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Headscratchers: Dollhouse
  • Okay, having just gotten halfway through The Hollow Men, and I have to pause and ask: Okay, so your spinal fluid stops people from being Imprinted. Two of your friends (formerly Dolls) come and rescue you after some of it has been taken from you. WHY IN THE NAME OF SANITY DO YOU NOT HAVE THEM USE SOME? Or better yet, Take all of it (Spinal fluid) there, and distribute it among your friends so you can fight no matter what?I mean, sure you couldn't help everyone with such a limited amount, but the oppurtunity is there, why not take it?
    • Echo's spinal fluid could potentially stop the effects of imprinting, yes. But it would have to be studied and processed. Unless it takes effect through injection or ingestion, the odds of the ragtag bunch of misfits that are Echo's allies being able to put it to use are low.
      • they have Topher. Even if he couldn't figure it out right away, you'd think they'd take it in case they didn't stop the end of the world after all.
      • My guess that injecting somebody else's spinal fluid into your veins would either do nothing or do something very nasty. Besides this whole 'gene/spinal fluid' notion is just plain dumb. Personally I think Boyd had gone bye-bye on this one.
  • Why would Actives continue to work in their hometowns, or, once decommissioned, continue to live near the houses where they used to work? It seems like they'd be more likely to be recognized by friends and family while on missions that way. For example, wouldn't it decrease the likelihood that say, Mellie would be recognized on the streets of the city by shipping her off to a different Rossum facility?
    • There's millions of people in LA - anyone who encountered November would either A) have only known her in passing and would probably pass her off as a face-that-looks-like-someone-I-know, or B) have contracted her as a Doll and thus wouldn't say anything. The apartment Rossum set up for her was just a temporary thing until she returned to normal life, and she could go wherever she wanted afterwards.
    • This may just be my own WMG, but there is probably some kind of protocol in place for what happens if an active is encountered or even hired by a former acquaintance. There just wasn't time for it to happen in the twenty-six episodes we got.
    • Potential actives are most likely eliminated if they have lots of friends or family. In one episode, however, Caroline's history professor sees Echo and recognizes her instantly. Nothing comes of it, though, because the professor was on drugs at the time.
  • How did Ballard not notice the sleeper-activating message Adelle left on his answering machine in "Man on the Street?"
    • Mellie is a doll. She could have been programmed to erase the message, or the Dollhouse could have sent someone when Paul wasn't looking to erase the message. Or hell, the Dollhouse could have had someone else erase the message; they're able to gain access to Paul's apartment, after all. Hell, they could have sent a Doll in disguised as a cop and have them wipe the message during the subsequent post-crime-scene chaos.
  • Dominic's treatment. He was, by the end more or less a full-blown anti-villain in my eyes. Yes, he betrayed the Dollhouse, but by the end everyone had. He was simply ahead of the curve. And he obviously regretted his more sinister actions (his drunken apology to Echo indicates this). He just saw Rossum and the Dollhouse for the threat it was before, you know, giving it the technology to destroy the world. And what's his reward? Getting locked in the Attic. Why didn't it occur to anyone to free him, as he would be a potentially valuable asset? The worst was when he managed to free himself... Adelle orders him put back in the Attic, a fate worse than death. At this point they were openly revolting and from their current perspective nothing he had done was truly wrong, it seemed more like Adelle was punishing him for the personal insult of betrayal. Just seems overly hypocritical to me.
    • He was freed. Remember epitaph one? We don't know the exact circumstances, since it was just a two minute scene, but he definitely got out.
    • Adelle was very specific about putting him there because that would be his best chance of survival, as I recall it.
  • Why was Alpha able to access all his imprints? This was explicitly one of the (... admittedly annoyingly many) reasons that Caroline was special... Victor says that only she can access multiple imprints, presumably because of her special spinal fluid and whatnot... so why can Alpha? If he had the same special fluid then it would have shown up in his physical/bloodwork. Actually... now that I'm thinking about it, it's possible he did, which is how Rossum knew what to look for in Caroline, and they just thought it would be easier to get it from Echo than the already crazy Alpha... but still, they should address it rather than force us to grasp at straws.
    • ....I'm at a loss here. How did you miss the very clear scenes in the final episode of the first season that showed how Alpha ended up with multiple imprints? How it was an accident that could essentially happen to any Doll? There's nothing "special" involved here, no weird quirks of biology or anything. You just need to cram more than one imprint into a Doll's head. Echo was only able to access multiple imprints because she underwent the same experience that Alpha did.
    • Alpha was able to access all of his imprints because of the accident, he had all of his imprints downloaded into his head all at once, true, but Echo could access them because her brain was resilient to imprinting - far as I understood it, her mind was like a hard disk of a computer, the pathways were erased with the imprints, but she could create new ones. Hence the access even after a particular imprint was erased. Epitaph Two clearly states that no one else is capable of handling more than one (or two? very few, anyway) imprints without going crazy like Alpha did. That's what makes Echo special - her brain is capable of rewiring itself over the imprints, Alpha had to work with a committee in his head.
  • When Topher developed the Disrupter to take out Dolls while leaving "real people" up and running, why didn't he in his infinite geeky wisdom post the plans to the internet via Bit Torrent and an extremely public but anonymous posting of some sort? He's got the computer skills to cover his trail, peer-to-peer filesharing coupled to the Streisand Effect would spread the information far and wide, and the end result is a public that can prevent scenarios like an imprinted person getting into or around government by differentiating dolls from non-dolls. Presto, problem solved, without having to do a two-episode remake of The Manchurian Candidate!
    • Publicly available tech designed to bring down Dolls? Wouldn't that result in instant proof that the Dollhouse exists and bring the government down on everyone's heads in a heartbeat? Doesn't strike me as a bright idea.
    • Admittedly, the Dollhouse version was better than The Manchurian Candidate because it answers all the Fridge Logic questions like "If we can control people's minds, why doesn't anyone else it to create super-hookers?"
  • Topher blowing himself up to set off the bomb at the end of Epitaph Two. No offense, but Topher is the one person with the knowhow to potential unwipe people, and the wiping tech still exists and is widespread. Assuming the bomb does work perfectly... what's to stop someone from simply rewiping people? And now, how would they combat it/find a perminent solution with Topher gone? And what if it doesn't work perfectly and just needed a few tweaks to work right? This sounds cold, but it would've made more sense to imprint a doll to do it. Letting Topher do it is flat-out irresponsible.
    • I rather got the impression that that poor Topher wanted to die and this was a way to do it with some nobility. Plus it's not like only Topher knew how to work the tech, he was just the best.
  • Why the Hell did Joss Whedon purposely put Doll House on Fox if he knew it was going to get canceled (as does everything that's not made by Seth MacFarlane, except for The Simpsons & surprisingly House)?
    • He didn't have a choice. The original deal for the series was between Eliza Dushku and Fox.
    • And didn't Joss himself have a two-show deal with Fox anyway?
      • It was a different guy he was dealing with. It was a guy who apologized for Firefly tens of thousands of times and probably also bought him a new house.
    • Don't forget that a lot of people believe that the one of the reasons Dollhouse survived for the second season was because of Firefly. Dollhouse has been pretty YMMV, even among Whedon fans. He didn't have a choice on the network. Also, to be pedantic, the OP is wrong: Fox canceled Family Guy twice. It only got brought back because of fan complaints. So no one is safe from the FOX executives. (Except American Idol, House, and the American Idol Results Show).
    • Ok, I'm all aboard with the Fox Executive Meddling rants, but did you just call it "surprising" that House hasn't been canceled? It gets ratings that would make most shows cry — when 12 million viewers and #24 overall are the lowest point in your ratings history, of course they're not going to cancel you. And Fox meddled with House just like they do every other show they get their hands on (remember that idiot "villain" in Season One?) House simply managed to survive despite their meddling.
    • You assume that Whedon had major networks just throwing themselves at him, offering to pick up whatever show he feels like pitching. Even Buffy, his most popular show, never pulled the kind of numbers that a show like House does. Despite the Fan Myopia that tends to surround him, Joss Whedon has nowhere near the clout to be turning down a deal with Fox, which may well be the only network that would have been willing to greenlight Dollhouse in the first place.
  • How did November/Mellie get out with a message in "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09)? The chip in the chair was discovered by Topher at the time of her programming. Why didn't Topher just erase and reprogram November without the chip present, to be on the safe side before letting her out the door?
    • It's actually worse than that. The chip has already been removed at the time of November's imprint. Topher is downstairs, having just shown the chip to Boyd, when Ivy does the November imprint. Could there be a backup chip in the system, besides the one Topher found?
      • Who said that chip was what caused November to be reprogrammed, and it wasn't something done earlier to her (or to the general Mellie imprint)?
    • There's a mole inside the Dollhouse. And no, I don't mean Dominic, since we never actually hear him or them say that he planted messages inside the imprints. This deserves some Wild Mass Guessing.
      • Well, guy who I think I remember being me (Topher-speak, I know, all computer geeks lapse into it at some point, god complexes are our hat), it turns out that the identity of the mole was so very easy to figure out that Topher ran right down and accused the guy himself. Of course, he was a Magnificent Bastard playing a false identity since he's actually the head of Rossum, but hey, Boyd is just that great a guy.
  • How did Ballard not notice a supposedly Non-Action Guy's massive muscles?
    • Because it might, just might, maybe be possible that someone who is still a coward could take care of their body? Just because he's apparently a coward who likes the bong doesn't mean he doesn't work out.
    • Also, its worth noting that by the time Alpha is prancing about in the Doll outfit, Ballard is hip-deep in the Dollhouse and has much, much, much, much more important things to worry about than stopping to look at Alpha's manly pecs.
    • Because except for being a badass ninja, Ballard is entertainingly incompetent. Seriously, just try watching for stupid mistakes on his part, it's really fun.
    • Because in Hollywood everyone tries to look that good? Ballard could just have assumed that since it's LA, the guy works out to meet the "gold standard".
      • Hey, I'm sure I'm not the only one who didn't notice Alpha's muscles because "this is television, everyone looks good unless the joke is that they're not supposed to."
    • Truth in Television, too. In this troper's line of work, which by no means involves fighting nor heavy lifting (I won't say what it is, but let's just say that it's usually a lady's job), pretty much all men look like that.
  • As of episode 11, I'm hooked on Dollhouse. But I just can't figure out why the Dollhouse doesn't work harder on killing Ballard. Are they that confident that they'll be able to turn him into a doll himself? What are they planning?
    • You must be new around here. :-) Just kidding. Apparently there's some disagreement within the Dollhouse about this very question. Seems Dom would have done it happily (and messily) and De Witt wouldn't mind putting him Away. Surprising how in Episode 11 the only person who doesn't want to kill him is the one who beat the tobacco juice out of him.
    • Killing Ballard means they kill a federal agent. Killing a federal agent - especially the one who happens to be hunting the Dollhouse - is just about the fastest way to getting the FBI on their asses that you can ask for. They don't take the Dollhouse seriously, but if Ballard suddenly turns up dead or missing, that's going to raise some red flags, and any investigators into his death will find Ballard's trail of crumbs, and that's going to cause the Dollhouse an endless pile of headaches.
    • To wit, by making Ballard appear like an obsessive lunatic who lost all his credibility in his quest for a supposedly mythical Dollhouse, it doesn't just throw people off the trail of the Dollhouse, it makes them completely disregard it. The sort of story agents tell new agents about so that they don't do the same thing.
      • Basically, the same reason the Syndicate kept Mulder around.
      • There's a trope for that. It would be a Revealing Cover Up.
  • A midwife. Someone gave the Dollhouse a pile of money to create the perfect midwife. Something tells me that we are seriously overestimating the price tag on these things.
    • I'm guessing the point was secrecy and/or security, here. A midwife who didn't know who was giving birth until she got there, and was killed immediately afterwards. Either the pregnancy was a secret, or the mother herself was a hermit.
      • I assumed the couple was on the run from the law.
    • Who said the "price tag" was set? I'd imagine having an Active deployed as a perfect midwife would cost a lot less than an Active deployed as the perfect thief.
      • Stop being reasonable during my rage.
      • I've had a theory for a while that the Dollhouse works like Netflix. You pay a set fee and get all the actives you need for the next year or so. So, you might as well get the perfect mid-wife, because it won't drive up the price at all.
    • The original script made a point of the dolls occasionally being sent on pro bono assignments - delivering babies, comforting cancer patients, helping little old ladies across the street, that sort of thing. This supposedly makes them feel good about themselves, and thus more complacent about their situation. Whether they'll still be using that in the series remains to be seen.
      • 1x11 confirms this.
    • Also, one/both of them could've been celebrities. A midwife that works just as well as the best professionals and couldn't blab to the media would be well worth the price tag.
    • OK, I'm jumping in on this one. That isn't Echo delivering a baby. That's pre-"Tabula Rasa" Caroline delivering a baby. The first episode shows a video of her graduating from med school. You hear her talk about Doctors Without Borders (aka Medecins Sans Frontieres) as something she wants to do with her life. The reason why that scene was added to that episode in spite of not fitting chronologically is because it fits with the motif of "Tabula Rasa as birth" that gets developed later in the episode. Honestly, that's where my mind went when I first saw that episode.
      • This is seemingly confirmed in episode 8.
      • If by Episode 8 you mean the pseudo-Caroline imprint perseverating "we need to get to the mountains, it's safe there" (that was ep 8, I think?) then I agree with your interpretation, even though it didn't occur to me at all.
      • Nice to see I'm not the only one who thinks this. Consider that the two times she flashed on it was when she was wiped and when she was Caroline again. My own theory is that she went there when she was on the run from the Dollhouse for two years.
    • I was initially confused which was the Active in that scene, the mother or the midwife. Why not both? What would it cost to have an Active stand in as a surrogate mother? She could stay with the clients, have the child, then get wiped afterwards. Maybe the father is the actual client, and this is his way to become a single parent. Too squick? In any case, Echo could be still act as midwife because that would be part of the service.
      • The only problem with that is that being a surrogate would take out an Active for 9 months. The longest assignment that has been shown has never even exceeded a week. The only exception to this is November/Mellie being deployed to act as a spy on Paul Ballard and that is only because it keeps the Dollhouse secure. Actives are not going to be rented out for such a long time because it would inefficient seeing as how 9 months is just short of being 1/5 of the total contract time for an Active.
      • 2x02 shows that even breastfeeding messed up the imprint; actually giving birth would likely break it completely.
