predilictions very much not in line with the Dollhouse stance on the doll's rights) wouldn't do something like, oh, say, try to devise a plan to give the dolls some resolution of issues that are torturing them BEFORE the more naturally occuring solutions (such as sending them to the attic) occurs to staff members? Can she have just a little eeensy bit of gray in her options for playing well the bad hand she's dealt, especially in a world where, as Paul is told, however big she thinks she is, the Dollhouse is bigger?
@kingofcretins - He just remains the creepily obsessive law-gone-wrong type who's dreaming about screwing corpses and beating up Secret Radio Shack employees. I love how peripheral and doggedly-unsuccessful he is so far. (Plus the Big Fight a couple weeks ago was excellent.)
Great episode tonight but man was that test really cruel when you think about it.

I thought Amy shined tonight too.

Edited out T:SCC spoiler.Sorry about that.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-04-04 03:34 ]
Heinlein had an interesting take on "unalienable rights" in the book "Starship Troopers".

Or as someone named anonymous put it: Man is endowed with unalienable rights, all of which must be fought for.
Oh, good. Spoilers for T:SCC in a Dollhouse thread.
The phrase may not appear, but the concept is pervasive. And since I do consider the founding to be a pretty close to definitive philosophical authority, I can and do shamelessly appeal to it :)

waxbanks, technically she wasn't a corpse when he was screwing her, he stopped when the dream changed in that direction. He was quite unhappy that she died, in fact. It didn't reveal anything creepy about him.
...(I am pondering)...wonder if you can call a plot twist like a dead daughter predictable unless you had already predicted the existance of a daughter (revealed in same episode)...(I am further pondering)...some things that are somewhat predictable (yes, I said to myself "oh, of course" (when I realized Mellie was walking to a cast iron fence, which always reads "cemetary" to me) are nonetheless emotionally well done and resonant, as was Mellie's reveal, in ways that transcend the potential predictability...this has to do with huge amounts of narrative context, such as, oh, when was the last time you saw a character have an emotional reveal that they had utterly forgotten the death of their daughter, a death that was their most traumatic memory of a lifetime?
Oh, good. Spoilers for T:SCC in a Dollhouse thread.


I was just thinking the same thing.
OneTeV said:
Why are people so caught up in the likability of Topher? The character is an asshole, so be it. Maybe his character arc will end up in him being likable after he gets a humility injection (probably by Alpha).


As I'm sure he will. Topher has a God complex, and if we Whedonites know one thing, it's that Joss enjoys giving a moral smackdown to people who have it coming. And admittedly some who don't. RIP, Tara. *sniffle*

Prophecy Girl, I forgot about the alien conspiracy, perfect!


Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get me! Mike probably passed out when they showed him to the Chair O' Doom and he got a gander at the out-of-this-world technology. Or maybe Topher put on sunglasses and waved his glowstick in Mike's face..
There are other chilling allegorical aspects to "Dollhouse" that weren't part of the controversial scope at the beginning of the series -- the idea that the Actives themselves are opting their way into slavery and metaphysical oblivion just to escape the pain and responsibilities of their real, adult lives. How many things could *that* stand as a metaphor for? Drug use? Certain political/economic concepts?
some things that are somewhat predictable (yes, I said to myself "oh, of course" (when I realized Mellie was walking to a cast iron fence, which always reads "cemetary" to me) are nonetheless emotionally well done and resonant


'Prediction.' You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means. ;)

(i.e. It does not mean 'obvious in retrospect'!!!!!!!! Not that this matters. :)
the idea that the Actives themselves are opting their way into slavery and metaphysical oblivion just to escape the pain and responsibilities of their real, adult lives. How many things could *that* stand as a metaphor for? Drug use? Certain political/economic concepts?


Corporate-media narrative fandom?
I, for one, find Topher to be the highlight of almost every episode (Man on the Street being the exception).
I edited out T:SCC spoiler in my above post.Sorry about that.
Why are people so caught up in the likability of Topher? The character is an asshole, so be it.


Oh you know the answer already: Topher is the fast-talking pop-culture-spouting science-geek who eats poorly, dresses in vintage clothes, and loves watching naked girls in the shower on TV.

Topher is a Joss Whedon fanboy.

How could he possibly be an asshole, etc., etc., etc.
Topher is Warren in Andrew's body.
KingofCretins: While standing by my statement on the dangers of too-easy appeals to Jefferson, allow me to extend a completely unironic "well-said" to your recent parry to my comment. Verbal dexterity like that makes me believe that, though I suspect I might disagree with you on a bunch of stuff, the game would be interesting.

ETA: and you also beat me to something we agree on: the sneaky appeal of the metaphor of this episode for other strategies we willingly adopt to erase or reduce the pain of our own memories or experiences.

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-04-04 03:40 ]
Probably very likely, on every count :)

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-04-04 03:44 ]
Am I the only one that heard Nolan call Sierra something other than Sierra? (When he first opened the door.) Or is my brain playing tricks on me? I've got a migraine the size of something very large, and a post-root-canal toothache, so I could be very wrong...
(Missed this.)

waxbanks, technically she wasn't a corpse when he was screwing her, he stopped when the dream changed in that direction. He was quite unhappy that she died, in fact. It didn't reveal anything creepy about him.


The boy's dreams ain't well, sir. Is my point.

It was a funny dream, however (in parts).
sunshineguinn, he did, yes. It was "Brea" or some such.
Topher is the fast-talking pop-culture-spouting science-geek who eats poorly, dresses in vintage clothes, and loves watching naked girls in the shower on TV.

Topher is a Joss Whedon fanboy.

Except for the vintage clothes, I resemble that remark.

Wait a second... I meant I'm nothing like that at all.
waxbanks...you are correct that my last few sentences may have fudged the meaning of predictable. My goal was, actually, to make, I believe, the same point as you: realizing a dead child was in the offing a short time before the graveyard reveal does not count as predicting Mellie would have a dead child before the episode started.
Well, I'm definitely someone who's been critical of the show in the past, but that episode was completely satisfying. There were things that were predictable (e.g. November's daughter being dead), but all the elements were resolved in a truly "closure-providing" way. And all the back-stories were left enough open that they can be explored again in the future. For instance, I'm guessing

The episode made me think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The boy's dreams ain't ill either, is more mine. I've always been very complimentary of how Joss' shows handle dream sequences, and this is no exception. Every part of Ballard's motivation and internal conflict is put on the table very quickly. Plus, a breathy, lusty Eliza is a good Eliza. When she told him not to stop, for a second I thought we were going to get that Angel "Soul Purpose" scene with Spike sleeping with NotBuffy next to Angel all over again, because Paul'd be all "okay, not stopping. Thanks for stopping by Mellie." :)

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-04-04 03:47 ]
Thanks, b!x. I was thinking Freya, but I had no clue if I was anywhere near close. It was too quick for my pained head to process! XD

[ edited by sunshineguinn on 2009-04-04 03:49 ]
I just played the scene again, I agree with TheOneTrueb!X that is sounds like "Brea".
Thanks! :D

TV needs subtitles. ... Oh, wait, it kinda does. ... Maybe I should go to bed. XD
Well I didn't like it more than Man On The Street but it was entertaining.
I've been surprised that Victor is my favorite character because I barely gave him any thought before the show aired. I am loving the performances of Enver Gjokaj.
I do wonder why his name is the simple and common Victor when the other actives have more earthy/unusual types of names (Echo, November, Sierra)
I am amazed that I frankly feel nothing for Saunders or Echo. I don't hate the characters but I don't love them either. I'm much more interested in the other actives.
The only character I'm truly not liking is Topher. Someone compared him to Xander - I have a love/hate relationship with Xander but Xander's humor worked. Tophers doesn't to me and he just comes off as annoying/arrogant.
That said, I agree with OneTeV in that we don't HAVE to like him. It's okay to hate a character.
Someone else (forgive me for not reading back through the thread) that they blamed most of Topher's unlikability on Fran Kranz and I don't see how all the blame could be placed on him. There are directors and if they feel like the character should be showing more vulnerability or what-have-you - it's their responsibility to pull it out of the actor.
SO. I love all the side characters: Victor, November, Adelle, Sierra, Paul, Dominic, Boyd (in that order) - can take or leave Echo & Saunders and can leave Topher. *shrug* Not that anyone here cares. lol

I agree that the dream was very obviously a dream but I did chuckle at Tahmoh's delivery of "But I have a thing she needs."

My biggest complaint of the episode is WHY ON EARTH did they dress Miracle Laurie in that frumpy dress?? >:( It looked horrible on her. For some reason costume departments seem to think you need to put a shapeless flowered print sack on a woman to make her seem innocent (think of Faith in the picnic dream sequence). tsk tsk tsk
I do wonder why his name is the simple and common Victor when the other actives have more earthy/unusual types of names (Echo, November, Sierra)

Erm, because that's the "V" in the phonetic alphabet being used for all their names? (The one they actually call out with a specific reference in this episode, heh.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-04-04 03:57 ]
CrystalSC: It's okay to hate a character.

As long as the viewer has a strong reaction, it is usually a good thing.
I don't remember critics of "Dallas" complaing that J.R. Ewing wasn't likable. They commended Larry Hagman for creating such an interesting (and loathsome) character. And Paul Reiser made an excellent slimey weasel in the movie "Aliens".

You mentioned feeling nothing for Saunders, but we haven't heard her story. And probably won't, until Alpha becomes more involved (and we get the flashback to Escape Day).

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-04-04 04:04 ]
b!x, sunshineguinn It was Priya. Or, at least, that's what I remember the closed-captioning (I always have it on, 'cause some things are just to hard to catch otherwise) showing.

And...accent? When'd that start?

"...five-star coffin." Ha!

My brain's still processing yesterday's visitation/services for my uncle, so I'll save my thoughts for when I actually have some.
The One True b!X: Thanks. I never realized that. (I wonder why they didn't go with Zulu for him! ;) )

OneTeV: You're probably right. More development on Saunders and I might start to feel something for her. I hope so. I loved Acker on Angel (just like the other 99% of viewers. ;) )
Priya is, my cursory web search reveals, a name meaning "loved one," of Indian origin but common in Nepal, which is where Dichen Lachman was born, so looks like someone was doing a good job of using the happenstance of the casting of the part as a potential inspiration for small details like this name.
ShadowQuest said:
b!x, sunshineguinn It was Priya. Or, at least, that's what I remember the closed-captioning (I always have it on, 'cause some things are just to hard to catch otherwise) showing.


My closed captioning definitely said Priya.

Priya is Sanskrit for 'beloved'. Aww.
@b!x and CrystalSC, found a web page with the phonetic alphabet.
Imagine being the handler for Golf, Hotel, Whiskey, or Uniform.
"Golf is drinking whiskey with Whiskey during golf."
Uniform must be some poor bastard indeed. If they were using an older version with "Utah", it wouldn't be as bad, unless they made sure to wipe everyone's memory to prevent "Point Break" references.
"Five by Five,", NATO phonetics...what's with Eliza and the radio-operator speak?
All this talk about Victor has me thinking about "Airplane!"

Roger Murdock: Flight 2-0-9'er, you are cleared for take-off.
Captain Oveur: Roger!
Roger Murdock: Huh?
Tower voice: L.A. departure frequency, 123 point 9'er.
Captain Oveur: Roger!
Roger Murdock: Huh?
Victor Basta: Request vector, over.
Captain Oveur: What?
Tower voice: Flight 2-0-9'er cleared for vector 324.
Roger Murdock: We have clearance, Clarence.
Captain Oveur: Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
Tower voice: Tower's radio clearance, over!
Captain Oveur: That's Clarence Oveur. Over.
Tower voice: Over.
Captain Oveur: Roger.
Roger Murdock: Huh?
Tower voice: Roger, over!
Roger Murdock: What?
Captain Oveur: Huh?
Victor Basta: Who?
Uniform must be some poor bastard indeed.
LOL!
I loved last week, but I could not get into this episode at all. Since it was only an exercise (as revealed by Adelle before the first commercial break when she was informed there were 4 dolls about to escape), there was nothing at stake.

So then, I was irked by how irresponsible it was to allow the dolls to have access to real guns during an exercise. They could have shot Topher -- who I think is a fine character BTW (I know that goes against popular opinion but I think his morality is not corrupt, just immature -- he's a nerd)!

Also, the initial dream sequence was neither clever nor titillating. Not clever, in that is was obviously a dream from frame one, and not titillating, in that Ballard's dumpy apartment on a couch is not exactly romantic.

The one chance for the show to have real stakes and have a real payoff would have been for Sierra to kill that bastard guy who rents her, but they didn't even give us that. I know, I know, they'll revisit that guy someday and kill him, but, the episode needed it now in order to have any purpose whatsoever. And it didn't.

Also, Caroline is a kind of unpleasant when she's back in her student-activist mode, isn't she?
I've been expecting a Romeo any episode now...or at least a Juliette.

And I dont think the real Caroline is unpleasant. Just when she wakes up in a strange pod with no memory.
I thought it was awesome. Loved the darkness and whole very non traditional it was. I really liked that it was Saunders... I was expecting she was the one helping, turns out I was wrong, which I like. Sierra and Victor were so adorable. I was hoping Mellie's unfinished business would have been Paul, but I guess not.

I find it interesting that Priya has Dichen's natural accent, but Sierra does not. And Victor was deffienetly in the military before becoming a doll, no doubts in my head. Though finding out how Priya became a doll sort of threw my perception of the dolls a bit. I had been under the assumption they all volunteered. Sure volunteering under bad circumstances and stuff, but not forced. But it seemed that the jerk who pre Sierra (I think of her that way, though I know what her original name was) turned down forced her into the 'house or something, and then to continually hire her... grr. I'm hoping Sierra gets to kill him in brutal manner.

I also hope Echo didn't kill anyone's original personalities while shooting expensive equipment, though I doubt it. Still seems a poor idea... which is good, because obviously Caroline isn't very genius like in the execution of her plans. Very smart calling Paul, which I liked. Also loved the freaky dream. Reminded me a bit (not a lot, but sorta) of the freaky dreams at the end of Season 4 of Buffy, with the cheeseman and all.

I was sad to see that Prison Break (sigh) will be placed as Dollhouse' lead in. At least Terminator had Summer and was often good, despite its bad ratings.
I felt for Mellie, Sierra and Victor. They had real world needs. Echo/Caroline wants to do something grand in the 1960's or whenever "I want to save the world" way but it's not a thing I can emotionally touch. Imo she got her boyfriend killed for something that really didn't touch her life. It wasn't personal for her-it was about a grand idea that a lot of young people have. It's interesting but I think that helps explain my reaction to her. My heart broke for Mellie. She always seems lonely me and now I know why.

I think this episode said that Sierra didn't volunteer for the Dollhouse or did I imagine that? If so her whole being at the Dollhouse is "really" rape for her. No gray area there-Yikes.
I did like one bit -- the guy who went on about "it's aliens!" and later "I want to see what they look like!". That was actually amusing, and, even though it may have come close to the line of making fun of experiencers, it did so in a nice way -- he was sincere in his "I want to see what they look like!" and it was presented as pretty much as reasonable as any other theory. So, nods of approval to that.
beckyboo, you didn't imagine it. Nolan outright said that he pulled strings and spent a lot of money to send pre-Sierra to the Dollhouse, so he can just rent her over and over again.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-04-04 04:36 ]
after an argument with his PAPA, OSCAR was feeling grouchy, so he hopped in his ALFA ROMEO and headed off for the airport, where he jumped a DELTA flight to QUEBEC. Unfortunately, he had a few shots of WHISKEY on the plane, and the next thing he knew, he was waking up on a GOLF course and puking up all the LIMA beans he had at dinner. The paramedics found him and took him to the hospital, where an X-RAY showed no internal damage, so he was shipped off to a HOTEL in Montreal to sleep it off. But, still intoxicated, he insulted CHARLIE, the concierge at the hotel, then, thinking himself the VICTOR, he passed out. The Quebecois hotel employee just looked down at him, thinking "foolish YANKEE, you may think we are all too UNIFORM up here and say KILO instead of pound, but at least we do not base our identity on the subjugation of ZULUs or the subcontinent of INDIA. But as he said this, U.S. embassy reps, JULIET, appeared and berated the poor concierge for mistaking the U.S. with the U.K: "Oh, BRAVO, dude! Why don't we just stop this TANGO with each other and get this guy back to MIKE, his father, who is worried. With the ECHO of this rebuke still in his ears, the hotel employee, as much as he would enjoy a FOXTROT with the comely embassy official, bowed out, little suspecting that they would meet again the following NOVEMBER at a family reunion in the SIERRA Nevadas.
Tricky. Nice. The thing that got me was that Sierra isn't in the Dollhouse because she chose to be like Caroline. Nolan "pulled strings" to get her there. And if the Dollhouse had people following them while they played out their little dramas, then they know this and have her as an active anyhow. So much for (at the very least) always using people that volunteer. (Even if sometimes when people sign up, it's under some duress.)
Edit:
Like will.bueche said, I do hope they revisit him, maybe with Sierra discovering that the flower on the left is green. That'd make me happy.
Edit: beckyboo, nope. Not imagined. Creepy, right?

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2009-04-04 04:36 ]

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2009-04-04 04:37 ]
Sierra is a prisoner. Priya, rather. As we learn their identities, I think I might try to stop using their "slave names". Keeping her in the Dollhouse is a manifest evil with no mitigation or excuse, period. Adelle and anyone else that knows the terms of her... heh, contract... is fully morally culpable for that. They already were fully morally culpable for her rape.

