Monday, April 27, 2009

Joss Whedon remakes Blue Hawaii!

OK, maybe not, but Felicia Day, and Dichen Lachman try to keep up with Miracle Laurie in this hula demonstration at the Starfury T1 Convention in Birmingham, UK. Thanks to YouTube for this classic moment'''

Anyway, here's a closer look, although darker.....

One more thing, and this may be way out in left field, but anyone think that Miracle would make a great Wonder Woman? Just saying.

Could Dollhouse come back as a mini-series?

After last week's disappointing ratings, some people are worried the Dollhouse will close even before Paul Ballard has a chance to find it. The only advantage it has it that it's getting high DVR and internet showing numbers. This may say more for the terrible Friday time slot more than the quality of the show itself. The show has only two weeks to go with a new story that may lead to several major confrontations, especially involving someone who's a leaf on the wind, or maybe a large tree in a hurricane.

Recently, James Poniewozik of Time magazine suggested the best way to keep the Dollhouse open: bring it back as a mini-series in 2010. He admits this is unlikely, becaus networks buy dramas that go on for years, not just one season. CBS' murder series Harper's Island is the exception, but that's only an experiment. Compare that to cable, where HBO, FX or USA are happy with 13-episode seasons, even split in half. Just like the major nets, though, they'd be even happier if their shows went on for years.

Response to the "limited-series" idea seems to be positive, according to the web page. Some argue that Fox should be willing to experiment with limited series, since its original mission was to be different thank everyone else. If Fox won't do this, cable should. This goes back to my wish that you can have Tales of the Slayers through TV movies or mini-series, and that TNT or FX give it a try. Who wouldn't want to know if Faith becomes a Watcher as part of her restitution, or Vi becomes an internet mogul by day and Slayer by night? It just adds to the current comic series.
Come to think of it, you could try that for Veronica Mars, Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles (probably eight episodes, but enough) and Pushing Daisies(ditto).

The idea of a series setting a firm end date has worked, especially for Lost after viewers wanted to know what was the deal with the Island. Deciding that the show would end in 2010 forced the writers to provide those answers, and pace them to keep interest high. Some are suggesting that Heroes do the same thing after it started to stray lasy year.

While Joss Whedon was planning to use the Dollhouse to pose interesting questions about identity, memory, reality and sexuality for years, maybe even longer than Buffy or Angel, maybe this is a concept that was meant to have a shorter life. After all, Adelle DeWitt and Mr. Rossum could run out of ideas to keep Paul Ballard away, or Echo...or any other Active...from being a person rather than a pet, a lot sooner than they expect. It's a bigger shame to have a series end before a suitable ending is planned. That's happened a lot lately, from Kyle XY to Veronica Mars.

So, if Dollhouse is meant to last one more year, give them 13 episodes..and leave Joss Whedon alone.

Review of Dollhouse "Haunted"

After a break last week, the show returns with the story of a woman who returns from the borrowing Echo's body. It leads to an interesting search for her killer, but the plot may not have been the best way to get more viewers. It borrows from 17 Again, episodes of Star Trek and the Twilight Zone, and a few movies about dysfunctional families.

A rich woman named Margaret Bashford goes out for a ride, while her young husband Jack and a few friends look on. A few minutes later, her horse returns. She doesn't.
Next thing she knows, she looks up at the face of Adelle DeWitt, who tells her she's dead. She also has someone else's body....Echo's.
A new service from the Dollhouse...everlasting life, but only for a limited time. Boyd is shocked when he learns about it from Topher. He wonders "where does that end?" "Same place it begins, death," Topher says. Then again, what is so surprising of people coming back from the dead? It's old hat for Buffy Summers.
Topher also asks Boyd for permission to use an Active for his annual diagnostic test. Sierra is chosen.

Meanwhile, Echo/Margaret and Adelle talk about this new lease on life, but they have a funeral to attend. They also have an engagement to find Margaret's killer. It seems she underwent brain scans for more than a year, just in case this happened.
Cheating death by getting another body is a staple plot in sci-fi, from "The Trade-Ins" and "Uncle Simon" in The Twilight Zone to "Return to Tomorrow" in Star Trek, or even Chucky in Child's Play. The Dollhouse just perfected that wish, but only for a little while. The Actives still have other lives to lead.

Echo/Margaret poses as "Julia", a friend she met while in Morocco. Immediately, her kids, Nicholas and Jocelyn, her brother William, and Jack are very suspicious of her. After all, why would a woman who's as personable as a bulldozer be so friendly to a stranger? Echo/Margaret tries to explain it, but with great difficulty. Then again, she suspects everyone of being her killer, even her "close friends" whose names she can't remember. As she tells Adelle later, "I love these people, but I don't like them."

Meanwhile, Mellie the Doll and Paul Ballard the former FBI agent share dinner, and concerns about their relationship. While she wonders if it's going anywhere, he's careful not to admit he knows she's an Active. Otherwise, the Dollhouse may program her to kill him. He's still trying to figure out who she was. He bags a wine glass she just held, hoping her fingerprints will reveal her. He takes the glass to Loomis, who reluctantly runs the prints through the system. As he points out, Dolls are missing persons who don't know they're missing. He finds out Mellie has had several lives, as Annabelle, Michelle, and even Polly Keller, who was in prison. Then all those files delete themselves. Now two people believe there's a Dollhouse.

Back at the Bashford home, Nicholas talks to "Julia" about his mom, and how she pressed him into a Wall Street career at 12. She says his mom just wanted to make sure he was happy, and really cared about him. At this point, Nicholas kisses "Julia", much to her shock. This makes her Zac Efron and him Michelle Trachtenberg. She leaves quickly, and runs into Jack. He's a bit upset he wound up with the horses. She says Margaret did that to show he wasn't a gold-digger. Thing is, he's afraid everyone thinks that he is, and a killer. However, he has an alibi we have seen.

The next day, Boyd expresses his misgivings to DeWitt about the Dollhouse resurrecting the dead. "You realize, that's the beginning of the end," he says, and that Margaret will have to give up Echo's body. DeWitt says that's his job, and that she's not planning to preside over the end of civilization. She also asks his opinion on why Margaret was killed. He suspects her horses, including one that was a Derby contender, may be connected. Victor is sent as Drew Chilton, a breeder who looks over King's Ransom. When Nicholas sees what's happening, he says the horse is not for sale. He doesn't want Jack to profit from his mom...right?

