Dollhouse, 01×02, “The Target”

22 02 2009

The good things first: this episode was MUCH better than last week’s. The tension felt more real, and so did the basic premise (for a world in which people’s personalities can be wiped, anyway).  We get the first hints that the brain-wipes don’t always go as well as planned, and we find out some of the backstory.

I like the character of Boyd more and more, and Topher, albeit funny, grows increasingly creepy.  I’m intrigued by Alpha.  I’ll keep watching next week.

BUT… I am still really worried by the depictions of women in the show.  (SPOILERS after the jump!)

Okay: so, first, we have Echo.  We still don’t know why she’s agreed to get her mind wiped every few days.  She’s still a cipher: a mere echo of her former self, and without consenting, her body is imprinted with personalities that participate in various risk-taking behaviors.  Would the previous Echo have wanted to go mountain-climbing, or motorcycle racing, or any of the other various dangerous activities (such as, you know, being an escort/courtesan/whatever) that she has presumably done?  It’s difficult to know.

This week’s episode staged the worst-case scenario for each “active”: that their purchaser for the weekend will end up being a complete psychopath who wants to kill them.  But what can you expect when the head of security also seems to want to kill Echo?

Second: the doctor, a quiet person who seems to be extremely uneasy with her job, and justifiably so, since one of her patients cut up her face.  I hope Whedon does more with her character.  At the moment?  She’s not really anything.

Third: Olivia Williams’s character, the frosty businesswoman.  Another archetype with not a lot of depth.

Fourth: Paul Ballard’s neighbor, who appears in the hallway BAREFOOT and holding a LASAGNA.  What’s up, archetype of the domestic woman!  Once again, we didn’t see a whole lot of this character, just enough to know that she’s got an enormous crush on Ballard and is a good little homemaker.  PLEASE, Joss Whedon, do something interesting with her.

I have faith that Whedon intends to subvert the institutional rape that goes on in the Dollhouse.  But I’m still wondering when the subversion is going to arrive.

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