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27 March 2009 @ 11:56 am
Dollhouse: "Man on the Street" Episode Review + Meta  
I'm doing this before tonight's episode, quite frankly. I didn't get a chance to watch this one in real time because of the BSG finale, and downloading came a bit later, but nevertheless I've compiled my thoughts and meta on the show thus far.

Dollhouse 1.06 "Man on the Street"

FBI agent Paul Billard is getting close to the truth regarding the mysterious urban legend of the Dollhouse, the highly secretive organization that deals with unique human trafficking by means of wiping someone's own identity and imprinting them with personalities of anyone else created to fit a client's needs. He risks his entire job by going off on his own to discover the truth, trailing the girl Caroline, a.k.a. Echo, he's been led to believe is one of these people the Dollhouse is keeping. Well, he finally does meet her, kind of unexpectedly, and he gets some unsettling information from one of the wealthy clientele that paid for Echo during that one engagement. Paul then goes further in his investigation, only to encounter Echo once again with a dangerous and deadly imprint -- however it takes an unexpected turn as he learns new and startling information, that can help him as well as confuse him, but further intrigue the audience about the Dollhouse and its purpose.

Meanwhile, Sierra is experiencing horrific outcries and it's believed that she had been engaged in a sexual assault from within the Dollhouse. Suspicions lie upon Victor who has demonstrated that he has a slight attraction to Sierra, but Boyd slyly reveals that it is actually Sierra's handler. This also presses concerns regarding the operation of Dollhouse and its flaws, and what this could mean for them.


The Dollhouse: For the Greater Good and Ends Justifying the Means?

This episode provided more insight to the mythology and adding more mystery into the Dollhouse, giving us a glimpse that the organization isn't all what it may be cracked up to be. We see a corporation that is quite flawed in their design and structure, as what most utopian-visionary operations often end up becoming, and the intrigue to the entire "urban legend" regarding the Dollhouse keeps getting better and better.

We're learning that the Dollhouse is a known urban legend amongst the public, but there has been no proof of it existing because it is a highly secured underground organization that only the wealthiest of the wealthy have access to getting into, and anyone that dares dig deeper into uncovering it will be dealt with nearly immediately. The Dollhouse, know with the knowledge that there are twenty worldwide, has been setup to be this organization that deals with fantasy; letting clients having whatever person they want the Active to become for a short period of time to fulfill their needs, wants, desires, whatever. However in this episode we have more information, not a lot but hints and clues, that the Dollhouse may be involved with something else. Perhaps something more sinister than just the side jobs of clientele that want Actives for a little night outting and whatnot. Or perhaps the reputation of the Dollhouse may be held higher in regards of pulling off such dangerous and illegal tasks all over the world, as we've seen in this episode that there may be Actives in your presence and you hardly would know it.

Echo had been imprinted to take care of Paul Billard once and for all, however someone interrupted that programming and imprinted her with a special secret message for Paul personally that warns and, in a way, guides him to his purpose of being contacted by the Dollhouse. I have a feeling that this mystery person is Adelle DeWitt.

Thinking about it, it makes sense considering her stance as the director of that particular Dollhouse and her favoritism towards Echo in general. Also given her speech patterns, when Echo said certain words I couldn't help but imagine DeWitt. It's also plausible that she and Boyd had been in on this judging from Boyd distracting Topher so whomever corrupted the imprint with that message could get in and get out easily. I say it's DeWitt because while she is the director she seems to have some difficulty with the job, her feelings on certain aspects and how she runs the operation. Previously we saw her talking with what it appears to be one of her superiors, but she seemed flustered and drained from everything. It wouldn't seem unlike her to have another, an outsider who is dedicated to figure out the mystery of the Dollhouse, to find answers she couldn't access from her superiors.

So, what are the Dollhouse's true intentions? What were they originally created for, or rather what have they turned into? What does the message mean by allowing the Dollhouse to "win"? Win at what? How will Paul and Echo, and even Alpha, factor into all of what's to come? We'll soon find out as the show continues with the intriguing mytharc.


Human Rights and Morality Within the Dollhouse

Everyone that's been watching Dollhouse knows the show deals with the complexity and the troublesome areas regarding human rights. Taking away the freedoms, the consenting of the actual human being, objectifying them in obscene manners, questioning the morality of situations even if one justifies it in their minds for doing absolute good in the world, as previously stated from the beginning of the series; Joss is taking a darker road into the minds of people and presenting it onto this show. Like what Battlestar Galactica did, use real life occurrences that are disturbing and add it into the show because art imitates life, and if it makes us as uncomfortable as possible for us to consider what is happening and question it, then it is doing something right. Most shows won't go that far, and with the material and subject matter Dollhouse centers around it would be a mistake to not go in this direction.

