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October 10 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the third episode of Dollhouse season 2. It's called 'Belle Chose' and it's written by Tim Minear and directed by David Solomon, the same people who brought you the Firefly episode 'Out Of Gas'. And the episode is now available to watch for free at FOX on Demand and Hulu and can be purchased at iTunes.

The next episode of Dollhouse will air in two weeks time.

I am VERY excited for this episode... Tim + Solomon = recipe for greatness.
Yes, that's a strong duo. I've got exams the next two weeks, so the timing of a week without Dollhouse could be worse (the less temptations the better). Though on the other hand of course this strong duo's ep could very well make us lust for more, making the longer wait unbearable. I certainly hope it will.
Right there with you, maxsummers. Tim is one of my favorite people on the planet and Solomon is a genius so this can only lead to awesome!
I'm super excited to see Michael Hogan. That man is frickin' amazing and I can't wait to see what he brings to the show.
oh wow...that's some creepy right there...
A few minutes in and it's already obvious how they switched the episodes.
"That's creepy on a level I hardly knew existed".

Also, Ewwwww.
I am sad to say I know more than a few "Kikis".
"Paul is going to take you on a spree." "Shopping or killing?"

*hee*
Huge BSG flashback...love him!
"I don't even do this for my wife." "I was trained at Quantico."

Hahaha.
Yeah! Topher has ethical issues! And Yeah, they did not just wake that guy up.

Which is probably bad for Victor...
Hahaha--I skipped beginning evil...
The plot reminds me of The Cell in a big way, but still awesome.
Tahmoh is being amazing.

JerrodBalzer, I thought the exact same thing! But just a little less creepy. Which isn't saying much, cause this guy is really, really... odd.
Victor's wicked dynamic here too.
I'm enjoying this much more than last week, especially the in-Dollhouse story.
Loving the Ballard/Victor (Terry) scenes. I've been waiting for Tahmoh to have something juicy to do & it looks like Minear gave it to him! And, as has been said numerous times before, Enver is frakkin amazing. Is there anything he can't do?
I know he's giving me the heebiest of jeebies.
I loved the Quantico line too. The other one that struck me was...

"Serial Killer... Thank God."
Could it be that figuring out the remote wipe in order to save lives is what will open the door to the wireless imprints? Now I've creeped myself out.


[ edited by discordia on 2009-10-10 02:43 ]
Didn't see THAT coming.
Oh shit! They're all serial killers?
That was a healthy dose of crazy right there...
Liking where this is going, but the fact that Echo glitches/has some sort of problem every time she goes out is becoming more and more tiresome. You'd think the Dollhouse would've Attic-ed her or done something about the problem by now.
Well, I don't think they can blame this glitch on her. I'm guessing every doll in the field is having the same problem, although we'll probably only see Victor and Echo.
I was waiting for that ...
Haha--ok, nicely done in filming the switch
Victor's Kiki! I love it.
I love this episode so much!
"He'll be an empty-headed robot wandering around Hollywood. He'll be fine!" - Fave line thus far tonight! I heart Topher :)

And Victor/Kiki dancing is super hot!
ohhhhh that's gotta hurt...
Oh. Em. Gee. This is by far my fave ep so far, including season one. I think that if people take the time tonight to watch this as their first ep, they'll get hooked. Hopefully.
Ummmm...is the professor Paul Reubens? (Pee Wee) That is creepy. PS LOVE Victor as Kiki.
OK, *that* was the best episode of the season so far. And Paul and Victor make a *cute* couple, as my wife pointed out.
Agreed Cunamara!
I told somebody yesterday there will be reems of Paul/Victor slash coming up (excuse the pun) on LiveJournal soon...
Goodness gracious! Okay, that was creepy.
Oh hai Summer Glau.
You all get the implication from the last line, yes?
*shudder*

That was great!
This very much feels like a season one-type spinning of wheels.
That was my favorite episode to date.
a season one-type spinning of wheels

I'm not sure I even know what that means...

But goodness gracious, that was creepy. Oh, Echo.
Really? We're getting to stand-alone complaints already?

That may have been the best episode they've done AND it was a stand alone. I am impressed.
Wow! Tight complicated story and really great performances; I love the creepy strangeness and plot twists I did NOT see coming! Oh, and super creepy ending.
This was huge fun.
I bow down to Tim Minear in all his awesome glory. What a great episode. One of my favorites so far!
Standalone? That is epically tied to the arc. Remote wipes are arc-related. Echo still retaining her wipes, but learning how to fight for control - arc-related. It was a mixture of the two. We got long term character development of both Echo's evolution and the Dollhouse technology.
This is my favourite episode so far. Everyone hit it out of the park. Tahmoh got to do more than look worried, Eliza got to be creepy and Enver was flat out amazing. Add to that a fun Adelle and Topher and what's not to love.

So, did Paul kill the serial killer? One more step down for the poor guy.
Congrats to Tim and David S. Well done!
Naa... you get those same kind of bits in all stand alone Dollhouse episodes. If we call the first 5 stand alone, this was a stand alone.

The fundamental difference is that a vast majority of the story is not about major arcs. Bits are.
Not sure where all the praise is coming from.

The episode had good build-up, but ultimately went nowhere. Topher achieved a remote wipe. Which is important. But apart from that...it just felt like it was much ado about nothing. And the final scene was so lame; pretty sure we had eleventy billion endings just like that in season one. I already know that Echo retains her personalities. And, yeah, this one was a serial killer. Still nothing new.
I agree w/Emmie: there is nothing stand alone about this, I think this is one of the episodes that lead directly to the events of Epitaph One.
That was so amazing. It just...wow.
Okay,this episode was just all around creepy...in a good sort of way.My favorite bit though was Victor as Kiki.
I suspect the praise is coming from people liking it.
I suspect the praise is coming from people liking it.

I concur.
Well, yeah. I just can't see why people like it so much.
Very stand alone and creepy episode. It was less mythology heavy than I expected, but it was a really good episode, it had some stuff to be considered.

Some observations, and I suppose people who are checking this thread have watched, so won't be using invisio-text:
1) This remote wipe thing that Adelle forced Topher to use, seems like the base to a lot of what happens in Epitaph One. Which makes me wonder November's fate in that future, which we never saw.
2) Echo glitching at the end, midway through that imprint.
3) I wonder if Michael Hogan's character is much more important than he seemed during the episode, not just another throway character.
My problem is I can't find a way to care about Echo's evolution. Love everything else about the show, but the Echo problem has gotten so bad for me that it knocked me out of the episode when Echo emerged. Up until then everything was fantastic. Victor = great always. Loved the Kiki parts, fun and creepy. (Great intercuttign). Echo-as-serial-killer-guy was OK. But Echo waking up and earnestly doing right?

Previews for the next episode look great. Can we take it as a good sign that they are advertising the next two episodes? Or at least a somewhat comforting sign?
Because it was creepy and funny and entertaining and had good character bits all around and had Paul talking to a serial killer about trying to control fake people while Adelle watched (love that), and it was awesome, is why.
Yea Numfar, I got the impression that the major arc point was not that they found a way to swap imprints with the biolink, it was that Echo seemed to be able to turn "off" her imprint if she didn't like what it was.

That seems to be a VERY major development. The bio-link thing was kind of a failure. Back to the remote wipe drawing board.
pat32082: Also because Enver knocked it out of the park after being MIA the first two episodes.

[ edited by holeintheworld on 2009-10-10 03:21 ]
Because it was creepy and funny and entertaining and had good character bits all around and had Paul talking to a serial killer about trying to control fake people while Adelle watched (love that), and it was awesome, is why.

Yeah, but to me the entire parallel felt forced, especially when the women in the cage were like, "We're not his toys! We're human beings!" It was like the writers had taken that croquet mallet and were trying to smash the point into my head.
I liked it much better than the lactating mom episode last week.
I note that even the characters in the show are noticing the absence of Dr. Saunders. Probably time to bring Acker back. :)

The previews promised a Sierra episode in two weeks and Summer Glau the week after that.
First of all, um, creepy that Echo seems to be retaining this persona as well. If ever there were any that needed to be wiped away for good, that was one!

Secondly, I was glad to see more of Enver in this episode. I was telling my sister (whom I'd watched with) that I feel like it's the first time we've really seen Victor all season, despite him appearing briefly in the previous two episodes. Now it is totally Sierra's turn, which, the writers seem to agree with since we're getting just that in the next episode!

Thirdly, Tahmoh and Enver interacting with one another was not only nice to see (I feel like Tahmoh really only ever has scenes with Eliza, Olivia and Fran lately) but also extremely humorous.

Last but not least, awesome that Fox is promoting Summer Glau's appearances in three weeks. Though it doesn't exactly make anything concrete (they've pulled things off the air after promoting them before after all...), it makes me hopeful that the network intends to continue airing the show at least until then!
I haven't put it out there yet, but Fox tell me they're airing the next two episodes. That's been one of the developments over the last few days which has been exciting. Both should, fingers crossed, be getting a fair bit of promo now.
Actually Unplugged, I completely agree with you on that point. That one scene did feel forced.

I don't think the victims needed to be complete pushovers, but that one woman certainly went from disoriented to Season 7 Buffy in a hurry.
standalone or not, picnic worries or not, this ep (re-) demonstrated what a great toolbox this show has for examining whatever issues strike its writers' fancies or passions -- I mean, we've seen serial killers, slimy professors, FBI profilers, etc, on a million shows, but this show lets the writers shuffle the deck in so many new ways by the simple phlebotinum of switching brains into differing bodies. So we get the out-of-body interogation of the serial killer, or the later additional switch, or the gender implications thrown for a loop by both what happens to Victor and to Echo. Result? Whether you call it stand-alone or arc-y, you get to go all out at both the plot and character elements (ie how to tell a not-stale story with familiar elements like serial killers) and the issues that interest Joss & co. (identity, gender/power dynamics, techno-ethics, etc) in ways that are at least potentially revelatory. Oh, and this ep. also (re-) demonstrated that the toolbox of talent is there, too! I mean, Victor was basically the "A" story for 90% of this episode, with Echo as the funny (albeit creepy) "B" story, and was maybe even more entertaining when he got taken over by the "B" story character (another difficult trick to pull off in most shows' story-breaks!)

Oh, and had a "wouldn't it be cool if.." thought related to goosing the reticular activating system of the viewership: how 'bout if most episodes had a cryptic interaction in passing that either introduced a future client or a future "imprint" that one of our main dolls was being prepared for, with the result that you got a sorta built-in teaser that, say, Sierra, was going to be involved in a cool plot in a week or two, thus keeping the interest up of fans otherwise starting to wonder where she went? Trying to imagine some sort of combo of Hitchcock in the background of his episodes and the sort of clues that Fringe apparantly tries to work into background. Imagine, for example, that we saw, in a previous episode, something clever/funny/significant involving Topher reviewing Chaucer with Ivy, or Victor practicing croquet under the watchful eyes of a trainer or Michael Hogan reading about a mysterious hit and run or whatever? Then you get the payoff this week.
The big creepy for me is that Echo doesn't get to forget anything the Dollhouse sticks in her head now. I guess we knew that as of last week, but this is another step down the path. Serial killer... that's a part of her now. And even if that hadn't happened and the Kiki engagement had gone as planned... that'd be a part of her too, which is its own special brand of eww. It's not just subjecting her to a horrific experience – it's actually infecting who she is.

Have to admit I'm a little annoyed though by how spoiled I was for this episode. I mean... "I knew what I knew" from some of Eliza's interviews, but as it turns out, "sorority serial killer" is one heck of a give away all by itself. Not openly revealing major episode plot twists in casual conversation with the media... maybe a little old fashioned, but I think it could make for a cool retro thing.
Imo this was definitely the best season 2 episode and inline with the final few episodes last season. It's stand alone enough to have this episode be the episode we "hulu" to friends but it's still arc-y in the fact that we have character development and have the technology of the Dollhouse explored.
What doubtful guest said, especially that first paragraph. After last week, and then after this week's promos, my expectations weren't the highest, to be honest.