Echo/Margaret, as "Julia", later talks to Jocelyn, the daughter. She's upset that her mom never supported her photography, or even confided in her. She's more upset she saved her love for "Julia" and Jack, who she calls a "tropical cookie". Speaking of which, she sees Jack planning to leave because he feels he belonged to his wife. She seems to sympathize with him, but he thinks "Julia" is really a spy for someone in the family. He doesn't like this "summer stock seduction" act she's got going. He suggests maybe William is the culprit, since he came a day before she died. William tells her he just decided to make things right with her, and they did. He also mentions that Nicholas has been caught by an addiction.

Back at the Dollhouse, Topher finishes his diagnostic test of Sierra. He sees it's a success...he's turned her into the Best Bud/Video Game Pal of his dreams. No sex. No abuse. He just wanted to make a friend, literally. As Fran Kranz pointed out at the PaleyFest recently, It's very difficult for Topher to relate to anyone who isn't a super-genius. He should have tried with Ivy, who at least claims she can do his job, but he just can't. That's why he does these tests, usually around his birthday. Oh, and DeWitt knows. She understands. Just recall the previous episode.

As for Paul, he comes home and sees Mellie there, talking about smelling some of his shirts. She also says he can have her on his terms. "I will give you what you need," she says, "and let you take it from me. If you want to give back, give back." He then has his way with her, and it is very uncomfortable to watch. He kisses her, holds her, pins her against a wall, and then to bed. She just lies back while he projects his affections, and maybe his frustrations, on her. It's somewhere between what Hearn did to Sierra, and Adelle did to Victor. It's artificial love, the worst kind. It's also the moment Paul Ballard becomes a White Knight with armour heavily corroded on the inside.

Meanwhile, Echo/Margaret rides King's Ransom in the dark, which is symbolic of her situation. Then, she meets someone at the stable. It's Nicholas...who reveals he knows Julia is really his mom. He even knows about the Dollhouse, the NY branch. Believe it or not, she is relieved someone knows the truth. It also leads to a pretty strange scene that also looks like a twisted version of 17 Again. Seeing Echo/Margaret talk to Nicholas as his mom is really weird at so many levels. He does admit he's had a rough time on Wall Street, but she says it will be OK somehow. They also overhear Victor/Drew tell Jack that King's Ransom is loaded with steroids, and would die if he raced again. Jack is very angry, and starts swinging a shovel at everything in sight. He comes close to hitting "Julia", but Nicholas stabs him. She and Nicholas head to her bedroom, where she can write a letter revealing the truth...dated before she died of course. He reminds her to include the fact she died when a steroid masking agent was injected into her....which Jack never knew about because he has an alibi.
Yes, the son did it. Killing Mom will solve his financial problems, and framing Jack will be easy. However, Jack is able to save her by shooting Nicholas and subduing him. Later, Echo/Margaret revises her will with another fake letter, and makes up with Jocelyn and everyone else. She even leaves one more letter for Jack, letting him know he was special to her.

As for Paul, he stands in the shower, realizing what he has just done. He's been condemning what the Dollhouse does for a long time. Now, he's a willing participant. As Mellie asks if Paul will be busy looking for Dollhouse clients, he sadly says he's found one. That client will always be there. He just has to find a mirror.

As Margaret heads back to the Great Beyond, Adelle asks her if she was tempted to run away with Echo's body. That would make a great sequel. Besides, she wouldn't get far, and she's had her time. At least she's made amends. She finally asks if her life will flash before her eyes when Echo's wiped clean. Adelle assures her she will.

The episode was an interesting murder mystery, which proved again you can't fight a ghost, or one that's borrowing an Active's body. It also showed that Paul Ballard, while claiming to be the White Knight, is all too human. However, it seems Paul fell into temptation too quickly. He stopped seeing Mellie as a woman, and more of a Doll who can be anyone if you "dressed her up right". What's more, she told him he could do that. Even so, he should have held back, should have stopped and apologized. We still don't know why he started investigating the Dollhouse, either. Hopefully, we'll find out in the next two weeks, when a storm is coming that will make Katrina look like scattered showers.

Or maybe the storm has already hit. Prison Break has not been the lead-in the show had hoped it would be. This week's numbers are the lowest yet: 1.9/3, and 1.2/4 in the 18-49 demo.
Expect the DVR numbers to be much higher, but it may not be enough. It looks like Paul Ballard will never knock down the Dollhouse. Lincoln and Michael, and their mom, may have beaten him to the punch.

Still, there is hope, even if it's dim. We'll talk about that soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dollhouse at the Paley Festival

Even with Dollhouse facing the threat of cancellation, Joss Whedon scored his second straight sellout with his panel on the show, moderated by Matt Roush of TV Guide. That living doll, Eliza Dushku, was there, along with fellow dolls Miracle Laurie and Dichen Lachman, along with Fran Kranz aka Topher, and writers Sarah Fain and Liz Craft, who wrote two episodes. I was hoping we'd see Amy Acker, Harry Lennix, or Olivia Williams, but this was still a good panel.
Although I got some good pictures, we were not allowed to bring digital recorders, and that included real internet reporters. So this is one big paraphasing, but a fairly good account.

For a while, it looked like we wouldn't get a sell-out, but the Cinerama Dome was packed just before seven p-m. I even brought a doll with me. It wasn't one of those Echo dolls Fox gave to reporters along with the screener, but I could pretend the remains of Laurence Dominic still got a good seat..

Well, Dominic wanted to go

Before the panel, we saw episode eight, "Needs", where some of the Actives were able to get closure, and therefore be glitch-free from now on. In theory.

The crowd loved the show, with the cast members having a ball, too. One of the first subjects was that 13th episode that Fox, the TV show maker, wanted for DVD sales and foreign TV, but Fox, the network, decided not to air because it already got its 13 episodes...if you count "Echo", the pilot that never was. In any case, Joss says the episode is incredible, and so will the rest of the shows coming in the next few weeks.
As for whether there's a future, Joss admits his feelings have been moving from resignation to, well, hope. While the regular ratings are soft, the DVR and demo numbers are encouraging. I say throw in Hulu downloads,and we start writing season two immediately.

As for the show, he admits it's been a difficult birthing process, but he praised the cast for its patience through the whole thing. Remember, Firefly's pilot was shown last, but the Dollhouse series has been produced out of order. Fans in the know are aware many parts of "Echo" were used in the first few episodes, and some will be used in "Omega" next month.

Eliza between the puppetmasters

Of course, Eliza had lots of praise for the guy who made her a vampire-slaying babe, and admitted she liked his mind. Also, the show has let her do a lot of things, from being a tomboy to a butt-kicking safecracker, and also some challenging roles like when she was a blind prophet in "True Believer". Very soon, she'll actually be older in another engagement, with Bad Horse (yes, that one) in a cameo role.