The situation with Sierra and her handler was quite disturbing to say the least, because here is this girl's so-called bodyguard in a sense taking advantage of her because she cannot defend herself. She is without any personality of her own; she is merely like a child, unaware of unknowing that what this man is having her do to her is wrong. And when the Actives are told to do something within their Tabula Rasa states they do it, because they have nothing inside of their minds to call their own. It is so dark and disturbing and degrading, and all those things wrapped into one. And that he sexually took advantage of her more than once just irks the hell outta me....as I'm sure it was meant to. Makes me wonder how many other handlers have tried this with their assigned Actives, or at least thought about it while on their job.

This also brings up the whole "consent" part of an Active, because even though imprinted with a personality the actual person hasn't even given their own personal consent to a particular engagement, even though we're meant to believe all these individuals willingly signed up for the program. That's the complex thing about the Dollhouse; they're all about doing things to make society better, for the greater good, however they aren't doing anything with these people who have the same amount of rights as anyone else. They've stripped freewill from them, programmed them to have no mind of their own, aside from basic human instincts...at what point do they draw the line? When do they say "stop"? Obviously what happened to Sierra was horrific enough, but that changes nothing from what the organization is doing to these people who were once free individuals that probably wouldn't approve of some of the assignments they've been sent on or skills imprinted with. It really does make me wonder how these people were ever chosen to be part of the program, and I'm positive not all, if any at all, placed themselves in the position to rightfully consent to any sort of contract to the Dollhouse. Caroline in the pilot seemed very angry and reluctant to even be there in the first place.

We'll soon find out more during tonight's episode, guaranteed about that.

Also, from Paul's conversation with the client regarding the whole barriers of fantasy and reality and living in that escapism even for a moment just places things into a creepy perspective. I understand what he's saying, but that doesn't make it any less justified. Of course, then Paul tries to bring himself back to reality with Mellie only for us to discover that she, too, is an Active and their little romantic session just was backlashed because despite wanting to not be involved and thinking it is wrong, the twisted reality is that you never know.

I'm certain I'm not entirely explaining my thoughts coherently, but the entire concept of the show's mythology has deepened my interest further and further. It's just so unique but deals with the very human idea about freedoms of a person, the kinds of things we do to each other and thinking it is justifiable if we let ourselves believe we're doing it for the greater good, for society's sake, and how far we'll dig ourselves in our little holes and starting to polute our minds with these lies. It's very fascinating and psychologically disturbing, and I love it.


Memorable Moments of the Episode:

++ I really thought this was a groundbreaking episode for those that weren't sure whether to continue or not. Obviously I have been here since day one and I LOVE IT SO FRAKKING MUCH, but I do know the opinions of the show have been mixed so, hopefully, this places some perspective on whether people are now getting more interested or deciding it is not the show for them. Either way, I felt this was the episode that allowed people to decided either one.

++ I loved how this was filmed, going back and forth between the news footage of people giving their opinions on the apparent existence of the Dollhouse -- which mirror a lot of sentiments and theories and even thoughts from fandom, even, which I suppose was the intent. And seeing the different reactions from people about having a fantasy person for a day with no consequences whatsoever because honestly, we all do that. We've all played that game. "If you could have so-and-so for a day..." Please y'all we do that all the time, online, in real life, fictional and real people. In this case we happen to know that the Dollhouse is real and people saying it wouldn't hurt is just painful to hear because, hello? Human trafficking. But it places the kind of real mixed reactions to the whole concept, and I liked that.

++ Poor Sierra. :((( I love her and it's just horrible what happened, but I am happy that Boyd took care of the problem and orchestrated the plan so he could catch the real person doing it. I mean, Victor may have an attraction to Sierra but he would never do anything like that.

++ I think Victor is adorable. Awwww, and Echo and him and Sierra are totes all adorable together.

++ That ending with Sierra and Victor. ♥ ♥ ♥

++ "PORN!" LOL I never laughed so hard with that, because just how Eliza played with that role was hilarious. XD

++ "F-Bitch-I" holy crap, that I loved. Sry but it's true.

++ HELO AND ROMO! Okay, not really, but Tahmoh and Mark Sheppard -- that whole scene I kept thinking "yep, Helo is just beating the hell outta Romo, excellent for x-over fic" because honestly, any BSG fans out there would've thought the same thing.

++ SHIRTLESS TAHMOH! Oh Joss, you and your mancrush on Tahmoh. ILU for it. ♥

++ That entire fight scene with Paul and Echo, HOT DAYUM! I don't think I mentioned this before but I fully appreciate the choreography for the fight scenes in this show, f'reals. Just watching Tahmoh with his incredible skills in the past episodes was very impressive, so adding him and Eliza together? I mean, I know in certain shots they have stunt doubles but really, they make it work and they're both so hardcore that I am thoroughly impressed with what they're doing with that. Also...it was totes the Faith and Buffy fighting stuff, like totes. But more like Helo vs. Faith (which hello, ppls, fanfic? c'mon now).

