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September 26 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the Dollhouse season 2 premiere. The episode is called 'Vows' and it's written and directed by Joss. If you missed it, you can now watch it at Fox on Demand and Hulu and buy it on iTunes.

Previously on Dollhouse:

Can't quite remember what happened in season one? Then why not sit back, relax and watch 20th Century Fox's recap video.

I'm guessing there will be a lot more on-the-fly coverage here and on twitter because of the longer ad breaks than last year? ;)
Can you believe when-- oh, right, it's not on yet.
Speaking of On-The-Fly coverage, I'm hosting a Watch Party with Skype voice chat at 9EST/8CST. I thought it would be fun. :)
Anyone interested, find me on Skype: john.pavlich
How long until it's on? I'm in Australia.
It starts in 20 minutes for me. :)
Trying not to have a seizure from anticipation.
Ahh...of course my computer is extra slow tonite. 5 minutes!
After watching a few minutes of the lead-in show, I'm not expecting a lot of crossover fans.
So excited. SOOOOOO excited! :D
Agent uh, Mr. Ballard looks GOOOOOD!!!!
I gotta wait til it hit itunes...damn you europe!!!
Not crazy about Adelle's hair.
"You're touching my face."
New credits.... still just Echo. Shame.
Alexis Denisof? Who's he? ;)

Squeeeeee!!!!!
I like Adele's hair. It's spiffy.
Ivy/Sierra...OMG

Topher and the mice....there should always be mice around Topher now.
Hey everybody. I'm watching it. Are you watching it?? Woohoo!
I thought she was on some other show now
where is everybody?
Awww....Whiskey. Boyd is of course awesome.
Everyone I know is pretty poorly constructed...
Ain't it the truth!
Eliza looks radiant in that wedding dress.
She does look amazing. This is killing Ballard, I'm sure.
aww...poor Ballard... :(
Wait! Did I just hear her swear!??? I could have sworn she said the F-word!!!
Oh why isn't Ballard her handler? ;)
"You're the client"? Huh?
She was talking about the Stilettos. I'm sure I just heard wrong. :)
My buddy totally said that "I'm very tall" line, a half second before Boyd did.
Yeah I really hoped to see other cast members in the season 2's opening credits.
Still so funny to hear Alexis with an American accent.
Wesley, Lee Adama, Cool
Hey, so who's the guy looking at pictures of Mellie and Paul?
That's not what he's looking at.
I'm wondering the same thing.
I logged in here to see if everyone thought as I did that Echo said the "F" word.

No consensus??
Obviously she didn't say the F word. This is American broadcast television.
Loved the new opening. Not enough Eliza.
Amy Acker is fucking amazing.
who's elenor penn
OMFG...how in the world is she going to get through this?
Eliza's not so bad either.
Wow! Everybody is bringing it tonight. "Who did they make me this time?"
This episode is sooooooo good!
Squishy, Eleanor Penn was Echo's imprint in the first episode of season one.
Then what did she say? And at some point, American broadcast television is going to allow the word as it has most others once prohibited gradually over the years.
yeah but who's elenor penn?
Ellie, some of us called her.
oh haha thanks bix
Now I don't feel so alone in thinking I heard a swear word. :) Eliza and Amy are kicking all kinds of dramatic ass tonight!
I thought she said the F word too
Ugh! All that wide open space in that hanger, and Joss is still having fight scenes shot as if they're crammed into that damn kitchen!
OMG this is awesome. If things don't work out with Kai, Joss will you marry me? :D
Ballard/Echo. Awesome!
Oh man, that was intense.
I thought that was swell!!!
Loved the score and songs in this episode. However, I'm not particularly interested in next week's episode. We'll see how things go. Most importantly, I'm just glad this show doesn't look like Epitaph One. Whew! :)
Loved the Saunders/Topher dialog mid-ep. B-story, but the most compelling part for me.
Wait, Sauders/Topher was the B story?
Brilliant episode.
I'm definitely going to need a second, and possibly a third viewing to process it all.
What was the song from the end of the episode?

And why are FOX shows this season not shown in letterbox in standard-def like last year? There were many awkward fullscreen shots in tonights episode (and every episode of Glee as well). There are so many shots of just empty space where the characters in it are on either side of the screen but were cut off due to the framing. My school needs to upgrade to high-def.

Love tonights episode, BTW.
I'm very curious to know why Adelle is letting Paul be the client. That's a pretty serious commitment of resources for someone who can't pay. And even if Paul has inside info now, it's unlikely he could get anyone on the outside to believe him. They all think he's nuts or incompetent or both. So why is she doing this? Enquiring minds want to know.

ETA: I see that her short term goal is getting him to be Echo's handler. But why? I know Joss will reveal all. :)

[ edited by ActualSize on 2009-09-26 03:17 ]
That was a fantastic episode. SteveP, the Saunders/Topher/Boyd stuff was my favorite, as well, and honestly, I really saw that as the A-story. But does this mean Saunders is gone for good, cause.....:(
I love that they dealt more with the Whiskey/Saunders thing. Also, Ballard's involvement with the Dollhouse makes so much more sense now.

Oh, and British!Apollo and American!Wesley were awesome. It's so funny that their real accents sound so strange to me.
Wait, Sauders/Topher was the B story?

That was my argument as well, when I reviewed it. That in many ways, the engagement is the B story and the goings-on at the Dollhouse the A.
Great start to the season!

I'm loving the new visual direction and any scene with Saunders and Topher was stellar.

While the credits are a step up from last year, I'm really dissapointed they STILL don't feature the entire cast.
Eleanor Penn was the kidnapping expert when the little girl was kidnapped in season one....
And what an AMAZING episode to start off season two!!
The Bride of Frankenstein followed by Echo as a bride,
Ballard doing push-ups to distracting himself from the corresponding love making,
and the rats freed from their maze, hidden in the cupboard! Oh metaphor goodness mixed with subtle subversive humor. I am LOVING this!

This is too awesome, I'm going to need to rewatch many times; when will it be up on hulu?

eta: and yeah, the lead in was really not a help, I only hope it doesn't hurt.

[ edited by embers on 2009-09-26 03:11 ]
great season opener, especially loved the topher/saunders scenes!

I think this season is going to be awesome
embers, it will be on Hulu sometime tomorrow.
Fran Kranz. Best performance of the night. Let the tortured descent into madness begin...
Damn,Joss wasn't joking when he said he would get the most out of Amy's three episodes this season.I thought she stole the show tonight and wish we would be able to have more Dr.Sounders/Whiskey this season because what we got tonight was damn great.

Fran was my other big standout performance tonight and I thought we got a very new and different side shown from Topher.

The main plot with Paul and Echo was also good and I think good setup for what we'll be seeing from Echo this season.

Now we know why he becomes her handler.

Plus Alexis's brief introduction tonight has me greatly looking forward to his character this season.Boyd and Ballard were right.He looked damn good in that suit.

I also thought we got a little hint at what was shown in Epitaph One in regards to Boyd and Dr. Saunders/Whiskey.

I thought this was a very strong premiere.Especially after doing a Dollhouse Season 1 marathon with my DVDs last weekend.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-09-26 04:05 ]
*squee* So much awesome. It seems foreboding to Topher's sanity that he said "I know what I know" for the first time, chronologically, in this episode. Whiskey was drinking whiskey! *snicker* Wow. And she went outside! ALEXIS! Major happy dance. And he's got Ballard's morals but is much more influential. So, pretty much, I'm already afraid that he'll be killed off. Also, I didn't think it was possible for Victor and Sierra to be any cuter. I was wrong, and I am delighted. Ballard is Echo's handler! Yesss! And Adelle cut her hair. I think I liked it better long. Oh well. Okay, I think I'm done now.
It seems foreboding to Topher's sanity that he said "I know what I know" for the first time, chronologically, in this episode.

I actually had to pause it after that when I watched it the first time, because the call back (forward?) hit me so hard.
I absolutely love how Ballard is pretty much the only person who doesn't have the slightest faith in the Dollhouse's technology, so that when it obviously fails, he knows EXACTLY what to do and how to manipulate the breach in tech to his own advantage.
Really loved this episode.

Dollhouse's brush with death in May has really made me appreciate it all the more.
I am so pleased I taped this episode because I need to watch it several more times. Too much went on that I knew I wasn't quite catching. But Amy Acker just blew everyone else away, to my way of thinking. That was amazing.
One of my favorite things about Epitaph One was Topher in his state of madness so needless to say I loved the direction he took tonight. Fran keeps on surprising me and his scenes tonight, especially with Amy, were the high points of a stellar episode.

Terribly tortured Toph made me choke up.
Things I liked this week: everything with Amy; the Wolfram and Hartness of the set; the Angel in Wolfram and Hartness of Ballard; the way Jamie and Alexis' accents sounded fake, even though they're their real voices... See, I can be positive.
It was a very good start to the season, with the highlight undoubtedly being anything to do with Claire. Amy was just phenomenal. It was also great seeing Alexis again.

The engagement itself still wasn't really up to par with the overall mythology, though Paul beating Echo to bring her personalities to the surface was great.

Does anyone know if these are official?

http://www.senatordanielperrin.org/

http://twitter.com/SENDanielPerrin
It's great having the first Joss season premiere since 2003(Angel Season 5's,"Conviction").Emphasis on season not series.Think about that for a second.Excluding comic books(Buffy Season 8 ),this is the first Joss Whedon regular season opener onscreen("Ghost" was a series premiere) since Angel's final season.
Ms. Acker was out of control. Excellent work.

In fact, applause all around. The Doll-of-the-week story was a little thin, but the rest benefited.

Thank you Mr. Whedon.
Gosh I wish I could type faster to express more but I'm tired but not too tired to watch that again!! That was awesome!!!!!!!!!!
Amy Acker has nice stems. I like her pantsless performance. Good acting too.
Did anyone else notice that quite a few of the scenes they showed on the fox website and even that spoiler scene appear to be alternate cuts of what was shown?

Specifically the *freaky* scene that would have been more freaky if I hadn't seen it in the sneak peak when Claire reaches for the sucker but her hand lingers over the scalpels was very tense in the episode. Still, it didn't work as well since I already knew she was going for the colorful confections on her stand... damn you Fox!

The only thing I hope that gets explained about Whiskey is that she basically ran out with no money and no connections to the outside world (although she'll have a medical training with no credentials) so I'm wondering how she can possibly survive with major phobias and no ability to work legally. Then again, maybe they just gave her a credit card... but that would be simple and lame...

Wow... four ellipses in one comment. That's sad, even for me.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-09-26 04:22 ]
Very well done! Usually now I'd be craving the rest of the season, to marathon at least 4 or 5 in a row, but this show is so zig-zag in its path that I think I'll be fine just waiting for one a week, thank you. There were moments when it seemed that Eliza's acting has very much improved. And I was pleased to see Topher's lab assistant is still there... and the new set with Topher's bunk ...and the improved opening sequence and music

...and JOSS what the heck were you doing with that Echo and Whiskey kiss flashback!?? Trying to dampen the pants of a million+ viewers? Not a complaint, but I feel I was being taken advantage of! Which is of course the nature of the dollhouse, so, kudos.

[ edited by will.bueche on 2009-09-26 04:17 ]
How do we know she had no money and no connections? Maybe she had been making connections, say, online the entire time.
As I said, I just want it explained ;)
Awesome. So many things... first off, felt SOOOO bad for Whiskey/Saunders. And Topher. Especially knowing what happens. Poor Whiskey...

Great to see Alexis so soon, I didn't realize he came in this early. Awesome to see Jamie, it would be cool if they could somehow get him in it again. I'm glad they are keeping up the 'torture Ballard psychologically' angle.

Did I make up the source that I swore I read that mentioned Felicia and the future in the first ep?

I'm sure there is more, but I loved it, can't wait for more.
You didn't make it up. They moved it out until later because there already was so much going on.
I didn't get the impression Dr. Saunders was LEAVING the Dollhouse. I viewed it as a sort of "field trip" for her to test her paranoias.
Absolutely brilliant stuff anytime Amy Acker was on screen... her scenes with Topher were really great.

That's what I want out of Dollhouse, the ambiguous questioning about humanity. Whiskey's a creation, but also human and we see her struggling to figure that paradox out.

The main plot however was just mediocre. Until Echo starts showing some amount of control over access to her personalities I'll find it highly improbable that she's able to get a hold of whatever's most useful seemingly at random.
That's true, she could just be temporarily gone. The knowledge that she's only there for three episodes makes me think it would be longer than that, but she could show back up next episode and just not be very plot central.

I need to stop bringing casting knowledge into future storyline guesses. Bad form.
Brilliant stuff. The Topher/Whiskey scenes were amazing. "I don't want to die." and "I'm running out...of excuses." I loved the small moment when Sierra touched Victor's face and they walked off hand in hand.

I, too, was incredibly disappointed that the credits only showed Dushku. Love the girl, but this show is made stronger for its amazing ensemble. Let them be in the credits, come on.

[ edited by Emmie on 2009-09-26 04:28 ]
Thanks b!x, I actually found that out right after I posted that meeting thanks to gossi. So thanks gossi and b!x.

I also was hoping that the change of credits would be more... changier. I'm not a huge fan of the song, but to each there own. But the cast is so strong, as much as I love Eliza, I would love to see them as well. Maybe in scenes with her at least?
"I know what I know."
Wow. What a beautifully dense, crazy, philosophically entangled episode. I'm going to have to sample it multiple times to savor all the delicious layers. Can't wait.

Things I adored:
--Amy Acker. My god. Why can't she be one of the main stars again??
--Amy Acker and Topher. Also, Topher showing more dimension.
--Sierra and the lab girl (why can't I ever remember her name?!). Hah.
--Alexis Denisof. Love.
--Adelle's new haircut. Charming.
--Laughing at the seeming fakeness of Jamie Bamber's accent. Yes, I know he's British (although I believe one of his parents is American), but I'm so used to him as Apollo.
--Pretty much almost everything else, really.