Topher Brink, Super-Duper Genius

Fran Kranz had some interesting things to say about the process of getting the show off the ground, and how it's help him understand his character, Topher Brink. He admitted that he thinks Topher is like a child. He says his intelligence is so great, he's never related to anyone until the Dollhouse. He even compared Topher as a guy who plays with his toys, except they're full-sized people. He also said that his relationship with Adelle is almost maternal, which really explains how they've had to rely on each other lately. By the way, Fran was in a movie called The TV Set, which spoofed the process of pilot season. He noted some similarities between the plot with how Dollhouse was developed

It's a Miracle

Now, how about this huggable doll, Miracle Laurie, who plays November? When we first saw her, she was the girl next door who seems to be a little too interested in Paul. She says she's had to tell her family that she'll be doing more than just give Paul Italian food. She also loves the reaction she's been getting from fans as well as family. She's also pointed out that being a doll is a little difficult because it's something no one has done before. She did point out that although all Actives are supposed to be totally neutral, they still are different in very subtle ways.

More discussions

As for Dichen, she also says it's been a blast. She especially loved being the dorky fan in "Stage Fright." She's also aware that the show suggests Sierra is the only Active who was forced into the Dollhouse, while the others "volunteered". That fact, she says, brings up many of the ethical issues in the show.

So what can we expect in the future? Eliza still calls Echo "the awesomest glitcher in the world", which may suggest she will keep "evolving" Joss, meanwhile, says Echo may be passive as we get closer to the season finale, but not all the time.
Joss says the casting process can change the characters themselves. DeWitt, for example, was supposed to be some kind of dragon lady, but Olivia Williams' take on DeWitt has made her something different, namely evil yet sympathetic.
Also, the role of the Dollhouse itself has changed. We know the Actives perform engagements, and the details are supposed to be private. Then someone asked, what about all that information the Dollhouse gathers? What is done with that?

The audience then got a chance to ask some questions. One person asked if we'd get some stories about the staff. Fran suggested that we see Topher shop at the supermarket..and spot Paul there. That would set up a scary confrontation at the frozen foods section.

Then someone asked if Joss thought about making his own shows and bypass everyone, especially the networks? While he's impressed how far the internet has come, even as an alternatives to the nets, he says TV is the place for him, and that having a chance to tell stories in that medium is a privilege. He didn't say if he'd work exclusively for cable in the future, but at least he still believes in the keen flat screen, formerly the boob tube.
There was also one person who saw a connection about human experimentation among all of Joss' shows. There could be a link between the Actives, River Tam and how her brain was hacked by the Academy in Firefly, and Adam, the undead cyborg the Initiative made in Buffy. Joss was a bit surprised by this, but did point it it can be seen as a metaphor of how we are conditioned by society. He also talked about A.I., and how that has influenced him.

Then the cast was asked what was their favorite parts of the set. Eliza liked the art corner where Echo could paint, do a little bonzai, or something "artistic". Fran liked Topher's lab because he can store some stuff from craft services, but he also liked Dr.Saunder's office. Dichen also liked Topher's lab, but Miracle has her special place in a nook under the lab.

So how much will be revealed after "Omega", and even "Epitath One", ends. Joss estimates about 35 percent, but assures everyone that episode will open plenty of doors that will guide viewers to another twisty season.
If Fox gives us one, that is.

A Living Doll

The only thing I wish I had was Eliza's autograph on my Dollhouse screener, but a good picture of her is just as good.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Secretary, or an Active, Is Not A Toy

I'm still thinking about last Friday's Dollhouse episode, "A Spy In The House of Love." While the big news is that Laurence Dominic is now a discarded non-Active in the Attic, the other big surprise is who is this Miss Lonelyhearts that Victor keeps visiting...and it's Adelle DeWitt! She programs Victor as "Roger", her romantic ideal, with whom she can bare her soul and inner conflicts about life, love and anything else.
Does anyone see how wrong this is? She does, eventually, but only because it hurts her focus on her job.
It's more than that, though. It's the second time an Active is exploited for fulfill a superior's needs. The other example is Hearn raping Sierra in her neutral state. This, along with concerns about Victor's man-reactions whenever he's close to her, led Adelle to make this statement at the end of "True Believer"

A place of safety, of untroubled certainty, of purity. This is the world we must maintain. It is imperative that nothing disturb the innocence of life here. Once any temptation is introduced, it will spread like a cancer, and all will be infected. Victor must be scrubbed and monitored closely.

At face value, Adelle makes sense. Inside the Dollhouse, the Actives should be at peace at all times, with no worries about being hurt or threatened. Having sexual urges would make life too complicated, which is why Actives don't have sexual feelings in their neutral state. However, as we heard from Claire in the last episode, they are programmed for clients who want to experience same-sex engagements. It's part of what the Dollhouse does. If an Active is always sexually neutral, or at peace, it makes it easier for them to do the engagements they are programmed to do.

While Adelle demands the Dollhouse world to be filled with peace and harmony, and those who violate it must be punished, what are we to think when we find out Adelle has been having an "affair" with Victor/Roger because he was programmed for it. What happens when the supervisor becomes the client? Isn't that against company policy. Is there a policy?

We should remember Hearn did to Sierra was cruel. It was a clear abuse of his duties, and his death should have been a message to any Handler or supervisor who even thinks of exploiting an Active.
Adelle's decision to use Victor as her romantic idea doesn't look cruel, but it is curel...maybe slightly more to herself than to Victor. She's given up on the idea that a man would love her, maybe because of the business she is in. Therefore, she decides using an Active as lover and confidant is her only way to survive her stressful job. Also, there's no chance of being accused of sexual harassment because she can just wipe away those romantic memories until the next time, and no one would know. No matter how you look at it, it is still very bad. You also have to wonder if this is happening in the other 19 Dollhouses around the world.

The title of this post is a variation to the classic song "A Secretary Is Not A Toy", from How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. I think the Dollhouse Network ought to add "Actives" to that title, too. Otherwise, people may think the company is more evil than it should be.

Recap of Dollhouse: "A Spy In The House of Love"

Last week, it was all about needs. This week, it's all about trust.
There's a spy in the Dollhouse, and Dominic uses some of the Actives to find the culprit. However, we also discover some big secrets, especially one that is a major game-changer.

We start with seeing some commotion in one of the secret rooms. It looks like someone is about to be an Active against his will. Echo and Sierra look from below. Echo says, "She made a mistake, Now she's sad."

