Fighting with the Sky

Dollhouse: The Public Eye/The Left Hand

Posted on: December 5, 2009

Episode-6-The-Left-Hand-Promo-dollhouse-8722672-683-1024Dollhouse is back!  Even with the sad news that Dollhouse has officially been cancelled, I was glad to see it return and I’m glad that they are letting them run out the episodes that they have left.  Last night they aired two connected episodes, “The Public Eye” and “The Left Hand.”  So much happened in these two hours that I am just going to do some quick bullets to recap some of the main points and then I’ll get into analysis.  So this is what we found out in these two episodes:

  • Senator Perrin (played by Alexis Denisof) is an Active/Doll and Rossum is using his fight to bring down the Dollhouse to their own advantage
  • Madeline (aka November/Mellie) has turned against the Dollhouse and now wants to testify against them at the Senate hearing
  • We get to see one of the other Dollhouses — the D.C. Dollhouse.  Their chief programmer (Topher’s position in LA) is played by Summer Glau who knew Caroline before she became Echo and has a grudge against her.  Bennett tries to kill her using Senator Perrin.
  • Topher has to go to D.C. so he imprints Victor with himself to run things back in LA.  Victor as Topher was hilarious.
  • The Dollhouse must have gotten to Senator Perrin because he testified that Rossum was a good company and the Dollhouse didn’t exist.
  • Echo escapes the Dollhouse.  At the end of the episode she is out wandering around in “doll form,” as they say.

I really like that Dollhouse is back and I enjoyed seeing Alexis Denisof and Summer Glau (both Joss Whedon alums) play major roles in this episode, but I have to say, I’ve seen better.  I really like episodes of Dollhouse that push on controversial issues and really make the viewer think, whether they want to or not.  While there are always some controversial issues that are addressed in episodes of Dollhouse, this episode didn’t really stand out in any way for me.

The trials about Rossum and the Dollhouse always bring up the issues of consent and autonomy.  But one of the main things that I got from these episodes were questioning what happens to the people the Dollhouse creates when they imprint an Active.  When Echo and Senator Perrin realize that they are both Actives and go on the run, they start questioning who they are, who they were, and if they really want to go back to that.  The both come to the conclusion that they want to stay the way that they are, that they don’t want to go back to their original personalities/selves.

When the Dollhouse imprints the Actives, they are creating new people who have lives and emotions.  So when they wipe those imprints, are they essentially murdering those people?  Is it ok that they murder these people since they created these people?

One thing that really stuck out to me as well was the random joke about domestic violence.  When Senator Perrin’s handler (his wife to the public) brings him in, she discusses with Bennet (Summer Glau’s character) how they are going to explain (as in program) all the bruises on both of them to him.  His handler makes the joke “he beats his wife.”  Bennett doesn’t accept that and just brushes it off by saying he loves his wife.  But why would the show even joke about that?  Why even put that line in the show?  I think it’s just an example of how not seriously domestic violence is taken in this country, and around the world.

I was really looking forward to Summer Glau’s guest spot on Dollhouse, but I was kind of disappointed with her character.  She played a mentally unstable, super-smart programmer with a grudge.  She did a great job at playing the character, I just think they could have come up with a better character for her.  I was half expecting her to play a doll because of how well she’s played characters like River Tam in Firefly, but maybe that’s exactly why they didn’t make her an Active — because everyone was expecting her to be one.

My favorite part of this episode, though, was Victor imprinted with Topher’s personality.  He did such a good job and getting all of Topher’s mannerism and his voice even sounded eerily similar.  It was just hilarious to see Victor acting in that way when we are so used to seeing it in Topher.  And then to have them interact with each other and recognize that they are the same person, it was really funny.

Even though I am sad that Dollhouse has been cancelled, I still can’t wait to see what Joss Whedon has up his sleeve for the last few episodes.  I’m not sure exactly how many episodes there are left, but I’m really excited to see how Joss Whedon uses the storyline and how they are going to end things with the Dollhouse.

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1 Response to "Dollhouse: The Public Eye/The Left Hand"

I’m actually quite happy that Dollhouse is being canceled for a multitude of reasons I’ve mentioned in other places but I 100% agree that Victor playing Tofur was AMAZING, I was like, did they do a voice over or something? It felt like old school Whedon! And also the line “I think my bad guys are better then her bad guys” was quite smart.

I feel like the second season is full of uncritical violence against women that is masked in a “I’m saving her and it’s for her own good” narrative which is exceedingly frustrating and these last two episodes were full of it again.

Last thought, I have difficulty with the sympathy towards the the LA dollhouse because as Echo said, they are “bad guys”, they might have some empathy for a few of their dolls but ultimately they are still running this brothel, I think the show is so structurally flawed from the beginning that I don’t know if it could be redeemed even if Whedon had full creative control.

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