Then they went and took lame-o, worn-out plotlines (creepy serial killer, prof and hot girl) and switched everybody the frak up ways I did not see coming at all. And mega-bonus for Saul Tigh! I'm okay with little defects as in, how the prof afforded Echo, Eliza/Echo's "growing awareness" but whatever. I was genuinely surprised and pleased by the unfolding of events.

Then again, I had zero spoilers and have watched zero TV since last week's episode.

Leave it to Whedon, Minear, & Soloman to lead the gorgeous yet vulnerable blonde down the dark alley where her killer awaits and...she kicks his ass. Or something like that.

My point? I'm jaded as hell in general and they surprised me tonight. I also laughed out loud! More than once! Victor was hilarious. I went in tonight all jaded and grumbly (just me, not because of the show) and was pleasantly surprised for the first time in a couple weeks. :D All that intersplicing or whatever you call it with the funny and creepy and plot twists, well, I loved it.

I think I loved it more because I just didn't expect to. The promos for last week and this week made the eps seem horrible. They weren't at all. But if I weren't a Whedon fan, they wouldn't make me want to watch, that's for sure.

ETA: The promos for the next few eps, on the other hand, make me seriously crave the next few episodes. Coolness.

[ edited by WhoIsOmega? on 2009-10-10 04:07 ]
The student-teacher episode was nice, until -- quite unpredictably (snark) -- the mission went wrong.

I didn't care for the horror tone, the Saw-like mentality of this story. I don't like that kind of story. Even if it had been the real Crispin Glover I don't think I would have wanted to have seen this episode.
Oh and IMO the professor was NOT slimy, he was in fact highly ethical -- he knew not to indulge his fantasy with an actual student, so he hired the Dollhouse. And now he's traumatized for life. He'll never be able to get a man-reaction now.
I think we can safely retire the complaint about missions going wrong and that it's predictable. It's kinda like complaining about Buffy having vampires to slay or Mal continuing to steal for a living. Technology malfunctioning is a major theme here. Yeah, the technology malfunctions because the human mind isn't a computer (and look at how easily computers malfunctions); this is one of the central premises of the show. Technology malfunctions. A lot. It's like the dangerous side effects warnings for medication compounded by computer glitches (my roommate's furious troubles with her new Dell laptop are coming to mind - she's become BFF with DELL IT guys). It's gonna happen. That's the whole point of the story - the Dollhouse is still profitable in spite of all the problems the technology creates. They keep moving forward, bashing brains and identities along the way, because profit and power are still rolling into the Dollhouse coffers.

[ edited by Emmie on 2009-10-10 04:16 ]
Will, I agree with you that the professor here is not as traditionally slimy as the stereotype he is based on -- if the main reason people went to actives (or prostitutes) was because they recognized certain dangerous or unacceptable elements of their desires and wanted to siphon them off harmlessly, well, wow, it might be a much better world! Which is kinda why I like what "Dollhouse" can do with the "slimy professor" stereotype: on almost any other show, we would have a pretty simple identification with the potential victim and an easy time hating the pervert professor. Here, we can maybe have a little bit more complicated insight based on seeing him trying to act out a fantasy that, apparantly, he has enough self-control and/or ethics not to act on with his regular students.

what bugged me more, as an ex-grad student, was trying to imagine the English Lit teaching position that would've left me with a budget to afford something like the dollhouse. Guess he had a trust fund or something.

Oh, and not with you, will, on the criticism about ongoing use of the "assignment goes awry/active glitches" pattern. I see it as part of the basic DNA of the setup of this show, just like I expect that "Law and Order" to switch from cops to lawyers halfway thru or that cartoon coyotes will only fall into chasms once they realize they are standing on thin air. My favorite and least favorite shows have narrative conventions of their own making, and usually the best praise or criticism of them is what they do with the conventions, not the fact that they have them. On this show, the "one step forward two steps back" waltz of the dollhouse staff trying to control a technology so fraught with potential pracical and ethical hazards is half the fun for me! Especially for characters like Adele (because she apparantly believes that the dollhouse could be a force for good) or Topher (because he tends to have egregiously overdeveloped faith in his brain's ability to solve whatever puzzles the dollhouse tech and assignments present him with).
Victor as Kiki?

My life, it is made wonderful. And full of giggles.

Enough said. ;)
The best part of that was Paul: "You got a problem?"
Enver is probably the biggest find to come out of this show, talent-wise. The dude can literally play anything they throw at him, and do it convincingly. Very creepy as the serial killer, and hilarious as Kiki.

Eliza was great as well, I thought she did a great job having to play a male serial killer while dressed as a female sorority chick/valley girl. That can't be an easy thing to do.

Also loved the return of the "man reaction" phrase. And the implications of the remote wipe tech in regards to what we know about future events was great foreshadowing.

Definitely the best ep so far this season.
I still think Vows has been the best ep of the season but I thought this was really great. Enver was magnificent and I think he's probably one of the finest actors I've ever seen, period. I was spoiled for the twist in this episode but I was still impressed with how it played out. The things I liked-

- Victor/Kiki dancing and hitting on the guys at the club. HILARIOUS!

- Paul “You got a problem?” :D

- Paul finding Echo sexy in the shower. I love this one because it’s rather twisted when you consider the Dolls are pretty much children and are naked here. I’m not suggesting Paul is attracted to Echo because of her childlike qualities but one can’t ignore the ickiness of it. When the DH employees start finding the Actives physically attractive it can create all kinds of issues as seen in Man on the Street with Hearn.

- Topher doing a remote wipe. Ah how tragic! I kinda love that we know the future for these characters because watching Topher’s downfall (and everybody else’s ignorance to it) is both heartbreaking and exciting. It makes scenes like these so much more poignant.

- Boyd! Missed him last episode! Though I was hoping we’d get some special Boyd/Echo moment. Please writers don’t sideline that relationship! It was really the heart of the show for me last season.

- Creepy ending with Echo keeping the personality of a serial killer. Also Ballard pulling the plug? Can that guy’s armour get any less shiny?

My one complaint is that I wish they didn’t change the order around. Echo glitched this week and that was all very good but it seemed like she made far more progress last episode. This one should have went before Instinct IMO.
When the DH employees start finding the Actives physically attractive it can create all kinds of issues as seen in Man on the Street with Hearn.

I have to take a little issue with this. There's a huge difference between finding someone physically attractive and using your position of authority to rape them repeatedly.
Oh definitely. Which is why I said it "can" create all kinds of issues. Either way I look at it though I can’t not be just a little grossed out by it. I suppose with Echo it’s different because she’s becoming more self aware but right now I think it’s meant to be a tad creepy.

On another forum someone mentioned how Boyd would never look at them this way. I think that's a good point. I’m not trying to bash Ballard here but he’s not exactly meant to be pure so I think the comparison is valid. I'm not saying Paul was some creepy perv just that it's problematic.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-10-10 05:14 ]
i came away with three things from this episode, other than the fact that it was a superb episode throughout.

1) two minutes into his serial killer part, i said "enver gjokaj needs an emmy." ok, well i said victor, but you get the point. the diversity he demonstrates as an actor is stunning.

2) yay for tahmoh. there was a discussion last week about the fact that paul basically had "pensive face" and "angry face." tahmoh really did some nice work this week. credit to him, tim, and david for getting that out of him.

3) how remarkable has the writing been in its allusions to "epitaph one?" the show has been able to stand apart from it, so that everything is followable w/o seeing it, but it is so much richer with that information and story.

finally, and i'll be brief and should probably wait to post in the inevitably poor ratings thread, but in between finishing watching "fringe," and then starting dollhouse, a 15 minute break at best, i watched some of the yankees/twins game on tbs. in that 15 minutes, i saw two commercials and three on-air promos for george lopez's new talk show. watching "fast forward," i saw three separate promotions for "V." how hard would it be for joe buck to do a couple of promos during next week's ALCS?

anyways, great episode all around. and yes, when michael hogan was talking to tahmoh, i did mutter "cylon lover" to myself. >.>
Paul's "You got a problem?" made me laugh the hardest I have in a very long time. I was crying.

Fantastic episode. Definitely one of my favorites so far.
I think we can safely retire the complaint about missions going wrong and that it's predictable. It's kinda like complaining about Buffy having vampires to slay

Emmie, I just put my book down, came to my computer, to pretty much say the same thing. SOP at the Dollhouse each week would get real boring real quick. Missions gone wrong kinda are SOP at the Dollhouse. Keeping the thing intact at all costs seems to be the point.

Gilligan's Island would've remained deserted had they built a boat and gone home.
It's also worth remembering that for every mission that goes wrong, ten more go 100% smoothly. There's a lot of Actives in the DH not just Echo. We're just seeing the ones that screw up but overall there's no reason to believe the Dollhouse as a whole is incompetent. I'm sure they're still successfully providing a top notch service to loads of other clients.
vampmogs
"- Creepy ending with Echo keeping the personality of a serial killer. Also Ballard pulling the plug?"

Ballard pulling the plug? Did that happen and I miss it somehow?

Can't Echo just keep the memory of the serial killer and not the personality?
I might not be able to write elaborate comments about the episode right now because my mind is on Enver as Kiki. That was hilarious and he nailed it! As soon as I started I thought "So THAT's what Alana (@alanastone) meant with 'Kiki the dancing queen... lol'"

Overall I really liked it. Had some great lines ("You know what that makes you: very weird!" is my fav, I think).
I think it'd work better as the 2nd episode though... but oh well.

I had seen Eliza on the Fox 5 show saying she plays a boy in this episode, but I actually forgot about it during the episode and I was surprised. For a second there I thought she'd be wipe too, but my mind didn't go "she's gonna be the serial killer now". Maybe I'm just not too smart. This Echo glitching thing is a bit annoying indeed, but I see how it's hard to avoid that.

Anyway, really liked the episode. While watching I had fun, I was creeped out, I thought about the deep stuff, I was surprised and I enjoyed the tips of what may come in the future. So score for Tim and Solomon! And special score for Enver and Tahmoh, cause I think they both owned this episode.

I haven't put it out there yet, but Fox tell me they're airing the next two episodes. That's been one of the developments over the last few days which has been exciting. Both should, fingers crossed, be getting a fair bit of promo now.


And that, gossi, is great news!
Yeah, Paul killed the serial killer AND Echo/Terry killed the client. That's why Adelle says "Wouldn't it be nice [if he didn't wake up]?", then leaves Paul on his own with the guy. Then The Guy's machines start BEEEEEEEEEEEEEPing, Echo walks in and says "Goodness gracious".
Ok, I haven't watched it again yet (which might answer this question) but did anyone pick up what "Belle Chose" is in reference too?
Ballard pulling the plug? Did that happen and I miss it somehow?

Wasn’t it implied that Ballard ended his life? Echo says “he’s dreaming” and Ballard says “not anymore.” Wasn’t that what Ballard and Adelle were hinting at when they said he doesn’t have to ever wake up?

Can't Echo just keep the memory of the serial killer and not the personality?

That’s basically what I meant but it’s been a bit mixy anyway. In Vows she was actually becoming the personalities again so it’s no totally out there to think she could slip into serial killer mode. In Instinct she went for daddy with the knife and then muttered something along the lines of “that’s not right, that’s not me” or something. I interpreted that as one of Echo’s deadly imprints slipping through, maybe assassin Echo? Alpha couldn’t always keep his multiple personalities under control either.