    • Giving birth is a stressful and emotional experience, one that many women remember as traumatic and invasive. With an Active, you could get a midwife who perfectly aligns with your personal philosophy on childbirth, but also has the medical expertise to intervene if it all goes pear shaped. A doctor who isn't worried about getting sued or losing her insurance, who is at the same time a midwife who will support your decision to have a homebirth but won't raise her eyebrows if you decide you want the painkillers after all? If the Dollhouse technology really existed, there would be a huge market for custom midwives.
  • Episode 2. The guy goes out of his way to hunt the most dangerous game... and yet, it's largely pointless as he has every advantage in the world over her (he says earlier that part of the point of hunting is killing something bigger than yourself... which Echo is not. He's also armed, knows the terrain, and poisons her). You could say it's an assassination attempt (The Dollhouse calls it such) but then he's a shitty assassin. And a shitty human hunter.
    • It's traditional. At least half the examples listed here are about a bad guy with a gun hunting a good guy with no weapons, across territory the bad guy knows and the good guy doesn't. It seems to be a recurring motif — you may be crazy enough to want to hunt a human being, but you're sure as hell not crazy enough to do so on a level playing field. Hunting has never been about risking your own life — even as a sport, it's about the thrill of the chase (and you can chase staying still, of course) and the visceral pleasure of the kill.
    • The fact that we get an end-of-episode reveal that the only reason the hunter got past Dollhouse security is that Alpha planted him implies that it isn't really an assassination or a game — the hunter was put there as a test for Echo, to speed her maturation into an Alpha-type composite event.
      • He also seems incredibly happy about Echo actually managing to kill him at the end, so that might be part of what he wanted.
    • I've wondered if he wasn't wiped and imprinted with some part of Alpha. It'd make more sense then Alpha randomly hiring some guy and telling him to give Echo some drug that interacts with her special nuerochemicals or whatever.
  • In "Stage Fright", Sierra is helpless (something her previous personas haven't been) when the loony fan takes her captive. Why didn't Topher give her some kind of unconscious self-defense programming. And of all the things the Dollhouse bosses are upset about, why is this not one of them?
    • Because giving the Actives access to innate, unconscious combat skills results in screaming, blood, and death.
      • That's only when the dolls are in their blank state. When on assignment, the Actives can have whatever skills (combat or otherwise) the client requests or the agency decides are necessary.
      • And even more mind jarring is that in the exact same episode, on the exact same assignment, Echo has been given innate combat skills (outwardly she thinks she is a backup singer, inwardly she is actually more competent then the rest of the security). So if it was deemed necessary for Echo, why not Sierra. (Oh, and if Sierra doesn't have those skills, why was she even helpful for the mission? Sure, she attracted the attention of the psycho fan, but if she wasn't able to stop him, her getting killed wouldn't have solved anything).
    • Because drawing the attention of the psycho fan was her assignment. Actives are expendable, and this is a new Sierra. When Boyd asked what happened to the previous Sierra, her handler Joe Hearn says, in an subtly ominous fashion, "She got the job done." Also, we get this exchange at around the 38 minute mark.
      Laurence Dominic: Sierra's been kidnapped.
      Adelle DeWitt: Ah. She drew his attention away from Rayna. [smiles] Well that was a good call.
      Laurence: Thank you.
    • If I remember right, she is stated to have emergency combat skills, but they will manifest only if and when Rayna is threatened. I could be mistaken.
  • If the Dollhouse is so secret that even the FBI thinks they're a myth, how do they get any clients?
    • The FBI thinks they're a myth because the Dollhouse is very good at being discreet and covering their tracks. More likely than not, the Dollhouse initiates contact with potential clients, and it's quite clear that they are extremely subtle and discreet, considering their resources and the presence of their own intelligence operatives.
      • The FBI though the Mafia was a myth, at one point in time. Partly it's Refuge in Audacity
      • Can't be too difficult to cover your tracks when you can literally erase the person from existence for as long as you need.
    • Also, considering that Victor is an Active, too, the Dollhouse probably runs a fairly extensive misinformation/misdirection campaign to keep the FBI and other organizations convinced they don't exist. Its worth pointing out that Ballard believes the Dollhouse runs off human smuggling instead of volunteers, too, which looks like another example of said misinformation at work.
    • Also, considering that the Dollhouse has a US Senator among their clients who DeWitt explicitly says keeps them from getting entangled with federal agencies...
      • (Hell, in Season 2 we find out that the Dollhouse has a US Senator. Like, they have a Doll as a sitting Senator. This is just another step in the Revealing Cover Up talked about earlier.)
  • In "Gray Hour", Echo is still in the hooker costume when the security guard at the hotel leads her down to the safe room, but when the thieves are in the vault, she's wearing something more sensible. When the hell did she have time to change? Come to think of it, where was she keeping the change of clothing? Because she definitely started that job wearing a skirt, and spent most of it in pants.
    • There's a scene of her changing right after the opening credits. One of the members of the team probably had her clothes.
      • I assumed the clothes were in that absurdly large bag she was carrying. After all, she kept on the same boots. And the same bra.
      • Whether you should be impressed or worried about not noticing Eliza Dushku taking her shirt off is a matter of personal taste and self-image.
  • Discretion is obviously the better part of valour for Dollhouse - engagements are wiped from the Active's memory and you make your order to a machine so that even the administrator doesn't know what it is you're asking for. How then can Echo's handler involve himself directly in the mission, see what they're stealing, show everyone at HQ what they stole and so on?
    • Its quite clear that the team was supposed to know what they were stealing, especially considering that the thieves outright say what they were stealing in the first place. At least in Boyd's case, he was explicitly told that someone was running away with a black bag, and that was what he worked on. After that, it looked like since the operation was a serious botch-up, the Dollhouse took personal steps to make sure that they got the object to their client, as they had to maintain their reputation. In a normal operation, they wouldn't have had to take personal possession of the sculpture in the first place.
    • Or alternatively, Ms. DeWitt was lying when she talked about the computer. There is no computer, it just makes the clients think their secrets are that much safer.
      • I second this one. Although there probably is a computer as well, it looks like DeWitt knows exactly what's going on.
      • Considering DeWitt seems to be setting herself up as The Chessmaster, this makes the most sense. The Dollhouse probably has ridiculous amounts of blackmail information on all their clients, just in case.
    • First, the handler needs to be informed enough to protect their doll. Second, Boyd is the head of Rossum. He can do what he wants when he wants and knows everything that goes on.
  • At $439 mil per doll (assuming they were getting charged the same rate as Crestejo) maybe the client couldnít afford to hire all dolls for the job. OK. But the troublesome antiquities expert didnít do anything physical and was only there to id what they were stealing. Since they were paying to get a doll programmed anyway, why not have that knowledge programmed in as well? Even if the client didnít want to enter the item into the confessional, and for some reason the antiquities expert was the only one the client wanted to know about the item, the job as depicted still didnít require four people. Taffy could have been programmed with explosives knowledge (as a safe cracking expert, one might assume she would have a passing familiarity with explosives anyway) and storywise could easily have provided exposition and fan service while taking out the wall. The job could have been done by two dolls if the client had been able to afford it - one tech, one safe cracker/explosives expert, and one of them programmed with antiquities knowledge. Given that it also made no sense that a vault, where just one of the apparently hundreds of items was worth ďonlyĒ $7 mil, was left so exposed in the first place, beefing up the security they had to get through would have solved both problems. For example, just make the shutdown apply to the cameras getting upgraded, and leave enough other security measures in place to make it a four person job. Also, while it might have messed up the plot, has no-one involved in vault security seen a heist movie ever? Surely any adjacent walls would be guarded by their guards, rather than assuming a hotel security guard who spends his time wrangling hookers and drunks canít be bought or, you know, kneed in the head by a thief posing as a hooker. Give two of your guards a half a mil and an Uzi each and park them at the wall for an hour.
  • Why did they send Echo to pick a fight with Ballard? Isn't there a fairly big probability that that ends with Echo's arrest?
    • Screwed with his head, though. Would've screwed with it more if she hadn't been passing notes too.
    • In the extremely unlikely event that Echo gets arrested, the 'House can have some lawyer swoop in and bail her out in seconds. Later, the computer housing her intake records has a catastrophic failure.
    • Why does the Dollhouse send female Actives in to these situations almost exclusively? It's not until the penultimate episode that Victor is given combat skills. Dollhouse borders on the ridiculous in this regard, but it's no surprise given who created the show.
      • Especially considering how powerful and widespread the Dollhouse is. They can easily just make a quick phone call, and oops, the records just happen to be lost.
      • Considering they can program them with expert level Waif Fu, it adds a layer of plausible deniability. "Big ol' Ballard got his butt handed to him by THAT little thing? Wow, that's just sad man"
    • "Isn't there a fairly big probability that that ends with Echo's arrest?" The same holds true for any Active in the first place, not just Echo. In this case, it limits possible exposure, as Echo is the only Active Ballard knows about. Giving Ballard another face to work with is a Bad Idea, and the Dollhouse already knows Ballard will hesitate (and did, twice) when confronted by her.
  • Who sent Ballard the picture of Caroline/Echo? The subliminal command given to Echo seems like Alpha's handiwork, but then she said that this was their first contact. That means there's someone else trying to take down the Dollhouse that isn't Ballard or Alpha. Any ideas on who the fourth player might be?
    • It seems to me that it's the other way around - Alpha is the one trying to free Echo specifically, which is why he sent Ballard her picture and video, and also used at least two of her engagements to mess with her programming, presumably making a composite event more likely. The one who sent Ballard the message (which only referred to Echo as a generic "body" used to carry it) is the new player. My money is on the lab tech as their inside man/woman.
    • "First contact" in this case could mean first "face-to-face" contact, in which Alpha engages Ballard in actual, meaningful conversation with instructions, as opposed to simply sending him anonymous tips to have him follow up on.
      • No, speaks-through-Echo specifically denied being the one to send the photo and video.
    • I'm operating under the assumption that the "tampering" with the imprint was intentional by DeWitt and Topher to throw Ballard off, further messing with his head.
    • Boyd is pretty opposed to the whole Dollhouse thing and a scene in Epitaph One (the unaired episode) shows him fleeing the Dollhouse for some reason. It's possible that he was trying to bring Ballard in but now I've just turned this into Wild Mass Guessing.
  • So, if the message is genuine... what did Adelle send Echo there to do? Punch Ballard in the face until he suffered memory loss? Seriously, getting into a fight with Echo is only going to pique his interest, and up until the message she didn't seem to have any programming beyond "fight a lot". So what was she going to achieve? And if it was just a diversion while Mellie killed the rapist — well, there are about eleven thousand possible diversions less risky than "get a valuable asset into a fist-fight with a known uber-badass".
    • For an asset, we already know that Ballard is hesitant to harm or injure Echo; he's already shown hesitation towards her before. More importantly, it looked like the actual purpose behind the entire thing was to get Ballard to shoot an innocent to get him suspended from the FBI.
    • And while we're on the subject, known uber badass? I haven't seen anything on the show to indicate that Ballard can actually hold his own in a fight. Whenever he's been in a fair fight, he's lost. Echo kicked his ass and got him framed for a shooting. Boyd kicked his ass all over the Dollhouse. The only times I can think of where Ballard won was when he threatened a fellow officer with violence for no real reason and when he held a bodyguard at gunpoint to get into a client's house.
      • You must have missed the episode where he got shot in the stomach by three Russian Mafia thugs, then got back up and beat all three men unconscious with his bare hands and a two-by-four he took away from one of them. Oh, and a couple of episodes later when, with a healing gunshot wound in his gut, he got tasered by a professional bodyguard, then got back up and beat the bodyguard and two or three of his friends up, this time without the benefit of a two-by-four.
    • More likely than not, though, there is no mole. DeWitt's Chess Master tendencies indicate that the whole thing was likely staged; since Ballard is already getting outside help from somewhere, making him believe he's got more inside help into the Dollhouse enables the Dollhouse to feed him information he wants to hear and to control his actions. And judging by how things played out in that episode, things worked out Just as Planned. Ballard is in love with and now needs to protect Mellie, he thinks he's got an inside man helping him in the Dollhouse, he's suspended from the FBI, and he appears to be following the advice of "speaks-through-Echo" by "letting them win for now." The Dollhouse has him by the balls without him even knowing about it, he's no longer a threat, and they can play him like a fiddle anytime they want. Magnificent Bastardry in action.
      • Jossed in 1x09, where Dominic is confirmed to be the mole. I, however, wonders if it was just him. Dominic doesn't seem to have the technical skill to know how to slip a message into an imprint. I think someone else was working with him. Alpha, perhaps?....
      • I think Claire Saunders/Whiskey might be the other mole, because Topher gave her a) computer skills despite her programming as a doctor and b) made her hate him. At the most, one is vicariously the mole through the other.
      • I skipped 1x09. Yet it turns out both Whiskey and Boyd are moles.
  • I believe it was Topher who said something like, "There are beautiful people here. That's kind of the point." I can think of dozens of times an ugly or average-looking person would be useful. Does that means Dollhouse is just a glorified whorehouse and the other engagements are sideshows?
    • "There are beautiful people here" != "There are only beautiful people here."
      • I think that equation meant to use does not equal rather than exclamation point equal.
      • != is used in a number of programming languages to indicate two values that aren't equal. Since, keyboards lack a "not equal" key.
      • =/= works fairly well as a does not equal sign.
    • Its worth pointing out a few of the "agent" Actives seen in "Echoes" were fairly plain-looking, too. More likely than not, there are plenty of nondescript Actives operating in various places as spies or plants. The beautiful ones get emphasis because they're the ones in high demand. Note that, for the most part, Echo's assignments thus far have called for an attractive person in the role in one form or another.
    • The "soldier" Active seen in "Awakening" wasn't all that pretty, it looked like. Considering he'd apparently been sent out on a combat mission....
    • Also, look at November/Mellie. She's pretty, but in a real, plain, grown-up girl-next-door way. Not supermodel/actress pretty like Echo or exotic pretty like Sierra. Nondescript.
      • ... Okay, if tall, busty and gorgeous passes for "nondescript" in your part of the world, I'm moving there.
      • 5'9" isn't incredibly tall. And okay, fine, if I actually met her, I probably wouldn't use nondescript. Still, compared to everyone else in the show... Yes. I mean, you can tell she couldn't pull off, say, the Taffy Imprint's outfit (Echo version), but every other female active shown could.
      • Just because an outfit wouldn't suit you because your bigger than average doesn't mean you are not beautiful.
      • I can't help but think you've missed the point entirely. No-one's saying that November's weight makes her ugly, what's being said is more along the lines of her weight making her Hollywood's idea of an average, slightly plainer, woman and one that has shown herself to be useful on the show.
    • The Dollhouse is a glorified brothel anyway.
    • Don't forget that all scarred Actives are still in use anyway. Whiskey anyone?