If Ballard ever gets his shield back and can actually turn this Dollhouse investigation into a bona fide arrest, the criminal charges against Adelle, Dominic, Topher, and the other major players would make John Gatti, Bernie Madoff, and Charles Manson blush. Kidnapping, false imprisonment, rape, felony murder, countless assaults, batteries, etc.
not much to the word "volunteer" when people are held in a room for 2 days without being told what's going on, without getting a phone call and receiving politely veiled threats. That's military coersion. No one "volunteers" for the dollhouse.
@will.b: Since it was only an exercise... there was nothing at stake.

WGN just had "Wargames" on recently. Entire movie was only a game, but it was still pretty dramatic. And the opening scene was "only an exercise", but that didn't stop the silo commander from having a nervous breakdown.

So then, I was irked by how irresponsible it was to allow the dolls to have access to real guns during an exercise.

That wasn't part of the exercise. On their way out, the gun room was filled with Handlers, so they wouldn't be tempted to go in. No one expected Echo to back track from the parking area (Adele and Dominic are surprised), which is why it was empty later. I did like the fight with the lady Handler, as Echo was losing and got lucky in knocking her out.

Also, the initial dream sequence was neither clever nor titillating.

Eh? Who said it had to be? It was obviously a dream sequence. It's purpose was two fold: to recap what was going on in Ballard's life (without it being boring exposition), and to have Mellie's last comment be a clue for him to check out his apartment. So the sequence was effective.
Only real regret of that fight is that Echo didn't kill that bitch, honestly. Again, I have little sympathy for the Dollhouse's employees. Yeah, it could have just as easily have been Boyd that walked in on her, but A) Boyd would have handled it better, and B) if he hadn't, I'd have viewed him the same way.

I seriously doubt Adelle's test included the idea of Echo holding live iron to her chest with a clear willingless to kill her.
to those pointing out that Mike specifically wanted to see what the "aliens" were doing, and so got closure, thank you for pointing this out to me. One of those things where, once I realize the cleverness, I am reminded that the writers in the writing room are as nitpicky as we are and probably made sure that line was there just for the glee of knowing they had actually been consistent in the "needs" premise even for Mike the red towel. Curse them and their sudden inevitable betrayal!
Sierra/Priya seems to be a victim of how to protect the dollhouse from the knowledge their clients have. Poor girl. I wonder if her handler knew her rape history? (I'm pretty sure Boyd doesn't know Caroline's history) but either way to have that poor girl raped by the person she trusted at the placed she's been enslaved because she refused to have sex with an asshole is all icky to me. I'm so glad the show didn't have the Sierra character have to play the fake rape scene part of Taffy.

[ edited by beckyboo on 2009-04-04 04:53 ]
The one part of the show that rang completely flat to me was Boyd's casual comment about Priya's closure. Clearly he knew, at least by that point, that she was there under false and heinous pretenses and was clearly going to continue to be there, but I didn't see any moral outrage from him about it. He's expressed disapproval over the ethical dilemma of the Dollhouse when it was vague and arguable, why let it slide when it's clearly in the wrong?

It's also possible there's more to Priya's story than this yet to be revealed, so I'm reserving final judgment.

Two other things of note: Boyd's "She wanted to save us." Us. Us?

And we stil don't know that Dr. Saunders isn't a doll herself. Just sayin'.
I'm actually a little reassured that Boyd identifies with the Actives -- we know he took the job, he really did volunteer, but that doesn't mean he had many other appealing options. Plus, unless he's grotesquely stupid, he is probably realizing that he can't just put in notice and walk away from the Dollhouse. It's his awareness of these things, and his emotional investment in Echo, that are the only reasons I don't want him against the wall with the rest of these people.
If Ballard ever gets his shield back
I'm not sure he should, considering his casual attitude toward manhandling just anybody who doesn't curl their tail under and answer as quick as he thinks they ought to. In my part of the country, handling random people the way he does generally gets your ass shot off sooner or later, even if you are packing a badge.
Well, "Man on the Street" was craptastic vis a vis realism of the legal/criminal stuff. Suspending him for the accidental shooting of the cop worked. There's absolutely nothing that reflects poorly on him for the attack in his apartment. And he had *every* legal right both to be at and to enter the house Mynor was using for his engagement, so that whole exchange was completely annoying to me.

As for his rough handling of everyone... I put part of that to TV in general, and to Joss' own apparent disinterest in getting it "right" when it comes to how real law enforcement acts and the actual justice system works. No, he's not Dick Wolf and doesn't have to be, but *try*, man.
That is why Ballard is awesome. I love the fact that the clearest good guy is slightly nuts. I would hate if he acted like a normal FBI agent. Because that's simply not interesting. I much prefer crazy cowboy cops.

The folks at the Dollhouse are clearly the ends justify the means folk. There is obviously something bigger going on then just renting out dolls to people, as Adelle has hinted towards. And for all I know, pre-Sierra was going to be killed by the guy otherwise, or something. I don't know. Which is fine by me. But even though pre-Sierra is there under coercion, that doesn't mean I'm going to stop liking Topher, or even Adelle and Dominic. I have no problems liking people that do clearly bad things. Heck I'd definitely go with Baltar as one of my top 5, if not favorite, BSG character, and I've always liked Sawyer on Lost even before he turned good. And I certainly like Spike, despite the fact he did things way worse than anything we've seen so far by the folks in the Dollhouse.

One other thing I found interesting. I had always assumed the show took place '20 minutes into the future' so to speak, in some indeterminate, couple years from now alternate future. Turns out its 2009, though obviously its still an alternate world... or is it? Duh duh duh.... ;)

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-04 05:15 ]
Bananas are naturally sweet.
As for his rough handling of everyone... I put part of that to TV in general, and to Joss' own apparent disinterest in getting it "right" when it comes to how real law enforcement acts and the actual justice system works.

Unfortunately, though, there really are a lot of Real-World LEOs who act exactly like that. That's the reason I mention that they sooner or later get their asses shot off around this part of the country; more than one or two have...

I much prefer crazy cowboy cops.

Never had to actually deal with one of those, have you?
Which part of the country is that, Rowan?
Obviously I'm speaking solely in terms of fiction. I don't actually want to have to deal with a heavily armored bounty hunter in space, but I still love Boba Fett. I also don't want to deal with a man dressed up like a bat that goes around beating people up, but I still like Batman. Not a fan of real life plane crashes, but I still like Lost.
This television show is so far filled with powerless characters who usually fail in their attempts to achieve goals or make connections. Joss is doing this intentionally. It reminds me of the movie Memento, which uses non-linearity to make you feel the same memory loss that the main character feels. Joss is making us feel the same disconnect that the actives feel by repeatedly erasing the gains they make. He's chosen to make the non-actives fairly powerless and disconnected as well.

It's all very deliberate, and I don't care for it! It's frustrating. I don't want to watch these people flail around any longer. Less dry-erase marker, more Sharpie, please.

Man on the Street was great. The last two? They've just made me grumpy. On an intellectual level, I can appreciate the story, but... my unintellectual lobe is still all grumpy.

I'm hoping it's all a giant, intricately-planned setup for a payoff of equal proportions.
The whole bit about a group of people waking up without their memories reminds me of "Shadow Puppets," the horror flick starring James Marsters from a couple years ago. I wonder of Joss watched it.
@KingofCretins: Keep in mind that that Ballard was not putting up any kind of defense, so even a flimsy case would have been enough to get him suspended.

There's absolutely nothing that reflects poorly on him for the attack in his apartment.

The attack was traced to Russian mafia, which would certainly make me suspicious of what Ballard is doing in his spare time.

And he had *every* legal right both to be at and to enter the house Mynor was using for his engagement

How so? He trespassed on private property without a warrant, and abused the bodyguards and Mynor. As pointed out, without Echo, there was no way he could show that any sort of crime, let alone an "engagement", was going on.

Now mix in some office politics (petty rivalries ala Mark Sheppard's character, superiors embarassed about Ballard's investigation of a fairy tale), and you get a temporary suspension.
Which part of the country is that, Rowan?

I'm originally from Southeastern Kentucky. Contrary to popular belief, it's a fairly peaceful place in general, but push too hard - or push the wrong person - and folks do tend to push back regardless of who's on the other end. I've seen more than one Buford Pusser wanna-be get his clock thoroughly cleaned.
OneTeV, a criminal, even one with ties to organized crime, trying to kill an FBI agent or his girlfriend in his apartment doesn't reflect poorly on the agent. If there was some exposition that suggests it was clear that Hearn's death was intended, or that he was murdered, then maybe, but as it was, it looked accidental, and even if it didn't, it looked like self-defense. He wouldn't be investigating that crime in his apartment, but he wouldn't be in trouble for it.

As for what happened with Mynor -- the question is whether you can put Ballard on that property legitimately. I know there was mention of a warrant, which if he actually had one, covers the whole deal that followed. But even if he didn't, if a legitimate avenue of investigation (and tracking down the money as part of his Dollhouse investigation -- his actual assignment, whether people laugh about it or not) brought him to the property, everything afterwards was perfectly fine. As soon as he was attacked, he had exigency to enter the house, and even if you don't want to go with exigency, he certainly had probable cause at that point (since he was attacked) to believe a crime was being committed inside, which is all he needs to enter without a warrant. Thereafter, he had Caroline, Mynor, and anyone else he could get a hold of legitimately subject to arrest. Further, since I'm on a roll, everything Mynor said to him about the Dollhouse would be admissible, too, if he *had* arrested to Mynor, including Mynor's tacit confession to human trafficking.

That conversation annoyed the hell out of me. They don't have a cop or an FBI technical advisor?

I've lived in small towns myself, in nearby regions, Rowan, so I know the types of advantage some cops can and do take. But, remember, they only stick out because they ARE the exception.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-04-04 06:04 ]
Wasn't Ballard tracking the money to Mynor illegally? Or something? He had to go to his bald friend lady (who I can't remember the name) and IIRC she said they'd get in trouble if caught. Wouldn't that impede upon getting a warrant? Not that the scene bothered me in the slightest, but I do know that when topics you know about are shown poorly or incorrectly, it is very annoying. Which is why I now tend to stay away from historical movies, books, or television shows set before say 1700 or so (with a few huge exceptions, like Bernard Cornwell's books).

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-04 06:03 ]
My impression was that he was getting her to bump his search up in line over bigger priorities -- something he probably has to do a lot anyway. But still, worst case scenario, even if he got on the property illicitly, what follows is pretty much all still in the clear and could be used in court. It's a law exam question and a half. But once he was attacked, pretty much everything after that comes in. Let's say he arrests Mynor in connection to having Caroline there -- kidnapping, human trafficking, etc. The transactions would be inadmissible if obtained without a warrant, but his warrantless entry was still okay, and Mynor's confession would be in, too.
That's not all "fruit of the poisonous tree" if the transactions search was illegal and was what started the entire chain of events?
Not likely, no. Different tree. The turning point is him being attacked without provocation. Say he'd just gone by that house and decided to be nice and carry their paper to the front door and been attacked. Him being attacked is its own tree, basically, and that justified his entry, and once inside, he stumbled into evidence of another crime that he had also been investigating. Hell, one could maybe even go back and argue inevitable discovery of the transactions.

Basically, if Joss wanted Ballard to be completely humped in terms of legitimate authority so that Mynor could speak freely in front of him, he just needed to have him enter the house out of his own eagerness. Good example, from the Buffyverse, would be Kate's warrantless search of Angel's office and apartment in "Lonely Hearts". Bringing in that extra bit of fighting basically shot a hole in the logic that underlined everything with Ballard and Mynor afterward.
Nothing constructive to add, just wanted to say this was a great, great episode, probably my fave of the series (either this one or Man On The Street). Beautifully written and directed. And next week looks like a ton of fun.
I am loving Boyd more than ever, I'm thinking Dr. Saunders is way more complex (and scarier) than I had originally thought, and I'm finding Topher to be a major hoot.

In fact after these last three kick ass (to me) episodes, I now officially love Dollhouse more than anything Joss has done before. It is darker and more complex than anything we've seen by him before. The stakes seem higher, and the villains are more insidious, the stories more convoluted. I am seriously loving this!
I think Sierra's handler helped Nolan get Sierra in the Dollhouse. I think later some justice is coming for Nolan just like it did for Sierra's handler.

At the time, thought Sierra's handler was killed just because of what we knew he did in that episode.

Do we think the bosslady knows why/how Sierra is in the Dollhouse? That she is not a volunteer.
Okay I may be very late to the party but I just realized tonight that all the actives are named from the phonetic alphabet. Alpha Beta Charlie Delta Echo. I am so shocked it took me this long since I lived in a military town for 35 years. But as soon as I heard the name Tango, it hit me. I know. I know. Everyone else figured it out months back.
Loved it!

I agree, embers, about Dr. Saunders. I did not see that coming. From the preview they showed last week, I totally thought she would help them out of the Dollhouse. Plus she looked really disturbed when Echo fell down and their "escape" came to an end.

I am so very very troubled about Boyd. On the one hand, I love his character, but on the other, he is completely complicit in things that I find incredibly immoral. But I love that kind of stuff. I love feeling torn apart like that. Does that make me a masochist?

Hmm.

Anyway, great episode. Next week's looks like another good one.
I think we saw what Victor wanted to forget. Under the influence of that drug, he had some sort of war memory and there was a woman and an explosion. No post-traumatic war syndrome. Wow, see we can cure that now...just like it never happened...just give us five years of your life/body/mind/soul.

I thought people would totally get back their memories after the Dollhouse, but now it looks like they were promised to not have certain memories come back.

There must be a vault with discs of the original memories marked do not destroy...and we know how well that worked with Serenity film reels...
So when did Alpha's "whereabouts unknown" status become available information to the entire Dollhouse staff? Didn't Topher have to sign off for a higher clearance for this info? Are we to believe that everyone signed off on that clearance?
The only thing I can think of is that maybe Topher was one of the last to be brought into the fold re: Alpha. So that, indeed, everyone in that room (which clearly wasn't everyone) was in on that info.
It's interesting that pretty much nobody saw Saunders as someone who'd manipulate the dolls like that. Most people don't judge Boyd and Saunders as harshly as they do other Dollhouse staff because they seem to be troubled by what they're doing, and to care about the Actives. That attitude plays in to why they're generally deemed more likable by viewers.

But they're worse in some ways than the others,who have their rationales at least, because they're going along with something they don't believe in. They try to ameliorate an inhuman sytem from within, and think of themselves as good people because of that.
Haven't seen the episode yet, but thought I'd mention that 'Dollhouse' is a trending topic on Twitter's search page. That's gotta be good.
I just saw it and I want to elaborate a proper comment, but I can't right now, so I'll just say... fricking AMAZING!!
I missed it. Weak.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the tech repair man was Alpha, if only for a second. They're already faking me out!

[ edited by Simon on 2009-04-04 08:56 ]
[T]he rights that they sign away in those contracts cannot *be* signed away, no more than you can consent to being raped and murdered before the fact.
-KingofCretins


The angle of inalienable rights is interesting to me, because I live in Oregon and we have the first assisted suicide law in U.S. history in effect here, so approximately what you describe (regarding murder, anyway) is possible. Provided physicians agree one is inevitably dying within a relatively short time frame, and is in severe pain, in Oregon one can choose to 'murder' oneself. The situation in Dollhouse seems somewhat analogous, though the restoration of one's memories after 5 years, if that truly occurs, would seem to merely delay the pain rather than remove it.

Regarding rape, I think that some people have sexual fantasies that are violent in nature, both submissive and dominant. Though the definition of rape, like that of murder, precludes consent, we do implicitly allow people to come as close as possible to rape-like conditions while still being nominally willing.

I guess there are few presuppositions that I hold unconditionally. Though I certainly don't support the Dollhouse as we've been seeing it, I can imagine consenting to become an Active, in much the same way as I've consented to being an organ donor after my death. Were I to undergo some trauma that I were incapable of dealing with it, were the Dollhouse to impress me with its mission and deeds, I might happily decide to have my body be put to some use, rather than simply die.
Just a wee reminder for posters to keep spoilers for future episodes out of this thread.
OneTeV: "One open question... What was Mike's need? Was he an innocent chamber-mate, or did he have a pressing need to be manhandled by two bouncers? :-)"

doubtful guest: "I, too, am hoping that Mike had a need (that was ultimately unsatisfied by his early re-programming). Otherwise, he ends up as just a red shirt (or, um, red towel) for the episode."

Mike was a plant. The others had to see what would happen to them if they got caught. He was a cautionary warning.


Am I right that it looked like Dr. Saunders' office in which Echo/Caroline found the file on Paul Ballard? Hmmm. Now what would Dr. Saunders be doing with that?

Dr. Saunders to Echo/Caroline/Not-Echo, "I'm not your friend in here." That's open to interpretation. Was Dr. Saunders simply warning Echo/Caroline so that the test/game/reset could continue, or do they have some kind of prior-Dollhouse relationship which Dr. Saunders was concerned that Echo/Caroline was going to spark onto?

