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Thread: Dollhouse watch : Season 1

  1. #61
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
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    1.10 Haunted

    I don't think this was the strongest episode but some of the character insights were nice. It also further emphasised some as yet unanswered questions around the imprints that I really want more clarity on. The scenes with Topher were the highlight for me. He is quickly becoming a firm favourite.

    It feels like they have gone through some phases in their episodes. We started with ones that showed assignments and tried to establish what the Dollhouse did, then we had some Caroline background episodes and now we are exploring further uses of what the dollhouses do and could do, outside their typical paying clients. This could be specific to discovering the wider purpose of what it is all about beyond the surface business, or just working in towards that reveal as being something else previously unseen. Either way, it is something Ballard will most likely be key to finding out about with us. I can't help but wonder what the overall feel of the show would have been like if they had managed to mix up the episode 'types' a bit. My favourite aspect of the show so far has been the differing employees' reactions, reasons, uses and abuses of the Dollhouse. Something that's been more steadily and constantly drip fed across the episodes along with the progressing character insights.

    This episode was no exception for that as we saw a little more of Topher's sense of isolation. Did the imprint reveal he lost someone that he brings back to share his birthday with? I loved the interactions between him/Sierra, it could easily have been someone he was very close to and lost. Is it mainly just a way of allowing himself this annual moment to break out of the boundaries he has chosen to have in order to do what he does, and this is in fact an imagined construct of a best friend he can share his life more with? I just love that he called it his anterior insular cortex diagnostic. Highlighting to us perhaps that this is just because of how he struggles with achieving 'normal' connections. That's certainly the way Boyd/DeWitt seemed to be talking about it. DeWitt's understanding could just be that she sees it as beneficial for prioritising the effectiveness of her employees. Perhaps her attitude is already somewhat explained by the insights we gained behind her cool front in the last episode from her own need to have someone she could talk to with Victor. There is of course also the interesting possibility that Topher could have been choosing to interact with an imprinted recording of himself. That would bring a second meaning to his description of it that quite appeals to me. Although obviously that negates it as a change for him and more deeply isolates him in fact. But with the line of returning 'to the future of being dead' and with Margaret's story this episode, I'm going to vote that it is someone lost to him, although I suspect it really is just a constructed connection so he doesn't spend his birthdays alone. All are interesting possibilities.

    It would be surprising if the potential of the immortality using the technology could provide only gets this airing. As predictable as the sexual explorations are at one end of the scale, this definitely hits with more impact/permanency at the other. But what surprised me was the implication that the process that Margaret went through to be imprinted like this was so involved and gradual. Clearly Margaret's 'self' couldn't just be lifted out fully. Not like Dominic was wiped and placed on disc, like it seems they do for a doll too. It was also presented as being unusual and this is where one of my main queries about the dollhouse gets even murkier. I still want to know where and how they get the personalities that they use for imprints.

    Perhaps people go in for a single treatment (however knowingly) and just a part of who they are is lifted and then available for use in imprints. Margaret woke 'knowing' herself and that she wasn't in the right body. Normally dolls lack that complete sense of self that gives them any realisations about what is 'wrong' with the picture around them. All part of the constructed imprint of course. But perhaps in part also a necessity because they aren't complete imprints of any one person and are an amalgamated, created one.

    But then when you have deeply held information like the negotiator's knowledge of who kidnapped her in the first ep, this seems a more unlikely thing to gain through a single imprint session. If they can't take a whole lift posthumously, as we know she had killed herself, how/when did they get the imprint of her? When Caroline was in hospital after the laboratory raid (at the end of Echoes) the doctor called DeWitt saying she fitted the profile, or some such. It sounded possible it was a tip of a potential doll because she'd been through a lot. If so, are there medical professionals that also give them access to people before they are clinically dead so that they can strip them fully for an imprint? As it is a painful and specialist procedure, needing the proper equipment etc, it seems unlikely that it is something they could surreptitiously go and do. But they need a huge bank of personalities and skills, it's key to the service they offer. I'm going to be deeply frustrated if the answer of where the imprints come from doesn't get addressed.

    The Ballard parts weren't vast but they were interesting, even if it didn't particularly move forwards. The point of illusion potentially being a part of our real lives was raised through Margaret hearing about her family's perceptions of her. The doubts about who might have betrayed her and not knowing what others truly think/feel. This played well against Ballard's decision to accept his situation, his reality now to feel like a client of the dollhouse. He is engaging with a doll that is programmed to play a role with him. Of course this was all there last episode, as soon as he knew, but seeing him accepting that with more time/space, the anger mixed in and disgust afterwards at keeping to 'role' all layered in and was good to see.

