Dollhouse

Season 2 Episode 2

Instinct

4
Aired Friday 9:00 PM Oct 02, 2009 on FOX
AIRED:
5.9
out of 10
User Rating
570 votes
11

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

For her latest assignment, Echo is imprinted as a new mother, and the mental changes are so profound that they affect her body on a glandular level. But when she believes that someone may want to harm her "son", her reactions are more intense than anyone could have predicted. Meanwhile, Senator Perrin steps up his investigation, and Adelle pays November a visit.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Instinct

    6.0
    The good;

    Very clever concept, that the maternal instinct between a mother and her child is so great that it can overcome virtually anything (anyone else read Stephen King's short story The Breathing Method?) Echo breaking into the house is so sinister she might as well be wearing a Michael Myers mask. Contrast that to the awwww factor of Echo with the baby. Lovely to see Mellie back.

    The bad;

    Nothing really bad, just not that remarkable.



    Best line;

    Ballard; (to Topher)"You're a genius"

    Topher ; "I'm not as comfortable with you saying that as I thought I'd be"

    plus

    Echo; (baby in one hand, carving knife in the other) "MOMMY'S HOME!"



    Packing heat; no but Echo with a great big carving knife.

    Echo;8

    Boyd; 8

    Dominic; 9

    Sierra; 4

    Victor; 3

    Ballard; 10

    November; 1



    Echo kissage; 4 her 'husband' Nate



    Kinky dinky;

    Nursing mother Echo looks noticeably more buxom, the wardrobe department obviously breaking out the wonderbras and padding for this role.

    Capt subtext;

    Topher repeats to Echo that he is a good man, trying to convince himself. Echo says that feeling nothing would be worse than before, possibly alluding to Mellie and her grief.

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost; almost certain Echo has sex with her client, naked in bed together and Topher speaks of 'romance protocols'.

    Echo; 4 definite, 2 possible

    November; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Victor; 1

    Adele; 1

    Sierra 1 possible

    Topher; 1 possible



    How'd they get away with that?

    Upsetting to watch Echo so distressed about being seperated from her child, also not good if you don't like needles.



    This weeks fantasy;

    Grieving widower wants his dead wife back to care for their newborn baby. Cleverer still Sierra is inserted as a supportive best friend for her.

    What do we think of the client?

    Undoubteldy the most sympathetic yet, a guy devestated by the loss of his wife and unable to accept his own child because of the memories that stirs. In the end almost losing his baby finally makes him appreciate what he has in his son.



    Total number personalitites; Echo as the mother and Sierra as her best friend Kelly

    Echo; 25

    Sierra; 12

    Victor; 7

    November; 3



    Total dolls;

    8-Echo, Sierra, November, Victor, Mike, Tango, Alpha, Whiskey



    Addy is a bit British;

    In response to a crisis Adele sits down and has tea. Keep calm and carry on!



    Topher is a bit geeky;

    He has developed an 'app' for ventriliquism. What next, barbershop quartets?



    Subverting the Hollywood cliche;

    The panicked woman fleeing the bad guys actually has the good fortune to walk around the corner and stumble across a police car.



    Bondage;

    Sierra tied up; 1

    Ballard; 1



    Knocked out; Topher KO' again

    Echo; 2

    November; 1

    Sierra; 1

    Victor; 1

    Topher; 2



    Kills;

    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo; 3

    November;1



    Dolls injured;

    Poor Mellie, not even a Doll anymore and she still gets cracked on the head.



    Happy hookers;

    Perrin refers to Rossum being involved in prostitution.



    Know the face? Kristoffer Pohala seems to make a habit of appearing with Whedon alumni, guest starring in the Angel ep Billy, in Tru Calling with ED, in Mad Men with Vincent Unspellablesurname and in Life Unexpected with Emma Caulfield. Stacey Scowley who plays the senator's wife is also a Buffy Alumni, the girl whom Spike picks up and sires in the bar in Conversations with Dead People.

    9 Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Amy Acker-2 (Dollhouse/Angel), walking action figure-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse), Eliza Dushku-3 (Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse), Jim Piddock-2 (Angel/Dollhouse), Gregg Henry-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Alan Tudyk-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Felicia Day-2(Dollhouse/Buffy), Alexis Denisoff-3 (Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse), Kristoffer Pohala-2 (Dollhouse/Angel), Stacey Scowley-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse)



    Guantanamo;

    Kinda scary the way panicking mother Echo has no place to go, the police can't help her against Rossum.



