Dollhouse – S01E08 – Needs

This week’s episode – Needs

When I was little, my dad liked to wake me up for school in cruel and creative ways, whether it was positioning a Windex bottle’s nozzle in my ear (“You’re getting brainwashed!  Get it!?”) or activating a remote control car on my chest and driving it into my face.

It seems that this week the actives are in for a similarly unusual wake up call.  I never woke up in a compartment in the floor before, but I imagine it’d be kind of jarring.  And it’s just the kind of jostling this series needs.  Here’s to breaking the concept and taking Dollhouse in a new, exciting direction. 


  1. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The above anecdotes are entirely true.  Happy birthday, Dad.  

  2. john henry? the should call this show on the nose chronicals


  3. Holy shit! Is that shirly manson of garbage fame!?

  4. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:


  5. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    you can get away with dream sequences like that in a supernatural series.  Here…

  6. I swear these are the longest cold opens I’ve ever seen on a show.

  7. Are there no more compartment sets at the dollhouse?

  8. They definatly don’t work in a mob drama

  9. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Vic – Alias had some pretty long cold opens.  Oddly structured show.  

  10. Is she talking to the writers or the handlers?

  11. Think theyll show alpha at the end of the season?

  12. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Definitely.  (They’ve announced which episode he’ll appear in)

  13. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    And that’s as spoilery as the discussion will get.  

  14. Thank you.

  15. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I felt that was a worthwhile semi-spoiler because it actually serves as incentive to keep watching.  Something to look forward to.  

  16. Check out the red shirt with the emo hair.

  17. Anyone think this was possibly done on purpose, some kind of purge or reset.

  18. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Sort of a Rod Serling setup for this episode.  Cool.  

  19. They’re already working as a cohesive unit.

  20. Very Twilight Zone.

  21. Alien guy was funny

  22. They got Mike.

  23. The Dollhouse knows and controls all.

  24. She’s made a career at the dollhouse saying this like so noted and I’ll take it under advisement

  25. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Ha!  Knew that agent talking to Boyd was familiar.  She was in a production of Company, filmed for dvd.  

    As you were.   

  26. Are those for the Dollhouse spring production of the Pajama Game.

  27. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:


  28. I wonder how much it would cost to imprint a series of dolls with the identities of Shakespearean characters and have them perform one of his plays?

  29. Bill s preston?

  30. @Paul: Its like they’re the aliens watching Maple Street.

  31. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:


  32. Wow, thats good


  33. See, thats how you do exposition. Short, simple, creepy.

  34. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    This episode isn’t great, but I like Victor and Sierra deprogrammed.  They’re easy to root for.  Eliza’s a little better in a fake identity.  

  35. A lot of Dushku head tilts.

  36. The security at Dollhouse is terrible.

  37. It’s not great but it’s solid.

  38. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Enver Gjokaj (Victor) was in an episode of Law and Order CI I saw the other day.  Real good.  Real sympathetic. Let him play a hero character.  

  39. Totally agree about Victor and Sierra.  I like those actors a lot.

  40. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Give Eliza less to say.  Please.  

  41. This episode or at least its theme feels like it should be a season finale, or at least later on in the series, once its established.

  42. Awe, thats what that meant. Freedom has a price.

  43. They’ll find each other in another life, when they are both cats.

  44. Damn, the Dollhose does not lose.

  45. Why didn’t her handler pick her up?

  46. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Huh.  Interesting concept.  

  47. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Can you pinpoint "closure" as a neural impulse/sensation?

  48. Probably a reduced level in stress and higher levels of dopamine

  49. HA!

  50. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    For the record, I’m more of a Victor sleeper than a Mike sleeper.  Not sure how Mellie sleeps in the "I’m a Little Teapot" position.  

  51. This show is getting more and more consistant. What the hell was up with those first couple episodes?


  52. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    They were ‘consistently’ boring.  

  53. My assessment of ‘Dollhouse’ at this point is that it’s caught in a circle jerk with its own contrived premise.  That sounds almost harsher than I want to be because I actually have enjoyed watching the last few episodes quite a bit.  But I can’t really figure out how to care about what’s at the center of this show.   Whedon has gotten pretty far on metaphor in the past, but I can’t really find a metaphor in Dollhouse for anything that I’m interested in.


  54. Mike sleeps like a cadaver.

  55. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Episode 8 kinda sorta won me over in the end.  B-

  56. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I think I just liked the concept of closure as a method for weeding out pesky desires.  So the episode satisfied (Eliza’s performance excluded) on a standalone basis even if it didn’t leave me with hope for the rest of the season/series.  Agreed with @ohcaroline.  Where is this going?  

  57. I’d like to see some international Dollhouses

  58. Our new feature, "Jim Blogs the Episode Again Later After Everyone Has Gone to Bed," will have to begin another time.

    For now, I can only ask this: can anyone think of a show currently on the air with a worse theme song/opening credits sequence?