      • Victor too
      • Speaking of which why isn't the dollhouse willing to save their investment with a little cosmetic surgery? I mean erasing scars is easy compared to wiping and trading personalities!
  • Are there only 26 Actives (or possibly just 25 due to the stigma of the name Alpha) in a single Dollhouse at a given time? Because we have yet to hear of any Actives that don't fit the Theme Naming, but it looks like there are a lot more and it seems like it would be better to have more than 25 or 26.
    • They could be using more than just the NATO phonetic alphabet for codes. That being said, in "Awakening" we see all the "important" people in the Dollhouse in a meeting, including the Handlers, and there are actually very few people in that group, which means very few Handlers. Presumably, very few Actives are actually, uh, "active" at a time.
    • And where are Golf, Hotel, and X-ray?
    • There are probably only 26 Actives total, judging by the ending to "Awakening."
      • The episode "Needs" also shows a relatively small amount of Actives. Maybe 15 or 20 but there were still Actives who were out working.
    • In "Epitaph One" (the unaired episode 13), Dominic states to Topher that only about 10 Actives are out a day. "Man on the Street" (I think) has Echo telling Ballard that there are at least 20 Dollhouses around the world. So wouldn't that mean that, at any given time, there are only (at most) 520 Actives total?
    • Probably not. Extrapolation is a risky science.
    • It's possible that each Dollhouse goes by it's own naming process. The LA branch gets the NATO military lettering and other branches all have their own theme. Another possibility is that each Dollhouse uses the Alpha to Zulu and use some way to distinguish between the multiple Echos and Novembers and so forth.
      • The "every branch has its own theme" theory is more or less confirmed in "The Public Eye", where some background chatter reveals that the D.C. Dollhouse names its actives after Greek gods.
  • So we know Topher and DeWitt can't be dolls because of their reactions in 'Echoes'. Why aren't they? Wouldn't it work much better for the dollhouse to have the perfect staff as well? They wouldn't even know it.
    • Dolls aren't perfect, and wouldn't work well for long-term engagements without constant maintenance and updating. More importantly, Topher is the man who came up with the Doll technology in the first place. I don't think you can just implant that.
      • No, he didn't. He came up with a much better, faster way of delivering imprints, but he didn't create the concept or the technology to begin with.
    • The last thing you want is for the people in charge of the dolls to be dolls themselves. What happens if they realize something is wrong, or have a glitch-out session? You want regular humans on-hand to act as a fail-safe.
    • And Whiskey is the prime example of why it wouldn't work as she went slowly insane after discovering she'd been imprinted to be the staff doctor and once been a doll.
  • I was a little worried to see a Naked Now episode (1.7, "Echoes") so early on in the series run. To me, these episodes always smelt faintly of running-out-of-plot fillers to me. Plus, it's more striking to see the characters acting out of character when you actually know them *in* character which, 7 episodes in, is still a work in progress.
    • Negatory. That episode's primary purpose was to show us a look at the "real" Caroline and to give us indicators as to exactly how she ended up at the Dollhouse. The Mushroom Samba sequence was just a plot device to show Echo's past.
    • Also, speaking of character development, I was quite disappointed to see Dom sent to the attic. Although he didn't succeed in shooting himself (good try, though), so that suggests he might reappear. Here's hoping; I was just starting to like him, particularly after seeing his antics in Ep. 7.
      • He will. At the very least he'll be brought back sometime when the world begins falling apart due to the mind wipe technology as shown in Epitaph One.
  • The fact that Topher invented Dollhouse technology seems like it might be retconned. How old is Topher? 30? (Fran Kranz is 25.) And yet I-Speak-Through-Echo claims that there are "over twenty dollhouses worldwide". I will be the first to admit I knows nothing about economics-of-scale—or espionage, for that matter—but that seems like extremely rapid start-up and expansion. Plus, what's Topher doing as DeWitt's minion? If he or one of his business parters managed to generate enough capital to found twenty dollhouses worldwide, I'd expect him to retire (via AIG-style multimillion-dollar bonuses) to sip martinis on a beach somewhere, surrounded by his own harem of Actives. Joss Whedon is my master now, but simply put, I'm expecting him to abandon this little detail of characterization.
    • Are you really trusting "speaks through Echo" here? When DeWitt has already been established as The Chessmaster and the entirety of what transpired in that episode perfectly played into her hands?
    • Also, Topher may not have invented the technology, but he is a genius when it comes to the technology itself. Or perhaps he built the current version off previously-existing tech.
      • True, but Topher isn't described as being good at or improving the tech; www.FOX.com/dollhouse claims he "designs and operates the technology used by the Dollhouse". This, despite Episode 6's faux-newscast describing rumors of the Dollhouse as "seeming to crop up in the late 80s". In Episode 9, Topher he claims he's "doing work my grad-school professors haven't even dreamed of yet", which puts him at anywhere from 22 to 30. If he's 30 now, in the late 80s he was about 10. To be fair, when this is retconned, it will hardly will shake the show to its foundations; to my knowledge, Toph has never been described on-camera as the "creator" of Dollhouse tech, meaning it's easy to take him down to just a user/improver/operator (which is basically what he acts like anyway). But, well, there it is.
      • Exactly. He didn't invent it but he improved it to the point that it was like switching from black and white to high definition television. In this regard he can be thought of as the "inventor" because the process he used is so much more efficient than the previous one(s?).
    • "Designs and operates". Not "invented". I'm thinking it's comparable to designing a car — you can pack it full of electronics, formulate a new kind of rubber for the tyres, come up with a revolutionary gearbox configuration, and add 127 cupholders, but you still didn't invent the internal combustion engine. Topher presumably designed the latest generation of brainwashing technology, building on however many years' work by other equally smart and sociopathic people.
    • The most recent promo has Ballard confronting a character played by Alan Tudyk, who is identified as the "man who built the Dollhouse". Meaning that Topher isn't.
      • Said character or more accurately, the person Alpha is impersonating built the physical Dollhouse, that is, the architecture, the power supply, the air recirculation system, etc. He did not have a hand in the imprinting technology.
    • Topher has something of a complex and seems innately curious and driven. Even if he did create it all, it doesn't seem like a stretch to think that he would still want to play with his toys and poke around with things. It is mentioned in Briar Rose that he hadn't even heard much of the Dollhouse HQ, though, so it would suggest that his technology may either have been usurped or that the Dollhouse existed before the technology but that Topher's technology simply helped them do it a lot better.
    • Epitaph One seems to explain this (which proves that Fox failed epically by not running this one); in one of the flashbacks, Topher is seen as improving the previous setup of how the Actives are imprinted, bringing down the time it takes to prepare a Doll for an engagement.
  • Maybe I don't understand how broadcasting works (very possible), but if it's true that Fox won't be showing the finale of Season 1, doesn't that sort of hamstring the Myth Arc (presuming there's a second season, fingers crossed)? Season 2, ep 1 typically deals with the ramifications of the big whammy that a finale dealt out so...just how the hell does Fox keep doing stuff like this and staying afloat?
    • The episode that might not be shown is separate. It was made as a filler for the DVD. The season finale is going to be shown.
    • Ahh...well now I feel silly. Me Headscratchers. I still think Fox is stupid though...
    • Joss has said that the final episode (as in, S1 Ep 13) may air, depending on if the show gets renewed or not. Either way, it's going to be considered canon.
    • Episode 1.13-Epitaph One, was made because Joss is well aware of The Firefly Effect, and the episode was made as a Series Fauxnale, a way to wrap up the whole story so far in a grand way in the event the series wasn't picked up for a second season, while at the same time allowing for the possibility for more episodes if it was.
  • You own a top-secret organisation that trades in beautiful people. Two of your most valuable beautiful people get horribly disfigured by a knife nut. You are multi-billionaires in Los Angeles, for heavens' sakes. So whither the plastic surgery?
    • The same reason they don't give the Actives boob jobs and pec implants. It's noticeable, especially when you're actually touching them, and to a lot of people plastic surgery is far more unattractive than scars.
    • Also, the scarring may have a seriously damaging effect on the Active's mind, especially if done in their "resting" state. Such a thing might render an Active ineffective as an Active, which would mean they would have no reason to bother using plastic surgery on them to repair the damage if they are of no use as an agent anymore.
    • And yet episode 13 makes a point of giving us both Claire AND Victor without scars.
      • I haven't seen Epitaph One, but wasn't that the original pilot?
      • No. Epitaph One is the 13th episode, set in the year 2019. The original pilot is completely different from Epitaph One, though Epitaph one incorporates some scenes that were shot for the original pilot.
    • 2x01 confirms that DeWitt is having Victor undergo surgery because he's an active, erm, Active. Saunders doesn't undergo surgery because she's not an Active anymore and because she "likes" her scars, using them as an identity anchor.
      • Also, they need to explain how Saunders would have survived Alpha's rampage. Considering the original was in the same room when Alpha broke free, it would be suspicious for Alpha to just ignore her/him. Leaving them there gives a reasonable explanation.
  • How come it wasn't until the season finale that Dr. Saunders realized he was inhabiting Whiskey's body? I mean, just think of how many clues he'd have to have missed, such as not being affected by that drug in "Echoes," his clothes not fitting properly, (Whiskey is at least a head shorter than him) and what about whenever he looked in a mirror?
    • Because Whiskey was imprinted to be Dr. CLAIRE Saunders, not whatever the old guy's name was. She may have some of his skills and knowledge, but she's an entirely separate entity from him.
    • Like most of the Doll imprints, "Saunders" was more likely than not based off the original, but with edited memories and histories. Every imprint is simply a composite of real people's minds.
      • WRT the drug, Saunders was never exposed to it in the first place, rendering the point irrelevant. WRT clothes, they have these wonderful people known as "tailors" who do magical things like "fit" people for new clothes.
      • As pointed out by Topher, it's also that Whiskey/Saunders was created to be a person and a personality, not just a robot with vague trappings of personality. He created the identity of someone and allowed it to develop on its own.
  • Dollhouse being renewed doesn't bug me at all. Excuse me while I go do my happy dance.
  • When Ballard and Kepler broke into Dollhouse Kepler gave Ballard directions to the pod sleeping area so that Ballard could bust out Echo as Kepler turns off the pods one by one. But, that room only has five pods and we saw from when Blank!Caroline got all the Dolls released that there are far more Dolls than that. Where do the rest of them sleep? If the rooms are all next to each other then how did Kepler know which rooms pods to start deactivating? Did he relock the pods that were wrong?
    • Here's a shocking concept: there may be more than one pod room. I know, crazy concept, right?
    • (OP) That's my point. How did A) Ballard know which room Kepler would be opening pods in or B) Kepler know which room Ballard had gone into. The pods start opening almost instantly as Ballard goes in. If Kepler had gotten the wrong room then we'd either have an otherwise empty pod room with pods just opening and then closing at random (assuming he relocked them after a few seconds, but.. why?) or we'd get every doll in the building slowly being woken up as the chemical, gassy stuff in the pods stops being pumped in and they start hearing people move about
      • A) Law of Conservation of Detail. They don't need to show Ballard going to every single room. B) There's this wonderful invention they call a "security camera." They've featured quite promienently in previous episodes. Alpha would have simply watched the cameras and opened the pod when Ballard got to the right room. There's also the fact that Alpha is intimately familiar with the Dollhouse, so he should know what room Echo sleeps in anyway.
  • How come Hearne didn't know that Millie was the sleeper active "November" before he went to kill her? Surely he must have seen her around.
    • Key word: Sleeper. As in, long-term undercover Active. She was assigned to Ballard for a long while, so its perfectly reasonable that Hearn hadn't seen her before.
      • Besides, why would hired muscle think about their assignment? Even if he did he would probably come to the logical conclusion of: "DeWitt wouldn't be stupid enough to send me to try and kill a Doll. It must just be a lookalike."
      • And as a Sleeper, it may have only been known to a select few people. He may have met her before but was told that her contract was up - thus he would have no reason to fear her.
    • Sierra was the newest doll, Hearn was probably the newest handler. Mellie was definitely placed to spy on Ballard long before Priya became Sierra, so Hearn probably never met November so didn't know she was a doll.
  • Making Echo into an older Susan bugs me. To do that they'd have to have taken a kidnapping victim who has also been forced into child prostitution and submit her to an exceedingly painful brain scan procedure. I know Topher had good intentions but Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
    • Critical Research Failure. Most of the people who undergo brainscans are volunteers, and the "older" Susan, like every other personality, is a composite of dozens of different individual ones with the experiences they needed.
    • Except that they obviously have the young Susan on file as Topher points out the differences in their brain scans and Ivy says "Echos imprint is the kid grown up?" which Topher confirms. He says that the only differences are little details like names. There's nothing to indicate that older Susan is made from anything but young Susan and a bit of fudging the details.
      • That doesn't mean they scanned Susan's brain. That means they created an imprint very, very similair to Susan's brain. Topher is capable of tweaking and modifying imprints to do that.
      • How did they know what Susan's brain looked like if they didn't scan it?
      • As "Epitaph One" points out, they have at least a million different brains already scanned - and that was when Topher was really just starting off at the Dollhouse. That's a lot of potential jigsaw pieces to play with.
      • It doesn't sound like the brain scans that Rossum has performed on the general population are particularly painful. Thousands upon thousands of people have had their brains scanned, without knowing what Rossum was doing.
      • Doesn't Rossum corner the market on MRI machines? Seems an awful waste not to put all those scans to good use.
  • Who does the dolls hair? Does the Dollhouse have a load of hairdressers and stylists on staff? And who plucks the Dolls eyebrows and stuff like that? Because even pretty people get hairy.
    • I'm going to assume that, since they have apparently highly-skilled chefs cooking five star meals ("Alpha", 1x11) that they also probably employ hairdressers/stylists full-time. Now, whether they live there or not is something else that has begun to bug me...
    • There's indications that the Dollhouse complex is far larger than just what we're seeing. Considering they have a fairly large room filled with nothing but costumes and outfits for the Dolls, it doesn't stretch the imagination to believe they'd have a few hairstylists on hand, especially as they apparently have professional physical trainers and therapists on hand.
      • Episode 2x03 confirms this.
  • Why on earth didn't Ballard know Joel Mynor's wife had been dead 7 years? How could he possibly be so stupid not to do enough research to find even that out? Apart from being incredible in a fight why does the FBI even keep him around?
    • Answer to question one: he's a really impulsive idiot, who doesn't even think that an organisation that wipes peoples personalities might leave Caroline not remembering she's Caroline while she's not on an engagement (which also bugs me). Answer to question 2: the Dollhouse probably pays a higher up to keep him in the FBI.