Dr. Saunders only came up with this solution when it was clear that the safety of dolls who were glitching was in doubt. If you worked at an orphanage (one of those old timey, abusive orphanages), and you wanted to protect and save all of those children, and a very small group of those children were known by higher-ups to be potential trouble-makers for the orphanage and were very likely going to be taken to task for it, even though you want very much to bring down the organisation, would you try to protect those children by placating them somehow? And, instead, try to secretly bring attention to the abuses that are happening within the organisation to someone on the outside who you felt could bring it down? OK, big leap from the Dollhouse to an orphanage, but I'm hoping you can see the similarites in terms of the vulnerability of those within.


will.bueche: "Topher -- who I think is a fine character BTW (I know that goes against popular opinion but I think his morality is not corrupt, just immature -- he's a nerd)!"

Yes! I agree.

Don't forget, Topher thinks that everyone in there chose to be in there, and that they are getting something out of it both by forgetting their lives and by being paid at the end. He's a jerk, to some degree, but he seems to have no idea that some people are being coersed, and, in the case of Sierra, actually abducted and forced into the Dollhouse. He's obnoxious, but much more innocent that some others working in the Dollhouse. So, here's a question, who knows what? That thought certainly makes me wonder a bit more about DeWitt. I kinda liked her before this thought started troubling me. Even thought she might be the one working from within. But if she's involved in Sierra's abduction, that shoots everything positive I saw in her down the tubes. (I'm a bit biased toward DeWitt, because she kinda reminds me of my boss, who is pretty awesome in a lot of ways.)


josswhedonaddict: "Topher is Warren in Andrew's body."

I disagree. Nolan is more like Warren, only Nolan doesn't have the techie expertise to create a sex-slave. Nolan is Warren's will, without Warren's ability. Nolan compensates with money and power, created a sex-slave by pulling strings and paying cash. Actually, Topher is more like the Warren that was, when he was making the Buffy-bot for Spike, before Warren opted to become even-creepier-and-more-abusive Warren.

CrystalSC: "The only reason I can see why they'd put Miracle Laurie in that awful dress was the final moment where she falls asleep on the gravestone; flowers on the grave, as it were."


I really enjoyed this episode. I was quite disappointed with the reset kind of ending for Echo, Sierra, Victor, and November, but satisfied with my Dr. Saunder's-rationalization/justification, so I'm just looking forward to see where everything picks up next week. Love the fact that Ballard got the call about the file. Once again, want tomorrow to be Friday. Can't I have it now??? I will always fail the marshmallow test.
The episode is now online at the Fox site so I've added the link to this entry. The Hulu and iTunes URLs will get added once they become active.
I didn't enjoy this episode as much as the previous two, but it still quite the eye-opener. I felt so sad for "November"; and "Sierra"'s past just seems frightful. "Victor" remains very cool in whatever personality he has: imprint, original, or doll.

I wasn't as interested in Caroline/"Echo" this episode as I have with other eps, but it seems as if she was just driving the action here while the other three (or four) 'rogue actives' were driving the emotional side. And that's fine. We saw Caroline emotion last week.

Had a loud squee moment when Vincent Ventresca showed up - Darien! I loved The Invisible Man (latest series). But, dearie, he's gotten old in the last few years. ;)
I liked this very much, possibly my second favorite of the season after MOTS. And I can't stop thinking about the "I'm not your friend in here" line. Why "in here"? Does it mean she is her friend in some other capacity? (as the mole, for example) Or was Dr. Saunders her friend in a previous life as a doll? Or in Caroline's life? Or she wasn't her friend at that point because she was setting her up for the test but she's her friend in the big picture: overall trying to take care of her and help her avoid the attic. The way it's worded, it certainly hints to a state of friendship, somehow, somewhere, sometime.
Amy Acker can't be evil! Well, yes, she can, since she's an actress playing a part.

Topher can't be unlikable! Well, yes, he can, since he's busy wiping peoples brains, being a complete fuckwit self justifier.

Adelle had these people sign contracts! It's not bad! Let's just recap Sierra's story: A rich dude wants to sleep with her. She's not interested. He pays for her to have her free will erased, so she will sleep with him against her will. He rapes her a bunch. Then in the Dollhouse in her child like state, whilst she's not busy painting bad pictures of houses, she gets child raped by her man-Handler.

Boyd is good! Except he knows what happened to Sierra and he's sitting it out.

It's a complicated show. And a good episode which begins to touch upon what we're seeing. Will it be like this next week, or will we be back to British jokes? The show is so uneven, it's anybodies guess.
nyrk, I agree about that line. Made me think she meant that she wasn't her friend during this exercise. She needed to let it play out as planned... but maybe things would be different at a different time.

Anyway, really liked this episode. Strong emotional builds for the other dolls. The Victor/Sierra connection is really well done and believable to me. I loved it when Sierra remembered that Victor would watch her get into her sleeping chamber. It made it hurt a little to see Victor not look at her AT ALL when getting into bed at the end. Like all the advancements they made for the past several weeks had been wiped out, successfully, using Saunders' plan..

Mellie's character has always seemed sad to me. Not sure if its great acting or writing or both, but it just seemed appropriate that she was a volunteer and the reason for it. Of all reasons to volunteer for the Dollhouse, this is one I can agree with the most.
Wow! That was an amazing episode. And when I first read "Written by newcomer" I was kind of sceptical, but fresh blood just might be what the show needed.

The cool thing is that, even though they state that it's a kind of exercise or that there's something going on pretty early on, the whole thing is very exciting and you forget that little detail in the middle of it, mainly because it seems that the Dollhouse itself has kind of lost control over the whole thing.

In other news, I bring you review, written by the one site I follow.

Review of "Needs" at the Independent Comics Site!
Okay, with this episode I've fallen irrevocably in love with the show. I'm officially in love with this show. I'm disturbed and thought-provoked and moved. Claire Saunders, I read you wrong! Oh, poor Mellie. Poor "Sierra" and poor "Victor" and poor Caroline. And poor Boyd - yes, poor, conflicted Boyd.

I'm starting to rethink and reevalute the episodes leading up to this one. I'm not as convinced as gossi that "unevenness" characterizes what's going on here...
I thought it was a really great episode.

Though am I the only one who's a little confused about the hype Dichan gets for her acting ability? I hate to say it but she left me feeling cold throughout a lot of this episode. When she should have been scared her face was just blank, she brought no emotion to it at all. She took me out of the episode a little because it was frustrating me. I’m about to re-watch it again and hopefully my mind will have changed.
But they're worse in some ways than the others,who have their rationales at least, because they're going along with something they don't believe in. They try to ameliorate an inhuman sytem from within, and think of themselves as good people because of that.



Actually that doesn't sound all that different than what Angel and the gang were trying to do in Season 5 of AtS, the whole "fighting an evil organization from within" angle.

What I'm getting is that both Boyd and Saunders are generally good people, but they both have some sort of dark or complicated past that have caused them to end up working at the Dollhouse, and they're trying to make the most of a bad situation by doing what they can to at least protect the actives from harm if nothing else.

I think we'll see a lot more backstory on both of them and why they're there, what their motivations are etc., as we go on, especially if we get a second season.


Though am I the only one who's a little confused about the hype Dichan gets for her acting ability? I hate to say it but she left me feeling cold throughout a lot of this episode. When she should have been scared her face was just blank, she brought no emotion to it at all. She took me out of the episode a little because it was frustrating me. I’m about to re-watch it again and hopefully my mind will have changed.


I agree with that actually. I think of the three main "non-Echo" actives, I find Victor and November much more compelling and convinving.

[ edited by SteveJ2008 on 2009-04-04 13:18 ]
I thought Dichen sold it quite well, myself. Although they haven't exactly given her much to work with until this episode. Enver and Miracle are also both clearly great actors. Miracle sells pain awesome. They could do with giving Enver something to do, though.
Well this was icky. Brought the whole, "These are tailor-made prostitutes" idea out front and center. Very disturbing.

Topher should know what's going on with Sierra. The whole idiot savant defense of he's too brilliant in his technical skills to have to possess human emotions (except survival when Echo has the gun) is ridiculous. And did he say the original memories will be put back?? So what progress has been made except for 5 years of unremembered servitude?

Miracle Laurie is REALLY tall.

I don't see the defense of being a doll helping deal with memories as credible. Katie will still be dead. Nolan is continuing to rape Sierra over and over. Adelle is truly evil in my mind now. And Saunders very questionnable.

As to this being 5 years, no harm done, what about physical damage? Echo has gotten popped more than twice, what if bones had been broken, scars accrued, sexual violence that actually harmed flesh? I never expected this to be Dr. Horrible's first 2 acts, but darkness is falling fast.

I've no doubt there will continue to be twists and turns. Impossible shifts occurred all the time in Sunnydale. I thought this episode was powerful. I don't know if I like it, but it knocked me upside the head.
If I missed it up there somewhere, I'm sorry, but wanted to let everyone know that "Needs" IS on iTunes now. Don't know how to link to it though so I'll have to leave that to the experts! :)
Loved it!

That's about all I can say right now.
This is the first episode that has really brought home to me, viscerally, the creepiness of the Dollhouse premise. After Sierra's reveal, the idea that she would be forced back into her doll-state was almost unbearable. The show is achieving its stated purpose, and it's keeping me glued to the TV. Well done!
This must've been the ep they were shooting wehn Kristin from E!Online was visiting the set. Eliza had all those cuts and that bandage on her hand.
Yeah, Adelle's defense that a) these people volunteered (no they didn't) b) they have signed contracts (so what?) and c) it helps them forgot (...until they're released) really makes no sense whatsoever.

One of the interesting elements of Dollhouse - I'm honestly not sure if it's intentional or not - is the theme of self justification. Adelle, Boyd, Claire and Topher spend their time justifying their role in this 'house. To each other, but mostly to themselves one suspects.
"I'll work on that"

Now. we're. getting. somewhere. :-)
Also, from Paul's dream sequence:

PAUL (to dead Caroline): "I won't let them hurt you. Not again."
Was anybody else just a little sad when Victor didn't wait for Sierra at the end?

Strong episode. And, yes, it ups the creepiness factor tremendously.

Congrats to the new writer. Nice debut.
I think his morality is not corrupt, just immature -- he's a nerd

I resemble that remark! No, wait, I'm a geek. Never mind.

I wasn't thrilled, but that could in part be due to watching the midnight showing from BC. I think I may have fallen asleep for a bit.

But I did find the fulfilling needs thing very simplistic. You don't fulfill the need to mourn for a child with one trip to the grave. You don't fulfill overwhelming romantic longing with one kiss. You don't fulfill a messianic complex with one trip outside (especially if it doesn't go anywhere.) And people generally have more than one pressing need.

If they ever film Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise, I'd like Miracle Laurie to play Francine, please.
What ActualSize said. The creepiness was really front and center in this ep, and I think it worked beautifully.
The last three eps have been by far the best yet IMO. I'm beginning to feel some deeper emotions about the characters (Sierra is utterly heartbreaking) and I love/hate Topher in a most enjoyable way.

I'm not drawing any conclusions about Dr. Saunders yet. She could be anything from a mole to the most evil character of all, which I love.
Layers are being revealed, I feel as if we're just getting into the really good part. I love the way the layers are being peeled off Echo and her various imprinted personas, to reveal Caroline to be someone so different from who I assumed she was, in the beginning (mainly from the video of her in school - nice job, that).

The implications of where this show could go, if given a chance, are becoming truly mind boggling. I'm officially, totally hooked.
No HD on iTunes? Not that I can see. Just SD.
Have we got the ratings for this episode yet? I can't find them.
I find the whole premise of DH increasingly distasteful and this 'verse dystopian (or, more precisely, anti-utopian). Perhaps that is the intent, but it does not inspire me to come back for more. From a more 'technical' standpoint, the actors behind Adele, Boyd, Claire, Dominic, Sierra, and Victor simply melt into their roles in a wholly believable fashion. Those behind other characters (particularly Echo and Topher) not so much - and it is not the characters but the obvious 'acting' that turns me off. Nontheless, I will stick with this till the end since I can't predict how that will go and my interest is thereby piqued.
The angle of inalienable rights is interesting to me, because I live in Oregon and we have the first assisted suicide law in U.S. history in effect here, so approximately what you describe (regarding murder, anyway) is possible. Provided physicians agree one is inevitably dying within a relatively short time frame, and is in severe pain, in Oregon one can choose to 'murder' oneself. The situation in Dollhouse seems somewhat analogous, though the restoration of one's memories after 5 years, if that truly occurs, would seem to merely delay the pain rather than remove it.


I'm going to sidestep discussing my opinion on the specific subject you raise, and address only the part of it that directly ties into the "can't consent to murder" aspect of inalienability. You could not, in *any* state, consent to the doctor, on their own judgment, deciding to act directly to end your life. Even in Oregon, I don't think a doctor, absent any positive indication in your records, decide on their own that you wouldn't want to live and give you a fatal overdose. Nor could you, even in Oregon I don't think, go in and assign that level of authority to the doctor.

The analogy here would be even if one consents to a private rape fantasy set up on Craig's List, or consents on paper to be rented out as an Active for someone's fantasy, you can't consent to the risk of being killed in that process. It's an essential matter of public policy and not just a natural law argument -- it would have catastrophic effects on the criminal justice system, on insurance, on healthcare, etc if suddenly everybody could walk into court and argue that someone had consented to their own otherwise wrongful death.

I can imagine consenting to become an Active, in much the same way as I've consented to being an organ donor after my death. Were I to undergo some trauma that I were incapable of dealing with it, were the Dollhouse to impress me with its mission and deeds, I might happily decide to have my body be put to some use, rather than simply die.


It's not a workable parallel, though, precisely because you're dead when they take organs. The Actives are (I believe falsely) presented a contract that says that they'll be returned to their lives in 5 years. Not "if they survive". There's been no example so far of the two we've seen where their negotiation ever even mentioned the idea that they'd be in physical danger during their contract. Hell, as far as we know or have been shown, the Dollhouse could accept an engagement to use an Active *for* their organs.

Good call on Miracle Laurie as Francine.

Anyone else 'shipping "Victor"/Priya yet?

About the acting, I was skeptical of Dichen Lachman when she was cast, but she's completely got me buying in. In dollstate, on engagements (I'd love for a DVD extra or commentary on "Grey Hour" to include her and Eliza discussing what type of work they did together to capture the Taffy persona), and as Priya in this episode, I find it very easy to invest emotionally in her.

Enver I hadn't seen enough of to care, but he won me over not in "Dollhouse", but in a re-run of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" I saw just recently. Great episode for fans of the "Law & Order" empire.

Miracle Laurie has been pure Joss from the beginning, she has the rhythm of that Buffyspeak approach to dialogue down, as does Fran Kranz. Harry Lennix and Olivia Williams are the nominal heavyweights in the cast. Reed Diamond is the only actor who hasn't given me a moment of "this is definitely the guy" yet, which isn't saying he's doing a bad job, just that he hasn't done anything yet to make me think nobody else could be him.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-04-04 16:38 ]
Well this was icky. Brought the whole, "These are tailor-made prostitutes" idea out front and center.

That was kind of obvious to me right from the beginning, but I agree with everything else you've said.

I would have liked to have seen this as the first episode, and then all of teh other episodes we've seen so far as exposition.
I wish I liked this episode better; it's clearly really working for most people. Early on in the season, I felt lukewarm but fairly confident I'd love the show after thirteen episodes. But I'm feeling less confident of that now. It's just not really connecting, for me. The idea behind the episode was interesting and clever, so I'm not sure why, scene by scene, I wasn't more engaged. I'm not sure whether to be disappointed in the show or myself ;).

I do really enjoy Adelle and Boyd, though. I liked Boyd's line re. feeling grateful, "I'll work on that." Although the opening Dr. Saunders delivered, "you should be grateful," was a bit odd, and was obviously there only to allow for his retort. Very impressed, always, by the actor playing Victor, too. He's so natural and sympathetic, whatever he's doing and whoever he's being.

Any theories on why Sierra's "wiped active" accent is American, when Priya's natural accent is Australian? How (and why) would you wipe away an accent and replace it with something else if not for an engagement?
Dollhouse needs to stop making a new favorite episode each week. If it keeps up with that, I will be seriously destroyed come May.

Anyway, fantastic episode. Like "Echoes" it is exactly what I hoped for for this second half of the season: Try to bring in as much metaphorical storytelling and character development as possible, while still telling great plots-of-the-week. I am seriously amazed that they underwent all expectations and pulled the series finale right into the middle of season one, explicitly saying what it is that capitalism, sexism and any other trope you wanna read into the Dollhouse does: It sells you not only it's own concept, it also sells you the outside of that concept. You are free to leave, as long as you leave on our terms. That's true for the Dollhouse, as well as for Dollhouse.

Now, freedom being a fantasy, maybe even the fantasy of the Dollhouse-universe, it is quite crushing to play it out that early. Show us what we want to see, and then compromise us by showing us what we need to see.

Amazing show.
How (and why) would you wipe away an accent and replace it with something else if not for an engagement?

Perhaps unusual accents are wiped away to keep any one doll from standing out and possibly triggering something in the others? It could be that all the Dolls in the Sydney Dollhouse speak with a homogenized Aussie accent.

As to how? I have no idea, but that's pretty much the case with all the "technology" on the show. :)
since there is no reason one accent is more "natural" than the other, her american doll accent must be a choice by the house, perhaps to emphasize a level of sameness in the doll's environment between engagements..."I like pancakes, but why does Sierra talk different than the rest of us?" These are, after all, people who don't even know what the dark is.

If there is a dollhouse in Australia, an American doll would, I presume, be set up w/ Aussie accent as part of his/her basic "wiped doll" imprint.

ETA: AGGGGH! ActualSize is in my BRANE!...Coulda at least shrunk to micro-size first! ouch!