Edit: gossi beat me to it ;)

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-10-10 05:39 ]
Best episode yet! Intense, interesting and really disturbing and upsetting. Just the way I like my Whedon shows. I especially liked the parallel plot lines and how it highlighted the differences and similarities between true evil and what the Dollhouse is doing. Professor Sleazebag is certainly that rather morally questionable, but put it next to the true evil variant of that and it gives you a healthy perspective. In general though I find the show feels more and more like a vampireless but more sinister Angel, which to me is great since, and this is ironic considering my intense love for both Buffy and Angel, I kinda find the whole vampire thing rather boring. But really, Dollhouse is starting hit it's stride now. Seriously, where are all the Buffy, Angel and Firefly fans and why aren't they watching this already?!

And goddammit, Enver Gjokaj, is there nothing that man can't do? The range on his skills are staggering, I'm seriously in awe. Assuming his career doesn't take off rocket ship (which it rightfully should) after Dollhouse wraps, I think we'll see him in many Whedon productions to come. Amazing amazing actor... Perhaps even the best one we've had yet?
And to all the people knocking it for being stand alone... How arcy was Smile Time really? Or I Will Remember You? Or most of Hush? Do you think they suffered for it then? No, as long as you tie your stand alone to your arc you're fine. And this was REALLY fine...

But Echo waking up and earnestly doing right?
It's an important plot development, it's the first stage on her way of being able to go in and out of personalities at will. She hasn't really been able to before, it's mostly happened due to outside interference. But being faced with this guy's twisted mind, it was the push to make her break out through sheer force of will for the very first time. It's a very important moment.

It was like the writers had taken that croquet mallet and were trying to smash the point into my head.
What you forget is that those were just ordinary people. And ordinary people in extreme circumstances say obvious things. They're not supposed to be profound.

[ edited by Djungelurban on 2009-10-10 05:55 ]
The parts of this episode that were entertaining were more entertaining than any episode yet, so that was good. The parts that were bad were just as jarringly bad as is typical of the show, and took me right out of it. I kind of stopped watching the last 15 minutes.

1) Instead of letting the uncle talk to him so they could find out where the girls were, they play it hard-nosed and get nowhere. Basically leaving the girls for dead in favor of swinging their ePenis around. That's not anything the FBI would ever do, by the way: if they had such a simple (and legal) way of finding a bunch of kidnapped women, they'd do it, and fast.

2) Once again escaping from the Dollhouse is as easy as walking out the door. This time it was at least semi-plausible, I guess, since Victor was with someone. Last week it was a wiped active simply walking out onto the street.

3) "Remember that you have a name. We're human. Not his toys."

Yeah, that's not anything anyone would ever say. They'd be looking for the door, not stating the obvious way-over-the-top-melodramatically. I understand that some of the writers are feminists, maybe that's why they felt the need to inject such ridiculous dialogue (you know, because of all of the attacks on the show that say it's about prostitution-- maybe that's their way of saying "no, we think about this stuff, see!"). But it took me right out of it to the point where I went off and did something else until the next commercial break.

Until those things (mostly #1 and #3) took me completely out of it, it was the most entertaining episode yet. The banter was top notch and it was just overall the most entertaining episode yet.
And on Professor Sleazebag: I agree with whoever said that he's not sleazy. He didn't do it with a student; that would have been sleazy. He did the right thing: he called the Dollhouse.

To me it's exactly the same as people who are into bondage hiring a domme or whatever the opposite of a domme is. Going out and kidnapping people because you have an urge to tie someone up, that would be the bad thing.
You know what I'm waiting for now?? Animated gifs of Enver dancing.
Better yet, someone does that, and posts on a site, side by side with Angel dancing gif.
And on Professor Sleazebag: I agree with whoever said that he's not sleazy.

Did we watch the same show? Hee.
It's an important plot development, it's the first stage on her way of being able to go in and out of personalities at will.

Sure, it's an important plot development about a character who I could not care less about. By design she has no personality. If she's waking up and discovering herself all she's got is that she's the do-rightiest of all the dudleyettes ever. And I'm not interested in human nature boiled down to which way the moral compass points. One hopes that there will be more to Echo/Caroline at some point. But we've gone a long time with just the Echo does good stuff tag on her.

Everything else was fantastic. Lots of reasons to be enthusiastic about the show, and since Joss is hardly known for dwelling on one-dimensional characters there's reason to hope that Echo will eventually get more interesting. This is, after all, the show that delivered us Whiskey.

[ edited by Maggie on 2009-10-10 06:07 ]
Well, I generally judge by intent so in my book his intent was sleazy but at the same time I'm like REALLY liberal so I'm OK with it. He wasn't taking advantage of someone unwilling since she really wanted it, and even if it had been a student, if everyone involved is OK with it I'm OK with it. Doesn't make it less sleazy, but who said sleaze couldn't be OK?

Actually, if it had been a student it would perhaps be even less sleazy since that wouldn't have been as methodically and purposely thought out. I mean, he basically wanted to sleep with a student. Not any specific student, just a student. The thing that turned him on was screwing with a student, someone of whom he was superior than. On the other hand, if it had been a real student that came on to him in hope of getting her F turned into an A, then it could have been a much more personal and complex situation on so many levels and in so many ways that I for one couldn't make an immediate judgment call on that.
azzers: I looked it up and "la Belle Chose" was "Chaucer's term for the vagina, a borrowing from the French meaning the pretty thing." So... yeah.
There was beeeeeping there near the end!?! Grr Arggh! Did I push the mute button by mistake.

gossi wrote "AND Echo/Terry killed the client" Didn't Boyd call an ambulance for the guy?

And also on the professor: Was Echo supposed to be like the character in a book? A modern day equivalent of someone? The professor said she was just like some description. What was all the trying to make her understand the book about?
Sure, it's an important plot development about a character who I could not care less about. By design she has no personality. If she's waking up and discovering herself all she's got is that she's the do-rightiest of all the dudleyettes ever. And I'm not interested in human nature boiled down to which way the moral compass points. One hopes that there will be more to Echo/Caroline at some point. But we've gone a long time with just the Echo does good stuff tag on her.

Everything else was fantastic. Lots of reasons to be enthusiastic about the show, and since Joss is hardly known for dwelling on one-dimensional characters there's reason to hope that Echo will eventually get more interesting. This is, after all, the show that delivered us Whiskey.



Wait you expect Echo to have a personality when her arc is all about getting a…. personality? Echo shouldn’t have a personality yet because she’s still a blank slate who’s only just starting to form an identity. Does this make her unrelatable? Sure. But it’s meant to. Thankfully we all have our personalities and our individualism. We’re not supposed to see it as a good thing that Echo doesn’t but part of Echo clawing back her humanity is what makes her so appealing, to me anyway.

Echo has the most fascinating arc of the entire show and that’s coming from someone who’s favourite character is NOT Echo but Adelle. She's made huge progress since the show first started. Back in s1 she could barley hold a conversation, now she's ordering for people to kill her to save themselves.
Sure, it's an important plot development about a character who I could not care less about. By design she has no personality.

Correction, she HAD no personality. But as time goes by, and as more and more personalities get put into her, since none of them ever really fade completely she's getting a kaleidoscope of characters in her. At the same time the more chaotic and fractured her mind becomes, the more Caroline's personality pokes through. We know that Caroline was a fairly idealistic person and as I see it, the character at the end of this episode was Echo as steered by Caroline. Caroline hasn't quite broken through yet, but at that point she functioned as her subconscious. In fact, Echo has never been more interesting than right now, we're actually able to follow a person forming out of nothing which in real life, that can never happen. It's extremely interesting.
You know, honestly I thought it probably was a Chaucer reference and I did a wikipedia search thinking it was going to be a story reference.

I would have done much better to just search the term I think. Anyway, thanks for finding it.
Yeah, the title is, like, vagina chose. One of the reasons why I kept warning people off the interviews on here where it was pitched as 'sorority girl serial killer' and only published the Enver/Terry clips on Dollverse was 'cos the swap is a pretty big reveal I think - I mean, how much does Echo/Terry's stabbing the professor dude ROCK? Lots and millions. That's how much.

Also, that's one rich professor. And the Dollhouse REALLY needs better security.

This is my favourite aired ep to date, as aside from being a mating of The Inside and Angel to produce gorgeously twisted children, it's also really quite smart in the parallels it is drawing. It's also the first episode, I think, to bulldoze into the sex of the thing. Without the, you know, sex.
Someone mentioned that you could tell the episodes were reordered in the first couple minutes. I missed that, how could you tell?

Great news from gossi, as usual. I fear the day you start bringing doom to us. I won't know what to do with myself.

And otherwise, I really liked this episode. I think, for all the flack I saw last week take, I liked Instinct better. But this was still pretty fantastic, and Tim is amazing. It felt very Inside-y, though. Like what the Inside would've been like with the Dollhouse cast and technology. Which is a-okay with me, because the Inside is a wonderful little show.

Unrelated, but does anyone know how far along in production they'll be in 3 weeks? I know Enver said in that interview that he just read episode 8... so will they be filming... 9ish by that point?

EDIT: I mean, how much does Echo/Terry's stabbing the professor dude ROCK?

Oh yeah. I adored that moment. The absolute last thing I expected from that storyline--which, up until that point, had me going, "why the hell is this B-plot in this episode? What's the point??"--and it totally took me by surprise. I guess I should've seen the brain-switch coming, but I didn't at all.

[ edited by Jobo on 2009-10-10 06:27 ]
About Echo/Caroline... I'm not a big fan of the character either, but it doesn't annoy me as it seems to annoy others. And in fact, I like wiped Echo better than Caroline or bad-ass Echo. But I know that the point of the show is wiped Echo becoming bad-ass Echo (or maybe Caroline... or maybe a mix between Echo and Caroline...), so I'm going with it.

One thing worries me though... a lot of people seem to not like Echo/Caroline, and that might be a problem for the show. I mean, I remember S1 discussions where people argued "Buffy was never people's favorite character either", but one thing is people not having the main character as their favorite, another is actually not liking the main character.

And considering Paul's is not very popular either, and he's kinda the 2nd main character... this may be a serious issue.
I won't link this, because I'm not sure if this is going to qualify for the "reviews" articles, but if you're interested there's a review up already.

http://blogs.pioneerlocal.com/entertainment/2009/10/dollhouse_review_goodness_grac.html
a mating of The Inside and Angel
You are so right. Had totally forgot about that show, there was definitely a The Inside vibe to this epi. I only watched the first few epis of that show until I knew it was being canceled and never looked back, but I know the entire season was aired elsewhere... Should probably be able to track the whole season down somewhere, I remember really liking it. No DVD yet right?
No DVD. But the internet is magic. Wink!
Jobo - I believe they started 8 today. So in 3 weeks they'll be on about 9.

In terms of Echo this episode, I like the fact she (optionally, one presumes) emerged mid-engagement. I think that puts a whole new spin on this potentially. Oh, and she also has the personality of a serial killer stashed in in Matrix-o-bank.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-10-10 06:33 ]
Jobo:

First, I knew going into it so maybe I would have missed it I didn't already know.

But the big tip off for me was the interaction with Ballard and his reactions with Echo. It was like he was extremely new. It was obvious that he had just gotten the job and was still shocked by her running around naked and seemed to be struggling with the concept of her on romantic engagements.

Last episode, he was already talking about romantic engagements in a more "desensitized" manner. He seemed like a more seasoned handler.

There was also Boyd and Adele talking about Saunders which clarified a point that was a disagreement that we had when Vows first aired which was, "did Saunders just go out, or did she leave?"

