In episode 1x03 ("Stage Fright"), I was always bugged by the outfit worn by the backup singer who caught on fire at the beginning of the episode. It seemed unflattering, out of style, and completely unlike what the other two backup singers were wearing, as well as what Echo later wore. And wouldn't that particular outfit be really hot up on stage? But then it clicked: the stunt actress had to wear full sleeves and leggings so she could wear the fire-retardant suit underneath it. Duh!
In the Dollhouse episode "Briar Rose", there's the Fairytale Motifs (well, motif) of Briar Rose or Sleeping Beauty, call it what you want, but there's also the biblical motif of the Garden of Eden, as discussed in the episode:
Steven: They told me this place was the new Eden.
Ballard: Adam and Eve weren't prisoners.
Steven: Excuse me, the apples were monitored!
Basically, the Dollhouse is the Garden of Eden, the Actives are Adam and Eve before they ate the apples and they are happy in the garden, why wouldn't they be? They eat well, they have friends, they can swim in the pool whenever they want, but they have no free will - they are basically children and they are prisoners. The staff describe the outside world as a place of terror for the actives in which they could not live, Dewitt and Dr. Saunders actually make almost biblical speeches about how this place should not be corrupted and how the outside world will destroy the Actives. So in a way, Dollhouse is a deconstruction of the Garden of Eden, showing what a sick place it would be, and the cost of giving that place up is the world of terror and darkness in which we all live in Real Life. —Miz
I always thought, since the Actives are named for the military code for individual letters, there could only be 26 at a time. Which is fine, since they talk about the "previous Sierra". But they sleep in those five-pod rooms, which made me think that there must be, somewhere, a room where one Active sleeps by himself, since 26 divided by 5 is 5 with 1 left over. Then I realized, Alpha is that one, and he doesn't sleep in the pod at all. There's no "new" Alpha because Alpha is still alive.
Actually that one is Whiskey aka Dr. Saunders.
Probably both. There's a tradition in everywhere from sports to airplanes of not recycling designations with bad luck or a notable tragedy associated with them.
There is also November who, as a long-term sleeper active, spends many nights away from the Dollhouse. Plus actives on Romance engagements in wont usually be needing the pod.
Don't they show that Alpha's pod was in Echo's room, then later it's Mike in it? So there's probably just an empty room. And Dr Saunders wouldn't know she was an active, so she wouldn't sleep in a pod. She probably sleeps either in her room, or in staff headquaters on site.
In the very first episode, Echo's imprint is the date of a biker boy who's celebrating his birthday. At the beginning of the episode, she loses a race against him and immediately starts whining: "You cheated! You did something. I don't know how, but you cheated". What a sore loser, right? Wrong. He DID do something. He requested the perfect date, which is (among other things) someone who's good enough to put up a fair fight, but not good enough to win and humiliate him in front of all his friends. In fact, she slows down at the very end in an embarrassing fashion, letting him pass her. It's even lampshaded by him: "You sure you didn't let me win?"
In the episode "Omega" it was obvious that the composite Echo would never join Alpha because, looking back on the imprints she's had in the episodes before, most of them had strong moral compasses and would be disgusted by a murderer like Alpha.
At the end of the series, although the mind wiping technology still exists, odds are very good that Topher managed to execute the remaining Rossum leaders by reverting their various bodies. That's surprisingly cheering after all the other possible implications of the denouement.
The second episode "The Target" has such a moment. The bad guy intends to hunt Echo for fun in Hunting the Most Dangerous Game fashion. That alone is bad enough, but when you take into account his earlier comment about how if you kill something you have a right to eat it.
Epitaph 2 every secondary or minor character we meet in the entire series is either dead or has become a dumbshow, a different person, or a butcher - and if they were themselves the whole time, they'll have to remember one hell of a Crapsack World.
Also, everything an imprinted Active feels is completely real. Echo has at least two different imprints who were sexually abused as children. One whose template killed herself due to not coming to terms with it, and another who was pimped out.
In Epitaph 2, it's revealed that the baddies shot an innocent victim in front of Topher every day he didn't complete his demon device. At first glance it seems like a small mercy that the victims didn't suffer some more grotesque, slow and painful death. But a simple bullet to the head is how Bennett died. Meaning that he has to relive her death every single day.
Who said they were headshots?
The finale, "Epitaph Two: The Return", comes about... and the currently more stable Alpha, who the "Epitaphs" comics later reinforce has only become less murderous because of Paul's imprint in his mind acting as a conscience, decides to allow the imprint-wiping, original-personality-returning signal to hit him. Remember, the reason he was in jail and thus available for Doll-ification by Rossum, is that he was a killer before the Dollhouse got hold of him. So now, not only is Alpha back to his original personality, he's also no longer imprisoned or in any way restrained, no one knows he is loose or even still alive, and he's about to stand next to a bunch of innocent bystanders who don't know all those salient details.... Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!.
To be fair, Echo herself said he probably wouldn't be completely wiped, having evolved. It was likely a "I need to find who I really am" kind of deal. A stupid one, but there you go.
: Not so stupid. They were not sure being underground would completely protect them from the gamma blast that would reset the actuals. Alpha did not want risk turning into his old self while trapped with his friends.
"Briar Rose" presents a whopper of a problem: How does Topher have the brain scan of a traumatized 11-year-old? It's not like she would calmly walk into the Dollhouse and sit in the chair to have her personality scanned. Answer: The Dollhouse doesn't get their imprint material from the chair. Think about it. Rossum is a massive corporation with known interests in medical technology. Once they decided they were going to start the whole Dollhouse thing, they could have incorporated personality scanning and uploading technology into every MRI, CAT scan, EEG, etc. that they built from that point on. They could be sending thousands of unwitting brain scans to the Dollhouse every day. Later confirmed in a throwaway line in "Epitaph One," this means that no matter who you are, you are likely to end up as part of a Dollhouse imprint at some point in your life
In "Getting Closer", Topher tells Ivy to run away and save herself, which at first seems noble... until you realize she wasn't with the group in Epitaph Two, which means she had to have been wiped in the ensuing chaos after "The Hollow Men".
Which is actually a case of Fridge Brilliance, when you realize that this is probably a large part of what made Topher break down in the Epitaphs.
In the flashbacks in "The Target", Topher says that "Dr. Saunders looks like a jigsaw puzzle". After finishing Season 1, this doesn't make sense at first; you've found out that the woman you knew as Dr. Saunders in episode 2 was Whiskey when Alpha had his composite event. But then you remember that there was an old man named Dr. Saunders then.Fridge Brilliance, too, but... what exactly happened to him?
He was probably killed by Alpha. Hence needing a new Dr. Saunders.
In season one it is noted Adelle likes Echo, who at the time was just an active with an unusual flair for problem-solving. Then in season two we learn she hated Caroline, Echo's original personailty, which makes the earlier fondness of the hollowed-out shell of her former enemy rather creepy.
In "The Hollow Men" Boyd Langton tells Echo that they know the way to extract her spinal fluid and not kill her in the process. Genius Bonus tells us that the most likely outcome will be complete paralysis of the body - forever, which many argue is A Fate Worse Than Death.