Dollhouse, Fox, Airs Friday 9/8c
Episode: “Needs” (Season 1, Episode 8)
Synopsis: Echo and some of her friends awaken with their original personalities, but no memory of how they came to be in the Dollhouse. Each doll deals with the lingering issues just below the surface of their consciousness.
Review: Another strong episode this week, as we got to grips with some of the darker parts of the dolls’ past memories and what brought them to where they are now, along with allowing them to work out their issues in real time. There are a couple of niggly little parts, so let’s address those first before dealing with all the good.
Firstly, was Mike just a method of forcing the dolls to move out of the dollhouse faster? Or was it just collateral damage, because he roomed with the worst cases of “need-driven-issues”? He was taken down pretty quickly, did he not have any issues of his own? Second, Victor was in a war and has horrible memories from that, but his need was to get the girl?
Other than that, however, the episode was rocking along and giving all sorts of character insight at a rapidfire rate. More was made of the DeWitt-Caroline connection, she seems to know a whole lot about one specific doll, which is especially odd when you look at how distant she is about others. From earlier episodes, we know that there was some sort of back and forth for about 2 years before Caroline agreed to join the Dollhouse, hopefully this will continue to be built on and explained.
Again, from previous episodes we’d gathered that the Dollhouse was a voluntary commitment, that any dolls were there of their own choosing, usually to avoid dealing with some awful part of their past. Seeing November/Mellie’s back story at this point was a good choice, as prior to her being revealed as a doll she was fairly dull, and since the reveal there hasn’t been much to do with her (other than see how obsessed she truly is with Agent Ballard). Giving some sort of emotional pull to her means she’s not as dismissible, especially when it’s such a sad history that she has.
However, the real shock in the doll histories was the idea that Sierra wasn’t there because she chose to be, but because some man she refused to sleep with put her there. They say rape takes the victim’s power away, and it seems that Sierra’d had hers stolen away long before her handler got to her. Even worse than the idea she could be put into a place like the Dollhouse was the idea that the person behind this could then pay to have her whenever and however he wanted. God knows what sort of sick and twisted situations that girl has been in.
I have to say, while Caroline’s story is interesting and Echo’s the main character, Sierra’s back story and her history within the dollhouse is far more compelling. This is helped by the fact that Dichen Lachman seems better able to carry off her character, whilst Eliza Dushku seems to try so hard to be blank and empty of personality that she’s practically screaming it.
So, where does all the need-fulfillment we witnessed this week leave the dolls and the pieces of personality we’ve seen emerge in each of them? Will Echo continue to retain memories or has this reset her to a more standardized doll-like state? Less importantly, what will Agent Ballard do now that he’s found the tap and heard Caroline’s distress call? Well, we’re over the midway point of the season, so hopefully there’ll be enough episodes in the current season order to answer some of the questions. The ratings are holding sort of steady, but remain low, so it looks like it’ll be down to Fox having faith in the show (no pun intended) and keeping it on despite phenomenal numbers. However, nowadays a huge portion of viewers treat TV as an on-demand service, watching when it suits them rather than being dictated to by some network schedule. So, with DVR numbers discovered to be very strong, maybe that’ll be the kiss of life for the series.
Up Next Week: “Spy in the House of Love” – A spy is discovered to have infiltrated the dollhouse, and it’s up to the newly programmed Sierra and Echo to root them out.
Did you watch Dollhouse this week? What’d you think?