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Dollhouse Technology

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Dollhouse is a rich and exciting drama that explores many different themes, but at its core it is a science fiction show. Over the course of its two seasons, Dollhouse has showcased some interesting technology and ideas that warrant their own discussion in the Dollhouse universe.

Recurrent themes Edit

At its core, the idea of Dollhouse is to explore the morality of the science involved. Throughout the first season, DeWitt maintains that because the dolls are volunteers, they provide a service to society by fulfilling people's deepest needs, rather than their desires. As the series progresses, however, it is clear that each further use of technology is a tool to control people. Constantly Topher would point out that some uses of the technology would be helpful:

  • In the season one episode Briar Rose, Echo is imprinted as "Susan 2.0," the fully psychologically healed adult brain of a young girl named Susan who was sexually abused and sold into prostitution as a child, helping the younger Susan see that there was a way to keep living past her abuse.
  • In the season two episode Instinct, when Echo is imprinted as a mother so strongly that she begins to lactate, Topher and Ballard discuss the various ways that this could mean that Topher could arguably convince a brain retrofitted with Active architecture to convince the body to fight cancer, or AIDS, or learn an instrument, or learn to paint, etc.

None of this is explored, however, because the technology is in the wrong hands. As Langton points out numerous times, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The idea of imprinting and its implications and applications grant the imprinter complete power over the imprintee—one of many factors contributing to Topher's god complex in the first season (and his eventual downfall into a psychotic break). Paul Ballard perhaps summed it up the best in the original pilot episode, Echo:

Victor/Lubov: Why does it mean that? [In reference to Ballard's insistance that the Dollhouse technology exists and is abused.]

Paul Ballard: We split the atom...and then we made a bomb. Every time we create something, we instantly figure out a way to use it to hurt and control people, to destroy. It's human nature.

Victor/Lubov: Yeah, people are mostly crap.

Dollhouse technology in the real world Edit

A new scientific study eerily echoes the imprinting machinery of the Dollhouse, showing that certain brain-altering drugs and light displays can alter the fear-responses in flies. Although this has yet to be tested on anything mammalian in nature, science of the brain is beginning to move in the direction of being able to alter brain chemistry and patterns. Although this could mean many wonderful things, such as a cure for Alzheimer's disease, it's also sobering to see, as it displays that the ideas and moral/philosophical questions raised by Dollhouse can all too easily happen in perhaps less than fifty years' time.

The i09 website wrote an article giving five reasons why the technology of Dollhouse is possible today. The rest of the article is here.

  1. We can erase people's memories.
  2. We can regulate people's moods with microchips.
  3. We can use brain implants to steer animals left and right.
  4. Infrared brain scans can detect what people want.
  5. Human-computer interfaces hook human brains directly to computers.

It's a fascinating, if frightening, look at the advances of neuroscience, at the very least.

Season One Edit

Imprinting Edit

The basis of the Dollhouse mythology, the imprinting mechanism is a device that is used to upload an entire personality onto the "blank slate" mind-wiped Actives. As we find out in later seasons, imprinting only works on those humans who have had their brains retrofitted with what is referred to as "Active architecture." It is also revealed in The Public Eye that any person who has been fitted with Active architecture will always have it; it is a process that cannot be undone.

The imprinting device as it is seen for most of Dollhouse's series run is a high-tech chair that reclines so that an Active's head is encased in a sort of halo that emits blue light as it imprints the Active with whatever a programmer inputs. The chair also does the opposite by "wiping" a personality away—including the dolls' original personalities. The imprinting program is used to send people to the Attic ("The Attic"), to imprint an Active with the Active/Handler trust bond (The Target), and also, if used in lethal levels, can leave someone tortured to the point of being so neurologically damaged as to be declared brain-dead (A Love Supreme).

In Haunted, we learn that someone can have their brain scanned into a personality "wedge" by the imprinting machine and have their personality loaded into another body. A woman named Margaret used this opportunity to solve her own murder, indicating that the imprinting technology can be used for a form of immortality if it is abused. Boyd Langton, the head of Dollhouse security, notes that if that point of the technology was abused, it would be the end of the world and of Western religion and philosophy as we know it, for without the fear of death there can be no fear of moral retribution for one's actions.

