Dollhouse

Season 1 Episode 10

Haunted

5
Aired Friday 9:00 PM Apr 24, 2009 on FOX
AIRED:
6.5
out of 10
User Rating
785 votes
25

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

Echo is programmed with the memories of a dead woman in the hopes that she can help solve the woman's murder. Topher secretly prepares Sierra for an engagement, and Ballard looks into Mellie's past.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Haunted

    7.0
    The good;

    Terrific central concept, imagine waking and being told by your friend that you've died and then getting to attend your own funeral and find out what everyone thought of you. Some lovely scenes too with Topher and Sierra and the continued humanisation of Adele. The story of this ruptured family getting back together is actually very touching especially when the drunken brother reminisces about the first night he and his sister spent in the house together and how glad he was they made up, Gatsby and Nick style, just before she died.



    The bad;

    If Margaret and Adele were such good friends why doesn't Adele recognise Margaret's family? Exactly how did Margaret know that someone was attempting to murder her? The idea that her handwriting would be enough to prove that a note is genuine takes some swallowing.



    Best line;

    Adele; "Loneliness leads to nothing good, just detachment"

    which would have been comfort to Ballard who has rough sex with Mellie even though he knows she's a Doll

    Mellie; "Are you looking for a Dollhouse client?"

    Ballard (haunted!, looking at himself in the mirror) "I found one"

    also like

    Margaret/Echo; "Elmo"

    Jocelyn; "EMO"

    Margaret/Echo; "That's not a word sweetie" (her entire character summed up in that sentence)



    Packing heat; Margaret doesn't like guns but is quite prepared to riflebutt her son with one.

    Echo;6

    Boyd; 6

    Dominic; 7

    Sierra; 3

    Victor; 2



    Echo kissage;1

    Echo/Margeret kissed by her son.



    Kinky dinky;

    Incestuous vibe between Margaret and her son, his 'mother's bed' line especially. When the son says that Margaret/Echo "Checked out his body" she doesn't deny it but claims it was 'subconsciously' and she'd had 'too much wine'. He also spies on her voyeuristically through the window knowing her nightime routine and she doesn't appear at all disturbed. Adele is also a voyeur, watching Toper and Sierra. Ballard's violent sex with Mellie borders on rape fantasy. She digs it but doesn't want it all the time (a common reaction amongst most people I think). Echo in jodpurs and riding boots, MMMMMMMMMMMM! Margaret seems a cougar, using the Dollhouse for younger men before getting her own. Sierra seems to fantasise about 'Sexy, sexy aliens' is she a got-fic fan?



    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost; does Topher have sex with Sierra? Possibly...

    Echo; 3 definite, 1 possible

    November; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Victor; 1

    Adele; 1

    Sierra 1 possible

    Topher; 1 possible



    How'd they get away with that?

    The nanny story is HORRIBLE! The son murders his mother plus the incestuous subtext. Even though it's all a game and she get's into it you feel for Mellie being treated so roughly by Ballard. Question is would he have stopped if she'd wanted him to?



    This weeks fantasy;

    A dead woman comes back to witness her own funeral and investigate her own murder. Sierra is a supergeek in a supermodel's body, Victor is a horse expert



    Total number personalitites;

    Echo; 17

    Sierra; 8

    Victor; 5

    November; 2



    Total dolls; 6

    Echo, Sierra, November, Victor, Mike, Tango



    Addy is a bit British;

    Margaret says Adele would keep a 'Stiff back and stiff upper lip"



    Topher is a bit geeky;

    Huge geekfest right down to lasertag and classic sci-fi debate.



    Subverting the Hollywood cliche;

    The rich turn out to be just like the rest of us only with more money



    Bondage;

    Sierra tied up; 1



    Knocked out;

    Echo; 2

    November; 1

    Sierra; 1

    Victor; 1



    Kills;

    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo; 1

    November;1



    Capt subtext;

    Topher fantisises about Adele and Margaret together. Margaret expresses her admiration for Echo's body and even gropes her breasts. Boyd warns of the collapse of civilisation. Ballard feels self loathing at having taken out his frustrations about the case by ravishing Mellie, even if she enjoyed it. Adele puts the mind of her old friend Margaret in Echo, the Doll she has developed an affection for. Adele indulges Topher his fantasy in the knowledge that she allowed herself her tryst with Victor. The sons jealousy of the mother's new young husband is pretty clear.



