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Dollhouse: Stage Fright

Echo: "Hey, you wanted to die. This would be a 'careful what you wish for' moment."

Eliza Dushku can sing. Maybe she'll be available for part two of Dr. Horrible, when Joss Whedon gets around to it.

The basic plot -- undercover protection of a celebrity stalked by a deadly fan -- has been done so many times that it has hair on it. The Dollhouse itself and what is going on there is a lot more interesting than a sexy female singer in extremely skimpy clothes gyrating all over the place. Even when Eliza does it, too.

But at the same time, they inserted interesting twists relating to the theme of the series. Like the dehumanization of celebrities. Rayna was a doll, too; she just wasn't imprinted. She thought her only escape was death. She started every performance in a cage, too; some pretty obvious symbolism. And they even took it to the next level, with fans treated as irrational crazy non-persons. And I'm talking more about Sierra's imprint, not the killer. This episode made me like Sierra. She actually felt like a fangirl geek.

Echo overcame her imprinting and saved Sierra instead of Rayna. And back in the Dollhouse, supposedly in her tabula rasa state, Echo signaled Sierra not to say anything in front of Sierra's nasty handler. That implied that Echo remembered what happened while they were on assignment, and was faking tabula rasa. How intriguing.

Boyd pushed Dr. Saunders to certify him before he was physically ready because he knew another handler wouldn't look out for Echo like he does. He's so serious about protecting her, but he doesn't seem to be connecting the dots that he really should be protecting her from their employers. Of course, he hasn't been with them for long. If Boyd really cares about Echo, he'll get there. He's already starting to care about Dr. Saunders.

Bits and pieces:

-- Dr. Saunders said that Echo's assignments were to be romantic or altruistic only: no bodyguard work. That's interesting. Were those Echo's conditions, one wonders? Someone else's?

-- There was mention of twin dolls. I bet we see them some time.

-- The Russian guy that Ballard was harassing is a doll named Victor. Why was Victor wiped and then imprinted again? So we'd know he was a doll? When Victor was "active", he told Ballard that he'd signed up to be a doll to get away from his terrible past. Another bleed-through? Was that a glimpse of his own personality, how he ended up as a doll?

-- Is Lasagne Girl a doll, too? Her total focus on Ballard was odd. Almost like she was a crazed fan. :)

-- Ballard (who died and was brought back, like Buffy) was shot in the same spot where Boyd was shot in the previous episode.

-- All those tight, practically non-existent clothes made me notice again that Eliza Dushku has no hips.

-- Topher is like a brilliant Xander but without a soul. Warren.

-- More discussion of the Attic, and it didn't sound like a good place to be. Toys in the attic. Good name for rock song.

-- The previous Sierra was one of Alpha's victims.

-- The song they sang throughout the episode was called "Freedom." That's what you call ironic.

-- Apparently, the Dollhouse is an urban legend for those who don't know it exists.

Quotes:

Victor: "I'm a friend of Paul. Old friend from Navy. Friend from Old Navy. I did retail before. He would buy slacks."

Saunders: "What about Boyd? He's not up to any serious physical threat."
Topher: "Boyd? What are you guys, buddies now? Oh, god. Of course you are. You both disapprove of everything. You're going to get married and have scowly babies."
Now that sounded Whedonesque.

Echo: "Rayna. You are not okay. Okay? You are having a breakdown. Not a shave your head flash your junk whacky phase; you are truly unwell."

Good episode. Not great, but watchable,

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

17 comments:

  1. Billie, I agree that the Dollhouse and what's going on there is a lot more interesting than the missions of the week at this point. Although, I did enjoy hearing Eliza sing.

    You are spot on about Topher. He is *so* Warren. I love that description!

    I do find myself wondering if Paul's neighbor is also a doll. However, I feel that you somewhat slighted her by calling her "Lasagna Girl." Yes, it clearly identifies her, but surely there is more to the woman than the food she offers? She did go to visit him in the hospital after all. And seemingly without food. :)

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  2. They didn't say the previous Sierra was killed by Alpha, only implied that she had died completing her mission. What her mission was, we don't know.

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  3. Yep, Lasa√Ďa girl is a doll ;)

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  4. With the Actives having designations using the NATO phonetic alphabet, I figured a Victor would show up eventually. Other likely candidates will probably be Juliet, Charlie - and perhaps Mike or Oscar. I can't imagine they'll be using names like "Hotel", "Uniform" or "X-Ray".

    Though it would be mildly amusing (to me, at least) if the twin dolls turned out to be Tango and Foxtrot :-P

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  5. Hi Billie,

    Dollhouse is definitely growing on me. I was a little underwhelmed by the shows premise at first...but as you say, it's the other stuff that makes watchable.

    In an interview, Joss said that he wanted to use the show to showcase Eliza's many talents. Well, she certainly has a decent set of pipes on her (meaning voice....just in case "pipes" is a euphemism for something filthy elsewhere in the world).

