Dollhouse Episode Guide

Dollhouse

Episode 1: Ghost (7.0)

Aired: 02/13/09
In this pilot episode of Dollhouse we meet Echo, an active at the Dollhouse as she ends a romantic weekend only to have her memory wiped and replaced with that of a hostage negotiator. Meanwhile, FBI agent Ballard is on the trail of the illegal operation known as the Dollhouse.

Best Moment: Seeing Joss Whedon’s name at the end of the credits. Yes! He’s back!! Seriously though…. Probably when Sierra storms in and takes out the remaining kidnappers. It wouldn’t be a Joss Whedon show without some female kickass.

Verdict: Too early to say. I wanted this to be the best moment on television so far…. In actuality it was merely “good.” A lot of things were going on in this pilot episode. Between the fact that I’ve heard what was going on behind the scenes with Fox and because I’m familiar with Whedon’s storytelling style, this felt extremely rushed. We were thrown in with motorcycle racing, and sexy dance club stuff, and hostage negotiation, and Echo getting her memories back and Paul Ballard tracking down the Dollhouse. Even Dr. Saunders’ scars were hit upon in this first episode. It was though the studios had so little faith in this show that they wanted every little future plot element hinted at in the very first episode to keep people interested. While I’ll definitely be there for next week’s episode, I hope that things slow down a little and unfold in a less rushed manner.

Episode 2: The Target (8.5)

Aired: 02/20/09
Echo is imprinted with the memories of an outdoors woman who gets more than she bargains for when she goes on a romantic weekend of camping and “adventure.” Meanwhile, Agent Ballard gets a tip regarding the Dollhouse that points him directly towards Echo, and we get to see the circumstances in which Boyd takes over as Echo’s handler.

Best Moment: Seeing Echo being the one to take care of Boyd and “handle” the situation.

Verdict: He’s baaaaccckkk. While last week’s episode lacked the Whedonesque charm and could’ve been written by any other writer, this one really felt like a Joss Whedon production. Witty dialogue: check; tight plotting: check; Explanations with hints of deeper mysteries to unfold: check. This really should’ve aired first instead of the pilot, but that’s water under the bridge, over the dam… In all, this is the type of episode that is going to make me go back for more.

Episode 3: Stage Fright (7.5)

Aired: 02/27/09
The life of a pop star is threatened so Echo is imprinted with the memories of a singer, hired to be the pop star’s new back-up singer and protect her. Agent Ballard’s investigation takes a dangerous turn.

Best Moment: Hmm, probably a tie between seeing Boyd all nervous for Echo performing and the subtle head shake that Echo gives to Sierra when they cross paths at the dollhouse.

Verdict: Overall, the story felt a little Quantum Leap-y so this was the episode I was least looking forward to. Luckily, Joss Whedon and company rarely do things the way everyone else does things, and the story wasn’t so bad. But even better were the moments outside of Echo’s mission. The Lubov/Victor story was a nice surprise. I’m wondering if sidelining Agent Ballard is Topher’s own little private project. Speaking of Ballard, I do hope that we’ll get a bit more background info on him soon. So far, I feel like we’re being told how tenacious he is with his cases but not really shown why. As for Boyd, I’m just liking him more and more. While this isn’t necessarily an episode I need to see again, this was certainly a decent enough third outing for Dollhouse.

Echo, Topher and Boyd in the Dollhouse

Episode 4: Gray Hour (7.0)

Aired: 03/06/09
Echo is imprinted as Taffy a brilliant safe cracker on a heist job. However, when one of the crew double crosses her, things begin to go from bad to worse.

Best Moment: When we suddenly realize that the person in the vault isn’t Taffy anymore… its Echo.

Verdict: I honestly wanted to like this episode, but I just didn’t. It started off with us seeing Echo on another job as a midwife in the mountains which left me thinking for quite some time… why would you get a doll for that? With “adult adventure” companies I can see the use of dolls… but for delivery of a baby? It just seems unlikely. From there, we see that Echo is sent on a heist. Again, not that interesting, movies and television shows do heists all the time… Luckily, things get interesting when Echo returns to being Echo partway through the job. But it doesn’t quite save the episode. Little seems to be added in the way of Ballard’s story and Echo’s eventual escape from the vault felt far too rushed. It’s this type of episode that makes me think that it isn’t possible to sustain Dollhouse as a story-of-the-week series. Joss Whedon & Eliza Dushku are promising that things will turn around in just a couple more episodes. Let’s hope!

