1.07 “Echoes” – Review

by admin on May 24, 2009 · 15 comments

Ugh, I should never have had that pizza!

The Plan: Since I bailed out on this show at episode 6 (my reasons explained here), I’m intrigued as to why/how this show got renewed. So I’m going to catch up in full on the episodes that I’ve missed, starting with ECHOES, echoes, echoes. Little did I know, that this episode is not widely available on the Interweb! I’ve had to rely largely on memory and..’stuff’, so this wont be in-depth or anything. Nor is it that serious..just my opinions!

Who's a doll?Echoes. How can I put this? If you’re of a fragile disposition when it comes to other peoples opinions on “Dollhouse”, you might want to turn away…..now! OK, let’s not mess around, this was a bad episode, in fact it was terri-bad! I lost count of the number of contrivances, and did we really need to see ‘Lover Dude from the Pilot’ again? Among the most glaring [contrivances] was Echo and ‘Lover Dude from the Pilot’ (I’ll refer to him as LDFTP from here on out) just so happening to switch over to the news at the particular moment the Rossum ‘breakout’ was being reported. Please! Surely there was a better way to bring Echo into the main-fold without insulting viewer intelligence? And what a coincidence that this just so happens to trigger her stored memories..and she’s not the only one, the other dolls are also glitching-out, when they’re supposed to be immune to the airborne toxin (great call, Adelle!). I guess you can’t wipe away a memory. Underlying question of the series solved! Can we go now? πŸ™‚

Another main contrivance was the ‘containment’ on campus – somehow the Actives (themselves glitching) were able to prevent infected students and tutors from leaving the campus grounds, and hence being taken to hospital or police stations where this would really become a wide-spread incident, resulting in the whole thingΒ  coming under serious investigation. Not good for the Dollhouse..luckily for them the whole thing conveniently whithered away like it never happened – dare I say, like a ‘ghost’. It was just too convenient – the man behind the curtain didn’t even bother conceal himself with said curtain! *sigh* I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see or hear from Rossum again.

These contrivances only serve to underline the inherent problems with this series (the episodes I’ve seen) – nothing seems to matter, there are no consequences (despite what Adelle uttered in the promos) and when something does happen it’s almost always convenient..a glaring cog servicing a fragile plot.

It’s funny, I recall people saying that the first 6 episodes were ‘stand-alones’ – gateways to the serial mythology. To me this also seemed very much like a stand-alone episode. In fact, I’ve got a new name for it- “glitch of the week”. Although Echoes was probably designed to tell us more about, um, Echo, and to get us to sympathise and connect with her, I felt detached, unmoved and bored. I mean, seven episodes in and I’m asking myself; ‘who is this girl who is running down repeating hallways like Roadrunner? Who is she??’

Doctor, I have a problem! ..I suck.All in all, it was an uncomfortable ride in which the motivations and actions of the characters (specifically Echo) made little sense. As for enhancing her back-story, all it did was tell us that Echo was a girl who’s boyfriend called her “sweetheart”, or whatever, in a demeaning fashion. Worse still, she didn’t seem to mind one bit. There’s nothing wrong with terms like that, but as with most things, it’s HOW you say it that matters. Since this is a TV show, giving us that specific insight into pre-Echo’s life, this is a way of letting us know who she was and what her standards were. Looks to me like she was a not very interesting person. I also didn’t really care about her BF dying. Was I supposed to?

As for Echo being an ‘animal rights activist’, this seemed to me like a PETA PR stunt after all the bow hunting claims levelled against the actress.

I should probably stop calling her “Echo” because her name was actually “Alice” – technically she was still on assignment, I guess. Hope LDFTP is OK? Those ropes must be chaffing. Poor guy, perhaps we can delve into his back-story to find out what his motivations are for effectively raping another human being. Actually, screw LDFTP! πŸ™‚

So yeah, in many ways the “Alice” theme fits – when she memory-glitched, she fell into an upside down, dream-like world – but this was no Wonderland! Whilst drugs were certainly a theme of the episode, the ‘rabbit holes’ ‘Alice’ encountered were more like giant-gaping plot-holes! I appreciate the effort to weave cultural elements into the episode, but sadly, this episode lacked direction. It probably didn’t help that Echo was dressed up like a hoochie. Like, how AM I supposed to take her seriously? Whedon is apparently acclaimed for empowering woman, but I am yet to see any evidence of this seven episodes in. I have no problem with the sexy, sexy, but that’s not why I watch TV (that’s what REAL LIFE is for..but each to his own), and does anyone really find Echo sexy – especially considering she’s not acting with her own freewill? And is that even a reason to watch? Seven episodes in, the creators seem to be angling for that, which is a shame as the subtext is far richer than this surface material.

