Dollhouse 01×06: “Man on the Street” (SPOILERS)

21 03 2009

… I don’t even know.

So now we’re supposed to feel empathy for the client whose fantasy involves nonconsensual sex with a woman brainwashed into believing she’s his wife, rather than nonconsensual sex with a woman brainwashed into believing she’s doing a one-night stand?  That seems even SKEEVIER, somehow.

Also: what kind of idiot is Ballard, talking specifics of his cases with his freaking neighbor? Of course she’s a Doll — I wondered about it when we first met her, then decided she wasn’t, but as soon as we discovered her apartment was bugged it was clear she’s an active — but even if she weren’t, Ballard is a PRIZE MORON to talk to her about an open case.

I also can’t figure out what we’re supposed to think of the framing device: which of the various perspectives are we supposed to agree with?  Our very first woman-on-the-street is an African-American woman — the only African-American that I recall seeing in the entire framing device — and she talks about this being slavery and nothing but.  Her blurb coming first indicates that hers is the perspective we’re meant to believe.  And yet by putting the word “slavery” in her mouth turns it into a racial thing, and I can tell you exactly what much of America will do with that statement: dismiss it because “black people are always making everything about slavery.”  (I can’t tell you how many times I heard that growing up, from people inside and outside the family.)  Also, they couldn’t do something LESS stereotypical than the Sassy Black Woman?  So while on the one hand I completely agree with that perspective and commend them for starting off with a black woman at all, on the other hand, there are still some highly suspicious racial issues going on in this show (also with Topher’s Asian-American lab assistant — have we even gotten her name yet?).

And yet the show ends with Echo apparently asking to go back to Joel Miner.  Whedon spent much of the episode showing us all the ways in which the Dollhouse is evil (and it is!).  This episode in particular focused on the issue of consent, particularly with the awful, vaguely pedophilic rape of Sienna by her handler.  But ending the episode with a close-up on Echo and Miner’s clasped hands, after that weird interchange between Echo and De Witt, ends up sanctioning Miner’s particular fantasy.  Don’t worry, that ending says, Echo wanted to go back to him!  Look, nonconsensual sex is okay in marriage because the guy will win her over with his sweetness! And… no.  Just no.

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