In Man on the Street we learn that a doll can be loaded with a hidden imprint within an imprint—when Echo was sent to assassinate Paul Ballard, a secondary imprint installed by then-head of security and former NSA spy Laurence Dominic caused her to relay a message to Ballard before letting him escape with his life. This technology was used once again in A Spy in the House of Love, leading to Dominic's capture and subsequent imprisonment in the Attic.

Also, in the season two episode Instinct, Topher reveals that he can use the neurological stimulants of the imprinting technology to cause physical manifestations, like the psychological concept of psychosomatic symptoms—in this case, imprinting Echo as a mother so thoroughly that she began lactating. Topher posits that this could be used to "convince" the body to fight cancer or AIDS, though it would only work if one was given Active architecture.

In Epitaph One, we learn that the initial imprinting process required hooking an Active up to a number of computers in order to upload a personality—a process that took hours; but Topher Brink cleared all of this away and designed the high-tech and speedy version presented in the show. Epitaph One also shows us the potential abuses for imprinting technology if it is allowed to evolve to the point where one no longer needs Active architecture to be wiped, leading to the potential downfall of modern civilization.

In the Dollhouse "prologue" ARG Dollplay, presented by FOX as a viral marketing scheme before Dollhouse premiered, the original imprinting technology was co-designed by Dr. Alexandra Rose, who was working on a psychological project titled "The Past Recaptured," in which she was attempting to cure her daughter of severe behavioral issues. She wiped the girl, introduced as Hazel, and dubbed her "Tango" (part of the NATO phonetic alphabet that is still in use to name the dolls). She then wiped the girl's "bad side" away and "cured" her of her personality issues, though this was not without its consequences. Note:

Remote Wiping Edit

In Gray Hour, Alpha is able to use an electronic signal through auditory expression in Echo's cell phone to completely wipe her mind, leaving her helpless in doll-state while on an assignment. According to Topher, this is highly impossible and that it even makes he, Topher, feel like Alpha is smarter than he is. When Topher attempts to repeat the trick in the season two episode Belle Chose, he knocks out the Dollhouse's power grid and instead of wiping Echo accidentally swaps her personality with Victor's, imprinting Victor as a bubbly and empty-headed party girl named Kiki and Echo as the mysoginistic serial killer Terry Karrens.

Weaponry Edit

In the series premiere, Ghost, the Rossum Corporation -- the force behind the Dollhouse—has access to high-grade military weaponry. Sierra was able to take an unknown form of a gun and use it to both explode a door and fire through a wall, accurately hitting all of her targets. While these weapons haven't been fully explored, it's safe to say that they are firmly in the realm of science fiction (for now).

Spying Cameras Edit

In the season one episode True Believer, Echo is made blind and her eyes retrofitted with revolutionary cameras that allow a monitor to see everything that she is "not" seeing. According to Dr. Saunders, this is a very risky surgery that can go horribly wrong and permanently blind a recipient if even one mistake is made. The cameras are fragile, however, and when Echo's imprint of Esther Carpenter is struck across the face, the cameras short out, leaving Echo/Esther able to see once more.

Mind/Memory-altering drugs Edit

In the episode Echoes, a student who works for the Rossum Corporation's labs on Freemont College breaks into a new and experimental drug in Rossum's secretive labs that is one of the base injections used to alter a doll's memories, allowing them to be imprinted. The effect of this drug on people who have not been fitted with Active architecture was overwhelming euphoria, hysteria, a form of truth serum, and eventually a breakdown of the drug in their systems, leaving them mostly unharmed, save for one student who was so overwhelmed by his exposure that he shattered a plate-glass window with his own head and killed himself.

The Actives who were exposed to the drug, however, began to regain memories of past events that had been supposedly wiped away by the imprinting chair; this, coupled with the evidence that Echo, Victor and Sierra especially remember each other and their lives beyond the wipes, seems to prove that some minds are too strong for the Dollhouse's technology and that no mind-wipe is fully permanent.