I wont even get into Langton – he’s been the one shining light for DH so far. I don’t want to ponder on how bad I thought he was. Let’s just ERASE that entry, shall we?

Also, I thought they kind of ruined Mellie for me in this episode. She was demystified all of a sudden. In their defence, perhaps they were limited by the possibility of only having 12 episodes to tell the entire DH story? Although why waste my time with yet another stand-alone episode that did nothing to serve the characters or the plot?

The coolest thing about this whole entire episode (other than the end credits), was the opening scene with ‘student-dude’ using his body as a human missile, in a bid to smash out of the building. Now that was cool! See kids, don’t f*ck with the drugs! πŸ˜‰

I realise that this isn’t the most positive of reviews (heh), and it’s just a shame that this episode had to be the first of those that I’m planning to catch up on. I’m sure they can’t all be this bad? Anyway, it would be wrong of me to pretend that I loved something when I didn’t. Seven episodes in I’m still intrigued by the show’s themes, although I fear that such themes are merely accidental on the part of the creators. Also, I’m actually starting to dislike the Dollhouse, their operations, motivations, decisions, etc. Maybe, in this respect, the show is slowing reeling me in on the sly? It’s not that I care about the characters, but the thought of Echo and Co. getting abused really does start to turn the stomach. The problem — it’s turning me off the show in a ‘this is actually sick’ kind of way. I guess they were always going to be treading a very fine line. Sadly, the messages are getting lost in the imprints – ghosts in the machine!

And this is sad, because the show should be able to make me care about the characters, especially seven episodes in. I mean, we’re dealing with some serious (yet interesting) themes here — and I don’t think it’s my humanity that’s in question..rather the show’s inability to make a story transcend.

Overall episode rating: 2/10. Seriously, this is probably my least favorite. I’m sure things will ‘uptick’.

Hoss May 24, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Not a great episode. 2/10 is a bit harsh though. πŸ˜€

Roco May 24, 2009 at 3:57 pm

I can see why it might seem harsh. Bear in mind though, this is probably my least favorite episode that I’ve seen. I think things improve from this episode though.

Alpha May 24, 2009 at 3:14 pm

nice review but no mention of the Adele-Topher scenes?

Roco May 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Yeah, I didn’t feel compelled to dwell on those scenes – for what it’s worth, I thought it was silly..a little too silly. I don’t think it did either character any good, least of all Adelle!

harry May 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Meh. Your previous reviews were such a joy to read. Although you used to criticize a lot, it has always been interesting. But this one just didn’t speak to me. The whole “it sucked so bad but maybe any of the remaining episodes might not suck as bad” attitude really made finishing reading painful.

It’s funny how you can’t believe how dumb the writers must think we are, yet you don’t seem to get what this episode was building up to. There was this brilliant last scene in which you could really TELL that Adelle is overwhelmed by all these issues and despite saying everything is going to be normal again, we can see that she knows that nothing is fine at all. So, you’re asking: “Although why waste my time with yet another stand-alone episode that did nothing to serve the characters or the plot?”

— why? because it was no waste of time and it served the characters AND the plot pretty well. You’ll see. And I think asking questions everyone but you already knows the answer to might be one of the reasons your reviews are not as enjoyable as before :-/

Also, Langton is the only shining light? Seriously? Langton? There are so many more lights shining so much brighter, IMHO. Saunders, Topher. ADELLE. Even Sierra and Victor. Maybe I was thinking different, too, back then, but Langton has never been a favorite :-/

Roco May 24, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Fair dues.

That said, my intention wasn’t to make this as detailed as before. Playing catch-up makes it difficult to tackle the episodes in the same format or depth. There’s also the fact that I genuinely didn’t enjoy this episode.

Also, much of this review was from memory, so perhaps I have missed a few of the nuances – which I accept and look forward to picking up along the way.

That said, you’re entitled to take as much or as little from this post as you see fit.

I look forward to seeing why this episode is so important in the grand scheme of things though.