Things I wish were different:
--Not just Eliza Dushku in the opening credits. Love her, but come on. I was in the audience in NYC just a few days ago hearing Joss talk about how he makes ensemble shows.
--Did anyone else notice weirdly sudden color shifts? I seriously doubt it was anything from the source. It was too glaring. Perhaps it was something in the broadcast? But then again, I'm no techno girl.

In sum, wow. Wowee. And again: Amy Acker, ladies and gentlemen.
Pretty sure she said "frickin'".

If people are referring to the "Why do people get married in frickin' stilettos?" line, that is.
So at some point was Echo imprinted with TJ Hooker?

Otherwise, a great start to the season.
Question: I couldn't help but watch the premiere as a seasoned viewer. What do people think of this episode as an episode for newbies? Did anyone watch it with that angle in mind?

I have to say, I'm dreading the morning after ratings wait. It's like the nasty part of the plummet after you've reached the top of the roller coaster ride and you've had the most fun you can have.
Tonight's ratings are basically irrelevant, unless it says three people watched, which it won't.
Loved this episode so much, it completely exceeded my expectations. The new look of the show is much better and the directing is far more exciting. I also thought everyone’s acting was absolutely brilliant and the story moved along at a cracking pace. It also felt very human and very personal which is something the show failed to achieve at times last season.

Amy Acker was absolutely fantastic and I loved the Topher/Whiskey scenes. Especially when she comes onto him! And the mice haha.

Eliza was also fantastic (but then again who wasn’t?) and I really think she’s grown into her role. She does the doll scenes so well now, especially that final scene with Ballard.

The Victor and Sierra stuff was also great. *Loved* Adelle lingering on Victor’s scars too long and Sierra being racist towards Orientals LAMO. And the two of them holding hands at the end was very sweet.

And yay Jamie Bamber and Alexis Denisof! Thought both were great in their roles.

Easily one of the strongest episodes of the series and probably one of Whedon’s best season openers ever.
You know, I watched for Alexis the whole time, and I didn't see him. Apparently I blinked and missed him. Who was he?!
Watching now. Just saw Alexis <3
His scene was brief. He was the Senator talking about Rossum.
Thanks! I didn't even look at the TV. No wonder I missed him!
"Wait. Who did they make me this time."
Amy Acker made me cry :(

"You're human." -Topher

"Don't flatter yourself." -Claire

Sounds like a familiar conversation involving Illyria and Wesley :)
Love this episode! In particular, Fran and Amy. They totally made me cry. Also with the Dichen love - pulling off the accent and comedy can't be easy.

Also, bring on Miracle please.

I think the episode does a good job at placing both the moral and audience issues with the first season on the table, then chipping at them with a Whedon shaped hammer.

Also, yeah, direction. The show looks so much better now, even though it doesn't *actually* look better. If you get what I mean. It feels like I'm in the Dollhouse, rather than watching a goldfish bowl.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-09-26 05:51 ]
Oh man. Echo and Paul just gets more and more twisted.

I really wish Claire was staying! I love her so much right now.

I loved this episode! You are right, gossi - it doesn't have the outward shine of season one, but it's got ten times more heart!
Honestly, I didn't get the impression that Whiskey was leaving right then. It felt more like a temporary thing, getting some space or air or something. Which is why she said she was running out as opposed to saying that she RAN out.

I have hope she'll be back fairly quick (maybe not in the next episode, but not too far off).

But yeah, I LOVED the episode. Very well done. I really hope the ratings do better this year. Or that Fox continues to have some compassion. :D
Oh, well done - that's what I'm talking about.

Great start to the season, give everybody an Emmy from petty cash, writing is just beautiful and the whole thing looks & sounds like a million bucks.

More later when I can hulu it & buy it from iTunes and have another looksee, but for now, nothing but happy from our house.

Doll frikkin' house. Frikkin' is the mot de jour.
I absolutely love how Ballard is pretty much the only person who doesn't have the slightest faith in the Dollhouse's technology, so that when it obviously fails, he knows EXACTLY what to do and how to manipulate the breach in tech to his own advantage.

Bang on about how his not having faith in the Dollhouse tech gives him more insight. Don't know if he knows exactly what he's doing. I've heard of percussive maintenance before, but never being use on a person. Seems like he's tinkering, but he knows his subjest very well from his studying her.

Huh. Does anyone else suspect that, when Claire seemed a bit freaky when she was with Echo but pulled up the sucker instead of the knife, that it was a bit of a poke at the viewers? "Sucker!" Heh.
I thought it was a great episode, especially for a season starter. I even thought it looked great! Can't tell they cut costs at all. Hopefully the ratings improve for us (and Joss and co.)!
What do people think of this episode as an episode for newbies?

I watched it with a friend who had never seen Dollhouse until tonight. We watched Man on the Street, and then part of Omega. (I kind of goofed on the time & ended up having to fast-forward through half of it, filling her in as we went.) And then we watched Vows. She liked the show & will keep watching, and I thought it was testament to the awesomeness of Dichen and Enver that, in spite of so little exposure to Victor & Sierra, when they were together at the end she gave a most heartfelt "Awwwww."

It was a great episode.

Also, "psychotic in a sweater vest" (or something like that).

Hee.
The Paul/Echo scene that I thought was interesting didn't actually have Echo in it. It was when Adelle was lecturing about his obsession with her/the idea that he was "done" with Mellie. She really spelled out at least one side/interpretation of Paul's character.
Eliza's answering questions on Twitter right now.
i actually read "you're human," "don't flatter yourself" as a fairly meta remark... ie, not that topher was a monster, but that he had "made" her human.

loved seeing alexis again. looks like sandy rivers made it into the senate.

the "i know what i know" gave me a quick chill. i thought it was a brilliant little line that gives us the backstory (or foretelling) to epitaph one.

and i love jamie bamber, and thought he was great (i loved the stuff between him and helo... er, ahem, ballard), but the whiskey/topher stuff was really what captivated me. well crafted, superbly executed, can't wait for next week. i really enjoy the fact that (like angel s2-3, and 4ish sort of) they will be able to carry stand-alone narratives, but at the same time, they planted the seeds of the season-long narrative (or angel's case, a two and a half season arc).

[ edited by kefka on 2009-09-26 06:52 ]
'Vows' felt like the DH version of 'When She Was Bad.' Totally different to the first season and with this odd feeling that things were only going to get better. It took the best parts of s1 and made them better and then added in all these improvements that gave the show this much better vibe.
I read "don't flatter yourself" as part of Saunders not believing she was real. Meaning, he was telling Topher not to flatter himself into thinking he could create human beings.
Yeah, Revolver. The question remains for me - what IS Paul doing? I have no idea. And I'm not confident he does, either. He's playing with fire and... Well.. What Mag said.
I read "don't flatter yourself" as part of Saunders not believing she was real. Meaning, he was telling Topher not to flatter himself into thinking he could create human beings.

That's exactly how I read it as well.
that was brilliant. I love how layered the lines were. Almost made me uncomfortable, hearing characters rage against their creators. I hated Topher and felt such sympathy for him. . . .

"Don't flatter yourself." What a horrifying thing to say to your partial-creator. Demi-creator?

Just brlliant.
I also kind of love the idea of a god making his creation better than he is, and built to question him.
Just a quick series of my impressions before I go back to see what everyone thought.

The commercials drove me nuts. I think the show will play far better on Hulu, and I may even switch to watching it there first. Joss is the master of the teaser, four-act structure, but this interruption every few minutes just throws me out of the show.

I'd put this in the top rank of eps, even so. Amy was great, so was Fran, but I went back and forth on whether they were taking Claire's emotional melt-down too far. There was something a tad too ludicrous about some of the scenes, more than was intended maybe. The pay-off in their last scene blew all those concerns out of the water, though. Beautiful work.

I got confused about where Ballard's under-cover-partner version of Echo disappeared to during the final stand-off. Was she there until she got hit? I assume that she probably was. If so, they programmed her to have impressive-as-hell reactions to being discovered. I actually believed her when she said she didn't know Ballard. I thought maybe they'd re-programmed her as just the new wife, except, when I think about it, there's that pesky going through his desk thing.

Ballard setting her up to do the under-cover thing had a creep-factor of ten. An homage to Hitchcock's Notorious, maybe? Was he planning to use the bust to get back in the FBI's good graces or was he just using Echo to bring down someone he'd never have been able to touch before? Either way, yuck. Echo's maybe not a person to him, so it's okay? Sinking fast, that guy.

Glad to see Ivy's still there. Hope she gets more to do.

The photograpy was so dark sometimes I had a hard time making out what was going on. Think I prefer the sleeker style of old.

Jamie Bamber was excellent. I'd take this villain over his BSG work.

Nice progress made on bringing Claire and Boyd together. Though sometimes maybe Joss was straining a little too much - like since they had a relationship in Epitaph, he felt it had to start blossoming right away. Still enjoyed it though.

Over all, I thought it was a great start. That is, for me, and anyone who's stuck with the show. Can't see it bringing in new viewers though. We'll see. Hope to hell I'm wrong, because this show is grabbing me harder and harder.
Huh. I don't remember a single scene that was too dark. Maybe your TV is dying. ;)
That was >>>>> season one already. Every part of it.
I didn't have any problems with scenes being dark, either, and my TV is no spring chicken.
Wow. Talk about your running starts.

I love how they got away with the veiled acknowledgement of Topher's man reaction, the Fozzie Bear reference, then the typically Topherized Fozzie retraction. Funny stuff setting up the heartbreaking stuff. And it left me totally craving more scenes with Amy and Fran.

Also, I thought the confrontation scene in the study was some of the strongest stuff I've seen Eliza do. Nuanced, perfectly timed, totally convincing.

And now, the wait for another week...
I thought it was really cool.
I watched it on TV and didn't have any darkness related issues either - maybe it's a brightness or contrast thing on the TV settings?

I gotta say, reading my usual LiveJournals and forums - nobody likes Paul still. Well, hardly anybody. In fact, the episode seems to have made people distrust him more. I find this curious, but not entirely unexpected.
I'm actually glad I don't have the DVDs and haven't seen "Epitaph One." Because right now I'm watching "Buffy" from the beginning (Just got up to IMG tonight) and knowing what's to come is a bit spoiling it for me. And I'd rather watch a new show without knowing where it's going.

Amazing episode. Joss is a very naughty, naughty boy. Ivy/Sierra, Whiskey/Echo, Topher/Whiskey.

My local FOX station ticked me off - "Next week on" and then suddenly there's a local ad. ARGH! Oh well. Now I'm spoiler-free for the next episode.

Who is this Bamber guy everyone's talking about?
Wow. Amy Acker should be the star of this series, she's so amazing.
It was really,really good, though I am having trouble mantaining interest in Ballard's storyline. I don't like him or trust him and I honestly think he's a creep, he's reminding me of Edward Cullen with his obsession.

The best parts were Topher and Claire's scenes. they were really intense and there seemed to be so much subtext in their conversation. I wonder what he meant about "it's not in the contract" and I thought it was rather brilliant he admitted he hadn't programmed her to hate him and well, everything was great between them. I particularly liked the bits with the mice (how did she know?) and the line about the sociopath in a sweater vest.

I could've lived without Echo's storyline. but it was great to see Apollo,even if the voice was odd. fantastic voice, just strange. and Alexis was good too and he did look good in that suit.

about the part about Claire's human-ness, I see I wasn't the only one to be reminded of iliria and wesley, it was an interesting twist.
and yes the "I know what I know" line gave me chills. I really want to rewatch Epitaph One know.
Also!

The series is finally dealing with the promise of the premise - identity. They teased us with this during the first season, but never really got to it.

Now they drove into with a truck, and I'm on board that truck grinning like a fool. Who is Claire if she's shaped by somebody else? (Or a group of people). Is she decides to change, is she killing herself, or making an informed choice? Also, Topher has created somebody who he thinks is better than himself, all said and done, which is... So fucked up it's awesome. I'm geeking out because we're finally getting to the cool stuff, the stuff which makes a show worth watching. The Topher/Claire scenes tonight were emotional because people are A) invested in the characters now and B) all credit to the audience, people say TV is dumbing down but I think - reading online - a surprising amount of people picked up on the layers of conversation going on during that scene. Claire is broken, because of the people around her. And the reason she's even there and existing is also because of the people around her. It's an upsetting situation, and Amy and Fran totally played the shit out of it. I mean, seriously.

More please.
My thoughts:

First half of the episode was better than the second. But that doesn't really mean much because all of it was pretty damn great.

Eliza was great. Amy was spectacular. Fran too. All the scenes Dra. Saunders/Thoper were the highlight of the episode for me.

All the others were good too... Last scene of Victor and Sierra was very cute. And it was great seeing Jamie there, he was great. I didn't get much from Alexis character... but look forward to see more of him.

Loved the little related-to-other-episodes quotes: Eleanor Penn, "I know what I know", and others I can't think of right now...

I wasn't expecting THAT much for the Season Premiere... Looks like this will be a very eventful season, and I am so so soooo excited to see what happens next!

Really great start for this Season!
Dollhouse is back!!
The episode appears to be up at the Fox site but seeing as I'm outisde the US I can't quite tell. Can anyone check for me?

http://www.fox.com/fod/play.php?sh=dollhouse&ep=7655
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Why, oh why are there already 5 (FIVE!) torrents of this episode available online and still nothing on iTunes? Then again, you don't really have to answer me, as I won't read anything in this thread. Or any other thread marked spoiler. Because I haven't seen the episode yet! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Could someone please go and hit some execs over the head with a cluestick? And in this case I wonder if the culprits are to be found at FOX the production outfit, and not FOX the TV station.

Can't we open a thread for international viewers to whine about how they are not able to see the ep ...?

EDIT TO ADD:

OK. They put it in the iTunes store while I was ranting here. This is clearly some evil ploy to drive me nuts. I stand by what I wrote though: what takes them so long to put it on iTunes?

[ edited by Udo Schmitz on 2009-09-26 09:19 ]
I think that's more of an iTunes issue than FOX issue. I believe iTunes do a nightly update where new content is added to the store database.
It was a great episode - one of the best so far. I loved the scenes with Dr. Saunders/Whisky and Topher - Amy and Fran played their hearts out.

