This episode of Dollhouse is probably the episode the most directly related to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In the episode, certain special people (those who are fabulously wealthy with connections, like Margaret) can opt to back up their entire personalities using the Dollhouse technology and essentially have life after death. This concept is very similar to the immortality of the Bitchun Society, where everybody creates regular backups and live forever through the use of clones. Because this brings to light many of the same questions that we discussed in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, I will refrain from focusing on this aspect of the story. Instead, I will take a look at Topher’s yearly “diagnostic test” and Margaret’s shock after attending her own funeral.
Topher is the show’s evil genius, the mastermind behind the technology. Whenever we see him, he is generally cheerful and a little mischievous, so we assume that he is actually fine. However, this episode, we see that he feels an overwhelming loneliness. His creation of the perfect best friend to hang out with for 24 hours makes me feel bad for him; he is so isolated that he must create a person to be his friend. This feeling is understandable, since Topher is isolated both because of his crazy intelligence and also because of where he lives, presumably in the Dollhouse. I think that Topher’s actions here are not necessarily completely morally wrong. I’m not saying that using dolls is an okay thing in any circumstance, but in this case I think Topher’s harmless day with Sierra doesn’t evoke evil so much as it indicates a sad kind of melancholy.
As we can see from Margaret’s realizations upon attending her own funeral, sometimes it is better to live (or die) in ignorant bliss. This principle of course only applies if you assume the existence of Dollhouse technology, and in this case I’m going to assume that you have to give up your “life after death” or else you would have to deal with the whole new issue of which personalities are worth saving and which should be wiped so that they can be used as bodies for the “worthy” personalities. As fascinating as it is to see your own funeral, I think this episode is pointing out that we’re really not meant to know what other people say about you after your death. Luckily for Margaret, the show was written so that she could wrap everything up and once again die in peace, but other people might not be so fortunate.
What about you? Do you think that Topher is less “evil” than some of the other Dollhouse clients? If given the choice, would you want to see your own funeral?