Episode 5: True Believer (7.5)

Aired: 03/13/09
When a cult group dares to spill into Waco territory Echo is brought in to work with the ATF. Echo is implanted with cameras in her eyes and is given the imprint of a devout blind woman. Back at the Dollhouse Topher and Saunders notice that Viktor is having a “man reaction,” an apparent impossibility in-between memory wipes. Agent Ballard receives another clue bringing him closer to finding Caroline.

Best Moment:Man reaction. The whole scene between Saunders and Topher flowed perfectly, just like a Joss Whedon show should. It’s a shame that there aren’t more of these scenes.

Verdict: I felt like the first half of the episode was working fine. It was interesting to see a considerably more subdued Dushku, and I liked how they were working Agent Ballard more into the script (something that they need to do much more of). But the second half felt very messy to me. It was overly complicated: Echo gets her sight back, the ATF agent is the one behind the note, the ATF agent decides to kill Echo and Boyd, Dominic decides to kill Echo…. All of which made the ending very rushed. Ultimately, they said nothing new with the cult episode. It played out in a very Waco like manner, except that Echo saves everybody, by suddenly switching from being Esther the religious chick to, I’m not sure who… Caroline? A composite of previous imprints? She certainly didn’t act like a blind, religious woman acting heroically, she seemed like, well, Faith. All in all, a better effort than last week’s, but still not on the level it should be.

Episode 6: Man On the Street (8.5)

Aired: 03/20/09
Agent Ballard grows dangerously close to the Dollhouse when he traps a mogul with his doll, who turns out to be non-other than Caroline. DeWitt decides to take action against Ballard by sending Echo on a mission to discredit Ballard, but someone at the Dollhouse has tampered with Echo’s imprint, sending a message to Ballard. Meanwhile, things at the Dollhouse heat up when they discover that Sierra was raped there.

Best Moment: When Echo as Rebecca believes that her husband is some kind of internet porn king and freaks out.

Verdict: He’s baaaccckk. Okay, I’ve said that before, but I really mean it this time. Finally an episode I can care about! It’s not that the last few were bad, but they didn’t give me any reason to come back, unlike this episode where Whedon really “brings it.” It was really nice to see Ballard front and center, not just on the case, but also seeing him as a human being. And having him finally meet Echo, not once, but twice, very cool! I did feel that the fight sequence went on a tad too long. I suspect that’s because we didn’t have any feeling of anticipation unlike, say, Faith and Buffy’s fight to the death at the end of season 3. The rapist handler at the Dollhouse was very creepy, particularly when he asks Sierra if she trusts him. It was nice to see Boyd take him down, but I’m still left wanting to know more about Boyd. Although, if Webmonkey Rob is right, and he was really distracting Topher right before Topher planned to do the imprint on Echo, we might be learning a lot more about Boyd very soon. And how about Ballard’s neighbour! Very Manchurian Candidate. This episode left me with a ton of questions, which I know that Joss and Co. will answer for me, so long as the network executives let them.

Dollhouse Man on the Street

Episode 7: Echoes (8.5)

Aired: 03/27/09
When a hallucinogenic memory drug is released in a college campus, and only the dolls appear to be immune, everyone at the Dollhouse who is not already on assignment is called to help recover a vial of the drug that’s still missing, and “handle” the situation. Meanwhile Echo, who is on an engagement, finds herself inexplicably led to the college campus to confront Caroline’s past.

Best Moment: Too many to count. Loved Dominic’s reaction when he realizes that Topher programmed Viktor to “outrank” him. And the verbal banter between Topher and Adelle was classic Whedon.

Verdict: Loved it! People losing/having their memories altered during an episode and used for comedic value is a little bit of a Whedon staple, but I’m not complaining. I loved it when they did it in both Buffy and Angel, and I loved it in this episode. This episode was by no means filler either. We finally begin to learn about Caroline and the true reason she wound up in the Dollhouse. Not to mention, we also begin to learn more about the operations beyond the Dollhouse. The only part of the episode that I felt needed a little something more was the scenes between Ballard and Mellie. Frankly, I didn’t care when the two got together, and I didn’t really care when she walked out on him either. Of course, you just know he’s gonna run into her with another imprint and realize that she’s a doll and that will be something cool to watch.

