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October 7, 2015

Dollhouse: Instinct

by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 3rd 2009 12:55AM
Dollhoues: Instinct
So, um, what happened? Dollhouse came back last week and posted its lowest ratings to date. It's a shame, because the show continues to find its footing. What was impressive this time was that the episode was compelling and dramatic, and it had virtually nothing to do with the overall story-arc for the series.

Just like some of the best episodes of The X-Files were "monster-of-the-week" installments, this "imprint-of-the-week" chapter was simply brilliant. It explored the full capabilities of the Dollhouse technology, where we got our first hint that Topher's genius can sometimes push him to doing things he shouldn't. At least not without testing. It's this character flaw that led to his failures in "Epitaph One."

By doing so, however, it allowed us to perhaps get a better understanding of what the Echo 2.0 experience is for what mind is left there in her Doll state. I thought she remembered everything that had happened from every one of her imprints, but it may not be that simple.

The explanation she gave to Paul at the end of this episode, where she explained that it's more than remembering what happened. She feels everything they've done to her. She feels the loves she's had, and in this case, the love of a mother toward her child. In fact, it was the strength of that maternal bond that overwrote the wipe in the first place.

It's crazy to think that Topher can push the mind to the point where Echo was able to lactate and breast feed her child. We know the power of suggestion in our minds is staggering, but as he said, the implications of this advancement are mind-blowing. It's a wonder the military isn't already using this technology to create soldiers in this world.

I wonder if that's why Perrin (Alexis Denisof) wants to take down the Dollhouse. I know he says something about his mother's life and all that, but he's a government man. Imagine what it would do to his career if he could out this kind of technology and bring it into the hands of the US Military.

I know, that's painting him as some kind of opportunistic monster. So far, we're supposed to believe that he's a good man and that he's working on the side of right. But we all know how Whedon likes to switch things up.

Speaking of that, I'm not sure what the reason was for pulling November back into the storyline. I know it was just for a check-up, but the fact that we got to see her, and Paul got to see her, tells me that Whedon isn't done with her storyline.

Whatever his intentions, he'd better get to it. FOX only has a 13-episode commitment and 2.56 million for that premiere isn't exactly screaming for a full season pick-up. Hopefully, if things don't turn around and the series does wind to a close sooner rather than later, Whedon will see it coming and hook us up with a satisfying conclusion. Or we can look forward to Dollhouse: Season Three from Dark Horse or IDW Comics sometime next year.

[Watch clips and episodes of Dollhouse at SlashControl.]

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Eric H

I am still having a hard time caring about little plot things that happen, like Perrin trying to take down the Dollhouse, who cares the world will be over and done with in 10 years, it wont mean anything. I am afraid that Epitaph One has taken the spice out of the show, if they want to keep us interested then they need to continue from Epitaph One.

October 05 2009 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To those wondering what November was doing there, a couple of observations:

- Topher said to Ballard it was a bad idea to mess with a fully formed mind, tweaking/adding/removing -- doing so would cause the mind (or was it brain?) to degenerate. This is the reason for having "blank" dolls.

- Adelle promised Madeline (November) that when she is release from her contract, she will have no pain, and Adelle delivered on that promise.

- When Topher was done with November's checkup, he offered to give her new abilities, implying that he's already done something for her.

To me, all this adds up to Topher having messed with November's original personality. This is potentially dangerous, and is perhaps the reason for the forced checkup. It sounds to me like Adelle has crossed some lines in recruiting actives, and Topher has been forced to do things he knows are dangerous and likely to have adverse consequences. I further suspect that November hitting her head when Echo pushed her aside may also come up later as the trigger for her unraveling (she wasn't checked by Topher again after that, was she?)


October 04 2009 at 4:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tri's comment

One thing I'd noticed that I havent seen mentioned, is that Mellie/November hit her head when Echo was freaking out.

Last week we saw Echo hit her head, then she started getting flashes of her previous engagements.

Could this be the start of an issue for Topher? (And perhaps how they bring Summer Glau's character in to the storyline?)

