Posts Tagged “Dollhouse”
In this most recent episode of Dollhouse, we witnessed a future stricken by evil tech. This technology takes away every aspect of humanity in the brain and literally turns people into walking killers. These people kill anyone who isn’t programmed to kill. Personalities are completely altered. No one is themselves. The world has been turned upside down. Only Echo, along with others from the Dollhouse, and her split personalities, can save the world. Looking into the past though, personalities were put into Echo one by one. These personalities weren’t created to lead a revolution. How did Echo succeed?
Alpha was the one who put all of Echo’s past personalities into her head at once. Alpha couldn’t handle the stress of multiple personalities, but Echo could. She is strong and now is able to access each personality separately. Although not created to lead a rebellion, Echo is able to use all of her past memories and experiences to give her an advantage. Once there are two Echos, one real and one in the little girl’s body, we know that they will prevail.
The show seems to want to show how she grows as a character. Echo can’t grow though. At the end of every episode she is wiped clean, forgetting almost everything from her assignments. I actually enjoy this show. I think that imprinting is actually a really cool idea, granted the show takes it too far sometimes. They turn imprinting into a form of slavery. I watched the season finales from both Season 1 and 2 and they take place in the years 2019 and 2020. The imprinting technology has taken over almost everyone’s minds and it is making them kill everyone in sight. Echo, Ballard, Dewitt, Sierra, and Victor are some of the Dollhouse members who figure out how to stop it. The failures on the part of the Dollhouse end up coming back to bite them in the butt. They have ended the world, so to speak, because of their advancing technology created by Topher. Only at the end of the world did people realize that imprinting was wrong.
In “Epitaph Two,” Topher invents a way to fix what he created. A sort of undo button. Everyone hit by this new imprint will regain their old memories, but will forget everything after they were first affected by the bad imprint. Basically, millions of people wake up years in the future with no clue what is going on. More chaos is obviously going to ensue. The series ends leaving things “better”. The world is no longer killing each other, but I wish the show had addressed how they were going to fix the world. Entire cities were burned to the ground. Will the Dollhouses around the world be blamed for stealing people’s identities? Is imprinting wrong? Not allowing people to be themselves, but rather other people’s slaves, is wrong. In the future, Echo is able to remain Echo and also be the other personality that is imprinted into her mind. This is the kind of imprinting I think is acceptable; one that does not alter your own self first.
What do you think the future episodes would have told us about imprinting? Do you think it is wrong? The probono work Dr. Saunders works on is good for the community? Is imprinting wrong in this instance?
No Comments »
Posted by: mvn3 in coursework, tags: Dollhouse
Oh wait, wait, it’s almost midnight and I’m blogging about a canceled show on Fox?
Watching “Epitaph One,” I couldn’t help but be irritated at the proposed degeneration of the Dollhouse into an apocalyptic future. It seemed like the same old zombie plot all over again, and instead of a virus there’s just the Dollhouse mind magic.
And that’s why I want to gripe about the whole “tech” concept of the show. To me, the most far of fantastic science could produce the possibility of “imprinting” someone. It would require the complete knowledge of a brain’s material structure, and the ability to alter it on the mechanical level. This would require some very complex machines, ones that if they could alter the material structure of the brain, could also theoretically be capable to blueprinting just about anything. So, someone builds one and uses it to make a fancy brothel, and the machine uses “waves”, maybe ionizing radiation, the imprint people. Maybe years into the future this could be feasible. But no, all of a sudden all this high tech machinery gets transmitted into “phones and boom boxes”, and the powers that be somehow let it all slip into an apocalyptic nightmare. This is the shift from science fiction to zombie plot devices, and I think it reflects confusion into show message, which seemed to shift from a question of morality and ethics to a paranoid mind control delusion. And that’s why I think the show didn’t succeed. I don’t think it was too cerebral or too high on questioning society, as the fox-style cameras (everythings so new and shiny), the ripped male actors and the satin and high heels girl kicking asses suggests otherwise. It seems to me to be a hybrid of T.V. cliches to produce a marginal show, one that I considered watching extra but then decided it was too damn boring. Somehow Hugh Laurie makes me happier when I watch House.