[ edited by azzers on 2009-10-10 06:43 ]
Oh, Jobo... I know... Definitely know... Let's just say, it's not exactly convenient to be a Joss fan in Sweden... ;)
Jobo:

What azzers said, plus... I think that after the end of "Instinct", I think Paul wouldn't miss an opportunity to talk more directly to Echo (like when they were alone at the end of this episode). She was imprinted with a serial killer, I'd think that, him knowing she remembers it all, he'd at least ask how is she after that.
Great episode. But agree that the switch in order caused little problems. The Paul/Echo talk at the end of Instinct followed by the beginning of this episode just didn't match.

Enver should win every acting award going. Eliza was great. Loved the Topher/Adelle interactions.

Wondered if that could have changed Terry's personality. Made him not a serial killer, then put him back in his body and let him wake up, or have a chance of waking up, and have a normal life?
I haven't put it out there yet, but Fox tell me they're airing the next two episodes. That's been one of the developments over the last few days which has been exciting. Both should, fingers crossed, be getting a fair bit of promo now.

Thanks for posting gossi, I think you have just made my night:) Off to squee now!

[ edited by crhobbs42 on 2009-10-10 07:09 ]
That's a good point zz. Although in Terry's case, he had already killed so even if we could change him he'd still be guilty.

And honestly... that will be an interesting topic to get into as to acceptable uses of this technology. Things like severe depression and psychosis could effectively be wiped. And in some cases, I'm not so sure a person wouldn't want to alter their brain if it would allow them to live a more healthy life.

However, I'm not sure they can go there since Alpha/Echo is being used as a sort of "your soul remains" argument. I think those plotlines would interfere with their mythology.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-10-10 07:11 ]
Wondered if that could have changed Terry's personality. Made him not a serial killer, then put him back in his body and let him wake up, or have a chance of waking up, and have a normal life?
Well, it would have been problematic since his entire empathy center was dead and no matter how they tweak and manipulate his personality, they can't revive dead tissue... I mean, since this is sci-fi they could have rerouted the brain to have another part of the it take care of empathy but it would all be too much work and screen time for no good reason really in my opinion. Besides, I was glad he was killed, that guy didn't deserve redemption.
Great episode. Definitely a stand alone, but a really good one with an exceptionally sharp script. So dark and twisted yet simultaneously so witty. Classic Minear.

It maybe never reached the highs of the Topher/Claire scenes in Vows, but it was more consistent throughout. Definitely a big step up over Instinct.

I thought Eliza overdid Kiki a bit, but she was great as Terry, which was perhaps the harder role. Very creepy.
"It was like the writers had taken that croquet mallet and were trying to smash the point into my head."

What you forget is that those were just ordinary people. And ordinary people in extreme circumstances say obvious things. They're not supposed to be profound.


Yes, but those ordinary people are of course devices used by the writers, and in this case, as drama, it was very obvious and flat-footed.
The show was brilliant and exactly the twisty turny deviant stuff I expected from Tim Minear. Great acting all around and I didn't at all notice the nitpicky stuff some of you seem to have. I guess I was too busy enjoying the entertaining TV program.

Enver and Tahmoh were aces! Can't wait for the Dichen centered show in 2 weeks and then SUMMER!!!
Last to see the show, as usual (in the U.S.). I haven't read any comments yet, but IMO, that was just bloody brilliant - vintage Tim Minear. And the partnership of Tim and David Solomon directing, seemed to bring out the Jossness of the show to best advantage.

Excellent acting all around, great dialog and that signature effortless moving back and forth between the really dark and twisted, and the funny really dark and twisted - witty dialog and great eccentric timing that really worked.

I can't imagine anyone still questioning Tahmoh's acting after this one. From the heartbreaking sadness on his face as he watched Echo frolicking as the mindless Barbi/Twit she'd been imprinted with, to the perfect tone and timeing of "A serial killer? Thank God", to his obvious glee in interrogating Victor/serial killer guy - getting to use his real training for a change, and feel that he may be doing some concrete good. I loved Ballard in this, more than ever.

And then there's Fox. So we finally get a "previously on Dollhouse", then at the end, a promo that gives the impression that they actually care about cultivating an audience. The "Summer Glau joins the cast", making sure we know that the next ep isn't for two weeks, them promoting it as if they really mean it.
I know I should be grateful for this, but I couldn't help thinking, is this too little too late? And wondering, WTF is wrong with Fox, that they didn't show this degree of enthusiasm and commitment from the beginning? Is this network run by a bunch of totally schitzed-out refugees from the offices of Ari Gold?
OK, end of rant. Thank you Fox, for showing us you really care. ;)

Off to read the comments.
I've the usual "watch for free at Fox" and "buy the episode on iTunes" links to the entry.
I hope they use the correct order for episodes 2 and 3 on the DVD.
I watched the ending twice now and the flatline beep is definitely there - it is quite odd, though, because there's tinkly music going on in the background and the beep sounds like it could be the second to last note - slightly out of tune - as the actual sounds are quite similar. The beep doesn't fade out though, unlike the actual notes.

Great episode though, all round (usual disclaimers about plotholes notwithstanding), and it's wonderful to see Enver getting the chance to strut his stuff, as it were. I happened to be watching Instinct last week when a friend popped round, and she was impressed by it having never seen the show before (it is quite freakily intense and ED carries it off well, despite it not seeming to be a fan favourite ep) so if I show her this one she might well be hooked.
Could it be that figuring out the remote wipe in order to save lives is what will open the door to the wireless imprints? Now I've creeped myself out.
ActualSize | October 10, 02:39 CET


My thought exactly.

Really loved the ending. From (paraphrasing) Adelle's "wouldn't that be marvelous" to Ballard (if Terry didn't wake up) to Ballard's taking the cue and obviously, if off-camera, pulling the plug, to Echo's "goodness gracious!"
It took a second for the chill to set in, from that one - so much good stuff to absorb.
Oh - and another flawless performance from Eliza.

I have no problem with season 2 not totally finding it's voice until the third ep. In fact I think, as I have all along, that the relative unremarkableness of the first two eps is pretty standard for most returning series. And that the outcry against 'less than perfection' is a combination of expectations set unrealistically high, for a show that has to conform to at least a minimum standard of network TV's umm .... minimum standards, and a case of contemporary mass ADD.

Yay team, for this gem.
"From the heartbreaking sadness on his face as he watched Echo frolicking as the mindless Barbi/Twit she'd been imprinted with"

Heartbreaking sadness? Really? The whole scene came off a lot more like Ballard trying not to have a man reaction than anything.
Heartbreaking sadness? Really? The whole scene came off a lot more like Ballard trying not to have a man reaction than anything.
Rhodey | October 10, 10:17 CET


I seriously disagree. And that's after watching the ep a second time, just because I loved it so much.
Excellent episode - deeply twisted and excellent character work. Just what I want from my favourite TV show.

Also, loved the use of Little Boots for Victor/Kiki to dance to.
Dancin' is ma remedy remedy!
Did someone upthread seriously say that the professor was ethical? And not sleazy? For hiring a mindwiped prostitute to rape instead of abusing a student? I hope that's just my hangover making my sarcasm detector glitch.

Anyway, great episode. Enver was excellent as usual. His Kiki was brilliant and provided some of the first truly enjoyable scenes with Paul. Also - loved the opening scene with the doll arrangement. That was nicely done.
Oh that reminds me, I also LOVE the opening curlymynci. 'cos I thought they were dolls. And then they were people. And then somebody got RUN OVER. And then there were titles. And I'm violating grammatical correctness. It was just nifty, 'cos I wasn't sure what was going on.
Agreed re: opening, that drop of sweat totally rocked my world, and - by the way - this episode was awesome.

Also, I think Fox did a smart move switching 2 and 3. As I suspected, "Belle Chose" is just a bit more thrilling example of how the show can do stand-alones and it's a really perfect episode to hulu-link all over the place now in the coming two weeks. I think it can draw in a bigger crowd as "Instinct" (which I loved too, btw, just not as much as "Belle Chose") because "Instinct" was more in the vain of "Haunted", a cerebral meditation, whereas "Belle Chose" has the whole package, thrill, emotion, weirdness, hilarity and laying out (and twisting) nearly all the main characters and relationships. Also, visually? Solomon hit it out of the park, imo. Some of the best framing work to date on this show and also some of the best cuts too.

The only thing that bothered me, was that they actually amped up the importance of the biolink (as a device for remote-wipes). The biolink-satellite access should make GPS-strips unnecessary, right? I mean, if he can get such awesome data and a two-way conncetion it should be enough to locate someone, or am I totally wrong in thinking that? (I could live with the GPS-strip the way it was introduced in "Omega" because it was plausible that they had no biolink on Echo back then and the GPS-strip could be there just as a failsafe-device Alpha cleverly anticipated.)
I loved the first half hour, from the creepy Crispin Glover-like serial killer and his 'dolls' - tying the theme of the show to his proclivities - smart. Using Ballard as an FBI profiler made his character come alive.

Enver did a brilliant interpretation of the killer's personality.

This had the potential to be my favourite episode.

[ edited by redeem147 on 2009-10-10 13:41 ]
Enver Gjokaj can really do anything, can't he? I mean, his switch from serial killer to college co-ed was flawless. He's amazing. This was the best episode of the season so far, for me.
RE: the order switch, someone elsewhere pointed out that Echo with a knife at the end of "Instinct" would have been creepier if we had seen her absorb a bit of serial killer first. And it is too bad that the Boyd/Adelle exposition regarding the missing (she's not missing, she left!) Claire couldn't have been moved to "Instinct" when the switch was made. It would have saved countless hours of teeth-gnashing and typing time for people who were furious that the show had "forgotten about Claire."

That said, if we have to have a week's break without an episode, I'm glad "Belle Chose" is the lead-in. Wiesengrund is right -- it's definitely the one to push and build buzz for the next two. Sierra and Summer, yay!
wiesengrund, Joss and Tim switched the episode order around, not FOX.
Sorry, yeah, I didn't mean to imply that it was just the network responsible. I just meant that it made sense from the network/promotion/buzz-building perspective.
For hiring a mindwiped prostitute to rape instead of abusing a student?
How can it be rape if she's willing? Her feelings might be artificial but they are still there. I mean, I'm on board with it being kinda sleazy, but sleazy isn't automatically bad.
I'd just be repeating what everyone else has said but: Loved. It.

And this is the kind of storyline that I'd usually avoid if I'd known anything about it beforehand. I don't do horror or thriller at all, and even though I was totally creeped out by the opening scene, the entire episode made having those feelings totally worth it.

Also, seriously. Enver? There's no other way to say it: man, you rock.
Great episode.

Uber-creepy opening scene. At first I thought they were dolls. Then when 'Aunt Sheila' moved I thought they were wering masks, then I realised their faces were paralysed.

The Paul/Victor scenes were great to watch. Enver was creepy as Terry and hilarious as Kiki. The Victor-Kiki dancing was probably my favourite scene.
How can it be rape if she's willing? Her feelings might be artificial but they are still there.

Please, please, please reread what you just wrote. If her feelings are artificial, then they are by definition not hers.
@Djungelurban
Rape is sex without consent. Echo cannot consent. Caroline cannot consent. Kiki may not have been raped, but Caroline or Echo would have been.

This is a messy topic to get into and has been done very thoroughly elsewhere. I'd hate to hijack the episode thread with it.
Enver is in a league of his own. In a galaxy of his own, actually.

One thing I did earlier - read the script to this episode (I've put it on Dollverse), in particular the Adelle and Topher bits. Now, Tim's a great writer and they're good scenes, but compared them to how those two perform them. Fran takes anything and makes it leap off the page. It's really impressive. Olivia has her role nailed down to a T.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-10-10 15:17 ]
The next episode is about Sierra whose situation seems very similar to the way the serial killer treated his dolls.

Abducted.
Turned into a doll.
Used as a toy.

Only difference would be that the mind is active in the body of the serial killer's dolls and in the Dollhouse the mind is "frozen" on a hard drive.