    Reminds me off;

    Echo can now just walk out of the Dollhouse at will. Much like The Initiative and Wolfram and Hart organisations with impenetrable security never live up to their hype.

    Whedon cliches;

    Top security installations which aren't secure at all. Loving self-sacrificing mothers who risk all for their children (Joyce, Darla)



    Breaking the programming;

    Echo's desire for her baby is strong enough to overcome anything Topher can do to her.



    Questions and observations;

    This time Topher has not only changed Echo's mind but was able to actually alter her body. Ballard and Topher spar but seem to be developing a workable relationship much as he and Boyd did. For the second time in 2 eps Echo plays a wife rifling her way through her husband's desk. Was Perrin's source at the NSA actually Dominic? We finally find out what happened to Mellie and her daughter. No Victor at all this ep.



    Marks out of 10; 6/10-ok, very much a standalone, surprising that Joss bothers with eps like this knowing that he has a short time to play with.

    moreless
  • Mommy's Home Written by Michelle Fazekas And Tara Butters Directed by Marita Gabriak

    8.0
    Topher (to Paul/Adelle, re Echo): "Perhaps triggering lactation was a bridge too far. Live and learn."



    Oh, you don't think? When you have to watch your main character breastfeed a baby that doesn't belong to her, regardless of imprint, it's a little hard not to be disturbed by it. It seems there are many things that Topher will happily do to advance his Dollhouse studies.



    Taking another unusual route this week, Echo became the mother of a bouncing baby boy that she didn't have to carry for nine months. The scheme unusual even for this show's standards and Dushku's acting must be improving because she was pretty convincing with this one.



    As put upon Emily, Echo believed that she had a wonderful son that she bonded to easily and a husband who was somewhat cold and distant with her and the baby. We even got the soap opera aspect with Echo confiding in her best friend Kelly (the role taken on by Sierra), who gave her some pretty obvious advice.



    Instead Echo did some snooping around on her own and became easily convinced that Nate was having an affair. When he admitted that the woman in the photographs was a former lover whose death he couldn't really come to terms with, the jig was up.



    The sad part was that Echo then became convinced that Nate wanted rid of her and the baby when she overheard him trying to call off the engagement. It got even worse for her when she realized that Paul was coming to get, so legging it out the window became her only option.



    The police station scenes were some of the strongest. The female detective sympathized with Echo because she thought she was an abuse victim until Nate managed to get his son back and then have Echo dragged back to the Dollhouse. I have to hand it to Eliza Dushku for some great moments there. Her acting in this episode is arguably some of her strongest in my opinion.



    The even more interesting part of this was her maternal instinct becoming more dominant when Topher tried to wipe her. Going by the choice quote I've used for the opening segment of the review, triggering lactation was a bridge to far. Next time, think your little upgrades out, Topher.



    Echo escaping from the Dollhouse so easily seemed a little trite to me. This wasn't "Needs" so I don't see how she could've left the building. Are security staff really that lax in a place like the Dollhouse? Well, I do have to remember Alpha I suppose. He certainly had no problems getting out and back in that place.



    As for Echo's confrontation with Nate, parts of it felt like The Hand That Rocked The Cradle while other bits were surprisingly poignant. Nate finally came to embrace the child he couldn't bear to look and Echo became disheartened when she had to deal with Jack not being her child.



    The end scene with Paul and Echo discussing the latter's distress at remembering everything was sad. That being said, I do have to admit that Echo choosing to be awake compared to the other Actives is an interesting idea, especially when you consider another returnee here.



    It was nice that we weren't going to have to wait long for Mellie/Madeline to return. Miracle Laurie was always going to be a welcomed appearance and thanks to some of the recent ads, it looks like there's going to be some good storylines for her this season. Adelle was certainly keen on Madeline getting her diagnostic.



    So from the diagnostic point of view, we can assume that Madeline is physically fine and unlikely to glitch anytime soon. However from the conversations that Madeline had with both Paul and Adelle, it seems pretty obvious that she poses a threat to the Dollhouse. Adelle didn't exactly suppress the possibility.



    Paul on the other hand seemed to be a mixed bag with Madeline. He went from being surprised that she was at the Dollhouse to sympathetic about her daughter's death and curious about Madeline's seeming happiness of not remembering much of her time. The exact opposite of Echo in those respects.



