Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Friday 9:00 PM Feb 13, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
1,086 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Echo is one of the "Actives" in the elite and illegal Dollhouse. Through different personality downloads, she plays the role of a lovestruck girl on a romantic weekend, and then a ruthlessly efficient kidnapping negotiator.
Meanwhile, FBI Agent Paul Ballard is struggling with his assignment to uncover information on the Dollhouse. The chase has destroyed his marriage and is wrecking his career, and it doesn't seem that he'll stop until he uncovers the truth.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.


    The good;

    More involving plot, more drama and excitiment and more realistic depiction of the reality of the Dollhouse.

    The bad;

    The bike ride is stupid, such a Hollywood cliche that they turn out to be racing. Boyd is the worst sniper ever, demonstrating why you should always use a semi-auto rifle. Her client is also way to handsome as Joss and ED comment but if she'd turned up with an ordinary looking guy would we not know something was up? Plenty of pandering to the studio frankly. How does Sierra fire 3 rounds from her pump action shotgun without working the action?

    Best line;

    Addy "Nothing is what it appears to be" (how true that will turn out to be!)

    also like Tophers

    "Everybody who's running to something is also running away"

    Packing heat;

    Sierra with a shotgun and pistol (although she has a carbine in the chopper?), Boyd with a pistol and sniper rifle.

    Kinky dinky;

    ED dancing is always a treat. especially in her 'decent by half an inch' dress. She also does a twirl around the stripper pole move when she gets into the van (check out her film The New Guy for more in that vein). We also get to glimpse her having bondage sex with her client. On the other hand her sexy librarian look is also quite something. Giles says he has a thing about libraries/librarians, wonder if Tony Head knows?

    How'd they get away with that?

    All the stuff with the kidnapped girl and what happened to Echo's personality as a kid is horrific. Sierra's first treatment is hard to watch.

    This weeks fantasy;

    Sierra is a SWAT team commander, Echo is a bike-riding party girl and hostage negotiator.

    Total number personalitites;

    2 for Echo making a total of; 6

    1 for Sierra making; 2

    1 for Victor

    Total dolls;3

    Echo, Sierra and Victor

    Addy is a bit British;

    It's the tea again

    Topher is a bit geeky;

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche


    Echo ties up her client during sex

    Knocked out


    Sierra kills 2 of the kidnappers

    Dolls injured;

    Echo slapped around by the kidnapper

    Capt subtext

    Dr Saunders offers Echo a massage. One wonders how she danced so wonderfully after dropping a motorbike on her leg?

    Happy hookers

    This time Echo explicitly does have sex with her paying client

    Know the face?

    Recurring Joss Whedon stars 3 ;Amy Acker, Eliza Dushku and Ballards sparring partner was the 'walking action figure' Spike had to fight in season 6 of Buffy to get his soul back. Also look out for Tim Kellehen who was also in Dark Skies, another conspiracy-fest series where he played a similar character (his Dark Skies co-star Conor Farrell also turns up in Buffy as the soldier who takes over The Initiative)



    Plenty of bondage sex in fanfic

    Missing scenes

    Reminds me off;

    Adele is very Lilah like whilst Dominic is very Marcus. The relationship between Active and Handler very reminiscent of Watcher and Slayer. Ballards FBI contact is called Loomis which may be a Halloween reference.The boat sequence was so Miami Vice I had to check that Boyd was wearing socks. The kidnapped girl stuff is reminiscent of the Angel ep 'Damage'.

    Questions and observations;

    Caroline remarks 'Like she always said', is this Mrs Dundee whom she refers to in her video? Obviously it's not ED doing all the bike work but can she ride at all? You wonder what the Faith on a motorcycle spinoff would have been like especially with ghost-Spike as sidekick? The first time I ever actually heard Lady Gaga was watching this ep. Caroline says 'Hello mom' in her video, is her family still out there? The kidnap victim's dad refers to 'That reality crap', Joss putting the boot in? ED refers to her first movie with period cars which was presumably 'This Boys Life'. Joss is a fan of BSG AND Millers Crossing, he sure has taste! Obviously the budget is pretty tight to judge by their comments. What does Echo mean when she babbles 'Is it bigger than your thumb?'