Turn back the clock 12 hours, and we see Echo's returning from an engagement as a dominatrix. "It's not about the pain," she says. "It's about trust." Boyd just wonders about her whip. When they get back, we see Victor's off to see Miss Lonelyhearts for the tenth time. He does look suave. When Echo has her treatment, it's Ivy who welcomes her back, while Topher is trying to fix the damage from last week's "revolt". Naturally, he says Ivy doesn't welcome Actives as well he does. We also learn Adelle is off for a performance review with Rossum. She's hopeful she might get cake, but expects some slaps on the wrist because of what has happened before. After all, any disaster in the Dollhouse falls on her. For now, Dominic is in charge.
As Dr. Claire Saunders looks Echo over, she and Boyd talk about how Actives are being used by people who have hidden needs. He wonders why it has to include S&M. Claire admits the system may be broken, maybe too much, but not for the reasons he has.

Now we see Topher freaking out. He's found a special chip in the Imprint Chair that can allow anyone to hack into it, and add some extra orders, like make a cheerleader be an assassin. He sort of suspects Boyd, but he's really worried how he's going to be blamed for all this. Meanwhile, Echo waves at November, who doesn't understand why. Echo also notices things are a bit off. So, she volunteers to be imprinted to learn why everyone's not, well, happy. Topher is surprised, but he'll go for it.

This episode was originally called "Four Engagements" because four Actives are involved with certain tasks. First, we have November who's been reimprinted into Mellie. As she sees it, she just got back from a trip to Iowa where she visited Mom. She's got jet-lag, and is ready to go home. Never mind the Dollhouse doesn't look like LAX.
Paul's surprised Mellie/November is back, but she's more surprised he's pointing a gun at her. The stress of looking for the Dollhouse has taken a big toll on him. First, his door has five locks because he knows the Dollhouse spied on him with that special camera last week. He also learns the influence of the Dollhouse is deep, even including the FBI, and that it's located somewhere underground in L-A. The big problem is that he's also very deep in paranoia. This freaks her out, but he admits he's worried, too. He's so obsessed with the Dollhouse he can't even remember why he's looking for it. Well, we don't know either. However, Mellie/November figures she can keep him grounded...with a co-ed shower. They're about to get wet when she stops...and delivers a message from the Dollhouse. This time she explains she's a sleeper agent, and how she's been spying on him for months. He is also told that it's more important to find the true purpose of the Dollhouse than its location. However, he can't tell Mellie that he's aware of all this, or Adelle will call her about flowers in a vase. That would be bad news for Paul. Despite the fact he's got a million questions, like who's implanting the info into the Actives, he has to go along.

Sierra has been put into Sydney Bristow mode, as she looks for the spy. Before that, Topher and Dominic are concerned they can't find Adelle, and blame each other for the security glitch. Actually, one of them has something to hide.
Dominic figures the chip is NSA technology. Sierra has to get inside the NSA office, get some files what will uncover the traitor, and get out. She manages to eliminate a worker named Sato in a commuter train. She impersonate her in every way, even with contact lenses to fake her identity. She gets the file, which seems to be a sheet protector that's also a computer screen.

The third engagement involves Victor as Roger, the perfect companion to Miss Lonelyhearts. As his handler Serena escorts him out, they meet Boyd and Miss Domin-Echo with her whip. Victor/Roger drives to a woman's house with flowers in his hand. Later, he drives off in the woman's car to his real date, someone named Catherine,.....
...who is really Adelle DeWitt!! She's using an Active for sexy times? Somewhere in Hell, Hearn is yelling, "Hey, how is what you're doing to Victor different than what I did with Sierra?"
Well, they do look good together, and if loving him is wrong, etc. They share some quality time in the sheets, and a fencing match that's as intense as their lovemaking. We also learn he accidentally dropped her cell phone into the ocean. It seems that he's there to share her deepest needs and secrets with. She can always wipe them away. He talks about how she's helping people in her job, and she just says "Pathetic, self-deluding souls". But who does that really describe?
Adelle also gets philosophical about relationships. She says on your first date you try to hide your faults, then in a relationship you try to hide your disappointments,and in marraige you try to hide your sins. Since Adelle is married to her job, she may be right. Roger/Victor serves as the guy on the side that eases the pressures of life. Except he's an Active, and she's doing what she killed Hearn for. Pathetic, self-deluding soul.

ETA: I have heard from some people who disagree with what I think of Adelle's actions. Granted, what Hearn did was sexually violate Sierra, an Active, in her neutral state. That's bad, and he got what was coming to him. Let's look at Adelle turning Victor into her romantic idea, Roger. This, I think is just as bad because she's taking the Active and programming her for her needs. I thought the company handbook would warn supervisors not to do this sort of thing. Having the Actives do engagements for whatever the client wants is one thing, but executives like Adelle using Actives for free like they were the client just looks bad. At least, eventually, she realized this was a bad idea.

The next morning, Adelle is crying. She finally found out about the security breach, and who is responsible.

Topher turns Echo into a spyhunter, who plans to question certain people. Dominic doesn't like the idea, but he'll go along. He likes the part where she starts her interrogation with Topher. We see that even though Topher thinks he's a genius, doing things his grad school professors never dreamed of, he is still worried what people think of him...which we already know.
Ivy complaints how Topher uses her as a gopher, while she says she can easily do his job.
Boyd gets to the point: "We're pimps and killers but in a philanthropic way." Echo trusts him with a statement like that.
Claire reveals she hasn't left the Dollhouse since the Alpha incident, and that worries Echo. She thinks it's not good to be devoted to your job and have nothing else. That's something Adelle and Paul have in common. It may also explain Claire's plan to make the Actives glitch-free. If Claire prefers to stay in the Dollhouse rather than step out to the outside world, so should the Actives.
It's a moot point, because Dominic says Sierra has proof Ivy is the spy. Echo, however, disagrees. By noticing body language, and a few other clues, she knows who's really the spy...
Laurence Dominic, NSA.
Well, you got me, he says...then tries to eliminate Echo, Topher and Ivy. He'll just tell Adelle Echo went off mission again. Echo overpowers him, even pushing him to the edge of a broken window. She tells him, "I'm not broken." In fact, she may be even better than that.
He's soon delivered to an angry Adelle DeWitt. He points out being in the Dollhouse is no gift, because it's hurt as many people as it has helped, especially Echo. He also thinks Adelle may bring herself down, especially if Rossum loses control of the Dollhouse. "The technology has to be reined in and controlled," she says. "By a clandestine organization with little government oversight?" she asks. (Isn't that like Wall Street?). Dominic thinks Adelle is just naive, but she's in charge. So, it's off to the Attic for him, where he'll be an Active in a box forever. She does this in a very professional manner, like a business transaction. Since he was with her for three years, she says it shouldn't surprise him.
Despite it all, he's still smiling. He predicts eventually Echo will erase them all, and they won't see it coming. He knows it's really a Dollhouse of Cards, or maybe one made of straw.