Dollhouse is all about “society as a spectacle”. Is it just me or did the Romans have men fighting tigers in a giant coliseum? Man those T.V. shows are so poisonous. Turning all those people into mindless zombies that somehow live in a world remarkably less violent then the middle ages. Yeah, its all about spectacle…. But the innocent Dollhouse is just another one, and apparently a rather marginal one. So yeah lets all go buy the DVD to watch the zombieocalypse double secret season un-finale. Or I could do something that might make me happy, like taking a nap or eating a sandwich.
1 Comment »
As Dollhouse gets closer to the end of its second season, I’m left to ponder how exactly the world has brought itself to near self-annihilation as depicted in “Epitaph One.” This apocalyptic future where people are programmed to kill those who have not been imprinted by China’s phone call (and that, too, seems to be far-fetched—does that mean China becomes a bigger powerhouse than the USA or any other country?) appears to have little substance or realistic potential due to the lack of further elaboration that was provided by the episode. Though some things are explained through Topher’s mental breakdown and the Rossum executive who uses Victor’s body to inform Adelle that the dolls are now being used for body switch-ups, the transition is never fully shown—probably because I haven’t watched the episodes—and I’m a bit skeptical on how drastic the change in the Dollhouse’s purpose—from Brothel to personality/mind wipeout—was. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the idea behind identity, the significance of it, is threatened by the imprinting technology presented by Topher and subsequently corrupted by China.
Earlier we had discussed about Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom’s body-enhancement methods and the morality of restoring from a backup; most of us said the benefits such as immortality and the unlimited time we would have to do all the things we’ve always wanted to do without the hindrance of death sounded dandy and all, but that life would lose significance and all together be meaningless. In this episode of Dollhouse, a group of revolutionaries who refuse to be programmed and search for a place referred to as “Safe Haven” are facing the same sort of conflict and tension in morality in a future humanity dealt with technology of a similar premise. Though, instead of using clones as suggested in Down and Out, the option to use bodies without developed personalities is presented and it doesn’t seem to be opened solely for the elite, as seen with the little girl Iris. The woman’s “personality” inhabiting the girl claims she had no knowledge of being put there, implying that her body switch was involuntary and arbitrary, as opposed to the Rossum executive using Victor’s and other doll’s bodies for his leisure. Is the technology no longer reserved only to the rich, as suggested in earlier episodes and like the distribution of technology in the Bitchun Society?
That said, the implication could be that identity is only transient and without it would render our bodies as mere shells. Is it callous to say that identity is nothing but an illusion? Dollhouse seems to depict—though, not celebrate—that very notion, what with the dolls’ behaviors and lack of awareness of their wellbeing. The dolls are docile in nature and do not retaliate when their bodies are used against their will (except in the case of Sierra, but she too did nothing other than scream when Victor touched her). How immoral is the body switching idea in Dollhouse? In the episode “Haunted” the possibility of immortality and rejuvenation of humanity was mentioned and was shown to have some good through the character Margaret, when she resolved conflicts surrounding her family and abrupt murder.
How far is too far? When people are subjugated to the whims of a higher authority like China or other political power, thus stripped of their free will—is that going too far? I also want to address how, suggested in the flashbacks throughout “Epitaph One,” Victor and Sierra developed personalities. They both show no sign of “hollowness” usually associated with a doll’s demeanor, so I’m a little confused on how they broke away from that; if I watched the previous episodes I would probably have this question answered.
2 Comments »
On imdb.com, “Epitaph One” is the highest-rated episode from all of Dollhouse. Why is this? It’s certainly a departure from the other episodes. One of the plot keywords on imdb.com for Dollhouse is “moral ambiguity”. Certainly, throughout the series we ask ourselves a lot of questions about what in Dollhouse is ok, what is acceptable and what is reprehensible. I would argue that “Epitaph One” is popular because most of Dollhouse‘s audience watches the show and feels uncomfortable. They watch the show and feel that moral boundaries, such as whether or no dollsex counts as rape and the idea of selling one’s body have been breached. “Epitaph One” certainly asserts that this technology is not a good thing; the views of the audience are finally being confirmed. This is perhaps the most morally clear episode.