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-04-04 16:44 ]
Sorry -- next time I'll be sure to shrink. Great minds and all that...
an American doll

Hihi, you mean an American I-Doll? ;)
Best episode yet - Keep 'em coming! Please?
Loving the cross promotion, Wiesengrund. And if FOX wants to run an ad that refers to American Eye Dollhouse for some reason and it gets even a 5th of that audience to tune in, I saw do it!
Eliza reminded me of SMG in the opening scene.

As for Topher, I think Fran Kranz is doing a great job. I like that Topher is a bit over the top. He's a colorful-yet-disturbing character.

Also, loving Enver Gjokaj. He was definitely a great find on Joss's part.

"I like pancakes."

"We're all gonna died."

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2009-04-04 17:09 ]
Great ep, and absolutely incredible coming from an ME newcomer. I'm impressed that the show's willing to put this many cards on the table this soon, and I can't wait to see where it leads.
That's odd so many of you like Miracle Laurie. I personally find her acting okay, but her line-reading just that-- sounds like lines when she says them. I lack the technical terms to describe what I'm hearing, but it just isn't good. I don't believe her.

Enver Gjokaj, on the other hand-- so subtle and so excellent. I have also believed him in every engagement he's been on as well, he really transforms-- Eliza Dushku could take a page out of his book! And his comedic timing and delivery of the lines is spot on. He delivered that "We're all gonna die" line perfectly. And he conveys so much with just a look at Sierra, or at anyone-- he's great. I believe that he is different in his doll state, his active states, and whoever he was before he joined the dollhouse.
I'm thinking that when their 'contracts' are up and their memories are put back, it's with 5 additional years to make up for the time they lost being in the Dollhouse. How else would they be able to keep the Dollhouse a secret if the people who were once dolls think they were somewhere else? I'm thinking that the idea that they'll have benefitted from their time as actives is because 1)whatever traumatic experience they had that made them consent (for those that actually did) would feel like it was 5 years ago and they don't feel the pain as strongly as they do when they sign up and 2) the Dollhouse probably implants them with skills that they can use in their now normal lives. Maybe they get to keep a few languages or some other technical know how to help them get along in life. They might even be skills and memories the dolls themselves choose. (Except those like Sierra who obviously haven't chosen anything.) There are drugs right now that have the effect of wiping or at least lessoning certain traumatic memories so that people with post traumatic syndrom don't suffer from it anymore. It has something to do with most traumatic memories being stronger because of the adreniline being produced by the body when whatever event is happening and that makes the memory stronger and hence so much harder to get over. The drug lessons that, makes the memory softer or even feel a bit like a dream and less of a burden to carry. That is what I think they do to the actives when their contract is up. Lesson the pain of whatever brought them there.

That is, if they survive their time in the Dollhouse.
Or, after five years, they're sent to the attic. Or there is no five year end, since that contract wouldn't be legal anyway.

Funny that all the dolls we've seen are so young. Wouldn't there be scenarios when an older active would be of more use?

Since the show this most reminds me of is Nikita, I wonder if being put in the attic is the same as cancelled.
Santa Claus is both more likely and more believable than the Dollhouse actually ever letting any of these people go at the end of 5 years. There is too much risk of them "glitching", clearly, and remembering the Dollhouse, or being recognized by clients or law enforcement, or otherwising creating risk of exposure. They will all either be kept in service until they are no longer in demand, dead, or get thrown in the Attic. What should we base the belief in the 5 year contract on? The ethical reputation of the people that work for the Dollhouse?
Am I the only one who loves Topher?

Great episode.
redeem147:"Funny that all the dolls we've seen are so young. Wouldn't there be scenarios when an older active would be of more use?"

There was a lovely, silver haired fox walking behind the test crew when they were waking up in this episode.
I'm not saying that they do let any of the dolls go, I'm saying that assuming they get all their memories back as is and so the justification that the dolls get something out of being there is false is.. well, also false. You can't give someone back their memories, let them loose in the world and not have them wonder WTF happened to five years of their life. If what Adelle and Topher say is true and the dolls get a benefit, having their trauma reduced has got to be how they do it. Not just putting their old self back in without any adjustments.
I really liked this episode, it flowed naturally and didn't have the clunkiness that jarred my viewing pleasure of previous episodes. Eliza knocked this one out of the park, she was very impressive.
Trivia fans: this is the episode you could see described on the Dr Horrible DVD special features. You could see a whiteboard behind Joss with "Victor and Sierra kiss" on it.
Got through half of these comments, but I need to actually do some things today :) So, I'll stop reading for now. No one has mentioned this yet. Since when did all the Dollhouse employees know that Alpha was alive? It seemed like common knowledge during that meeting when I thought that only a select few knew. Is that sloppy writing or did I miss something?

One other gripe. This episode seemed just a tad rushed. It would have been a kick ass two parter.

Things I loved. Non-Victor rocks! Loved everything about him. Also very cool that they are letting Non-Sierra's accent be the actual actor's accent. Loved Paul in this episode. The dream at the beginning actually played off as being over the top, funny (which is how it was supposed to play out I believe). Creeptastic Saunders - love it! And Topher getting backed into a corner, loved that too! Lots of character development in this episode, just wish it was a two parter so the story could fold a bit more slowly, that is all.
Harmalicious, you are correct - I don't think anybody has mentioned it, and no, up until now only Adelle and Topher knew about Alpha I believe. Claire certainly didn't know, nor Boyd. I suspect they forgot about that.
I'm hoping Sierra gets to kill him in brutal manner.

I second this desire for vengeance. Among the many shades of black on the show, Sierra's story is pretty frikkin' dark. I loved this episode, am very intrigued by Saunders and fully agree with all the Enver love. That guy needs a lot more screentime.

re: Alpha--see Arsenal & b!X above.
I just can't get over how that set reminds me of the bridge in Stargate Atlantis *g*
Best episode yet. Most excellent storytelling. Sorta-aware Victor is awesome and Dr. Saunders is just as complicated as I'd hoped she'd be.

The Dollhouse is pretty damn sick to engage Sierra with that Nolan bastard. They're already sketch city but wow, there's no reasoning that that's making the world a better place.
I liked that the whole resolution of angst episode turned out to be Saunders' idea at the end. However, there was at least one moment that turned me off, and that was no-memories Caroline leaving the other three in the SUV, proclaiming at the doorway she was going to try to "make a difference." Ouch. Very mallety-on-head since this was already made crystal clear in Echoes.
KingofCretins, I prefaced the comment you quoted about the conditions under which I might choose to become a doll by saying that I certainly don't approve of the organization as we see it in the show. If I were so traumatized as to be suicidal, and decided to donate my body to this cause, I would neither want nor expect a return after five years - unless, as NYPinTA posited, the memories would have faded to bearable levels.

Additionally, within the quoted section, I stipulated that the Dollhouse would have to impress me with its mission and deeds, meaning that I would be uninterested in being an Active if their sole purpose were, for instance, to be high-end prostitutes. The Dollhouse I'm imagining joining is dramatically different from the one we see.

I'm basing my argument on two fundamental opinions with which, I suspect, you disagree: that consenting to become a Active could not possibly be more hazardous than dying altogether, unless there are truly fates worse than death; and that no rights are inalienable. That last is especially controversial, and politically I'm a liberal rather than a libertarian, but I think the most basic right is the right to choose.
I loved seeing Vincent Ventresca in the episode. I hadn't seen him in anything since The Invisible Man, which was another big favorite of mine, and it was an awesome surprise to see him on the screen again.
In addition, this was a pretty griping episode. Unfortunately, I had to step out and go drive my girlfriend around for about ten minutes of it, but I got caught up on what I missed on FOX.com.
But truly, I can't wait to see more of this show.
I didn't know he was going to be on and I immediately recognized him. For me, Vincent Ventresca will always = Prey.
One thing is for sure. Sooner or later, Nolan will meet a grisly end and the viewers will watch and cheer. It's such a standard trope, I was hoping Joss would avoid it, since, so far, he's mostly been going for evoking complex reactions to the actions of the people using the Dollhouse. To allow an audience to indulge in bloodthirstiness while morally absolving people from guilt because, hey, the villain is so villainous? That's Rambo, that's every morally black-and-white action film out there.
I'm sorry for swimming against the thing here, but what's so annoying about Fran Kranz's performance? While I certainly find what we've so far seen of Topher's morality more than questionable, I have no problem at all with his mannerisms and speech patterns. I suspect it might be the usual adverse reaction people tend to have toward people (specifically males) who show signs of mild asperger (I myself have run into a fair - or unfair, as it were - amount of unexplained annoyance in my lifetime).
I happen to think Fran Kranz is doing a great job. In fact, he might be doing too great a job for some viewers to handle.
Andrew had questionable morals, but nobody calls him offputting.
Spike had questionable morals, but nobody called him offputting except when he tried to rape Buffy, and then they stopped calling him offputting even shortly after that just because he went and got a soul.
Jayne had questionable morals, but he's not offputting at all.
Dr. Horrible had questionable morals, and was quite full of himself and didn't really give much thought to the consequences of being evil, yet - not offputting.
The Master was both evil and full of himself. Glory was both evil and full of herself. The list goes on.
Yet for some reason people feel the urge to say they wanna punch Topher in the face. Could it possibly be because he's twitchy and different and doesn't express emotions in the usual, obvious ways, and that makes you feel uncomfortable? I think it might be. I've seen that discomfort up close all too many times.

Now, somebody might bring up Anya, who also had questionable morals and showed certain autistic traits, yet managed to be "adorable". To that I can only say I can't count how many times I've wished I were female. Besides, Emma Caulfield's was a much less realistic, more comedic performance. Which worked great for that show, but if Fran Kranz were to do that on Dollhouse, that'd be very very out of place.
Just got round to watching this weeks episode....hmmm. Found it a bit dull to be honest. The acting from the 4 main dolls seemed rather 'amateurish' to me. The kid was obviously dead from the moment she said she knew where he child was so the slow motion school moment was just annoying...just get to the cemetary already!
There were a couple of amusing moments though, mostly from Victor trying to stop certain things in the shower and the clothes storeroom. Can't see however how Echo hitting the woman in the shins with a fire extinguisher managed to knock her out and produce so much blood from her mouth though!
that was my favorite fight moment -- so improvisational and believable as a takedown. And as for the blood, you trip someone like that and you basically turn their body into a 150 pound projectile with a point of impact on their chin (did that to myself once as a kid -- lots of blood and damage despite being only about 50 lbs at the time.)
GMO, I actually like that Topher is so transparent. There's something rather liberating about a character who is out there in his unpleasantness (or possibly, cluelessness). Villains often make you want to pop them one and he's no different. Given the moral grayness of the show, I doubt that Topher will ever redeem himself to be any more than what he is, because in this narrative it isn't set up for the Dollhouse staff (save Saunders) to be better. And quite frankly, I don't think they want to be. It's like the old saying, "You can't change other people. You can only change yourself in relation to them."
GreatMuppityOdin-I have a sister-in-law with strongly Anya-esque tendencies, particularly in the area of extreme frankness, but also a bit aspergery as well. Although she is a total knock-out cutie-pie and very nice, exceptionally smart, and nearly as funny as her fictional counterpart, she does not meet with universal acceptance. I don't think it's really a whole lot better for women.

In fact, people often ask about "your sister-in-law from Mars", and seem to find her , well, a little "strange and off putting." I should note, however, that my brother adores her, and she is generally, these days, quite the happy camper.

Topher's manner doesn't annoy me at all, - and I think he's being portrayed very well, cleverly done.

[ edited by toast on 2009-04-04 23:23 ]
I didn't have the time to read all the posts so forgive me if I start being redundant. I just want to say watching this episode was a really rewarding experience. The first time you watch a truly exceptional episode of a Joss Whedon show is something you never forget. This is definetly my favorite episode so far, much better than the previous one and a considerable improvement even from "Man on the Street". I don't know if someone's pointed this out here, but the fact that Echo's "need" was to free everyone kind of makes her the hero figure of the show. I didn't feel for Caroline in "Echoes" because it seemed to me that her problems were pretty lame and that what triggered her to volunteering to the Dollhouse was not that big of a deal, but I totally feel her now, and I'm sure there's a lot more to her background than what we saw. And how can Sierra be there against her will? That hurt me! Poor girl! If I were Echo and I knew about this I would've shot Adelle right there, that f***ing bitca! I'm hoping we see more of Dr. Saunders and her relationship with Boyd, they have some interesting interaction. The frustrating part: we didn't get to see Echo wipe Topher. That would've been something. And I had to rewind the last scene two times because of how freaking awsome that was! I could never see it coming. It's weird how the only things about her life she would remember are a house on the mountains and Paul, isn't it? It's not like he meant something special to Echo or Caroline.
regarding "closure"

I understood Amy, um, I mean Claire's plan to be to give the pseudo-wiped versions of E/N/S/V (and Mike, I guess) closure, NOT to give the full closure their "full" selves would require. In other words, someone like Mellie, having been exposed to the psychotropic in Echoes +/- whatever effect she had from her trauma at Paul's, was able to tap into her real self and her real past trauma just enough for this to trouble her, even in her "November" doll state. In this scenario, the bit of closure of weeping for her dead child was enough closure to "reboot" the parts of her that Topher's mindwipes apparantly could not. But I would not expect this to, in and of itself, bring larger "closure" to the grief of losing the child that the real, full identity of Mellie (or whatever her name is) would have. And I have no idea, at this point, whether the expectation is that, at the end of five years* the dollhouse would have in anyway done something to help her cope with the trauma.

Similarly, Sierra's doll-state experience of rape so closely correlated with her history as Priya, that it set up a dissonance (at least partially revealing itself even before the drug in "Echoes") that needed some sort of mini-closure of confrontation, while pretty directly showing us in the episode that this was not the end of this story for her, that it would take more for Priya to, in the future, get better closure on her history with Nolan. And Victor got some minor "closure" of his affection for Sierra without at all fully solving the issue of what it means for his real or doll self to be in love with Sierra. And Echo, after reliving her past last week, might get some stabilizing "closure" of her "free the lab rats" instincts, but without the implication that this would imply closure for Caroline's guilt and trauma related to the death of her boyfriend.

I find all this interesting, because it turns these mini-closures into odd tools at the disposal of the dollhouse that reflect upon but are not equal to the "closure" we all assume we need to find for episodes of true real life trauma like losing a child or rape, etc.

*endnote: by the way, while remaining appropriately skeptical about what we can trust about even the best-intentioned of the dollhouse staff, I think it is relatively easy to construct scenarios in which the dollhouse WOULD honor its (admittedly extra-legal) contracts, would believe that it was in its interest to do so. For this reason, I believe that definitive statements that there is no way the dollhouse will ever honor these contracts is no more a certainty/necessity of the facts as we have them than is the opposite certainty that such contracts would be honored.
Re closure: Echo also felt troubled that she hadn't finished her doll experience with the internet tycoon. Adelle recognized this "need" for closure, and provided it prior to the experiment. Is this going to be a recurring theme? In order to be effectively blank, the dolls can have only the most basic of needs, any nagging lack of closure would, I suppose, breed doubt.
When you think about, imagine if we could have closure to every single thing that bothers us. Wouldn't we be a lot more peaceful and a lot more doll-like?
To the extent that emotional trauma is definitely a key thing this show is about, versions of closure, large and small, will likley be key.

Oh, and meant to mention in my last post: the other reason I like the "mini-closure" that Claire pulls off is that it doesn't, in and of itself, mean that any previous gains in awareness/compositing/whatever that Echo or others have made are necessarily re-set to zero. She can still go around putting her shoulder to the wheel while drawing cubist faces in the steam on the mirror to her heart's content. Heck, one thing "closure" does, in the way we tend to understand the term (and can I just say how much I hate that f'in newagespeak word?) is let you "lock in" or make a part of yourself the emotional or other progress you made by going through the events before the closure. Victor may or may not be more docile, but I suspect he will all the more definitely than before scan the pods to make sure Sierra is safe before he goes to sleep, whether or not he remembers why he is doing this.
Hmmm, on 'closure', can anyone ever really achieve such a state - seems a very non-human thing to be able to achieve complete satisfaction. By the way, I can't think how we used to describe this before the term became popular - anyone?

I'm now really loving Dollhouse. It's dark, it's twisty, it's what we need. While the first five episodes weren't amazing, they served their purpose in some ways, but I am very glad that from Man on the Street onwards it has been thrilling, provocative and simply damn good storytelling. As for the actors, I'm finding Enver is the most fun to watch so far - a pitch-perfect performance. Why can't it be new Dollhouse day everyday?

Oh, and wanted to give props to doubtful guest for the clever incorporation of (potentially all) the Actives' names found far up thread. Hi-lar-ious!
The whole idea of 'mini-closure' to me is suspect. If their original/authentic/pre-DH minds are satisfied with these events, producing calmer Actives, why are these o/a/p minds not more glitchy/problematic pre 'mini-closure'?

I just don't agree.

Also, it may very well not matter. There are surprises to come.

And congratulations, Ruadh, on your prior understanding. I think it's important to recognize and state the full import of what is being done to the 'Actives' - it is just slavery. Many or most of the handlers (excluding Boyd maybe) as shown in this episode are disrespectful of their charges, e.g. "You know I don't understand you when you speak French".

I'll continue to watch, but I do have more complicated reactions than I do with other TV shows.