    Know the face? Gregg Henry played a Sheriff in Firefly (and every other show you've ever seen! Check him out on IMDB, 132 credits in 34 years)

    6 Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd, Amy Acker, walking action figure, Eliza Dushku, Jim Piddock, Gregg Henry



    Guantanamo;

    Rather sinisterly Sierra wants to interfere with the other sleeping Dolls and make them fight for each other's amusement. Her idea about having them perform comedy skits is a lot more reassuring. That the Dollhouse is able to remotely cyber-wipe the FBI computer is scary beyond belief.



    Missing scenes;

    Great scene where Adele and Echo/Margaret look at Margaret's body in the coffin and she complains she doesn't like the dress she's being buried in.



    Reminds me off;

    Topher imprinting Sierra is very Dr Frankenstein right down to the flashing blue lights and his 'It's alive!' schtick. The incestuous subtext is reminiscent of both Oedipus and Hamlet. The whole idea of implanting your memories in a younger person and living forever is reminiscent of an old British horror film 'Nothing but the night' (Christopher Lee is the good guy for once). In Angel we had the father killing the son, here we have the son killing his mother.



    Breaking the programming;

    None this week, very much a standalone ep but a pretty good one



    Questions and observations;

    Adele is clearly dismayed at the thought of how people would remember her if she died, she's ashamed of the Dollhouse or just thinks people wouldn't understand? She states that 'Illusions aren't pointless. Note Topher doesn't just want a sex slave, the girl he creates for his birthday is sparky and challenging, beating him at lasertag.

    Call me a sap but I was really touched by the ending, despite all appearances to the contrary Margaret was loved by her brother and daughter and is able to tell them that she loved them in return from beyond the grave, the uncle and niece are reunited and are a loving family once again.

    Is Margaret really living on? The real Margaret died with her body, surely it's only a copy in Echo? It reminds me of Sheldon's question about the Star Trek transporter, are you really transported or does the real you die and a clone assembled at the other end? When Ballard looks up Novembers prints she seems to have multipile identities, her Dollhouse characters or was she some sort of identity thief? Is it really Eliza on the horse? Adele holds Margaret's hand as she is wiped, does she experience Margaret's life as well?



    Marks out of 10; 7/10

    moreless
  • An enjoyable side step before the inevitably mad end-of-season dash to the finish line.

    7.5
    Dollhouse does Quantum Leap as Echo is imprinted with the personality of an individual who was recently murdered in an attempt to uncover the truth behind her demise. It does seem like something of a step in the wrong direction following the revelations and developments that have occurred in recent weeks, but as an example of a 'mission' episode, it is able to hold its head up with the best of them (although, admittedly, they are hardly an illustrious bunch.) The story remains engaging by adopting the tried-and-tested conventions of the murder mystery; here we have a veritable litter of much-maligned individuals, each with their own respective motive for doing off with the poor head of the household, and as the script progresses, the intrigue builds and builds, with new layers of betrayal and double-cross exposed at every turn. This process enriches the believability of the narrative, carefully divulging the emotional conflicts within each of the characters and allowing the viewer the opportunity to empathise significantly with each of them. By episode's end, we care enough about the family to be rather incensed by the culprit's betrayal, even if all signs do seem to point to him once he starts fooling around in the stables after dark. Regrettably, the confrontation between mother and son falls rather short of expectations, seeming rather hurried and ham-fisted, although this may be more a fault of poor editing or direction than any flaw with the script. Still, Dushku and Jordan Bridges do their level best with what they're given, and it's testament once again to Eliza's flexibility that she is able to make the viewer genuinely upset that Echo has to take the place of the dead woman once the mission is completed. It's a stroke of genius to have the character be a friend of DuWitt's too, since it lends the story a much more humanitarian undercurrent, ensuring the audience actually care about the ultimate outcome. We also get a neat little sub-plot with November and Ballard that carefully illustrates the cracks in their relationship now that he is aware of her status as a Doll (check out that angry sex scene man, ph-ew!), and a rather less than stellar C-storyline involving Topher and Sierra, in which the nerdy one finally gets a chance to unwind. It's innocuous enough, and a welcome piece of character development, but one can't help but wonder whether the time would've been better spent focusing on any number of the loose narrative strands that have been left dangling in recent weeks. An enjoyable side step before the inevitably mad end-of-season dash to the finish line.moreless
  • Solve Your Own Murder Written by Jane Espenson And Jed Whedon And Maurissa Tancharoen Directed by Elodie Keene

    8.0
    Echo/Margaret: "Addie, it's just so ugly. I love these people but I don't like them."



    Now this is definitely an innovative way of a Dollhouse client using the Dollhouse. Waiting until they're dead, getting an Active body and going to solve their murder. If only Agatha Christie had thought of this one.