The NSA Edit

In "A Spy in the House of Love," Dominic's spying within the Dollhouse is uncovered. The search for his duplicity, however, sends Sierra on a mission into the bowels of the NSA. She finds a woman who looks like her and steals her outfit and her hair-style, using a high-tech hypodermic needle to knock her out. Sierra then utilizes a device in her cell phone that captured an image of the woman's retina. Later, the cell phone produced a contact lense that apparently created a contact lens that was able to accurately reproduce the woman's eye scan in order to trick a retinal scanner. Sierra is able to get through NSA security checkpoints as well as ocular-scanning modules and fingerprint-reading devices with apparent ease.

In the security files room, Sierra finds a clear piece of plastic that when hooked up to a white cord attached to a scanner becomes a page file complete with pictures, words, and all the information that she needed. None of this technology has been seen since.

Self-supporting environments Edit

When Paul Ballard finally locates the Dollhouse in the season one penultimate episode Briar Rose, he comes to the conclusion that the Dollhouse is in fact underground. He locates the agoraphobic and highly eccentric designer of the Dollhouse, Stephen Kepler, who reveals that the Dollhouse is a fully self-sufficient building. It creates its own air, has access to its own renewing water supply, and runs on its own power that is connected to various environmental agents—solar power and geothermal energy—to keep it completely off of the grid.

Were something like an electro-magnetic pulse grenade ever dropped, the Dollhouse would be unaffected because their electricity is generated by the Earth itself, indicating that the Dollhouse is perhaps the safest environment created, and that nothing short of a nuclear bomb or an earthquake would disrupt its power or its safety, also handily leaving the Dollhouse completely off of the city's grid and thus nonexistent, according to government officials. The Dollhouse has its own hospital, its own doctor, and all the supplies it needs, hiding behind the facade of a towering office building funded by the Rossum Corporation.

Season TwoEdit

Season two begins with much the same technology as season one, with the first four episodes mainly focusing on the imprinting technology—see above for examples in Vows, Instinct, Belle Chose, and Belonging. It's in the mind-bending conspiracy twister that begins with The Public Eye and doesn't stop until the series finale, Epitaph Two: Return, that the Dollhouse technology truly takes off and becomes something to be feared.

The bio-feed network Edit

Although this is mentioned in the first season, it isn't fully elaborated or illustrated until the second season. Each doll is implanted with a tracking device in the back of their necks. This device allows a handler to monitor their internal systems in order to study heart-rate and brain waves, to see whether or not the Active is in danger or still within mission parameters. This idea is tweaked in destructive ways as the season continues, showing that it can be abused in order to curb an Active or knock them out remotely and drag them back to the Dollhouse.

The Disruptor Edit

After the disastrous remote-wiping attempts of "Belle Chose," Topher's ego won't allow him to fail again, so he instead takes Alpha's designs and tweaks them into a composite sort of "ray gun" effect: any doll who hears/feels the signal emitted by the Disruptor (named after one of Topher's favorite "Star Trek" devices) will be immediately incapacitated (within a fifty foot radius). As The Public Eye and The Left Hand continue, however, the Disruptor continues to evolve, particularly when Topher matches wits with the Washington, D.C. Dollhouse's genius programmer Bennett Halverson.

Together, they learn that the Disruptor can be triggered to incapacitate a specific Active when fed through their signature bio-network feed, thus making it a sort of Active homing-missile. Bennett takes this one step further behind Topher's back, however, and further tweaks the Disruptor until it can be used to not only remote-wipe an individual Active from anywhere, but also to activate a sleeper-Active's call-sign to begin assassinating a given target. Topher tweaks this once again in the following episode, Meet Jane Doe, in which he shows that he can completely mind-wipe any doll at any given time, in order to help curb in a rebellious personality that won't respond to their handler's call-signs—this proves to be an invaluable life-save in A Love Supreme.

Daniel Perrin Edit

Worthy of his own section, Daniel Perrin is a doll unlike any other. The former spoiled, partyboy washout of the powerful political dynasty the Perrin family was taken by the D.C. Dollhouse. There, Halverson created something never seen before—a doll with his original personality intact. Halverson twisted and tweaked certain centers in Perrin's brain linked to ambition, greed, and obedience. Through the medium of Perrin, the Rossum Corporation intends to groom the next President of the United States, and Perrin performs magnificently, discrediting all rumors of the Dollhouse, elliminating Madeline Costley/November as a threat in the form of a material witness, and essentially legalizing the Rossum Corporation to do whatever it wanted in terms of neuroscience with no government oversight.