And hopefully the killing part.
Please, please, please reread what you just wrote. If her feelings are artificial, then they are by definition not hers.
They were artificial in origin for sure, but she was feeling them none the less and then she acted upon these feeling. They were hers at that moment in time.

Rape is sex without consent. Echo cannot consent. Caroline cannot consent. Kiki may not have been raped, but Caroline or Echo would have been.
But that body is not Echo nor Caroline. In fact, technically you are not you're body either. It's just that since you're most likely the only occupant of that body (atleast aware occupant), it's basically an extension of you at this point. But the body itself has no wills or desires or wants. It's just a body, a chuck of flesh and bone and some organs. A person is the person within that body and that person at that time was Kiki. Caroline and Echo, sure technically they were "in" there, but they were not "active" or aware or was in control of that body. Kiki was, it was her's to do want she wanted with it. If that distinction isn't made, she'd never be able to do anything ever, ranging everywhere from having sex to what dental floss she should buy, since at this point there are enough personalities within her that someone will object to anything (most likely serial killer guy cause he seems to be able to have extreme reactions to pretty much anything). And honestly, the horror of rape is not about someone putting a penis inside of you, it's about helplessness, about powerlessness, about vulnerableness, it's about violation and fear and panic. Kiki felt none of these things and no one of her other personalities even knew about any of it or cared.
Well, that was pretty good. Nothing to write home about.

I absolutely agree with Unplugged Crazy that that 'we're not his toys' line was spectacularly lame. It was almost eyeroll-inducing as the awful Obama line in Omega

And frankly that ending (with Echo retaining a bit of that personality) did nothing whatsoever for me. It was basically the same ending as The Target

And I also thought it was pretty silly that after it being established that they don't yet have the technology for remote wipes Topher is able to figure it out in about 10 minutes

I really hate to be complaining so much about this season but so far it's not really doing it for me. Anyway, even though the best bit of the episode was the cold open, it wasn't bad.

The thing I'm really excited about, though, is seeing more of Senator Perrin. And on that topic does anyone else think his wife was wiped when she answered the door?
Oh and I hope episodes 2 and 3 are switched on the DVD because it was fairly clear that they weren't meant to be the other way around
And frankly that ending (with Echo retaining a bit of that personality) did nothing whatsoever for me. It was basically the same ending as The Target
Yeah, but the difference this time is that she did it on her own this time. That's a huge development. The situation was disturbing enough for her to break though the program and actually honestly, I don't know who broke through really. Can't be Echo really, she was too articulate to be Echo.

And on that topic does anyone else think his wife was wiped when she answered the door?
Nah, mostly because it seems like a meaningless move from the writers. I mean, having her answer the door and telling her something profound or whatever and just doing what she said happened. The end result would be the same. No, if they did anything it was "sleeper-agentifying" her, insert a another layer of personality beneath her own. But maybe that's what you meant...

[ edited by Djungelurban on 2009-10-10 16:11 ]
Well, I agree that the "Remember that you have a name. We're human. Not his toys" dialogue is horrendous (I laughed out loud), connecting to Echo is still a bit of a struggle and ending on Echo having a little revelation is very tired, but I can so easily overlook this stuff because the episode was absolutely fantastic. Dark and twisted is how I like my Dollhouse and this was probably my favourite episode other than Epitaph One. I can only add to the Enver praise - amazing as Terry and hilarious as Kiki. Could not stop laughing through that whole dancing scene. Fran and Tahmoh were particularly great as well. I didn't particularly care for the previous two episodes (or a lot of season one), but the potential in Dollhouse is so obvious and this episode totally delivered. It also proved that there's no reason why the stand-alone episodes have to be a poor relation of the arc-y episodes.

Strangely, I'd also heard Eliza say she played a serial killer in this episode and watched the preview scene, but managed to completely forget about this when watching the episode. Testament to how enthralling it was. The ending is definitely way better if you catch the beep. I missed it, but it is pretty obvious on re-watching. Perhaps a visual clue like a flashing red warning light would have helped.
I enjoyed the deepening understanding between Ballard and Adele. Knowing what he planned to do with the serial killer, she then sent the uncle down. Nice.
It was also good to see Boyd as Echo's handler again even if that didn't play out much on screen. It does seem a little unlikely that Adele would send her head of Security out on a fairly run of a mill engagement but he was the obvious choice, of course.

And I agree with the person upthread who felt that that the prof probably couldn't have gotten one of his actual students.
"Did someone upthread seriously say that the professor was ethical? And not sleazy? For hiring a mindwiped prostitute to rape instead of abusing a student?"

Yes, and if you attended to the discussion they were having, he wanted to be the submissive part of the male/female power play -- he wanted a female "student" (not really, but pretend) to assert her feminine authority and manipulate him into giving her an A. He was a fan of the story of a woman discovering her power, and wanted to see it occur in real life. He was ultimately a literature fan. He was not sleazy. One could even argue that he may not have even been primarily interested in the sex, but rather, he may simply have wanted assurance, after all these years of teaching this book, that the book did have an effect on students - that even a spacey person like Echo's imprint could come to understand that they can be on top. So to speak. (I'm not saying the book is great literature, but, it was probably what feminism was back then -- one small step towards getting out from under subjugation by learning how to manipulate men).

Addendum: Google "Chaucer" +"feminism" +"Wife of Bath" for many student essays attempting to figure out whether the Wife of Bath was a feminist, a failed feminist, or an extremely failed feminist. No one seems to know for sure but there's tons of debate.

[ edited by will.bueche on 2009-10-10 18:34 ]
He paid for a mind-wiped woman to act out "feminine authority."

Oh yeah, he was sleazy.

ET: fix a hyphen

[ edited by jcs on 2009-10-10 19:15 ]
Last line should have been...

...wait for it...

...waaaaaaait...

...

"Five by five."

(c;
Um... NO ONE has noticed or pointed out that the professor in this episode is the same one from "Man on the Street", you know, the one who said if this tech exists that humanity is OVER. Perhaps he cannot afford a doll, but has been paid off by the Dollhouse to shut his trap. He is sleazy in many, many ways, and his inclusion is one more creepy allusion to the Epitaph timeline, since his character's words were our first foreshadowing of Epitaph's possibility, and now he's been bought by the system. You guys disappoint me; all this whining about standalones and you're not mentioning this or the "man reaction" callback which seems to have been done just for us, those who can appreciate episodes intertwining.
I don't really think the point of the character, almost exactly like Joel Miner, is to think that he is justified. Once again, they do an excellent job of both giving you enough gray area to think about the choice that he's making without actually approving of it.

Joel gave us a far more in depth look at his reasons, but I think both Joss and Patton have said roughly that you're not supposed to think he's somehow clean because he has good reasons.

The professor, not abusing his authority or actively seeking out this fantasy with a student could be considered a good thing, but it in no way absolves him. As multiple people have already said, we've already debated the dubious proposition of dealing with dolls to death. No, I didn't have fun with that sentence.

I think the point was, maybe we weren't supposed to just stand up and cheer when Echo stabbed him in the neck. And that would have been a hard sell if the professor was acting like a lecherous cartoon.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-10-10 20:29 ]
Are you sure PuppetDoug? I haven't gone back to check yet (I'm writing while I'm on break from working) but I remember the Man on the Street professor looking and sounding totally different.
Also, he was sleazy, even though I can understand his fantasy, relate to it, and even be impressed by it as a literature fan. But this is Joss's commentary on himself, and the complications of being a feminist male: you still have fantasies. Even if they involve strong women finding their strength with your help, it's still the White Knight fantasy, only for today's man, whereas Paul's is a little bit of an older desire. We can't help that we still want to save or help women -- our society is still patriarchal, but as women come into their own power, the sexual roles will begin to reverse, and eventually we'll fantasize about women saving us. Either way, the Dollhouse twist on this is that this is a man who wants to help a girl find her strength as a part of his sexual fantasy -- and if I'm reading his initial reaction right, she may be designed as a modern version of Chaucer's character -- but going to the Dollhouse for a mind-wiped prostitute to live it out with is about as skeevy as doing it with an actual student, for completely different reasons. In fact, having sex with a student in the manner his fantasy works would be less ethical but more moral -- she is manipulating him for a grade, so the character he has is not being raped, just being given an unfair edge. What he is actually doing is forcing a girl to take advantage of him, but in this way he has removed his own manipulation and replaced it by doing the manipulating. He is in total control, and the owner of the body is not.

Although, I do think Djungelurban makes an interesting point: The horror of rape is separate from our morality programming and our own external need for justice, as non-victims. The victim's trauma comes from awareness during the act, their loss of power, and the unwillingness of them to perform the act, as well as the physically violent part. Those components are not present at the Dollhouse. At least during, all of the actives are willing, and will remember nothing else. But here is where it gets interesting, because in our current variation, this means that Echo is the only one who has the ability to be raped in the traditional sense, because some part of her that may not want it to happen is aware but may be unable to stop it. But yet another rub is that Echo seems to have developed the ability to resurface, like the "protector" personality of a Multiple Personality Disorder patient, when something she does not like is happening. Of course, with MPD patients the Protector is usually the one doing the killing, but you get my point. If Echo and the professor had had sex, we can safely say that at least Echo was not horrified by the thought of it or she would stop it.
Sorry, I recognized him from somewhere else and got confused. I don't know why I remembered this actor's face instead of the actual one, but I did. Weird how memory and facial recognition work. I clearly remembered the signs that he was a professor more than what he actually looked or sounded like.
PuppetDoug

I just checked, and no, it's not the same professor from MotS. Would have been cool though:)
My last words on this is about words: Prostitution of the dolls is not "rape". The story clearly depicted that Echo's imprint was going to have sex with the professor -- the professor was not going to rape her! (Some may argue that the dollhouse is raping the dolls by sending them on such assignments, and that may be fair depending on whether Caroline was told there'd be assignments like that, BUT, discussion here has said that the professor was going to rape Echo, which is not the case at all).

[ edited by will.bueche on 2009-10-10 21:05 ]
PuppetDoug

And as far as your cometary goes, spot on.
So... where does an English lit professor get the money for that sort of thing anyway?
If he is also a renowned author of books on his subject, he could have enough money for one night, but still wouldn't be a regular.
Either way, the Dollhouse twist on this is that this is a man who wants to help a girl find her strength as a part of his sexual fantasy

With "her strength" defined as her ability to sexually manipulate men. Still icky.
ohhh yeah. And, I think Belle is the Chaucer character, which means "Belle Chose" is telling us the difference between Echo and Belle, the professor and Chaucer.

(edited to change Bella to Belle. The LA Times screwed me up.)

[ edited by PuppetDoug on 2009-10-10 21:20 ]
Never mind; just found out that Belle Chose was Chaucer's term for a vagina, and literally means, "pretty thing."
What a fantastic episode, the first five minutes would put most horror movies to shame and the Ballard/Victor scenes were stunning. Also I did not expect Echo to be imprinted with the serial killer's memories. Good job all round. Though it must said the Dollhouse's security is absolutely woeful.
As no-one has yet pointed this out, anyone else notice how fast the mindswap was for Kiki<=>Terry. Victor/Terry was in obvious pain during the attempted remote-wipe, but when the system crashed, Echo/Kiki instantly became Echo/Terry. No exclaimation, no doubling over in pain, no external indication of a swap...until the knife went into the Professor's neck. One moment she's trying to get her 'A', the next she's trying to get to his Artery.

