Fighting with the Sky

Dollhouse: Vows

Posted on: September 27, 2009

Season 2 is back with a bang!  This episode made me remember (not that I really forgot) how much I love Joss Whedon.  One of the reasons I love Dollhouse but something that also makes it hard to write about is that sooo much happens in each episode — and so much worth talking about.

doll-201-sc4-120-blogThis week in “Vows,” Ballard hired the Dollhouse, Echo specifically, to help him bring down an arms dealer.  They did this by creating Echo as Ballard’s partner who went “undercover” and married this arms dealer as a way to get closer to him.  We start out by seeing Echo marrying this guy but we have no idea what is going on.  We gradually learn that she is working with Ballard.  But at the end of the engagement she starts to “glitch” and many of her different personas start to manifest and Ballard has to get her to remember the right persona to help them in that situation.  At the end of the episode we see Echo back in the Dollhouse talking with Ballard.  She confesses that she remembers all of the people she has been — she still feels them and sometimes remembers exactly what they were like.  But she doesn’t remember who she actually is and wants Ballard to help her find herself.  At this, Ballard becomes her handler.

The “secondary” (just because it wasn’t about an engagement) storyline that I found the most interesting was that of Whiskey/Dr. Saunders.  Dr. Saunders just recenlty found out that she is actually a doll and is obviously not handling it well.  She taunts Topher (who I really love, he’s so adorably geeky) because she sees him as her creator (which he pretty much is).  Topher is also suffering from some sort of mental break.  We’re not really sure what is going on with him, but something is.

I don’t really know how much detail to go into with the summary because so much happened and something might be important in a later episode that I might not see as important now.  But I don’t want to go on forever about the summary, so I think I am going to stop here for now.

I really liked how Echo’s engagement started off with a wedding.  I think it pushed viewers even further to question the themes of consent and personhood in the show.  So maybe you can’t really see how the Active’s engagements could be considered rape, you would probably still think a wedding is weird.  And people in the Dollhouse think it’s wrong as well.  When we first see Echo getting married we have no idea why she is getting married.  When I was watching it at first, I was thinking “who’s sick fantasy is it to married someone they don’t know just to have to never see them again.”  I thought it was really strange.  And it was supposed to be that way, I believe.  It made us, the viewers, think even more about what the Dollhouse actually does and what the ramifications of that actually are.

I’m also really interested to see where this storyline with Whiskey/Dr. Saunders is going, especially in relation to Boyd and Topher.  Boyd and Dr. Saunders seem to have some sort of connection, but it’s unclear whether it is a “genuine” connection and not just Boyd “taking pity” on her.  But we know from “Epitaph One” that they do end up forming some sort of romantic-like relationship.  Also, Whiskey and Topher seem to have some sort of connection beyond the Dollhouse.  There were some references made by Topher (when Whiskey sexually and mentally taunted him while he was sleeping) that through the contract, they can’t know each other and about how she chose to hate him that make me think that they had some sort of connection before coming to the Dollhouse, so I’m really interested to see where that goes.

Whiskey is also obviously a doll that is capable of evolving, like Echo is.  Now that she has discovered that she is actually a doll, she is having an identity crisis.  I was wondering though why they didn’t just wipe those memories.  The Dollhouse and Topher specifically have the power to wipe certain memories, so why don’t they just do that so she can better do her job.  Of course, that wouldn’t make for as good of a storyline, but still.  But from not wiping those memories, we see that Whiskey is starting to remember when she wasn’t Dr. Saunders, just a regular Active, but also that she has “human emotions” which we don’t always expect from the dolls.  But that’s also because she was made as a “completel human being.”  And Amy Acker is doing a great job in the role.

Just as some side notes…It made me really happy that Alexis Denisof was in the episode (Wesly from Buffy/Angel).  Alos because Joss Whedon wrote and directed this episode, I wanted to share some of my favorite lines from the show:

  • Dr. Saunders: “What if she goes over your head?” Boyd: “I’m very tall.” (so random and amazing)
  • Dr. Saunders: “I was created by a sociopath in a sweater vest, how am I supposed to feel?”
  • Topher: “I designed a human being.  Not a Roomba.”

I was very impressed with this episode and can’t wait to see where the season goes from here!  Also check out meloukhia’s review/analysis up at this ain’t livin’.

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8 Responses to "Dollhouse: Vows"

I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

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Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

Agreed!! The new angles of Dr. Saunders/Whiskey really fascinate me – in particular her attachment to the persona Topher has given her, and her aversion to finding out who she “really” is. If I remember correctly, at one point she states, “I don’t want to die” or go away, or something to that effect, when Topher asks why she doesn’t ask Adelle if she can have her (personality? soul? self?) back. It gives a new meaning to the idea of these created personalities really being people in a sense that not only can they evolve, but that they have an attachment to this world, and that leaving it – even if it means going back to who you really are – is still a scary prospect, especially when you know all that’s involved. I find Whiskey’s aversion to going back to her real self is a nice foil to Echo wanting to “find” the real people.

I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂

Argh, clearly I need to break down and buy Epitaph One on iTunes already. I was holding out because it pissed me off that it didn’t go up on Hulu, but it is evidently something which I need to see, despite my cantankerousness.

Yeah, I have this weird thing about buying DVDs…I won’t do it until the show ends, because I want to buy the complete boxed set. Since, when you buy season by season, you always get pissed when the complete boxed set comes out with all kinds of extra goodies.

Anyway, I accidentally clicked to download the HD version, for a whopping $2.99, but I think I will survive. Assuming the download every finished so I can start watching.

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