Regarding Topher - someone called him transparent - I just think he's stunningly immature and annoying. Maybe the actor is playing the character exceedingly well, just as Joss envisioned - I find these types a waste of time.
@KingofCretins (re: Ballard's suspension)

I realize that this is about 80 comments later, but I still think we have issues to discuss. I think you are confusing what we as viewers know, as compared to what a FBI superior not involved with the plot would think. So let's get all the "facts" out in the open...

In "Ghost" we find out Ballard has:
- physically threatened a senator
- disrupted a 7-year human trafficking investigation (Russian mafia)
- been arrested on (Prince's ??) yacht
- been ordered not to interfere/jeopardize the Russian mafia case
- not proved that mind wiping/implanting is even possible, let alone being done

Why is a dead Russia mafia thug in his apartment bad? Whoever was investigating that bit of self-defense would uncover that Ballard has still been harassing Russian mafia. The dead man is not the problem. The problem is Ballard's continuing involvement with the Russians after strict orders not to.

I just played back "Man on the Street". I don't think there was a warrant (or at least, none was mentioned). I don't think the money trail is entirely legit either, because Ballard's computer friend said: "If the Director sees what we're up to, he's going to help you out."

You keep mentioning probable cause because Ballard was attacked. What you are forgetting is that he was the initiator of the violence. He trespassed on private property (likely without warrant) and held a gun to the face of one of the security guards (outside by the garage). This was all done without any sugestion that a crime was in progress. Ballard was only "attacked" after giving this guy good reason to suspect that his life was in danger. While in the house, Ballard has his gun trained on an unarmed man and woman, and also punches the guy in the gut. He has nothing to prove that anything in the house is involved with the Dollhouse (Rebecca is gone), and everything that Maynor said was hypothetical, not a confession. (They were discussing fantasies.)

Even though we (the viewers) know Ballard is in the right, I have to believe that FBI bureaucrats would give far more weight to claims made by a respectable businessman (especially if they have kids who love "Bouncy the Rat"), and believe the worst about Ballard. So the Maynor incident adds to another example where Ballard is trespassing on a rich and influential guy's property and physically threatening him.
I noticed we're all assuming that "Nolan" was, in fact, Nolan. This universe is one in which people can be programmed to be other people. If the staff knew Sierra/Priya's past, and thus knew what she'd need in order to get over it, they could in all theory create that for her. I'm not saying that happened, or even that it's likely, just that it's possible, as it's also possible that Sierra's idea of Priya's past wasn't altogether accurate.
FWIW, the Alpha being alive knowledge question was actually mentioned upthread prior to that most recent mention. While I suspect it's a goof, it's an easily-addressed goof by just back-filling some sort of "more people were filled in before, after, or around the same time Topher was".

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-04-05 01:53 ]
NYPinTA said: There are drugs right now that have the effect of wiping or at least lessoning certain traumatic memories so that people with post traumatic syndrom don't suffer from it anymore.

Could you elaborate? Except for research here and there, I didn't know that medical science had come up with anything that works as well as you've described.
It's scary how Amy Acker has no trace of Fred in her performance as Dr. Saunders. I mean *really* scary. The woman is one of the best actors to ever grace this planet.
Damn, I feel like I'm always posting after everyone else has moved on. Oh, well, on the idea of consent ... society doesn't allow people to consent to certain things, such as slavery, prostitution or selling their organs.

In this episode, Caroline's disgust at an active on a prostitution assignment made it clear (to me, at least) that she would not have signed up for that, unless under great duress.

I've blogged about the issue of consent in this show here.
Can anybody tell me the title/artist of the song that played at the end of this episode? Also does anyone know of an up-to-date website with the music in the past episodes? It's driving me nuts how few of these songs I can't identify!
If there are drugs that significantly reduce Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, that is GREAT news for war veterans and victims of trauma and abuse.

Are they only available in Europe or some other non-U.S. country??? The U.S. FDA can be such a stickler.

[ edited by falina on 2009-04-05 03:45 ]
For currently existing drugs, I can think of one easily: Rohypnol. And much like the Dollhouse, it can be abused for illegal activities (which is how I heard about it in the first place).

@Suzie: on the idea of consent ... society doesn't allow people to consent to certain things, such as slavery, prostitution or selling their organs.

Going to play Devil's advocate, okay?
(1) If we are using the definition slave="a person who works very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation", the Actives are going to be well compensated after 5 years in the Dollhouse. Do we consider U.S. soldiers to be slaves? In the current "war" times, their terms can be indefinitely continued.
(2) Prostitution is not illegal in all places. In addition, where do we draw the line for prostitution, what is considered payment? Society has no problems with a woman marrying a rich guy old enough to be her grandfather.
(3) Caught a bit of a "Boston Legal" episode, where Bergen's character points out that society has already accepted commercializing of body parts. You can buy/sell sperm, eggs, blood. Get paid for being in a medical study. Offer to be pregnant with someone else's embryo. Organ donations can be directed (the usual example is a firefighter's family directed towards firefighters in need). Some European countries have presumed consent for organ donation (opt-out), and at least one U.S. state is considering changing the current "opt-in" system.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-04-05 03:44 ]
Please tell us where Rohypnol is used for this. I'm not arguing, because I don't know, but can this be used longterm?

1) The U.S. soldier comparison is invalid. At this time, U.S. soldiers do volunteer, but according to the DH episode, Sierra did not. And it's pretty clear with all the PTSD diagnoses soldiers' minds don't get wiped.
2) The Dollhouse we see on Friday nights is NOT located in Nevada. And in the situation in the second sentence both parties don't get their minds wiped after "I do".
3) Sperm, eggs, blood are donated after education materials are presented. I believe psychological testing is done for sperm and egg donaton also. I know what they do for blood donations.

Organ donation uses corpses, which would kind of invalidate the 5 year plan.

None of the examples presented are adequate responses to Suzie's post.
Can anybody tell me the title/artist of the song that played at the end of this episode? Also does anyone know of an up-to-date website with the music in the past episodes?

The song at the end of "Needs" is "Lonely Ghosts" by the band O+S. You can listen to the song on their MySpace page. They have a note about being on Dollhouse but it says "Echoes."

There's now a music thread on the Dollhouse forum. But so far only this song.

ETA:

TV Show Music has the most comprehensive list.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-04-05 04:30 ]
One thing is for sure. Sooner or later, Nolan will meet a grisly end and the viewers will watch and cheer.

We'll see. I think his end will be something more creative. Perhaps we'll see him in the dentist chair.
SONGS IN THE EPISODES: have found this site helpful (found it while looking for a song on an earlier episode)>


falina: you misunderstood me: I did not mean to suggest their "big"/"real" traumas had already reached closure, in fact explicitely stated I did not know how effective the dollhouse ever was at the "big" closures. As for the smaller closures, I find that on re-watch I am even more convinced that this was the direction intended if you listen to Dr. Saunders' proposal at the end of the episode, which references how their repeat experiences as actives build on each other or activate older traumas. I have no comment on the rest of your post, though silence does not equal agreement.
Could you elaborate? Except for research here and there, I didn't know that medical science had come up with anything that works as well as you've described.

It's been a while since I read about it and I think my description was a bit optimistic. I might be recalling what they hope this drug will do, not what it's doing right now. My search to freshen my memory. Plus, I might be getting this and something I saw on TV mixed up. Heck, it might have been another episode of Boston Legal! (Guess I will never need memory wiping drugs. All I have to do is wait and they'll disappear on their own.)But it seems pretty clear that the Dollhouse is ahead in the medical/technical department so if it's just a theory here in the real world, they've already got it and are using it.
Suzie and falina, there are more places in the world besides America (though obviously Dollhouse takes place there), some of which have legalized prostitution.

And while you will no doubt claim this has no impact in modern society, slavery was in certain cultures in the past, not at all a bad thing, in fact a very positive thing for many. The slave soldiers in Islamic states like the ghulams, mamluks and Janissaries were highly professional, highly paid men who were technically slaves, but were incredibly powerful, had set rights, and had to be kept very happy, or they would fight for someone else, or take control of the government. Issues started when they became hereditary positions, showing how much folks wanted to be slaves. Other societies had highly educated slaves running their economy or government, who again were highly paid, and had rights. In the Islamic world folks down on their luck would sell themselves into slavery for a set period of years (hmm sounds familar). In one instance the slave sued sucessfully his owner when the owner struck him, because the contract did not say that he was allowed to be beaten.

Now a days we don't allow those things, primarily due to the fact that the model of slavery in the Americas and Europe was very different, but not everyone ever confirms to modern American morality. And obviously the folks at the Dollhouse are amongst those people. Obviously the claim that "society doesn't allow people to consent to certain things, such as slavery, prostitution or selling their organs" is untrue. Unless you want to claim that 'society' is limited to modern America, in which case I really don't think that is fair as it is an incredibly narrow definition, considering how interconnected the world is today, and how morality is constantly changing depending on location and time.
None of the examples presented are adequate responses to Suzie's post.

@falina: As SteppeMerc was doing, I was commenting on the specific statement on society/consent (which is why I quoted it in my post). I wasn't making comparisons to the Dollhouse, so your responses are rather odd.

I thought of Rohypnol just for its amnesiac qualities. I found a better section on Wikipedia under "amnesia":
Drug-induced amnesia is intentionally caused by injection of an amnesiac drug to help a patient forget surgery or medical procedures, particularly those which are not performed under full anesthesia, or which are likely to be particularly traumatic. Such drugs are also referred to as "premedicants". Most commonly a 2'-halogenated benzodiazepine such as midazolam or flunitrazepam is the drug of choice, although other strongly amnestic drugs such as propofol or scopolamine may also be used for this application. Memories of the short time frame in which the procedure was performed are permanently lost or at least substantially reduced, but once the drug wears off, memory is no longer affected.
ShadowQuest, I just checked the closed captioning on Hulu and came to report it as Priya, but obviously everyone has beaten me to it. :P
Here's a thought:

We've all pretty much accepted that Nolan, Katie, the place in the mountains all exist because we saw Nolan and Katie's grave marker after Non-Echo, Non-Sierra, and Non-November remembered these details. How do we actually know that these things really ever existed as their prior personal experiences? Isn't it possible that to give the actives a sense of closure for the issues which have been causing them to glitch, the institution need only create a vague memory which could come out gradually, and which could mirror, to some degree, the needs which were causing the actives to glitch? Something they can act on in a relatively controlled, and somewhat predictable way. (Meaning they can feel like they've escaped into the real world, but the vague memories intending to bring them to predictable places: "Nolan's" home; the graveyard; the place in the mountains.)

Sierra was raped by her handler. Nolan is created as a rapist-character, someone who has, and abuses, power over her.

Echo/Caroline wants freedom and security. They create a safe place for her to go. They underestimate her need to protect and free others, and do not anticipate that she will return to the Dollhouse instead of simply making her own escape.

November is missing something. OK, this one stumps me. Maybe she really did have a child, and maybe that child is still alive, but they've given her a vague memory of the child's death. Or, maybe she never had a child, perhaps her something "lost" is a significant other, and they mirrored with a child's death, because no loss is greater than losing a child.

Victor needs to rescue the girl. He needed no other gradual memory, therefore, none are implanted. He is attracted to Sierra, so, to fulfil his need, he simply stays with her and helps her to fulfil her need.

Ideas? Debate?
Judy, I think that is indeed possible. When Echo was first referring to mountains before this episode, I thought of the very odd couple who hired an active to be a midwife in the mountains. This episode proves me wrong, but I do think that you are correct these could indeed be implanted memories. Why the Dollhouse would want them to glitch like this I don't know, since it seems implanting memories and issues is just asking for trouble. But it does seem suspicious that pre Sierra was raped as well (or attempted rape, or something). That said, Nolan matches the person raping Sierra in her drug trip in the previous episode than her handler. So that would mean the Dollhouse implanted those memories before the immediate plan to have them reach closure. Not an impossibility though.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-05 06:07 ]
Was it ever stated somewhere in the relevant episode that Echo was sent out on a midwife mission? It seemed improbable to a lot of viewers that someone would spend massive amounts of money to get a doll as a midwife. But that's because we as viewers just assumed it was an engagement. Instead, it might have been a scene from Caroline's life, maybe when she was on the run? She definitely seemed happy in that mountain scene, so maybe that's a clue to why the mountains are such a draw for her.
SteppeMerc, I don't think the Dollhouse implanted memories to make them glitch; only to resolve the glitches by setting up similar scenarios which the Non-actives could confront, in a moderately controllable way.

I can't even imagine why Echo was sent out to be a midwife in the mountains, but I think it was a genuine assignment. And, while the back of the rapist's head in Sierra's drug-induced flashbacks doesn't look like Hearn's, I think that may just be because they no longer had Kevin Kilner to work with for those scenes.
Aha. Yes that would be far more intelligent of Adelle to do. But in that case what was sent up for Echo I wonder? Since IIRC, Adelle was not planning on her doing what she did, but rather expected her to escape with the others.

And I had considered that they didn't have Hearn's actor as well. However, from what I could tell, Victor had a flashback to before he was a doll, which to me is reinforced by Victor's knowledge of the military codes. November did not have a pre doll memory, but perhaps Sierra did too? You think they could get someone with the same hair color if it was meanat to be Hearn. But it is certaintly possible.

I just hope we all get the chance for some closure ourselves for all of these questions. I know if I was a religious man, I'd be praying.
Judy--That was actually the twist I was expecting in the episode (so I didn't find it "predictable" as some others did). But by the end of the ep., I just assumed I was wrong. It doesn't seem like there would be much point to these memories being fake--though I'm sure there's much more to them than we know about.
Paul has a nagging need for closure on something, too. Has it always had something to do with Caroline personally? It must be in some way similar too or related to Echo's unresolved issue because he too is driven to set everyone free.Or is that just why he feels a bond with her- apart from her general comeliness?

What did he do that he feels so guilty about? It has to be something pretty bad, since he is untroubled by bashing people for information, etc. He's not a delicate flower of conscience- doesn't seriously consider modifying his investigation of the dollhouse because of the major danger-injury it apparently put "Mellie" in. Although that does, at least, bother him. But she has to come up with the idea of leaving for safety on her own.

[ edited by toast on 2009-04-05 10:58 ]
Great episode. I think we were meant to feel definitely hopeless at the end. Kudos to the new writer. I was thoroughly engaged from start to finish.

Memory loss/lessen drug. Possible usage for PTSD relief made some national headlines in the States a few weeks ago. I didn't read much about it, but thought of Dollhouse in a creepy way when I read the headlines.

Echo's mountains. Intriguing. We were meant to think at first they were tied to Echo's midwife (and altruistic) assignment, but now it seems they are much more than that.

Caroline feels safe there.

So how the heck did Caronline get to those mountains and what does she know? I'm sure she experienced much more than her boyfriend's death. That storyline served to show she cares about living beings, she learned Rossum was experimenting with human fetuses, and her activist bf died then. Surely much more went on between his death and her entry into the Dollhouse. Got some theories going on about Caroline's mountains, her altruistic assignment, and her connections to both Rossum and the snow-covered mountains. Lots of X-Filish possibilities, always a good thing.

Not yet mentioned in this thread (apologize if I missed it) concerning Adelle--she emphasized at the end of the episode that no way would she return the traumatic memories to the Actives. I believe she believes she's helping them, and perhaps in some way that belief helps her justify their captivity.

They finally Scoobied! Twice! First those with top security clearance in the Dollhouse met, then the 5 then 4 actives scoobied up. Was that the first time we've seen the cast group up this way? I think the Dollhouse itself will end up with its own little demented Scooby gang. Despite the dark motives of most of its staff, we're now meant to see that Adelle will report to the higher-ups, whoever they may be, in a way that can only benefit the Dollhouse. Seems she'll do whatever necessary to keep running a tight ship. The scene when the staff gathered in her office reminded us they are a group meant to protect the Dollhouse, first and foremost. The Actives' well-being doesn't even seem a secondary objective, since we know now they are its business but not its purpose. Don't mind the "slave names" though. They're cool.

Wish like crazy I had time now to analyze 6-8 line by line. I'm going to try and clean my living room streaming Hulu in the background, but feel this plan may be doomed from the start. Doom for the clean living room.

Back during the first few blahed-down, Foxed-up episodes, I broke down and read a few spoilers. I just needed at least a bone to gnaw on at that point. Wish like heck I could be discussing what the unspoiled have to look forward to. Good stuff coming.

Loving Saunders, but thought her as the helper was too simplistic. No surprise about her role in the experiment to me. Her character is still quite mysterious, more so than others. I'm guessing the only plausible explanation for her scars is that plastic surgeons couldn't completely fix her in one shot, so they are slowly fading instead of disappearing.

Love Topher! He's kind of an Andrew/Warren mix, but not as nauseating as Warren. Yet, anyway. His character has such potential for growth. Considering the Topher love/hate here, Kranz and the writers are doing something right.

After the dream sequence introduction, the show really began to feel like a Joss show to me. That feeling started with 6 of course, but now it really feels like a Joss show. Not in a cemented way, but in an ever-increasing, stabilizing way. It doesn't yet excite me as much as his other works, but it's still so early, and I have great hope it develops into one of his best works. Wait, aren't all his works his coolest yet? :)

Looking forward in a big damn way to future Purple posts.