So, we end where we started, with Dominic about to be erased. He tries to shoot himself, and winds up hitting Adelle in the torso. It doesn't phase her one bit, and it's really a flesh wound. Jesse Ventura would be proud. All that's left is a lot of regrets, and Dominic's soul in a hard drive. Adelle tries to convince herself that losing Dominic is no big deal. It's what self-deluding souls do. Still, she can't understand why she didn't see this coming. At least she's decided to break it off with "Roger." She's also surprised how Echo found Dominic out, and discovers maybe she is evolving. Adelle's grateful, and just tells Topher to keep an eye on her. Maybe this is the start of what Dominic is predicting.
Finally, Boyd is promoted to Chief of Security, while a guy named Travis is Echo's new handler. He reads the script to bond with her, but it's clear her real bond is with Boyd.
That leaves one question: was Dominic the one inserting messages to Paul in Echo and November? Do they stop now that he's gone, or will someone else insert them? If it's the latter, the list of suspects gets a whole lot shorter.

Again, this episode was all about trust, and what happens when it's used or lost. Paul has to trust Mellie, or Echo, because it's his only way to be the Big Bad that blows the Dollhouse down, even though we still don't know why. Adelle thought she could trust Dominic, and now doubts herself even though she won't admit it publicly. Claire has lost trust in the outside world, and that affects her opinion about the Actives. All Echo knows is that she can trust Boyd. With his new job, though, what will happen if he has to choose between her and Adelle?

The show takes a break next week to allow Fox to start the final story arc of Prison Break with a two-hour "event". With the announcement the show will end one week early, some are worried the show won't get enough time to establish itself now that the story arcs are becoming more complex and compelling. We have also been assured we will meet Alpha.
Ratingswise, it rose to about 3.56 million, but dipped a bit in the 18-49 share with a 1.4. With DVR usage, it grew to a 2.0 in previous weeks. If Fox treated DVR showings with more respect, we'd be counting down to a second season right now. We can just hope the show itself is reason enough for a second season.

More Nostalgia: Joss and the Seven Pilots Rule

During Rutherford D. Actualperson's hard-hitting interview with Joss Whedon (yes, it was Joss "interviewing" himself), Joss talked about how tough it is to develop a show into the vision you want. This applies to Dollhouse, which has a premise that's tough to relate to: a girl who is programmed to be anyone except herself. He got an order for 13 episodes, but notes the pilot episode isn't enough to get people to make a program "must-see".

When I was given seven episodes, I referred to them as the "seven pilots" cause you always have to lay out the premise one way or another in those early eps.

This means Dollhouse will start as seven stand-alone episodes, before we get to story arcs. Joss isn't a "procedural" guy. He prefers making a big picture. While that's a great philisophy, networks don't think so. They prefer procedurals because each story has a beginning, middle and end that ends in one hour. It's the modern version of a bedtime story complete with an ending that's happy enough. It explains why next season will have lots of knockoffs of Without A Trace, The Mentalist or ER.

If Joss says a TV show should start with seven pilots, would that apply to his previous three shows? Let's take a look.


This show had a 13-episode order. The premise is a high school girl fighting vampires, demons and assorted hellspawn with the help of fellow students and unlikely allies. It's basically "high school is Hell". The first seven episodes showed that premise well. "Welcome to the Hellmouth" and "The Harvest" showed Buffy coming to town and battling a few vampires while trying to make friends. Then we had the story of witchcraft and cheerleading (The Witch), a boy being attracted to a teacher who's really a big praying mantis in disguise (Teacher's Pet), problems of dating while fighting demons (Never Kill a Boy On A First Date), joining the wrong crowd of people (The Pack), and first love being very dangerous (Angel). There was still a story arc, with an old vampire trying to escape from his underground lair to cause general mayhem. He succeeded, but only for a couple of minutes.


Starting just after Buffy's fourth season, it looked at the next step: a young adult striking out into the world. It only looked like a vampire with a soul looking for redemption in Los Angeles. It also looked at Cordelia, who left Sunnydale to become an actress. Just like Buffy, it's also about good and evil, with evil being Satan's lawyers, Wolfram and Hart. This show didn't really have an overall arc because it was supposed to be an anthology. We start with "City of...", with Angel getting his mission from Doyle and meeting Cordelia. "Lonely Hearts" looked at murder and the singles scene, while "In the Dark" was a continuation of a Buffy story with Spike and the Gem of Amara. "Fall to Pieces" was about stalking, while "Room with a View" was about Cordelia moving into a haunted apartment. "Sense and Sensitivity" was about being PC in police work, and "Bachelor Party" was about Doyle and his ex-wife. Again, there was no overall arc. It's just about Angel trying to battle evil and hopefully be redeemed. Longer arcs involving Lindsey, a resurrected Darla and Pylea would come later. Angel was seen as the companion piece to Buffy for two years until it went on its own when she went to UPN.


This space western features another example of a man striking out on his own, with a loyal crew behind him. They have a simple mission: do a job, get paid, keep flying. Throw in some intrigue, double-dealing and occasional Chinese phrases, and you have a good show that suffered a fate that was one of Fox's most embarrassing decisions...and not just the fact that they showed the pilot last instead of first.

When I first saw "The Train Job", I was very interested in Malcolm Reynolds. He looked like an outlaw, being willing to do what he could keep flying. Stealing an Alliance cargo from a train is the type of job he'd do. However, when he realized the cargo included drugs that would have saved lives, his better angels got the best of him. The rest of the first seven episodes touch on the Serenity's mission, to keep flying no matter what.

Just like Buffy, however, there were two story arcs. First, there's the Alliance wanting a certain girl named River Tam for some unsettling reason. We later find out it's because they wanted to turn her into a weapon. She had some interesting skills, and the Alliance would do anything to get her. Her brother, Simon, is just as determined to protect her. The other arc involves Shepherd Book, who may look like a man of God, but apparently has an interesting past. An I-D card, for example, got him first aid very quickly in "Safe". He later shows some knowledge of criminal activity when they ship heads towards a trap in "Our Mrs. Reynolds". The hope was that Firefly would have have a long life, like Buffy and Angel. Sadly, that wouldn't be the case.