Episode 8: Needs (8.0)

Aired: 04/03/09
Following last week’s incidents with Active glitches the Dollhouse struggles to get a handle on the situation. Meanwhile, Echo, November, Victor, Sierra and another doll awake in the Dollhouse with their own, real personalities but absolutely no memory of who they are or where they are.

Best Moment: When they all first wake up, their reactions are hysterical. Are they being probed by aliens? Second, would have to be them trying fit in with the other blank dolls. Third, would have to be DeWitt’s quick turn around from her wanting to let things play out, to after the lights go out they’d better try and stop Echo.

Verdict: I compared last week’s episode to Buffy’s Tabula Rasa but in a lot of ways, this was more like Tabula Rasa except with perhaps less humour. It was really interesting to finally see these characters of which we’ve only occasionally gotten glimpses of. Victor was particularly funny and compelling. Echo/Caroline reacted the most bizarrely when, after escaping the Dollhouse, she chooses to go back in to rescue the other dolls. Although knowing that she’s reacting on her own base needs, I suppose it’s not too surprising given what we already know about her. DeWitt was again particularly interesting. In her mind, she doesn’t see herself as a bad person at all. And she raises the very interesting point, would Caroline really be doing the right thing by simply releasing the dolls just as they are? My one letdown for the episode is that Agent Ballard is still sidelined, and remains a fairly uninteresting character. Although after that last scene, it looks like Whedon & Co. will be fixing that next episode.

Episode 9: Spy in the House of Love (9.0)

Aired: 04/10/09
While DeWitt is away Topher discovers evidence of a spy at the Dollhouse. Dominic brings Sierra in to catch the spy. Echo asks Topher if she can also help find the spy. Meanwhile, Mellie returns to her apartment.

Best Moment: Too many to count! Whedon & Co. are just on fire this episode. Mellie turning into November to warn Ballard was just the first of a number of shocking moments. But best moment? When Ivy and Topher are hiding behind the couch and Ivy asks if they should do anything to help Echo who’s fighting off Dominic- Topher’s assertion that his imprinting her with kung fu skills was help enough.

Verdict: Absolutely brilliant. We had very cool spy stuff with Sierra breaking into the NSA, and the revelation about Dominic, well, couldn’t ever have seen that coming. I’m glad they didn’t drag out the Ballard-Mellie stuff, although it does still seem to be the weaker parts of the episode. The scenes with “Roger” and Adelle were touching and showed an interesting side of her, right before she turns into cold hearted bitch and sends her close acquaintance to the attic. And on top of that, Boyd gets an unwanted promotion. Wow! Things are definitely ratcheting up at the Dollhouse. I should also add that I liked the way they told the story today with each segment devoted to a different doll. This was definitely one of my favourite episodes so far.

Dollhouse Haunted

Episode 10: Haunted (8.0)

Aired: 04/21/09
Echo is imprinted with the memory of Adelle’s close friend, Margaret, who’s just been murdered. Margaret decides to attend her own funeral and say goodbye to her loved ones. Meanwhile, Topher imprints Sierra with an extra special, once a year assignment while Ballard gets closer to discovering who the real Millie/November is.

Best Moment: Sierra referring to the dolls as “sleepies” and suggesting they have a sleepies gladiator show and put it on YouTube. He had literally imprinted her like a female Topher!

Verdict: More of a filler episode, and I’m sure many will be disappointed given the previous few episodes, but I thought it was an enjoyable romp. The episode could’ve been pretty blah with Margaret solving her own murder and saying goodbye to her family, but it definitely benefited from the classic Whedon humour, which was written by fan favourites Jed Whedon and Jane Espenson. Absolutely loved the Topher subplot, which in many ways does continues the theme from previous episodes with members of the Dollhouse having their own dolls because they find it so hard to connect to real people. It was particularly touching to realize that he did this for his birthday. And agent Ballard has taken yet another step closer to the Dollhouse and yay, finally a non-Doll believes him!

