Fighting with the Sky

Dollhouse: Stop-Loss/The Attic

Posted on: December 19, 2009

Another night of two hours of Dollhouse.  With these two hour episodes, so much happens that it’s hard to write a proper summary, so I am just going to bullet point some main things that happened:

  • Victor/Anthony’s contract was up so he was released into the “real world” where he was recruited by a Rossum-run army that needs ex-Actives for their programmable brain.  They implant a chip that creates neural radios and mass-group think among all the soldiers.  Echo and Sierra/Priya break him out.
  • Topher finds a way to rearrange Ballards brain and imprint himself with himself to bring him out of his Alpha-induced coma
  • Adelle seems to be running the Dollhouse into the ground and taken to copious amounts of alcohol.
  • Echo, Victor, and Sierra are sent to the Attic where they learn that the Attic feeds Rossum’s mainframe — they are turned into human computers.  The adenaline that is produced from keeping the people in a constant state of fear increases the processing power.
  • Echo finds out that you can escape from the Attic by killing yourself and bringing yourself back to life or being revived on the other side.
  • And it all turns out that it was part of Adelle’s evil plan to bring down the Dollhouse/Rossum!

I did like the first episode of this two-parter a little bit more because it wasn’t as Echo-centric — there was a lot of Victor in there.  Even sense Echo has become “self-aware” (as they call it) and “more like a person,” I haven’t really liked her as much.  I know that sounds weird, but now that she can fully access all of her imprints with no problems, it’s kind of boring.  I liked her more when she was having flashes and we weren’t really sure what was going to happen with her.

But one thing that I didn’t like about the episode “Stop-Loss” was the “love can conquer all” theme.  Victor/Anthony and Sierra/Priya can remember each other even when they are their “original” selves, when they are programmed as different people, or when they are in their “doll state.”  Does anyone else find this weird?  Don’t they advertise the technology as being able to wipe everything?  But apparently love is on a deeper level.  Don’t get me wrong, I like them together…it just doesn’t make sense to me in terms of the previous storylines and continuity with the technology.  And I’m just not a big fan of hugely sappy things.

There’s a lot that I don’t get about the Dollhouse universe and technology, but I just completely do not understand the Attic.  It was really weird, even for Joss Whedon.  And I don’t understand how they can jump from one person’s head and worst fears to anothers.  How does that work?  I just really didn’t understand what was going on in that part of the show.

And I’m pretty sure meloukhia called it when she said (something along the lines of): “remember on Angel when he had to convince his friends he was evil in order to bring down Wolfram & Hart — that’s what is happening with Adelle.”  That’s pretty much exactly what happened in these episodes.  Throughout the whole episode(s) we are left to think that Adelle has gone crazy and evil and drunk and doesn’t care what happens to other people at all.  But wait, she has a plan to bring down the entire corporation!  Dont’ worry, Adelle’s got your backs.  And speaking of flashbacks to previous Whedon shows…Echo is starting to remind me a lot of Faith from Buffy/Angel after she turned good again — and not just because they are played by the same actress.  They both seem to have the “I’ve done some bad things before, but now I’m going to use my skills for good as a way to repay for my sins” kind of feel to them — in different ways, but it’s still there.

And I really like how this branch of the Dollhouse is being billed as the “Dollhouse that cares.”  None of the other Dollhouses care what happens to their Actives when they are in the Dollhouse, let alone when they are released.  But if you are lucky enough to get put in this Dollhouse, they will really take care of your and care about what happens to you.  It just feels weird that none of the other branches have gone looking for missing ex-Actives (as in the case of Victor/Anthony) or even slightly stood up to the Rossum corporation.

I do have to say that I was a little more impressed this week than I was last week.  It had more of a storyline to it.  Or maybe I was just in a better mood when I watched it.  But I think they are trying too hard to wrap it up into a nice little bow to end with that they are skipping over some important developmental steps — like all of a sudden Topher has morals (earlier in the season) without much of an explanation.  I know that the show is ending soon and they want to go out with a bang, but I think they are missing some important steps in getting to that bang with trying to make it look all pretty for Fox.

Speaking of going out with a bang, there are three episodes left of Dollhouse, which will apparently return in three weeks.  And I thought Amy Acker as Dr. Saunders/Whiskey was supposed to be in some of the later epsiodes of the season, so I wonder if she’s going to show up in these or they just took that part out after the show got canceled.  I hope she comes back because I think she was one of the more interesting characters.

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1 Response to "Dollhouse: Stop-Loss/The Attic"

I think that even though they have always stated that they wipe them completely, the show has always shown that the tech doesn’t do what they think it does (which has built up to the impending tech-caused apocalpyse). They’ve mentioned that the grouping by specific dolls has been seen in other houses, too. All the way back to the beginning of the first season, even before Alpha dumped all the personalities in her head, Echo was retaining things after being wiped. Overall, the whole show could pretty much be a cautionary tale about abusing technology.

The Attic was basically all their brains were linked together and being used as a computer. I think that they weren’t jumping into peoples’ heads, but that each person connected to the mainframe brought their own consciousness to it, so they could visit the parts that each person brought with them (like how the Japanese sushi place started disappearing after the guy eating his own legs was killed). It reminded me a little bit of The Matrix.

I don’t think that the writers are trying to make it pretty for Fox, I think they want to deliver a full story to the fans. I have been wondering what parts they would have spent more time on developing if they had more episodes to do it in. I’d like to learn more about Boyd – I’m pretty sure that his influence has been the reason the LA Dollhouse has cared more about their dolls than other houses do. Everyone who was there before him seemed pretty content to go about business as usual, and then he, and later Ballard, came in and were uncomfortable with what was going on.

I hope Whiskey will be back, too – I want to find out what Topher was talking about during their final conversation, and if they had a past. There also has to be some explanation given for Whiskey’s appearance in Epitaph One.

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