ETA: typo corrections and Hearn: The audience is probably meant to associate that rape with Hearn, but the Actives experienced pre-Active memories. The casual viewer is likely to associate the scene with Hearn, but if they wanted us to really believe it was Hearn, they would have used someone with thicker, lighter, shaggier hair in that scene were the actor unavailable. That rapist is much more likely to be Nolan or even Victor. If the reveal is Victor, they definitely want to rip our hearts out. This is why I speculate we may eventually learn it's Victor in her flashback, after we were meant to think Hearn, no wait, it's obviously Nolan, then BAM it's really Victor. Now that would be pure heartache. And Joss does that better than anyone.

[ edited by April on 2009-04-05 14:52 ]

[ edited by April on 2009-04-05 15:04 ]
Okay, maybe the Actives didn't all experience pre-Active memories, and just traumatic ones. I just remembered November flashed to sleeper mode.

I hope Mellie returns. I like Mellie.
I'll take a stab at possible explanations.

Midwife: Could be the wife (or husband) is someone who does not want a (modern medicine) doctor around. So the spouse hires an Active midwife, with "3 flowers in a vase" skills in case anything went poorly. (Yeah, its a stretch.) Joss also mentioned the possibility of "pro bono" work in an interview, but I don't think this has been established in-continuity.

Nolan: I think he is the genuine (slime-bucket) article. If he was someone that the Dollhouse could fake, then I don't think it would have been necessary for the Dolls to act it out, a fake memory (followed by a mild mind-wipe) would have been enough. I think this is the writers bringing in the soul, something about the Dolls that is not erased by sitting in the chair. In which case, only the real confrontation would work.

Or we could have Topher explain that emotional responses are not as easily wiped as memories. Hard-drive files can be reconstructed after being erased, unless the computer user puts a lot of effort into making sure the disk is clean. Maybe the chair works in the same way. (In which case, it may be possible for Caroline to eventually rebuild most of her memories, without Topher putting them back!)
"Needs" #2 Top TV Episodes on iTunes.
I'm jumping on here way late, but I'll just add my two cents and say that "Needs" was an entertaining, challenging episode of television which I desperately need to rewatch so I can get more of a handle on it. But nice twists and developments all around.
@Steppemarc: Of course slavery and prostitution exist in other places and at other times. Both of those factors are irrelevant to this discussion, which is of a TV show set in the U.S. in 2009. While your attempted justification may be very interesting to discussions of the history of slavery, that's not the point. Whether society is "limited to modern America" seems to be the parameters of the show. The only DH shown so far is in the U.S. Other houses no doubt deal with other countries.

OneTeV: The drugs referenced by Wikipedia would in NO WAY be useful for PTSD. They are used so the patient doesn't recall intubation or some other painful procedure. This would not work after the fact on soldiers or trama victims. Since the drugs are actually used as or with anesthesia, victims are unconscious.
@falina: Gaaahhhh! For the drugs, the discussion started with the mind altering properties, and NYPinTA mentioned PTSD as a possible legal use. I was staying with the amnesiac and legal uses, and not specifically talking about PTSD.

Steppemarc's comment is entirely relevant. Suzie made a blanket statement about society not allowing people to consent to certain things, so it is of interest to explore if that is a truism or if there are fuzzy areas. You have already included the Actives under the term slavery, so it is worthwhile to see if that application is valid, and if society (as presented in this fictitious world) really would condemn it. Slavery has been societally accepted far longer than it has not. And as we saw in "Man on the Street", there is little doubt about Dollhouses in other countries.

The reason I brought up military enrollment is the following: Suzie brought up the idea that society does not allow people to consent to slavery (and therefore, if Actives are slaves, their consent is invalid). If Actives fall under the definition of slavery, couldn't the military also be considered consented slavery (terms of enrollment being extended indefinitely)? In which case, society does condone it.

While I feel Actives are slaves and soldiers are not, I do want to explore the reasons I think that. Maybe I'm wrong. Discussion is useful to probe where the line is, and why it isn't somewhere else.
I think Alpha is in the cabin and Topher is the one on the inside (this is today's theory). How exactly did Topher think that wiped Caroline "needed" the mountain thought? I'm probably pushing the envelope here.

I really enjoyed the episode. I'm curious to find out if Adelle knew Priya was being coersed. If she did then well...bad lady.

I keep spoiling myself in this thread before the episode. I'm going to try not to for the next ep, so that I can see if things are actually predictable for not. It's a bit difficult to tell when I already know the reveals.
So I was finally able to watch the episode on Hulu just now and I loved it. See, this is the Joss that makes awesome TV.

@ April: I agree,
Kudos to the writer.


It had everything I wanted from an episode of Dollhouse, and now my faith in Joss for never failing, which I'll admit started waiver after episode 3, has fully returned.

It's interesting that not-Victor's closure had nothing to do with that soldier flashback we saw in the previous episode, but rather everything to do with helping and getting the girl. Also, what ever happened to him feeding Ballard false information...you have to wonder if Ballard's at all curious as to why his magically informative contact suddenly stopped the calls. Though maybe that's just because he got set up that one time and shot and all. That would make the most sense.

I thought the idea of the dolls evolving because of a lack of closure was interesting, though the bit of technobabble at the end about releasing a sleepy-drug when they hit the closure point was a bit of a stretch. Especially since if not-Sierra's closure was confronting the guy that tried to rape her (Nolan, not Hearn), then shouldn't she have passed out after seeing him, coming to the realization and watching him get punched in the face?

Perhaps it wasn't so much needing to confront her attacker as it was a need to feel safe and protected, which she got from not-Victor. It just so happens that when she felt all warm and comfy around him, he simultaneously earned her trust enough for her to love him back, sort of, and so they both fell asleep.

Mellie was the most straightforward case, needing to come to terms with her daughter's death. She sees the grave, understands, grieves, and falls asleep. Echo is also somewhat straightforward, though interesting in that it was a two-parter. Somehow when she gets programmed someone (Alpha?) is sending messages out to Paul. So two closures...(1) letting Paul know that she'll stay in touch, and (2) free the people. It's what she wanted to do for all those animals in the cages at any rate. Interesting that her closure did not have to do with her boyfriend's death though, unlike Mellie's. Seemed to be a traumatic exeperience for her. I think that it more has to do with the fact that she was able to successfully get everyone out...save them, and keep them alive which she couldn't do for her man.

Obviously, people could be write and all of those could be fake memories, but it makes more sense if they were real issues they were confronting and finding closure for. Also, I imagine it would work better if they dealt with the truth...you don't get proper closure if it's just another imprint. Just my opinion.

All in all, awesome episode, this is the kind of thing that'll bring people back to Dollhouse and keep the show on the air.
OneTeV: Yes, I've had a different focus - especially since Rohypnol seemed to be in response to my question about specific drugs. However, for discussion purposes, I don't think soldiers are slaves. 1) They get an agreed upon wage and they're supposed to get a number of support services like food, uniforms, weapons, insurance, educational funds, survivor benefits. If they don't die, they get out. 2) While under the Bush misadministration stop-loss was used, I'm not sure if that practice is continuing, although it has apparently always been an option. Besides, that alone would not invalidate my point. Office and hospital workers can be induced to put in involuntary overtime, does this make them slaves in your eyes?

Also, soldiers are a special case. I can't think of many other occupations where dying/killing is required and they are informed of that going in.

As to slavery, it happens today in the U.S. And is illegal. I've read about diplomats and civilians from other countries (usually from Africa) that keep people as housekeepers, maids, nannies in conditions deemed slavery, especially on the east coast. And then there are the polygamists in Arizona and Colorado. Dollhouse appears to be a "fictitious" place based on current U.S. life, so the standards of today should apply.

Regardless, I don't consider slavery an acceptable practice. Also, those high status slaves mentioned - I'm thinking that's a male-only club, and women are just walking genitalia/maids. I find the misogyny very disturbing.

As to it having been tolerated in the past - human beings are supposed to be evolving for the better. Would you like to discuss the practice of female footbinding in Asia that continued until WW2?? Just because a practice was used in the past does not mean it needs to continue.
The notion that only males were high class slaves is inaccurate. Harem members were often slaves, yet it was a highly sought after position. They were very very very powerful, and were certainly better off than a free poor woman (or man for that matter). Suleiman the Magnificent married (showing how much she cared for her, since Sultans NEVER married) a slave woman, who by all accounts loved him as well.

Things are never as black and white as you would assume from the white washed 'history' texts in high school, and it is a mistake to try and make judgment calls that all slaves were mistreated and its automatically bad. Regardless, dolls are not slaves, and if they are, it is certainly a case of the high class well paid happy slaves that I was alluding to.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-05 22:10 ]
As to it having been tolerated in the past - human beings are supposed to be evolving for the better. Would you like to discuss the practice of female footbinding in Asia that continued until WW2?? Just because a practice was used in the past does not mean it needs to continue.

Is anyone suggesting anything to the contrary? It seems the question OneTeV is raising relates to the degree to which societies (modern and not) seem able to tolerate things that could be termed slavery, not whether they SHOULD tolerate them. (Sorry if I'm putting that poorly or misreading).

Things are never as black and white as you would assume from the white washed 'history' texts in high school, and it is a mistake to try and make judgment calls that all slaves were mistreated and its automatically bad. Regardless, dolls are not slaves, and if they are, it is certainly a case of the high class well paid happy slaves that I was alluding to.

While obviously slavery has meant somewhat different things at different times in different cultures, as you say, I feel like that point is just muddying the waters a bit. You don't have to agree that the dolls are slaves if that doesn't fit your definition, but the point of using that word is, I guess, to say that these people aren't free, they don't have choices. There's no positive spin on that. Eight episodes in, I don't know if "slave" is the world I want to use or not, but I certainly wouldn't call them "happy." If they were, there would be no conflict for the story to turn on.
shambleau -- the midwife session ends with that bitwipe/flash of memories disappearing graphic that they used to do after every engagement on the show and thankfully no longer subject us to.

falina -- When I go out to work or vote or etc, I depend upon the historic moment I am in, including the history of injustices and attempted corrections that have occured in my society. If I am on a jury, I will presumably do my best to apply the laws of the country I'm in (for me, the U.S.) to come to a verdict. If I am watching a piece of speculative fiction that is examining issues of identity, freedom, sexuality, etc, I will find in my own society interesting models, but I cannot see how I could ever expect them to have or deserve any veto/trump power whatsoever over the sorts of speculation the show is attempting or where the lines must be drawn.
Catherine, I guess the reason why I mentioned it is because slave is such an inexact word. In the majority of cultures that had slaves in the past, there were many many words to describe what is translated into English as slave. I was talking to my brother, and he was arguing that the Dolls were more like indentured servants. But similar indentured servitude agreements mentioned in historical texts (with a set amount of years, pay etc.), because of our inexact language, have been translated into English as "slave".

I don't see the Dolls as slaves in the English sense of the word. But I'm sure that if it was in a different language, people trying to translate it into English may well choose the word slave to represent what they are. But even if they do, it doesn't make it a negative thing, necessarily.

I'm unsure if I'm managing to explain myself well, and if I'm not, then I apologize.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-06 00:50 ]

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-06 00:50 ]
I'm coming in late to the conversation because I only just caught this episode on DVR.

Much of what I could have said has already been said in this ginormous thread, but I'll throw in my unasked-for two cents anyway.

This was a great episode. I may even like it more than "Man on the Street."

I found that I like Topher more after this episode. Admittedly, I have always sort of liked him, but I thought that his interaction with "Caroline" when she had the gun held on him was great. It revealed a lot about his character ("I don't usually do the sales pitch") and showed that rather than being straight up evil, he seems to be unthinking. He seemed, even, to have the potential to learn from this experience. I'm still counting on him having an arc worth following.

The moral ifyness of Dr. Saunders is delicious! She suggests the "closure" plan, but it is unclear whether it is really in the best interest of the dolls (in her mind) or not. Also, am I the only one that thought that when they all walked out int he end, she seemed to be more like another one of the dolls than like a regular employee? I still think it's possible that she is a doll herself.

Finally, about Adelle: I think she's still got potential for redemption as well. It's not at all clear that she knows everything that is going on (Sierra's origin). And, she does seem to believe strongly that the Dollhouse is doing something positive and worthwhile. I think that she (and Topher?) could come to a realization about the reality of the workings of the Dollhouse(s) and could turn on them.

(Clearly, I'm holding out hope for what could happen in future seasons. Topher, Adelle, Saunders, Echo/Caroline, and some other Dolls (and Alpha?) scooby up and work to fight the Dollhouse organization and to atone for their past wrongs. I think of this season as: what if we saw all the horrible stuff that Angel did and that he is trying to atone for before we knew that he was so dreamy and charmingly broody and such a good guy once he had his soul? He would be despicable and unlikeable too.)
Falina, thanks for your responses. When I mentioned "society," I was thinking of the society in which the Dollhouse is located. When I cited examples of slavery, prostitution and selling organs, I was trying to note that the society in which Dollhouse is located (as well as other societies in different times and places) does not give individuals the right to do anything they want with their bodies. These three things are not the only restrictions, nor did I mean to draw a direct parallel to the Dollhouse. In other words, I don't think the Dollhouse is exactly like slavery or prostitution or organ donation.

(Did anyone really think that I had never heard that slavery has been legal in other places? Or prostitution?? I would have to be in preschool not to know those things.)

To me, it's reasonable that the activities of the Dollhouse would be considered illegal. Let me put it another way so that I'm not misunderstood: I think society (the one in which Dollhouse is located) would be doing a good thing by deciding that individuals do not have the right to sign up for an operation like the Dollhouse.

SteppeMerc says: "... dolls are not slaves, and if they are, it is certainly a case of the high class well paid happy slaves that I was alluding to."

Priya, Caroline and the others have been brainwashed to be happy. We have evidence that they wouldn't be happy if they knew what was happening. Priya is being sent to have sex with a man she refused, and Caroline has expressed her disgust at prostitution and corporations experimenting on living things. We have evidence that people are coerced into becoming actives.

Rohypnol (roofies) and other drugs that cause amnesia or alter behavior have been used to rape people. Those people can be just as traumatized as someone who can remember every detail of her rape. After 5 years, if the actives are returned to the general population and they are allowed to know anything about the Dollhouse, I would expect some of them to be traumatized, wondering what was done to them.
I think I get what you're saying SteppeMerc, as a question of definitions. In the modern context, I don't see how an argument could be made that "slavery" isn't necessarily negative. As for historical contexts... I think certain slaves may have been able to make the best of certain situations in a world where very few people (especially women) were free or had choices in the way we now assume a person ought to have. So I'd argue, from my modern perspective, that you're pointing at situations that may have been, sometimes, arguably, better than other shitty situations. A story about a slave falling in love with and marrying her "master" is surely not an isolated incident. Our emotional lives take us where they take us whatever the circumstances, and even a study of American slavery will turn up some fascinating and very intense "master" / "slave" relationships. I don't think that suggests anything potentially positive about the situation, only that people tend to fall in love with other people.

But I may have misread what you were saying earlier as putting a positive spin on the situation in the Dollhouse, which I can only see as utterly dire in spite of the lovely set and yoga classes ;). I'm not entirely comfortable with using the word "slave" about the dolls either, though maybe for different reasons... but I can see why it might seem an apt word. In Sierra's case in particular, it's hard to view what's happened to her as being distinct at all from being forced into sexual slavery.
(As for the slavery question, I think a very real response that the show suggests is that we are ALL slaves to the demands of ideology and the roles determined for us by our society. The fact that we think we are not is no more meaningful than the fact that the dolls think they are not.)
SteppeMerc, I disagree with your statement that “slavery was in certain cultures in the past, not at all a bad thing, in fact a very positive thing for many.” I understand that some slaves had prestige, power, etc. But enslavement itself didn’t confer those things.

You seem to be talking primarily about slaves under Islam. In his book “Islam’s Black Slaves,” Ronald Segal notes that slaves under Islam had it better than slaves would in the Christian West. But he adds: “A slave was a slave for all that. Owners were endowed with such power over their slaves that few can have failed to abuse it …” Even otherwise good masters “sexually exploited their concubines…”

You can still find whites in the U.S. who think that enslaved Africans were better off here than in Africa, that not all of them were mistreated, and that many of them loved their masters.
Um, what's the purpose of concubine that you don't have sex with? They often had very important advisory and entertainment (art, music and such) but the notion of masters not having sex with their concubines would be pretty alien in any culture. People point out that 'everyone had it harder then and they were making the best out of a bad situation', but I feel it is unfair try and impose our own societal mores on people with totally different social values. Yes compared to today everyone had it rougher, so the slaves don't have it as good as free folk today. But I think taking the life of a 12th century Ghulam military slave and compare it to the majority of the population of the world at the time, he'd have a lot better off than the majority, free or not.

The reason I'm talking about slaves in Islam is that I don't want to talk about what I don't know. I know enough about the Abbasids, Seljuks and Ottomans to talk about because my focus is on their nomadic contemporaries, primarily Mongols. I can't talk about slaves in America or even slaves in Islamic al-Andalus (Spain) or in Arabia proper. I don't know enough about it. Finally the military slaves I were reffering to were almost never black. The majority were Turks (not from Turkey though) or Circassians, except for the Jannissaries who were Christans living under the Ottomans. So even if my point bellow is invalid, I don't feel a book on Islamic black slaves is all that helpful to the discussion.

And unless Ronald Segal has a PhD in History focusing on Islamic history, his works have nothing of worth to add to the conversation. I hate to sound rude and dismissive, but just because someone writes a history book, doesn't mean they know what their talking about. The majority of 'history' books sold today are by authors who find some sources to support their viewpoint to make money, not actual historians. People make up fake controversy, mistranslates or leave out sources, and then rake in lots of money. If he does have a PhD (or equivalent doctorate, I think the English have something a bit different), then I'm still unsure how the book topic applies.