    Margaret Bashford was a rich lady who went on her favourite horse and wound up dead the next minute. More than that, unlike every other client we've seen, Margaret and Adelle were actually friends, adding another interesting spin on things.



    Jesting about being late for her own funeral might one of many obvious zingers this episode's plot could conjure up but I did get a laugh out of things and I suppose if you could do the same thing as Margaret, wouldn't you?



    The idea of attending your own funeral in the body of someone half your age has got to be a bit of shocker but Margaret was more interested in solving her murder than getting sentimental and with four obvious suspects, it was fun watching this episode show how each of them could possibly be guilty.



    There was Jocelyn, the embittered daughter. Margaret's parenting skills are something that clearly don't leave much to be desired for and constantly dismissing your own child's career is a bad thing. Especially when the child in question is actually a success at the job she does.



    I know it sounds weird but I didn't think that Jocelyn was going to be the killer. She came across as too sympathetic, in spite of all her anger. It was nice to see her converse with Echo as Margaret, even if she oblivious to the fact that she was literally trashing her mother to her face.



    Then there was William, the estranged brother. Now he was actually the person I did expect to be the very one responsible for Margaret. He was constantly drunk, belligerent and given that we learned about him and Margaret's fallout, it did make some more sense that he could've killed his sister in spite or greed.



    The other two suspects then had to have been the son Nicholas and the younger husband, Jack. Nicholas had debts coming out of his ears and Jack didn't seem all that pleased to learn that he had been bequeathed his late wife's horses. It didn't help that both also more than a little suspicious as well.



    Jack was actually quite hot headed more than enough times and even got furious when Margaret tried it on with him in Echo's body. I guess there are some people out there who do marry older women because they love them. Jack might have been angry but clearly he did find his wife very dear.



    That left Nicholas as the only other person who could possibly have done in Margaret but even then we were sort of misled. Watching him try to snog Echo was a cringe worthy moment but when he realised that she was Margaret, that was sort of awesome. However it didn't come as too much of a shock that he was a Dollhouse client himself.



    It could explain parts of his debt problem or even the fact that he slipped up about drugging the horse. He was the expert on horses and not Jack. Also fight wise, Margaret should be happy that it was Jack who came to her rescue before Nicholas bumped her off for a second time.



    Overall the resolution to the main plot tied up nicely. We learned that Jack was a stand up guy, Nicholas got nothing and sent to prison and Margaret got to rewrite her will after finding out more about her loved ones. Plus Adelle actually showed some emotion when Margaret was resigned to her fate.



    A lot of people in Margaret's position probably wouldn't have been so quick to give up the chance of living in a new, more virile body so the fact that she did is surprising in a lot of way. Maybe some of the Dollhouse clients are bad/seriously emotionally damaged people after all. That might be something that Paul can relate to. After all, thanks to Mellie's presence in his life, he has now become one of their clients and spent most of this episode barely able to hold it together. I've slagged off Paul in the past but I do really feel for him this week.



    On one hand if he doesn't play along, he's literally putting a hit on himself but on the other hand, by playing along, he's becoming the thing he hates about the Dollhouse and it's clientele. It finally gives Tahmoh Penikett some meaty material as well, but it's disturbing as hell to watch.



    Paul dealt with his anger towards his situation by having rough sex with Mellie and she has fallen into the unfortunate dynamic of trying to appease him, even though she doesn't know what's going through his mind, making Mellie's plight all that more hard to watch. Miracle Laurie is really good at selling Mellie's naivety with this current plot line but there's no way that Paul will be able to continue to maintain this pretence, especially now that he's trying to track Mellie as well.



    As for Topher, he gets the opportunity to imprint a Doll for himself and what does he do? He imprints a fellow geeky best friend with Sierra. Some of the scenes between Topher and Sierra are cute and it's probably the most benign use of an Active going but it also harkens to something as well.