++ Finding out that Mellie was an Active was surprising to me, but in hindsight it makes sense. It seems that Paul is just surrounded by the Dollhouse and that is his destiny. The Dollhouse, or whomever sent him that message, wants him part of their outside source to find out the truth. Just, wow. And Mellie, Gods, I wonder how long she's been out on her engagement. But she killed the creepy handler, which good for her.

++ Loved that it was DeWitt that orchestrated that, hence why I believe she also orchestrated the corrupted imprint with the message. She seems to be wanting to do more than what the organization wants of her.

++ "It's not finished." Oh Echo, ILU.


Overall: Definitely the kind of episode that needed to be here, as much as most didn't like the pilot or thought it was slow-going, most of us wouldn't have known these characters or cared for them if this had been in the first few episodes in. We needed to establish a relationship between these characters and the audience; Sierra being violated, Echo and Paul, Paul's mission and even Mellie's involvement throughout it all. Besides, six episodes in? Not that far along from an actual season, tbh. I think Dollhouse is going quite alright despite people wanting everything here and now. Joss sets up the pace, he knows where he wants to go, regardless of what FOX is allowing him to do things or whatever. I am very interested in where all this is going now that we're heading deeper into the mythology of the show, about the Dollhouse and Echo and what it all means and how Alpha fits into this.

I am just loving the complexity of this show and what Joss has planned for it.


I also want to direct people to this little video just to show how adorable the cast is. Unique names are unique, and adorable cast is just too damn cute for words. Plus, Eliza is so adorkable I can barely stand it. *g*
 
 
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♥blackwidow on March 27th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
When I watched last weeks episode, I had a feeling that maybe the Dollhouse was created to be some sort of military experiment? Sort of like on Dark Angel, where they created the enhanced soldiers for fighting and war. This made me think that possibly the actives were supposed to be some sort of counter terrorism or even a terriorst unit. It would be the perfect fit, have them implanted with a code that could give them the means to fight and then afterwards erase that code and they no longer no anything, and so therefore the FBI or even other countrues couldn't get anything out of them if they tourtured them?

Also, just so you know it's Paul Ballard, not Billard :]
Renée: DH. Echo. Blank slate.rogueslayer452 on March 28th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
Hmm, that's an interesting thought that never occurred to me. I mean I know they are probably recruiting some Actives for certain engagements but to imprint and program them to become the ultimate killing machine much like the concept of Dark Angel, since they are mixing certain personalities with others to become the impossibly perfect fantasy for anyone, it does make sense that they would be dealing with heavier issues like military or government kinds of jobs.

This has me loving where all these possibilities could be headed towards, whether these Dollhouses are here for protection or corruption and destruction of society. The Utopian vision because a Dystopian nightmare, which for Joss is like a playground filled with candy and lollipops to experiment with.
flood_and_fire on March 28th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
IVE MISSED GIRLS KICKING ASS ON TV SO MUCH!
srsly, no other shows seem to incorporate martial arts into fight scenes like joss always manages to do so well.

great ep, im convinced :D
i was glad mellie wasnt just killed off. :)
Renée: DH. Echo. Blank slate.rogueslayer452 on March 28th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
ME TOO! KICKASS FEMALES ROCK SO MUCH. GIRL POWER BB!

I totally agree, Joss knows how to make girls badass and kickass like no other, even with a show like Dollhouse that deals with a lot of sensitive stuff like degrading of human beings and lacking in freedom, he still manages to pull the girls kicking ass and taking names bits. I love that aspect of the show, and of him and the messages he's bringing out all in one. Lovelovelove.

I was worried that Mellie would get killed off. Joss is notorious for doing that to characters we empathize or at least like from time to time, but it was an interesting twist in the end.
jello: pauljelost on March 28th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
DeWitt crossed my mind, too, as the potential informant to Paul. There really is no one else who could accomplish the imprint and know what they're talking about -- unless it's Topher's assistant. She's the only other character I've seen who's expressed a knowledge or interest in the process.

I just love how the show is dealing with real-life issues in a fantastic way; it makes the stories uncomfortably closer to home, pushing a line that doesn't often get touched.

Helo and Romo!!! XD I grinned like an idiot through that whole scene, I won't lie. There have got to be a bunch of BSG jokes on set that we're not hearing.

The choreography is immensely better in this show than in some others I know (*cough*SPN*cough*). It's duly appreciated. Especially when it's Tahmoh and Eliza. *grabby hands*

I am so looking forward to tonight's episode! Once I download it, that is.
Renéerogueslayer452 on March 28th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC)
Yeah, I definitely think DeWitt is behind a lot of these little things, kinda like how she orchestrated that handler to be taken out by Mellie without his knowledge, or telling Topher in the previous episode about Alpha because she knows more than others do at this point. She seems to be the very likely candidate who isn't just for the kicks of running the Dollhouse.