      • Doubtful on the second theory, since he gets fired in "Man on the Street".
    • Because Ballard did know that Rebecca had been dead. Mynor specifically asked him if he he knew Rebecca was dead because he'd expected Ballard did "one iota of research in between beating up licensed security people." And Ballard nods, indicating that he knew.
  • Isn't using your own dolls for personal enjoyment going a bit far even by Dollhouse standards of professional ethics.
    • In Hearn's case? Yes, because he went beyond the Moral Event Horizon with it. In Adelle's case? Ehh...I'm gonna say no.
    • In Adelle's case she went about it as if she were an actual client, payment and all, she only kept her anonymity for the sake of not embarrassing herself I imagine, so it's little different than a person who works at a restaurant stopping by one day and ordering something.
    • There's a significant difference between what Adelle was doing with Victor and what Hearn did to Sierra. Adelle wasn't just using Roger for sex, she was using Roger as a sort of therapy and as a confidante, to help her with her own personal issues. And, Victor most likely volunteered for his role like most Dolls, so he's not doing anything he didn't already agree to. On the other hand, Hearn is actively raping Sierra purely for his own physical pleasure, and worse, he's doing it to her in her resting state, which is doing damage to her psyche. Even worse than that, he is her Handler, and thus someone Sierra trusts absolutely. He is effectively betraying the trust both Sierra and the Dollhouse have given him. Treachery is something the Dollhouse doesn't like.
    • Also, she wasn't raping Victor, she was having sex with his imprint. There is a difference.
      • Right. With Roger!Victor, he literally was doing exactly what he'd signed up for. Regardless of who the customer was, he'd agreed to do exactly what he was ding with Adelle. However, while the Actives are in their resting state they are to be protected and safeguarded. Part of the agreement with the Dollhouse is that they will be safe inside the walls of the House. Hearn was brutally violating that by attacking Sierra in her resting state. That's bad mojo.
      • There is no difference. Victor was in no position to give consent. Saying he wasn't raped is like saying somebody who was brainwashed or drugged into having sex wasn't rape. This is true for all of the dolls in the show, especially since the more we learn about each one, the more we realize that nobody really signs up for the Dollhouse willingly.
      • Victor may not have been in a position to give consent, but Anthony was five years previously when he went to the Dollhouse, and signed the contract to let them cure his PTSD in exchange for his tenure at the Dollhouse. Of all of the Dolls shown thus far, Anthony was the one who most clearly gave consent.
      • But is consent still consent if you can't remember giving it? What about if you take away the person's ability to change their mind? Anthony would have had no way of really knowing what he was signing up for, and no option of saying no if he decided later that he didn't want to.
    • And the show certainly doesn't think this is black and white. The situation with DeWitt and "Roger" is supposed to be morally questionable, and the show acknowledges this, both when it originally happened and with the callback in Belonging.
    • It's also more of an ethical dilemma and a way to show that Adelle cares about the Dolls in one fashion or another. It's like having an interoffice affair or using company resources to host a private party. Neither is necessarily 'evil' but they are either touchy subjects, conflicts of interest, or simply poor behavior.
  • If all the Dolls' personalities were wiped, wouldn't they be in a vegetative state? Or is that supposed to be the major flaw in the whole operation (that is, the Actives are only kept at something close to mental retardation and so can occasionally remember fragments of...stuff)?
    • They are wiped in the sense of having no memories and thus no established personalities. This shouldn't affect certain learned abilities and motor functions though. I imagine it's no different than when people lose their memories of who they are but can still remember how to do things like tie their shoes, name the capitals, etc. The human brain is very complex, so it's not as if the part where memories are stored is the same place knowing how to walk is stored.
    • Its not so much a case of the personality being "wiped" so much as a case of the "resting state" being simply another personality that is implanted in their brains. It is a very simple personality that allows the Dollhouse staff to control and maintain each Doll without having to cart them around in a wheelchair or gurney everywhere they go. Its far easier to have a simple-minded person conditioned to follow orders and remain docile and compliant than it is to have them in a vegetative state.
    • It's a combination of two things. First, personality is just the specific details of what makes a person an individual. Or to put it another way, it's the synapses firing in a certain order. Rearranging the synaptic firings would theoretically keep memory but change personality. Secondly, the level of thought can be easily reduced to a level that is relatively the same as sleepwalking. By reducing brainwave patterns to this level, Dolls would be kept calm and relatively easy to control while having absolutely no real access to memories that weren't implicit (ie. walking, talking, breathing).
  • In between engagements why doesn't the Dollhouse put the actives' original personalities back into their bodies instead of turning them into blank slate? They could wipe the original personality just before they put the imprint in.
    • Why? Why would you bother with the extra, unnecessary step of putting the original's personality back in if you're just going to turn around and wipe that, replace it with a blank, and then put a new one in? Not to mention that in their resting state, the Dolls are far more easily controlled and docile.
      • What if a Doll decides before the second wipe that they've changed their mind? Then the Dollhouse is forcibly stealing what are essentially souls.
    • The resting state is necessary. As Topher points out, putting a new imprint on top of a fully-functioning personality will have bad repercussions.
    • An important point that Adelle makes in "Needs" is that the Actives are becoming what they are as much out of a need to escape their own mental issues and problems as they are to escape other, physical issues. She is, effectively, wiping their memories to allow them to escape their pasts, as every single one of them is apparently horribly traumatized. She outright refuses to give Caroline her memories back for that exact reason.
  • Why exactly do the Dolls love Dr Saunders so much?
    • They're friendly to everyone. She's friendly right back. That seems to be all there is to it.
    • To elaborate, they're effectively kids. The Doctor is a terrifically nice person who takes care of them and gives them candy. Kids like terrifically nice people who give them candy. Its also possible - and in fact extremely likely - that the "blank" slate personality they are imprinted with contains subtle cues to be compliant and friendly towards the Dollhouse staff.
  • What bugs me is: I just saw two eps and was intrigued. Did a quick search of reviews on the web and the problem is less that they're negative, more that they're all so fucking lazy. They're all filtered through Buffy/Whedon/Dushku blah blah blah and have bugger all to do with the show. I haven't read ONE review that mentions anything it ACTUALLY resembles i.e. Philip K. Dick, Gibson etc. It's an old story, but an annoying one. I can't help wondering if half these people just don't UNDERSTAND it.
    • They likely don't. Dollhouse is a complicated story with a lot of subtlety to it that a whole lot of people will miss with the hot characters being paraded about, and the lazy reviewer will not get it.
  • Episode 2, The Target, Boyd and Dr. Saunders talk about Alpha. It is made clear that all of the employees still think that Alpha has been killed. Episode 4, Grey Hour, Topher is let in on the secret. Just Topher. Episode 8, Needs, Dominic tells Boyd, during a staff meeting, that Alpha is still at large. WTF? When did the entire faculty find out that their greatest threat is still alive and kicking? Did DeWitt have the entire staff sign the same papers that Topher had to sign in Episode 4?
    • It would only make sense to brief the rest of the House on the fact that Alpha was alive after he made at least two very clear attempts to attack elements of the Dollhouse. In this case, keeping the Handlers in ignorance of what was really going on would simply hinder their operations, as it would with the rest of the staff. Topher being promoted and upping his security clearance was clearly supposed to represent a general heightening of awareness, especially as the rest of the staff is going to be becoming aware that Alpha's trademark knife-style is being seen again, and scuttlebutt would be getting around that Alpha's up to things. Officially informing everyone that he is still alive would work to quash rumors and control information, and once people know they're dealing with a threat and they've got the trust of the higher-ups to possess that information, they can act more effectively on it.
  • Is Echo just Caroline without her memories, or is she a 'better' version of Caroline who has been changed by being a Doll? The last few episodes of Season One suggest the latter but so far Season Two suggests the former. It would help if they could find her someone a bit less, er, 'challenged', than Ballard to confide in. Which would be anyone else on the show.
    • She's somewhere in between. Echo is Caroline, but a Caroline who both lacks her memories and yet remembers both who she is and remembers all of the other imprints put into her. The composite event forced into her has altered her.
  • Why does everyone seem to think buying into the Dollhouse will let you live forever? As should be apparent to a programmer who tries to copy a consciousness to a hard drive and finds that it doesn't exist in any physical capacity, an imprint doesn't make your consciousness jump into a doll; it just appears that way to the doll. Did Whedon not read The Origin of Consciousness?
    • While most discussions on immortality will lead you to the conclusion that the sort of bodysnatching allowed by the tech does not grant immortality, it would very much seem like it did to everyone involved. Except the dead guy, who isn't in any position to share his dissenting viewpoint. The attempt would also eventually result in the existence of an immortal, non-human entity (Ambrose and Harding of 2020 would likely have qualified as such) that mistakenly believed itself to be the original seeker of immortality.
    • Not all characters take it for granted. Judging by the reactions of dolls imprinted with the personalities of Dominic and Topher who believed their original bodies were dead, Topher and Dominic do not view their personalities being uploaded into another body as immortality. DeWitt's sorrow (strong enough to crack her very British exterior) when simultaneously speaking to her dead friend and faced with the fact her friend was dead implies she also didn't regard it as any sort of continuing life. Finally, while Rossum execs near the top were backed up the big man himself was not. It seems he was willing to let his underlings have the illusion of immortality but wasn't fooled by it himself.
    • The version of your consciousness that's imprinted onto the doll is an exact copy, complete with memories. Therefore, from its perspective, it's jumped into the doll. The fact that another copy of itself has just died — with a month's more memories than it — probably doesn't seem very relevant from the perspective of the newly uploaded version. And most people aren't going to think past that point.
    • Differing definition of "immortality" we're dealing with here.
    • Don't make out as if you know what consciousness is exactly and where it comes from. No one does. The main reason besides the witty dialogue that Joss Whedon is so popular is because he uses fantasy to play around with these issues to which there are not (yet) clear fixed answers. Apart from physical issues, the show also touches on the idea of a metaphysical soul and whether or not it can be transferred, deleted or destroyed, the answers to which are not going to be found in a book by a materialist.
      • Problem: Whedon, at least seen through the lens of his work in Dollhouse, is very clearly a materialist. It's a materialist show, and while they end Season 1 by implying the existence of a "soul" (or at the very least a capability of the brain to reset itself to its correct, original personality) they actually go out of their way in "The Hollow Men" to Retcon that out of existence (neurochemical tracers in spinal fluid for the win?).
    • Amusingly, Whedon plays with both themes in neighboring episodes. S2.e2 "Instinct" has Echo imprinted with the personality of a mother of a newborn, including glandular changes in her body such as lactation. Despite being wiped, she retains her motherly instinct. In this episode, nature trumps nurture. But in the next episode, "Belle Chose," we have the Kiki imprint accidentally transferred to Victor, who makes it clear that she has no idea she's currently in a body with Y chromosomes. Nurture trumps nature. (The objection to this is that the Kiki imprint is just that- an imprint - and it is Fridge Logical to assume that imprints would be specifically programmed to lack awareness of their bodies. The only time an imprint has ever shown awareness of their "new ride" was when it was the brain-scan of an actual person, who was scanned with the express intent of Brain Uploading in the event of her death.) I'm not sure if any of this helps or just clouds the issue; but there it all is.
      • It is entirely possible that the imprint may not be capable of being aware, depending on how the imprint is programmed. Topher programmed the motherly imprint that went into Echo in "Instinct" to have very specific gender-related activity, including specific biological responses. The Kiki imprint put into Victor may not have had such gender specific programming, or that imprint may not have cared. Also, the imprint from "Instinct" was a long-term one, while the Kiki imprint was a short-term one. A truly complete imprint or a complete human mind might be able to immediately note biological differences; then again Dominic's mind did not notice he was in Victor's body for a minute or so when he was first brought back, until he remembered what had happened to him, so small scale biological differences may not be immediately noticeable.
      • Note Topher's conversation with Whiskey. He points out that Whiskey is different than any other imprint he's done. That she is a -person- with a -personality- and not just a robot that's going through the motions of personality. While the differences are vague to be sure, one can take from his statement that imprints basically don't really care - they are what they are told to be unquestioningly. Would a real person notice? Of course - Dominic did.
      • To add to this, in reality, the body/mind has a mechanic for itself in the sense that it has a mental 'map' of how big the body is and where everything is (but not necessarily to scale - it's the reason people's hands seem bigger than they really are; our minds put more importance on where they are). For Dolls, this isn't an issue as this part of the brain probably isn't touched. But when someone else takes a visit, presumably every little bit carries over as well - and imagine suddenly feeling like your whole body is some sort of phantom limb and things aren't where they really are.
  • Was I the only one who noticed that Alpha went knife happy before his "composite event"? In the episode where Ballard is being told about the incident (in order to get his perspective on it), Alpha is quite clearly shown to have sliced up Whiskey's face first. It is because of this that they dragged him to the chair to run a diagnostic on him. Then, in the course of that diagnostic the composite event occurred. But everyone talks about it as if the composite event happened first and is what made him crazy.
    • The composite event didn't make him crazy, it just made him more crazy. It also gave him access to all of his imprints instead of just the basic remnants of Carl Kraft's personality, which allowed Alpha to become the monster he is now.
      • Worse than that, the 'diagnostic' was an imprint dump of every personality he'd ever had. It caused the "composite event." While leading up to that, everyone talked about it as though it were a fluke, something weird with Alpha that just sort of happened on its own, and Dominic says over and over that Echo might "become another Alpha" and all that... It was all caused by something they did! Of all the things on the show that made me crazy, this tops the pile.

  • The expressed notion that Topher was hired because he was completely amoral strikes me as both odd and incorrect. Unlike several other staff, including DeWitt, he never uses the Dolls for anything remotely objectionable. His response to both permanently selling Dolls and being responsible for, effectively, the end of the world in Epitaph One is exactly how a moral person who regretted his actions would respond. And, he basically programmed himself an extra conscience in the form of Whiskey!Saunders, which is not something an amoral person would even think of. Of all the non-Dolls who work for the Dollhouse, he is actually arguably the least morally objectionable.
    • ....are you really taking something Adelle DeWitt says at face value?
    • Especially when she was drunk and obviously trying to make herself feel better about her own actions by convincing herself she could put it all on Topher?
    • Key point: note the haze glow behind DeWitt as well as the angle of the camera (looking up at Adelle, down at Topher). One can interpret this as a higher power/goodly figure addressing a more mortal/earthly being. In effect, in that scene, Adelle is either akin to God telling Lucifer (Topher) to rebel because that is what needs to happen. Alternatively, a spiritual figure giving a mortal reassurance for what they know to be true in their heart - Adelle is telling Topher exactly what he doesn't want to hear so that he gets the message... and reaffirms the crisis he is undergoing.