Eliza looked beautiful in the wedding dress (yay, Shawna!) although the way she walked down the aisle was a bit disconcerting for a couple of us. I found her completely believable in all her roles.

I watched the episode with 32 other Browncoats, most of whom have watched most of the episodes from last season and there was laughter and gasps and cries of recognition (at Jamie Bamber and Alexis Denisof, so obviously some people had stayed unspoiled). When it was over, there was applause!

Even though I taped it, I just bought it on iTunes and am downloading it now so I can watch it again on my LCD monitor with no commercials.

I'm looking forward to more of the questions Joss is going to pose for us. And next week's episode was written by Tim Minear!
I'm the last one to see it (in the U.S.), on Hawaii time. Havent read any other comments yet, but my feeling is, Awesome!! - one of the best eps yet.
It seemed more like a "Joss show" than any of last season. And I don't mean in a 'derivative of his own work' way, just in a trademark jossy-goodness way.

I'm so glad I've remained unspoiled. I didn't know that Alexis was going to make his first appearance tonight. And the Topher/Saunders thing just blew my mind. Topher is definitely my favorite regular character, no doubt, as of tonight. Fran Kranz is worthy, and then some - he really brings it. :).
And Amy - what can you say, she is just beyond perfection, really a major talent.

Another mind bender was seeing Tamoh and Jamie Bamber together, but not as Helo and Appolo. Plus the kinda disconcertingness of Jamie with his English accent and Alexis with his American accent - I thought for a moment, my head was going to explode.

Loved seeing Jamie play a bad guy. Her's such a fine actor and on BSG, I thought he was far too ofter overlooked, because of the showier roles of some of the rest of the cast.

Eliza was as always just perfect. And Dichen - wow, what a great departure from anything we've seen her do before (at the very beginning).

I know that a lot of people weren't crazy about Ballard last season, but I loved him and was disappointed that he didn't have more to do. So I'm a happy camper with that situation.

I'm just so thrilled that the season premier was this good.
Yay team!
Amzing episode. The actors really weren't kidding: The episode was better than most of season one.

Amy Acker's storyline was the best of course. She is just such a stunning, fascinating actress. Just the emotions in her face and her eyes when she tells Boyd that she is too scared to leave the Dollhouse (her emotions in that scene and what she tells him, that was something that I could totally relate to, so I was all teary-eyed). So sad that she will only be in three episodes this season and spend most of her time with an underwhelming role on ABC's "Happy Town" (no, I haven't seen it, but the trailer was terrible and it seems like she is just playing the wife of the lead which is probably not as challenging as Whiskey/Saunders).

I am really happy to see that Ivy is still in the mix. I honestly thought she would be a character we would never see again, as she is only a minor part of the show and not even fully developed, but I really liked her character last season and I think she's more believable as Ivy on Dollhouse than she was on the third season of Dexter.

Eliza. Many things have been said about her acting abilities and while I still think that she is not the best actress for this kind of role, I think that she did very decent work in this episode. Only thing I disliked was the scene in which she and Jamie have that fight before she slips into Eleanor Penn, but the way she delivered the line "who they made me this time" and the way she later slipped into other characters from the first season was very convincing. I think she did a great job and I am excited to see her grow as an actress. And that Echo remembers makes the show so much more compelling. Totally excited about where we go from there.

Not much for Victor/Sierra to do, but I liked their short scenes and Dichen did a great accent. And they held hands at the end - how cute and innocent is that? AW!

ALEXIS DENISOF! Interested in what his character brings to the table. If he simply was a new Ballard, I'd be sort of bored with that.

Show also needs more Olivia Williams. I want to see more of the personal side of Adele.

GREAT GREAT EPISODE! Let's hope the ratings were able to hold their tiny viewership from last season.
Awesome episode! Acting was great. Unfortunate that we'll see so little of Amy Acker this season - wonderful actress!

Can't wait for more Alexis!! And Topher! And I want more Victor/Sierra - the hand-holding was cute!
Joss, dude, WTF did we agree about Amy Acker crying onscreen ? I could swear we had something in writing. Or maybe a verbal contract. Might've been more an understanding. OK, I made it up but still, whaddya doin' to me here ?

Loved:

- "You're human" ... "Don't flatter yourself" and "I don't want to die" and in general that whole "Blade Runner"-esque scene between Saunders and Topher wherein she basically gets to talk to God (and finds him flawed) was just brilliant, so nuanced. Layered dialogue, amazing performances, hit for six. Watching it I thought 'Aha, Saunders is "the girl" this season and Topher is "the Dude"' (cf. the Joss/Ira Glass interview) but I guess if Amy Acker is only in 3 episodes then maybe not.

- I also liked it because w00t ! it's actually a pretty clever idea from (up to now) the world's least competent genius. Topher built a check/balance into the dollhouse and for quite a long time it worked very well. Always liked the character (with some caveats) but now the man's starting to grow on me too.

- "Move along". Oh Adelle, let me count the ways ;).

- Liked the engagement too, another nice reveal (Ballard's the client) and I liked the multi-layered aspect to the imprint (though we seemed to lose a layer later on - the undercover FBI agent - i'm happy to accept that it was entirely deliberate and from the head injury, even if that's not made explicit).

- Ballard's Faustian pact and how rich it is for future plot and character development. And in general that they haven't shied away from the creepy extent of Ballard's obsession and how it makes him strong and weak both at once (and also that it means he's going to murder Echo and maybe worse, make her complicit in the crime).

- Ballard weaponising Echo. As always with Ballard it's all about who's exploiting whom. Is Ballard exploiting Echo ? Or the dollhouse ? Or no-one ?

- "I know what I know". Chills. And that's why (among other reasons) "Epitaph One" doesn't spoil but adds to the experience. Watching that start as statement of fact, then become dogmatic mantra and eventually the ravings of a madman is going to be one hell of a journey.

- the lad Denisof (I also didn't realise he'd be in it this early, albeit barely). His accent sounded much less weird now too, reckon he's started getting his full American accent back after living there awhile.

(and I first knew Jamie Bamber from 'Hornblower' - wherein he almost couldn't be more English - so no issues with his accent here)

- Eliza quite effectively switching between characters within the same scene. Less and less I understand the naysayers regarding her abilities.

Didn't love:

Nothing I can think of. Seriously.


I read "don't flatter yourself" as part of Saunders not believing she was real. Meaning, he was telling Topher not to flatter himself into thinking he could create human beings.

Yeah, to me it was that and also that even if she did (believe she was real), she wouldn't give him credit for it because she detests him that much.
Honestly, the only thing I didn't like about this episode (bar the still-Echoey opening credits) was Adelle's hair. ;)

LOVED the rest. :D Especially the Topher/Claire stuff... Gah. So much awesome.
I feel a bit weird saying this, but I felt quite sorry for Jamie Bamber's character. I know he's a Bad Guy, but he seemed sincere in his emotions and he *had* just got married! Perhaps it's just my residual Apollo-love and my desire to shout "I love Lee Adama" to the world (looks ashamed).
It feels like falling in love with that show over and over again. The summer was too long.
I was about ready to give up on this show, even after seeing Epitaph one, but this one saved the day. Joss is back. Except for the awful opening credits.

Jamie Bamber was really fantastic and definitely brought it. I wanted more of him. The accent was very jarring distracting, as was that of Sandy Rivers.

Topher's hair and clothing made him look like a member of the Jonas Brothers.

Victor is becoming fascinating more and more, and he's not even saying anything. Kudos to Enver.

I missed scenes with Eliza and Boyd. I thought it felt like a gaping hole.
I have to watch it again, but VERY good start for the season.

I, too, was disappointed in the new opening credits. For me, ED is still the least compelling member of the ensemble, although she brought more to the table in this episode.

But Amy Acker. What a brilliant actor. 'Nuff said.
It's now on Hulu so I've added the relevant link to the entry.
Loved this episode!

Interesting to see that the sneak preview we saw a few weeks ago, Echo and Whiskey in her office, was totally re edited and finished earlier, without Whiskey's warning to Echo to "Not talk like that in here".

So, who's tipping off Senator Perrin?
Same person who was sending messages to Paul?
Perhaps it's just my residual Apollo-love and my desire to shout "I love Lee Adama" to the world (looks ashamed).
ozjenny | September 26, 12:33 CET


I am so right there with you, ozjenny. Not actually to the point that I found Jamie's character sympathetic, but with the whole "I love Lee Adama" thing.

So you can feel a little less ashamed. Or maybe I should join you in feeling ashamed. But since I don't generally do ashamed, I'll go with my first thought. ;)

I think the opening credits are a huge improvement over last season. Still far from perfect and I agree that it would be nice to see the other lead actors too. That being said, I see what they're going for. These credits are a crash course in "this is what a doll/active does", and makes that point much better than last year. And that would be hopelessly confusing, using the other characters.
Next season, when DH is an established hit. Or at least an established presence/cult phenom. ;)

Joss, as a director - and I really love Joss the director - has a serious thing about stairways. Which is a good thing and makes for some luscious shots. The use of a stairway - especially the gorgeous Dollhouse stairway - can open up and bring great flow to a shot that might otherwise look ordinary or seem static and confined.
But I have to wonder if the early shot of (can't remember which two characters) walking up the stairway as they spoke, wasn't a direct and sneaky little homage to the stairway shot in Convictions - that other Joss written and directed season opener.

Still reeling from the awesomeness of the Topher/Saunders interaction. I was so blown away by the acting and dialog, I have to watch it again to absorb the full implications of the Whiskey persona becoming that self-aware.

Sorry, but I wish Amy's other show a speedy demise (which from what I can gather, it actually deserves) so there can be much more Amy in DH season3.

I still can't fathom the mixed-at-best critical reception Eliza's acting is receiving. She's just amazing IMO, in what must be one of the most difficult lead roles to pull off in the history of ever. And her best moments are when she's transitioning through the various persona's in her head.
OK, I'm happily sated with commenting (for the moment).
If this is the shape of the season to come, I'm totally ecstatic.

[ edited by Shey on 2009-09-26 13:49 ]
The name Rossum (while of course being derived from the play RUR) also makes me think of Blade Runner. And while that story was about replicants (androids who appear human to the point where some don't know they aren't) Dollhouse is about humans who become more like androids (programmable).

Just something I thought about watching the episode.
It sounds as though some people don't realize that Alexis is American and Jamie is British, so those are their actual accents.

One of the bits of the Echo/Ballard story that intrigued me was Ballard's use of the fact that Echo could remember. He deliberately had her recall her fighting skills. But then why was he surprised at the end when she says she remembers?
Because Echo at the end was "functioning" Echo whereas he realised that Echo in the hangar was glitching in some way (and he knew about her composite event). "Normal" Echo remembering is totally counter what he thought was possible, glitching Echo remembering he already knew could happen.

For myself i'm aware that Alexis is American but the only time i've previously heard his natural accent is in interview where he sounded very, very weirdly mid-Atlantic (it wasn't long after 'Angel' finished). My speculation is that it actually took him a while to regain his full accent after living in Britain for a few years (and working several times or possibly even living day-to-day in an - almost flawless - English accent).
Wow, just wow, what an awesome piece of TV
master strokes by joss whedon (especially having just seen epitaph one)
this caliber of writing with this group of actors is damn good television and excellent storytelling
Loved:

- Topher and Claire. Fran and Amy have never done their Dollhouse roles more justice than in that scene, owing to Joss's incredible screenplay and their amazing chemistry. "Because I don't want to die" is one of the landmarks of the show's constant self-debate. (Also, is it just me, or does Topher seem to know her from before she was an Active? "You can't know me, and I can't know you. Not fully... not ever. That's part of the contract." -- Or I guess it could just be a hint that he would have liked to know her "fully", under different circumstances.)

- Victor and Sierra. Enver is a brilliant actor (even when he's not speaking, like someone else pointed out), and I can't wait to see what they have in store for him this year.

- The scene with the lollipop. Amy plays conflicted and resentful and stranded Claire so well, she scares the crap out of me and breaks my heart at the same time. How are we going to get through this season with only three episodes of her...?

- Alexis! Where have you been? We missed you so much!

- The mice. Just... the mice.


Disliked:

- The A-plot. Gave me unsavoury flashbacks to the show's less-than-stellar moments (particularly "Ghost" and "Gray Hour").

- Eliza's acting. Bit of an improvement over Season 1, but still leaves me almost completely apathetic.

- The credits. Ew.

- Ballard as Echo's handler. I'm as pouty as I remember being when Wesley replaced Giles as Buffy's Watcher; I miss Boyd.

- The amount of screentime Echo has compared to other characters. This really ought to be an ensemble show, with such a talented cast.
eliza was incredible in this ep, but i would watch a show with amy as the lead, shes just awesome and her story keeps getting better
also my favorite rogue demon hunter is on tv in a joss show, i didnt think such a thing would happen
- The mice. Just... the mice.

Mice ! Holy shit, where do you live, Land of the Giants ? ;)

"You can't know me, and I can't know you. Not fully... not ever. That's part of the contract." -- Or I guess it could just be a hint that he would have liked to know her "fully", under different circumstances.

To me he was partly pointing out that we can never know another person fully (because we're in separate heads) - it's kind of like Mal's "Everybody dies alone". In that context the contract could be the social contract maybe ? Or life, figuratively.

(and partly just that his "deal" with himself and his creation is that they can't become intimate otherwise his check/balance will be compromised)

ETA: Or maybe he actually has an agreement with Adelle i.e. that she allowed him to create Saunders only under certain conditions (as they're both aware, she's much more valuable to the dollhouse as Whisky) ?

[ edited by Saje on 2009-09-26 14:49 ]
Wesley in Angel has been a masterpiece of character evolution, from his clown chicken role in the beginning to a full fledged badass in the end, I can't even begin to remember anything similar in any TV show

I really hope Joss is gonna use the awesome range of acting of his cast to it's fullest
Lioness: I think that people realise Alexis and Jamie are using their real accents, however we have watched them for 4 years, and in many repeat viewings, using their fake accents, so the real accents are hard to get used to.
(and partly just that his "deal" with himself and his creation is that they can't become intimate otherwise his check/balance will be compromised)

Oh, absolutely. It's just that he sounded kind of... regretful? -- or like he was directing the reminder more to himself than to her. It got me curious, but maybe I'm reading too much into it.
I guess that makes most sense in the context of the first reason I think he said it i.e. he regrets the fact that none of us can ever really know each other (because of the "separate heads" issue).