I'm interested with Topher's assistant as well. I kinda wonder if she's a Doll herself, imprinted to be his personal assistant whenever he needs her. You never know on this show....

I just love how the show is dealing with real-life issues in a fantastic way; it makes the stories uncomfortably closer to home, pushing a line that doesn't often get touched

Exactly. I think there's still a lot of people who refuse to acknowledge that because it either hits too close to home or that they can't get their heads wrapped around the idea that this Joss project focuses on more serious topics. But I love that he's taking that risk, that he's exploring this darker aspect of our entire society whether we accept to see it or not, and bringing it to the light in the show. It's all unique and creative and genius, imo.

LOL, BSG jokes. Not to mention that Joss is a huge BSG fanatic himself I'm sure he's in on a lot of those. I wouldn't put it passed him. XD

ITA regarding the choreography being top-notch. Joss knows how to work his magic and make it work, 'cause he's very meticulous in that sense and knows what he wants. I got this entire BtVS vibe from that, and it felt good because I love having that feeling. I felt like I was watching an actual brawl between two skilled and trained fighters, and I like seeing that. I was blown away.

ME TOO OMG! :DD Now with BSG done (*sniffs*) the night will be less overwhelming and crammed with epicness, just enough so my head won't go s'plodey.
♛ part-time maenad: tahmoh; he so flyradon_ on March 28th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
I called Mellie being an Active! :D She was too clingy onto Ballard to be anything else, imo. But daaaaaaaamn I love how she was activated and all. It's like 'All Along the Watchtower', but for Actives.

Sierra/Victor. ♥

I'm not very coherent right now but I feel that it's either DeWitt or Amy Acker (for the life of me, I can't remember her character's name) that corrupted the imprint. Of course, knowing Joss, it'll be someone unexpected like Dominic (who I'm adoring more and more each episode) or one of the handlers. idk.

The fight scenes were amazing. Helo vs Faith OMG I ECHO (hurhur) THE NEED FOR FIC RIGHT NOW.

Helo and Romo, I spazzed all spazzy-like. Especially when Tahmoh did the arm-twisty thing on him. AND ROMO WAS SO IN CHARACTER.

What Sierra's handler brought up in questioning was very true, the Dolls are meant as fantasy (to an extent), they're loaned out to the highest bidder to be whatever others want them to be. However, in their Tabula Rasa stage, I think the Dolls have to maintain a semblance of purity/untouched (and as it was mentioned an episode or two ago, they're like newborns in the Dollhouse itself. They need a comfortable environment). It makes me wonder if that is tainted, would it affect the success of the imprints on the Dolls, which may have been what happened to Alpha (btw can we meet him already? I'm dying here).
Renée: DH. Echo. Blank slate.rogueslayer452 on March 28th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
I kinda thought of her as that adorable next door neighorbor that had a crush on him (like really, who can blame her?) and him getting involved with her would've ended badly, like her getting injured or killed. But it really was a neat twist.

I have my suspicions, esp. after this most recent ep and the preview for next week (which omg!) But Joss is filled with twists and turns so, we'll see what happens.

FIGHT SCENE = HOT. F'REALS. We need moar of that, stat.

Them in their Tabula Rasa state are like innocent children, and children who are tainted are damaged. Seeing the recent episode we see Sierra still has these memories buried deep down even if Topher did something to erase all other threats. It makes me very sad. I wonder if something did happen to Alpha on the inside just like what happened to them, and yeah, I wanna meet Alpha already!
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: Paul Ballardsabaceanbabe on March 30th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
++ Loved that it was DeWitt that orchestrated that, hence why I believe she also orchestrated the corrupted imprint with the message. She seems to be wanting to do more than what the organization wants of her.

I am so glad I'm not the only one who thought that maybe DeWitt was the one who sent Paul that message.
Renée: DH. Paul. UNF.rogueslayer452 on March 30th, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking it's either DeWitt or Claire. It could be anyone within the Dollhouse (hell, they could just surprise us and it may be Dominic...) But DeWitt is my first candidate.

Can't wait for the next ep!
lightningbug24 on April 26th, 2011 06:24 am (UTC)
Question
Hi, I've recently gotten into this show, and I'm rewatching it now but I don't remember- who actually corrupted the imprint?
Renée: Dollhouse. Ivy.rogueslayer452 on April 28th, 2011 11:42 am (UTC)
Re: Question
I thought it was revealed to have been Dominic, since he was the mole and could have used this opportunity to get to Paul through Echo. Of course there have been some debate whether Dominic actually understood how the technology in Topher's lab actually worked. But in my opinion, there couldn't have been anyone else at that time who would want to reach out to Paul because after Dominic was discovered the messages to Paul stopped.