Unless, that is, you see the decimation of the human species as a good thing. At face value this seems like a ridiculous notion, but if it means the problem of overpopulation-which is ultimately responsible for most long-term global problems-is solved, is it justifiable? As the professor in “Man on the Street” says, “As a species, we would cease to matter. I don’t know, maybe we should.” If humanity has disregarded morality, perhaps we don’t deserve to exist anymore.
The reality isn’t quite like this, however. The people who invented and used the technology are the ones who have appropriated it and have presumably “survived” its misuse. The innocent, the people who didn’t even know it existed, are the ones who get it used against them. The Rossum executive in Victor’s body foreshadows this future, where a small minority of powerful individuals become immortal and can inhabit multiple bodies. This is a hugely exaggerated power imbalance. Taking this view, Dollhouse can be seen as a criticism of wealth imbalance, brought about largely by corporatisation. Do you think this view is one intended by Whedon?
To you, is “Epitaph One” more or less morally ambiguous than previous episodes?
It’s unclear (or at least I thought it was) whether or not Echo kills Adelle. Adelle seems to be the most morally ambiguous character. She controls the Dollhouse, but does not seek to abuse its power. This is arguably breached in “Haunted”, when she gives her friend life after death. When it gets personal, she seems less morally righteous. Adelle (and Topher) are partly responsible for the destructive technology, but they never intended for it to be used in such a way.
Do you think Adelle got killed by Echo? Do you think she deserved to be? What about Topher? Were his actions immoral if the consequences were unintended?
3 Comments »
We all know that Dollhouse is a work of fiction, but let’s assume for a moment that the technology to imprint memories exists today. A bit more difficult, but let’s also pretend for a moment that the episode “Epitaph One” makes any sense. China has found some kind of wave that can be used to imprint people both over the telephone lines and in a blanketed area. All of the necessary neurons in a person’s mind can be rearranged in an instant upon simply hearing this wave. If any of this could someday be technologically possible, what would it mean for humanity?
As long as man has existed, we have worried about our physical health. We can be injured, become sick, and exhaust ourselves. We die when our physical bodies fail to support themselves any longer. Just recently, though, we have begun to find that there are also threats to our mental health. There are constantly new studies that claim that television and video games have adverse effects on our minds, especially as impressionable children.
Dollhouse expands on these threats by suggesting the possibility that one day, as quickly as our physical bodies can be murdered, we will be able to lose our minds in an instant. The characters in “Epitaph One” are incredibly paranoid about any kind of technology, since in this new world any electronic device appears capable of broadcasting an imprint wave. People must fear for their lives not only because of violence, but also because of technology meant to work for us.
Not only can people lose their own minds, but a single person can exist in multiple bodies simultaneously. When we see Mr. Ambrose in Victor’s body tell Topher and DeWitt that the company has begun selling the actives’ bodies, he claims he is currently in ten other dolls talking to ten other Dollhouse administrators. At the end of the episode, Caroline hopes that she will find herself alive.
In this imagined world, identity as we know it ceases to exist. Much as in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, the physical and mental parts of a person can easily be separated, and the spiritual part appears to be nonexistent. A person’s body can exist without their mind, and a person’s mind can live on in different bodies, even simultaneously. In the words of one interviewee in “Man on the Street,” if it is possible for this technology to be built, it will be used and abused, and humanity as we know it will be over.
Does anybody else see this kind of technology as the end of humanity as we know it, or could we find some new meaning of identity? Can the body and the mind be so easily separated, or is it impossible to so neatly separate the physical, mental, and spiritual? Obviously no one wants to have their mind permanently overwritten by someone else’s, but would anyone be okay with having their one mind in ten different bodies?