    7 out of 10, combine this and Echo and it would be much better

  • Cancellation will be justified.

    This pilot episode was horrendous, and the show's definitely going to be cancelled, and most likely because of the pilot.

    What the hell was this? Why did Whedon feel the need of dealing with the most cliché episodic story right in the first episode? And why did it take up 85% of the screentime?

    The characters are dull. Dushku can't act. She has good looks, but her performance is duller than her character. Supporting characters? Snoozefest. I mean Fringe has a relatively weak lead, but the support cast makes up for that.

    Conclusion: cancellation is well earned, if this is the best Whedon can produce for the episode that's supposed to suck the audience in.moreless
  • The premise is cool, the execution,not so much.

    I don't think Dushku has enough range to pull off all the different characters she slips into. Seeing her in the business suit and glasses, she looked more like a kid playing dress-up.When asked to play up the more emotional scenes, I'm left underwhelmed. Most of the supporting cast leaves a bit to be desired as well; especially the blonde 'tech guy', their "Xander"- he's already annoying. I missed the quippy dialogue that Joss Whedon is known for; this had an Alias/Fringe feel to it, which only makes me wonder what someone like JJ Abrams could have done with the material.moreless
  • Poor

    Episode starts out with a scene that makes no sense, the leader of the dollhouse calls dushkus character "chanelle". But we already know that Elizas character is called "Echo". I couldn't help but laugh at the botched writing already. We jump to a flashback of reckless driving on sidewalks to where echo, or should i say chanelle, chases some boy to a party. Echo dances, boy gives her a necklace, im getting bored

    We learn that the first 15 minutes are filler, as anything that happened was completely pointless. Echo is now inside of a underground criminal hideout called "dollhouse", oh that's real original, lets call the hideout the same thing as the show. Whedon is a genius. The main plot involves a kidnapping of some rich girl, first mistake. We don't care if some spoiled rich brat gets kidnapped. They nappers what 6 million dollars. Another mistake is that the mexican kidnappers should have demanded pesos instead of dollars, but i guess that would make to much sense.

    Echo gets shot on a pier when a drug deal goes wrong, the nappers get away with the girl.

    Echo is cloned, she actually witnesses the dollhouse people cloning her, they give her clone the nickname Sierra.

    Echo flys a helicopter to the middle of a desert and rips the brat out of a fridge, when in the biggest shock of the episode, echos clone bust thru the door and kills everyone.

    Poor characters, poor writing, poor acting, poor lighting, poor everything. If i was given the option to travel back in time and not watch this show i would. Instead i would of probably watched supernanny.moreless
  • Echo must face the ghost of a memory of a Kidnap Advisor that was kidnapped when she was a little girl.

    Well to tell you the truth I wasn't very excited about this new TV show to begin with, which is odd because I'm a big fan of Joss Whedon's work but the idea of erasing people's mind and turn them into "actives" sounds like a movie of John Woo with Ben Affleck, so it seems like it would be your typically science fiction show, but the second this episode starts I realize I was completely wrong, Rich people can engage an "active" for pretty much anything they want: dates, gathering information, meet certain targets and obviously completing missions, but what makes this episode very interesting is the fact that Echo (main character / Eliza Dushku) gets to play different personas, one second she's a girl having a fun date with a rich guy, the next one she's taking a "medication" and then she's an expert advisor in kidnapping. This particular memory belonged to a real advisor that was kidnapped by the same guy, so Echo starts experience what the real person would feel, which in this case is fear but at the same time she's compelled to finish the mission and face that memory inner demons (I know it sounds confusing).

