Dollhouse: S1, E2

by Irma Arkus

Tomorrow is time for another installment of Dollhouse. If you haven’t caught the premier of the show, then here is the summary: Whedon produces new show, and it starts with Eliza Dushku performing as a serious kidnapping negotiator.

Alright, so I am simplifying the plot line. In reality, the show is a bit sexier, and quite a bit more complex. Dushku is Echo. And Echo is a sexbot, an empty-headed human body that can be implanted with foreign memories, but was not always void of personality and history. That is where the plot gets a little complicated.

Echo used to be a person, prior to sexbot employ. A person who, similarly to Dushku’s more famous slayer character, Faith, is in some kind of fierce trouble. Trouble so big, that she signs away all her rights, and her memories, allowing herself to be used for um, sexbot activities.

While the first episode was a bit of a drag, the storyline manages to quickly pick-up during the second episode.

Echo is on a “date” with a psychopath, who turns from an adventuresome climber and a passionate lover, into a merciless hunter of human prey.

While struggling to survive, Echo is drugged by her maniacal date. But the drug’s side effects are more interesting, as Echo’s mind grasps for memories that she did not know she had.

This goes hand in hand with the dramatic opening of the show, where one of the “tabula rasas” goes berserk, slaughtering everyone in the high tech compound. Everyone but Echo, that is.

This, apparently, is how Dr. Claire Saunders (Amy Acker) received her facial injuries consisting of numerous long, narrow cuts across her pretty face. Two things spring immediately to mind: why is it that the Doctor has not immediately proceeded with plastic surgery treatments for her face, considering the lavish and secretive outfit of her employers; and why the secrecy surrounding berserked subject’s survival?

For one, the attack reveals that the berserker in question is very much alive, and obsessed with Echo, practicing his homicidal techniques in order to draw more attention to Echo.

The second, and more intriguing conclusion, is that Whedon yet again exceedes expectations.

You see, Dr. Claire Saunders is not necessarily a medical examiner. She could be just someone implanted with the memories of a medical examiner, another borrowed body. And the same applies to all the other participants in the Dollhouse.

The question really is who is at the top. Who owns the program and why? Because if you think about it, it allows for a perfect crime, a perfect cover, and it successfully places suspicion on everyone being not what they are, or appear to be. Whedon’s second episode plants a seed of doubt in one’s mind, as he turns the familiar into a world of games and shadows, for in the world of Dollhouse, everyone is a potential doll, a sexbot, a killer.

I must admit, the first episode left me cold. But my veneration of Whedon’s work will always keep me glued to my seat. And this time, Whedon indulges us with a complex, layered, oniony world, in which nothing, not even oneself is sacred or unique.