As for Langton, well, I’m going from the first 6 episodes. For me, he was (along with Topher) the best acted and most surprisingly interesting character. Maybe my opinion (like yours) will change over time. It certainly started to shift after this episode!

holly May 24, 2009 at 6:27 pm

While I agree this wasn’t one of the best episodes, I think you’re evaluation of the episode being pointless was a little unfounded. The whole point was to show what Caroline/Echo was like prior to life in the Dollhouse – particularly that she was fairly one tracked mind when she viewed something as being “wrong.” Also, to show that this wonderful new technology they came up with, might not be that great.

I really think you’re kind of missing the entire point of the series itself. If you had ever seen or read an interview with Joss Whedon you would know that one of the themes he loves to play with is how technology walks the lines of ethics and humanity. Dollhouse is in a lot of way his masterpiece in that respect.

And finally, you keep commenting on all the “contrivances,” but keep in mind you’re watching a sci-fi series about a company that makes its money by wiping peoples memories and pimping out their bodies (also a comment on feminism and how we’re not as evolved as many like to think). You have to accept SOME contrivances.

Roco May 24, 2009 at 6:43 pm


You make some interesting points about the episode – which I will consider. However I am aware that one of the main themes of the series is technology, and the role it plays in society. Indeed, I find this to be one of the attractions of the series – just like with “Fringe”, in that it deals with similar themes (albeit in a more entertaining and accessible way, IMO).

So I don’t think I’m “missing the point” of the series [although I may have overlooked aspects of this particular episode]. I enjoy the explorations into technology and the fine line of whether its application is good or bad for the individual and humanity. It’s always a matter of degrees and perception, as we see with the imprints themselves. However, I admit that maybe this episode didn’t appeal to me in the way I would have liked. I honestly don’t think that this [episode] was the best ‘vehicle’ to service the story.

I appreciate your comment about pre-Echo being ‘one tracked minded’ with her world view though. That’s interesting. In a sense, it mirrors Paul’s ambition to bring down the DH, because, well..it’s wrong [in his view].

I agree that we have to accept some contrivances in SF. I just find DH’s to be so overt, particularly in this episode.

harry May 25, 2009 at 1:23 am

Unfortunately, it’s no secret that Joss often accepts some contrivances if that means he’s able to tell a story he wants to tell (look at Buffy season 7). That said, Dollhouse will never be a masterpiece of storywriting (look at Lost, whole series), but it sure will continue to be interesting to watch and it will offer unique scenes and emotional moments. That’s what I expect from Joss tv.

Lilly May 25, 2009 at 3:36 am

When are u going to review NEEDS?

Adam May 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm

I’m glad you mentioned the outfit Echo had. It was completely ridiculous.

harry May 26, 2009 at 12:33 pm

And the outfit in the season finale is even worse, IMHO :-/

Adam June 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Yeah, it was more fitting though. She was playing a white trash girl character, so the outfit kind of fit better. It seemed like they tried to pass the outfit she wore on “Echoes” as a normal outfit to be wearing in public that everyone will turn a blind eye to.

Phoenix May 26, 2009 at 8:48 am

God, I was waiting for this one. I’m aware that you didn’t like “Man on the Street” as much as the rest of us did, but for those of us who really liked that episode THIS was one MAJOR letdown. I’m one of the few who found Caroline’s actual personality something of a joy to watch, but that and the totally creepy beginning were pretty much the ONLY good things about this episode — it was better than the cursed backup singer episode, but that’s about ALL you can say for it.

And I was likely more irritated than you that she spent the entire episode dressed like an advertisment for A&F’s new Go-Go Dancer line — just when the show was starting to get serious, too! And the random professor who remembered Caroline couldn’t POSSIBLY have had a clue about the fact that Caroline disappeared completely from college and her life after her boyfried got MURDERED on CAMPUS? There were more holes in this plot than there were in “Holes” by Lois Sachar, and that’s REALLY hard to achieve.

I hope that you find the next episodes more rewarding, but I have to warn you that episode 10 is likely going to frustrate you again — even though I thought it was more enjoyable than some of their first attempts, the shot at another somewhat standalone in the midst of building up the mythology was just not good.

Matt June 5, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Yeah, Echoes was one of my least favourites of the post Man On The Street run of episodes. I agree with the plotholes, though I found myself enjoying the Adelle/Topher scenes.

That being said, you’re in for a good run after this. Needs and Spy In The House of Love are fantastic, and while Haunted is something of a downturn (though still fun and entertaining), Briar Rose brings things right back up. The finale is strange…i’m interested to know what you’ll think of that.

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