    • Not to mention that he was hired quite a while ago, and it's made clear that he's been developing a moral sense since then. And as for why he isn't doing anything freaky to the Dolls—well, as DeWitt said, he sees them as his toys, and he keeps good care of his toys.
      • Also, eventually, friends (his own words!). It's probably something like the Companion Cube from Portal or how people can get really attached to toys or objects that they have sentimental value towards. Initially, yeah, just a cube/black Doll. But people are social creatures and Topher has isolated himself a lot. Over time, as he's interacted, he's probably grown use to them and connected with them on a small scale - this Doll tends to do this, that Doll has a limp, etc. Topher, perhaps, already likes them all - it's not until Echo becomes self aware and talks to him that he sees them as a person though.
  • Given that Adelle's hair is cut short in Season Two, why is it long in "Epitaph One"?
    • She let it grow out?
    • I considered the possibility, but it seems like the flashback scenes in "Epitaph One" are pretty close on the heels of the events of Season Two, and that was a drastic haircut. It's possible that I'm grasping at straws here - I don't particularly want those flashback scenes to be "real" - but it still seems like a discrepancy to me.
      • Epitaph One also doesn't fit into the new continuity. Echo never went Russian. Adelle changed utterly in season 2, while in Epitaph One she was exactly the same as she was in season 1. Topher became more sane, rather than completely insane, after realizing how evil Rossum is. And then there's the deal with Ballard, who now needs a Handler of his own.
      • "Echo never went Russian." Flashback scene in "The Attic" shows her wearing that exact outfit. It simply occured offscreen in Season Two. " Adelle changed utterly in season 2, while in Epitaph One she was exactly the same as she was in season 1." Season Two hasn't fully played out yet. "Topher became more sane, rather than completely insane, after realizing how evil Rossum is." Season Two isn't finished yet. There's still time for him to go insane. "And then there's the deal with Ballard, who now needs a Handler of his own." Again, Season Two is not finished yet. Until we've seen everything, it's entirely likely that the supposed Jossing could, in fact, be Jossed.
      • Epitaph 1 seems hot on the heels of season 2: Apparently there was a significant time jump after all. Adelle changed utterly: No she didn't; yes she did; no she didn't. She changed but she's still Adelle and she made some horrible mistakes along the way. Topher became more sane: Turns out Bennet's death was the catalyst that drove him over the edge of how much shit he could handle at one time. Plus, you know. They tortured him. The deal with Ballard: He never does become a real Active who needs a handler, he's just Paul with Active architecture, so that's fine then.
      • What about Victor's body being inhabited by... that body surfing dude whose name escapes me at the moment? That never seemed to happen, as that was presumably shown as the point where the Dollhouse went rogue, but season 2 shows us the circumstances of them going rogue and they are mutually exclusive. They do seem to go out of their way to explain things that didn't make sense (Boyd on the run with Claire still makes no sense in context, but they showed it in season 2 as if to say "Hey, Epitaph One was canon!")
    • With season 2 over Epitaph One still doesn't seem to fit into continuity. They tried to shoehorn Boyd's escape into continuity with a scene that, in context, makes zero sense, but did nothing to resolve the Victor's body plothole. Shrug.
    • You're forgetting the ten-year gap between defeating Boyd / blowing up the mainframe and Epitaphs 1 and 2. Clive Ambrose is specifically shown to still be alive, and in charge of Rossum in Epitaph 2, so it is possible to construct a scenario where everybody went back to the Dollhouse at some point after Hollow Men, and were forced to make deals with a renewed Rossum Corporation under Ambrose and Harding. When this started to go too far, and they revealed their body-surfing plan, Adelle yet again reawakened the Actives and went on the defensive. This would also make sense of the other scenes showing ex-dolls sheltering in the Dollhouse before moving on to Safe Haven, the scene where Priya comes up with the tattooing idea, and the conversation between Adelle and the NIA spy guy.
    • Another quibble: "Epitaph One" and "Epitaph Two" feature events that are supposed to have taken place after a ten-year gap, but not one of the actors looks like they've aged even the slightest (that tiny grey streak in Echo's hair hardly counts). One could explain this away in the case of former Dolls by saying they had some kind of youth hormone on demand in the Dollhouse, but even Adelle and Topher look the same age as they were in 2009.
  • Everything Topher invents is presumably digitally stored on one of his computers. In 2x08, then, why does he print out plans for the Doomsday Device and essentially leave them lying around?
    • Have you ever tried remotely hacking into a computer system secured by someone like Topher Brinks? It's difficult. Have you ever tried remotely hacking into a piece of paper? It's even harder.
    • Why he didn't keep them on computer: Because the only computers he has access to are part of the Dollhouse system, and therefore potentially vulnerable to hacking by Bennett or, indeed, any other reasonably smart Rossum employee. Either he deleted the plans from the computers as soon as he realised what he'd created, or he designed the technology entirely in hard copy.
      Why he kept a hard copy: Because he's got a big ego and a love for technology. He's not going to destroy the only surviving evidence of his genius. And he left it lying around — or rather, hidden in his bedroom — because it's too much paper to carry around with him.
      • It's also evidence. Hard evidence of what Rossum is up to, or at least what their technology is capable of achieving, and he was keeping it around to show Adelle if the situation came to it - which it did.
    • Although some people may find this difficult to believe, many people prefer not to do all their work on a computer screen, mostly because of a) the glare and b) constantly having to scroll or zoom around the document means you inevitably miss things. I would never complete pages of text without printing them out to check them, at least once. And graphics are even worse.
      • Not to mention the amount of paper he had used. If he's anything like a 'real' tinker, he probably went through a heck of a lot of paper as he laid things out side by side, etc. Barring the most humongous monitor set up ever, this would be impossible or impractical via digital.
  • So what parts of Epitaph One have been Jossed so far? I'm not bugged that some parts have been, but the main page says some have so I was wondering which?
    • I don't think any parts have been Jossed.
  • The only real thing that's bugged me so far has been that the original mind dumps of the dolls have been heavily implied to only exist on two hard drives/wedges. Admittedly, it's never shown that they don't back them up to a central Rossum server, like they do the imprints, but I kept thinking to myself during the drama over Caroline's "wedge" in S 01 E 12, "All this drama could have been avoided if only Topher would have made proper backups." Making one backup, stored in the same location as the original, is pretty terrible. Were I in the market for becoming a doll, I sure as hell would be asking about how well my original memories/personality were backed up before I signed on. Being transferred to multiple off site storage facilities would be a minimum.
    • Why bother making more than one backup? The Dollhouse itself is a reasonably secure facility (complete with its own personal SWAT team) in a fortified underground bunker. There's an extremely low likelihood that anyone is going to go smashing personality imprints, so the only reason to create a backup is for the same reason you'd back up your harddrive: technical issues.
      • Well, yes, but that's the previous Troper's point : if you're entrusting your... you to a third party to store on a computer, you probably want to make extra double doggy sure it's not getting lost for any reason whatsoever. And while I agree making more than one backup is probably over-the-top (although, again, it's really, really important data to at least one person. I'd want that shit on torrents myself :) ), storing both the backup and the original in the same physical location is pretty unsafe. One fire or similar catastrophe and you're gone.
      • It's pretty much standard procedure for any significantly large operation (to my knowledge, even clandestine ones like the CIA or the Mob) to keep at LEAST 3 copies of vital documents for business continuity purposes. The "live" version, local back-up, and off-site back-up. The off-site back-up might not be as fresh, but it guarantees that even loss of the site COMPLETELY wouldn't end in loss information.
  • Cindy's rant about sex with Daniel bothered me. Why were they having sex in the first place if she didn't want to? Bennet couldn't have made Daniel asexual? Couldn't have given him a really low sex-drive? Couldn't have imprinted him with some plausible reason why he and his 'wife' didn't have sex? In real life, there are happily married couples who choose not to have sex. They may be in the minority, but they do exist.
    • Because sex-drive isn't neurological; it's as hormonal as hunger or thirst. They couldn't use imprints to affect hormones until Topher figured out how in "Instinct", and Perrin's imprint was created well before that. He would get as horny as the real Daniel Perrin did (they called him a party-boy, so draw your own conclusions), and when that happened they couldn't afford to have his image ruined by an extramarital affair. I suppose you could better ask, why didn't they place his handler in some position other than wife? Hell, they could have made a wife-Doll for him or allowed him to find his own lover (who could be told that he receives regular medical "treatments" of some sort to explain the rare occasions when he got called into the D.C. Dollhouse).
    • If we accept for a second that she didn't want to have sex with him, the "why" is probably just simple career dedication. The whole point of their relationship is that they're passionately in love, "perfect fits" for each other. The Senator might have grown suspicious if his loving wife decided she didn't want to have sex with him. Or he might simply have grown horny and went looking for an intern, which would have ruined his image and thus defeated the purpose of his existence. Of course, none of that answers your question about why he wasn't programmed to be asexual. And the answer there might well be that Cindy didn't hate having sex with him. The "you disgust me" rant might have merely been an annoyed, exhausted individual trying to hurt the person who has caused her annoyance and exhaustion. Real people in real relationships use those kinds of lines all the time in the middle of fights. In a bizarre kind of way, then, Cindy was still acting like the wife.
      • I don't see any way to plausibly explain this, considering that you can program someone to kill or perform acts that they would consider morally repugnant. This is near-perfect mind control and behavior modification, so any number of failsafe words or external stimuli could have been used to keep Daniel (and any sex drive he might have had) under control. If the idea was to make them function as a "happy couple", it would be paramount to keep one of the "performers" happy.
      • Here's a theory: Cindy submitted a request to have Daniel be asexual, was told "we'll look into it," and that request's been sitting at the bottom of Bennet's "To Do" pile ever since. Super-technology or not, working at an office is working at an office.
  • This is something that was figured out on a fanboard: Somewhere in history, the development of a technology to repeatedly wipe people's brains and change them led to a lack of security in the world. Look at how many times the Dollhouse has been broken into, the worst example being Alpha appearing in DeWitt's office, although the end of season one also counts. Echo breaks into and out of a jail three months after assaulting police officers who work at the jail and saw her before her break in and break out. There is no other explanation for this.
    • Considering Alpha knows the ins and outs of the Dollhouse and has already breached security once, and is also an absolute genius that apparently includes extremely lethal ninjutsu and infiltration programming, I'd say his ability to get in there was fairly justified. WRT to the jail, Echo managed to escape because she had the brain of a master thief in her who could escape from such a place. She got inside the jail because the officers in question only saw her very briefly, and the only one who got a really good look at her suffered some rather acute cranial trauma immediately afterward. The human mind is also not that incredibly brilliant at facial recognition, especially with faces only briefly glimpsed, and more importantly, police officers know this. Any officer who saw her at both locations would probably assume he was just seeing a fairly familiar face and dismiss it.
    • As far as Echo's prison escape goes, it can (sorta) be explained by the fact that people don't really store things in memory if it's not relevant. Do you remember the face of the person you had a brief scuffle with three months prior? Especially if they come in in a different context, doing very different things, and looking/acting very differently?
      • Facial recognition and human inability to remember faces accurately is actually a scientifically verifiable fact. If you glimpse a face, or hell, if you stare at a face for a long time and try and remember all the details, and then are shown a similar face sometime later, there's a good chance you'll mistake the similar face for the original. A lot of police officers know this, and a lot of lawyers know this. That's why mugshots, suspect lineups, and witness testimony are taken less seriously in a court of law than hard evidence. If the cops saw Echo at the crime scene, and saw her again several months later in different circumstances, it would be natural for them to dismiss her as looking similar to a suspect they glimpsed months ago.

  • Am I the only one who thinks the Attic, as portrayed in season 2, is a major plothole-happy retcon of the Attic as portrayed in season 1, possibly owing to the need for a rapid resolution of plotlines created by the show's cancellation? I mean, what happened to Topher's explanation about "being on the tip of your tongue, but every thought you never had"? Suddenly he has no idea what the Attic is, and it's 100% different than he mentioned earlier? How the hell are they living out their worst fears if they were WIPED before being put up there? How does Clyde still have the info to give to them? And most importantly, why weren't they wiped? If you're just using the physical archetecture of the brain for computing power, wouldn't it make more sense to wipe it clean and "reformat" it?
    • Somewhat - it may have been a bunch of misdirection; after all, only Clyde seemed to know exactly what the Attic was. Topher may have visited it in person once and simply tried to talk to the bodies - which would have had little to offer being in the state they're in. As far as being wiped, I don't think they're wiped. I think they're simply overloaded into docileness/imprinted with the basic structure needed for the Attic to work. Something like pushing their fear and adrenaline centers into overload. It's important to note that Clyde said it wasn't just the physical architecture of the brain but also the fear and adrenaline going through it. Presumably, merely imprinting a brain doesn't produce the same effect that several million years of evolution does.
    • Also, Topher might have been told something generic like "It's your worst nightmare" and assumed it was like his own personal worst nightmare.
  • Boyd being the bad guy really bugs me. It doesn't seem consistent with his earlier behavior, and stinks of retcon needed to resolve the plot earlier than expected, though given that this is FOX, Joss really should have expected it.
    • I assume that he's a combination of Affably Evil and Well-Intentioned Extremist. DeWitt always said that Rossum was supposed to help people; knowing Boyd, he simply thinks he is literally the only person who can fix the world. I have a feeling the next episode will include some flashbacks. Also note: In the Mushroom Samba episode, he was the only one (other than Whiskey) who we didn't get to really see do anything crazy under the drug's influence. Presumably, this would have revealed his identity. Basically, I trust that Whedon had this in mind from the start.
      • From the start of Season 2, yes. According to Tim Minear.
      • And as of Joss and Comic Con the whole Boyd thing was a creative decision on his part. He always intended to kill off Boyd , but instead of tragic sacriface for team he wanted to do something the fans would not expect. Or for that matter what fans would really really hate in my case. After the Hollow Men episode I gave up and erased all my episodes.
    • I almost expect Boyd to actually turn out to be good. But it'd have to be after the part where he sleepered Whiskey. If he was really the one who sleepered Whiskey. Goddamnit, it's Boyd!
    • They assumed Saunders/Whiskey was a sleeper before it was revealed her lover is the head of Rossum. Maybe she shot Bennett of her own free will, rather than being programmed to. She may know things that have yet to be revealed to the audience/the LA Dollhouse. Or, perhaps Boyd is an imprint ...
    • Can we please have some examples of this "inconsistent" behavior?
      • Any of the first 15 episodes, he seems to care way too much about Echo for it all to be just part of the plan of destroying the world.
      • I don't think you grasp the meaning of the word "examples" here.