Maybe that's even part of why he got into that particular branch of neuroscience, to try to bridge the gaps between us ? As his character develops i'm finding it easier and easier to believe it wasn't for the money, plaudits and babes ;).
Yeah, Topher and Whiskey were the highlights of this episode for me, both of them just heart-breaking, and I think somebody said this above but it had vague overtones of Wesley / Illyria in Angel S5 for me. Not so much thematically (though I guess less sleepy brains could talk about parallels) but in the lostness / drowning-in-regret-ness of the characters. And Amy Acker rocking. Beautiful stuff. I look forward to the other two episodes she's in. So sad we can't have more of her.

Also loved Adele's haircut. And Adele!!

Eliza fabulous and unspeakably gorgeous as always, in every persona and in her glitchiness. She and Jamie Bamber were great together.

Really looking forward to Topher's journey this season, though I think I'll miss him having fun a bit too. I'm not sure I love Boyd as Head of Security, though I'm sure I'll get used to it. I'm having a hard time letting go of him as Echo's handler - maybe I'm like those who couldn't stand WIllow moving on from Xander to Oz ;).
Having only seen Alexis using his American accent as Sandy Rivers in How I Met Your Mother, I'm going to have to take a bit to stop thinking American Alexis = sleazeball, despite him playing a politician.

But yeah, just wow - that was worth pulling a sickie from work to come home and watch. I know it's mean, especially after what we all went through this Spring, but is anybody else hoping that Happy Town gets cancelled so that we can have more Amy Acker?
The "You're human / Don't flatter yourself" dialog reminded me of the strong thematic similarity between Dollhouse and Caprica.

Both are about the morality of manufactured humanity & manufactured immortality. Is it good? Bad? What are the original intentions of the people who initiate this technology? How do those intentions get corrupted by other people who adopt the technology later? To some degree the only difference is that Caprica puts the human souls into machines whereas Dollhouse puts the human souls into other human bodies. But when the BSG "skin jobs" come along even that distinction blurs. Joss & Jane are exploring very similar ideas. Good stuff! (... and very appropriate for our times)
Great episode, but I'd really like to see them remove all the other actors' names from the credits and just repeat "Eliza Dushku" over and over.

And I kid, but it needs to be addressed. If the semantics of calling this an "ensemble show" are needed to stress the importance of what the whole cast contributes, I'm not going to argue it. I really have no need or desire to minimize anyone's talents, because it truly wouldn't be Dollhouse without all of them. The undeniable fact though... it's Eliza out front. Eliza's deal with Fox launched the show – no one else brought that to the table. She plays the primary character. She's a producer on the show. She's not just another actress in the mix with no more investment or career risk than anyone else. She takes the lion's share of the scrutiny, and therefore takes the lion's share of the abuse when things aren't working – and so I don't think it's unreasonable that she's going to be the promotional focus of the show as well. That's just how it works.
Just watched the episode now, and it seems to be following the pattern set late last season - still some bad, but enough good to make it worthwhile. Thankfully most of the crappier actors got less to do this episode, while Amy Acker really got to shine. She truly is the best part of this show, and Dollhouse is weaker for losing her for most of the season.

Topher is surprisingly becoming one of the best parts of the show. At first, I saw him as little more than the latest Xander-type iteration. But since the last few episodes of last season, he's become so much more complex than I'd given him credit for. I'm not afraid to say that I love the character. Good work, Joss!
Someone said before that maybe Topher and Whiskey knew each other before and I'm suspecting that may be the case.
Twice now he's asked if Whiskey would read her file. What is in there?
He said he programmed her to hate the smell of him, why would he do that?
It suggests that there was a connection and he had to ensure she wouldn't be attracted to him. An ex? And Adele insisted that nothing happen again while she was a doll?
Brother and sister even?

There has to be some reason why he would specifically make sure Whiskey/Claire did not find him attractive.
I pretty much loved vows. Especially the parts about Saunders and Topher. The scenes gave me goosebumps and Whiskey's situation is so twisted.
Interesting that Topher is the character I'm most invested in on Dollhouse.

Adelle and Boyd were awesome too and I loved how Adelle called Ballard on his stalker tendencies and general creepyness.

The main plot had quite some holes, but since I loved pretty much loved all the character stuff, I don't care much to nag about them.

Only thing that bugged me were the credits and the screentime devision enisy mentioned. Less Echo (or in case of the credits something else than) and more rest of the cast please.

[ edited by Changeling on 2009-09-26 16:42 ]
He said he programmed her to hate the smell of him, why would he do that?
It suggests that there was a connection and he had to ensure she wouldn't be attracted to him.


Or maybe it suggests that he was so attracted to her that he took steps to protect them both from anything ever happening (i.e. to protect her - and them - from his own "worst" nature) ?

It's interesting and there's a lot there, I just hope they have time to explore it in only 3 eps.
One thing that has been nagging at me all along -- or at least ever since I've known that Claire Saunders is an imprint -- is how the Dollhouse peeps maintain the Claire Saunders imprint. Does she get treatments? If not, why/how? Why is she different than other imprints? Is she somehow more permanent? Have I missed something? Enlightenment, please. Of course, she is a he originally, right? How very Illyria of the situation.

Another thing that nagged at me was something that Eliza said at the very end, about ALL the imprints she had being "real" and capable of being found. Of course, many/most of the imprints Echo has had were composites, full people created out of bits of other people, with Topher's tweaks. I suppose this eerie fact is one of the deeper/weirder points of the conversation, that these created people were indeed real while they lived in Echo, and that she won't be forgetting them and how it felt to be them. It all ties in with Claire Saunders not wanting to die -- she/he is real, too. What's created in this universe is real. But still. Weird. Deliciously so. I agree gossi's reverie above about the nature of identity getting deeply explored here.

Also: I agree with those who think that there may be some history between Topher and the person Whiskey was before. He programmed her to disagree with him, he programmed her to not like his smell (interesting), but he didn't program her to hate him. Either this shows that Whiskey + Claire imprint evolved on its own, or that there's a history, or both. Or something else. Delicious!

I should stop now. I should really rewatch the episode. So much to think about.
re: Topher/Whiskey history -- isn't his history with her as Whiskey-who-he-was-sorta-responsible-for-who-got-hurt-and-who-he-then-decided-to-use-as-a-special-long-term-imprint-that-even-lots-of-other-dollhouse-employees-thought-was-a-"real"-person-and-who-he-would-daily-work-with-therefore-implicitly-deceiving-her-about-her-"realness"-in-a-way-more-intimate-and-odd-way-than-usual enough to lead him to make the sort of choices he did? Especially as this episode seems to lead us to believe that he had more going on internally and ethically from the very beginning of his time at the dollhouse than most people suspected ("you don't know me" and the like). Not saying he couldn't turn out to have "outside" history with her. Just that I don't have much trouble finding a believable character throughline for his actions without such a history. Ever since we saw the first Alpha teaser in episode 2 or 3 last season, I've always liked to assume that most of the dollhouse staff were acting at least in part to deal with having experienced the trauma of what was, when you get right down to it, a workplace killing spree, and, thus, that Topher, to some extent, protected himself by amping his natural sarcastic geek tendencies into overdrive.

Oh, and if you happen to have finally gotten around to watching the American version of the "The Office," and watch this premiere right after watching a few eps of said show, it can take a while to re-calibrate your aesthetic, so the Saunders-pranking-Topher stuff is a kind of shocking change of stakes from Jim-pranking-Dwight.
Excellent points, doubtful guest.

Speaking of comparing Dollhouse to other watching experiences, I decided to DVR Fringe and see what it was all about. I started watching Fringe's second season premiere, and they had a helpful previous season recap for newbie watchers like me. I think Dollhouse could have used that. Is that something the PR department would/should have handled?
Topher built a check/balance into the dollhouse and for quite a long time it worked very well.

And what happens now that said check and balance is gone outright.

Another thing that nagged at me was something that Eliza said at the very end, about ALL the imprints she had being "real" and capable of being found.

She was referring to the other dolls' real identities, not her imprints, no?
(Edited post.)

Never mind. Reread what b!X wrote and realized that the response I wrote was semi-nonsensical...

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-09-26 18:17 ]
We're still not discussing the same thing. I didn't take it as having anything to do with imprints, but entirely about finding each other doll's original self. She's suggesting that just as something of her core true self still exists and is evolving, so too can that happen for the other dolls.

Imprints are irrelevant to what she was talking about, as far as I could tell.
Yeah, b!X. I realized that we were talking about two different things after writing and posting, and then edited my post before you came out with your response. Such is the way of the internets.

When I saw the scene, I did assume she was talking about all her imprints -- because she was saying she remembered every single one. But it does make more sense that she would be talking about the other dolls and their "real" selves.
"tempura Joe, such a lonely soul"
Awesome ep. However... I guess I'm just out of it, but I found the whole Alexis Denisof-Jamie Bamber plot thingy confusing. And I still don't really understand Paul Ballard's work.

Also I guess we're supposed to assume Echo had a long-term engagement playing this woman and Jamie Bamber's character married her after only knowing her a few months or something like that?

[ edited by fortunateizzi on 2009-09-26 21:18 ]
I found the whole Alexis Denisof-Jamie Bamber plot thingy confusing.

Apparently, since these plot threads had absolutely nothing to do with one another. ;)
Paul was the client, Echo was playing an undercover FBI agent, Bamber was playing a guy that Paul had been trying to take down for years. Denisof...had nothing to do with that, LOL.

Although, I didn't get the quickie wedding.

Also, in the hanger, when Eliza glitched, and played crystal, i felt like she was channeling Jessica Simpson...if she was then again. LOL
I found the whole Alexis Denisof-Jamie Bamber plot thingy confusing.

Apparently, since these plot threads had absolutely nothing to do with one another. ;)


Or did they ? Dinn Dinn Dinnnnnn !

No, no they didn't.

(aha, but did they though ? Dinn Dinn Dinnnnnnnnnn !)

But it does make more sense that she would be talking about the other dolls and their "real" selves.

I'm not totally convinced it does. Why would she remember other (original) personalities that she'd never experienced ? Or am I taking "remember" a bit too literally ? My first take was she meant Echo's imprints, now i'm not so sure because ...

That she was talking about "real" people as opposed to Echo's imprints makes more sense in the context of the conversation with Ballard, the gist of which was, we need to get Caroline back because she's the real, worthwhile person. Which didn't endear Ballard to me, him being so keen to kill Echo. Hope i'm not gonna have to come over there and bust him up - mainly because he's fictional which makes it complicated (the airfare also plays a part).
Wow, this season hit the ground running. I like Adelle's shorter hair, wish Jamie Bamber would pop back every 4 or 5 episodes, cheered when Alexis Denisof started pontificating. Yay-Yay-Yay. btw, was Echo's handler in this episode just some walkon dude?
Well, we're all the heroes of our own stories.

But yeah, he was.
Pretty sure she said "frickin'".

If people are referring to the "Why do people get married in frickin' stilettos?" line, that is.


At least she didn't say "frakkin'"!
(the airfare also plays a part)

Well, since he is fictional, you could probably just write that in.

I thought Echo was talking about her imprints & was kind of mystified about how she was going to track down the original sources of them all, what with them being composite & sometimes dead and so forth. B!x's explanation makes a lot more sense, but it didn't come through to me that way. Guess I have to listen again.
I've nothing smart to say so I'll just chuck in my opinion of a job incredibly well done by all those involved. This episode had a little bit of everything I love about both Dollhouse and Joss-works in general and reminded me once again how thankful I am that it was given this chance to have a second season 'cause it doesn't always work out that way. Ahem.

I'm off to re-watch. Yay.
Kudos to Joss on a much improved Dollhouse! I thought I would never say this.... for the first time, I am starting to like Topher. His scenes with Amy were great.

Thank you Joss... for getting Alexis to be in Dollhouse!
I'm sorry, but I just don't get that. The assertion that Caroline is real (or more real) does not seem to me a valid reason to hate Ballard. In fact, it's not even at odds with anyone inside the Dollhouse as far as I can tell. Even Echo from Omega didn't seem to be terrified with the prospect of giving her body back.

Maybe I'm just not looking at it the same way. Are we saying that he's going to imprint Caroline against her will? Or that it would be morally wrong for Echo to even give back her mind?

[ edited by azzers on 2009-09-26 22:49 ]
Even Echo from Omega didn't seem to be terrified with the prospect of giving her body back.

And yet, in this very episode, we have Saunders saying she doesn't want to die (which is how she perceives being re-imprinted with whoever her original self was). So whatever Echo might think, not every doll necessarily thinks the same way.
Exactly. So I guess what I'm saying is... how can Ballard be blamed if it is what Echo wants? I get that people think he's a creep, but I'm just not understanding why it's he's getting the blame when most people (outside of Whiskey) on the show would give first priority to just about anyone OTHER than the unimprinted doll. Why is he the avatar for this crime?

I will say this, I know I come off as a Ballard apologist most of the time, and I can be to an extent, so I don't mean to be argumentative... rather I just find people's reaction to his character so intriguing. Oddly, Lee Adama was the same way in that his earnestness seemed to make a group of people hate him in a way no other character seemed subject to.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-09-26 23:02 ]
Loved the Topher/Saunders scenes, felt like I was watching Bladerunner on the small screen.
Best line of the ep: "That is the minority vote. And you tricked it!"

Very solid story. About time Echo started coming together (so to speak), and brilliant that Paul pulled the fighter out of Echo's recollection soup. It seems like Echo remembers, but the imprints sort of overlay Echo so it takes a bit of violence to get back down to her baseline.

I'm glad that Felicia & Co. will be back for another flash-forward, but I'm also kinda glad it wasn't in this one. That might have been too much.

The one thing I do like about the credits is Echo leaping out of the chair from "Omega" -- a good note to hit, considering where her character's going.