So what could happen to Dollhouse? Will it last five years or so, like Buffy or Angel, or would it be one of those Brilliant but Cancelled shows, like Firefly. Joss says the first seven pilots touch on the premise, but they will also determine whether the show will last. The days of giving a show time to develop and attract an audience, even a year or so, are long gone. Fox has said it will give Dollhouse 13 episodes to prove that there should be more. Let's hope the episodes will be very convincing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009 early review of Dollhouse

This was published on January 11th, a mnth before the show began. Thanks to good ol' DVD screeners, I got an early look...

There is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed--Peter Sellers

I'm not nobody--Echo...or is it?

It's been more than a month since Time magazine became the first media site to look at the pilot for Dollhouse, Joss Whedon's return to TV. Since then, a few more sites have given their verdicts, including and Salon. More familiar sites will also have their chances over the next few weeks.

Fox sent a DVD copy of the pilot to TV and radio stations, along with a special doll to symbolize what an Active is: a clean slate who can be made into anyone, over and over again. At least that's the theory. My radio station got a copy, and I decided to take a look.

As many fans know, Joss Whedon remade the pilot episode to give the show a better launch. That's why there's no scenes from the original pilot that have been seen by fans at Comic-Con and the internet. The new pilot, "Ghost", establishes the Dollhouse, and the main Active, Echo, played by Eliza Dushku. We see she had a past once, only because we hear her "real" name. After that, we see the girl in a motorcycle race with another guy which turns out to be part of his birthday party. She's a girl who likes to take risks and parties well into the night. Suddenly, she calmly walks out of the date and into a van. We see that her "engagement" is over, and that it's time to get a "treatment". What it really means that it's time for her to be no one.

The girl sits on a weird-looking chair, and waits to be treated. The tech, called Topher (Fran Kranz), says it will pinch. Then, we see this girl's life literally dissolve. Now, she is Echo, a girl who is alive but has no self or memories of what she did. She wakes up, and asks Topher, "Did I fall asleep?" "For a little while," he answers.

Topher discusses the engagement with Boyd Langdon (Harry Lennix), her handler, and acts pretty proud of himself. Boyd is just worried about whether their little operation is ever found. Topher's not worried. In fact, he envies Echo. "She's living the dream", he says. "Whose dream?", Boyd asks. "Who's next?", Topher replies.

We find out who's next: a businessman whose 12-year-old daughter has been kidnapped from his house. He's a past customer, and needs an Active to help him pay the ransom. So, Echo is programmed as a no-nonsense negotiator who will oversee the exchange. Of course, things go wrong, and the Dollhouse crew has to scramble to get Echo out, and just leave the kidnapped girl. The top priority of the Dollhouse is to stay a secret, with the "engagement" being secondary. When Boyd is worried the kidnapped child may be sacrificed, he risks a lot to convince his boss, Adelle DeWitt (Olivia Williams), to finish the job. Boyd seems to be the conscience of the show, the man who tries to show the Dollhouse has a positive purpose, even if the means are almost unspeakable.

Meanwhile, we meet FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett), who has sacrificed everything to find the Dollhouse. He insists the Dollhouse exists, even if he can't prove it. Yet this is his assignment, because someone said it should be. However, his work is threatening to ruin an important investigation on human-trafficking, involving Russians. Ballard tracks down a sleazy Russian guy named Lubov, (Enver Gjokaj) and tells him to find out who's connected to the Dollhouse. You can tell Ballard has been given an impossible task, but he's very detrmined to complete it.

The pilot, written and directed by Whedon, is good, but Dushku isn't very convincing as a hostage negotiator. While she can spout off theories as quickly as a bullet train, she looks too young. Glasses, a hairdo, and a schoolmarm attitude aren't enough. I give the show credit by admitting this, and giving an explanation on how her role still works. Whedon also gets major points for symbolizing Ballard's dilemma and determination by juxtaposing his meeting with FBI supervisors with clips of him kick-boxing.

The pilot also introduces Sierra (Dichen Lachman), a new Active, but in an unsettling way. In fact, Echo meets her in a surprising way that will later affect her in the engagement. We also meet Dr. Claire Saunders (Amy Acker), who takes care of Echo. She seems suspicious of Topher for some reason, while he sometimes sneaks a peek at Claire, too. Did they have a history that didn't end well? Also, how come there's a scar on her face? It's faint, but the pain is still there.

If you look closely, there is an influence of Firefly/Serenity in the pilot. When Echo is "neutral", she's almost like River Tam in her more calm moments. When Echo sees Sierra get her "treatment", it's a little too similar to the "treatments" the Alliance gave River.

Also, people who saw pieces of the pilot may think Lubov looks familiar. I think Gjokaj was supposed to play Victor, another Active. Then again, maybe he is...and Lubov. Hmmmmm......

Although the show may start seemingly as a procedural, we'll soon find out that it isn't. Echo will play many roles..and she'll start to remember some of them. We get a hint of that in "Ghost", as I said before, when her accidental meeting of Sierra will affect her. I am hoping that the other Actives have the same experience. Hopefully, we'll get back stories of the keepers of the Dollhouse, too. How did Topher learn how to rewire people like computers, and why does he think it's so cool? Could it be a dark Revenge of the Nerd? Who got Adelle to run this Dollhouse, and who's paying for all this? Why was Ballard assigned to the Dollhouse? Did he jump at the chance, or was he pushed?

Dollhouse will be on Fridays at 9 PM after Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles starting February 13th. It's a tough spot, since it's been years since Fox has had a hit on that night. The executives say they will give both shows time to build an audience. Dollhouse has a very interesting premise that takes time to understand. Once a viewer does, it's worth it. Joss may be a bit rusty about making TV after making a movie, some comic books, and an internet musical. Still, this Dollhouse is a good way to spend a Friday night.

Amber Benson's "Death's Daughter" Tour in Roseville

Since this is the JW Network, and I'd like it to be more than just a vault for my recaps for Dollhouse, I will start adding some stuff from my other blogs. Afterwards, I will add blog entries that are connected to the Whedonverse. For example, I still have six episodes of Leverage on promo DVD's I have yet to see. I will see them this summer.

I'll start with Amber Benson visiting Roseville to plug her new book...

It's been about four years since Amber Benson, aka Tara on Buffy, visited the Sacramento area. Back then, she was talking about her time on Buffy and a new movie she made called Chance.

