Dollhouse: True Believer

Senator Boxbaum: "Your active will be perfectly safe."
DeWitt: "In a fanatical religious cult?"

Again, a tired, overused plot: undercover with a religious cult. And again with the twist.

The "Children of the Temple" cult was another transparent metaphor for the Dollhouse; the cult members had willingly given up their freedom and their choices, just as the dolls have. Echo was, of all things, a blind camera -- a contradiction, completely helpless, not even in control of her own eyes, which we all know are the windows of the soul. She was entirely into her imprint until the moment when her life was threatened, when she again shook off her programming and turned into Faith the Vampire Slayer. I wonder if that's why her "tabula rasa" state isn't holding, too, because Echo feels her life is threatened? Echo is on the same path as Alpha. Will Echo turn into a killer, too?

The B plot with the, um, man reaction, was actually pretty funny, right up until it got disturbing. We saw Claire and Topher in a silly situation -- going through three months of shower tapes watching for erections -- and it told us a lot about their characters. Topher is uncomfortable with any mention of sexuality, which is unsurprising considering that he acts like a child most of the time with his toys and his drink boxes. Is Topher's prudery the reason why the dolls have no sexuality in "tabula rasa"?

Claire's reaction was interesting, too. She was matter of fact, a physician doing her job. But at the beginning of the episode, Claire expressed worry about Echo -- enough that it made me think that she cares about her. If Claire had thought the situation with Victor and Sierra through and realized what Topher would do to Victor as a result, would Claire have kept her mouth shut?

Finally, I was relieved that the writers have started giving Ballard a personality. And now he's seen Echo on the news. He has a real lead on Caroline. The preview for next week's episode looked very interesting.

Bits and pieces:

-- The opening scene, with the nasty townies attacking the non-violent culties, felt so familiar. I could practically hear "One Tin Soldier" playing in the background.

-- One of the Dollhouse's influential clients is a Senator Boxbaum, and he is apparently in DeWitt's pocket. That might explain why the Dollhouse is so far off law enforcement radar.

-- Victor was imprinted with the same personality for a "valentine op" eight times. But I don't think that satisfactorily explained his attraction to Sierra.

-- Why does Dominic hate Echo to the point of going undercover to kill her? He's always been nasty toward her, but why so vicious?

-- "Melanie" delivered his prescription to Ballard as well as "left over" manicotti. That was a lot of manicotti. I'd probably do anything for someone who constantly brought me Italian food.

-- I kept wanting to call this episode "Tru Believer."

-- Did they leave that camera in Echo's head?

Quotes:

Topher: "If she was any more relaxed, she's be ooze."

Claire: "It's possible one good sneeze could bring on a seizure."
Topher: "Or even worse, a sneezure."

Topher: "I gotta go. Something came up."

Topher: "Naked... part.... shower... Victor..."
Claire: "Victor had an erection?"
Topher: "I prefer 'man reaction'."

Claire: "Of course. If it had been a snake... pretend I didn't say that." That sort of went with all of the references to a garden. The dolls in "tabula rasa" are like Adam and Eve before the apple; in a beautiful garden with no knowledge of good and evil.

Again, a watchable episode that certainly held my attention. But I'm starting to realize how uncomfortable I am with the series format. I want Echo, Sierra and Victor to regain their original personalities, to rise up and destroy the Dollhouse, and I want it now. I don't know if I could keep watching our main characters being so dehumanized for several seasons.

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Billie,

This is a hard show to either love or hate. It's right there in the middle somewhere; neither hot nor cold. One thing I do like about it, is it gives Eliza the opportunity to show off her acting chops. Each week a different character. Each week a chance to show something new. This role must be an actors dream.

PK

Paul Kelly said...

Anonymous? Nope...it was me. I forgot to sign in.....or my brain collapsed under pressure. I forget which.

El Marpla said...

-- Victor was imprinted with the same personality for a "valentine op" eight times. But I don't think that satisfactorily explained his attraction to Sierra.

The doctor said when they were reviewing the tapes that his erections had started before being imprinted with the valentine personality. Basically, it was Sierra who triggered his man reactions.
Echo is not the only one having "glitches".

Felcool said...

I agree with you. It's watchable but feeling that Echo is not counscious of what she's doing is not fun as it could be. I mean, the action is there, the missions are great. But if Sydney Bristow or Nikita were doing it, that would be more fun to watch 'cause they would know what they were doing.

Tough, it was great and the next episode looks really great. It looks like they will destroy the dollhouse, but nothing is sure, we can only hope...

Esther said...

I find dollhouse a really entertaining show. It is a new story and character every week, and the story lines are well written and not "too" predictable.
My favorite part is always the last one when Echo wakes up ( I find myself answering her .."for a little while" lol) and we get the feeling each time she is one step closer to realizing what is happening "I see perfectly".
Love the endings on this show, leaves you with the feeling of wanting moreeee

D said...

This shows getting better. Not good yet, but better.
I'm liking the bond that's beginning to form between Sierra, Victor and Echo. What I always loved about Joss Whedon's shows was the way that the characters became like family(the scooby gang, the Serenity crew). And Topher and Claire really have a great chemistry(god, I had forgot how much I loved Amy Acker).
"Is Topher's prudery the reason why the dolls have no sexuality in "tabula rasa"?" I think Mean British Woman made it clear that it's because aren't meant to have any distractions, or passion at all, or they could develop feelings that would make them harder to control.
"Snezure" is a totally Whedony
thing to say :)

Gustavo Brunetti said...

Something's bugging me: if Dominic wanted Echo dead, why didn't he let Sparrow kill her, as he was going to when he came in?

shawnlunn2002 said...

You gotta have Faith or not? Man, cults are all the same. Except on Brothers And Sisters where you help with fountains.

Having Echo literally go in blind was another in a series of, 'look, Eliza Dushku is more than a tough girl/pretty girl, yadda, yadda'. Fine Joss, I'm fairly convinced.

Pulling off playing a blind Active could've been a disaster but I think Dushku nailed it perfectly enough though.

What was Jonah's motivations? With weaponry like that, it couldn't have been good. We got no explanation and this episode fell a littl short for it.

Victor nearly got in trouble because he displayed an attraction to Sierra? How many more ways is this organisation gonna repulse me?

Dominic knocked Echo out, should've seen that one coming.

Not enough Adelle but Boyd was great.

Paul's a dolt but he's getting closer to Echo. Mellie is so a doll.

Topher has repression issues with sexuality while Claire's a bit of a voyeur, 7/10.

Anonymous said...

I like this a lot because of the twist that Jonah wasn´t evil evil. He just wanted to protect all of those people from the corruption of the outside world.

sunbunny said...

...I don't remember when the standalones stop. These are getting tiresome. I wish they would've let Joss go where he wanted from the get go. Sigh. Networks.

I felt like there was an easier way to get inside the cult. I really liked the accidental miracle thing though. And that the 'Save me' note was from the ATF guy.