Monday 2 August 2010

Dollhouse – True happiness requires some measure of self-awareness.

Dollhouse: 1x05 True Believer.

note: apparently I just really don't have a lot to say about this episode. I don't even know why exactly, but well, "Man on the Street" is going to make up for that. 

Senator: “We’re talking about people here who have their very wills taken away.”
Adelle: “Imagine such a thing.”
Senator: “The irony of bringing this to you, Adelle, is not lost on me. I promise you.”
In “True Believer”, Echo is sent into a sectarian community to collect evidence. Topher does something to her head that involves turning her eyes into cameras and her blind, although we are meant to never question the funky science. The episode succeeds in indicating a divide within the Dollhouse: Adelle considers Echo’s adaptability an asset because she is able to improvise whenever a mission goes wrong. Dominic, on the other hand, thinks that they should be predictable, because if they aren’t, Alpha ensues.
The episode draws parallels between the sect and the dollhouse, which is the ultimate sect, in a way, a place where the re-programming to control and manipulate is perfected. On her way there, as Esther Carpenter, she tells Boyd that she wants to become “a new person, more than anything” – once again, that empty promise of leaving your past behind, the promise of the clean slate that can never be fulfilled.
Of course, the Echo we know reappears under the surface of Esther Carpenter once she is required: Jonah Sparrow, the leader of the sect, hits her, which returns her sight, and immediately, she starts to rescue people. If the compound is like a negative of the Dollhouse, Echo demonstrates what she will eventually try inside as well: lead the victims back into the light, back into freedom. “True Believer” doesn’t work very well as an isolated episode, but it is a necessary and important companion piece to “Needs” later in the season, post-“Man on the Street”. It also establishes how far Dominic is willing to go to preserve the status quo: he attempts to kill Echo, hitting her over the head as the compound burns down (of course Boyd comes in to rescue her).

Random notes:

In the subplot this episode, Topher realizes that Victor has a “man-reaction” when he showers with Sierra, which leads to hours of shower-tapes. I wish we’d seen more of Topher and Claire in season two because they were already awesome together BEFORE parts of their history were revealed.

Once again, Mellie redefines “leftovers” by bringing an entire pie to Paul at the police station. She also brings an envelope containing the video we saw Alpha watching in the first episode.

Echo: “The blind girl is looking you in the eye. Do you know what that means? It means God brought me here. He has a message for you. And that message… is “MOVE YOUR ASS!” Go! Come on!”

This was out-of-character for both Echo AND Esther Carpenter. Of course, it was a nice nod to everybody who’d be content with Eliza Dushku being Faith for the rest of her life, but… it doesn’t really help these initial episodes of “Dollhouse” at all.

Topher and Claire, after their nerve-wrecking task, totally ship Victor and Sierra, and aren’t exactly happy when Adelle tells them to “scrub” Victor.

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