23.6.09

Dollhouse Episode 6

Some notes:

This episode was supposed to be a game-changer. Did it change the game? Kinda-sorta. There was no engagement of the week. Instead, we got a closer look at the goings on in the Dollhouse, something we've been desperate for since the second episode. The most intriguing revelation is that the business has branches all over the world, and isn't just there to make money. It has another, unknown, purpose. A conspiracy that controls corporations and governments, like Hydra in the Marvel Universe? That's what I'd do...

Each act opens with a documentary crew recording vox pops on the Dollhouse. The seductive aspect of being a Doll or hiring one is articulated by some. This is further explored in Ballard's interrogation of the dot-com millionaire. Everyone has a fantasy. The Dollhouse provides a way to fulfill that fantasy.

It seems the Dollhouse provides a way for Ballard to fulfill his own particular fantasy -- saving the girl and then bedding her. What bastards these men are. Ballard seems to recognise this, and (finally!) gets his freak on with the (OMG! Fit! Have I said that already?) next door neighbour. Except that she turns out to have been moulded to fulfill his fantasies as well. The guy just can't catch a break.

All this 'the Dollhouse isn't that bad' stuff is counter-balanced by the very grim events we see within it. Sierra has been raped multiple times by her handler, which underlines the many more times she has been raped out on engagements. The Dolls aren't real human beings, is the line of argument. We can do whatever we want to them and it's OK.

Which makes us come back to the final vox pop of the episode. If we are able to manipulate human beings to this extent, then we will be over as a species. What sets us apart -- our individuality, our independent will -- will be gone. The vox pops themselves serve to illustrate this exact point. Isn't it wonderful that humanity can express such a variety of ideas and opinions? What will happen if that ability is undermined?

The final happy springtime scene is played perfectly straight. But we can't take it at face value, for we know that Echo does not consent to participating in this fantasy. On the one side, the Dollhouse makes its clients happy. On the other, it mind-rapes the people who volunteer (or 'volunteer') to make its clients happy. Can the former really justify the latter?

What do you think?

Now on to the other stuff. The opening scene between Ballard and a rival agent is very heavy on the cliche. I mean: 'Someone's gonna put you down, and I pray to God I'm there to see it'. Come on, Joss...

Some minor funnies this episode. 'I do have access to important government information that I don't understand' being one. Echo screaming 'PORN!' is another. That's two funnies. Two. Come on, Joss...

The director of this episode (not Joss) needs to be applauded for the insane crazy fight scene towards the end. Yes. It was both insane and crazy. That's how amazing it was. Advice for future action choreographers: add more saucepans. They are key.

Victor does a fine job of looking dopey. Sierra is great at being dazed. But when Dushku is in her Doll state, her actions are weirdly tense and jerky, as if she's desperately trying to look like she's dopey and dazed. Is this just rubbish acting? Or maybe it's brilliant acting, subtly hinting at something we don't know about yet. We'll have to wait and see.

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