From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Dollhouse Season 1, Episode 7: Echoes

Last week’s episode of Dollhouse was supposed to be the one that changed everything. This is the show Joss intended to make, insiders cried. Give him some time! After that bit of underwhelming story, I figured that Dollhouse couldn’t impress me. I would even go so far as to say that I think the show is pretty damn bad.

Then I watched “Echoes”. I won’t say it changed my mind about the show completely, but I did feel like there was an inkling of something interesting going on — though, sadly, not enough for me to even say I enjoyed it. I still think people who, upon viewing last week’s episode, felt that the master had returned were just fooling themselves and falling for the hype. I bet if Joss posted online “Oops, I meant episode seven, not six, my bad!” those same people would later say that six was just as horrible as the five that came before.

Moving on!

In this episode of Dollhouse, we find out that something called the Rossum corporation is what runs all the 20 dollhouses across the globe. We learn that they entrust the R&D of their sci-fi-inspired drugs and processes to university labs with lax security. I predict this will go as well for them in the future as it has in the past. Rossum also seems to feel that the best way to deal with people messing around in their lab is to force them into indetured slavery. This is going to end well for everyone.

One of their experimental drugs goes missing, a student who took said drug kills himself while tripping, then the drug decides it’s going to pass from person to person via touch which causes everyone to start freaking out.  Normal people just act high. Dolls have bad flashbacks. Can I just say at this point how really annoyed I am that the Sierra doll flashed back to being abused by her handler? That storyline was sketchy enough, but in this episode we actually get to see him raping her.

I hate you, Joss Whedon.

Echo, who isn’t even supposed to be near all this, accidentally sees the Rossum building on TV, rushes to the scene because her memories are leaking through, and conveniently provides us with some background on how she came to be in the Dollhouse to begin with.  Glad there were 6 episodes between that stupid first scene in the entire series and this. Now we can look back and think “ohh, so that’s what was going on!” and feel satisfied even though nothing satisfactory happened.

We also got an extra dollop of stereotypical black man is the bad guy in all of this.  Stereotypical not because he’s doing bad things (all people do bad things. and at least he’s a scientist) but Joss took down his favorite character-building book “How to Create Minorities in 3 Easy Strokes or Less” and turned to the raised by a single mother/he’s all she’s got/she’s in financial trouble page. Thumbs up!

I enjoy an episode where the actors are given a chance to be crazy and weird. The upper echelon House runners seemed to be enjoying their trippy state quite thoroughly. But I am not the first person to recognize that this plot was ripped off of a first season Star Trek: TNG episode which was, in turn, “inspired” by an original Star Trek episode. And this isn’t even on the list of episode tropes every SF show does at least once.

I feel like this episode started a bunch of sentences it never completed. It raised questions, gave half-assed promises to answer them, then wandered off. What kind of crap is that?

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, I DO NOT WANT to ever, ever see Sierra being raped again.  Or really anyone else.

Watch “Echoes”, courtesy of Hulu, and tell me I’m not right. (I so am.)

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