When Perrin "wakes up" thanks to the Disruptor, he and Echo uncover this, and Perrin goes through a life-crisis as he realizes that he has absolutely no idea which memories are real and which are implanted. After Halverson activates him as a sleeper, Perrin attempts to kill Echo and fails, although he does kill his treacherous wife, who was revealed to have been his handler all along, keeping him on track politically and preventing him from asking any questions. (The Public Eye, The Left Hand)

Paul Ballard: In "The Attic", this form of only wiping a specific portion of the brain to keep the whole intact saves Ballard's life. After he is left brain-dead, Topher borrows Halverson's idea and elliminates one part of Ballard's brain to borrow as a whole for the rest of the system. He fits Ballard with Active architecture and turns him into a doll imprinted with Paul Ballard's personality, as the "real" Paul is currently downloaded into Alpha's brain. What Topher took from Paul in order to save him has yet to be revealed.

The imprinting technology as a torture device Edit

Although Topher's chair is a table/bed in Halverson's DC office, the idea is the same. There, driven by her own vendetta, Halverson reveals another nature of the imprinting technology—being able to use neuroscience as a torture device. Whether or not Echo was actually electrocuted or whether her mind merely thought that she was, the end result was the same: a torture device that invades the mind so insidiously that Echo is not even allowed to pass out when her body hits the pain threshold, allowing Halverson to torture her more thoroughly and completely with no hope of reprieve. (The Left Hand)

When Alpha overtakes the LA Dollhouse in A Love Supreme, he also utilizes the chair as a torture device with Paul Ballard as his intended victim; however, in his over-exuberance frying Ballard's brain in an attempt to understand why Echo is in love with Ballard, Alpha pushes Ballard too far and renders him completely brain-dead with his brain apparently too neurally scarred to ever be fully repaired. Alpha then upload's Ballard into himself, though Ballard again performs the unprecedented and completely takes over Alpha's body for a brief moment in order to beg Echo to end Alpha's life.

Mass-wiping and mass imprinting Edit

In Meet Jane Doe, Topher reveals to DeWitt that he has finally uncovered Rossum's full goal: each of the twenty-two Dollhouses spread throughout the world are working on one component of a larger machine: the mass-wiping technology that Rossum is really after. Always ten steps ahead of the game, Topher designed the technology himself in order to understand it, and then he entrusts this knowledge to DeWitt, trusting that she will understand that it means the end of civilization; however, to further her own ends, DeWitt promptly hands this technology over to Rossum themselves.

In A Love Supreme, Alpha uploads a virus into Sierra, using that to infect the entire roster of dolls held within the Los Angeles house, as it is house policy to wipe the entire population when one is in danger of defecting. Then, Alpha breaks into the Dollhouse and uses a form of the auditory remote-wiping technology he had once used on Echo in season one, only this is the loudspeaker version. It re-wipes every doll in the house and activates the virus he had uploaded into the system, causing all of the dolls to revert into sleeper agents, engaging combat imprints and beginning to systematically eliminate every handler and security agent in the house.

It is only through Topher's new and improved Disruptor that the survivors are able to wipe the dolls of their corrupted programming without killing them. This is the kind of mass-wiping/imprinting technology that, according to the post-apocalyptic episode "Epitaph One," will lead to the destruction of the human race.

Group-think and supersoldiers Edit

In Stop-Loss, it is revealed that Rossum is also kidnapping certain ex-Actives with military abilities and recruiting them forcefully into a private army, dubbed Scytheon. This army is implanted with a processing chip in the base of their cerebellum which allows each member of the unit to see what every other member is seeing, allowing them to work as a group to take down any goal. Since this process erases the autonomous self, there is no chance of the army ever turning against their superiors because they cannot think for themselves, they can only take orders.