  59. So, every Joss Whedon show has an "everyone forgets who they are" episode? Is that a box we tick? Wait, wait. Firefly didn’t have one.

    Of course, when they did on Buffy they were six years in, and Angel did it four years in. We’re eight episodes along here. So that puts the musical episode sometime next month, I guess.

  60. Ha!, he prevents himself from becoming aroused by thinking about baseball! When I need to do that, I think about cliches, and how old they are, and how many times I’ve seen them before.

  61. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The man likes his tabula rasa.  Buffy had several of those episodes.  Can’t say I ever minded it though.  

  62. we should live blog friday night lights in stead

  63. This episode seems to be written with Paul’s "Topher is a monster" observation in mind. The more you dwell on what happens in there, the more troubling it is that he thinks it’s all a big fun joke.

  64. What was Mike’s closure?

  65. Watching now…

  66. I *think* Mike was just a red herring in there to convince the other dolls the game was real.


  67. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    That’s the sense I got as well.  I guess he wasn’t showcasing the same desire problems as the others in that room?  

  68. @ohcaroline mike just happenned to be in the same pod. he was a victim of circumstances

  69. This show… hurm.  This show is odd.  It’s built on a nigh uncomfortable level of sadism.

  70. I actually have really liked these past three episodes. Before that was pretty hit or miss. But these last three have been insanely watchable and even interesting. I like them diving into the concept and deconstructing the characters.

  71. It was visceral and weird.

  72. You’re too harsh, Mr. Montgomery.  That was fine television.  Four of the first five episodes are decent television, and necessary to set up the developments and twists in 6-8.  And 6-8 are vintage Whedon.  I give your face a B-. 

  73. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Emily 2003.  I knew it.  But Stephen Myers?  

    I don’t hate the show.  Just don’t love it.   

  74. I think the last three episodes have all been well done, but I still don’t know why I’m watching this.  What is it about this setup that I’m supposed to care about? 

  75. Whedon has earned my trust at this point, and I think he will ultimately go somewhere interesting with this.  With a storyteller this innovative and challenging, I know this is going somewhere even if I can’t conceive what it possibly will be.  It’s not fair to criticize a show because you personally cannot visualize how the concept can be sustained.

    Also, he got Olivia Williams to jump on a trampoline. +500 points.

    Boyd, Reed, and Adelle DeWitt are compelling characters very well played.  I’ve liked the slow rollout of who the Dolls are.  The structure, plotting, and dialogue of 6-8 are all reminiscent of the best of his other shows.  I’d single out "Man on the Street" as the best Eliza episode, and while she hasn’t blown me away, I’d hardly describe her as awful on this show.

    If you hate Topher, I suggest you check out that actor in "The TV Set."  He’s quite wonderful there.

    I also like pancakes.

  76. @Emily2003  I didn’t say that I’m criticizing it because the concept can’t be sustained.  I was one of the staunchest defenders for ‘wait and see where this show is going’ in the early not-so-great episodes.  The thing is, now that I see where the show is going, I don’t really know if I’m interested in an exploration of a concept that I never found very convincing in the first place. This is a completely personal opinion.  If  you are gripped by the concept, that’s awesome, and I’d be curious to find out more about why it’s gripping to you.  Same goes for anybody — if the ‘Dollhouse’ concept is working for you as an interesting metaphor, I’d love to find out why.  I’d honestly like something more to be able to grasp on to — because I am planning to keep watching it as long as it keeps being well crafted and the surface entertainment value is there.  Just — if it goes off a ledge again, I’ll feel like I already gave it a chance and wasn’t sold.

  77. I really enjoyed this episode. The only problem with this show is that it is lacking any emotional connection, at least to me. This episode made me care for Victor and Sierra but I still don’t care about any of the other characters, especially the FBI guy. I don’t know why I don’t enjoy this show more but, the pacing is just all over the place. The first couple episodes were rather dull and did not deserve to start out a series. I am wondering how much of the placement of the episodes was because of Joss or Fox? I will also be interested to see the DVD after season 1 is over, to see if the episode order is different. I am looking forward to this thursday, I guess that is a plus ……

  78. This man says it better than I ever could.


  79. I’m glad you are enjoying it.

  80. All the AV Club guy has done is make me realize how much this show is like Alias, and that mentioning the show Alias still makes me roll my eyes years later.

    (This was not a half-bad episode.)

  81. @Jimski  — !!!!!!!!!  Did you just compare Creepy Topher to the great Marshall Flinkman????

  82. (sorry for the exclamation points, you see how we girls can get worked up defending our favorite nerds).

    But seriously, I’m not going to say ‘Alias’ was a great show from beginning to end, but I really think it did right a lot of the things Dollhouse has done wrong, or hasn’t done, yet.  The moral and character stakes in the initial setup were very clear.  They got more complicated as the show went along, but I never felt the ‘who are these people and how did they get there and why am I supposed to care?’ thing that keeps happening in Dollhouse.