And I found Victor's "face" line interesting on several levels -- remembering Adelle's engagements? Or perhaps thinking, "She's not Sierra!" Or simply doll-speak?
Jamie Bamber is speaking British and Alexis Denisof is speaking American... My brain is short-circuiting.
That was of the strongest Jossverse season openers. All in all, an excellent 45 minutes.
As much as I enjoyed the ep, especially the Topher/Whiskey scenes, it seemed like a glaring plot hole that they didn't just re-imprint Saunders after she found out she was a doll.
Well if they fixed everything, there would be no drama. It'd be like waching five minutes of some small person flying on a giant eagle in order to drop a gold ring down a volcano. Nobody wants that.

I would also suspect the legal department had something to say about why Whiskey did not get re-imprinted.
A plot wise argument is Adelle already talked about imprinting Ballard and Boyd said no. This time they could have had the same conversation and we already know Boyd feels something for Saunders. Plus I don't know where you find time in that episode to shoehorn in that argument. We may still hear it, but perhaps out of chronological order because as mnspnr stated, it does seem slightly out of character for the Dollhouse organization.

Simon... are you talking about the Fox legal department or the Rossum legal department?
The Rossum legal department. I would suspect there's still middle management meetings going on to discuss what exactly do to with Whiskey.
Simon, I wonder if Adelle has even told Rossum about Whiskey. It wouldn't reflect well on her, and we've also seen evidence that she's protective of the dolls in her care. Perhaps there has been no re-imprint simply to keep from drawing negative attention from the higher-ups.

ETA: or this could be more of Adelle's adventurous streak, e.g., her willingness to allow Echo to evolve.

[ edited by ActualSize on 2009-09-27 00:18 ]
Lee Adama was the same way in that his earnestness seemed to make a group of people hate him

Maybe you're onto something...I don't like Paul (although I enjoy watching the character), and I was never crazy about Lee, either (although I like the actor). But my problem with Paul isn't that he's earnest, it's that he combines his earnestness with a relationship to the Dollhouse & Echo that's just as compromised as everyone else's. Which also makes him more interesting to me than Lee Adama ever was.

And the reason I don't like the idea of Paul replacing Echo with Caroline is partly that I like Echo better (that's not Paul's fault), and partly that I prefer the murky waters that Claire is swimming in.
Ok, had to fully watch it a second time to "get it" but I did - nice story, more beautiful and memorable dialogue.

Great acting by Fran and Amy as many have already said.

Looking forward to the Victor/Sierra arc as it progresses and crossing fingers that an alternate happy future can be found.

Didn't expect that much exposure in the 1st ep, but I feel this promises a quick pace of things to come.

Joss is great!
Very solid and entertaining. Just caught it on FOD, and the forty or so minutes went by so fast, I couldn't believe it was over.

Excellent job by everyone involved. I can't wait for next week.
btw, am I the only one not really feeling Paul as a character? Definitely expendable for me.

Unfortunately I think we're looking at some kind of unrequited love with him and Echo...
Fortunately, Gina. Paul continues to creep me out.
Agreed jcs. Honestly, Caroline isn't that interesting although I would not be shocked to find that Echo fully constructed, is Caroline with a far superior skill set. And it's not maybe that Caroline is uninteresting, so much as we've only been given a very flat representation of who she is at this point.

No you're not ginalee. There are quite a few people (perhaps most) who don't like Paul... and then there are people like me who are on the opposite end of the spectrum. I don't think I'm interested without him. Whether he ultimately stands for his beliefs or becomes irreparably compromised is probably one of the most interesting stories for me. But if you read him as obsessed with Echo, this isn't a plot you're following because you're not reading him the same.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-09-27 01:13 ]
I suppose it's not that good if you get the greatest kicks out of the credit roll, but I also guess it's pretty hard to top stuff like: Guest Starring - Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker and Written and Directed by Joss Whedon. I hadn't even realised before Amy and Alexis would be together on a Whedon show again, but when their names came up I felt a surprisingly strong sense of joy.

The episode was pretty good, better than most we got last year, but not Joss stellar, nor as much fun as I had expected. The Echo/Ballard storyline had some strong moments, I like having Ballard inside the Dollhouse, I think it will shake up the dynamics in a good way. Echo malfunctioning in the usual way (AGAIN) had me sighing heavely however. And I'd appreciate a bit more Adelle. I also would have liked to see a bit more Alpha aftermath.

Was surprised to see Whiskey/Saunders still had retained her personality. Hadn't even thought about that possibility (I assumed she'd be wiped immidiately.

Next up mr. Minear! I seem to have had an above avarage appreciation of True Believer and Omega (my favourite Dollhosue ep so far). So maybe that will be more up my alley.

And someone please tell me that these 3 Amy episodes are for the first part of the season and that if we get the back order she'll be in 9 more.
A lot of people have asked why they didn't just wipe Whiskey. I'm not sure Adele knows she's playing up. I think only Topher does and he's keeping it to himself
And Boyd. But that's going to be a very strange dynamic if Boyd ISN'T telling Adelle everything.
Because Echo was experiencing some memories and consciousness even before Alpha experimented on her, we should assume that who Echo is will continue to change as she gets more imprints.

I have little sympathy for Ballard because he still acts righteous, even though he's just one step up from the others in the DH. He doesn't mind Echo being used sexually or being put in danger of her life as long as it suits his purposes.

But I did love this season premiere.
Azzers, Boyd knows she's unhappy now that she's found out she was built by Topher. But as far as we know he doesn't know that she's putting mice in Topher's cupboard or trying to seduce him etc. Even if Boyd did pass on what he knew to Adele (and I think that's definitely an if) I can easily buy that Adele wouldn't consider it serious enough to have her reimprinted. In fact, Adele might even be curious as to how a doll reacts to finding out they're a doll. 'That's how science works'

On the question of what Echo was saying at the end of the episode (was she saying she wanted to find all the people she'd been imprinted with or was she saying she wanted to find the originals of all the other dolls?) on first viewing I took it to mean that she wanted to find the personalities she'd been imprinted with. But I just rewatched and it has to mean that she wants to find all the original minds that go with the bodies. But honestly I think this was very unclear and not in a good way. A lot of people here have different takes on it and the group of people I watched it with was evenly split on our opinion of what she meant. I don't want to rag on Eliza because I thought she was really good in this episode but it was a line reading problem. If she'd said 'I want to find all of them' and looked out at the other dolls it would have been clear

Anyway, good episode. I'm not as in love with it as most people but it was a very solid episode. And in true Whedon form set up a lot for the rest of the season.
I've watched it twice now and I can't find Topher saying 'I know what I know'. Either I'm retarded or I downloaded a file with a little bit missing. Can someone tell me where he says it?
"Do you know who's real." "Caroline." "I want to find her. I want to find all of them. Real them."

The imprints aren't "real" anything in this conversation. And it was just after she asked Ballard if he knew who the real her was. Odd to me that it played so differently from viewer to viewer.
Echo: I remember everything. Sometimes I'm someoene else and then I come back but I still feel them. All of them. I've been many people. I can hear them, sometimes suddenly. I'm all of them but none of them is me. Do you know who's real?

Boyd: Caroline

Echo: I want to find her. I want to find all of them.

'Them' would normally refer to the last group of people she was referring to as 'them' (i.e. the personalities she has been imprinted with) unless the speaker gives some indication that she's talking about a different 'them' (like, say, an emphasis on the word them while looking out at the dolls). Like I say, I'm now sure that your interpretation is the right one but the very fact that a pretty large number of people understood it differently shows it wasn't exactly clear. I'm not even really sure why I'm arguing this point. It's no big deal, I just found it a bit sloppy and needlessly confusing
Topher says the line 'I know what I know' after Whiskey questions his imprinting technique.

PS Amazing episode
I'm with Simon on the Bladerunner-ness of Topher/Claire. Loved that. I'm also completely in love with both Amy Acker and Fran Kranz now.

I thought the engagement story was actually quite strong in that we're continuing to explore the slow destruction of Ballard's psyche. To me he's more immoral and screwed up than Topher because he doesn't even have any real insight into himself. Maybe the show should be renamed 101 Fun Ways to Induce Psychosis.

I'm still struggling a little bit with the bitter exploitation aftertaste. I think maybe it's because Echo is always the weakest character, so I'm forced to use her to view everything else through, which is a personal version of what I find grotesque about the show's premise, so I become complicit in what I am against.

Luckily it's only a tv programme and Eliza's acting is improving.
Becoming complicit in what you detest is pretty much the whole point of that aspect of the show IMO. We're all complicit. Unless you're a monk/nun with internet access ;).

And the reason I don't like the idea of Paul replacing Echo with Caroline is partly that I like Echo better (that's not Paul's fault) ...

Exactly jcs. I prefer Echo (and I think BTW that we're meant to prefer Echo, to wonder if Caroline should be put back, it's meant to be fuzzy). It's also possible that she's not yet fully aware of what putting Caroline back would mean for her. Paul's willing to use her (and her possible ignorance/innocence) to pursue his obsession. He's in it up to his neck but still seems to think he's some sort of knight in shining armour. If it were Boyd doing that then i'd dislike Boyd.

Does that mean I don't like the character ? Not at all, he's great to watch, got a lot of the juiciest issues on the show. I'm just not that keen on the man (same with Topher although he's starting to show some self-awareness and emotional depth and so is becoming more appealing to me as a person - always enjoyed the character though).

...but I'm just not understanding why it's he's getting the blame when most people (outside of Whiskey) on the show would give first priority to just about anyone OTHER than the unimprinted doll. Why is he the avatar for this crime?

Because he knows Echo exists and is becoming more and more a "real girl", with actual agency. He just doesn't care because he's so stuck on Caroline.

Never had an issue with Lee Adama. He was an idealist and the world needs those as much as it needs pragmatists.
The topic changing to Caroline and Echo's looking across the room made it clear to me she was talking about the dolls. I think noone in our viewing party understood it as referring to the imprints. I don't see any line-reading problem here.

On the other hand, my English skills totally messed up another line for me, since I watched it without subs: Topher's smell. The first two times I heard it, I was understanding "I get that" which is also quite a hilarious joke. :)
Okay, awesome, awesome, awesome episode. I won't repeat everyone else's compliments here, except to say: OMG Amy ACKER!

The one thing I didn't like, as has been mentioned up-thread already, was the opening credits. They were a nice improvement stylistically over Season 1, but why only Echo? That seemed really quite wrong to me--seeing all the other actor's names come up on screen, each and every time under an "Echo-in-an-action-pose!" clip.
The topic changing to Caroline and Echo's looking across the room made it clear to me she was talking about the dolls. I think noone in our viewing party understood it as referring to the imprints. I don't see any line-reading problem here.

I don't see a line reading problem either, I just see the lines as slightly ambiguous. Watch it again: Echo doesn't look at the dolls, she looks back away from Ballard, just as she was when she was talking about her imprints. I.e. her looking away proves nothing.

And Ballard is talking about Caroline whereas Echo is talking about who's real. She believes him when he says Caroline's real but she also refers to herself as a 'me' separate from her imprints. Could be there'll be a conflict if/when she starts to feel more real to herself. I hope so because I don't want Echo to go gentle, if/when she has to go, let's see some raging.

(I don't think we can necessarily assume that a "naturally" fully actualised Echo - i.e. an Echo that bootstraps herself into "real girl"-ness - will feel the same way as forcibly fully actualised Echo did in 'Omega'. Unless we start out assuming that the original occupants are more real than Echo, which is begging the question IMO)
The topic changing to Caroline and Echo's looking across the room made it clear to me she was talking about the dolls. I think noone in our viewing party understood it as referring to the imprints. I don't see any line-reading problem here.

I get that some people (including you) understood it the way Joss intended. But I think enough people took it to mean something entirely different that it that it's fair to say that it was a problem coming from the show rather than just a few viewers. This is from Fearnet's review:

"Ballard has vowed to help her find not only her true identity, but all the other real-life people whose identities she has been imprinted with. It's an interesting idea, having the Active confront a real-life piece of her memory, and I am looking forward to seeing how that will play out. "
I don't see a line reading problem either, I just see the lines as slightly ambiguous.

I really don't think this was intentional ambiguity, though. It wasn't supposed to make us think 'oh what's really going on here?' I'm pretty sure that Joss intended us to understand that Echo wanted to find Caroline and all the dolls' original personalities. But the meaning got a bit garbled. Again, it's hardly the end of the world but it did add confusion to an episode that was already a little bit confusing (at least to me)

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-09-27 11:20 ]

Edited to put the apostrophe in the right place

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-09-27 11:34 ]
Yeah, I also doubt it was deliberate (partly because I think ultimately the show's position is that Caroline is real and Echo isn't, or not as real anyway). And Echo being on a heroic quest which, if successful, must end in her own death is quite Jossian I think (but then so is her inevitable demise turning out to be not that inevitable, maybe he has an escape hatch in mind for her).

Didn't really find it confusing but there was certainly a lot in it, dense episode. Good stuff.
Didn't really find it confusing but there was certainly a lot in it, dense episode. Good stuff.

Are you able to explain, then, how Ballard was able to hire out a doll? Was there an explanation I missed?

Edit: by that I mean how he could afford it

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-09-27 12:58 ]
He still had leverage over them. Adelle was playing a very smart long-termn game by letting him do this job, bond with Echo and become her handler. (Of course, his leverage is pretty much next to nothing, but he doesn't know that. And Adelle is careful enough not to let him realize that, because she needs him.)
That does make sense, yeah. Thanks
A question I have is what happens when Caroline is downloaded back into her body, i.e., the body that now contains Echo (whoever "Echo" is) as well as memories/bits of other imprints, etc. I suspect Caroline becomes no longer the Caroline of before, but contains everyone else, too. Or bits of them. Because we know how effective (not) the wiping process is. And really, what is Caroline now but another imprint waiting to be downloaded again in the ineffectively wiped body Echo and all the others are using?

