Dollhouse – Leave Echo Alone!

Leave Echo Alone!
Leave Echo Alone!

Seriously, leave her alone.  Echo has been through a lot since the end of last season, and the Dollhouse management always seems to want to push her out into another engagement instead of giving her adequate time to rest and recoup.  Well, enough is enough.

The girl needs some time off.

After watching “Instinct,” I began thinking about how Adelle and Topher are purposefully and negligently pushing Echo harder than she needs to be pushed. They both know that something is catastrophically wrong with her because of the composite event she went through with Alpha during the season one finale (not to the extent that Ballard does, however).  They’ve even mentioned being worried she’ll snap during an engagement because of it.

Yet Adelle always signs off on giving Echo extended engagements that are known to be stressful, such as her faux-partnership with Ballard in “Vows” and her mommying in “Instinct.”  She also signs off on Topher screwing with Echo on a glandular level in “Instinct” instead of experimenting on another doll like Sierra who is known to be in perfect shape and not likely to experience another composite event.

No Rest for the Best?

Given that Echo is known to be unstable, why would they not give her every opportunity to get back to her best?  If she is, as viewers are constantly reminded, the Dollhouse’s number one Active, a little more care should be show to make sure that she remains in top condition.  That means, give her the easy jobs and stop experimenting on her.  Give Sierra the lengthy, dangerous engagements and glandular enhancements, and make Echo lounge around the luxurious, spa-like environment so she doesn’t crack and end up destroying the world.

I don’t even particularly like Echo (I feel that Eliza Dushku is the least versatile actor on Dollhouse, actually), but I’m miffed that the Dollhouse higher-ups are being written to not act as professionally as they should. It seems like a given they would more fervently protect their Actives instead of watching them slowly degrade.

All A Part of the Plan?

EchoAt this point in the season, I chalk it up to being part of an unfinished storyline. As Jenn put it to me, the seeming negligence could come from Adelle’s morbid curiosity at what will happen if Echo snaps, combined with Topher’s arrogance and naiveté.  I hope that’s the case, especially since Fox said Dollhouse would complete its 13 episodes this season.  Because right now, I am having a hard time immersing myself in the narrative due to characters not acting the way I expect them to act.

Or I could be falling right into their trap because all of this might just be a part of the ever expanding moral gray area that permeates  Dollhouse week after week.  I love the fact that I never really know who is a good guy or bad guy or if any given character falls into either category.  It’s smart TV, I tell you.  Smart TV.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. I’m a huge Dollhouse fan, but I do share some of the same concerns. Adelle has mentioned through Doll’s in the Attic several times, and usually for less offensive things than stabbing a Romantic client in the neck with a screwdriver, yet Echo is just wiped and set free. And for all the good Ballard professes he wants to do, he continues to subject Echo to devious plots.
    .-= Dickie´s last blog ..This Is Dangerous =-.

  2. I think you’re onto something, Beej. There’s been something “off” about Echo since Day 1, and I think it’s deliberate. And you make some excellent points about Adelle’s behavior. Topher, I think, we can excuse because he is so very full of himself, his hubris knows no bounds, and he always wants to see if he can make things “work.” Adelle, though, should know better.

    So I come back to that very first episode, the very first scene. “Nothing is as it seems,” says Adelle, and I think she’s right. I don’t think Caroline was made into a Doll in order to wipe away her crimes. I think (hope) it’s a bit more complicated.

    What is that makes Adelle tick, and why is she fascinated with Echo? In Spy In The House of Love, we found out that she has issues with relating to people. She is alienated, and maybe this is because her relationships are based on power rather than “relating.” Relating is much more vulnerable, and I think it scares Adelle.

    So, when she’s watching Paul interrogate Terry, she is genuinely engaged. It’s like Paul is speaking to her: he’s demonstrating power and talking of alienation at the same time. This is classic power-over. And yet Echo, who does not have *this* kind of power, still has a kind of power, the power that I think Adelle really wants but is too scared to admit: a power-within, including not just the ability to empathize and improvise, but also a sense of self that goes beyond imprinting.

    So I think Adelle keeps Echo around because there’s something special about Echo, and Adelle needs to know what that is, maybe because she feels it missing in her own life.
    .-= jane´s last blog ..Belle Chose Belle Chose =-.

  3. I love all the in depth explanations…yet, I feel it all has to do with Eliza pushing her power to make sure she has enough scenes, and it all means squat.
    There are more interesting stories we could be told, and we are not getting them as “Echo” has to go off to do another sleaze assignment.

    No thanks
    .-= TempestOfNews´s last blog ..Age of Conan – Defensive, On Message or Right? =-.

  4. Considering Echo’s epic composite event at the end of season one, it’s understandable she’d be having wicked glitches. However, she is way more ‘serial killer’ this year…especially that last episode. O.o

    I would love to see some more development with the other characters who are just plain off, such as Claire running away completely or Sierra and Victor being allowed to form a relationship.
    .-= Corey Freeman´s last blog ..Interview with Jennifer Mattern – Business Writer Extraordinare =-.

    1. Oh yeah, her composite event is definitely to blame, and I expect her to only get worse as the season progresses. I just think it’s a shame that the writing is making it out like Adelle and Topher don’t see what’s going on when they do, and even speak about it occasionally.

      And I am like you, Corey, in that I look forward to some other Actives being highlighted. I think we’ll get our wish this week because the trailer after “Belle Chose” indicated that this week was going to be a Sierra-centric episode and the following week would introduce Summer Glau as a character. Maybe–and hopefully–the show is moving past its Echo focus and more into an ensemble mode.

  5. (I feel that Eliza Dushku is the least versatile actor on Dollhouse, actually).

    Yeah, watch Tahmoh’s jaw clench and unclenching. Oscar material.

    Watch Miracle and Dichen stare blankly into the cameras. Score.

    Eliza’s never been less than good and it seems that ‘fans’ scramble to blame her for Whedon’s poorly plotted concept and inability to create sympathetic characters. People not connecting with an arrogant, law-breaking animal activist. Amazing.

    Put the blame where it belongs, on the writers.

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