The one weakness in Rossum's plan is that an intense personal connection with one individual can break the "group-think" mentality of the unit—when Victor/Anthony is confronted by Echo and Sierra/Priya, he is able to overcome his programming and begin to remember them. Echo gives herself the implant, and since she is technically nearly fifty brains in one, the superior force of her mind is able to decommission the unit and send them home in the hopes that their loved ones will also be able to break the programming.

Whether or not this one compound was the only group of supersoldiers that Rossum was building is yet to be seen.

The Attic Edit

Although the Attic of the Dollhouse had been a constant vague threat to Echo, it was only briefly explored in the season one episode A Spy in the House of Love, when Laurence Dominic was condemned to it by DeWitt after his duplicity with the NSA was brought to light. Described as a chamber of horrors, as whatever hell one could imagine, Dominic was briefly shown to have his brain fried in a process similar to what Alpha eventually put Ballard through in A Love Supreme, and his personality stored on an imprint wedge.

The Attic was fully explored in the season two episode "The Attic" where Echo, Victor and Sierra were sent by DeWitt as a final straw to elliminate them as a threat. The Attic is revealed to be the heart of the Dollhouse and of Rossum—literally. Prisoners sent to the Attic are put into a comatose state, and then suspended in a glass case closed in by plastic, surrounded by a gelatinous substance as their brains are hooked up into a computer database. The prisoners are then put into a sort of loop by reliving their worst nightmares, over and over.

The human brain is, at peak capacity, more than twenty times stronger, faster, and smarter than the world's most advanced computer. Rossum found a way to access this capacity and turn human beings into their own supercomputers, using them to power the Rossum machine worldwide, exiling their enemies into a wasteland where, in a sort of bitter irony, their enemies power Rossum's exploits. The prisoners relive their nightmares in order to have them kept in a constant state of adrenaline so that the "supercomputer" functions at peak capacity, until the host brain either dies or outgrows their fears, at which point they are killed.

Within the Attic, Echo meets Laurence Dominic, and learns that the Attics the world-over are connected to each other, and that with enough skill one can "mindwalk" between different nightmare worlds to interact with the other prisoners trapped in the Attic, which allows her to find and save first Victor/Anthony, and then Sierra/Priya. They also meet Clyde there, one of the two founders of Rossum who helped to create the imprinting technology, only to have his partner and their first imprinted subject, dubbed "Clyde 2.0," turn on him and make him into the world's first human supercomputer, thus creating the concept of the Attic (this was in 1993).

Echo discovers that the only way to escape the Attic is to overcome her fears and allow her Attic-self to "die" so that she would reawaken within her actual body, awake once more.

I0-9 technology Edit

In "Getting Closer," Topher uploaded a virus to Bennett Halverson's imprinting machine, rendering one of her Actives a sleeper who subdued her within her lab until Tony and Paul Ballard could arrive and escort her to the LA Dollhouse. While the precise protocol of the I0-9 tech that Topher used isn't ever made clearer, episode writer/director Tim Minear made it clear that the use of the term "i0-9" was a reference to the hugely popular science-fiction website of the same name, a website that has been critiquing "Dollhouse" episodes since the show's inception.

The weaponized mass-imprinting deviceEdit

In the penultimate episode "The Hollow Men," the founder of the Rossum Corporation managed to trick Topher into completing his remote-wiping machine, which Rossum had already found a way to weaponize. The device itself is pistol-shaped and looks much like Topher's Disruptor device. Topher later uses the weapon at the end of the episode and proves that it does work by wiping away a character's personality and leaving that character in a "tabula rasa" doll-state, even though that character had never been retrofitted with Active architecture before.

The wiping "cure"Edit

In "The Hollow Men," Caroline/Echo's true importance to Rossum was fully revealed. Caroline once gave blood at a Rossum-funded hospital, though she didn't know this at the time. The company found that Caroline's spinal fluid is unique in that it carries a specific genome that links to her brain. Theoretically, this genome would allow her to withstand the mind-wiping technology. The founder of Rossum thus arranged for Caroline to be sent to the Dollhouse, where she was allowed to grow into a distinct personality, and, finally, to completely withstand the wipes and retain complete memory of all of her personalities.