Scary thought. But, really, isn't Caroline now just another imprint, albeit one that Topher didn't create? Then again, you know that Topher will tinker with the Caroline imprint/soul/whatever when he reloads the original Caroline body with her. He would at least have to tinker with her memory of the Dollhouse and the original contract she made with them. Adelle can't have lots of ex-Dolls wandering around remembering their devils' bargains.
I wonder if part of the reason people think Ballard is being particularly skeevy is that we don't get a monologue or comment from him in every episode about how conflicted or guilty he feels.

Ever since at least his shower scene after sleeping with Mellie, we've known he is capable of both recognizing his own ability to act in messed up ways and of feeling guilty for same. I think it is reasonable to assume that, having been given that scene, we are not expected to need to be hit over the head with a similar scene in every subsequent episode where he acts potentially skeevy, though we will occasionally get little speeches like, in this episode, his "trying to do the right thing" but finding it harder to tell what this is.

Some things we know for sure: he knows that the dollhouse exists, which is a rare thing. He knows he is not gonna have FBI backup, at least not without some new revelations or power shifts. He knows he can't just take the dollhouse down or reveal it all on his own successfully. The result: He has to figure out, strategically day to day how to best move forward towards "right" things while working with the dollhouse, all while trying to figure out (just as Boyd, Topher, Saunders, Echo, etc must) just what it means to act responsibly toward both a "real" identity and a (developing/evolving towards real/real-ish) "fake" identity. Just as with the release of November (rather than Echo), it is pretty clear this will involve sacrifices and uncomfortable decisions. And just as with his decision on the timing of when to "invade" the dollhouse (with Alpha last season), he will definitely make some decisions that are either dumb (given what we the audience know and what he retrospectively knows) or are simply trumped by better luck/strategy on the part of Adelle and others.

All in all, I just don't see an option for the guy that is so pure that he avoids all accusations of skeevy-ness. And it would seem kinda weird if we're not gonna forgive him/cut him some slack at all for either strategic or ethical mistakes, even as we know that he has, ultimately, had much less time with/direct exposure to the actual dollhouse than even Boyd, and is bound to still be playing catchup on certain realizations and on certain emotional responses to it and the people inside it.
Not directly related to the episode, but this is a story I had to share.

So, I was walking down the street yesterday, thinking about the Dollhouse season premiere that I'd just watched and how kick-ass Amy Acker is, when I lay eyes on the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, standing two feet away from me. After about a second and a half of stunned awe, my brain sent a signal to my lips, and I muttered, "Excuse me, are you Amy Acker?"

Holy crap, she's gorgeous in real life, too.
That doesn't exactly amaze me ;).

Are you able to explain, then, how Ballard was able to hire out a doll? Was there an explanation I missed?

I mention his "Faustian pact" above and that's what I thought it was i.e. for some reason (as wiesengrund says) Adelle wants him so badly that she's willing to play along with him and part of that is allowing him to go after one (or more) bad guys he's been after for years but couldn't touch within the law.

I wonder if part of the reason people think Ballard is being particularly skeevy is that we don't get a monologue or comment from him in every episode about how conflicted or guilty he feels.

Err, yeah we do (more or less). He certainly has one in 'Vows' (at the end). How about we don't assume that because some of us don't like him it's because we're incapable of seeing the subtleties of his position ?

I understand he's walking the line, I just don't like how he's doing it (and still, underneath, seeing himself as the hero out to save Caroline) and how, right now, he's happy to just kill Echo for his own ends. Will that change ? Quite possibly. But as with Topher last season, i'm not going to say I like a [fictional] person (as opposed to the character) because at some point in the future i'm assuming Joss will give them depth and complexity that'll make them more sympathetic. He probably will and if he does my feelings will probably change. But just as with real life, I don't like people because they might turn out to be nice, I like them (or otherwise) for how they are now.
Sometimes I laugh at people's bad jokes just because I think they might turn out to be funny. No, hang on, I don't do that. I just laugh because I'm drunk.

I don't like Ballard either. I don't know if we're supposed to or not. Or, I mean, I don't know if the writers like him or not. I don't mind not liking him, but unfortunately I'm not even that interested in him, which I assume (and hope!) the writers are. (It's interesting to not like him, because Helo was one of the most likable characters on BSG IMO... so it's not the actor, obviously!). I want more Boyd. I love Boyd. Am so interested in Boyd. Though I will say, I love a fight scene involving Ballard. He's so brutally convincing.

I loved Dr. Saunders telling Topher that she doesn't want to die, and yes, wondering who Echo will become and how she'll feel about her mission when she understands what it means for her more fully (and when there is more of a "her" to her). I'm also with jcs that Caroline hasn't made me like her yet. Again, I don't know if we're meant to, but the episode last season in which we meet her as a spunky-yet-boring animal rights activist felt kind of like a story / character failure to me.

I never got the Topher-hate though. I thought he was hilarious last season (if sometimes a little over-the-top) and then, at the end, startlingly and utterly heartbreaking. And he broke my heart again this episode, while still being very funny, though in a sad way. (I liked him sighing on the phone when Ballard asked for Topher, and saying "please hold" - like he can't even get any real pleasure from his own smart-ass ways anymore).
The Topher/Saunders exchange was fantastic!
I can hardly wait for this coming week's episode :)
Hmmm, no one else seeing parallels between Dr. Saunders' freak-out over finding that she isn't real to Dawn Summers similar response to discovering that she was created whole? As different as the Buffyverse and the Dollverse in style and background, the same themes percolate throughout Joss's work - the relationship of memory and personality, what is the essence of being a person, of being a particular individual? What makes one real?
Saje, apologies. I did not qualify my comment enough. I should have started the post with "I wonder if part of the reason SOME people think..." The two things that triggered my post were (1) the recent comments comparing Ballard to Apollo on BSG and whether there were similar reasons why some people disliked these characters and (2) a sense I got from a number of comments that seemed to suggest his character was overly-judgemental/underly self-critical or aware relative to other characters. And, of course, some people dislike Ballard for reasons that relate neither to (1) or (2).

You bring up a distinction in your response that I'm not sure at all what to do with: Ballard the "character" versus Ballard the "person." Without going back and reading every comment on Ballard to see which sense (character/person) each commenter was critiquing, I'll just say flat out that I've always, when reading or writing comments about anyone on the show, been assuming "character", not "person." I don't mean by this that the distinction isn't valid. I get it -- I can like the Mayor or Topher or or Dexter (on "Dexter") or Ben (on "Lost") as a character without necessarily wanting to hang out with them. I guess I just don't know what to do with that as an approach to a show.

To take the Apollo example, again, maybe the "person" vs. "character" thing explains why some people had an antipathy for him: he seemed too severe or humorless or something to wanna spend time with as a person. Then again, some people's antipathy may have been for the character, which, even then, could be meant either as a critique of the writing (not fully-fleshed out enough/not believable in his motivations or actions) or of the worldview and/or actions of the character as it affects the story (simple example: usually kinda fun to root against the character we see as overly uptight/upright/inflexible a la the Wesley of early appearances on Buffy). When it comes right down to it, I just don't have much response to the arguments about the "person," but I'm pretty interested in how the character works, and I guess that the character is what I tend to assume people are talking about.

For what it's worth, I'm impressed with how Paul has been written, and think I see complexity and depth in the way he's responded to the situation he finds himself in, and find it pretty easy to sympathize with the difficulty of figuring out what to do, given his position. Then again, I liked the character of Apollo, too. (Although I probably would have rather had a beer with Helo or Starbuck.)
I wonder if Echo is going to have a problem choosing between Ballard and Boyd. They both care for her (one way or another), they've both had that magic Handler imprint process worked on her, they've already fought over her once and seem quite ready to do it again, and they even have similar views of the Dollhouse, interestingly... but they seem to have completely different agendas.

We need to know more about Boyd's past.

Factoring in what Adelle said about Caroline in "Epitaph One," I wonder if maybe Echo really is Caroline, at the core, but without Caroline's memories. After all, wasn't that one of the show's first catch phrases? "You can erase a memory, but can you wipe away a soul?" So the person who is Caroline is resurfacing gradually, but without any recollection of who she is; that part's been taken and stored. Then someone -- Alpha, perhaps? -- figures how to take that process and speed it up or make it permanent.
Holy shit, that was brilliant. All ensembly and morally conflicted--might be my favorite episode yet.

I loved pretty much everything, especially the Topher/Saunders stuff. "I know what I know" gave me chills. Can't wait for the rest of the season....
Saje, apologies. I did not qualify my comment enough. I should have started the post with "I wonder if part of the reason SOME people think..."

Fair enough, accepted with no hard feelings. I'm just annoyed by the attitude that we sometimes see on here that if you don't like what I like or think what I think then it's because you're not as smart or perceptive as me (part of our group identity is that we like complex, clever TV [that's often not a mainstream success] so if you don't it's cos you're not complex and clever). It's slightly lazy thinking IMO.

Without going back and reading every comment on Ballard to see which sense (character/person) each commenter was critiquing, I'll just say flat out that I've always, when reading or writing comments about anyone on the show, been assuming "character", not "person." ... I guess I just don't know what to do with that as an approach to a show.

Well I can't speak for other people but normally I specify which I mean (I did it a few times when talking about Topher). As to "an approach to a show", how else do we approach it ? As you say, we can enjoy a character without liking them (the villain you "love to hate" is the classic example) so to me it's not a conscious "approach", it just happens (only in fiction of course, in real life if you hate someone it's because you think they're a dick and that's just not enjoyable ;).

As I say though, one possible future for Ballard is that he gradually comes to realise that Echo is becoming a "real girl" and becomes more conflicted about whether it's right to kill her (I can see an end - and this is all under the assumption that we ever get there BTW, which is looking increasingly unlikely - where e.g. he may even not want to and it's Echo herself that "forces" him to put Caroline back). So as with all fictional characters (and very few real people IMO) he's on a journey full of changes. I fully expect to like him more as time goes on.

(and right now he has "depth and complexity" about his position, he's conflicted about what he's doing. He still seems pretty sure about who and what Echo is and that's not a function of considering her but of his obsession with Caroline. Which is one of the things I don't like about him)

So the person who is Caroline is resurfacing gradually, but without any recollection of who she is; that part's been taken and stored.

Maybe, but then that really would be saying "Your experiences mean nothing, who you are is always and solely determined by your 'essence'" which I don't see Joss (or anyone else) really believing to be true. So no, to me Echo is one direction the "Caroline essence" could've gone in, if it had had different experiences layered on it. She's going to become a different person with some similarities, she's not a step on the way towards the Caroline that walked into the dollhouse 2 years ago. IMO anyway, time will (hopefully) tell.
NimNams, that's awesome :) did you tell her you liked the show?
Lee Adama was the same way in that his earnestness seemed to make a group of people hate him


Whoa! In what twisted universe did people hate Lee Adama?? Is that even really possible? ;)

The on topic part is, the comparison was with Ballard. And I don't get the Ballad hate, either. I find him really fascinating and just lost, at this point. Following the character from the beginning, talk about a "be careful what you wish for" situation.
Here he is in the Dollhouse, but under circumstances he couldn't possibly have imagined. I find him much more sympathetic now, caught in his devils bargain.

I agree with whoever said that we shouldn't expect a soliloquy every time out, to demonstrate just how conflicted he's already become. The line about "wanting to do the right thing but finding it harder and harder to determine exactly what that is", worked for me.

And while I'm thinking of it .... they were rats, people - not mice. Mice are very small, these were big honkin' RATS!!!

OK, got that off my chest. I feel better now. :)

ET:typo

[ edited by Shey on 2009-09-28 12:30 ]

[ edited by Shey on 2009-09-28 12:30 ]
Did anyone have a problem with Paul reading his post-it-note right in front of Echo when she asked him how long they had been partners? Wouldn't she have noticed?
She should've, what with (at that point) being an FBI agent and all. Yeah that felt a bit daft, Ballard should/would be able to remember that kind of thing without a crib sheet IMO. It seemed to mainly be there to tell us that he wasn't fully invested in "playing his part".

Still, if I asked someone a question I fully expected them to know the answer to and they then looked at a bit of paper my first assumption wouldn't be that they'd looked up the answer on the paper, i'd just assume they were reading something else at the same time. So they just about get away with it I reckon, it just makes textual sense (despite mainly being a meta-textual moment).
"I know what I know" is an almost biblical callback. God says "I am what I am." With imprints the distinction seems fuzzy between "am" and "know."

Topher definitely playing God. Not quite up to the job, apparently.
After Amy's performance in Epitaph and Vows I was excitedly waiting for a lot more Dr Saunders/Whisky. Then I come here and read she's only in three episodes. I'm shattered. I loved her scenes with Topher. I am definitely most intrigued by Whisky and Topher.

Overall very happy with this episode. So glad they're finally dealing with the question of identity, which I had been expecting/hoping for since I first read about the concept of Dollhouse. Was getting a bit impatient for this to be addressed, especially after seeing how quickly this questioning began in Caprica.

Was also amused by the fake soundingness of Alexis' & Jamie's real accents, more so Alexis' because I recently watched Hornblower and got used to Jamie's accent. Makes me realise just how well they pulled off their acted accents all those years.

I'm looking forward to next week, but still sad about the approaching Acker drought.
Saje, good point about essence vs. experiences; you're right, Joss wouldn't do that.

But here's a different take: Caroline told us, in the yearbook video, that she wanted to do everything. And now her body's done quite a bit. What if Caroline decides she wants to keep all those memories? Absorb them into herself? That way Echo wouldn't really die.
As a male with 5 sisters, I'm kind of uncomfortable when I see a scene where it appears a guy is beating the living hell out of a woman, like Paul seemed to be doing beating on Echo that way - I mean I get the whole strong women thing but jeez....

On the other hand, the fact that he seemed to be "channel surfing" until he found the personality he wanted was sort of hilarious.

[ edited by uh-Klem on 2009-09-28 17:39 ]
So the person who is Caroline is resurfacing gradually, but without any recollection of who she is; that part's been taken and stored.

Maybe, but then that really would be saying "Your experiences mean nothing, who you are is always and solely determined by your 'essence'".


I have to disagree with this. You have still been affected by the events of your life even if you don't consciously remember them. They have contributed to the being you are now. When you really think about it, we consciously remember very little of what we've experienced in life.

