Monday, February 23, 2009

1.2 The Target

Three months ago, a former doll named Alpha (we assume, perhaps the first ever doll) accidentally gained awareness of his circumstances, went mad, invaded the dollhouse, and killed a dozen or more dolls and handlers.

In the present, Mr. Connell, a new client, wants a fantasy girl, a woman who won’t lie to him like all the others have done. His penchant for high-risk activities (whitewater rafting, climbing) incur an extra insurance fee which he gladly pays. He is rewarded with Echo, a woman who can more than keep up with him and his exploits. While Connell and Echo raft, climb, and crossbow, Langton is nearby in a van, tracking Echo’s vital signs with monitoring equipment. When the signal fades, he has to endure a series of wisecracks from Topher in order to get him to divert a satellite to fix the problem.

Ballard is at the scene of the encounter between the dolls and the kidnappers in the last episode. He’s putting forward his theory that the dolls sent someone in to rescue the girl, and he’s reached a sympathetic and helpful ear from one of the two FBI agents already there and investigating.

Meanwhile, Echo is about to find out that Connell’s plan for her is to set her loose in the forest with a five minute head start, with the intention of tracking her down and killing her if he can catch her.

Langton and his associate (at the van that is monitoring Echo) are visited by a Park Ranger who seems to accept their story of being TV producers, until he suddenly whips out a gun and shoots Langton’s associate. Langton is able to overpower the ‘ranger’ after a while, but in the meantime Echo has been hit by an arrow and suffered other damage as she flees her stalker.

While fleeing, Echo finds the residence of the Park Ranger, and, inside a closet, the remains of the real Park Ranger. Her radio call for help contacts Connell instead. Her threat to kill him sounds hollow when he tells her that the canteen she just drank from contains poison.

Echo staggers from the cabin, hallucinating from the effects of her drink. She plunges into the river and emerges half-drowned, flashing back to the day Alpha killed all those around her. While being pursued, she is joined by Langton, who immediately after promising to keep her safe takes an arrow in the leg. This galvanizes Echo into action. She ends up in a standoff with Connell, a shootout that she wins. Later, it is revealed that Alpha is somehow involved with this plot.

In the final scene, Laurence Dominic, obviously incensed at the amount of killing that seems to follow Echo, taunts her, believing that it doesn’t matter what he says to her, because "…no one’s home." As he walks away, she pounds her palm on her shoulder in the ‘shoulder to the wheel’ salute that Richard Connell taught her (from what should have been a wiped memory).

A few other little snippets:

Ø     Ballard continues to put pressure on the Russian hood he terrorized in The Ghost

Ø     There is a flashback to Langton’s first day on the job. He meets Dr Saunders and the bloodied corpse of the last person who held his job as Echo’s handler. He is also bonded to Echo via some of Topher’s cranial sleight of hand

Ø     Ballard receives a no-return-address manilla envelope with a photo of Echo upon which is written the name ‘Caroline’; on the outside of the envelope, ‘keep looking’ is scrawled

Ø     On a quick visit home for a bite to eat, Ballard is offered explicit lasagna and implicit love from his obvious smitten neighbor across the hall, Mellie


The crossbow-carrying hunter who tracks Echo as live game is named Richard Connell. What he does is taken directly from the movie The Most Dangerous Game (1932), which is based on a story written by Richard Connell.

A commenter at the IMDB questioned the concept of this show, wondering how we are supposed to care about people with no personality. Well, these are people whose original personalities at birth have been wiped and replaced with nothing but the ability to be imprinted. They are like babies; a blank slate, innocent, defenseless. How can you care about a baby? Easily and without reservation.

Quotable Quotes

Langton: [asking about Echo] What happened to her last handler?
Dr Saunders: [pointing to Langton foot in a pool of blood] You’re standing in him.

Topher: The new Samuelson! You’re bigger than the last one. [introduces himself] Topher – the man behind the gray matter curtain.
Langton: So Alpha is one of your achievements.
Topher: Yeah…yeah. That, uh, was an anomaly. It was unpredictable remainders, we were still working out the kinkies.
Langton: Like the blood, the screaming, the dieing? Look at them – bunch of helpless children. Did the ones Alpha slaughtered even put up a fight?
Topher: They wouldn’t know how – not without an imprint.
Langton: So why not default them with Ninja skills, or whatever.
Topher: We tried that once.
Langton: And?
Topher: Blood, screaming, dieing.
Langton: Alpha.

Langton: [hands gun to Echo] You know how to use this?
Echo: [cocks gun confidently] Four brothers…none of them Democrats.

"Is this the best date ever, or what?"
- Connell to Echo

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

1.1 Ghost

Echo has spent the perfect dirty weekend with a young man who she really believes could be the one. But when the night is done, she walks into a waiting van and is transported back to the luxury home she shares with others of her kind – and her mind is completely wiped of any memory of the incident. She’s an elaborate ‘doll’ – hired for the weekend to be the perfect fun no-strings companion. She is unaware of her role in life, for when she is cleansed, she becomes docile, with no realization of her existence outside the moment. But when she is pressed into action again, her personality will be replaced with the fully formed memories and life experiences of another – of any other – person.

The dolls are not just escorts, however. When a man’s daughter is kidnapped, Echo is sent into action again, this time as an experienced hostage negotiator. She’s polished as usual; but something is going wrong. Leaks are beginning to appear in her memory. She is started to remember incidents that happened when she was in a wiped state, sparked by her stumbling onto a new doll receiving her painful initial treatment.

The hostage exchange goes wrong. The kidnappers shoot the father and take off with the girl. Echo knows why; she was implanted with the memories of a woman who was abducted and abused as a young girl, and one of these abductors is that man.

When the exchange goes wrong, she is pulled out for her ‘treatment’, but her handler, Boyd Langton, manages to convince Ms DeWitt that even though they may no longer have a client, they need to save the girl.

Echo finds the men and the girl, and by exposing the child abuser’s plan to kill the other two men, is able to rescue the girl.

The episode ends as we see unexplained footage of a young man who appears to have broken into Echo’s parent’s home and murdered them. He sits on the table, shirtless and cross-legged, watching a college video of Echo. We never see his face.

Oh, yes…to complicate matters even more, FBI Agent Ballard is convinced that the clandestine and rumored dollhouse does exist, and he is pursuing every angle – including threatening an infamous Russian people-smuggling gang.


Joss Whedon has done it again! This polished production combines pure fantasy with police/crime themes. The concept of the show is a bit hard to explain fully in a blurb, but that is because it is wonderfully ‘open’, with almost limitless ability to combine fantasy and reality in countless combinations. A five year run is already planned; hopefully, the viewer numbers will be strong.

Whedon also plans to release one webisode for each aired episode, so stay tuned for information and reviews of those as they happen.

Firefly fans are aware that when Firefly originally aired on Fox, it was mis-handled and shuffled so that episodes were shown out of order. It has been reported that the same happened with Dollhouse. However, Joss Whedon has stated that the decision to change the first episode from Echo to Ghost was solely his decision based on initial viewer feedback

This Fox show (along with Fringe) are shown with reduced commercial interruptions, and so run about 49 minutes instead of the normal 42 or so minutes.

Quotable Quotes

Matt: I know at the beginning of the weekend, we said ‘no strings’.
Echo: We also said ‘no ropes’, and look how long that lasted.

Echo: Something fell on me.
Topher: I bet it was something great!

"You see someone running incredibly fast, the first thing you are going to ask is are they running to something or are they running from something? The answer is always both."
- Topher