    However if Madeline poses a threat, then I think it will be down to Daniel Perrin that she does so. Unlike Paul, it will prove a lot harder for the likes of Adelle to get a senator to back off, especially one that has little problems in drawing up clues as quickly as he does. Needless to say, I'm hoping for Perrin to win this one out.



    He's got the moral outrage, a supportive wife in Cindy and so far, an integrity to want to expose the Dollhouse that Paul seemed to lack in the first season. Also like Paul, he seems to have a face to attach to the Dollhouse as well. I think it's obvious who the face will end up being.



    Also in "Instinct"



    This aired along with "Vows" for UK viewers on Sci-Fi UK. Sorry for the delays in reviewing the episode. I'm catching up as we speak.



    Paul: "Yeah, I don't understand."

    Topher: "Yeah but it's so cute that you're trying."



    Paul certainly looked at the chair with morbid curiosity at the start of the episode. Topher also seems to enjoy talking down to him.



    Echo (re Nate): "It's more than that. I hand him the baby and he acts like I've handed him a live grenade."

    Sierra: "Men are wusses."



    Adelle: "For your own wellbeing, come in and have your diagnostic. I won't take no for an answer."

    Madeline: "No, I don't imagine you will."



    Claire only left in the previous episode and they've already drafted in some new physician for the place. I'm surprised Adelle actually hasn't sent out for her.



    Nate (re Echo/Jack): "Just find them."

    Adelle: "We know already where Echo and the baby are and we are retrieving them as we speak."



    Topher: "We should put you in the recruiting DVD."

    Madeline: "Thank you very much. How do I get out of here?"



    Madeline's words were, "cucumber", "boat" and "wire". She sensibly also refused Topher's offer of upgrades.



    Topher (re Echo): "Did you offer her any treatment?"

    Paul: "Gee, that's a great idea, Topher."



    Paul: "So, what, you're happy now?"

    Madeline: "I'm not sad. It was nice meeting you."



    How early was Madeline released from her contract? From the way Adelle sounded, I got the impression that Madeline had barely served half of it.



    Echo: "Babies need their mothers."

    Nate: "I know but you're not his mother."



    Adelle made some perceptive comments about children needing love from an early onset. Nate clearly took that into account when dealing with Echo as well.



    Echo: "All of these things happened to me, I feel them."

    Paul: "I know, Echo. I know you remember."

    Echo: "Not remember, feel."



    There was no Victor or Boyd in this episode and I'm not certain of the distance between this episode and "Vows".



    "Instinct" is a decent episode, nice plot, some good acting from Dushku but it's hard to stay involved when you know that FOX are going to do away with the series pretty soon and that does suck.moreless
  • An absolute disaster.

    2.0
    Topher thinks he's a genius because he makes Echo lactate. This also manages to break Echo's brain further and negates the wiping process. She acts like a homicidal weirdo, threatening characters we barely know (oh, the suspense) but then (Spoiler!) it's all ok again because she talks to Ballard about her feelings. The first episode in this season was suggestive, promising, and deep. Yet I was so bored by this episode that I'm leery of watching the next one. I will, because I'm determined to give this show a chance. But another episode like this one might kill that determination completely.



    I'll give it 2/10 instead of 1/10 because I enjoy Mellie and she added something useful.moreless
  • Emotions ran deeper than just a memory print

    8.1
    I liked the whole new world this episode opened for us. I mean: that programming is not only the memories. Last time they managed to bring up old memories and make her do things that imprint did not. This time the wipe out did not worked - the instinct of being mother was so much stronger and she was ready to do anything. And I really liked that they brought something different for her. She has been all kind of things, but never a mother.



    And to contrast to that, I really loved Madeline being back. That she is happy being out. That she is glad she does not remember. She is no longer in pain. The way she shared those thoughts with Ballard. And how that lead to the final scene in the end. That Echo thinks, that it's better to remember.



    I think it was good episode on story.. on emotion, but.. they seriously have to get their game together, soon.moreless
  • There are very few chances where you get to take a child away from a loving mother's arms, without leaving with a few scratches and scars along the way.

    9.0
    Dollhouse used the value of motherhood and parenthood on a different level that actually had me marveled at the sight of Echo willing and able to breastfeed a child she didn't even carry herself. What I found most fascinating was the fact that she truly believed she was a mother at heart.