It was alot faster and alot cleaner than what the dolls normally go through in the Chair. Imagine Topher's gonna havea a time trying to figure out how what happened, happened.
Ok, something I have wondered about from the beginning that still doesn't make sense to me... how can the Dollhouse be such a top secret, hard-to-find or prove-it-exists organization if all these wealthy yet average guys can so easily contact them to hire an active? Where do they hear about it and find the phone number or whatever they do to contact them?
Oddly, while reception was obviously quite positive, I was left a little cold. And I like the show quite a bit as a whole. Acting was fantastic, and it was entertaining. But Tim's last two episodes on Dollhouse took a second pass for me to warm to them.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2009-10-10 23:21 ]
I thought it was interesting in the scene where Ballard is interrogating Terry, he says something along the lines of how being able to control people like dolls makes you feel powerful and even like you are helping, but really it's just sick (except he says it a lot better than that)... and then it cuts to Adelle watching him on the screen, which seemed very purposeful. Maybe it's just me, but I thought that there was a subtle reaction from her there, an acknowledgment that he could be talking to her.

[ edited by fortunateizzi on 2009-10-10 23:30 ]
Good catch fortunateizzi - it makes me wonder how I managed to miss that
I love the twisted aspect of the professor's engagement, and since the title is obviously about that side of the story, I'm thinking this may actually be the main point of the episode. While I thought about the money, too, the guy's office is huge, he's obviously doing pretty well financially, and to me this was more his curiosity of actually sleeping with the Wife of Bath than sleeping with a student. Also -- and as a teacher, this part freaked me out pretty badly too -- his fantasy revolves around teaching the clueless girl, about seeing the light of understanding come on in her eyes.

It's fascinating, that he remains in control while fantasizing that he's being controlled, and dreaming that he's manipulated while he's done all the manipulating. And look at this, too -- he's fantasizing that she has power of a very, very specific kind. All the power he wants to see in her runs straight through her belle chose. It's not about the choices she makes (and now I'm marveling at how the title plays both ways), or the dreams she has, or the brilliance of her ideas; for him, female power begins and ends in sex. Echo, later on, chooses to die rather than hurt others, and encourages someone else to kill her -- that's an act of extraordinary power. But the professor only wants to see her power through an extremely male lens, and it's back around to that manipulation again.

For thousands of years that power was real, and women wielded it because they had nothing else to use; it is not a power men grant women, because heaven knows I'm in the power of my loves all the time, but it is certainly a male invention that that is the only power women have. Am I making sense?

The deliberate pairing of Victor-as-Terry talking and the professor pontificating tells us: those men who like to see powerful women because of the sex appeal alone are comparable -- maybe even just as bad -- as those men who seek to strip the life out of women entirely.

Not an accident at all that Kiki was all about (highly sexualized) dancing whereas Terry was paralyzing his victims. The men who allow women to dance are no different from those who would freeze them, because it's still about constraining motion...

(It also ties in nicely with what fortunateizzi points out: Adelle is kind of playing the professor's game, too. And she may be beginning to realize it.)

And yes, the woman saying "We're human" was a clunky line. But for crying out loud, you know how many people in this world still don't quite acknowledge that as true?
Yeah, someone else missed the beep on first viewing. And the professor side of the story was a lot more complicated than it first appeared.
ManEnoughToAdmitIt, you rock my world.
OK, just rewatched it. I think I get it more now--definitely a solid ep, and in fact very strong. Basically, "What ManEnoughToAdmitIt" said, although I'm going to give some thought to whether there are explicit Kiki/Terry parallels as well; it seems more structured as professor/Terry, but it's Kiki and Terry who are swapped. Don't know why it didn't gel on a first viewing, but then "True Believer" and "Omega" didn't either and both have risen considerably in my estimation just with a second viewing. It's as if I can sort of get what's going on intellectually, but the episode doesn't resonate until viewing two. Strange.

Obvious Terry/Dollhouse parallels as well: the time spent on clothing in this ep matching over to the opening shot, etc.

The "we're humans" line really threw me out of the episode. But it's interesting how quickly one of the girls turns into a monster of sorts herself, thrashing Echo primarily out of revenge.

I like how well Adelle and Paul work together in this episode; they practically read each other's minds, and seem to be enjoying each other. The end of the ep has Adelle basically telling Paul to euthanize Terry, and Paul agrees to do it; even Topher, of course, has ethical objections to Terry being woken up. This is the line that they will not cross, even though it's clearly a Dollhouse parallel ("We're not his toys!" vs. dolls); the irony isn't lost on the writers but it is on the staff.

I'm trying to think if there's a significance to Victor-as-Kiki dancing, or if that was just fun. Maybe demonstrating explicitly the limits to the Wife-of-Bath-sexuality power, by pointing out that it's still the man in charge, because he can punch the girl out if he doesn't like what he sees?
Maybe it's just me, but I thought that there was a subtle reaction from her there, an acknowledgment that he could be talking to her.

fortunateizzi, I took her reaction to be a sort of wry amusement/interest in what he was saying because in many ways that could pertain to him. But I can see it your way too. That's interesting.

Anyway, I really love this episode. It might be my favorite yet, even though it was very uncomfortable to watch at times.

Oh, and Enver was amazing!

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-10-11 00:41 ]
Thanks, y'all.

WilliamTheB, I think you've definitely got part of it; I think the rest of the Victor-as-Kiki Dance was to show us how explicitly sexual her dancing was. Echo-as-Kiki been all about dancing and movement, but we never really got to see what kind of movement it was. With Victor-as-Kiki it was explained.

Plus, y'know... funny. Really funny. And it let Enver show off. The man can move.
I thought Victor as Kiki was a great display of a double standard. Several really. Enver was outstanding. I was disappointed the same traits he chose for the serial killer didn't quite come through in Eliza's version of him.

Fascinating to see Adelle and Paul's relationship evolve. They are very alike.
Notes from a second watching:

"I enjoy my treatments," Echo says at the beginning... interesting. Just blank-state Doll-talk, or something more? After all, it's all of how Echo learns about the world. At the end, on the flip side, she's walking through the house differently. It's subtle, but I think it's a wearier stride, and she only smiles when she passes people, not all the time.

Is anyone else distressed by Uncle Brad saying he and Terry have always been "close?"

And rather amusing, on second watching: "Terry Marion Karens? Is any part of that a boy's name?"

On the second viewing the parallels between Terry and the Prof are even more clear... "She made me. It's not my fault."

Topher's only objection to the remote wipe is no delivery system. Seems like he's studied how Alpha did it, and could replicate it; he just doesn't know how to do it without a phone.

I missed, the first time, the line from Chaucer about "the old, old dance."

Boyd's reaction to the revelation Victor-as-Terry is loose: "Ah." The Dollhouse running amok no longer surprises him.

Also of note -- the guy in the club punches Victor-as-Kiki, but Victor's the one still standing a second later. Being able to punch like Ali sure wasn't in Kiki's programming: muscle memory from Victor's past, perhaps?

It's also fascinating that Echo knows exactly how to press the woman's buttons -- using her own FBI training, perhaps?
Why isn't the Dollhouse trying to track Whiskey down? She has GPS doesn't she?
ActualSize mentioned the "spree" line ("Shopping or killing?"), but he/she didn't mention its prescience. Echo gets try on both in this episode.

Which reminds me: at the very beginning, before the sweat bead was visible, I thought we were looking at store mannequins. Shopping and killing. Capitalism? Uncle Brad has money money money and so he and his can cover up kidnapping, assault, murder....

ManEnoughToAdmitIt and Sunfire: Good points about the Victor-Kiki material.

Terry believes he has no power over the women; they made him do everything even though they have no actual power. Kiki's sexuality gives her the power to change her grade, but a) she was programmed, and b) she was given an F so that he could take advantage of her. He has power over her, even in-world of the fantasy. But he gets to surrender his power to her. But his fantasy is to teach her to manipulate him after flunking her.

Why hire a doll and not a student? Maybe he really does believe that it would be worse to sleep with a student, because they're real people and can be hurt. Or maybe because real people aren't predictable, as Paul says to Terry.

I'm amazed by the comments about how the prof could have slept with a student, and so did the right thing by hiring a doll. He didn't hire a prostitute to pretend to be a student. He hired a doll, who thinks she's a student, so he gets all the sheer ickiness of actually manipulating a student into sleeping with him, and the issues of consent that we address in every. single. "romantic engagement" in the show.
Let Down: Presumably Claire knows about the GPS implants, and would have removed it.
Minear's one of the best all-around writers in Joss's stable. Yet he's been responsible for two moments of overpowering didacticism or uncharacteristic clumsiness on Dollhouse: the 'black president' line in 'Omega' and this week's women-in-the-cage bit. Yikes. I can imagine the former working on the page and dying on the stage, but Minear hit the blinking red 'obvious juxtaposition' button one too many times this week.

His rightly-praised Angel ep set in the 50's has a few cutesy juxtapositions, but gets away with it all because of the beauty and nastiness of that ending. This hour was very good, but its pleasures were for the most part less writerly (on first viewing anyhow).
I was disappointed the same traits he chose for the serial killer didn't quite come through in Eliza's version of him.


Yep. It's not like people are totally off-base when criticizing Dushku's performance on the show, though she's doing plenty of strong work (and always just going for it). I was really frustrated by the finale of 'Belle Chose'; Enver did sterling work as Terry but Eliza didn't run the ball into the end zone.
WilliamTheB, excellent point about the mannequin mislead -- I think this show is all about capitalism, so I bet you're dead-on there.

On the re-watch you can see the women swaying and trembling slightly. It's so subtle it doesn't register until you see the sweat... but it's freaking creepy the second pass through.

Terry's focus on the women's clothes is also neatly paralleled by the "art" of dressing Echo, in case no one's already mentioned that.

I'm finding the "we're human" line more essential every time I think about it, direct as it is.
I think that the occasional clunky line has always been a failing of Minear's, especially his "jokey" lines which I often find cringeworthy (like last night's "I never took intro to evil...").

His other big weakness seems to be plausibility issues -- many of his eps seem to have major holes or "this would never happen" moments.

That being said, his many, many strengths more than make up for these failings, including his sterling character work, his mostly wonderful dialogue, his incredible plotting, his lightning-fast pacing, and his rich thematic stuff.
especially his "jokey" lines which I often find cringeworthy (like last night's "I never took intro to evil...")

I've never found Minear a particularly funny writer (though Home had its hilarious moments). But I did laugh at the line 'I took medieval rather than advanced evil'. The problem for me was the next line didn't add anything and took the joke too far - 'I skipped intro to evil'. I think if Jane Espenson had seen the the script she would have put several thick red lines through that line

I also really didn't care for this Topher comment: 'a mindless robot walking around LA? He'll fit right in'. Sounds like the sort of unfunny joke my parents would make
I also really didn't care for this Topher comment: 'a mindless robot walking around LA? He'll fit right in'. Sounds like the sort of unfunny joke my parents would make


Yeah, that was the only joke that kinda bothered me, since it undercuts most of what was established during S1 (about how the world outside the Dollhouse is a complicated, terrifying place and how wipes are traumatic experiences that should not happen without throw pillows and perfectly crunchy lettuce). Now, I can fanwank it as "Well, Topher's attitude is clearly changing since 'Omega'." but it still stings a bit.

And I totally agreed that, while Eliza is shining brightly this season, she didn't quite reach Enver's (and Joe Sikora's) amazing portrayal of Terry. Which, to be fair, could possibly be related to the fact that she came in last portray him, which is always a ridiculously tough job because audiences like comfy. Just as I thought that Dichen had troubles nailing Taffy the way Eliza did, Eliza was a bit short of Enver this time, maybe because Enver defined the characters for the most part. (Although I do think that Joe Sikora's work was amazing and that it should not be forgotten in this discussion.)

ETA: Although, thinking about it, it may also just be related to the fact that Eliza had much less time to work with the character. Her "What?!" was amazing and if you give her 30 minutes of story like Enver got, she probably would would have delivered the same awesome.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-10-11 11:00 ]
I don't really think so wiesengrund. I thought she played it a bit like a generic psychopath. It didn't seem to me like she made any real attempt to play the character in the way hte other two actors did. She could have at least kept her arms by her side (not swinging) and kept her head down.
I loved this episode... definitely up there with my favourite stand alon-ey Joss episodes.

