Homepage > Joss Whedon’s Tv Series > Dollhouse > Reviews > "Dollhouse" Tv Series - 1x10 "Haunted" - Guardian.co.uk Review
« Previous : Firefly Ship Works releases the details of the "The Big Damn Replica"
     Next : Eliza Dushku - "Open Graves" Tv Movie to air on Syfy Channel »



"Dollhouse" Tv Series - 1x10 "Haunted" - Guardian.co.uk Review

Wednesday 22 July 2009, by Webmaster

After all the exciting plot developments, it’s a bit bizarre to have an episode that goes back to the premise of the Dollhouse as a – vaguely – legitimate service

Just when it was getting complicated, nestling secrets within lies, and spies inside dolls inside people inside spies, and all of it building to a darkly complex mythology that was fast becoming a solid base for the series … suddenly, there’s a standalone doll-on-the-job episode. Which in the context of what has been placed around it, felt more like Murder She Wrote. Was it a relief to step back? An annoyance? Or something else entirely?

Scooby Doo Jessica Fletcheresque adventure of the week

This was one of the weirder possibilities of Things You Could Do With a Dollhouse. A woman who believed someone might, one day, kill her, came every month or so to have her personality and memories uploaded on to the Dollhouse person-servers. So, if she were to die in mysterious circumstances, she could return to find out what really killed her, see how everyone felt about it and posthumously adjust her will to reflect those things.

We probably wouldn’t have known more, but Adele De Witt happens to have been friends with the undead, their relationship cemented, it seems, by her frequent visits to the dollhouse to top up her (literal) memory-stick.

There was a whole exposition scene of Eliza Dushku pretending to be a newly dead 60-year-old horse-riding socialite in the body of a tiny Bostonian kind-of-prostitute. And a television audience pretending this was convincing as an acting job.

First, Eliza/Echo/Caroline/Margaret went back to her own funeral, and then to stay in her house and quiz friends and family on the circumstances of her death. It was all, frankly, very Murder She Wrotish. Down to the Narmtastic confrontation with a son shouting: "What the hell do I have to do to get you off my back, mother?" with a crazed look in his eye at his newly dead parent inhabiting the hot, young body of a questionably complicit vessel.

Murderer found? Check. Will changed, justice served, bizarre post-last-wish-wish granted.

But what did we learn? Not much, really. Only that the idea of being dead is a movable feast, and perhaps there’s a possibility of everlasting life; if you believe that a personality fixed in a certain moment in time and transplanted to a new body with no possibility of processing things the same way would be the same "life". As a way of solving murders, it’s a possibility for a new murder-mystery concept – almost certainly already in production as we speak.

Other thoughts and things

• After all this time, I can’t decide how I should feel about Echo/Caroline. Episodes like this make me aware that becoming different people each week – wholly, convincingly, utterly different – is a very difficult job. And that, annoyingly, the actor playing Sierra seems better at it than Dushku.

• Topher had a sad/sympathy-raising moment, as he was allowed to take one of the dolls out of their boxes and play with them. But only (said De Witt, which, coming from someone who seems to be having bi-weekly sex dates with a walking mannequin seems a little rich) once a year. On his birthday. Sad, but not sad enough. He seems ever more dismissive of the dolls – there, just for him. Man, I really wanted to like that guy.

• The main thing to take away from this episode: the point when Agent Ballard realised that, knowing what he knows, in having sex with Mellie he’s as complicit in the Dollhouse as any of its paying customers. His desperation at washing himself off in the shower afterward was the one really powerful, lasting image of an otherwise floppy episode.

… but that’s just what I thought. What did you see? Or think? What was your view?