There is no essence without experience. A child deprived of experience is not the essence of a child; it is a stunted child.

I think that the Echo who is emerging is absolutely informed by Caroline's personality and values, even without her conscious memories. And Adelle certainly knows it - remember her saying at some point in season 1 about Echo's actions, "It's exactly what Caroline would have done."
That was Caroline, downloaded, but given amnesia, IIRC.
Yep. For "Needs," Topher imprinted the high priority cases with their original personalities, but without their original memories. Adelle's comment, which I see quoted a lot out of context, was referencing a version of Caroline without memories of Rossum, but still preoccupied with labs, rats, tests, confinement, freedom, experiments, liberation, and saving other people. That episode isn't a good example of Caroline leaking through the mind-wipes because Topher put her traits back in there on purpose that one time.

Which leads one to wonder what Mike's history that he doesn't remember is.
Which leads one to wonder what Mike's history that he doesn't remember is.

Off-subject, but I'm still not convinced that Mike was involved in "Needs" as anything other than an imprint programmed to freak out and get caught.
I had an issue with the credits as well, but I'll say this, Alias didn't feature anyone in the opening credits for the first few seasons and then when they finally did in season four it was all Jennifer Garner. It wasn't until season five they finally showed the rest of the cast.
Shey: "And while I'm thinking of it .... they were rats, people - not mice. Mice are very small, these were big honkin' RATS!!!"

Yes, indeedy, they were rats - meantersay that myself, too.

Lab rats - get it?

; >
What if Caroline decides she wants to keep all those memories? Absorb them into herself? That way Echo wouldn't really die.

Yeah, that's one believable way to do it ManEnoughToAdmitIt, even if i'd have to squint a bit because that's not really Echo surviving (in the same way that we remember lost loved ones but they're still lost). Still, it passes the "Batty test" - at least all those moments wouldn't be lost, in time, like tears in rain ;).

There is no essence without experience. A child deprived of experience is not the essence of a child; it is a stunted child.

Sure, that's what i'm saying barboo. Caroline's "essence" + Caroline's experiences = Caroline, Caroline's "essence" + Echo's experiences = Echo (i.e. a different person with some similarities). And I use "essence" only in the context of a discussion about the show, in real life I don't believe such a thing exists in any meaningful sense (the closest real life analogue is our genome I guess but even that's only approximately the same thing).
On rewatch I noticed something random and silly: When Echo is talking to Ballard about the sex with Bamber she said: "man's got work ethic."

Reminded me of Faith saying to Buffy (regarding Principal Wood): "boy's got stamina."

Just the way Eliza delivered that line made me think of that.
As I keep arguing, in a nature versus nurture context, there's some essence at the core. Combine that with Outside Nurture, you get Caroline. Combine it with Dollhouse Nurture instead, you get Echo. (Or, technically, Evolving Echo, since Echo is the name they gave to the empty shell carrying the original essence.) One nature, two different paths of nurture.

It's why I tend to side with Saunders/Whiskey over Echo in Omega. The essence might reasonably be considered (in Echo/Omega's words) just the "porch light" if there wasn't any Dollhouse Nurture going on. But there is, which makes for another real person, as far as I'm concerned.

Once you allow Dollhouse Nurture to happen at all, you've stepped into the trap like it or not. There are now two real people with claims to the same body. It isn't Echo's fault that she was the second person to be nurtured in that body.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-09-28 19:45 ]
Pretty late to the party and everybodys already analysed the shiz out of the episode anyway but ah well.

Did Echo seem almost sarcastic delivering her wiped-talk?

'Did I fall asleep?'

'For a little while.'

'Yeahsure.'
It isn't Echo's fault that she was the second person to be nurtured in that body.

Exactly. And either the show is taking it as axiomatic that Caroline is the "real girl" or at some point Echo (or maybe Ballard or someone else) will realise that Echo also has a right to life and that'll throw the metaphysical cat among the pigeons.

And I agree we have "some essence at the core" in the sense that we're not born as blank-slates, we come into the world with certain predispositions which either come to pass or not depending on our experiences (though even many of those are determined by environment, just our mother's). But there's no sense in which those predispositions are a person, no sense in which if you stripped away all our experiences you'd be left with what amounts to a "pure" version of our self. You'd just be left with one of the parts.
There's some very relevant stuff re: Caroline versus Echo coming out of the Eliza conference call that happened earlier. I think it's even mentioned in the thread that just started on that.
It was great, it shows how dollhouse has evolved and that much like the cylons, joss has a plan.
OMG, I found the bottom! Finally. I'm a little late to the party but here goes...

I loved the denseness of the show. For the ultimate contrast in writing, you should try making your way through "Smallville" juxtaposed against the "Dollhouse" DVD.

Things I loved besides the obvious Topher/Saunders scene and Echo's fight scene:

1. Adelle's overly long fondling of Victor's face as perhaps a call back to her beloved Roger.
2. Finding out that Ballard was the client. *Squick!*
3. Ivy. She's a lovely foil and seems to me the most average person in the Dollhouse -- i.e. concerned about her job, her career recognition, etc. I figure she just puts up with the crap and craziness and goes home and turns on the t.v. and eats with her boyfriend.
4. ED's acting. I thought she was great. And I really didn't think she could do it last season.
5. "frenemy"
6.Ivy and Sierra

The bitsy minor "problems":

1. Beating us over the head with how "sick" Echo's assignment is
2. Saunders' field trip. Someone afraid of that many things is not going to be in a convertible her first time out.

Echo has pretty much developed/had inflicted on her classic MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder), also called DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), if you'd rather. I realize that the psychiatric profession as a whole doesn't agree on its very existence, but for those that do, a large number feel that the goal of treatment is the integration of the various personalities. For Echo this would mean that all the personalities join and become "one," a new "one" that perhaps names itself Caroline but is something greater than the original Caroline.

IMO the problem with the Echo storyline is not the evolving Echo persona, it's with her "imprint of the day." Because we "know" that the imprints aren't here to stay we don't become invested in them. I think a solution to that is to make the clients the interesting ones and for us to care for them and why they've decided to shell out the bucks a la "Man On The Street." "Vows" did an okay job of this, but I would have liked to have felt her "husband's" pain a bit more. A man who is genuinely in love, gets married and then has his bride/life destroyed immediately? That's interesting.


(And what's up with the text editor?)--never mind, it fixed itself.

[ edited by BreathesStory on 2009-09-28 23:22 ]
Once you allow Dollhouse Nurture to happen at all, you've stepped into the trap like it or not. There are now two real people with claims to the same body. It isn't Echo's fault that she was the second person to be nurtured in that body.

I think the problem goes deeper than that. IMO someone doesn't become a morally important life by virtue of nurturing. The important question is whether they have a consciousness - can they think and feel? If they can I think they have as much moral importance a natural human. So I don't think this is just about Caroline vs Echo. Every time any imprint is wiped a person dies IMO
Every time any imprint is wiped a person dies IMO

Not sure I buy that, because the imprints are just artificially-created personas laid atop the existing Nature/Essence. I think it's the existing Nature/Essence that has consciousness, but it gets expressed through the filter of the artificially-designed imprinted persona. As opposed to a natural consciousness of Nature/Essence developed over time via Nurture -- be it Outside Nurture or Dollhouse Nurture.
I'm not sure it's very meaningful to say that the essence has counsciousness that is just expressed differently in different imprints. By consciousness I mean loosely the thoughts and feelings a 'person' has at a particular time. I don't know how it's possible for a 'nature' to even have a consciousness. But even if it could I really don't think you can say that, say, dumb girl Echo from Omega and FBI agent Echo from Vows are just different expressions of the same consciousness. They're nothing like each other. The whole point of the Dollhouse technology is that it creates entirely new consciousnesses. Granted, the dolls glitch sometimes but that only seems to happen to a few dolls and, even then, not all that often (Echo excepted).

In any event, Echo's and Caroline's personality would also both be mere expressions of that underlying counsciousness (to go with your way of thinking about it). Why, then, are they of more worth? Your emphasis on the 'articificial' nature of the imprints and the fact that they're not 'natural' makes me think you might be basing the distinction on naturalness. But if so that's a fallacy. Naturalness and morality have little to do with each other. For example, if we get sick we take medicine even though it's not natural. (This is one of many reasons that it's so dumb for anti-gay people to say things like 'homosexuality isn't natural').
a little late, but wonder who the creepy ass black-masked dude in the Echo/Whiskey engagement (or was it an engagement?) is.
Well, he wasn't the only one there in a mask, so it was probably just that kind of party.
The creepy ass black-masked dude reminded me of the masked partygoers in Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" - the ones who stand around gawking while Lucy is assaulted by Judge Turpin at his party.

It's not quite the same, but it did make me think of Creepy Masked Guy as one of many who were enjoying whatever girl-on-girl "event" it was that Echo was remembering - but were masked to remain anonymous while enjoying the spectacle.

And then I went back to the episode to grab the shot of Creepy Masked Guy and noticed that there were at least two Creepy Masked Gals (see left and extreme right of the shot).

So whether or not these Masked Creepys are supposed to be distinct from the rest of the partygoers, we certainly do have Masked Creepy People instead of just a Guy.

ETA: And like wot b!X said much quicker.
Watched it again and loved it even more. There's so much in there!

Agree with Progressive_Stupidity on Echo's attitude during the mindwipe aftermath, and you can also see it in her slightly bored, insincere, "With my life" answer to her handler's "Do you trust me?" Who, by the way, is new, isn't he? What happened to Asian-guy-with-mustache? Is that why they were doing the trust thing, 'cuz he's a replacement? Guess I'll have to watch again. Darn.

Sierra's expression when she touched Victor's face seemed to indicate more awareness, or at least more genuine affection, even love, than ever before. She's still evolving too, most likely, although the handlers don't seem to be flagging it. More handler carelessness - it's everywhere.

Would I agree the imprints that lasted only a brief time have less validity and worth than Echo or Caroline (or Claire or Mellie) philosophically? Not sure. But, in my emotional reactions to them as a viewer, I think I'd lean toward yes. They're less real because they're only around briefly.

In terms of the show's version of scientific reality, I think it may be heading to a position not unlike what I feel as a viewer. The so-far unexplained (or shown) problems that show up with actives printed long-term are what exactly? I think they may end up being that the essential nature of the actives, interacting with the long-term experiences the actives are having, gradually produces a "real" person. We'll see.

I don't know if Epitaph One is still considered spoilery, but I'm going to assume not and talk about Ballard and Echo in terms of that ep. So, skip this if you haven't seen it...


Ex-FBI-buddy-Echo has been programmed so that she isn't freaked out about having sex with some gangster. She's been given "It's just bodies" combined with an avenging angel of justice attitude. I would assume Paul had some input into that programming. It still bothers him, but at least he can feel that the imprint isn't being made to do something that she feels is horrible.

But, in Epitaph One, he's gone beyond that. He's acquiesced in programming Echo as a simple Russian village girl who's going to be made a sex-slave of the Borodins, the better to infiltrate them and take them down. So, either the imprint is going to be raped repeatedly and be aware of it or Echo will, since she's seemingly able to retain consciousness after the imprint. Either way, Ballard's attitude toward imprints seems to have become more callous over time, not less.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-09-29 02:54 ]
First of all, don't get the Ballard hate, either. In fact, I don't get hatred of a character unless they are acting like Sylar or Peter Petrelli -- waffling back and forth to meet the needs of a story instead of acting like people, or like Eggs on True Blood -- crying all the time while repeating the same information in flashbacks that we already knew.

We aren't supposed to like anyone on this show, or want to hang out with any of them. It's the comfort zone Joss usually creates, but has realized would actually be self-damning to have in a show exploring such a morally gray premise. All of our characters are compromised, and even the dolls seem to arrive at their current states the way Nikita became a spy -- they had painted themselves into a corner with the wrong people, by compromising themselves. Well, that's what all of these characters have done, are doing. We will get the comfortable family LATER, just like we had to wait for some of the depth.

We do not know all of Paul's motivations, but I notice a trend with everyone who attacks his motives or character (not in the story sense, but in the personal sense of the word). They all seem to be regurgitating, in their own words, the opinions or theories of DeWitt and Boyd -- the parental figures of the show. DeWitt tells Paul he's still obsessed with Echo and let Mellie go because he was done with her, and people judge him as if we have confirmation of that. The thing is, this is a show from the point of view of the bad guys. Boyd butting heads with Paul makes us dislike Paul because we love Boyd, so we view Paul as having delusions of moral superiority. The only problem with this is, of course, that Paul is morally superior, and the man we're empathizing with is completely compromised already, but hasn't come to terms with it. DeWitt is the devil, telling us that our main motivations are the dark, selfish ones we know are there all the time. Topher is Loki, telling us we can never commit a selfless act because doing good deeds makes us feel good. Paul is trying to do good, but he's not Han Solo or Mal -- he's a more realistic version of the loner character: He's lonely. He can't help having White Knight fantasies, no matter how much he doesn't want them. Just like while I consider myself a neo-feminist male who respects Amy Acker for her acting abilities and association with my favorite shows, I couldn't help fantasize about her when she was in the black lingerie. The Id doesn't just turn off. It's there all the time, and you can't help what you think or feel.

You can't help if the right thing and your fantasies have the same ending, but you can fight to do the right thing anyway if they don't line up.
Also, I believe Topher and Whiskey were very close beforehand. I got the impression from the last scene between them in S1 that he wanted her to read that file because they were lovers (although it recently occurred to me that they could be related, and ew). He couldn't tell her himself, she had to want it. The line about the contract stating they could never know each other, and the tragedy in his voice, seems to confirm some prior relationship. My theory is hard for some to grasp, but I feel that if I were Topher and I had to reprogram my best friend or wife through some odd collusion of events (i.e., I brought her to the Dollhouse to hang out and play laser tag and the brass found out so now she has to be a doll or be killed), I would program hatred or opposing viewpoints or hating my smell so that I would never be responsible for a single falsely manufactured moment of joy between us. We would not sleep together, so I would not feel like I had made that happen through machination. She would not hang out with me or chat about the things I like because I had made her that way. I wouldn't want false love, no matter how well-made, from anyone I love. And being the designer, I would always know.
A friend of mine pointed out that Boyd is focused on protecting Echo-the-body whereas Ballard is focused on protecting Echo-the-emotions. I don't quite agree with her -- I think Ballard's main aim is elsewhere -- but it's an interesting distinction to draw.
I don't quite agree with her -- I think Ballard's main aim is elsewhere

Are you being dirty or am I being dirty? :)

Also, I believe Topher and Whiskey were very close beforehand

I think they might be brother and sister. I put five dollars on it (Australian dollars, I'm afraid)
Doesn't that mean if we won we'd still owe you money ?