Enver is seriously amazing... and Eliza didn't allow herself to be overshadowed by him at all.

Also, The guy who played the serial killer was brilliant too... also loved Agent Ballard's scenes in this episode.

hell, everyone was great this week
Amazing ep - my favorite this season and I think one of the best of Dollhouse so far. When Enver-Kiki was in the club dancing in front of the other men I really though the guy was going to deck Enver-Kiki, not the other way around. I even cringed! It was a total surprise for me to see Enver was still standing.
waxbanks, it got much better for me on a second viewing, and the writing seemed more subtle.

I think Minear's Dollhouse episodes are an odd mixture of the subtle and the blunt; things that seem obvious on a first viewing seem much more nuanced on a second.

It's probably true that this isn't new for Minear. One quick example: how about the way Lorne tells Angel that the powers wanted the lawyers to die, anyway, in "Epiphany"? Why write this, except to let Angel off the hook? It's such a strong episode otherwise, but it rankles.

I do agree that the "We're human" women-in-cage stuff was too much.

He's still probably the second-best writer of the 'verse.
But also don't forget, we are not seeing Terry in these final scenes amongst immobilized prey or stalking women. This is Terry in an angry, animated place which is very different from the scenes that Enver played. The closer comparison would be the killing scene (and specifically that moment) with Joe Sikora, not the introverted spoiled rich brat that Enver was playing through most of the episode. Sikora has that same flash as Echo, but quickly reverts when his anger subsides and his danger has passed.

Watching them back to back, I can see the criticism. But I can also see two completely different emotional ranges going on in the comparison.
I'm coming so late to the party that almost anything I would say has been said. So I will just add that I, too, found Enver's performances as Terry and Kiki to be outstanding. The guy has not failed to deliver once in this series. Echo's last line was a creepy foreshadowing of things likely to occur in the future, and it was fitting. But I found it almost as heavy-handed and clunky as some of the other lines discussed above. (I still enjoyed Minear's script on whole.)

No airbags in the car that crashed???

Despite quibbles, I found this episode to be one of the strongest of the series.
The professor came off as sleazy and creepy to me, and I think that was mostly to do with the inequality. It's not just the professor/student relationship; he could have asked for a brilliant, or even average, student, someone programmed to be open to advances or even seduce him. While still unequal, this would be a more equitable dynamic. Instead, he asked for a failing student who NEEDS to sleep with him to get a better grade. He tells her that she has power, but her only power is sexual - it's a much closer prostitution metaphor than usual.

That said, I like that it was complicated and icky. I don't think that all missions should be offputting, but I think that the more overtly distasteful sexual missions remind us of the fundamental premise of the dollhouse.

[ edited by Ildeth on 2009-10-11 20:57 ]
What Ildeth said. I don't understand the defense of the professor. Better to hire a Doll than seduce a student? For starters, this sleazoid could never seduce a student.

The message he was sending was that a woman's only power is sexual, and she'd better use it, if she wanted a better grade. And the creepiest aspect, for me, was that he obviously ordered a 'not the sharpest knife in the drawer' persona. Not content to offer her the sham of sexual power in return for a grade, he needed to further assert his dominance and 'superiority' by dragging out the process of 'educating' the dense girl as to her place in the scheme of things, like some twisted kind of foreplay.
This guy was IMO one of the sleaziest, most twisted clients to date.
I wonder, if Matt's his son. ;)
I miss Boyd. I miss the Echo / Boyd relationship. which was the only relationship I found myself really caring about last season.

Along with UnpluggedCrazy, I'm surprised to see how popular this episode is. There was a lot of funny - Eliza was hilarious as Kiki (but didn't do much with Terry unfortunately) and I was delighted to see Enver get to play both Terry and Kiki (he was brilliant as always ... especially as Terry!) but I found myself eye-rolling at every ridiculous plot twist, and there was some really awful writing in there too. So far Vows is the only episode that's really engaged me this season. The last two have had some great moments but overall I've been disappointed.

I was thinking about the discussion about Buffy's "found family" dynamic and the lack of such a dynamic in Dollhouse (or, if you're a fan you wouldn't call it a lack, just a different dynamic) - and thinking back there were so many ridiculously bad Buffy episodes, plot-wise, but I didn't care because I just loved the characters so much and loved watching them interact that I really enjoyed watching and re-watching even those "bad" episodes. I'm interested in the Dollhouse characters but that's not enough when the story-lines feel so contrived and unsuspenseful (is that a word? ... spellcheck doesn't think so, but spellcheck and I are not on good terms these days so it might just be messing with me). I hope the next episode is better. I finished last season so excited about another season but I'm starting to feel a little down on it now.
For me, This is the first episode so far this season to engage me from start to finish (and has finally gotten me fully invested in the story and the characters again).. Vows was inconsistent but had some amazing scenes... where as the dialogue in this episode popped with wit and humour from start to finish... the funniest episode of dollhouse yet in my opinion... and that's not just because of Enver playing Kiki (although that didn't hurt).
I also think the professor is incredibly creepy. It's all about the extremely uneven power dynamic with him. That's why this is worse than sleeping with an actual student in some ways. He needed a Doll because what he wants is very specific-- a woman who is not just younger and dependent on his help to improve her grade, but also remarkably ignorant of the subject he is an expert in and willing to sleep with him. But it's important that she is not going to just come on to him immediately. He wants to seduce a woman with his knowledge and have her think it was all her idea while he's actually in complete control-- of the knowledge she needs to pass, of the grade itself, of the conditions of the sex. The teaching isn't like foreplay-- it was the foreplay. Teaching your partner something new is nothing original as a turn-on but like many Dollhouse clients he wanted something so extreme and perfectly orchestrated to his tastes that he can't get it elsewhere.

He's a lot like Matt, from the pilot and "Echoes." Instead of his turn on being introducing his vanilla date to bondage and motorcycles, it's introducing Chaucer to a student who doesn't even know what Middle English is.

It's all about a client realizing a power dynamic as fantasy and seems like a better treatment of the idea than Matt in the pilot. The opening scene in "Ghost" and the Matt/Alice scenes in "Echoes" were very similar. Those scenes seemed too subtle for what they were trying to do so early in the show though.
Good ep, but creepy is the word.
Just saw it today. Not too much to add to what's been said. A solid, nicely creepy ep, but with some of the previously mentioned clunker lines knocking it down a bit for me.

Also, I thought Eliza did better work in the first two eps than this one, but, overall, she's improving enough that carping about her performance should continue to decline. Enver's Terry was good, but Kiki not so much, funny dancing notwithstanding. And why didn't Kiki notice s/he was a guy? Shouldn't bending forward while dancing to flaunt your non-existent boobs set off some alarm bells, if nothing else? No one is that much of a ditz. And I agree with the poster upthread that Kiki shouldn't have been able to deck that guy, if for no other reason than that it shouldn't occur to Kiki to try.

There was great support from the guest stars and bit actors again. The actors who played the professor, the Dollhouse outfitter and Terry were given good lines and ran with them. They continue the mostly overlooked run of fine minor performances that the show's been studded with from the first.

I'm pretty happy with the general direction of the show. Compared to the first three episodes of last season, we're off to a much better start, and if the next two or three turn out to be anywhere near as good as they're being touted to be...
And why didn't Kiki notice s/he was a guy? Shouldn't bending forward while dancing to flaunt your non-existent boobs set off some alarm bells, if nothing else?


Because it's funnier that she/he doesn't figure it out... you're over thinking it... it was a moment of sillyness from an otherwise pretty heady show.
Also, who says (s)he doesn't notice? Together with the usual "Imprints find themselves in a spa-like environment... it's gotta be an airport or something!"-premise of the show I took it to mean that people will adapt and that gender is nothing that essentialistic as to be un-adaptable.

It's interesting in that regard, that while Kiki's gender change was met with violence in the disco because (s)he just didn't care and played (=danced) along, Terry actually had a moment of self-reflection, noticed his change very explicitly and then decided to birthmark his image as "Whores". With hating women he's hating a part of himself (including, quite literally, Echo who is just about to raise her head inside of him a few minutes later). Kiki never got the mirror-moment and just went along with the situation.
Interesting take, wiesengrund.

And shambleau, you're absolutely right that KiKi wouldn't think of hitting back. So how did the guy end up on the floor? I'm thinking it's a subtle nod to Victor's original personality rising -- or again, muscle memory from his soldier days.
While you guys make a good point about it being unlikely that Kiki would hit back, I doubt the intention was to imply Victor's original personality was rising or that it was muscle memory from his soldier days.

It seemed like the gag was -- Victor (as Kiki) doesn't realize he's riling up these homophobes, one of them goes to punch him, we cut away and hear the sound of the punch, everyone assumes Victor just got hit, and then we cut back to reveal it was he who did the punching. The implication being that KiKi would hit back "ineffectually," but with Victor's ripped, manly strength, her punch actually did some damage. It's basically a standard Joss female empowerment moment. Any further explanation feels like fanwanking to me, but I suppose only Minear knows for sure.
I'd think Kiki would be programmed to slap, though, and I thought I saw Victor-as-Kiki rubbing his knuckles. Could be wrong about both parts of that, though.
Also, who says (s)he doesn't notice? Together with the usual "Imprints find themselves in a spa-like environment... it's gotta be an airport or something!"-premise of the show I took it to mean that people will adapt and that gender is nothing that essentialistic as to be un-adaptable.


Perhaps the dollhouse alters an actives perceptons of the body that they're in, so that they don't know that they're in the wrong body... it would explain why they're able to put people's memories into another body (as with the case of the wife in 'Man on the Street') without them realizing that they're in a new body.

However, there are also examples of people noticing that they're in a different body.. like when Caroline was put into the little girl's body in Epitaph 1, or with Dewitt's friend in 'Haunted' noticing how hot she was.

... so I'm gonna stick with my first position, that they played it out that way because it was funnier.
However, there are also examples of people noticing that they're in a different body.. like when Caroline was put into the little girl's body in Epitaph 1, or with Dewitt's friend in 'Haunted' noticing how hot she was.

We can wank these into compliance however. Caroline noticed she was in the girl's body because Caroline/Echo is special. DeWitt's friend noticed being in Echo's body because she was specifically intending to be brought back to go to her funeral, so there was no reason to hide that fact from the imprint.
I think we should stop saying Echo does not have a personality. Echo is lying every time she is on the screen. She's pretending to not have one.

In this episode, when she's in the showers and Paul shows up, she feels ashamed when she says "I'm wet". A doll would never feel shame, would never show it. At the ending... she's not having that blissful look of being at peace, she's kinda worried and she only smiles at people, not all the time.

If that's the case... then Eliza is doing a hell of a job.
We can wank these into compliance however. Caroline noticed she was in the girl's body because Caroline/Echo is special. DeWitt's friend noticed being in Echo's body because she was specifically intending to be brought back to go to her funeral, so there was no reason to hide that fact from the imprint.


But Terry realizing he is a woman had nothing to do with compliance.

ETA the quote I was referring to.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-10-14 09:20 ]
What Taly said. I think it's pretty clear at this point that Echo is becoming an entity that is to some extent, autonomous.
She's retaining parts of every persona with which she's been imprinted, while in her supposedly tabula rasa state - we've been explicitly told as much - and IMO, some essence of Caroline is informing the developing autonomous Echo consciousness.

I love the character and find her more fascinating as time goes on. And certainly, Eliza is doing an amazing job with this incredibly demanding role.
I don't know if I love Echo but I'm finally connecting with her. Her conversation with Ballard at the end of Instinct was the tipping point for me.