2 Comments »
In “Epitaph One” we see the world ten years in the future from the other episodes of season one of Dollhouse. We are shown through flashbacks a few of the events that led from the Dollhouse technology to an apocalyptic world in which people’s personalities are regularly wiped, body switching is common, and those who maintain their original personality are hunted down. The episode is deliberately vague because at the time of its production it was unclear whether Dollhouse would have another season, so some closure needed to be provided while still allowing room for possible future episodes. Despite knowing this, however, I thought the episode presented too many ideas without developing them sufficiently to serve as a proper conclusion. Even considering the subsequent episodes which contain references and will likely explain this one further, I still don’t feel like the episode was complete enough.
First, there is the idea of how the Dollhouse technology led to the current situation on Earth. Apparently, China is sending waves of signal which wipe people’s personalities and turn them into dolls like the father in “Epitaph One.” Second, there was apparently a phone call, also originating from China, which programmed those who picked up to go and kill anyone who was not programmed. While we learn that Tohper’s use of waves rather than analogue to program dolls is the origin of this technology, there is no explanation for how we moved from brothels to China destroying all human personalities. I think the episode is intended to show that this technology is ultimately evil and can only end in apocalypse, but while I can imagine some possible scenarios which lead from point A to point B, I feel like there are more specific events that could have altered this outcome significantly.
We are also shown a Rossum executive in Victor’s body informing Adelle that the dolls’ bodies are now being sold for 9 figures. This makes sense in the context of the previous episodes, particularly “Haunted,” as we saw the possibility for eternal youth and immortality through body switching. However, this episode confused me when the woman inhabitting the girl, Iris, said she had no idea how she ended up in that body. This didn’t seem to mesh with the idea that the technology was for the rich and privileged. If people are just being wiped or killed off, what purpose could it possibly serve to have this woman randomly placed in a girl who ended up with a bunch of revolutionaries? Maybe it was intended as a link between the idea of the apocalypse and the ideas of body switching already presented, but for me I think it just confused the issue and put out one too many ideas at once.
What do you think of the vision of the apocalyptic future? How would you imagine the world went from the Dollhouses to the way we see it presented in “Epitaph One?”
Did you think “Epitaph One” was enough of a conclusion for the series? Is there anything you wish had been clarified, or explored in more detail?
2 Comments »
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?
8 Comments »
Posted by: heb7 in coursework, tags: Dollhouse
“Man on the Street” is a fitting yet limiting title for this episode (I just found out that “man on the street interviews” actually refer to a real news term). I was just surprised that the title of this episode would focus on these interviews as opposed to the mass amount of action throughout the episode. I do not recall our exact discussion from class, but know that the original goals of the series differed from Fox’s plan (even down to the filming, I seem to recall that one of the parties wanted a continuous, flowing storyline, and the other desired a more episodic filming plan). Since this episode is filmed quite differently, apparently, I am just slightly confused why a different, more inclusive title would be chosen. Examining the themes and plot of the episode, perhaps too much occurred for one inclusive title to “sum up” the action. In this case, do you think there was a specific reason for including so much action and information? Is this the creator’s attempt to reclaim his own project as quickly as possible, or do you think the fast paced nature is necessary to keep today’s audience hooked?
In addition to my nitpicky addressing of the title, I am really bothered by Mellie’s character now that I have learned (through Laura’s blogging) that she used to be a doll. Once your brain has been usurped by the house, do they always maintain some hint of control? What was that strange “flowers in a vase…the third one is green” jargon. It seemed like some sort of code, which would make sense if that’s how they controlled the dolls, especially if Mellie was indeed a doll in a former portion of her life. What will Mellie’s role be, then? Why was she not completely killed off (did it not seem to everyone else that she had a sudden burst of energy and pushed the creep off)? Maybe she is still under control (or at least surveillance). What a complex plot line, and all this with only one episode!