Once she reached that stage, the final stages of Rossum's plan were set into motion: to get her to the Rossum facility and tap her spinal fluid. That way, a select few could be inoculated against the mass-wiping technology, leading to the cure referenced by Echo in "Epitaph One."

Neuropolis: The City of MindsEdit

In the decade between "The Hollow Men" and "Epitaph One," the Rossum Corporation went out of control without Boyd to lead them. The last of Topher's tech was weaponized and used to perform "blanket wipes" over cities, leaving countries completely wiped. Matthew Harding and Clive Ambrose, the last two of Rossum's cabal of leaders, inoculated a select group of people with the cure derived from Echo's spinal fluid. Over the ruins of Tucson, Arizona, where Rossum's headquarters were once located, Rossum built their central city, dubbed Neuropolis, which Caroline refers to as the City of Minds. There, a ruling class of "cured" humans live in decadance and power as they feast on the misfortunes befalling the rest of the world.

Harding is addicted to vice, and allows each of his bodies to grow very fat as he smokes, overeats, and overindulges in sex and alcohol in each one of them. The guards of Neuropolis go on raiding parties to surrounding environments looking for "dumbshows," the futuristic slang term for humans who have been mind-wiped into the tabula rasa state and not imprinted to be butchers (mindless killing machines). The dumbshows are taken and paraded in front of the ruling power of Neuropolis, and, once one of the leaders has "stretched out" a "suit" too much for their liking, they download their minds into an imprinting wedge and are reborn into a different body, rather like a perverted version of the legend of the phoenix.

Echo and her team lead an assault on Neuropolis in "Epitaph Two: Return," the series finale. While there, she assassinates Harding while Paul Ballard kills Ambrose, though Harding reveals that Echo has raided Neuropolis many times and has never been able to take out all of his backups. Echo kills him once more, anyway.

Safe HavenEdit

Safe Haven is Echo's base camp, established after the apocalypse that Rossum's out-of-control technology incurred. While the exact specifics of how it was set up are not explained, Echo and Alpha—who has evolved since downloading Paul Ballard into his mind—set up a commune of sorts high in the Arizona mountains, where the wiping technology cannot reach. There, the survivors of Echo's team and other Actuals who have managed to find it live in relative peace, though they are ready to fight off both raiding parties and wandering hoards of butchers at a moment's notice.

In an ironic twist, Safe Haven is actually located in the mountains above Neuropolis. According to Echo, it had to be set up this way because she needed access to the cure in the early stages to help set up Safe Haven as a free zone from the tech. Echo and her team frequently go on raiding parties of their own in an effort to free the slaves taken to Neuropolis, attempt to kill both Harding and Ambrose, and steal whatever supplies or technology her camp needs. Safe Haven is effectively run by Adelle DeWitt, who takes care of the practical needs of a camp of people, ensuring that each individual is farming and producing enough food and water for self-sufficiency, as well as protection.

The tech-headsEdit

Led by Tony Ceccoli, once Victor, the tech-heads are a group of former dolls who have chosen to live with and thrive with the technology after the apocalypse. According to Priya, the tech-heads are addicted to technology. Although she and Tony had a son together, named after his father, Priya thinks that Tony abandoned her for the technology in order to become Victor once more. The tech-heads keep each skill or characteristic they want on a necklace of USB-type devices. According to them, Echo is the only one of all the Actives who can retain multiple imprint/imprinted skills at once. Anyone else has to take something out in order to put something back in.

There are several tech-heads, with Tony as the leader. Romeo is his second in command, followed by Kilo, who has become a fierce fighter. Kilo keeps the characteristic of mercy around her neck at all times, so that it can be removed when she feels she doesn't need it. The tech-heads love the power the tech can give them, and don't want to see it destroyed, feeling that they thrive as higher beings over the dumbshows and butchers when they upload new skills into their minds.

Reversing the mass-wipeEdit

While being held prisoner in Neuropolis, Topher Brink worked against his captors in order to finally set the world to rights again. Topher, using his own ideas along with help from old video recordings of Bennett Halverson, finally manages to design what he calls a mirror-device. This device takes the wiping technology and literally turns it on its head—starting a chain reaction that will reverse the technology in order to restore what was lost to its original form. Designed in the form of a bomb, the device must be worked manually and set off in a high place. The dangers of the device, of course, meant that those Actives who had regained their minds would be wiped clean as well, and in order to avoid this they would have to live underground for at least a year until the charge of the bomb dissipated, leaving the Los Angeles Dollhouse as the new Save Haven.

