Will Dollhouse Use the Flashback Device? Dollhouse First-Look

by admin on June 11, 2008 · 4 comments

As a big ‘LOST’ fan, I find that one of the most useful narrative devices that JJ Abrams (now Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof) excellent show has in it’s arsenal is the ‘flashback‘ (and ‘flash forward’) device, which allows the viewer an insight into the characters past/future.

Don’t worry non-Lost fans, I am going somewhere with this.

I just wonder whether Joss Whedon will incorporate flashbacks into the Dollhouse narrative? I’m assuming that we will enter the show at a fixed point, where Echo is already Echo. That is, she has already ‘volunteered’ to become an “active” and we get to see her story play out from this point onwards. Well, what about her past? I would imagine that the pasts of these “actives” are almost as interesting as their present identities? For instance, what motivated Echo and her fellow actives to volunteer for this human-identity-stripping-programme? Was it money, tragedy, failure, fear? Did they REALLY volunteer, or were they forced into doing it? What was Echo like before she was mind-flushed? And so on..

I guess many of these questions could be answered as the story progresses, but personally I would very much like to see flashbacks incorporated into Dollhouse. Perhaps it’s the Lost-fan in me, but even so I think that ‘flashbacks’ help to build up a sense of a character. Whats more it could be an interesting way to further highlight the main themes of the story by actually allowing the viewer to look into Echo’s past and remember for her. This knowledge of her past could really make us sympathetic towards her, or perhaps unsympathetic (depending on what Joss wants to do), as we watch her struggle to re-discover who she is.

Meanwhile, The Futon Critic’s Brian Ford Sullivan offers his ‘first look’ at Dollhouse. Some of it is fairly common knowledge, but there are some juicy spoilers in there for those of you that way inclined. You can check it out here – be warned though, certain plot developments are revealed. Once you’ve read it, you can’t erase your memory. Although I do know of this one place called the Dollhouse.. 😉

Don’t forget you can discuss the above, and anything else Dollhouse over on our friendly Dollhouse forums!

Nevermmore June 11, 2008 at 11:01 pm

I doubt that will happen. Joss Whedon isn’t really known for that, although he did do it in the Firefly episode “Out of Gas”, and it worked very well there. The flashbacks in Lost are mainly used to enhance the drama and mystery surrounding the characters. A person’s past can easily be explained without using flashbacks, and it may even be more interesting if Echo was as interested in finding out about her past as we are. We could go on that journey together.

wiesengrund June 11, 2008 at 11:09 pm

if we look at whedon’s past shows, i think it’s a safe bet to say: there will be flashbacks. altough with a twist. whedon uses “normal” flashbacks only to remind us of things we’ve already seen, like towards the end of a season to tie some plotlines together. but speaking of the past of the characters (as in: “past BEFORE the show”), he was always a master of doing special episodes, something like flashback-episodes, dealing with exactly that. “fool for love” was a complete episode, mostly told in falshbacks, that told us the history of spike. “selfless” would be another example. “out of gas” did this trick for firefly, in an amazing way, may i add. 🙂

Roco June 12, 2008 at 11:05 am

@Nevermmore – I agree that a persons past can be explained without the use of flashbacks, and I like the idea of both the viewer and Echo discovering her past together. Although I would love this to be done via a flashback mechanism. I guess it will be interesting to see which techniques they use and how invested they want us to become in Echo’s story? Flashbacks can create a very personal portrayal (in my view) – perhaps they want to hold off from such attachments until season 2?

@wiesengrund – Good point, there are indeed several ‘kinds’ of flashbacks that Whedon can and has used in previous shows.

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