And yes, the slavery did give them their high class. In many Muslim countries the elite of the military were slaves, they looked down upon the free folk, and a free born person who was not a slave generally couldn't rise as high as if he was a slave unless he was born into nobility. You couldn't be a Janissary if you weren't a slave, and they were the elite of the elite. Some of the boys recruited for their became governors and other civil servants. Sure if you were born a son of a sultan or noble then you would outrank them. But out of your average common born people, the highest ranking amongst them would almost certainly be slaves. High ranking government officials were often slaves in certain cultures (the ones doing the accounting and actual work, not say a governor or local prince).

Sorry for the history lesson, I don't mean to come off as haughty. I just feel it is unfair to impose modern assumptions and morals by saying blanket statements that really are untrue.


[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-06 06:54 ]

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-06 06:55 ]
So I'm joining the slavery debate a bit late (busy day and all) but here's my two cents. Sorry about the length

@Steppemerc: While you're certainly right about slaves in th 12th century, Dollhouse is not. It is a show (currently) about a facility in Los Angeles, a city in a country where slavery was made illegal by the Emancipation Proclamation. While slaves may have had a high status in other cultures, in this one they did not, and as the show is written for a primarily American audience (apologies to people from elsewhere) it is meant to appeal to American sensibilities, namely that slavery is wrong.

Granted we could take the Firefly approach, wherein prostitution is not only legal, Companions actually have control over who their clients are and are women of high status. However, these women chose to become Companions, went through rigorous training to do so (read: they felt the music!) and were considered equal members of society to everyone else if not better. They were not slaves in any way.

@Everyone else in this debate: The real question here is are the Actives slaves? The simplest answer is that they are not. They are under a contract to work for a company for a set amount of time (5 years) in exchange for a service rendered (helping them forget a traumatic event). One does not voluntarily become a slave in modern society, free will is regarded as precious to all of us. Instead, and obviously anyone correct me if I'm wrong, what this describes is more like indentured labor, with side effect of not remembering your time as an indentured worker. In fact, in some ways it is even better, as the Actives are basically set for life monetarily afterwards (though emotionally and psychologically...who knows?).

But then there is the interesting case of Priya/Sierra who it appears may not have volunteered but was instead forced to join based on a client's wishes. The real problem here is that based on the dialogue from what I remember, there is no indication of whether the Nolan asked the Dollhouse to obtain Priya and they force-recruited her or if they somehow managed to get her in a room with Adelle and have a conversation that went something like:

Adelle: "We can make all this go away, all the hurt you experienced from almost being raped. All you have to do is sign your life away for 5 years."
Priya: "And I won't remember?"
Etc.

I honestly could see Joss pulling that on us, considering all the twists that have happened in his other work. Regardless, in the former case of her being force-made into an Active, it is slavery. In the latter case of her volunteering (albeit by deception) it is indentured servitude. There is a very big difference, and seeing as how the people working at the Dollhouse like to believe they are performing a necessary and good service for the rest of humankind, it would not surprise me if they found some way to ensure that the latter case happened. It would, at the very least, keep their conscience clear, though there is the matter of having Sierra being imprinted to willingly have sex with her (almost?) rapist. That is, of course, assuming that the entire business with Nolan actually happened and it's not just a way for her to get closure over Hearn, who she can't directly confront due to his being dead and all. Unfortunately, it's hard/impossible to tell which of these two scenarios took place as the time we see Sierra imprinted (first episode), she's (presumably) in pain from the imprinting process, though it might also be because she doesn't want this and is resisting. Who knows? Joss does I imagine.

Ok, that was a long. Sorry about that, but I mean, Dollhouse really honestly doesn't describe slavery as well as it does indentured servitude, which still sucked, but at least had a time limit (which could be manipulated based on the owners whim to make the time of service longer, which I imagine the Dollhouse might do at some point). Right, so now I'm done. Feel free to attack me/tell me how awesome I am/agree wtih me/criticize my grammar/etc.
Most of what you said I agree with, with a few caveats. Dollhouse may take place in modern America, but so did Buffy. And while I may be in the minority, I was of the belief (with Cordy, of all people) that Buffy was above the law, and totally justified to kill humans that she deemed evil if she was given the power to make such a decision with demons, as we were shown good demons many times, and very despicable humans. The episode that always bugged me was Ted. She had every right to kill Ted, he struck her, thus making him a bad person. Giles was totally right to kill Ben, and his unflinching attitude towards it cemented him as one of my favorite characters in the Buffverse.

Those statements do not exactly fit my beliefs in regards to real life, but its a fictional world, not the same as ours despite many similarities. Same with Dollhouse. I'm not saying that it is right what they did to pre-Sierra. I'm not saying I believe that the Dollhouse is a good thing. I just think its all gray, the morals involved are not the same as modern American morals, and I will not apply my own beliefs, much less American societal beliefs (since my own beliefs and morals, while obviously influenced are not constrained by those around me) to any show, much less one as gray as Dollhouse. Sure I'll have opinions whether people are bad or good, often very strong ones. But I do not expect or want all the characters or the world in Dollhouse to have to comply to whatever American societal values are (which when you think about it, are so incredibly varied).

Also the Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves, as it kept the slaves in the border states that were part of the Union as slaves. It was the Thirteenth Amendment that ended slavery. Sorry to nitpick, I just had to bring it up. ;)
Steppemerc, if you hadn't, I would have...
Catherine, Suzie, Rune - Yay for you!!!!

Steppemerc - While I strongly support your ability to engage in (to me) pointless and irrelevant historical speculation and word games, I do find such word games pointless. Especially focussing on Islamic slavery when posting about a show (NOT BUFFY, WHICH IS OVER EXCEPT IN THE COMICS) set in contemporary America, which has its own history of slavery.

On another topic, if anyone is interested, regarding overbearing cops: google 'Officer Powell Ryan Moats Dallas'. No physical force was used, but I think the results were more devastating than punches.

[ edited by falina on 2009-04-06 14:37 ]

[ edited by falina on 2009-04-06 14:38 ]
doubtful guest, I consider many of your posts interesting and thought-provoking. Having said that, I feel I have EVERY RIGHT to bring what ever opinions, thoughts, fantasies, values or whims I want in evaluating a TV show.

It's a TV show by Joss. Things will change.
falina
Steppemerc - While I strongly support your ability to engage in (to me) pointless and irrelevant historical speculation and word games, I do find such word games pointless. Especially focussing on Islamic slavery when posting about a show (NOT BUFFY, WHICH IS OVER EXCEPT IN THE COMICS) set in contemporary America, which has its own history of slavery.

doubtful guest, I consider many of your posts interesting and thought-provoking. Having said that, I feel I have EVERY RIGHT to bring what ever opinions, thoughts, fantasies, values or whims I want in evaluating a TV show.

No comment.
I've only read about 1/3 of the thread, but it kinda gets me that so many people are so adamant about Dr. Saunder's actions being nothing but evil... Adelle is talking about killing aberrant actives. If a few mind games can "fix" them and prevent their demise, why is that more black than grey?

Also, regarding Sierra: We don't know just how Nolan "pulled strings." He could've manipulated events to put her in a situation in which she would "volunteer" as willingly as the rest. Just because Boyd can characterize her closure as facing the man who stole her power... that doesn't mean he (or the Dollhouse) is aware of Nolan's role in making Sierra an active. He could really just be referring to the rape, as it's certainly heinous enough on its own.
@Steppemerc: Thanks for the correction actually. Like I said, it was late and the Emancipation Proclamation was the first American document that came to mind when dealing with slavery, though you are completely correct that it was the 13th Amendment that formally ended the practice. However two comments:

1. While I agree with you in terms of Giles killing Ben as it was a necessary and justified action (and firmly cemented Giles as the greatest British librarian of all time), I think the killing of Ted is much more morally ambiguous subject. Granted we find out that Ted was a robot, thus easing our own worry that Buffy is randomly killing people, but recall that at the time, Buffy felt guilty for killing someone she believed to be a human. Ted hitting her does not justify her killing him as she obviously knows that she is stronger than him. Granted, Ted hitting her deserved punishment in the worst possible way, death is final. The beauty of that episode is that it reveals that Buffy, when threatened to that extreme, can become like Faith and feels the horror of maybe having killed someone, despite knowing that it is her job to protect people. Again, Ted turns out to be a robot, so everything is fine, but for a while, the episode goes to this really morally gray area (granted it's not a perfect analysis, but I'm on limited time).

2. While both of these take place in fictional worlds, Dollhouse is partially intended to show the audience the dangers of a world in which such an organization exists. I'm not entirely sure if you're playing Devil's Advocate or not, but in what world is the society so morally gray that the attempted rape of pre-Sierra is a good thing? Man on the Street, if anything, should have showed us that Joss is setting his show in a world with contemporary morals, just based on how the various street interviewees respond to questions about the Dollhouse. Therefore, I feel completely justified in assigning an American morality to the show and viewing it through such eyes.
Having said that, I feel I have EVERY RIGHT to bring what ever opinions, thoughts, fantasies, values or whims I want in evaluating a TV show.


As long as it doesn't break our rules here. Then you don't.
Of course posters have "every right" to believe as they do and to post accordingly. My recent post referrencing "veto/trump power" over thread discussions grew out of what has appeared, at least to me, to be the frequency with which postings by many people on certain key subjects to this show (personal freedom and sexuality being the most obvious) tend very quickly to mark certain characters or situations, not as evil or wrong in the opinion of the poster, but as evil or wrong without possibility of argument: a character who is at all a shade past light grey becomes "just plain evil" or "a manifest evil with no mitigation or excuse, period," etc. Or a situation of the limits of a person's ability to consent to being a doll is either marked as "slavery, period, end of story." Or, similarly, the possibility of, say, there being any interesting grey areas in Adelle's contract with the actives is overruled by reference to current U.S. contract law.

This, to me, results in a strong trend to place some people who are trying to tease out their own opinions about the limits of personal freedoms or our ability to choose to give them up, specifically as revealed in this show, in an odd position where they seem to be running the risk of being accused of defending (American historical) slavery or of wanting to throw out basic current (American?) laws or rights. To be clear, I am not trying to suggest that anyone who believes that the Dollhouse is ultimately an unforgivable case of, for example, slavery, cannot or should not state this. I do feel that they would do well to remember -- as Falina did by including the phrase "(to me)" in a recent response post to another writer -- the importance of phrases distinguishing opinion from declared fiat.

Personally, I find the situation of freedom in the show to have much stronger parallels to things like indentured servitude or some other historical models of slavery than to the history of American enslavement of black African peoples. And I find some of the most abhorrent of situations it proposes -- most notably Sierra's suggested history of how she became an active – to be important and very uncomfortable reminders of the likely slippery slope of morality that even the most initially idealistic of dollhouse employees (Adelle? Claire? Boyd?) likely find themselves on as their time with the organization passes, but not to be, in and of themselves, demonstrations that all other situations/actives/etc in the show must have exactly the same moral status. I have no problem with a viewer, faced with all of this, being of the opinion that there is no way all this has stayed in the grey rather than the black, and that a character, or even the show itself, has become irreedemable. I do get irritable when that opinion gets stated in a post as a certainty that all other posters have to either accept or use up all of their energies dodging charges of moral naivete or irrelevance. This is the "veto/trump power" over threads that I was referring to, and I apologize to falina, in particular, if I made her the involuntary standard-bearer of this practice.

Now I am off to write my brilliantly insightful pilot script that comments on the current imbalance of money and resources in America by imagining a future society whose economy is based on devouring its own children. Gonna be so touching it'll make Swift and Goya cry and call their parents to say "I love you."
Simon, understood. However, I CAN do everything I stated in the post. There are rules imposed for posting, which is fine, but I was responding to DG's implied restrictions on my personal responses. Which, upon rereading, may not have been there.

DG, reading your more recent post I agree that indentured servitude may be a more correct term. I think I understand what you are saying and I don't disagree.

I think.

[ edited by falina on 2009-04-06 18:17 ]
I loved the dream sequence. I much prefer dreams that are obvious dreams so they don't have that gotcha moment. And I'm still giggling at Paul's "But I have a thing she needs."

And, gossi, I wondered about the implications of that "not again" too. Seems like Paul and Caroline had some kind of relationship before.

[ edited by Music on 2009-04-06 20:23 ]
Rune, I know that Buffy felt bad about it, and indeed it is ambiguous. But when I was watching it, I was of the belief that, even before Ted was revealed to be a drug making murdering robot that Buffy had every right to do what she did. Maybe I'm crazy or too violent minded, or am to influenced by past values no longer feasible in modern society, but if someone is abusing you, I think you have every right the make them stop by whatever means necessary, including killing them. I also felt Buffy was totally justified in how she got her money in Season 8, despite Willow's lecturing. Besides Buffy is the magical Slayer, saving the world and all. If that gives her carte blanche to kill demons, why not humans? Because we're human? Or just because it was on the WB and they didn't want to have such shocking things?

falina, the reason I am talking about Buffy is that it is another Joss show set in America, so I was using it as an example regarding whether just because a show is set in America, those values or whatever ought to be applied to the characters. Sure what Boyd and DeWitt and Saunders do may be seen as wrong to modern American morals, but obviously such a job does not always attract good people. If they did not do what they did, bringing varying degrees and compassion and understanding, or at least trying to save the Dolls from being boxed, then far worse people would abuse the Dolls. It's all gray, which is why I love it.

And I understand and agree that in the Dollhouse verse the majority of people have the same morals or whatever to our own. And attempted (or successful) rape is obviously wrong, and that is why I want Nolan to be killed in a violent manner by Sierra.

However my whole purpose of bringing up slaves in the past is to examine the morality of the Dollhouse itself, which I firmly believe is still in the gray in terms of morality, though the revelation of pre-Sierra's past is darkening that gray. But if I understand Joss' intent correctly in Firefly, people do not change, technology does. Taking that to the logical conclusion that people today are the same as those in the 12th and 13th century, with different technology and beliefs and morals to be sure, but fundamentally the same, still humans trying to survive. And if people back in the day were fine with selling themselves into slavery (or whatever you want to call it, since slavery is not the ideal word to be used in most cases) for a set amount of years to gain enough money to survive, then some of the Dolls (or rather pre Dolls) must be as well. Obviously Caroline may not be one of those cases, nor pre-Sierra. But it seems to me pre-November wanted to erase the hurt regarding her child, or something similar. There are obviously varying levels of coercion used, but as Rune mentioned Man on the Street, some people said they wouldn't mind it, suggesting to me that not all the Dolls were coerced.

Finally, I'm unsure what word games I am playing, unless you mean the issue about the terminology about slavery, in which case it is a very important one, since people seem to be willing to toss about 'dolls are slaves' with abandon.

QingTing, agree 100%. Certainly what she did is a better alternative to boxing.

And Rowan, a hearty thank you.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-06 20:33 ]

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-06 20:38 ]
Doubtful Guest, I in no way feel that my opinions are in any way better or more right than anyone else's and apologize if it seemed that way. They are just opinions, not facts. However, I am glad that you agree with me on the indentured servitude aspect of the Dollhouse. It really does seem like a better analogy than slavery.

Steppemerc, the Ted issue is quite honestly very morally ambiguous, yet I feel it has to do on some level with her understanding of her own power. Granted Ted made her feel weak and powerless, but at the same time, she knew she was more powerful than him. The reaction of her mother is probably the biggest indicator of how much it was still a wrong thing to do, despite any justification. Maybe I need to watch the episode again as it has been a while. In terms of sesason 8, I'm still making my way through season 6 Buffy/3 Angel, so I can't really comment on that.

In terms of your latter comment:
"But if I understand Joss' intent correctly in Firefly, people do not change, technology does. Taking that to the logical conclusion that people today are the same as those in the 12th and 13th century, with different technology and beliefs and morals to be sure, but fundamentally the same, still humans trying to survive. And if people back in the day were fine with selling themselves into slavery (or whatever you want to call it, since slavery is not the ideal word to be used in most cases) for a set amount of years to gain enough money to survive, then some of the Dolls (or rather pre Dolls) must be as well."
I think that it's more the fundamental needs and desires of people don't change, and as such they will continue to have the same petty grievances and squabbles over things, no matter how evolved their technology becomes. However, societies do experience change and growth. If they didn't, we'd still be stuck as hunter-gatherers. Yes basic human behavior doesn't change, but those behaviors are expressed differently depending on the society, I think. Therefore, in the 12th and 13th century, humans trying to survive sold themselves into slavery only because slavery was an acceptable practice at the time. However, it is not quite the same today. This might just be me arguing semantics but I think it has more to do with a person's perception of what is happening rather than the actuality of the event that dictates the behavior. People's perceptions of acceptable behavior changes as societies evolve, thus Caroline or Mellie would probably not willingly give themselves up as slaves in modern society (or even indentured workers), but would accept the offer if it was presented in such a way that it fit their societal norms. At this point I might be on the same page as you, but I'm not actually sure. However, humans selling themselves into slavery in the 12th century, correct me if I'm wrong, did so because they were unable to fulfill the basic human needs for survival if they did not (find shelter, food, water, etc.) and became slaves so that they could essentially fulfill the first two levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (physiological and safety). These people are becoming Dolls (at least those who volunteer) because they have experienced a great trauma that they wish to forget. They theoretically already have fulfilled much of their needs, but a traumatic experience is affecting their lives and they need that removed so they can function normally, at least on the inside. Thus the Dollhouse is providing them with a way to regain love/belonging and esteem, the next two levels of the pyramid. Thus, the Dolls aren't exactly seeking the same thing as 12th century peasants, but an evolved version of a similar idea, if that makes sense. Again, we're probably in agreement here, Steppemerc.