I don't see her as the earnest do-the-right-thing type that Maggie does, though. Not sure that she'd actually thought through the implications when she first told the women to kill Terry. She could have thought in some confused fashion that he could be excised without it killing her. After the one woman made it explicit, yeah, she was ready to end her life, but that, IMO, stems more from her thinking of herself as hollow, an empty vessel waiting to be re-filled with Caroline, than nobility. I think she'll start seeing herself to be as real as Caroline at some point, and self-preservation will kick in.

I read on another forum that Enver actually developed the characterization of Terry first, and the other two riffed on what he created. It doesn't take anything away from Enver's performance, but it does make Joe Sikora's even more impressive.

Was the whole episode a series of interlocking takes on the idea that holding to the illusion of control brings about destruction? I'm beginning to think so.

I'm a little surprised at the muted reaction to Paul killing Terry.
Someone sent us the following regarding how the professor could afford to hire an Active.

The answer is on Ballard's "mission tablet" when Echo is being prepped. In addition to the mission type and a profile on Kiki, there is a client profile:

CLIENT INFORMATION
D.O.B: 02-12-1951

OCCUPATION: Professor Of English Literature, Clairfield College
Best-Selling Author of Non-Fiction English History

EDUCATION: Doctorate, English Literature, University of Oxford

REQUESTS: Female Caucasian Student, Seduction Fantasy

As a best-selling author, it is plausible for him to afford an Active.

A best-selling author of non-fiction English history? Does such an animal exist?
It does in Britain. There's several very high profile historians who have best selling books and their own tv shows.
Yeah, but the Dollhouse is in LA. ;)
He's a visiting professor :P.
And it's English history so UK rules apply. True fact.
Shambleau, there were plenty of comments earlier in the thread about Paul's armour getting less shiny every episode, taking yet another step down, etc, in reference to pulling the plug on Terry.

Also, I don't think most viewers have much of a problem with it, regardless of what they think of real-life eye-for-an-eye forms of punishments. Terry killed that one woman and tortured the others (plus possibly got away with other murders), not to mention he would almost for sure be a threat to society were he able to recover and wake up.
Granted. But it also shows Ballard's willingness to feel he gets to decide who is worth saving and who isn't. Which has direct bearing on the question of Echo versus Caroline.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-10-15 08:02 ]
Everyone has pretty much addressed the skeeziness of the professor. But did anyone else besides me get the heebies when Paul was, well, for lack of a better word, "perving" over Echo this episode? Yeck.

Why does he go looking for her in the shower?! And what was with that full body gaze slow-motion thing when she is finishing getting into her schoolgirl outfit?
But did anyone else besides me get the heebies when Paul was, well, for lack of a better word, "perving" over Echo this episode? Yeck.

I don't think he was "perving" because he was attracted to an extremely good looking woman in a skimpy outfit. He'd only have been "perving" if he wasn't then discomfited by the context (which he clearly was). In this way (and others) Ballard represents the "enlightened" straight male viewer IMO.

Slight aside but "Lie to Me" had a nicely observed riff on the same idea **spoilers for the frat party episode from a couple of weeks back**. . Whatever we might like to tell ourselves and whatever the PC attitude is meant to be, attraction doesn't understand '15', '16', '25' or "being exploited", it understands bums and boobs. Minds understand 15, 16 and being exploited though and when they kick in, if you're a good person, you act accordingly.
Yeah, I don't think Ballard was perving. He was looking for Echo, period, and found her in the shower.

He found himself standing in front of a beautiful, completely naked woman that he's been somewhat obsessed with, in an innocent, guileless doll state, with zero shame over her own nudity. The look he had seemed like one of feeling awkward and uncomfortable while simultaneously being attracted in the way Saje described above.

Plus, if you read Minear's script, he makes clearer that originally Ballard was just going to ask the standard question, "do you want a treatment?" but instead changed his mind and asked "do you want a... towel?" (this is in the episode, but the intentions are clearer in the script). That seems to indicate that he's uncomfortable with the nudity and he wants to give her the opportunity to dry off/cover up. Which seems pretty un-pervy to me.
OK, obviously just me.

What does he expect when he goes to look for her in the shower/changing area? It just seems a bit intrusive. Like if someone walked in on you in the bathroom just because they want to ask you a question. Seriously, it can wait a minute.

That wasn't even really the part that I found creepy though. Just weird, mostly. The part that was creepy to me was when he was watching her in the mirror as Kiki. The camera work sort of added to that, and I don't think it was unintentional.

Of course I am not condemning the guy just because he finds her attractive. But his obsession with her is really creepy to me anyway. That's probably why it icked me out.
I felt the same way, ShanshuBugaboo so not just you. Like you, it isn't that I think it's *bad* that he is attracted to her - obviously, who wouldn't be? But yeah, his obsession with her does border on the creepy (that much seems deliberate), which makes his attraction feel kind of creepy. I guess he's supposed to be all conflicted and basically decent and providing an opportunity for us to consider the way we view Echo and blahdy blah, but if the character gives you a bit of an ick feeling then his attraction to Echo feels kind of ick too. Not so much an objective judgment of the character's behavior as a yucky vibe.
Catherine, you put how I am feeling into words, thanks :) I think it's also his new position of authority over her too. She is very dependent on him now -- not only because he is her handler, but because (even though she is gaining awareness) she is essentially a child. Echo sees that he is trying to help her on a very basic level, but I can't help wondering how Caroline would view his actions. That will be interesting to find out!
It's interesting cos the character does give me a bit of an "ick feeling" (especially in his apparent willingness to kill Echo) but, probably because I felt pretty much the same way as he seemed to, i'm willing to give him a break on this. This might just be a gender specific response.

As I say, his reaction seemed totally natural and understandable (but then I would say that since it was mine too ;), it'd only have been creepy if he hadn't realised afterwards that it was also wrong (or morally dubious at least).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-10-16 07:22 ]
Apparent willingness to kill Echo? When?
He wants, above all else, to return Caroline. Echo's death is implicit in that (at least as far as he's aware, there're no doubt ways to save them both but at the moment he's not considering any).
Yeah, if we only get 13 more episodes (maybe) I wonder if we'll really get to see an Echo / Caroline conflict come about, for Ballard and / or for Echo. I think my / ShanshuBugaboo's reaction to Ballard might be similar to when you notice somebody noticing you... if it's somebody whose attraction you're comfortable with, you're probably just flattered, but if it's somebody that you find a bit off-putting, then it feels sort of yucky, and you think, "ew, why is he looking at me like that?" (And if it's your boss or your professor or the guy you've been programmed to trust because he's your handler when you get imprinted with a new personality, then there can be an extra little yuck to it.) Exactly the same behavior, but how you respond to it depends where it's coming from. I'm not sure why I get such a yuck from Ballard though. I loved Helo, so it's definitely not the actor ;).
The Ballard "yuck factor" doesn't seem very mysterious to me. He's so intense about Caroline, but as far as we know, he doesn't know anything about her except what he's learned from research and from seeing her on tape. Gives him a serious stalker-vibe, which he combines with a holier-than-thou "I'm just here to save the princess from the tower" attitude that makes him feel untrustworthy. If he were a little more open about his attraction to the Echo/Caroline body, he'd probably seem more like the good guy he (more or less) really is.

In a certain way it is the actor, because he's helping to make Ballard a twisty, interesting character instead of the good-looking, straight-shooting FBI guy he could easily be.
Yeah, that's why I love the character and how Tahmoh plays him (while not being too fond of Ballard the man).

To me he's a critique of the "lone hero" character that's such a mainstay of Western fiction (including Joss') because what's a hero but a person that pursues their aims obsessively, refusing to accept the world as it is, constantly striving to make it right ? But it's always "right" in their eyes (normally we agree with them, that's why they're the hero) and Ballard as a character points that out, shows the potential flip-side of an all encompassing obsession to "fix the world". He's also (as are most good characters, especially in 'Dollhouse') about what happens when ideals and emotions/flesh collide. The best villains are IMO, always those whose aims are broadly the same as the hero's, it's only their means of achieving it that're at odds. Ballard could go either way at the moment.

(with 'Dollhouse', perversely, the Dudley Doright straight-arrow could end up being the murderer of the series' hero while the exploitative Madame and her tame genius may end up being her sworn protectors)
Ballard may not only be willing to eliminate Echo now, he actually may have done it in the future. Or maybe she voluntarily requested to be erased herself a la Belle Chose. In any case, it's Caroline whom Adelle adresses in Epitaph One, when asking if she'll be killed, and Caroline who leads them out of the building to Safe Haven - no sign that Echo even exists anymore, actually.
I don't really see any indication yet that Paul understands that Echo and Caroline are two different people.
Or that he even considers Echo a person in the first place (but the 'yet' is key ShanshuBugaboo because I think that'll change - for both him and Echo - and then, as they say, hijinks will very likely ensue).

...no sign that Echo even exists anymore, actually.

Yep, said in one of the "Epitaph One" threads that my first thought on seeing "Echo" drop out of her imprint in the lift wasn't "Yay Caroline !" it was "Aww, Echo's dead". Still, the future's not set and there's many a slip ...
I know, I feel more invested in Echo...so it will be strange when Caroline comes back (which she will). And yeah, I am pretty sure that Paul will get it eventually. I'm just wondering if that has something to do with the tension between he and Caroline in Epitaph One.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-10-17 10:07 ]
I'm just wondering if that has something to do with the tension between he and Caroline in Epitaph One.

Oh. Interesting.
Yeah, Ballard becoming conflicted about returning Caroline (because he comes to value Echo) is how I see it panning out and that'd explain the tension in the lift.

I know, I feel more invested in Echo...so it will be strange when Caroline comes back (which she will).

Probably true, if they're going to kill one of them then it's more emotive to kill the one we know and like rather than the one we barely know. What I mean is though, just because we don't see her in Caroline's body doesn't mean Echo isn't somewhere else. Imagine Ballard's fearsome obsessive drive being turned towards saving them both. I wouldn't want to get in his way (or bet against him), that's fer sure.

(and at base, every flashback we see in "Epitaph One" is suspect, memories being the one thing we absolutely can't rely on in the dollhouse. So the future we see them depict isn't set)
every flashback we see in "Epitaph One" is suspect, memories being the one thing we absolutely can't rely on in the dollhouse. So the future we see them depict isn't set

Very true. That's a good point, and that would be a good answer to those who think that the show has somehow been "spoiled" by Epitaph.

I was thinking specifically of the scene where Caroline is talking to Claire. Claire says "I was surprised to see you and Paul together." And Caroline says "The jury's out on together. But he's got my back."

Maybe Paul actually falls in love with Echo, and Caroline is disgusted by it. I don't know. This is all totally wild speculation :P
Hmm. I'd always considered that to still be Echo in the elevator, just able to incorporate her new selves rather than become them. Especially after Vows, since the mission of taking down the Russian crime family didn't seem that different from taking down the arms dealer, I assumed they were close together, time-line wise, and Echo's abilities were just progressing gradually. But, she had the same headaches as the restored Priya, so I guess it makes more sense that that was Caroline.
Finally watched episode 3 and 2 today (in that order). After Epitaph One and Vows I came very close to giving up on the show, but I loved this episode. Easily my favourite of the 3 eps of this season and I think also of the show so far (Omega and Haunted are the other contenders for that spot). Episode 2 was pretty decent too (though I don't think it would have become a back to back session if I had watched that one first) so I'm definately back on board with the show now. Of course the week that happens there is no episode :(.

And now it's time to read all your comments on this episode... (and the previous one)
Just after watching this episode, I read one of the 'leaked internal memo' threads on here which sent me to find the 'He Wolf' video on Youtube! A funny coincidence to see a similar sight on the same night as watching Enver play Victor as Kiki.

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