      • He does care and it is part of a plan.
    • Claire being a sleeper may have been Clive (sorta) being told to do something. Being that Clive is basically a mildly intelligent Doll with little imagination, being told to 'stop' Caroline from being recreated may been interpreted as the most simple answer. As far as Boyd himself, that's tough to see... it does seem a little odd as the old Boyd seems different than current Boyd as far as his intentions to the heroes go. One may guess that maybe he -does- want to rule/fix the world... but the events of the last few years has endeared the others to him. Destroying the world isn't what he wants; he wants control. He cares for Echo because she's valuable to him at first and later, he actually care for her as a person (Echo not Caroline). He wants them all alive because he loves them... he'll just take their personalities and drop them in other bodies tweaked to be a little more controllable. He wants his happy family to live together forever. Maybe he lost his original family or other big trauma and that was what first started him on his path. And a general sense, Boyd is not acting very differently - when it was the Paul-stopping-Dollhouse show, Boyd was the nice but evil guy trying to stop him. He kept that personality, he just reined in the evil part.
      • Clyde, not Clive.
    • It does lead to possible Fridge Brilliance in that it means that the series has been one whole long engagement for him. He's been the ultimate client and in his view the true "hero" of the story.
    • OP here, my theory was antijossed by Joss at Comic-Con, he confirmed that he only came up with the idea in season 2 in order to better wrap up the story.
  • In "The Hollow Men" (2x12): They turned a doll into a suicide bomber! What The Fuck? These are supposed to be the good guys, saving the world, and they wrap a doll in explosives and hand him a grenade. Sure, it was The Founder's body, but he was dead as soon as Topher zapped him; after that he's an innocent shell. They could have just rigged a timer for the explosives and saved the doll; maybe give it the imprint of someone they made an active who's body was killed before his contract was up.
    • they're not supposed to be the 'good' guys. It's a grey and grey morality show. Topher and Dewitt have become more moral than before but no one is snowy white. Plus, the idea seems to be that even ordinary dolls retain some 'soul' of their original inhabitant (or even a previous imprint) and people are NOT just reduced to data or memories. This explains why November could kill herself and possibly the moment when Clyde 2.0 hesitates in the corridor fighting Echo — although this is deliberately ambiguous. And the general line in this show seems to be that permamnently imprinting a real, pre-existing personality onto another body is just 'wrong' in a way that almost nothing else is. And come on, it was poetic justice. It's a story, not a logic diagram.
    • Is it poetic justice and a brilliant Twist Ending for Boyd? Yes. But that still doesn't explain why Echo doesn't just use a timed bomb. It's hard to believe there wasn't any in the Rossum building.
      • Because she wanted to kill him, particularly given his capabilities if Rossum could restore his brain from a back-up.
      • You're right, of course. Every corporate headquarters in the developed world keeps full demolition kit right next to the fire-fighting equipment. And a tactical nuke in the basement. Actually, wait, they don't. Why would there be detonators in the Rossum building (which, remember, is not a Dollhouse, or a demolition company)? In fact, a far bigger plot hole is: "Where the hell did they get the plastique?" Especially such a rare and unusual kind that can be detonated by simply pulling the pin on a grenade next to it.
      • I assumed they brought the explosives with them.
    • Remember the flashback where Caroline called herself a terrorist? Apparently she wasn't kidding...
  • Okay, this is completely off the wall, inconsequential, and Too Much Information, but...do the female dolls menstruate? And if so, how does Saunders, etc. explain that to them? Scientific minds want to know.
    • Presumably they still do; Topher makes it pretty clear that using the imprints to directly affect hormones is something new, so the menstrual cycle is likely unaffected. And probably no one explains it to them, in the same way that no one explains to them how to shower or use the bathroom. It's part of the Doll's basic "keep yourself clean" instructions.
    • I would assume the female Dolls are on a birth control regimen given the number of romantic engagements; birth control pills can keep you from getting your period, depending how they're taken. It makes more sense, actually, for the Dolls not to menstruate: why reduce the availability for romantic (or other potentially obstructible) engagements by 25%?
  • Whiskey becoming Clyde. So Boyd let them all live because he felt they were his family, except for Paul... And what about Saunders? He just removes that personality so that Joss could have his girl vs girl fight scene quota filled?
    • The relationship between Boyd and Saunders is seriously complicated. As she pointed out, he only took a serious interest in her after he found out she was a Doll, which suggests he was only interested in her because she was a Doll. In other words, he wasn't interested in Doctor Saunders, the human being, but in Whiskey, the potentially usable Doll. Presumably his relationship with her was just another manipulation.
    • Consider, also, that in order to do the things he has done (through Rossum), it's necessary that he consider imprinted personalities to be non-persons.
      • This is consistent with his treatment of November. Echo is an exception because she's her own person. He probably loves her even more because she was able to overcome her imprint. Also, Boyd appears to be the Founder's original body, so he might fear and/or disdain imprinting and body swapping.
  • In "True Believer", is it just me or are the cult checking Ester's ID with her driver's license?! 'cause it looks a hell of a lot like one...
    • I don't remember where that episode was set (or even if they say it at all), but in California, an identification card is issued from the DMV and looks almost exactly like a driver's license. It's just labeled differently.
    • Bugged me too after you said it, but I looked at the episode again and she showed him her "Non-Drivers Identification", which is a legit ID card you get when you can't drive. Even looks exactly like one from my home state of NH, where Esther claimed to be from.
  • What is Dollhouse's Aesop supposed to be? Science Is Bad? Slavery is bad? Corporations are evil? Humans Are Bastards? All of the above? I understand that it's intended to be thought-provoking, but after reading This Wiki's Space Whale Aesop, I can't help but feel this applies. I get that Dollhouse technology has potentially devestating effects on society, but so does everything we humans have developed in the last few centuries. Nuclear power, biological weapons, cloning, synthetic foods . . . amongst countless others. If anything, I'd argue the fact that the NSA kept Dollhouse tech secret is what led to the downfall of civilization: after all, the nuclear arms race would have probably ended a LOT differently if only America had them. I know that there's also the possibility that Joss Whedon intended to make this subject open to interpretation, but the concept is so Space Whale-ish that it's hard to relate. It Just Bugs Me!.
    • Does it have one? That might be the point - you can't reduce life to a black and white moral.
    • Since when does a story need an aesop?
    • I didn't say that. However, Dollhouse's use of straw evil constantly pushes a certain morality upon the viewer. The Dollhouse is almost universally seen as a bad thing, with only corrupt Rossum execs, wealthy clients, and uninformed everyday people offering a counter argument. Just about every character presented with any sort of ethical standpoint sees the Dollhouse as bad, for one reason or another. You could argue that Topher and Adelle also make arguments for its existence, but this is undermined that every single person who presented an argument counter to theirs (Caroline, Dominic, and even a random college professor) turned out to be completely right. If Whedon and company didn't intend for the show to have an Aesop, they spent a curious amount of time hammering in some deep nails. So while, no, I don't think something needs an Aesop, it seems pretty obvious that one was intended. I'm just having trouble applying any sort of message that can be taken away for real life.
      • Okay, uh, quick question. How would you go about presenting slavery as not evil? There's a reason we don't even allow indentured employment any more.
      • Slavery is not the only consequence of using the Dollhouse tech. In fact, tech itself cannot be "evil". Imprinting technology would revolutionize education and communication, and as well as medical science or technology. Imagine never having a shortage of doctors or teachers, and if every person knew survival techniques for surviving situations such as being lost in the wilderness. As said before, all technology that humans develop have both positive and negatives. Yes, the Dollhouse itself is using this technology in a very asinine manner, but toward the end, there was no distinction between Rossum and the tech itself. All of it was evil. Period.
    • The final message is said by Bennet in the video Topher watches in order to figure out how build his pulse thing. "We literally become what we do, not what we've done, or what we will do. We're best defined by our actions in the moment." The characters can be wiped of their actions in the past, remember a fictional account of their action of their actions in the past, or be haunted by their actions in the past for a long damn time, but in the end what matters is not what they did then but what they're doing now.
    • Or it's the same Aesop as Firefly's: Trying to "make people better" doesn't end well. Specifically when Perrin's handler told him that they'd made him 'better' as a result of turning him into a doll. Yeah...
    • I think it's this: Be Careful What You Wish For, because once you open "Pandora's Technobox" (as Stephen King put it), it ain't closing again. "Kids playing with matches... and they burnt the house down." Over and over again we've had works of fiction about how technology gets out of hand and destroys mankind, because - simply put - it could happen; some would argue that it already is, on a subtle level, what with our current environmental woes, the hole in the ozone layer, the fears about global warming. Mankind's great power is to change the world around us in profound and unexpected ways. Are we Blessed with Suck or Cursed with Awesome? I dunno... but With Great Power...
  • At the end of Epitaph Two: The Return, Topher creates a pulse that restores everyone's original memories. How is that possible? It's established fairly early on that a person's memories ARE wiped and if the hard drive containing them is destroyed then they can't be recovered. Several episodes in Season Two revolve around Caroline's original memories and whether or not to put them back into Echo. Although there have been many vague hints that a person's 'soul' can survive the process, how can a broadcast pulse recover the missing data?
    • Maybe the pulse removes the brain architecture, or tricks the brain into reconfiguring itself, in one quick, agonizing but brief flash. Which explains why all the Dolls had collapsed at the end, and why Adelle wasn't affected - non-imprinted people wouldn't have the brain patterns that Actives do. Also, because the "soul" can survive the process of being wiped, maybe it (the soul) couldn't function normally without the original brain patterns. Once those are restored, there's no reason why the soul of the person wouldn't reassert itself.
      • That all makes sense. The problem is the difference between the original identity/personality — which the Actives regain in Needs, for example — and their individual memories, which have proven difficult to retain (even for someone like Echo/Caroline who has a certain resistence to the wiping process) and allowed Boyd to go undetected as long as he did for this reason. The dialogue is ambiguous, but if they were only restoring personalities without all the memories, surely someone would have mentioned it?
    • Think of it like this: You've bought an apple PC (caroline/pria/etc), and you install a windows OS onto it (installing the doll brain architecture). From there, you can install any programmes onto it you want (sexy dominatrix, loving wife, the original person's personality). What Topher did with the blast was restore factory setting. He undid the doll brain achitecture, essentially restoring the brain to the point it was at before any tampering had been done to it.
  • I haven't even gotten past "Meet Jane Doe," yet, due to living in Australia and having a small download/bandwidth [?] limit... But it really bugs me that now it's over. After I watch the several remaining episodes, that'll be it. I'll never see an epi of Dollhouse again. * sniffles*
  • Iris seems to be imprinted not only with 'Caroline' but with all of Echo's other personalities, despite lacking the unique physiology to handle them. And how did they all even fit onto one wedge?
    • Does she actually have the different personalities? I haven't seen Epitaph One for a while, but in Two there didn't seem to be any huge revelations that Caroline couldn't have had on her own. As for how they managed to extract Caroline from Echo without hitting all the other personalities on the way... that's a tricky one.
    • She behaved like Caroline; she clearly had memories but those could have been downloaded from Echo and combined with the pre-existing Caroline imprint to make Caroline with Echo's memories. She broke out of handcuffs and can handle a gun, but that wouldn't surprise me as being pure Caroline given the flashbacks we've seen.
  • What's the difference between Dolls, who have 'Active Architecture' and people who have been remote-wiped/'printed' in the Dark Future? What does the Architecture actually do?
    • Two explanations: first off, the original wiping and imprinting process required a whole lot more tech in someone's head; the remote wiping tool is revered as a stunning breakthrough because it doesn't require all of that. Secondly, the architecture could just refer to the GPS locator, brainwave scanner and all the other inconsequential tech that's put in not to help imprint them, but keep the safe and trackable and everything. Basically, no difference in the Dark Future as far as I can tell.
    • Seems like a difference to me. The Dark Future introduces three new groups: the 'dumbshows'(wiped but not imprinted) ; the 'butchers'(wiped and imprinted); and the 'techheads' (using the technology themselves). The 'dumbshows', without architecture, are much less human than Actives and lack any form of personality or even speech. The 'butchers' are also without architecture and only manifest a crude program akin to Mellie's sleeper protocol or Alpha's ninja virus. Only the 'techheads', who are ex-dolls with the architecture installed, maintain a more sophisticated use of the tech. (Along with Rossum itself)
  • Topher's Heroic Sacrifice was completely and utterly idiotic, unless he wanted to kill himself. He could've given it a timer. It's probably something even I could configure.
    • What do you mean, "unless"? Seriously, the man was literally insane with guilt even before they started shooting people in front of him on a daily basis (incidentally, I strongly suspect that if Adelle or Echo or somebody had tried to insist on being the one to set off the device, Topher would then have built a timer — but they wouldn't, because denying him his redemption would have been cruel).
      • That is not canon how?
      Adelle: "You don't have to do it you know! At least not alone."
      Topher: "I do! I fix what we did to their heads. You fix what we did to the rest of the world... your job is way harder!"
      Adelle: [Looks like she is about to cry, but let's him walk away.]
  • Okay, so humanity has been restored and the tech has been mostly destroyed. So what? If this technology really did get into the hands of just about every major political power the world over, what's to stop them from using it again? If there's a sudden immunity to it, what's stopping people from upgrading it? Yes, I understand that the people who developed the technology were rare geniuses, but genius is not always necessary to advance development. In Ep 3, the conversation between Victor and Ballard makes it clear that the technology has been around for some time, and in Ep 13, Zone implies that the Chinese govt had attacked the US with remote imprinting at some point. So, if the technology is THAT widespread, what exactly was accomplished in the ending?
    • Presumably civilization being, y'know, wiped out puts technological development back a bit.
      • If a ragtag bunch of misfits can do it, it's not impossible.
    • Consider the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was one hell of a hair raising story, I think you would agree. But the denouement was : the missiles did not fly, humanity was not engulfed in nuclear fire. What exactly was accomplished ? Nothing. What's stopping nuclear powers from doing it again ? Nothing. All we get/got was a reprieve. And if tomorrow, each and every nuclear bomb vanished in a puff of smoke, along with every single scrap of nuclear physics and scientist, that'd still be all we'd have got - down the line, we'd just invent them again. If it can be done, it will be done. But a reprieve's good enough, and really it's as good as it ever gets. Humanity scraping a few more years, decades, centuries before it threatens to obliterate itself again is an end unto itself, if you're any fond of humanity.
    • More or less, it'd probably result in the similar aftermath of WW2. Nothing changes except for people's perceptions and attitudes to the kind of world-spanning devastation. It's not that the technology won't reappear or what not. It's that people can, hopefully, come to terms with it and use it responsibility.