    The script was great I think Joss Whedon put a lot work not in action but more in mystery and drama, The set is beautiful it kind of remind me the "wolfram & hart" building in Angel season 5, The music is incredible is very well connected to the ambience, as for the actors they played great and at the same time gave a lot of mystery, by the way watching again Amy Acker in a Joss Whedon show is great and her character seems very intriguing. I hope the upcoming episodes show more action which I think is vital for this show to survive, and more connection with the characters, but only time will tell if this show can be creative enough to stand on both feet after Fox starts shaking things down like they always do with new shows.moreless
Kurt Caceres

Kurt Caceres

Gabriel Crestejo

Guest Star

Brett Claywell

Brett Claywell


Guest Star

David Doty

David Doty

Dir. Sam Zimmerman

Guest Star

Amy Acker

Amy Acker

Dr. Claire Saunders

Recurring Role

Reed Diamond

Reed Diamond

Laurence Dominic

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • The names of the Dolls are all words from the NATO phonetic alphabet. This alphabet is used for radio communication because many letters sound the same over such connections. Thus one says "Alpha" instead of "A", "Bravo" instead of "B", and "Echo" instead of "E".

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Adelle: I know you've heard colorful rumors about what an Active is. Robots, zombie slaves... they are, of course, quite the opposite. The Active is the truest soul among us.

    • Caroline: (on video) I'd like to take my place in the world, like Mrs. Dundee taught us. Global Recovery, Doctors Without Borders... The world is in need of serious saving. And I want to travel. Travel around the world as I save it. In a private jet that I pilot and designed. Okay go ahead and laugh yearbook monkey. I know, I'm such a cliché. What can I say, I want to do everything. Is that too much to ask?

    • Boyd: (to Adelle) I've been here long enough to know that you like to tell yourself that what we do helps people... Let Echo help this girl.

    • Topher: Look at Echo, not a care in the world. She's living the dream.
      Boyd: Whose dream?
      Topher: Who's next?

    • Adelle: I'm talking about a clean slate.
      Caroline: You ever try to clean an actual slate? You always see what was on it before.
      Adelle: Are you volunteering?
      Caroline: I don't have a choice, do I? How did it get this far?
      Adelle: Caroline, actions have consequences.

    • Topher: (Indicating a monitor of Echo's brain) See the blue areas? That's fear.
      Boyd: It all looks blue.
      Topher: That's where I'm going with this.

    • Topher: We're great humanitarians.
      Boyd: Who would spend the rest of our lives in jail if anyone ever found this place.

    • Tanaka: I'm a billionaire. I can hire anybody for anything. And I'm going to go to an illegal organization and have them build me... program me what? Perfect date? Confessor? Assassin? Dominatrix? Omelet chef? I'm paying a million dollars for that? I can get that. I have everything I want.
      Ballard: Nobody has everything they want. It's a survival pattern. You get what you want, you want something else. If you have everything, you want something else. Something more extreme. Something more specific. Something perfect.

    • Boyd: The older man. You know him. He's the one who took you. They never found him.
      Echo: He said he was a ghost. You can't fight a ghost, but he was heavy, the weight of him. Ghosts are heavy. Ghosts are sheets with holes cut out.
      Boyd: He took you away. And now...
      Echo: He's unprofessional.
      Boyd: He's taken Devina.

    • Matt's Friend: Dude, where's your friend?
      Matt: Time for her to go. Had to get to her carriage before it turned into a pumpkin.
      Matt's Friend: What?
      Matt: Stroke of midnight.
      Matt's Friend: Midnight?
      Matt: End of the ball.

    • Topher: Hello, Echo. How are you feeling?
      Echo: Did I fall asleep?
      Topher: For a little while.
      Echo: Shall I go now?
      Topher: If you like.

    • Adelle: Nothing is what it appears to be.

    • Gabriel: You told me you were good with people.
      Echo: I misspoke. I'm good at people.

    • (Boyd and Topher are discussing Echo.)
      Boyd: Glasses, Topher?
      Topher: She's near-sighted.
      Boyd: Is that supposed to make people take her seriously? Like the librarian thing is supposed to hide the fact that she's-
      Topher: Am I speaking Urdu? She's near-sighted, Boyd.
      Boyd: You can mess up her eyesight?
      Topher: I can mess up the neural connections to her eyesight. Make her brain process the information it gets any way I want.

