Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

Dollhouse 1.01 "Ghost" [watched 2009-02-16 on hulu.com]

I'm watching this show largely because I know that fandom is watching it, and I want to have my own opinions on the source text rather than just interpreting other people's opinions.  The premise sounded really skeevy, and I'm not all that deeply interested in Big Ideas about identity -- 'cause honestly, it's kinda scary/creepy to think about who you would be if your mind was wiped AND you kept living lives as other people and getting those wiped too BUT bits of the memories started to leak in.

I'm irked by how much suspension of disbelief I have to do.  There's stupid stuff like letting the Actives have total free range with almost no supervision within the Dollhouse, but there's also bigger stuff.  Ballard says, "The only way to imprint a human being with a new personality is to remove their own, completely."  While this makes sense, how does he know this? 

Ballard's looking into human trafficking operations, but there are very few Actives in the Dollhouse (unless we're just seeing some little pod of 5 and really there are lots of pods in this underground mansion or something).  And the opening scene with Caroline and Ms. DeWitt indicates that they don't just deal in straight-up human trafficking but also/instead coerced volunteers -- Ms. DeWitt says something about helping Caroline, like that Caroline's gotten herself into trouble that would send her to jail or something and Ms. DeWitt's offering her a way out (though Caroline's statement that she doesn't have a choice would imply that she's in debt way over her head to shady characters or something, that basically her life is on the line).  And I'm really intrigued by this "five-year term" -- are they told they'll get their old personalties back after the term?  Since they don't remember who they were before, of course the folks with the power have no incentive to actually follow through on that, but still. 

And how do you integrate a personality, a history, when grafting it on to a blank slate?  I mean, when an Active wakes up, why does she think she's there?  What's the story they tell her?  How does she acquiesce so readily to leaving her engagement for her "treatment"?

I'm also a bit weary of everyone talking like they're giving a speech.  And this is coming from someone who liked Dawson's Creek having teenagers talk like such strong-vocabulary articulate folks.  Ballard's spiel about how you always want more ("something more extreme, something more specific, something perfect"), I was like, "Who are you? Fox Mulder?"  Though honestly that particular speechy bit was one of the ones that most made sense that the speaker would actually say.

I'm intrigued by the intercutting scenes we get during Ballard's interrogation.  Fight Club?

Is Sierra supposed to be the woman who shoots up the place at the end?  I'm guessing no, since Sierra had pixie-short bleached-blonde hair.

And they're this super-sekrit organization that nobody knows about (except obv. there's the black market demand for their services -- and it sounds fantastic enough that I'm willing to believe that no one who isn't seriously seeking those services actually believes they exist) um, I forget where I was going with that sentence

And how do they get these personalities?  Do they collaborate with places that are doing brain mapping for serious research purposes and steal the stuff?  Do they have a front as a legit medical research place doing brain mapping of exceptional people?
And these people are clearly still alive and walking around -- Topher says, "I looked her up.  She killed herself.  Last year."  (Though okay, they make give the Active a name different from any of the personalities they're drawing on, so as to minimize the chance of confusion in the outside world.)

And yeah, the science of having an amalgam (really?) and requiring there to be some flaws to counterbalance the gifts...  "Everyone who excels is overcompensating, running from something, hiding something."  Yeah you may be compensating, but some people are also just naturally awesome.  And do you just somehow need the something(s) they're compensating for? how would you know what those are?

(Sidebar: What about body memory?  How do you effortlessly walk around in a body that's not your own?  Muscle memory is trufax.  Plus, of course, how does your brain identify this as "you" when you see yourself in a mirror?)

Ms. DeWitt and Boyd: "We don't have a client." / "We have a mission!" / "We prefer to call them engagements."

Eleanor's !flashback talk (and sidebar, the "You can't fight a ghost" is of course this interesting commentary on the Actives themselves -- Caroline: "Actions have consequences." / Ms. DeWitt: "What if they didn't?" [again, how many folks do they have working for them that they can create some "debris field" to protect themselves from discovery if anything goes wrong with an engagement? and what are the odds that a non-client is never going to see an Active in two totally different personalities?] -- and the shadow organization running the Dollhouse, plus referencing the more literal ghost of one's past) sounds like River -- or early Fred, so probably this is just how Joss writes PTSD.

How does she know about all the girls?  Was she his first and the one he kept around the longest?  Is it just that he kidnapped and disposed of various girls while she was with him and she's just saying "all" for effect?

Topher reminds me of Warren (and Andrew, but I think that's only on a physical level).

I do think it's a good move on the part of the show that people could justify -- a couple having a great time, an expert negotiator to facilitate a hostage exchange -- rather than stuff that seems more obviously exploitative.  I'm not big on easy vilification.

Though we are clearly intended to be creeped out (as we should) -- Echo saying she thinks she's found Mr. Right and debating whether to go back to the club (not wanting to be "clingy") after her treatment.  And the exchange between Topher and Boyd: "She's livin' the dream." / "Whose dream?" / "Who's next?"

Blah blah, evil white power structure (Ballard's supervisors plus the folks running the Dollhouse -- men, and Ms. DeWitt, who's British, so possibly she's like Gwendolyn Post).
The only actual certain father we've met so far (Gabriel Cristejo) seems to be a good guy.

Oh, and I liked that Gabriel was all "wtf you 'put people at their ease'?" and argued that fatherly types (anyone else think of The Mayor?) put people at their ease 'cause they're warm and comforting and make people feel safe, whereas an attractive woman distracts people, makes them nervous or jealous, and Eleanor was all balls-to-the-wall "we are way past warm and comforting... these are stone-cold professionals... they took your daughter from your house, your seriously fortified house, to tell you that they could."

Echo to Dr. Saunders: "Does someone take care of you?"
iirc, Dr. Saunders is the one who's been initiating the whole "we could be lesbionic" vibe, and then she totally shuts down and backs off after that question.
Echo seems to have this instinct about wanting to care for people who appear to be hurt/in pain (see also: Sierra), though it's sort of diluted(?) in that as Echo she doesn't have a whole lot of initiative or even apparently much strong feeling about anything.

***

Other Quotes:

Caroline: "You ever try and clean an actual slate?  You always see what was on it before."

Gabriel to Davina: "You finished your homework?  You should get a reward.  How about knowledge."

Echo: "Something fell on me."
Topher: "I be it was something great."

"The only legal action you've successfully followed through on is your divorce."

"We all know this assignment is a joke."
Ballard: "If it's a joke, then pull me off it.  Except you can't, because someone bigger than you thinks it isn't a joke."

"... date? confessor? assassin? dominatrix? omelet chef?"

Eleanor: "You heard him not blink?"
Tags: tv: dollhouse, whedon: small world
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