;-)

A friend of mine pointed out that Boyd is focused on protecting Echo-the-body whereas Ballard is focused on protecting Echo-the-emotions.

I half agree with that. Ballard isn't interested in protecting Echo at all (at the moment), he's interested in returning Caroline. Right now he is, in fact, plotting to murder Echo. And Boyd is doing his job (which, as Echo's handler, was to protect the body so that Caroline can have it back after 5 years with the secondary objectives of protecting the dollhouse and fulfilling the engagement. As head of security those priorities have changed obviously).

The only problem with this is, of course, that Paul is morally superior, and the man we're empathizing with is completely compromised already, but hasn't come to terms with it.

Err, Boyd has said, with world-weary cynicism, "we're pimps and killers [in a philanthropic way]" and (admittedly in the unaired pilot) says "We're not men". He's actually the only one in there that does know just how morally compromised he is but seems to either loathe himself or humanity so much that he's willing to do it. And i'd totally hang out with him BTW, if for no other reason than to ask him what the hell he was doing there, what happened to him ?

They all seem to be regurgitating, in their own words, the opinions or theories of DeWitt and Boyd -- the parental figures of the show.

And FTW. Yet again, puppetdoug, because you don't understand Ballard hatred (with me it's only dislike anyway, I can't understand hating any fictional character) the people that feel that way must be "regurgitating" other opinions (of fictional characters no less). Thinking people couldn't possibly disagree with you. How very tedious of you.
IMO the problem with the Echo storyline is not the evolving Echo persona, it's with her "imprint of the day." Because we "know" that the imprints aren't here to stay we don't become invested in them.


I don't know, I have to say that I was thrilled and very excited when Roma said that she will always be "Mrs. Eleanor Penn". Epic moment. And a second later I was sad because everyone kept asking who the hell that was... ;)

What I'm trying to say: The show is right now going out of its way to tell us explicitly that the imprints are not just throwaway-material. While we had Gorgeous But Deadly as the main mythological anchor, I still don't believe it was random that they chose Margaret Bashford and Eleanor Penn as the other channels for Echo to go through: Ms. Penn was the first imprint we got to care about, and Margaret questioned our notion of how "artificial" the imprints really are (basically providing us with an example of a quite literal kill-by-wipe).

Looking at it that way, the show is right now giving us a reason to invest in the imprints. A narrative, mythological one. Which basically (looking at all the complaints about S1) is audience wish-fulfillment galore. We should probably work on being grateful... ;)
... and Margaret questioned our notion of how "artificial" the imprints really are...

Y'know, for me not so much. Given (and it's a big - though necessary - given) that consciousnesses actually are recordable and transferable Margaret was a different proposition to the imprints IMO because she was an entire person. The question over whether the imprints are people arises because they're artificially created out of parts of other people, they never had continuous coherent existence before imprinting. The slight but possibly significant difference with Echo is, she's being "naturally" created out of parts of other people combined with her own experiences, in that sense Echo's development is closer to our own.

She (Margaret) was killed-by-wipe, true, but to some extent it was a cop-out because she herself accepted, even instigated her own wiping. She always accepted it as part of the deal and had the grace and wisdom to stick to her original wishes. It wasn't murder so much as assisted suicide.

What I'm trying to say: The show is right now going out of its way to tell us explicitly that the imprints are not just throwaway-material.

Yep, now it is with Saunders and Echo-with-aims/agency. After 'Omega' I was wondering if they were actually just saying flat-out "Caroline's real, Echo isn't" but now it feels much more like certain characters think that but the show itself is much more on the fence. Which I like a lot.

[ edited by Saje on 2009-09-29 10:14 ]
Yes, indeedy, they were rats - meantersay that myself, too.
Lab rats - get it?
; >
QuoterGal | September 28, 19:06 CET


I left out that part, so those who missed the point wouldn't feel that they needed to bang their heads on the desk. ;)

What I'm trying to say: The show is right now going out of its way to tell us explicitly that the imprints are not just throwaway-material ...........the show is right now giving us a reason to invest in the imprints. A narrative, mythological one.
wiesengrund | September 29, 08:05 CET


I agree. Although the imprints are only bits and pieces of different people's consciousness', cobbled together to create the desired persona and skill sets, (with the notable exception af Adell's dead friend), I often find something there to relate to and invest in. Which is very strange, and definitely thought provoking

I also find it interesting that those who believe that there is some sort of spiritual (for lack of a better word) essence to a human being - a psyche, if you will - are bound to have a somewhat different take on this element of the story, than those who believe that we have no such essence.

And I don't have to work on being grateful. ;) so much so that I don't get involved in discusions of ratings and debates on the possibility of the back nine getting picked up, etc. I'm just enjoying the ride and hoping it will last as long as possible. :)
Since BSG is gone, there certainly isn't another show that can generate this kind of discussion.
Here's something that confused me: When the episode started it seemed it was set in the immediate aftermath of Omega. Topher seemed to be wiping away Echo's 39 personalities. But next thing we know Paul and FBI Echo have been partners on a 'long-term' engagement long enough for Echo to seduce and marry someone. This might be a really dumb question but huh?
By the way, I think Adelle might have had Echo imprinted so that she would give that final speech to Paul. We know that Adelle was trying to get Paul to be Echo's handler and that she's 'playing an angle'. And Echo's speech did seem a bit too eloquent (or overwritten)

Then again, probably not. It's more likely that it was more of a simple 'this is where this show is going' moment. But I'm not quite sure
I'd be really surprised if Topher and Saunders turn out to be siblings. The way he said the line "So you weren't going to have sex with me?" sounded like on some level he wanted her to. I could see them maybe having known each other before the Dollhouse, but not as siblings.
You should have a bet with Let Down, you could make as much as 18 pence if you win ;-).

By the way, I think Adelle might have had Echo imprinted so that she would give that final speech to Paul.

Maybe, I doubt it but I wouldn't hate it. I think there'd have been some hint though, as it is it'll be so out of left-field that it'll lose us (IMO). Course, they might drop hints in future episodes. And textually I think Adelle is genuinely curious and so content to watch Echo develop naturally ("everything's part of Adelle's Machiavellian plan" is similar to "everyone's a doll" IMO, bit of a narrative cop-out if they're not careful).

When the episode started it seemed it was set in the immediate aftermath of Omega. Topher seemed to be wiping away Echo's 39 personalities. But next thing we know Paul and FBI Echo have been partners on a 'long-term' engagement long enough for Echo to seduce and marry someone.

My impression was that completely getting rid of the 39 imprints was a big, ongoing job. And also it's worth remembering that engagements can be long-term without being continuous (i.e. Bamber's fiancee can leave, Echo goes on another engagement, then she goes back onto that mission). Ballard having to look up the "3 years" thing could indicate that he's been doing other things in between times (or that it's a relatively new engagement). That said, Bamber's character (can't recall his name right now) is going to see it as one continuous courtship and why would the dollhouse be involved before Ballard joins up ? So it's either a whirlwind romance (which I don't remember being mentioned) or there's an "X months later" implied that we don't see or the dollhouse was after him before Ballard for some reason or (most likely) it's a fairly big plot-hole.

In some ways i'm glad I nearly always miss stuff like that while i'm watching - if i'm enjoying an episode anyway (spotting them is a fairly sure sign i'm not).
I'm wondering if there are ideas ahead for a possible "world expansion" involving the other Dollhouses. Adelle keeps mentioning that there are other factors involved in her outlook. There's nothing like an "us vs. them" thing to bring two opposing groups together. I love the idea of the dolls having a bit of a Stockholm Syndrome thing and the house needing whatever their weird "evolving doll" thing is to survive --because it's not just Echo changing. And people will emotionally bond to anything, let alone people they have daily contact with. Even if they think of them as pets. (Why else do I still have that ugly-thing-that-I-still-don't-quite-know-what-it-is that my grandmother macramed?)

I've also been wondering how the Dollhouse is handling Whiskey's original contract. Presumably she "volunteered" for her five years and they were not up when Alpha attacked so they could still use the body. Doesn't the house owe Whiskey's original personality a body in good condition (un-scarred) and a home to return to? I mean, does it matter what Claire Saunders wants?
I get the distinct impressions that there are circumstances under which the Dollhouse simply ignores the contract. For instance, in this episode Adelle states that, if she was following the rules, she'd have sent Echo to the Attic by now. And I believe Topher said that turning Whiskey into Saunders saved her from the Attic. So, I'm thinking that when a doll gets "broken" in some way, they send them to the Attic (permanently), and forget about the original personality.

Saunders' case is unprecedented--and now that she knows what she knows, she could go to Adelle and demand that her contract be fulfilled (and given Adelle's peculiar sense of honor, I suspect she would agree to put the original person back in the body). So yes, I think what Saunders wants does affect how this scenario plays out.
My heart leaped when Adele mentioned that Echo still had 3 years left on her contract (only if we get to see all 3 years of stories told on television - pleeeeease).

I agree with b!X - now that Topher's check & balance of Saunders is gone, who can stop him in his amoral manipulation of technology and human fate.
I've wondered about the attic business. If they're no longer functional as dolls, why not just put their original personalities back and let them go - erase their entire memories of the Dollhouse and their experiences?
Well, in Whiskey's case, putting the original personality back would mean (a) fixing her face first, (b) explaining to the original personality why she now had scars, or (c) imprinting her with a false memory of how she got the scars. Obviously (a) involves considerable expense, and spending that kind of money to fix a damaged doll is not the usual procedure. Why (b) or (c)--restoring the damaged doll's original personality and releasing her into the wild--wouldn't be an option is unclear; I'd guess that it's considered a risk to the organization.
I missed the part where Whiskey's scars are considered Attic-worthy. Where was that?
I thought Topher said something to that effect during his conversation with Saunders. Though it's quite possible I imagined it or dreamed it--I'll have to go back and check (and will post the actual quote if it turns out to be real :-).
I don't remember Topher saying that either.

Although I didn't pick up on them on first viewing, Joss recycled several scenes and lines from his other shows. Jamie Bamber's character had a moment of admiring the dirty bomb triggers that was pure Jubal Early. The erection jokes were similar to ones in Waiting in the Wings and Our Mrs Reynolds. Undercover-agent-Echo's stuff about how Jamie Bamber's character had a work ethic were Faith-type lines. Was it conscious, I wonder?
Yeah, apparently I completely made that up. Sorry for any confusion, please carry on with your regularly scheduled conversation. :-)

ETA: Rewatched the entire scene. On my initial viewing, I thought there was an implication that Topher knew and cared about Whiskey's original personality (which I still think is the case). And then I extrapolated from some of his lines (plus Adelle's comment re: Atticing Echo) that Whiskey could have been in danger of the Attic, and that led to him making her into Dr. Saunders.

On re-viewing the scene, though, it sounds like Adelle made the decision to use Whiskey as the doctor (though it's not entirely clear). So basically I took an iffy reading of the subtext, combined it with my rampant curiosity about the nature and purpose of the Attic, and created a whole imaginary section of text.

[ edited by erendis on 2009-09-29 23:30 ]
Re: timeline - I think Joss or the press release or something mentioned that the episode was set a few months after "Omega". Topher's line to Ballard is just plain ol' exposition, I'd guess, to get the "How did they get her working again?"-question out of the way. He probably said that every day during these months when Ballard was looking judgmental around Printy. ;)
Another question about the "Attic". Where are the individual's bodies when they are in the Attic? Are they literally in the attic?
Shambleau, they recycled lines in "Epitaph One," too... "I love what you haven't done with the place," here said by Topher, is a Joyce line from Spike's crypt.

Clearly Joss believes that no good thing should be wasted, be it actors, dialogue, or ideas.
Re: timeline - I think Joss or the press release or something mentioned that the episode was set a few months after "Omega". Topher's line to Ballard is just plain ol' exposition, I'd guess, to get the "How did they get her working again?"-question out of the way. He probably said that every day during these months when Ballard was looking judgmental around Printy. ;)

I think you're probably right but man that's really sloppy writing. Joss is a god among writers but that's exposition that is not only clumsy but actually makes the story confusing (at least it did to me). I dunno, a few things like that added up to me not being super thrilled by this episode. I give it 3.5/5. That said, the only season premieres of Joss shows that I really love are The Freshman, Deep Down and Conviction
Finally saw "Vows". Excellence.

Has Adelle ever interacted with Dr. Saunders, outside of "Needs" ? I know they've been in the same room with eachother (like when Victor was imprinted with Mr. Dominic), but I can't recall them having a conversation.

Be interested to know how she feels about the current state of Saunders and what her intentions are. Seeing as she seems to be a unique situation, wonder if the woman who Whiskey was might not have a certain-number-of-years-set contract like Caroline's 5 years. Theories in this thread that Topher may've known the woman Whiskey was before she was a doll are interesting, as are earlier ones from last season about her possibly having been an employee of the Dollhouse pre-Whiskey (and I'd like to see Saunders interact with Whiskey 2.0 some time).

Isn't there a huge risk that she'll take a stand against the Dollhouse ? Or is that maybe not a risk because Topher programmed her without the ability or inclination to do so ? Plus they've probably got a person or two watching her.
Saunders and Adelle interact briefly in True Believer, when they debate the logic behind implanting Echo with the eye cameras. But besides that and the moments you mentioned, I can't recall any conversations.
Adelle and Saunders also interacted in Spy, when DeWitt had to get patched up from the bullet wound.

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