Dollhouse: ‘Needs’ (S01E08)


I’m not exactly sure what to think about the last episode of Dollhouse.  It seemed like it was trying to create this big illusion of escaping and exploiting the illegal organization, but it just ended up being a throw-away episode where no significant new information is discovered.

At the start of the episode, Ballard has a dream of lust towards Echo/Caroline.  Besides causing him to wake up in a sweat, he now suspects that he’s being watched inside his apartment.  Meanwhile, Ms. Dewitt has gathered all of the staff and handlers for a meeting on how to deal with the problems of Actives retaining memories.  The troubled Actives are Echo, Victor, Sierra, and November.

All of a sudden, they all wake up in their pods in a panic and back to their original personalities, just without any memories.  They try to plan their escape, first by acting like the rest of the Actives so they don’t bring attention to themselves, and then kicking ass until they break out into the real world.  A lot of the methods they used to break out was really unlikely in such a top secret and highly-secured underground organization, but that explains itself later.

The four Actives all have a ‘need’ that they have to confront.  November has to find her daughter, Katie.  Sierra has to find the man that caused her to be trapped in the Dollhouse.  Echo has to fight the organization by herself and free everyone.  And Victor has to win over his love.

The most compelling of the four storylines was Echo, who took out a handler and held Topher and Ms. Dewitt at gunpoint as she asked for answers.  There was a lot of dialogue in this episode trying to talk some sense into a lot of mysteries and plot holes many viewers have been wondering about.  I’m not sure if any questions were really answered, but it seems like Joss knows what he’s talking about.

The main point of the episode is what Ms. Dewitt told Echo about everyone in the Dollhouse joined voluntarily.  Everyone had something happen in their lives that made them willing to escape the real world.  As the episode wound down, we flashed back to the meeting with all the staff and handlers.  We see Dr. Fred giving her opinion to cure the Actives’ glitches, which is to give them closure from an unresolved issue or problem they had in their past.  So that’s what they did.  They imprinted the four with their original personalities but with no memory and allowed them to roam freely and seek closure.  Sierra confronted the man who sold her out, Victor expressed his love for Sierra, November mourned for her daughter, and Echo freed everyone in the Dollhouse.

So I guess they’re all back to a clean slate?  I can’t see it, but if so then what’s going to happen next episode?  At the very end of the episode, Agent Ballard found the video transmitter in his apartment and blocked the signal.  He then plays a voice message and it’s Caroline from when she was trying to escape the Dollhouse.  She said she found a file on him and called him for help.  This is probably significant, though I don’t know exactly how yet.

Although I felt this episode was a drop in quality from the previous two, it’s still a solid hour of science fiction drama.  Keeping the show as an ensemble piece with a focus on the Dollhouse instead of Echo is the right way to go.  There are a lot of interesting characters with different conflicts, motives, and morals.  I cannot wait to see how all of this plays out.


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