1) Did you all find the dolls’ personalities, especially that of “Echo,” to be extremely discomforting? Had I not been provided with the background for the “dollhouse,” I probably would have flipped past the show on T.V. and equated the characterization of Echo, Sierra, and Victor to be the result of bad-acting, not the show’s plot-line. The subtle emotions and inability to express themselves at the dollhouse (and also muted personalities even while playing another role) bothered me and, while I may be thinking too much into the show, lead me to wonder why the dolls even existed at the “dollhouse” in a humanoid form. Even as “Rebecca,” Echo’s emotions seem dulled and rehearsed, is this just the result of the computer program? I would assume so, but why do the doll’s need a personality at all outside of the house. It was terrible to watch Echo paint and seem honestly dismayed that she had not finished the picture, and hard to watch Victor and Sierra both be frightened, regardless if they did not express their emotions as vehemently as one with a “real” human brain and conscious emotional state would.
2) Was anyone else surprised that Fox would show this rather racy program? I guess I am just used to their more conservative news and talks shows, and I understand that “sex sells,” but based on previous information, it seems like their focus on sex throughout the initial episodes does indeed go against the project and perhaps even doom the series.
3) Does anyone know what happens with the dollhouse at the end of the series? Do the good guys win? Is Caroline rescued, and restored? Does Ballard end up with Caroline or Mellie? Who is trying to contact him? Is it the programming assistant who refused to fetch the programmer a sandwich a feminist working within the organization to contact Ballard and bring down this SF form of pornography? I have a lot of questions after this episode, and I hope they are eventually resolved. Perhaps I will have to consult the wiki page to see what happens.
3 Comments »
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?
1 Comment »
I thought it was interesting how much the interviewed “civilians” in Dollhouse differed in their opinions on whether or not the idea of a dollhouse was ethical. Some people went as far as to say it’s functionally the same thing as slave trade, while others were more of the opinion that it’s a pretty sweet deal—you get to hang out with rich people, eat for free and never work a day in your life (sort of). I have to agree, while I don’t wish we had anything like the dollhouse in reality, the job itself definitely has some perks (such as not having to work). However this comes at the cost of independence, and I’d certainly never want to trade in my memories and ability to form new ones just for an easy life. Regardless, this got me thinking—would the fact that the “dolls” agreed to take up the position (though it’s unclear if they can even do this) make the practice more ethical?
It seems reasonable to have this type of service if people choose to become a doll—it’s just a job (albeit a strange one). I’m not sure if it’s OK to consent to something like this, though. It seems in episode 6 that the dolls’ old personality and memories are all removed from their minds first thing, so that they become a new person in an old body. This subject also came up a bit in our discussions of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom—are you the same person if you lose some or all of your memories? If in the process of becoming a doll you lose all your memories, are you still yourself? If not, can you consent for whoever’s the doll now?
I don’t know how I feel about someone agreeing to become a doll on the terms that their mind/brain/personality won’t have to experience what their body does. It’s hard to tell if becoming a doll and having dolls around is ethical—can you consent to get rid of your mind and put a new one in there, then have it work as a modern slave of sorts? Regardless, it would certainly be strange to want to lose all your memories and at least some of your personality. I wouldn’t want to lose any of my memories, even the bad ones, because each memory is part of who I am. And if you didn’t lose your “self” in the process of becoming a doll, who would want to do the things the dolls are sent to do? Maybe if you could erase the memory of the experience after it happened, but then for one thing you wouldn’t really be the same person anymore, and for another you’d be really unethical because you’d go around killing people because you can forget about it more completely and easily than most. So I think I am anti-doll on a personal level as well as ethically. Out of curiosity, would any of you be interested in becoming a doll and, if so, why?
Another possible ethical concern with the practice of having dolls in society is that they are allowing for “real” people to develop questionable ethics. If you knew that the dolls had consented to become dolls, would you feel better about using them in ways you wouldn’t “use” normal humans? I think mutual respect is something that holds society together in a way, and I’d be worried about how having dolls around would break that understanding.
4 Comments »