    • Topher: You see someone running incredibly fast, the first thing you are going to ask is are they running to something or are they running from something? The answer is always both. These personality imprints, they come from scans of real people. Now, I can create amalgams of those personalities, pieces from here or there, but it's not a greatest hits, it's a whole person. Achievement is balanced by fault, by a lack. Can't have one without the other. Everyone who excels is overcompensating. Running from something. Hiding from something.

    • Matt: You're sure you didn't let me win?
      Echo: Two out of three. Hmm?!
      Matt: Nah. Just dance!

    • Echo: No way. No way! You cheated.
      Matt: How did I cheat?
      Echo: You did something that will prove you've been cheating. This is not over.
      Matt: Oh my God, you are sore loser.
      Echo: I wouldn't know, I've never lost.
      Matt: That's okay, the first time you're always just... a little bit sore.

    • Echo: I know. "Actions have consequences."
      Dewitt: What if they didn't?

  • NOTES (9)

    • International Airdates:
      UK: May 19, 2009 on Sci Fi
      Australia: June 9, 2009 on Fox8
      Latin America: July 28, 2009 on FX
      Norway: September 28, 2009 on TV2
      Czech Republic: November 27, 2009 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: December 7, 2011 on JOJ Plus

    • Music: Into the Fold (The Duke Spirit), Just Dance (Lady Gaga), Civilization (Front Line Assembly), K.O. (The DNC), The Way You Like It (DNC)

    • Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku first discussed the idea for the series while meeting over lunch to talk about Eliza's career.

    • According to a copy of the shooting script for this episode which leaked onto the Internet in August of 2008, the title of this episode was originally "Mariposa", and the name of Tahmoh Penikett's character changed from Paul Smith to Paul Ballard.

    • On July 22, 2008 Joss Whedon announced that he was planning to film a large number of Dollhouse webisodes, one for every regular episode produced.

    • Dollhouse was one of two new series in the 2008/2009 Fox season to be part of the Fox campaign called "Remote-Free-TV". The concept was to reduce the amount of commercial time but charge more to the advertisers, in the hopes that viewers will be less likely to skip the ads if they know the break will be shorter. Thus the viewer gets a longer episode, the advertiser has more people watching their commercial, and the network still makes the same amount of money. The other series taking part in this experiment was Fringe.

    • Production for the second filmed episode was supposed to begin on July 16th, 2008, with filming wrapping on July 23rd. However, the decision to film a new pilot episode pushed that schedule back. Joss announced on July 22nd that he had finished the new script, production began on July 30, and principal photography took place from August 4th to August 14th.

    • Joss Whedon pitched Dollhouse to Fox two weeks before the 2007-2008 WGA strike and got a seven-episode order without even writing a pilot episode.

    • "Echo" was filmed as the first episode but when some early viewers found it too dark and confusing, Joss Whedon decided to produce "Ghost" as a new pilot. The downfall of Whedon's last TV venture, Firefly, began with Fox executives forcing him to create a new pilot. Joss has been careful to point out that this time the new pilot was his idea.


    • Echo: Fatherly types?
      Gabriel: Like Edward James Olmos.
      Edward James Olmos is an American actor and director who is perhaps best known for the role of Admiral William Adama in the remake of the Battlestar Galactica TV series. Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon has said that he is a huge fan of the series, and Tahmoh Penikett (FBI Agent Paul Ballard) was one of the series regulars as Karl "Helo" Agathon.

    • Topher: There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
      This is a line from Act II Scene II of Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare.

    • Matt: (Looking after Echo when she is gone) It's time for her to go. And to get to her carriage before it turns to a pumpkin.
      He is referring to classic folk tale Cinderella. In the story Cinderella's Fairy Godmother assists Cinderella in attending a fancy ball. She turned a pumpkin into a carriage, mice into horses, a rat into a coachman, and lizards into footmen. She then turned Cinderella's rags into a beautiful gown, complete with a delicate pair of glass slippers. The Godmother told her to enjoy the ball, but return before midnight or the spell would be broken.