Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The infamous episode six of Dollhouse

For weeks now, the TV show Dollhouse has been promising that Episode 6, Man on the Street, would be the one that “changes everything”.  I don’t know if I agree with this, but it did change the way I view the show.


I know I have commented on the casualness of the rape sequences in previous episodes.  This episode contained more rape, and more explicit rape, than any episode before it.  Heck, it probably contained more rape than any 48 minutes of prime time could reasonably be expected to contain, and I am including Law & Order: SVU!

Seriously, let’s go into how many ways it comes up in the episode: 

  • Echo’s initial engagement was another sex based engagement.
  • Agent Ballard’s conversation with Echo’s client brings up human trafficking and the sex trade.  
  • This conversation is echoed in several of the video clip interludes.
  • The main mystery of who has been raping Sierra in her default “doll” state.
  • The fact that Sierra’s rapist is sent out to rape and murder Mellie, ostensibly to teach Agent Ballard a lesson.
  • The revelation that Mellie is also an active, and one can only assume was programmed to sleep with Agent Ballard to gain his trust.
  • Echo being sent back at the end of the episode to complete the engagement that was previously interrupted.

Considering how disturbed I have been by the amount of rape in the show so far, you probably imagine I hated this episode.  Actually, I thought this was one of the better episodes so far.  My main issue with the show so far is how it glamorized the sexual engagements.  This episode tackled the issue head on.  If they had treated it this way since day one, I would have a lot less to complain about.

The only thing that bugged me in this episode was the final scene where Echo “chooses” to finish her engagement by drawing a crayon picture of her client’s house.  I found it very disturbing, since it seemed to imply she was competent to choose.  However, her child-like demeanor and drawing were at odds with her compentence to make this choice.  Hopefully this was deliberate.  Otherwise I feel it undermines a good deal of the episode prior.

Ok, so what did I think of the rest of the episode?

  • Is everyone that Agent Ballard interacts with secretly an Active?  Not that I didn’t see the Mellie revelation coming.  I had her pegged as an active as soon as she opened the door across the hallway.  Sadly, they telegraphed that way too hard.
  • The “secret” man on the inside who is communicating with Agent Ballard through Echo is a necessary twist.  This episode seemed to be setting up Ivy, but she is way too obvious a choice.  At least I hope so after the non-surprise of Mellie.
  • I was actually a little surprised that Agent Ballard (or should I call him Paul now?) got fired from the FBI.  It is probably just as well, since I found the FBI sequences a little to “rogue movie cop” for my tastes.

I suppose writers of Dollhouse can claim one thing: They have gotten me to post about it twice now.  Which means, at the very least, they have gotten me to care about it.  Bravo!