Even though I personally haven’t seen any of the Dollhouse series, I think that this episode gave a pretty good representation of what a person should expect from this series. With a little bit of Gerry’s commentary, I was able to understand the concept of the Dollhouse (kind of), a little bit about some of the main characters, and even that the operation takes place on a global scale. That said, I too called the ethics behind the Dollhouse into question. Personally, I find it morally wrong to wipe people’s brains clean and reprogram them to be characters in other people’s lives. I’m sure most do. But the thing that surprised me the most came towards the end of the episode when Mellie was activated and killed handler that was having sex with Sierra. This incident revealed 2 things to us: 1) Mellie is actually a doll, and 2) the dolls can be programmed in such a way that they can be trained killers without knowing so themselves. This second fact seems very disturbing in this world, especially because by the end of the episode, we know that dollhouses exist in other parts of the world.
While this brainwashing seemed odd and disturbing initially, the more I thought about it, the more practical it appeared. No, not the reprogramming of the brains and the bizarre command phrases, but the idea of having complete control over another human being’s actions without their full understanding of your intentions. This kind of control reminded me of a cult following or a soldier’s unconditional acceptance of his commander’s directives. Just like Adelle, the leaders of both of these groups rely on their followers to simply act without thinking to accomplish any set goals. The followers in these groups have almost no say in any decisions being made, but they are expected to do exactly what they are told, just like the dolls. Also, just like Mellie, these followers are subject to doing things that most people would consider wrong based on public opinion, and this unfortunately can be seen with some cults throughout history.
Would I say that the Dollhouse has elements resembling those of a cult and operates in a manner similar to a stereotypical secret government agency? Sure. But wouldn’t you too? Do you think that the show’s writers were making a statement about the government’s occasional acceptance of less ideal means to accomplish goals? Did it strike you as odd that the FBI initially just closed the case on the Dollhouse?