This Friday was the Dollhouse episode “Man on the Street” that was supposed to be the ONE! WE! WERE! WAITING! FOR!. I watched it Saturday morning, as I was getting drunk on Friday night and I have to say that although it wasn’t as great as they were saying it definitely felt like a Joss Whedon show.
Unlike the others this show didn’t focus on Echo being set out on one assignment. Instead there were tons of subplots out there and it focused more on what the Dollhouse is, what it wants, and how fucked up everything is.
There were two major moments in this episode for me and how they worked together that helped me boost my faith that this show is NOT a misogynist wet dream.
Sierra’s storyline was the first and brought up a huge issue. The previous episode it was noticed that one of the doll’s, Victor, had developed a “crush” on Sierra. This episode shows their first interaction being Sierra isolating herself and Victor placing a hand on her shoulder to ask if she was okay. Sierra’s response was the scream and fall out of her chair. They examine Sierra and realize that she has had sexual intercourse since she returned from her last engagement and they assume it was Victor. Boyd does not quite believe this is the case and stages a stakeout which involves the discovery that Sierra’s handler has been taking advantage of her and uses the tagline “Do you trust me?” which, due to her programming Sierra must answer with “With my life.” Boyd catches them and punches the Handler through the window. When being interrogated the Handler challenges Adele and her judgement of him due to the fact that what they do when they send them out on engagements should not be viewed as less than his actions just because they trick the actives into believing that they are in love with their clients. Adele doesn’t “send him to the Attic” but sends him on a mission to assasinate Mellie, FBI agent Ballard’s neighbor and new love interest.
This is where the second part came into play. Mellie is lounging around her new man’s house in a t-shirt and underwear, waiting for him to return with chinese food which Hearn (the Handler) enters and attacks her. This scene starts off incredibly disturbing and has shades of the Jenny Calendar situation, which is a women fighting for her life but being completely overpowered. However just has Hearn has Mellie on the ground and is choking her, Adele calls and leaves a message that plays on the answering machine “There are three flowers in the vase. One of them is green.” This is apparently a hypnotic trigger as Mellie’s eyes flash and she quickly fights back and snaps Hearn’s neck. Adele then states “There are three flowers in the vase. One of them is yellow” and she transforms back into “Mellie”.
These two scenarios were important. The first is because it hit home the fact that the Actives are basically children and completely innocent and that, even though Topher tries to claim that they have a “good” life they are not truly safe and are not always happy. Also, Hearn’s discussion with Adele states that there is no difference between his behavior and her’s was important because it mirrors the difference between the scary rapist behind the bushes attacking the innocent and the way people justify things like date rape as saying the victims are complicit because they may have consented before, or felt like they were safe.
The second part is awesome because it is vintage Whedon. Taking the trope of the career obsessed cop/agent who’s g/f, sister, etc becomes the innocent victim in order to send him a message or further along his plot development. Instead the woman wins and is also more than just a love-sick neighbor.