    An interesting glance too between Echo and Sierra at the end. I wonder sometimes whether Echo's there to infiltrate the Dollhouse from the inside.

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  6. I'm not sure why, but I laughed out loud when Echo hit Rayna in the back with the chair. It was just funny, hehe.

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  7. I assumed that the reason Dr. Saunders said Echo was to only have romantic or altruistic assignments was just because she had been so hurt in her previous assignment and they were trying to keep her under the radar and healing for a week or two. It would be interesting, though, if whoever Echo was before becoming imprinted had, in fact, asked specifically just for romantic/altruistic assignments. Hm. Something to ponder.

    Also, why did Sierra remember Echo? I actually was more confused by that happening than Echo brushing her off. Seemed odd to me. I get that Echo is bleeding through, but are all the others? Or do they just remember everything that happens when in their tabula rasa state every time they are brought back to that state? That is confusing to me.

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  8. I assumed that the reason Dr. Saunders said Echo was to only have romantic or altruistic assignments was just because she had been so hurt in her previous assignment and they were trying to keep her under the radar and healing for a week or two. It would be interesting, though, if whoever Echo was before becoming imprinted had, in fact, asked specifically just for romantic/altruistic assignments. Hm. Something to ponder.

    Also, why did Sierra remember Echo? I actually was more confused by that happening than Echo brushing her off. Seemed odd to me. I get that Echo is bleeding through, but are all the others? Or do they just remember everything that happens when in their tabula rasa state every time they are brought back to that state? That is confusing to me.

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  9. Lauren, I wondered that too when I first saw it. But yeah I think Sierra was just remembering what happened between them at the beginning of the episode when they were exercising in their 'childlike' state. So it appears they do pick up from where they left off. I guess if they are storing their personalities/memories on hard drives, and then just bring out the old hard drive and upload the data... yeah it makes sense that they continue to remember. Obviously though the Dollhouse is also able to erase memories when they want to though, such as Alpha's attack of the Dollhouse.

    However, whether Sierra remembers more than she should too is ambiguous at the moment, because there's a plausible explanation of her just remembering the exercise scene. We'll see!

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  10. I got the impression that Victor, rather than having been an active all along, was recruited midway through the episode so that he could be used to send Ballard off the scent.

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  11. Oh goodie, an episode where we see the destructive side of fandom. Why do sci-fi shows feel so compelled to constantly do this?

    I heard so many bad things about this episode that I was initially fearing the worst. I'm not gonna say this was a masterpiece instead of a disaster area but it didn't suck. It was actually kind of enjoyable.

    There's only so many 'dates' we can see Echo get programmed into so bodyguard/backing singer for spoiled pop girl Rayna was a touch more original.

    One of the downers of the episodes was the writers trying to draw way too obvious parallels between Echo and Rayna that it made parts of the episode feel disingenuous for me as a viewer. Rayna does have control of her situation - she can quit or change things and not wait for some nutter to kill her.

    Programming Sierra as an uber fan (of the more harmless variety) seemed a little weird but I gathered she was bait for getting the real stalker out in the open. Rayna's 'I want to live' should've been a bit more inspiring but it felt a little flat.

    I loved the scenes with Echo and Sierra at the beginning and end of the episode regarding friendship, some interesting moments there and Sierra's handler is a freaking jerk.

    Victor's reveal of being a doll would've been awesome if it hadn't been spoiled months before the series had actually aired. Mellie has got to be a doll too.

    Claire seems to be living in the land of denial. She doesn't believe that Alpha is alive and she doesn't believe that echo is special (whereas Boyd and Adelle seem to).

    Topher still bugs me but he can be as nasty to Dominic as he wants. Dominic really, really hates echo, huh?

    Paul bored the crap out of me. He raises some many good points but he's so bland that I don't care, 7/10.

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  12. I actually like this a lot, how they parallel Jordan/Echo to Rayna. Rayna saying "they(people) would love to see me die" really got to me because that shows once again how humanity is getting more and more insensitive. Tie that with Paul´s comment on how people abuse and destroy every new thing they get their hands on.

    And Eliza sings really well.

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  13. This episode bothered me because I feel like I can see the network's fingerprints all over it. The skimpy costumes, the pop songs. Joss made it as Jossy as possible by inserting the whole Rayna was a factory girl monologue, but it still felt a like an excuse to see women in slutty outfits. Although that's in a lot of episodes.

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  14. @Anonymous: "Well, she certainly has a decent set of pipes on her (meaning voice....just in case "pipes" is a euphemism for something filthy elsewhere in the world)."
    Lmao, what could the filthy euphemism possibly apply to knowing that she's a woman? I've only ever heard it used as one for penis, and even then the 'set of' doesn't really work.

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  15. Onigirli, any euphemism about something in pairs in women is almost certainly about the boobs. :)

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  16. Ahaha, yeah the pair motif is the only thing that made me consider breasts, but Josie's response is where my mind inexplicably went first. I mean that's beyond obscene, looking into a woman's innards (the female sex organ is so much cooler from the inside, what a shame it's all hidden)

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