Or did no-one mention it because it's so obvious?

October 06 2009 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby O\'B

I'm gonna take a shot in the dark and say that November will eventually be imprinted as the new Dr. Sanders - even with the old one still out there......

October 04 2009 at 1:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So I guess they're setting up for the remote wipe capabilities in the next episode.

October 03 2009 at 8:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What's with all the haterade? I trust Joss. I'll just go with the flow. This sure as hell beats the reality crap that all the networks are broadcasting. I like that I have to decide who is good/bad. It's always in question.

October 03 2009 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to xillip's comment

haterade? Is that a new hate-flavored thirst-quenching beverage?

October 04 2009 at 7:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did anyone notice that this episode was written by Reaper creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas?

Pretty good stand-alone episode by them. I hope they add more humor to the show like the nifty Van Halen line.

October 03 2009 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was gonna joke about last weeks ep and how both Jamie Bamber and Alexis Denisoff have fake accents, but figured people might think i was serious! This was not my favourite episode. It was very telling about what the dollhouse was capable of, but a lot of it i already knew, and, i must admit, i was disappoint to return to an imprint-of-the-week format.

October 03 2009 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought it was a fairly pointless, boring episode. The only thing we learned is that the imprinting can change the brain chemistry to cause a female 'doll' to lactate. Yippee. Makes me think that if this technology actually existed, about the only thing it would ever actually be used for is giving men erections. The TV would be full of commercials advertising brain imprinting to correct "ED" and "make love-making more pleasurable" (ask your doctor!).

Lame. I still can't believe they cancelled TSCC but gave this dumb show another season. Granted TSCC started a season before Dollhouse so they'll both end up having two seasons after Dollhouse is cancelled after 10 or so more episodes. But still, TSCC was such a superior show. There are legitimate reasons why nobody is watching Dollhouse - illogical premise, pointless plots, bad acting, boring characters, and dull storylines. I doubt many more people would watch it if Fox put it on a day and time when people actually watched TV. The friday night death slot is what killed TSCC. Only FOX could cause a creative, well-written show based on the hugely successful Terminator franchise to get low ratings (by not promoting it, by moving its time around, by preempting it with sports, and by sticking it on friday nights when nobody watches TV and DVR numbers don't count for ratings).

If you actually like Dollhouse, you better suck it up and enjoy it while you can, because it has less than a dozen episodes left. Start your letter writing and DVD-buying campaigns early to make yourselves feel some hope.

October 03 2009 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doug Nelson

Further devolving into The Eliza Dushku Show. No longer an ensemble show, which was Whedon's forte. The new credit sequence drives home this point.

October 03 2009 at 11:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Doug Nelson's comment

The new visuals in the credit sequence bother me, too. For one, they lose the mystery and scope that the first year's sequence had--they're now just a bunch of "Doesn't Eliza look pretty" standard TV shots.

But more importantly, they do signal a direction for the series, focusing even tighter on the least-capable actress on the show. I'm glad the promos for next week at least suggested that another active will have a decent-sized role, but after such a promising second half of Season 1 and the direction suggested by "Epitaph One", I'll hate seeing this devolve into the "Eliza puts on tight outfits and tries to emote when she isn't kicking ass" hour.

Although I thought she did OK in this episode, which worked fairly well. But I really missed Harry Lennix--where is he, off filming a movie? And we got very little of her fellow actives. I thought the return of Mellie/November worked very well, though.

And why were they wasting a second active, Sierra, just to serve as Echo's friend? Did the client pay for TWO actives to be involved?

October 03 2009 at 8:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
A Gould

The low ratings this week were at least due to the fact that (at least here) it was paired against the premiere of Stargate Universe.

I'm fine with the "imprint of the week" (since that is the conceit of the show, similar to CSI's "crime of the week"), and we are seeing plot development. I am wondering when we pick up the Alpha plotline again. (Or is there a limit to how many members of the Whedon clan we're allowed on screen at a time?)

October 03 2009 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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