  83. Alias ran out of steam after season 2.  Heck, once they brought down SD-6.

    I like the Joss is giving us a slow roll out of the world and characters.  He’s been an innovator in TV since Buffy began in 97, and continues to push the medium with his fourth series.  I think the world and purpose of the characters will be complete by the end of the first season.

     There was no moral ambuiguity in Alias.  Sydney Bristow:always the good guy at the end of every episode.  And her only character motivation was whether or not she wanted to sleep with Vaughn.  Again, Whedon has loftier goals.  Personally, I think J.J. Abrams’ a hack who’s reaped the benefits of Joss re-popularizing stuff like serialized storytelling, revelatory flashbacks, and big sprawling recurring casts.

  84. @emily2003: I like Joss Whedon, but you give him way too much credit.  He didn’t "re-popularize" those things.  They are techniques that have been used in television since HILL STREET BLUES.  They’ve never gone away.  Also, a show would have to be "popular" to "re-popularize" something.

  85.  There’s a definite shift in genre shows after Buffy’s early seasons.  Alias and Lost really blew up the mythology/serialization movement, but I (and lots of critics) point to Buffy as being a turning point.  Along with X-Files of course.  Look back at what was airing

     Yeah, and I’m pretty sure Buffy was popular.  It was a hit for WB, has high DVD sales, ran for 144 episodes, and launched a spinoff with 100+ episodes. And was massively influential.  I ain’t blowin’ smoke. 

  86. @emily2003: BUFFY was very popular within a certain subgenre of rabid fans and on a tiny network.  Season 3 had its best ratings and that was only a little over 5 million viewers.  On any other network BUFFY goes the way of FIREFLY.  Would you consider SMALLVILLE or SUPERNATURAL to be popular? Or genre popular?

  87. Figuring for DVD sales, frequency of syndication, and amount of ink that gets spilled by critics on how great it is, I’d say yeah it’s popular.  I’m not saying it was ever in the Top 20 or had blockbuster ratings, but it is influencial and was a big part of a movement that brought serialization and sci-fi fantasy elements back into primetime shows.

     Smallville and Supernatural don’t really enter into my consideration whatsoever (though I’m glad Supernatural lets Ben Edlund take home a paycheck).  And neither is regarded the way Buffy has come to be regarded.


  88. You and I have different definitions of popular.

  89. Yeah, I think you mean you are ignoring my well-reasoned arguments.  I’m not just saying this as a Whedon fan, but as a TV fan who understands the larger trends that drive and influence network programming.

  90. Haha – yes, that’s it exactly.

  91. @emily2003:  Yes, Buffy was successful.  But, your arguement that it allows for fantasy and sci fi back into primetime rings false.  Your going to tell me shows which hit a wider audience like the X – Files did not do more then Buffy did.  Those shows were on major networks and had major followings.  I have heard any number of shows called the next X – Files, but not the next Buffy being thrown around. 

    I agree with Conor that Buffy was a niche show on a small network.  Also, using your arguement that ink being spilled tells me that you really don’t read alot of pop culture magazines.  I can’t open up a Entertainment Weekly without hearing about the two great shows no one is watching, one being Supernatural.  (The other in FNL) 

  92. Well, I was planning on letting this die, but since someone else threw down the gauntlet, here’s citation:

    "Commentators of the entertainment industry including Allmovie, The Hollywood Reporter and The Washington Post have cited Buffy as "influential"

    ^ For example: Dillard, Brian J., "Buffy the Vampire Slayer [TV Series]", Allmovie (2003 or after): "wildly influential cult hit". Harrington, Richard, "Joss Whedon’s New Frontier", The Washington Post (September 30, 2005): "One of the best, most influential, genre-defining television series in decades". Kit, Borys, "Whedon lassos ‘Wonder’ helm for Warners", The Hollywood Reporter, requires subscription (March 17, 2005): "the influential WB Network/UPN drama series"

    Yeah, those are quotes from respected media outlets.  Not people who post on comic book blogs.

  93. I’m not sure the point of your quotes. Buffy *was* a cult hit. That is, by definition, something that is not popular except among its relatively small group of fans.  And it was definitely influential in showing the viability of female action leads.  But we’re a long way from your original contention that Joss Whedon "repopularized" standard television storytelling devices.

  94. I didn’t thrown down the gauntlet, I just was pointing out that the X-Files which came out before Buffy, had a more likely influence on the bringing science fiction back to main stream TV. Even Joss Whedon is quoted to saying the Buffy was a cross between My So Called Life and X – Files. I am not going to argue that it wasn’t influential as far as strong women characters, just that your idea that it brought sci – fi back to the main stream is. 

  95. As I said earlier, along with X-Files was part of the trend that brought sci-fi/fantasy and serialized storytelling back to mainstream television.  I don’t think Buffy singlehandedly changed the face of television, just that it had a significant part.  People like Bryan Fuller (Heroes) and Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who) have said so as well.


  96. ‘Wiseguy.’  *That* is the show that invented the arc.