  • Alpha leaving the Dollhouse in Epitaph Two. Given the choice between Alpha-turned-good and psycho-with-a-knife (even pre-Doll)... why wouldn't he opt to stick as Alpha and prevent his psycho self from re-emerging. Unless he feared that him-as-super Doll was worse or something.
    • Because Alpha doesn't like himself. Alpha doesn't like being Alpha. Remember, he can't really control all the gaggle of imprints he has. I have to draw a page here from Rakel the psyker, who described mind-reading as trying to listen to one voice out of a babble in a crowded ballroom. Alpha has to listen to that babble all the time. Wouldn't you prefer being alone in your head to that?—even if the "you" left over is an Ax-Crazy Knife Nut? (And Echo thinks he'll be able to overcome himself as himself now, so, there may be hope for him.)
  • Why did mean, evil Joss have to kill Bennett?
    • Because he lives to make his fans suffer. And then laugh about it (his is an evil laugh). Also, he'd decided to shock everybody by letting Anthony and Priya have a Happily Ever After, so he had to get his sick thrills somewhere. What, you thought killing Ballard would be enough?
  • But srsly, why kill Bennett? Considering they actually wanted to get Caroline back, wasn't she more an aid than a hindrance?
    • That's exactly why she needed to die. Boyd did everything he could to prevent Caroline from coming back, since she could ID him.
    • Topher managed to resolve the problem the tech posed in ten years, working alone from the depths of a horrible Heroic BSOD. Now imagine what could be accomplished by Topher and Bennett working together, sane, motivated, and running on their brand of giddy nervous energy. Sometimes you have to weaken the Big Good of a story because otherwise things become too easy.
  • Why would the founder of the worlds biggest (and evil) medical company make themself the handler of a very special active? When you would be a very busy person and an active with no ambition can't do everything, you know? Why wasn't a lower but much trusted employee or active made a handler? Did a certain someone just get bored and decide to do a potentially dangerous job? And why would you send them up the elevator with the knowlage they can someday remember EVERYTHING?
    • "Save This Person, Save the World." The Big Bad's premise is that Science Is Bad - the mindwipe tech exists, it will go out of control, it will be abused, it will lead to the Crapsack World of Epitaph One. Since Caroline Farrell (and her spinal fluid) are, to his knowledge, the only way to stop that future, even if on a small scale, then of course she'd be on his radar. As to why he thinks ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL is necessary: he takes the opportunity to push Echo, urge her to evolve faster than she would have, or than other Dollhouse staff would have allowed her to. Plus, he is a Manipulative Bastard. Probably enjoyed the exercise.
  • In The Hollow Men, it is finally revealed that Caroline is naturally able to resist the imprinting process. However, we have actually seen her using imprinting more than the other Dolls; rather than losing imprints, she retains ALL of them. How then can they use her spinal fluid to stop them ever being wiped or imprinted? And how does Clyde think this will work on him (or other execs imprinted in active bodies), considering that he only exists AS an imprint?
    • And after that, there's never really been a hint that imprints can 'talk' to each other. So, how are Echo and Paul able to inhabit the same brain?
      • Echo does mention, in passing, Elinor Penn and another of her imprints "duking it out" wanting to take on a challenge.
      • Um, Alpha? Its very obvious that Alpha's imprints are talking to each other, and Echo does mention that she has a couple of imprints arguing over which one's expertise is more useful while she's locked up in the jail cell.
  • Minor nitpick: in "Man on the Street," we see newsreel footage (or something similar) of a bunch of different people, mostly random people off the street, talking about the Dollhouse myth, which supposedly has been around since the mid 80's. The myth is clearly referred to by almost all of these people as "Dollhouse." Yet, whenever Ballard is interrogating someone about the Dollhouse, they always play/are none the wiser to what he's talking about (the Russian informant claims no one ever heard of "Dollhouse", and the internet mogel initially responds to Ballard's question by describing an actual dollhouse). If the myth is well known enough that a bunch of random people can comment on it, by name, then why does every character on the show either pretend not to know or actually not know what Ballard is talking about?
    • The Dollhouse is an urban myth originating in LA, as "Man on the Street" explains. Lubov is A) foreign, so he might not know about it, and B) an imprint. As for Mynor's case, he was being, shockingly, sarcastic.
      • Being the low level, nervous criminal that Lubov seemed to be, denial is probably his 'go to' response. Even when he's at gunpoint. Perhaps espescially when he's at gunpoint.
    • More or less, it's like an Internet meme. The average Joe Blow knows about it but it takes a lot longer for something like that to trickle up into serious circles.
    • The documentary shows us that it wasn't too hard to find a few people who knew the myth. That hardly proves that everyone, or even a mojority have heard of it.
  • Fridge Logic regarding Sierra: in "Stop-Loss", she is upset about remembering the events of "Belonging" with Nolan Kinnard. But at the end of "Belonging", when she is re-wiped, Topher doesn't take another brain scan of her or anything; so the archive of her original memories shouldn't contain that day anyhow. She shouldn't remember being woken up at all, and should be just as "...five years already?" as the other former Actives!
    • Except that we know that wiping Actives doesn't always eliminate all of their memories.
    • Maybe because whatever genetic thing in Echo's spinal fluid that made her resistant to being completely wiped was also present in Victor and Sierra. Out of the entirety of the LA Dollhouse, those three, and poor, poor, Mellie/November, remember everything that they should've forgotten; that's why Victor and Sierra kept being drawn to each other in both Active and Doll states. It wasn't made as plain with the others as it was with Echo, but then again, maybe if there had been more time, and the others had gotten more than a single episode dedicated to them, it would have been more obvious.
    • I'm fairly sure that a scan happens during each wipe, so that repeat engagements are continuous. Remember, scans after the initial one are instantaneous. Only scans performed when the active architecture has not yet been installed (or will never be installed, as in Margaret's case) are a long and painful process.
  • In episode 1x09, it's revealed that DeWitt has been spending weekends with an imprinted Victor. We all know that, and it's okay... but how come even Topher believes the story that Victor's actually seeing some old woman? Doesn't Topher program the dolls into being in love with a specific individual? He would have to know exactly who to dedicate that chemical reaction to for it to work, so it hardly makes sense that Roger!Victor would even know about that particular bit of deception.
    • Who said Topher needs to know precisely who it was? He doesn't necessarily need to actually know who it is, he just needs to program X emotional reaction to Y person. And hell, who's to say DeWitt didn't alter the imprint herself? We know the imprints can be altered by people who aren't programmers; they had several episodes focusing on the fact that Dominic was altering imprints.
  • In "Needs", it turns out that the four dolls who woke up with (most of) their original personalities had been allowed to do so because they needed closure on various things, right? November/Madeline needing to grieve for her daughter, Echo/Caroline needing to save everyone, Victor needing to get it on with Sierra, etc. What about Mike? What purpose did it serve to have him going through the same thing? Was it just that it would seem weird to have four of them from the same room waking up that way but not the fifth, or did they want to have one of them captured and re-imprinted to give Caroline more of a sense of urgency about saving them all, or... what? Did he need to achieve closure by getting very agitated and babbling about aliens?
    • Mike was there to make it seem more real. If Mike had some kind of closure that he needed to experience, they would have let him experience it. Instead, having a personality that can be used as a sort of in-universe sacrificial lamb serves to better convince the others that they are real and to not suspect that they're being deliberately let loose.
  • In one episode, an imprinted Sierra returning from an engagement is quite rude towards Ivy, saying she's "not comfortable with Orientals". Now, okay, maybe Topher put something in the imprint to stop her noticing the current body she's in and all that, but I'm still trying to figure out what kind of client would have ordered a racist Asian woman who doesn't know she's Asian. And why.
    • I like to think that the client was a racist who failed to specify the race of the doll and Topher used Sierra in order to fuck with him.
    • Sierra is mixed-race and racially ambiguous. At first glance, you would not necessarily identify her as 'Asian' the same way as you would Kilo or Ivy. Partly because of her features and colouring, but mostly because of her bleached blond hair (which suits her well because her colouring is not totally 'Asian'). She could be from a group in Europe that has Asian-like features, for example in Russia and Eastern Europe, or the Lapps in Scandinavia. The actress has previously played characters that are clearly not supposed to be either Asian or mixed race.
    • See trope Be True to Yourself (or something like that). Perhaps the person -was- racist but got off with tasting 'forbidden fruit' of someone who was slightly non-white (or whatever). Or they had a fantasy about revealing to some haughty women that she is what she despises and bow-chika-bow wow as they break down the haughty.
    • Because it was fucking funny! Hell, maybe the client did it on purpose and put Sierra up on a stage so people could laugh at her.
    • It's heavily implied that she actually wanted to be to "helplessly resist" while an Asian tied her up and spanked her or whatever. So the client is clearly an Asian who wants to get with a stereotypically racist, upper class British woman. As for why they chose Sierra, they were probably a repeat customer.
  • In Epitaph 1, it is said that you can be wiped and imprinted by ANY electronic equipment (although, logically I suppose it would at least have to have audio or optical output to work). Yet the handheld imprinting 'guns' Topher invents in Season 2 do not work like this: they are not 'viral' technology and still require someone to operate them, and that the gun be within close range of the subject. The two forms of wiping could be different stages in the evolution of the technology but it saddens me that the early cancellation of the series left so little time to explore the fascinating ways this technology could slowly evolve and get out of control.
  • Does Caroline not have any parents or any who knows or loves her? Most of the other dolls there is some handwave for, but she seems to have no one who notices or cares about her. After coming back you'd think she'd at least make some sort of "I love you Mom and Dad" type call to let them know she's still out there and still alive.
    • Well, there is that "hi, mom!" line from her high school video footage. We can assume Caroline distanced herself from her family upon becoming a radical activist. Also, Alpha can be seen murdering a family in the very first episode. Hm?
  • What bugs me is supposedly Joss didn't realize initially he was making a show about human trafficking. I've heard he originally intended it about actors playing roles.
    • Er, what? The first episode has Ballard outright say that the Dollhouses are involved in human trafficking, and they discuss the Dollhouse's use of what essentially amounts to slaves multiple times over the course of the story. You don't have a character state that the primary organization of the setting is about human trafficking if you're not intending to, y'know, deal with the issue of human trafficking.
      • Actually, you're both right. I forget where I read it (somebody with better Google Fu than me, please do find it!), but in one interview or possibly a panel where there was a transcript available, he did acknowledge that shortly after he came up with the idea (which, in early interviews, he claims happened literally right after the idea of returning to TV by writing a show for Eliza Dushku, who had just taken him out to lunch to convince him to do just exactly that, was put in his head - he claims he then went to the bathroom, and while in the bathroom, the seed of the idea spontaneously popped into his head, and then when he returned to the table and told Dushku about it, she liked it enough to encourage it) but before the show was completely developed and written (which was a long time, due to the Writer's Strike), this happened: he was talking about the idea with a woman who was either from the studio/network, or on the staff (perhaps Maurissa? Dushku herself? Wish I could remember!), who was very intrigued and engaging him on it, and then she pops the whopper: "So, when are you going to address the fact Echo's basically being raped?". And it was then that he says he realized the story idea he had about swappable personalities and philosophical questions about identity was also fundamentally about human trafficking and an underground sex trade. To his credit (but not the network's, sadly), by the time the show was actually written and filmed, such questions were being blatantly asked out loud right in the very first episode, and the fanservice (which the network creepily tried to play off as normal, harmless fanservice in their promotions for it *shudder*) was largely tongue-in-cheek or seemed, to many, to be deliberately aimed at making the audience uncomfortable. Especially in the first episode! You know, the episode that goes like this?: "Here's a person being clearly coerced to do this. Now here she is as a completely different person and she's somebody's fantasy girlfriend for a day, complete with bondage scene and a pillowcase-sized dress. And now here she is ripped of all of that again, basically mentally handicapped to the point of childlike vulnerability. And now here she is as a kidnapping negotiator that looks like a hot librarian! Who was secretly kidnapped and abused by a pedophile as a child. And there's another child that's at risk from the same pedophile now. Hope you enjoyed that bit of earlier Fetish Fuel, creep! ;)" Seriously, I have to wonder if half the reason the series started rapidly dropping numbers until only hardcore Whedon fans were watching, is because the show did stuff like that that made the Dollhouse fantasy clearly dark and creepy, while still showing all that glitz and glam in small doses, and then showing certain clients as being psychologically needy and fucked up... as if mocking the viewer for their own inner and not-so-inner desires, while simultaneously acknowledging that it's all very fucked up, and all very human and therefore sadly very plausible, assuming such tech was possible. That's not exactly an easy sell for the primetime 18-34 male audience, is it? ;) I think of it this way: Whedon can be kind of thick, in that usual sort of white middle class male privilege way, but once it's been pointed out to him, he will go out of his way to address it. Actually that is one of the things I like about his work - when it's pointed out he's been leaving out blacks (in Buffy) or Asians (in Firefly), for instance, he actively includes them in the next project; when it's pointed out his little fantasy idea about identity necessarily involves human trafficking, he then proceeds to actively pursue that aspect in-story, even going so far as to alter the execution of the series to be creepier in order to accommodate it.

  • In "Instinct," when Echo as Emily hears her 'husband' making plans to get rid of her and the baby, she goes straight to the police. She gives them a statement that her husband is going to have her killed and do something awful to their son. The woman taking the statement assures her she did the right thing. Then the client shows up with two guys (handlers with ID and badges), says "That's my son, but not my wife," the entire police station instantly sides with him and takes the baby away from a screaming Echo. In what world can a guy waltz into a police station and have his wife taken out of protective custody and her statement about him thrown out? Even if it could be proven that his real wife was deceased, it would presumably take more than 4 seconds to verify it. And even though Ballard probably flashed an FBI badge, a guy whose wife says he's taking out a hit on her can afford to hire goons with fake I Ds. It really, really bugged me that the police didn't ask any questions of the guy and let what could have been a psycho walk away with a baby to kill it.
    • This is the Dollhouse. They have enough power that they can arrange for this with just a few phone calls.
    • He showed the ID to someone before they got into that room and identified the poor grieving widower whose baby son has been kidnapped by a psycho. Presumably he had a birth certificate for the baby and a death certificate for his wife he could have handed to someone at the front desk. The 'that's my son but not my wife' could have been a response to someone saying that his wife and son were there.
  • Why does Alpha need Ballard to get back into the Dollhouse in Season 1? In his "Kepler" persona, he tells Ballard that he doesn't know where the Dollhouse is, but that's not true. He escaped from it, and they haven't moved since then. And clearly he knows how to get in, since that's what Ballard needed Kepler for. Was it just as a distraction? Well, that's nice, but also unnecessary. He could have just hired a team of mercenaries to storm the place. That would have distracted the hell out of them. And he clearly would have enough money for it. He must have dropped a ton of it on setting up "Richard Connell" for a date with Echo in "The Target."