In order to absolve his guilt and to finally find peace after the tortures that he'd been subjected to, Topher took the device to the highest place in Los Angeles he had access to: Adelle DeWitt's former office. There, after looking at the wall of pictures and memories labelled "To Remember," he smiled as he set off the bomb. The device sent a golden charge rather than a blue one into the atmosphere, where the technology had mingled with the ionosphere. There, it sent a blanket signal that reversed what the original tech could do, and restored the world—or what was left of it—to sanity once more, ending the technology once and for all.

The final imprintEdit

Echo, evolved to a point where she can fully control each of the personalities literally living within her, is given a final gift by Alpha before his leavetaking: a full imprint of Paul Ballard. The very last use of the imprinting tech is Echo downloading Paul's mind into her own, where he will live within her and she can finally let him in. In the final scene of the series, Echo falls asleep for the last time in her old sleeping pod, conversing with Paul in her mind with a smile on her face.

References Edit

Season One episodes referenced (in chronological order):

Season Two episodes referenced (in chronological order):

"Five Brain-Manipulating Technologies That Prove Dollhouse Exists Right Now," archived at i09, by Annalee Newich, February 17, 2009.

Science fiction trivia Edit

Whedon is a genre writer, and most of his ideas are collected by fans into a subgenre called the Whedonverse. Borrowing also from his love of Battlestar Galactica, sharp-eyed (and eared) fans can detect several subtle (and not-so-subtle) references:

  • Eliza Dushku, who portrays the lead character Echo/Caroline, was first discovered by Whedon acting for his perhaps most famous work, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel as the dark/repentant Slayer, Faith Lehane.
  • Tahmoh Penikett, who portrays Paul Ballard, is most famous for his role as Karl "Helo" Agathon on Battlestar Galactica.
  • Summer Glau guest stars as Bennett Halverson in the second season. Glau was first discovered by Whedon and went on to play the fan-favorite River Tam in Whedon's beloved sci-fi space opera Firefly and reprised the role in its movie sequel Serenity.
  • Amy Acker portrays the haunted Whiskey/Dr. Claire Saunders. She was first found by Whedon and played the awkward Texas-born genius Winifred "Fred" Burkle (and later the god-king Illyria) in seasons two to five of Angel.
  • Topher Brink consistently says "frak!" in both seasons, the BSG version of the modern expletive. Topher also refers to Bennett Halverson as having gone "all Cylon on me," from the human-like robots with artificial intelligence in BSG. This is also a slight poke at Glau's stint as Cameron, a Terminator from the beloved sci-fi series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Topher names his "Disruptor" after an "invention" from Star Trek: The Original Series. (He also tries and fails to get any of his Dollhouse coworkers to recognize this: "A Disruptor! You know, from "Star Trek?" "TOS?" [Sigh] I'm so alone!")
  • Alexis Denisof, who plays Daniel Perrin in the second season, was first cast as Wesley, the bookish teammate of Angel Investigations in all five seasons of Angel and first seen in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.
  • When Victor's contract with the Dollhouse expires and he is returned to his life as Anthony, he is given room in an old Hollywood hotel called the Hyperion. In Angel, the Angel Investigations crew took over an old Hollywood hotel named the Hyperion and set it up as their base of operations from seasons two to four.
  • Anthony's military storyline in "Stop-Loss" and his struggles to return to Priya somewhat mirror the struggles of Riley Finn against the Initiative in the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Whedon has also continued to work with former teammates in the form of his brother Jed Whedon and his wife Maurissa Tancharoen, who worked with him on the internet musical phenomenon Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. He has also worked again with veteran writer/director Tim Minear, and veteran Buffy/Angel writers Jane Espenson and Marti Noxon.
  • Season two of Dollhouse borrows guest stars extensively from the cast of Battlestar Galactica, such as Jamie Bamber and a very brief appearance from Michael Hogan.

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