Last Sunday, she talked about that, along with her first book, "Death's Daughter" at Borders in Roseville. Her appearance drew a good crowd of Buffy and Whedon fans. She started by reading a passage from the book, which recalls Calliope Reaper-Jones' first visit to Hell, and her conversations with someone tied to a tree. The book is about a girl who discovers that she is the daughter of Death, and has to fulfill her birthright.

She credited her old writing collaborator Christopher Golden as a main reason why she decided to write the book. "I feel like I went to the Christopher Golden School of Creative Writing," she says. " I don't think this book would be if I hadn't met Chris. I really wanted to do something on my own, and this is what came into my head."

She also talked about another difficult part of the process: the perfect book cover. She said she didn't have much of an impact, but they had discussions about the color of the cover, and how the title character looked. "I always sort of saw Calliope looking like Zooey Deschanel," she says...although that could be a possibility if a movie is ever made.

Benson originally saw Death's Daughter as one book, but later decided to make it a trilogy. She also calls it a homage to the Divine Comedy. "Maybe Dante would be writing chick-lit if he were around now." While the major story arc will cover three books, she says the possibility of a fourth book will be there.

She also talked about Drones, an office comedy with alien overtures. She and Adam Busch are putting the finishing touches on the movie. Johnathan Woodward will also be part of the movie. She also talked about her experiences with Chance, with James Marsters, and had lots of good things to say about him. (By the way, he is from Modesto, just south of Sacramento.)

With movies and books and web series, it's almost like she's trying to be just like Joss Whedon, who's doing everything from comics to award-winning internet musicals. She admits he's been an influence. "He's an empire," he says, "and it's amazing, like to work with him for three years and to see like him do all this stuff. I just learned so much."

She also talked about what has happened in her book tour. The day before, in San Francisco, she had problems with her contacts. However, when she started reading, she had to read with one eye because she forgot she had one lens missing. Still, she got through it just fine. She was also at ConDor, a convention in San Diego, but could only attend the first day before most of the attendees arrive. Later, they asked her to do live commentary for "Family." "The woman who was doing it, I don't think she knew Buffy that well, because she put on the wrong episode. We literally watched half of it, and I'm not in it at all." Later, they got the right one, and she got to talk about working with Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who played Cousin Beth.

She also had great stories about Joss, including one interesting tidbit: "When Joss was prepping Firefly, he came over to me and said 'I've written this pilot and I based one of the characters on you. Inara, I based her on you.' I read it and I was like, 'oh, so I'm a prostitute?'
That drew a big laugh from the crowd, but she admitted that "I think it was more like she was very bright, and was very sweet and nice". So, although Amber was surprised to be the inspiration of Inara, " I thought that was kind of cool that some of her is a little bit of me".

She also talked about an interesting discussion by some book editors at the New York Comic-Con, and she really did say that they were discussing werewolf sex: "They're like talking about werewolf sex, and how you can't have like a human werewolf and a werewolf werewolf (?) getting it on because ut's another type of book." Sounds like Twilight gone horribly wrong to me, but it really puzzled her.

Afterwards, she signed copies of her book and posed for pictures.

Buy This Book Without The Last Chapter

This is basically what Fox expects us to do, and it's wrong again.

On April 8th, Fox announced the season finale of Dollhouse will air one month later, with the episode, "Omega".
Uh, isn't there a 13th episode called "Epitath One", where we're supposed to find out who Alpha is, and whether he really is a "petal in the breeze and watch how he floats" or something like that?
Well, there is, and we can forget about seeing it unless we buy the DVD set, available just after we complain about it during Comic-Con.

Not only that, this also robs the show of some time to get some ratings momentum, possibly from its new lead-in, Prison Break. Ironically, this show is the reason why it has cut Dollhouse's season short. It's supposed to return on the 17th with a two-hour edition to get people up to speed after a long break. Then, the show ends on May 15th with another two-hour edition that knocks "Epitath One" off the air.

This fact alone may be interpreted as a hint that Dollhouse may not see a second season. The ratings site, TV By The Numbers, has been harping this possibility for a month. It's been saying that if it doesn't pull in more viewers in the 18-49 range, then it's over. Cutting its season, and its chances for a comeback, is a bad sign. It is giving Prison Break a good send-off after four years, but this is making Eliza Dushku and Joss Whedon fans really mad.

Next Wednesday, the Paley Festival will have a featuring the cast of Dollhouse. The best reasons to go are the presence of Joss and Eliza, but Fox's tradition of questionable programming decisions will also take center stage. Maybe we'll see "Epitath One" then. Well, the good news is that tickets are still available, but after what Fox just did, they won't be for long.

UPDATE: Tim Minear explained on Whedonesque that the final episode, "Omega", is like a season finale because it fits with the original order:

Okay. So maybe I can help clarify this somewhat. Because we scrapped the original pilot -- and in fact cannibalized some of its parts for other eps -- we really ended up with 12 episodes. But the studio makes DVD and other deals based on the original 13 number. So we created a standalone kind of coda episode. Which is the mythical new episode 13. The network had already paid for 13 episodes, and this included the one they agreed to let us scrap for parts. It does not include the one we made to bring the number back up to 13 for the studio side and its obligations. We always knew it would be for the DVD for sure, but we also think Fox should air it because it’s awesome.

Fair enough, but I would have like see Alpha as a feather in a gust or something. or maybe a leaf on......

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Recap of Dollhouse "Needs"

We all have needs. We all have fantasies, that perfect life we dream about but never get in the real world.
But do Actives have needs when they aren't fulfilling other people's fantasies? Not usually...but what if they did? What if their needs are so great, they remember who they really are...and request their freedom?

The episode starts with Echo arriving at Paul's apartment, saying she has a message from the one who inserts these messages in her. Paul doesn't like the Dollhouse ruining his life, and suggests maybe he should hold her in handcuffs, and have it come to his door. She says they both have something the other needs, then begs him to save her. He wonders if this is Caroline rather than Echo, but he's too busy kissing her. It's not long before they make out, and then Mellie catches them. He tells Paul he can't help Echo because she's dead. Then he sees Echo is indeed dead. While she begs Echo to wake up, Mellie's head starts bleeding, and she asks him how "they" knew what they were doing. Of course, it's all a dream, but it gets Paul thinking that maybe he's been bugged.