    The weakness of the episode was the storyline with Margaret for me. For someone who was blissfully happy with her husband she was going through an awful lot in secret from paranoia that she might be killed. She really didn't doubt her relationship or suspect her husband until he/'them' were being questioned by others. Just wanting to justify it all from an incident she'd experienced in her childhood was a little weak I thought. Aaaaand of course she was conveniently right and had completed the imprint just in time before it came true. She gave up her life again because her time was passed and people's lives were moving on, even though they hadn't really yet and she could very easily not have felt it was fair/natural as she had been murdered. Her confidence she wouldn't have gotten away with stealing the body was really the justification I suppose, although with no exploration of whether she could pay enough for them to let her buy the body she was in, well, it just all felt a little too easily contained to me.

    There were a lot of predictable elements in the story too. I was amused by the response to her son kissing her, ED played it for comedy well I thought, but it was totally predictable that was going to happen. The estranged brother and the two children, one unappreciated and the other overindulged. It wasn't awful, it was just clichéd but not played enough for comedy that it felt like it was supposed to be a light-hearted parody of a 'who done it'. I suppose it was very similar to how the last episode fitted that Mission Impossible feel. They somewhat emulate rather than actually parody and I'm just not sure. I think it worked better last episode like that. So, not a terrible episode, it definitely had highlights and it gave me a real smile for the Topher of it for sure. But it mostly just emphasised one of my biggest questions about how it is all supposed to work which, as yet, remains unanswered.

    --

    My internet access problems are likely to be towards the end of the month/beginning of Sep so I will try to fit in another in the next couple of weeks.
    Last edited by Stoney; 07-08-17 at 04:16 PM.

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  3. #62
    Graveyard Patrol American Aurora's Avatar
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    Hey Guys!

    I am so behind on this show - and I had an unexpected delay of a week in which I had to attend to something work-related that couldn't be put off while recovering. But it's all over for the mo and I'm furiously once again polishing the Once More With Feeling review and will start posting this week. As soon as that is over, I'll get back to Dollhouse and intend to watch all the episodes up to the point you guys are at.

    Sorry for the delay! Hope to participate very soon!
    Last edited by American Aurora; 08-08-17 at 12:58 AM.

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  5. #63
    Slayer TimeTravellingBunny's Avatar
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    Nice to see you back, Aurora!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    The weakness of the episode was the storyline with Margaret for me. For someone who was blissfully happy with her husband she was going through an awful lot in secret from paranoia that she might be killed. She really didn't doubt her relationship or suspect her husband until he/'them' were being questioned by others. Just wanting to justify it all from an incident she'd experienced in her childhood was a little weak I thought. Aaaaand of course she was conveniently right and had completed the imprint just in time before it came true. She gave up her life again because her time was passed and people's lives were moving on, even though they hadn't really yet and she could very easily not have felt it was fair/natural as she had been murdered. Her confidence she wouldn't have gotten away with stealing the body was really the justification I suppose, although with no exploration of whether she could pay enough for them to let her buy the body she was in, well, it just all felt a little too easily contained to me.
    I think that Adelle is very principled in her own way. Even though what she does is so ethically wrong and she knows it, she really does seem to have firm boundaries and wants to protect the Actives in her own way - as with her outrage at Sierra being abused by her Handler, and I think she would never allow an Active's body to be permanently hijacked. She's want to honor the terms of the agreement and return the body to Caroline after 5 years of her 'service'.

    I've always assumed Topher simply made himself a friend, but it hadn't occurred to me that he may have used an imprint of his own personality. That makes a lot of sense - his 'friend' was so similar to him and so attuned to his way of thinking. Where would he find someone whose personality and interests fit his so well? It kind of makes it all the sadder. And now we know that at least two of the Dollhouse personnel have been using the Actives for their own desires - Adelle to have a lover, and Topher to have a friend to spend his birthdays with and not be alone. (Although, if that was an imprint of him, then he was still being all by himself...)

    You'll be glad to know that this is the last standalone episode of season 1. The remaining 3 are all arc episodes, so brace yourself for some exciting resolutions and maybe some even more exciting further developments!
    You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

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  7. #64
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
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    I just wanted to drop in a quick apology/acknowledgement. I haven't forgotten about this at all, I've just been snowed under with everything around the house move (and the kids being off school). We move tomorrow though so, despite a brief lull in internet connection I'm hoping won't exceed a week at most, I should be back and watching/posting on this soon. Hopefully next weekend I'll get something up about the next ep and things can settle into a steady pace for the season end then. Sorry for the delay and further disruption.

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