    The writers outdid themselves this time with a moving theme in 'Instinct'. Eliza Dushku was able to capture the true emotions of what it would feel like to have your child ripped away from you, especially if you believed they were in danger.



    How many fathers would be willing to pay the Dollhouse a load some of money for a strange woman to become your child's mother? Given the details of his wife's passing during childbirth gave more clarity to the plot, but how long would that engagement be; up until the child was old enough to take care of their selves or until the father loved his child.



    This story was down right heartbreaking indeed. I applauded the way Echo screamed in the station when they pulled her away to receive her treatment and she firmly believed they were giving her child to a murderous fiend.



    DeWitt made an excellent point to the father; he could have asked for a nanny or even a child specialist, but he asked for a mother-someone to give his child the love he couldn't give himself.

    DeWitt had some serious balls giving Echo a long term engagement, how much money did this guy pay for a deal like that?



    Echo keeps getting used time and time and time again and it's beginning to show up on her such that she even has a personality to go with her doll behavior. She felt the loss of her child even when she was wiped like a computer. She was still overwhelmed with grief to the brink of insanity when she couldn't get what she wanted. The only person she can now count on is Ballard.



    Madeline made her first presence this season and we got to see an essence of the life lives after being a doll. I believe DeWitt doesn't trust her and the feeling is mutual. I wonder how many people have actually made it out. Madeline and Ballard shared some time together and he seemed to have some feelings for her and maybe subconsciously she did as well. At one point when Echo went zany on Topher and knocked Madeline in the head, I believed Madeline would have glitched; if not by the uncanny questions, then surely a knock over the head should have done it.



    I really cannot get over the impact Dushku left from the scene she created in the station. Her abilities to portray a multitude of characters should be commended, but she hit the nail on the head with that jaw dropper of a performance that has me wondering what more personalities she could portray with the same quality.



    This is what I am asking for with the Dollhouse, we finally have a storyline we can follow; Echo is about reached her limit, she's not a computer, maybe that's a hint of Caroline talking in that end scene.



    There was no mention of Dr. Saunders or even Boyd. Shouldn't DeWitt be the least bit concerned about one of her dolls actually leaving the Dollhouse, maybe for good?



    I must say Topher should be commended; getting Echo's body to produce breast milk is classic, but he could have simply let her bottle feed her child, but where would be the fun in that.



    For now lets focus on the underused characters like Sierra and Victor, I am sure they have more to offer.



    A few more doses of this kind of material and anyone would be hooked, let's see what happens next.



    Lexa Reviews

    http://lexabuti.blogspot.com



    _______________________



    Four and a Half Stars



    Grade B+

    _______________________moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Topher: Perhaps triggering lactation was a bridge too far. Live and learn.

    • Topher: Well, arguably, one could program the brain to... fight cancer. Or be telekinetic. Or not to have that gag reflex when you eat sea urchin. Or whatever. The possibilities are pretty much endless is what I'm saying. I don't want to use the word "genius," but I'd be okay if you wanted to.

    • Topher: I can't fiddle with a mind until it's wiped clean. The human mind is like Van Halen. If you just pull out one piece and keep replacing it, it just degenerates.
      Paul: Yeah, I don't understand.
      Topher: But it's so cute that you're trying. Mm! Okay. Good talk! Huh?! Yeah!

    • Topher: Hey, um... while we're waiting, may I offer you any additional enhancements? On the house. I've been working on some pretty sick apps. How do you feel about ventriloquism?
      Mellie: So tempting. Uh, I'll have to pass.
      Topher: Well, it's a dying art.

    • Adelle: Are we looking at another composite event, Mr. Brink?
      Paul: I don't think so. I think we're looking at a genius.
      Topher: I'm not as comfy with you saying that as I thought I'd be.

    • Paul: I know you wanna help me bring down the Dollhouse but maybe it's too much. I can do this on my own. I promise I'll get you out. I'll get all of you out. If you want, I'll tell Topher what's going on with you... and he can fix it. He'll come up with a way to wipe you and you won't remember a thing. You won't have to feel sad anymore.
      Echo: Feeling nothing would be worse. It would be like before - asleep. I'm awake now. I don't want to go back to sleep.

  • NOTES (2)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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