    • Yes, Ballard was a distraction. This is shown by the fact that Alpha used him as a distraction when they infiltrated the Dollhouse.
      • Which loops back to the original question: why? Why spend the entire season setting Ballard up to discover the Dollhouse, only to use him for a purpose that he could have easily paid someone to fulfill?
      • Because there's a greater purpose to setting Ballard up than just having him play distraction for the inflitration. He's supposed to be a general source of pressure on the Dollhouse that they can't get rid of, and which will keep them busy.
  • Echo is repeatedly referred to as "one of our most requested Actives" or "one of our most popular Actives" by DeWitt, as was Whiskey before her. Well, how can that be? Clients don't request Actives by name, unless they're asking for a repeat visit from the same Active. And their only other input into the selection would be to specify the physical characteristics they want from their "perfect date" (or whoever). Is Whedon saying that a statistically improbable percentage of rich weirdoes in the L.A. area have a fetish for people who look like Eliza Dushku and Amy Acker?
    • Repeat visits from the same Active are the most likely.
    • Or once the client specifies that they want a 'romantic' engagement with a pretty girl, they get given a picture catalogue. The requested personality can be put into whichever they select.
  • In "Gray Hour," DeWitt assures an antsy client that no one knows the details of the engagement he has hired Echo for, claiming that he merely tells their "confessional" about it, the computer analyzes it and sends a work order to the programmer, and then spits out a quote. Well, that may be the procedure, but clearly someone does know what assignments the Actives go on and the identity of the clients: their Handlers! And DeWitt knows it, too. That's why she takes such great pains to conceal her identity as "Miss Lonelyhearts," even hiring an old biddy to serve as a decoy client.
    • Here's a shocking concept: Dewitt is lying to keep the customer happy.
  • Where did Topher/The Dollhouse get a copy of Rebecca Mynor's brain? A random nurse at some hospital in LA, married to some schmuck who hits it rich a day or so before she is tragically killed?
    • Well, they have millions of brains on file. The most likely source for those is slipping brain scans into people's routine medical check-ups, which would probably give them the brain of everyone whose had healthcare through a Rossum subsidiary, so there's a fairly good chance they'd have her that way. Of course, they might not have had her on file, but then Joel Mynor would never have become a regular client, and Ballard would have gone after some other guy whose dream woman was on file.
    • They don't need Rebecca's brain. Topher is very skilled at manufacturing personalities from countless samples. He can simply piece together a facsimile of Rebecca's brain based on the parameters that Mynor provided; he is very good at this.
      • Her personality, sure, he's proven to be able to piece a personality together with the kidnap victim, but Echo has Rebecca's memories as well. Which Topher couldn't begin to piece together out of the ether. "Needs" demonstrated very clearly that personality and memories are separate parts of a person's psyche (at least in the Dollhouse universe) So unless Joel Mynor has a photographic memory and can recount in great detail every interaction he and his late wife ever had, I find it highly dubious that they just so happen to have the one brain scan that a recently very rich man would pay six figures to have implanted in a new body.
      • The memories could be sourced from Joel himself. After all, he wouldn't know if she was missing memories he himself didn't have.
      • He doesn't need an exact copy of her memories. He needs to just create a personality as close to the reality as Mynor specifies. Topher can create composite personalities from hundreds of thousands of samples, and is fully capable of extracting and implanting personality traits and creating composite memories. Hell, in the second season, Bennett and Topher are shown putting together a personality imprint that included very specific and minor elements, so it is entirely possible that they could assemble very complex memories fromindividual bits and piece sof other people's memories. And Mynor doesn't need a perfect, absolute copy of Rebecca, he just needs one that is close enough to what he remembers to complete his little fantasy.
    • If they had a copy of the actual Rebecca's real brain, I don't think Joel Mynor would have been happy just spending one day with her a year, living out one simple fantasy. Things would have gotten lot more painful, and he'd probably be paying to spend as much time as possible with her.
  • Here's an instance where the entire Dollhouse staff were obviously holding the Idiot Ball for quite awhile: near the end of season 1 Alpha smashes the backup of Caroline's real personality, but they are able to retrieve the original. Only to find it stolen in season 2 hence the subplot with having to get Bennett to work with the backup. It's been basically a year in between, why not just make another backup during that period?
  • So, Echo and Sierra both got forced into being Dolls (Echo by being blackmailed, and Sierra being basically sold into it), but we know Victor and November both mostly opted in (Victor to deal with his PTSD and November her grief). But! How did Victor and November find out about the Dollhouse? Does the Dollhouse watch counselling/pyschiarists files and approach people likely to volunteer if they get rid of their problems?
    • Yes. The Dollhouse approaches you, you do not approach the Dollhouse.
    • Most likely with Rossum acting as a go-between. We know that Rossum has their fingers in many medical pies (I feel dirty just typing that), so they're most likely going through psychological files and working with the hospitals, etc. saying, "Hey, we've got this new treatment we'd like to try out. Why not let us talk to your patient and see what we can do (mwa ha ha)?" I mean, I imagine the approach would be basically what they did with Priya, only without the evil doctor forcing the mental illness.
  • Just rewatched "Instinct", the episode where Echo becomes a mother. Topher explains that he was able to make a human body adapt itself on a physiological level with a command from the imprinted brain, changing Echo on a "glandular level" without hormone therapy. This got me thinking. Could Future!Echo (who can access portions of past imprints at will) make herself lactate, given enough prep time? Kind of a strange thought.
    • Given that a.) it is possible for a woman to lactate when she hasn't given birth, in response to an infant in need (rare, but it has supposedly happened), b.) the men of the Aka tribe in Africa famously engage in part-time breastfeeding (though they're reportedly nowhere near as good at it as the women of course), in a subversion of "western" ideals of gender roles and c.) there have long been reports of normal people who actually exist in Real Life willing themselves to lactate - including a hippie dude who (IIRC) claims it took him about a week to will himself to start lactating tiny amounts, and d.) there are also allegedly rare cases of women becoming so convinced they were pregnant it triggered lactation; then yes, I imagine Echo most certainly could. (If you're curious, the hippie dude claims it was because he wanted to share bonding time with his child, and also that it freaked his doctor out and because of that, he willed it to stop in about that same amount of time. I think he had a website at some point where it was discussed, but I'm faaaar too lazy to dig it up at the moment. Feel free to double-check, but I think the information I've given on most of those points is pretty decent or at least referencing something that somebody actually claimed. That last one about hysterical pregnancies or whatever they're called, I'm not as sure of, since I remember it being in an episode of CSI and we all know how whack their science can be - and with my memory, I can't be trusted to be definitely be accurately remembering that I ever saw this bit of trivia outside of the episode of CSI. But I wouldn't be surprised at all if it is true and even recorded, given how many other reports of psychologically-induced lactation I've seen reference to over the years).
  • Whiskey is unscarred in Epitaph 1. A-how'd that happen, and B-how'd she get out of Rossum HQ in the first place? Maybe I missed it, but it sure looked like Echo knocked her out cold during the fight and I didn't see anyone run in there to retrieve her.
    • A: The same way it happened with Victor. Multiple plastic surgery procedures. B: In a really quick line just after Echo's goodbye to the Big Bad, you'll hear Topher say "I got Saunders out" as everyone's running out. Heck, that was probably ADR'd in because they forgot too.
  • Okay, so I understand that Topher manually detonates the deprogramming bomb instead of building a timer because he's had a Heroic BSOD and is suicidally guilty. The problem is that he does this while he's in the dollhouse, where there's a working chair and the wedge with the sane, non-suicidal copy of his personality they used to imprint Victor. Why in the name of all that's good and holy doesn't Adelle imprint him with his sane self, and then have him build a timer?
    • Well, for one, that personality is ten years out of date. For another, Topher doesn't have active architecture. Finally, perhaps Adelle didn't want to take the choice from Topher about the fate of his own life.
  • Why, in Needs, does Mike wake up with his personality back, only to quickly be returned to his blank state? As far as we know, he hadn't been glitching, and if he had, he never got the chance to find closure - he was dragged off and wiped. What was the point of waking him up?
    • This is addressed above. Mike's the "control". He's the character who gets caught early to let everyone else know that their danger is real.
  • Why hasn't Rossum taken over the entire world? If I had no morals and my only resource whatsoever was a chair that could overwrite the brain of anyone (let alone a giant corporation with tons of subsidiaries and locations all over the world), I could take over the world in a year tops with a very simple plan: Step 1) Create a way to overwrite someone's personality with a copy of itself, with the only change being 100% permanent loyalty to me. Step 2) Get every single person I could into this chair by any means necessary. What ESPECIALLY bugs me is that in the episode with the man on the street opinions of the mythical dollhouse, a professor basically SAYS this is what would happen, if this technology existed.
    • "Every single person I could" won't help much if they're just ordinary people off the street and you only have a few chairs. If you want to rule the world, you'll need to go after world leaders, either by brainwashing the existing ones or brainwashing people to then put into position. The former would be very hard to arrange (especially since the government does have some idea that the technology exists), and as for the latter, Rossum's working on it, as they already have at least one congressman under their control and, given how easily they can manipulate the government, probably a lot more people in high places. There's also the possibility of doing it on a large scale rather than person by person, chair by chair, which Rossum's also working on... and which eventually goes very, very wrong.
      • Ah, but for every person that you would make into essentially a perfect slave, you make it easier to get MORE people into the chair. More people to vouch for you and find new contacts if you use persuasion, and more physical force if you decide to go that way. And of course you could simply tell them to give you as much money as they can, and grow your power that way. As for the problem of scale, if you need more people to run, design, and build the chairs, you can MAKE them. Essentially, my problem is that there are a great number of ways to do this without running a highly illegal operation and creating tons of witnesses, which is what gets the legend of the dollhouse out there. Even with the dollhouse setup, some tweaks would make things more efficient and less risky (if far more evil). Actives are never restored to their original personality. Wealthy and/or influential clients get made into actives themselves (a la the manchurian candidate senator). Et cetera.
    • Taking over the world isn't Rossum's goal. That and they already have an insane amount of political and economic power to begin with. That and reprogramming someone with 100% loyalty to you is not as easy as it sounds. There will be disonnance between the original personality and the rewritten one, and that will cause friction and noticeable cognitive problems. People will start noticing, and then the nice men with badges, tactical armor and assault weapons will ensue. Remember that Washington's elite know that the Dollhouse exists, and if the Dollhouse starts making overtures of world conquest, they can shut them down with a few phone calls.
  • Why would anyone agree to become a doll? Unless they turn up with a lawyer in tow and/or inform their families (assuming their families didn't simply grab them and desperately try to talk them out of it) they have no way of enforcing their agreement with Rossum. In the pilot we see Caroline was more or less blackmailed into it, but she was told it would "Only be for five years" (I may have the length of time wrong, but it was definitely a set period). But why would she believe this? Essentially she's being kept as a slave and what's more, she won't even know she's a slave. Now granted, Rossum might decide that after 5 years the doll's market value has degraded to such an extent that they're no longer worth keeping, but surely they could find some use for her around the House (programme her as a beautician, if nothing else).
    • Dolls are generally people who are so emotionally distraught or desperate that they would agree to it. Victor was driven to become a Doll by post-traumatic stress. Mellie was driven to become a Doll to escape her own trauma regarding her child. They know there's nothing binding Rossum to agree to follow through with the agreement, but Dolls are generally people who have a reached a point of desperation or despair that they don't care.
    • Possibly I am a cynic but I have no problem believing people would genuinely volunteer to be 'dolls'. First theirs the money, and people prostitute themselves for money every day. And then there are the Victor and November cases who are desperate to escape their own minds. And finally I'd bet there are a few people who are just plain intrigued by the idea of being different people. And of course there's the money...
  • Why do the butchers even exist in Epitath. I feel like there is a major misunderstanding in the purpose of most combat in war. Usually the goal is to create a situation where your opponent can't resist, you usually aren't trying to just murder everybody. The butchers can't secure targets, they aren't aimed at anyone, don't answer to anyone, and they are never turned off. You can produce the same effects by just lobbing atomic bombs all over the place, bombs would actually be better because there would be no one left to resist if you did come and try to claim the land. The only reason I can see anyone using the doll tech that way is if they just really wanted to see what an apocalypse looked like and see if all the zombie prep payed off.
    • I seem to recall something being said about Butchers being created because it was absolutely the fastest way to neutralize all resistance in a given area instantly. A Bombs permanently ruin land and instantly make your plans obvious to everybody else. Plus, presumably if necessary they could reverse the Butcherification process if necessary by turning them into blank slates.
    • The first Butcher bombs might also have been an attempt at a pre-emptive strike. Russom probably aren't the only ones out there with this tech. These are NGO's, not governments that know who each other are and have clear lines of communication. Cold Wars and MAD are a lot harder when you don't know who the players even are, let alone who's got nukes. So one of the guys, maybe a smaller one, decided to make a pre-emptive strike on, for example, Rossum. Then Rossum counter-attacks, but who? Did they counter-attack the right city? And even if they did, what if someone else were based there and now they think that they are under attack and fires back. Armageddon.
    • What confused me more with the Butcher thing is that, if you can get them programmed specifically enough to avoid killing each other, then you can probably get them programmed specifically enough to be more organized and effective, as well as controllable. So instead of simply rendering an area uninhabitable, you actually conquer it. And then you have a ready-made workforce that can quickly and effectively be turned into something useful.
    • The reason they don't drop nuclear bomb is because they were designed to destroy the resistance while keeping all of the butchers' bodies available for later use by Rossum people. As above though, the question is why they programmed they so basically. Perhaps there's something about the mass wiping/imprinting which means you can only give more basic commands.
  • Why would Topher and Dewitt leave Mellie's trigger in when they imprint her before going to Tucson? Wouldn't the risk of having a mindless killer unleashed far outweigh any possible benefits?
    • They were in a hurry. Alternatively, Adelle figured that it might come in handy - oh no, Mellie's surrounded by bad guys! Wait, now she's surrounded by dead guys. Besides, it had to be her voice, so she assumed she would have control. She didn't think of someone using a voice recording.
  • Look I know Echo is our special little snowflake but a gene to prevent imprinting in her spinal fluid? That doesn't even make sense. I know this is television but given that this comes from Boyd - who is several sandwiches short of a picnic - you've got to wonder.

Doctor Who Series 8Headscratchers/Live-Action TVDownton Abbey

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