    Remember in the Buffy episode "I Was Made To Love You" where Tara said that it was kind of sad that her future killer Warren had to build a robot girlfriend because he couldn't find a human one? I think that has to apply to Topher as well that he has to imprint a friend because he can't make any in the real world. I'm not a Topher sympathiser but it is sad as well. Still this is something he's allowed to do on his birthday, according to Adelle.



    Also in "Haunted"



    Victor briefly appeared in this episode as riding inspector called Mr Chilton. However him and Echo had no interaction with each other.



    Boyd (re Margaret): "So we can give life after death?"

    Topher: "Only if we really like you."



    Margaret made a point the age differences between herself and Adelle and Adelle and Echo, so unless Adelle was a gymslip mum, I'd still think she's likely to be Echo/Caroline's aunt if they're even related.



    Echo/Margaret (to Adelle): "I used to say I'd be late for my own funeral but I didn't mean it."



    Sierra (to Topher): "Get ready to have your ass kicked and possibly lose an eye."



    I doubt it was intentional but that quote gave me a nasty reminder of a certain Season Seven Buffy episode.



    Mellie/November (to Paul): "I know the quickest way to kill a relationship is to take it's temperature but are you okay?"



    Nicholas: "You said you wanted to comfort me."

    Echo/Margaret: "Not with my tongue."



    Who was the personality that Topher imprinted Sierra with? A former friend or even Topher himself? Yes, I think he would be that narcissistic.



    Echo/Margaret: "You lost your mother. It's only natural you'd so be elmo."

    Jocelyn: "Emo."

    Echo/Margaret: "That's not a word, sweetie."



    Mellie/November (to Paul): "They smell really good, some of them, not so much but overall, your shirts are nuzzle worthy."



    Paul's shower scene I guess was more to do with conveying his self-loathing of having sex with Mellie than highlighting the actor's prettiness.



    Echo/Margaret (re body): "I don't get to keep it."

    Nicholas: "I didn't think so."



    Jack (re Margaret): "I hope she didn't know the truth about her son. It would've killed her."

    Echo/Margaret: "It already did."



    Nice that Adelle acknowledged Boyd's attachment to Echo when telling him to move on. Also no Claire this week either.



    "Haunted" isn't my favourite episode but Jane Espenson is a cracking writer and seeing Dushku trying to play a 60 something woman is more interesting than some of the other parts she's played in the series. Fun but not a classic.moreless
  • A great old-fashioned detective story from beyond the grave.

    9.0
    A new use for the 'Dollhouse technology' – eternal life. Thankfully that's not even an option and even DeWitt only allows it as a favor to an old friend, and then it's only temporary. I liked the whole little mystery though it should have been done with more suspense, it wasn't gripping like it could have been. I also liked how it worked out that Margaret got to make things right with her daughter and Jack, not many people get to find out the mistakes they've made after they die then get to make them right before they move on.



    Ballard's story takes a rather dark twist. When Mellie tells him how she's going to support him, it's pretty needy but at the same time quite sweet. It has a very troubling effect on Ballard though, he has intense sex with her. The next morning, she asks if he's going to continue looking for clients and he replies that he's already found one: himself. His self-disgust is obvious. I liked that, nice character development.



    It was sweet that on his birthday, Topher gets a 'friend', it's a very touching gesture. He might be a genius but he never leaves the Dollhouse (like Saunders) and has no life and no friends outside it. For a little while, he gets to be normal.



    This was a rather unusual episode, more emotional and psychological but it worked, I liked it.moreless
  • Fun episode, and brings up yet another of the incredible implications of what a "Dollhouse" technology could mean for society--extremely extended lifespan.

    10
    Fun episode, and brings up yet another of the incredible implications of what a "Dollhouse" technology could mean for society--extremely extended lifespan. There are so many things that they can do with this show, so I really hope that it makes it...come one FOX, give a scripted show a chance for once!

    ...come one FOX, give a scripted show a chance for once!

    ...come one FOX, give a scripted show a chance for once!

    ...come one FOX, give a scripted show a chance for once!

    ...come one FOX, give a scripted show a chance for once!

    ...come one FOX, give a scripted show a chance for once!moreless
Jordan Bridges

Jordan Bridges

Nicolas Bashford

Guest Star

Gregg Henry

Gregg Henry

William Bashford

Guest Star

Rhea Seehorn

Rhea Seehorn

Jocelyn Bashford

Guest Star

Miracle Laurie

Miracle Laurie

November

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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