In terms of the Man on the Street argument, people that you street interview don't really have time to consider what it means to give up your life for five years. They look at the basics of it (get paid a lot after, have lots of sex, don't remember any bad times while a doll, etc.) and don't really think about the fact that they are giving up their minds and bodies to be used by a corporation for the benefit of wealthy clients. While some people might be okay with this, and even then only after some consideration, I'd imagine the majority of people would not, which is also shown in the street interviews. This is seen just by looking at the difference in the attitudes of the respondents depending on how they responded (favorably or unfavorably). Unfavorably were generally more serious, and favorably treated it a little more like a joke.
Hmm, that is true regarding the Man on the Street interviews, most of the positive ones were ridiculous. But I know that I would certainly prefer to be a doll (knowing as much as we the viewers know it would entail, prostitution, crimes, etc.) for 5 years than go to jail for the rest of my life if I committed some crime the 'house could take care of, and as long as I don't remember anything I did as a doll. In any other case obviously I much prefer free will.

And I do agree that societies change, but I was trying to say humans don't. You just were able to express it far better than I was able to. And indeed, I'm sure most folks who sold themselves into slavery did so in order to survive, I personally don't know any examples of well off people doing it just for kicks. Though there were the sons of military slaves who really really wanted to be military slaves themselves (once they got their way their quality deteriorated). And some women were quite happy to be harem slaves to a Sultan or Shah due to the extreme power and influence it gave (others less so). But that's not really applicable to Dollhouse, as the Dolls are obviously not gaining prestige from their state.

But what I was trying to get at that if people in the past were willing to give up their freedom to survive or to better their life, then people today would be as well, as seen in Dollhouse. I agree, if you just say "Hey, if you'll be my slave I'll make sure to don't starve" to people they wouldn't accept it, but rather making it fit with their own societal views, exactly as you said. I personally think, from what we have seen that the Dolls vary from being forced (pre-Sierra), coerced due to crimes (Caroline), and very possibly people who do so because they are down and out, or in a great deal of pain (I'm thinking maybe Victor couldn't handle something he did in the military, and maybe Mellie was in pain regarding her child, but there isn't enough proof to say for sure)... but still choose to do so. But probably not people doing so just for the heck of it, for obvious reasons.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-07 00:36 ]
Regarding the seriousness of the "Man on the Street" interviewees: It struck me that the reporter's introduction went out of its way to say that the "urban legend" of the dollhouse had been batted around for 20 years. Given that, I think it is fair to assume that the topic had been batted around in tons of informal conversations (dinner parties, dorm room philosophical bull sessions, academic discussions of pop culture themes, weblogs devoted obsessively to particular pop culture phenomenae, not that I would know anything about those) such that most of those asked "on the street" have some prior history of mulling these things at various degrees of seriousness. (The interview that caught me up short was the young woman who seemed to think of the dollhouse as kinda like an odd parallel to the peace corps or americorp, and thought it might be somehow admirable to spend a few years that way.) I don't, myself, think that there is much ground to be gained by assuming that the positive opinions expressed can be assumed to be drastically less serious than the negatives. Heck, even the one that seems to have gotten the biggest laugh from most of us -- the guy who wants to experiment with a guy, to the bemusement of his girlfriend -- had the air of someone who had given this some thought in the past and, it seemed to me, was really yearning to find a way to resolve something "serious" for himself. Admittedly, he seemed to be visualizing being a client, not a doll, but his reasons for visualizing this seemed to have a non-trivial relationship to his sense of himself.
Well, Steppemerc, at least we finally agreed on that. Though of course, there's still the issue of the degree to which Sierra joined of her own free will, which I'm pretty sure none of us but writers on the show and Joss can answer (and hopefully will answer by the end of this season? God I love closure/knowing things). Is she under the same conditions as the others? Is her joining contractual or not? I'm still waffling on whether Nolan was a real person who abused her or if he was a plant to substitute for the recently-deceased Hearn to offer her closure. In the latter case, perhaps she did join of her own free will to rid herself of some other horrible memory and the recent rapes had supplanted those as more traumatic in her subconscious. In the former case, well, no matter how much she is paid at the end of her contract and how little she remembers of her time as a Doll, it still goes against the moral code that the Dollhouse seems to operate by. It is what gives Topher, Adelle, Saunders, and even Boyd a semi-sense of "rightness" in what they are doing, and without it, doubts about the morallity of the Dollhouse would emerge much sooner amongst the staff.

doubtful guest, though the subject of the Dollhouse has undoubtedly been the discussion of many an awesome evening of friendship and winery amongst the general public in that reality, I still think there's a difference between discussing something at length and being asked a question about it on the spot. Street interviews don't really give you much time to reflect on what your answers should be (you don't want to look slow in front of the camera), so you naturally say the first thing that comes to mind that jives with your beliefs (or in some cases, say it in a drawn out fashion and reveal your interest in experimenting with another man). I don't really remember all the street interviews, I'll have to go back and watch them at some point when I have some free time (because I obviously don't right now). However, think of it this way, if a random person with a TV camera and a mic popped out of nowhere as you were on your way to get some pizza after a day at work and asked, "What is your opinion on the Loch Ness monster?" how would you respond? The Dollhouse, like the Loch Ness monster is the subject of much rumor and speculation, but has no definitive proof (feel free to argue me on the Nessie point). As such, it's not something you're really going to bring up all that often in random conversation. Maybe a better example is something like the existence of Area 51, and being asked if the government should experiment on aliens, but even with that, you're going to have responses kind of like:

Person 1: "No, it's a complete fabrication and people who believe it's real are idiots."

Person 2: "Of course it's real, the government has known about aliens for a long time. However, I advocate for their ethical treatment and they should all be let go to play with those space whales from Fantasia 2000."

Person 3: "Aliens abducted me, I say kill 'em all! They keep flattening my crops to make pictures!!"

Person 4: "I want to be an alien."

And so forth. I believe there's a difference between the snapshot of a person's thoughts as presented in a street interview and what emerges after a long discussion where people are allowed to articulate their views and be influenced by the insight of others. I think that made sense, sort of.
I remember Mal's big speech in Serenity, where he did not talk against people changing; he "did not hold" with people being IMPROVED by outside forces, such as the blue glove guys tried to do with the pax. River pointed out early on that people "didn't like" to be messed with.

People and societies do change, in the context of the technology. Time previously spent cutting word, milking cows, doing laundry in barrels or streams is used for other purposes.

I'm not arguing the change can be slow and incremental, but people's daily lives in industrialized (now there's a change) countries are vastly different from pre-World War days. English farmers were scandalized and inspired by irreverent U.S. flyboys, women had to do men's jobs and they did them.

Just migrating from rural to urban life necessitates change. As to the basic human emotions, love, hate, apathy, laziness are still present, but as where one lives changes, outlets for those emotions are modified.

Yes, humans change. A few years ago the city of Brussels went on strike to spontaneously protest a child molestation ring. That Austrian pervert recently convicted of multiple crimes for keeping his daughter in the basement for 20+ years - that could have been ignored as private family business.

Or if one chooses one could argue that those atrocities are proof humans don't change.

One constant, though, is the primacy of the golden rule - the ones with the gold make their own rules. Individuals will judge the 'morality' of the Actives' situation for themselves.
Rune, I basically agree. I just think the "snapshot," as you say, will be affected by what has gone before...in your Area 51 example, if you have had an interesting conversation or two on the subject in the past, your answer will draw heavily on whatever your thoughts were at those previous times. Maybe something like "do you believe there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK" or "do you believe in life after death" might be other examples. I realize these are not "urban legends," but the urban legend presented here is presented as one that has been pretty prominent in L.A. for 20 years, and is so fraught with all those metaphysical overtones that I'd be surprised if a huge percentage of angelinos hadn't gotten into a debate about it at some point, whether late night in a dorm room or after work having a few drinks with buddies, in which case, some of their attitudes about what the dollhouse means would have had a chance to take on some specificity before the mic gets shoved in their face.
Awesome ep.

Posted this elsewhere, but thought I'd add my thoughts to this thread.


This episode made me wonder more about Dr. Saunders' character. Is she there to help them? Or is the safety as a whole more important than the individual (which seems to be what she's saying).

OTOH, you have that weird phone call that Echo made to Paul... she got the file & info from Dr. Saunders' office. Was it "left out" by mistake? Is it a pure coincidence? Or does this further prove that Saunders is the inside person?

Also, I couldn't help but feel a loss for our characters. Now that they're loop is closed, how long will it take them to break that doll-state again? Will Victor still be in love with Sierra after all of this?

And what's with Echo's mountains? I thought it was a flashback to the "delivering the baby" imprint, but maybe not. What do you think?

[ edited by korkster on 2009-04-07 02:06 ]
I had problems connecting to the Internet, but I didn't think I could tell the tech: "Please hurry because I need to continue to argue with strangers over a TV show."

Once more, for the record, I never said that Dollhouse = slavery. I don't think there's any exact parallel to the Dollhouse because of the mind-wiping, personality-inserting technology.

Steppe: I disagree that a person needs a Ph.D. to write an accurate book on history. Ronald Segal is a the former editor of a publishing house on Africa and has written 13 books. The book I cited was praised by the International Journal of African Historical Studies. BUT I understand that you're looking at a different time and place for Islamic slavery.

Re: morality. You seem to be espousing cultural relativism, which I reject. I have no problem applying my ideas about what is right or wrong to the Dollhouse.
Rewatching "Needs," here's a scene that struck me as well-done: when the actives woke up as "themselves," look how differently they react to the coed shower. Sierra is dismayed by it. (Probably the most common response among the general public, though it might or might not have something to do with her abuse history.) Victor is also pretty worried, but not so much because of being seen naked in and of itself -- more because he's afraid he'll embarass himself by having an, um, man-reaction (which obviously didn't bother him when he was in full-on doll mode). And November (Mellie) isn't bothered at all. This acknowledges something kinda obvious, but easy to lose sight of in the hurly burly of the hot button issues that surround sexual control in this show: everyone has different limits when it comes to what bothers them, limits that don't necessarily boil down to simple binaries of gender.

So why bring up this kinda trivial basic? Well, I got to thinking after some of the recent hot-button back and forth on the episode threads that it would be nice to have a place to look at what some of the individual differences in our reactions to the implications of the Dollhouse would be (and not just on gender or sexual control) in an environment that had some continuity outside the episode threads and might not get as polarized. So I came up with this thread on whedonesque.org.  Kinda late in the weekly conversation to try this, but let's see if my game interests anybody. (p.s., are people here more likely to go somewhere other than .org for threads with more "continuity?" If so, let me know if I should be trying this game elsewhere.)
I suppose I could give this strange new website that I've never visited before and look all shiny a try. I guess I'm wondering if the debate will still rage on here though. Which may get confusing at points, or have people bring up things which were long ago discussed on the .org site. I don't suppose there's anyway to have independent discussion threads on this site that stand alone from the newsfeeds is there? I feel like that might work slightly better for this purpose, though of course, I'm still very much new to commenting/posting and only just found out a snazzy .org site even existed.

Also, in terms of the cultural relativism debate Suzie , why exactly do you reject it? I'm arguing that peoples morals are shaped by their environment, and that these morals in turn evolve as people evolve their thinking, and vice versa. I'm not arguing that culture dictates morals, because then morality would never evolve. What I am saying is that while people's morality is shaped by their surroundings as a whole, individuals can have slight differences in their thinking which (if made public and popularized) can shift an entire population's moral compass.

doubtful guest , do you think these limits are innate to the person or had to do with the imprints? Seems like the latter as the Dolls didn't really know embarrasment, at least not in a more evolved sense. I use the word evolve a lot.
korkster, she might have taken the file from Dr. Saunders' office, but she could've gotten it anywhere else, she was walking around the place for a while before Adelle and Dominic realized she wasn't in the car with the others. They didn't even know she had the gun.
Rune, one reason I reject cultural relativism is because of who sets the moral rules for the society. Let's say someone says: It's the cultural norm in Country X to stone women to death if they have sex outside of marriage. Or, it's the cultural norm of Country Y for whites to enslave blacks. The problem is, the people in the religious and/or political leadership positions in Country X are men, and those in Country Y are whites.
Rune, the limits I was trying to get at were the ones of the "real person" -- and I'm not sure if I am thinking the same as you or not. Did you mean "latter" or "former"? I think the dolls don't care, but when they are imprinted with their "real" selves (minus most memories) we get some idea what their "real" reactions might be. Oh, and the .org thing is new ground for me, too -- I asked a few weeks ago what people thought of the tendency of some threads here to kinda discontinuously cover the same ground and was referred there...which doesn't mean I don't think individual episode threads as done here doesn't have its own value. Could go to TWOP or something, but I seem to be allergic to extreme snark as a default mode.

korkster -- do you think the loop-closure closed their entire process of slow compositing or just ameliorated the most immediate of traumas that were making them scare their handlers? I kinda assume the latter.
Fair enough Suzie, but my point is that while individuals may change the morality of a society, they grow up with values of that or another society as well and are thus affected by it. They may choose to reject it after analysis, but they are still influenced by the norms of the society they live in, at least initially, and that's really what I'm speaking too.

doubtful gues, you're saying what I'm thinking. Although you have to wonder to what extent those are their real personalities. Devious, isn't it? TWoP is mad snarktastic, so I'd like to avoid that as well. I suppose we see how well the .org turns out.
People sell themselves into indentured servitude in modern day America. The US military has certain professional scholarships (my own familiarity is with medical scholarships) which pay for x years of post graduate education, in exchange for which you serve x years as active duty in the military. I was very nearly indentured to the United States Army Veterinary Corps. Serving in the armed forces at the time would have been to subastantially compromise my own morals, but I was very nearly in a place that would have permitted me to do so, if only to escape my concurrent circumtances.

I'm glad I didn't do it, but I can certainly understand it, and I can understand chosing to become a "doll."
Rune, yes, I completely agree that people are strongly influenced by the morals, values, whatever of the society they grow up in.

QT: I understand that someone might volunteer to be a doll, but I think it's different from the military or even indentured servitude as practiced in early American history. One key difference is that you give up all free will as a doll. As a U.S. soldier, you can still refuse to do something, even though there will be consequences, which may include imprisonment. The same went for indentured servants. The consequences might be great for resisting, but you could still try to resist.
I find this discussion on choosing "Dollhood" alternatingly chilling and attractive. It seems one would be lacking in imagination to choose such an awful fate (chilling) v. a chance to drop out one's life for awhile and come back rich and with a clean slate (attractive).

From our limited view what we see of the DH is not that bad a deal. Apparently assignments aren't remembered so there's no shame or embarassment. In fact, the rules of good taste are controlled by Adelle and her bosses. Whether one finds the notion of dropping out for 5 years appealing is an individual choice. And hasn't Joss said this show is about choices? (That's a real question, I'm not sure I'm remembering correctly.)

Actually, it seems like the perfect surrogate for infertile couples. An attractive individual to donate a womb or sperm, no recriminations or threat of keeping the baby.

Personally, I'm neither in favor of prostitution (there are victims) nor anywhere near gorgeous enough to be a doll. But just as some people do choose to live lives others consider outside societal norms I can see some people choosing dollhood. It's a situation I intellectually understand but emotionally find heinous.

I understand the similarities to the armed services contracts mentioned above but the military has improved the life of a LOT of people born poor.

I still consider it slavery.
doubtful guest, I don't think it's closed their entire process, but who's to say that *this particular* loop will open up again?

If they really did find closure with those issues, who's to say that those particular aspects will come up again? (Will November still grieve for/remember her daughter, or will she move on?)

It reminds me of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. There are particular memories that those people want to keep, but once they've been festered/revealed/deleted/"wiped", they don't necessarily make those same memories again. They're gone. There's nothing.

Now, that said, because those memories haven't been forged, those crazy lovebirds get back together (what they think is the first time), because there's something about them that they're drawn to (like I see with Victor & Sierra). However, because of the wipe, they're doomed to repeat similar (not necessarily the same) mistakes. From memories/experience, you grow.

I guess I'm just saying that because those memories & experience have been "wiped" from our Dolls, they may not *make the same "mistake"* again. It's an unknown if our beloved characters will be inherently the same or not.
Can't wait for the episode tonight. Few things:

1) Victor will still be obsessed with Sierra since it is a primal instinct thing. He is drawn to her. And Saunders says at the end of the episode that "he's in love". Not in the past tense. End of discussion there.

2) It's very possible that Adelle and others don't REALLY know the full details of Sierras past in the same way that Adelle never REALLY knows the details of a clients engagement (all computer parameters and such).

3) Topher is awesome. I don't know what you all are smoking. He's funny, bright, likable and usually is the one to fill us in on the exposition. And he does it in an entertaining way. He is nerdy and immature at times, but that doesn't make him unlikable. It makes him human. A nerdy, somewhat immature human. Which I must say I identify with.

4) Again, great episode. Powerful episode. The end, with the actives marching out into the sunlight, that was a POWERFUL scene.

I look forward to tonights episode? *sigh*..... Only a few more hours....... I hate waiting.

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