Episode 11: Briar Rose (9.0)

Aired: 05/01/09
Echo is imprinted with the personality of a grown up version of an abused little girl at a care center. While helping the girl, she reads to her the story of Briar Rose, which is also the episode title. Meanwhile, with the help of the man that helped design the Dollhouse, Ballard goes to the Dollhouse to rescue Caroline.

Best Moment: Pretty much every moment that involved Firefly's Alan Tudyk. I also loved Victor’s “impression” of Dominic.

Verdict: Wow. Joss Whedon's done it again. Very cool beginning for the two part finale. First of all, what an interesting concept with Echo being the grown up Susan, I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to work. How did Topher get a scan of the young Susan? It was interesting to see the Dollhouse actually doing some good. As I said earlier, I really enjoyed Victor as Dominic, and definitely do not believe for a minute that “whiskey” was him asking for a drink, since as, Webmonkey Rob pointed out, “whiskey” can also mean “W.” The blow out fight between Ballard and Boyd was interesting. I really didn’t know who I was rooting for. Ballard’s supposedly the good guy, but frankly we’ve seen more of Boyd and we know he cares for Echo even if he is mixed up in a crazy outfit like the Dollhouse. And as for Alan Tudyk, he was just a riot throughout most of the episode, but when he turned, wow… I’ve never seen him play a role like that, so that was interesting. Can’t wait for the (hopefully) season finale next week.

Episode 12: Omega (8.0)

Aired: 05/08/09
While Alpha runs off with Echo, the Dollhouse are left reeling from Alpha’s latest attack. Ballard and Boyd are left to team up and find Alpha and Echo.

Best Moment:Loved seeing Boyd and Ballard working together, after last week’s punch-up it seemed a natural progression. Also loved Alpha’s line about his multiple personalities, and one that actually is a multiple personality.

Verdict:An overall decent episode but not nearly as good as the previous week. Firefly's Alan Tudyk was fun to watch with all his personalities although I didn’t get as much fun watching Dushku play Omega. I don’t know if it’s just because of the way Omega was written, she seemed to have a fairly singular personality that didn’t quite mesh with what Alpha had going on. It was really interesting seeing Echo interact, essentially, with herself. Sierra, I have to say, was criminally underused. Dichen Lachman just seems to have so much fun with her roles. I would like to have seen more with Whiskey/Dr. Saunders, but I am happy to say that Webmonkey Rob called it! The ending was very intriguing with Ballard helping the Dollhouse. It makes sense for the character and I guess it’s a way for DeWitt to keep her enemies closer. I do feel that the episode felt a little rushed. I’m usually the first to complain that a two-parter episode should really only be a one-parter, but in this case the episode could’ve benefited with even more build up. Uncovering Alpha’s past should have taken longer, as should the moment when Omega decided to attack Alpha, which felt woefully predictable. And of course, Alpha’s big escape left me feeling less “big” and more “cheated.” This is not to say that this was a bad episode. I thought it was a great episode. I just wish/hope that we get to see more.

Dllhouse Epitaph One

Episode 13: Epitaph One (9.0)

Aired: Not Aired on U.S. Television

This much-anticipated episode leaps the story forward ten years into a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles where it is humanity against the imprints. This does not mean however, a BSG-style leap in time, as the second season will pick back up where the first left off.

Best Moment: Seeing who really was attacking the rag tag post-apocalyptic survivors in the Dollhouse; Seeing Caroline inhabit said character’s body and her reaction to it.

Verdict: The word brilliant comes to mind. It’s finally clear exactly the kind of story that Joss Whedon wants to tell, and it most certainly is not a story-of-the-week procedural show. If you were left not entirely convinced about Dollhouse’ cult status after the first season, this episode will really change your mind. It’s an unusual undertaking, and almost feels like reading the end of the book after having finished only the first chapter. We’re left wondering who these new characters are, and how some of the old characters got to the situations we see them in this episode. The brilliant part comes in as Whedon himself has stated that memory can be distorted and things aren’t always as they seem. This of course gives the writers lots of leeway to change directions if needed. Personally, I’m left with a lot of questions and am really eager to see how things progress in Dollhouses sophomore year.

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