At the Dollhouse, the Actives have breakfast, while the staff discuss how they will deal with recent events. They also have to deal with an overhaul of the security and electrical systems. Dominic says the Actives shouldn't be seen as people, but as pets. Topher suggests changing the Actives' meds while they sleep, but Dr,. Saunders say that could be harmful. Adelle says what's important is to protect the Dollhouse, now that it's "out of balance" and the "tide is rising". However, she is open to other ideas.
Meanwhile, Echo starts recalling what Paul has said to her, while Sierra remembers what her then-handler, Hearn, did to her. They head for their pods, but it won't be a happy sleep.
In fact, Caroline Farrell has woken up, as herself, and finds herself trapped in the Dollhouse. She isn't the only one.
Victor wakes up, as do November (Mellie), Sierra, and Mike. They have no idea who they are or where they are. They just want to know why they are there. Mike suspects aliens kidnapped them. They look around, and see others are there. One of them says she likes pancakes. She's Tango. In fact, they talk abut food a lot. They do their best to pretend they are "normal", as in totally blank as people. They even have to deal with co-ed showers. Victor lists baseball players to avoid man-reactions, while November goes with the flow. However, the Dollhouse staff catch Mike being too "normal" and they give him the treatment. So, Echo/Caroline, Victor, November and Sierra are on their own in their Great Escape.
It looks like it will end before it begins. Dominic tells Adelle what they are planning, and she says it's going on schedule.
So is this some April Fool's prank she's planned for Caroline and the Not-Actives?

Paul overturns his apartment, and finds the surveillance device in an air vent. He wonders what the heck it is. He later sends it to a guy named Jimmy, and he is stunned by how advanced the technology is. Maybe too much.

In the Dollhouse, Victor and Sierra get to know each other while trying to find an exit. It makes you think they'd really hit it off if they were regular folk with free will. They later spot Boyd talking to Sophie, another handler. When Sierra sees the guns, she suddenly remembers how she was put in the Dollhouse. Apparently she was put in their by force. Later, they hide in the wardrobe room, and are surprised to learn it's full of clothes they're supposed to wear. There's also a pram that November sees. She admits that she had a daughter, and wonders where she is. They are later forced to use the elevator to get out. They get as far as the parking garage, where they see a soldier get inside, while Tango, dressed like a French-speaking Sally Bowles, comes out. So, Caroline decides she has to bring the Dollhouse down, or at least make a difference. That sounds familiar.
Remember, Adelle and Dominic know exactly what is happening. So why should we care if it looks the game is rigged? Maybe we still hope one of them will escape, if not all..or if not Caroline.
We see Victor, Sierra and November traveling, hoping to find the guy who put Sierra in the Dollhouse. As they see a young child, November says she may know where her child is. So, she leaves the others behind, while she looks for the child. Adelle and Dominic, meanwhile, see Caroline enter Dr. Saunders' office for evidence. Adelle sees that Echo is Caroline without the memories, but she also says Caroline was never realistic. Then the lights go out. The Actives are confused because they don't know what "dark" is. Topher is really worried about it, especially when he sees Caroline pointing a gun at him. He can't call her Echo, "not anymore," she says.
She demands an explanation about what he does and what his bosses do. All he can come up with is "we're good people. We help people become better by giving them what they need." He also says Caroline can remember who she is because she and a few others are part of a test. All she has to do is get in the chair, and things will be OK. Sure, she says...but you first, Topher.
That's bad news to Topher, because a regular brain getting imprinted means an imploded brain. So, Caroline wants him to set the Actives free. He can't do that...but Adelle can. She's right there.

Caroline fires a couple of shots at the chair, while Topher is scared the sparks will burn his hair. She also calls Adelle a "sick bitch" for what she is doing, but Adelle insists what she has done is ease Caroline's suffering by wiping the bad memories away. In fact, that goes for all of the Actives, who just can't handle the big bad world. Adelle says she helped Caroline because otherwise, she wouldn't be able to handle the consequences of what she did, which apparently includes losing a boyfriend.

As for the other Actives, Victor and Sierra meet up with Nolan, who put her in the Dollhouse because he didn't like it when she said no. Now, she never will. He gets a few knuckle sandwiches from Victor, but Nolan reminds them the Dollhouse police will soon find them. In fact, they wind up hiding in a closet, and they actually share a romantic moment. As for November, she does find her a grave.

Adelle tries to convince Caroline the Actives, as they are, would be destroyed by the horrors of the outside world. Caroline, however, insists they should be let go. So, the Actives leave, and Echo is the Great Liberator....until she suddenly faints. So do November, Victor and Sierra. It's a matter of time before they get a very special treatment that will keep them happy for a long time.

Then we get a flashback to the staff meeting, where Adelle asks if they have any "better ideas" of handling the Actives. Dr. Saunders has the answer: give them what they need. Whatever unresolved issues are within them, she says, they should have the chance to get closure. Let Echo/Caroline free the Actives and have her little anti-Establishment victory. Let November grieve over her dead child. Let Sierra confront the one who raped her, and will do so again while she doesn't remember. As for Victor, let him "get the girl". Then, they'll be no trouble at all. After all, they aren't people. They're pets. This is no different than retraining a dog, or teaching a monkey to do the tango. It's not like the Dollhouse was treating them as clients who wanted their own fantasies to come true.

Boyd and Dr. Saunders talk about it afterwards. He says he wished he would have been there to see Echo's freedom march. He also says Dr. Saunders must be proud, but she asks if he thought she had fun doing it. She says while he has to look after Echo, she has to look after all of them, and it would have been a disaster if Echo/Caroline really did let the Actives go free and try to deal with the "horror and chaos" of the outside world.
I don't think she's right about that. She could have come up with a halfway house for the Actives to ease them into our evil world after leaving the evil Dollhouse. Is being programmed to do anything without free will that much better than being in the middle of the cold and cruel world, or is Dr. Saunders convincing herself that she did the right thing? Remember, she was brutally attacked by Alpha. Maybe she thinks the world is too cruel for the Actives to survive, because it's too hard for her, too. It's a tricky situation.

So what does this mean? Will the Actives, especially Echo, will never make trouble for the Dollhouse again, and will do their engagements without complaint? Will they tell each other how they like pancakes and bananas? If that's the case, is the show over? Will it always go through the motions, like a typical procedural?

Not so fast. The final scene is Paul turning on his cellphone, and getting a message from Echo/Caroline. She tells him to find them. So, while Echo/Caroline got fake closure, he gets another lead, and his search for the Dollhouse, and personal closure, remains elusive.

What's also elusive is momentum for the show in the ratings. For the third straight week, the ratings have fallen, and there are no Cylons or NCAA to blame. It got less than three and a half million viewers, and a 1.4 for 18-49. That's the lowest rating since "Grey Hour". This means anything but "blue skies."