Season 2 Episode 2


Aired Friday 9:00 PM Oct 02, 2009 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

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  • Instinct

    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"


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

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


    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.


    Sierra tied up; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Knocked out; Topher KO' again

    Echo; 2

    November; 1

    Sierra; 1

    Victor; 1

    Topher; 2


    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo; 3


    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)


    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.

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

    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.
  • An absolute disaster.

    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.
  • Emotions ran deeper than just a memory print

    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.
  • 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.

    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


    Four and a Half Stars

    Grade B+
  • One crazy mother

    "Dollhouse" is in trouble. There's no way around it; the show is on the cusp of an early second season cancellation. A lot of people are still placing this on the shoulders of Whedon and Dushku, but looking back, I think it started with the network interference early in the first season. The show just never found its voice until well after the critics tore it to shreds. Even coming into the second season, the advance press mostly discussed how disappointing the show has been. Maybe it never had a real chance to survive.

    Thankfully, we still have "Epitaph One". It may have been originally intended as a capstone to the series in anticipation of a single-season run, but it now serves as something of a floating epilogue to the series as a whole. If "Dollhouse" is cancelled prematurely this season, then "Epitaph One" is still the logical outcome of all that has been seen to date. In other words, while I still think it would be worth it to see a full season of the show completely under Whedon's control, we still have something of an ending in place. (And even if the show were cancelled, there's a certain number of episodes already in the can, that would inevitably be on a DVD set.)

    This episode, however self-contained it appears, is actually a fairly important step on the road to "Epitaph One". It underscores the fact that Topher has yet to recognize the severe gaps in his genius, despite all the flaws that emerged with Whiskey in the premiere. Given his behavior in this episode, those experiences haven't changed him much at all. He still keeps pushing the envelope, even when there's plenty of reason to step back and focus on the fundamentals.

    Meanwhile, Adele seems to shove this latest issue with Echo under the rug. Denial is a powerful force, but it shouldn't take anyone more than five minutes to realize that the sheer amount of questionable activity surrounding Echo is a sign that she's a threat. It's obvious from "Epitaph One" that the complacency of those running the Dollhouse leads to terrifying consequences, so they're not going to wake up in time to prevent disaster. But it still seems hard to reconcile that these people would be so blind!

    Eliza really knocked this one out of the park. I recently read an article pointing out how well Eliza has handled the rapid yet distinct changes in personality plaguing Echo this season, and it's very true. There are subtle differences that need to be there for the story to work, and Eliza has pulled them off well. This episode in particular had to be very tricky.

    All that said, I'm not sure this will be a popular episode. Stories with babies in jeopardy tend to disturb people rather easily, especially parents. Just on a personal level, I felt like the manipulation of that element of the story was a bit much. I understood that it was designed to give an episode about the negativity of running away from pain a bit of action, but it was still hard to watch at times.

    That said, I loved the subtext. The client's pain, and his attempt to avoid dealing with it, meshed well with the return of November. Paul's terror at the thought of having the pain and suffering of losing a child wiped away, even consensually, was written all over his face. And Echo, in the end, made it clear that her memories of pain, among others, were important for her to keep. The combination of that theme and the tenuous connections to "Epitaph One" made this episode much better in the long run.
  • Echo gets to play mummy. Spoilers.

    Neat idea. Echo enters the Dollhouse and her latest assignment sees her playing mummy. A doll playing with real babies. Lovely little slice of role reversal. But, guess what, mother nature takes the controlling hand as ever. So when the assignment is curtailed and her mind is wiped, the hormones kick in, and force Echo back to the job.

    Whedon is the boss of layers and this episode does not disappoint in that respect. Intellectually challenging tv like this does not come along too often so I have to celebrate it for that alone.

    The loss of marks is for the execution. I get it, I really do, the hand of blame lies directly with the Dollhouse for placing her in this precarious position, but why do we need to have an ordinary man's call to the Dollhouse be the final straw that convinces her that her husband is villanous?

    It's quite clever but also quite clunky. Why wasn't Echo programmed to be a caring Wet Nurse? Why wasn't she programmed to understand his background? Why, if she was exhausted, as the script stated, was she wandering around in hot pants and mules? See, too many questions, not enough in the script to truly explain it. Was she sleeping with this client also?

    The journey could still have been the same. Her feelings for the child and her lack of faith in an uncaring father could still have left her to flee but more mundanely and more organically. How many husbands/wives have left their partners, even briefly, to demonstrate that point. Then they could have examined how children exhaust and bite into relationships. Of course that might raise even more issues but story wise I might have been a bit more satisfied.

    From my web reading I know that I am in a minority when I say that I actually care for Echo in her simple doll state, and think that Eliza Dushku is totally hitting it out of the park, but emotionally I am feeling slightly disconnected.

    Sure it's a pure delight to have my noggin working overtime on concepts and conceits but, if Dollhouse is truly adult entertainment, then subverting hokey thriller/horror conventions is not that grownup. How much better would this ep have been if we had started at a crucial moment of panic and then discovered how we had got there? Or if we were thrust into a really painful honest relationship?,

    And thus the lowish mark. Fantastic ideas as per. Amazing Wet Nurse scene. Shocking and yet gloriously natural. Just hate the fact that I am waiting for payback - that I know will come - this is Joss - he don't disappoint, but feel this step on the journey was not the ep that I could really utilise to advetise the greatness of the show. On another note, interesting to see Topher sucking up the blows before his coming fall and good to see ole Wes utilised well in an intruiging subplot. Love the mysterious moment when his wife went to answer the door. There will be salty goodness again, as there has been before, but...Gah!

    Dammit, my first review and it seems over critical. Bear in mind that I feel like a loving parent and it's only because I expect so much of my progeny that I push it so hard.

    Thanks for stopping by.
  • Topher now has the capability to imprint the actives with physical changes which can be much more effective than the mental images. Echo is imprinted to be the mother of a new baby including breast feeding. This creates a possible volatile situation.

    I found this episode oddly interesting and painful at the sames time. The fact that Echo obviously was in mental anguish so much was difficult to watch even though this is just television.

    The situation with the Senator's investigation is getting more interesting. I believe it's either Ballard, Dr. Saunders or Langton who is tipping him off. I know that's a pretty large group to suspect, but those are the people I feel are most likely doing it. Maybe it's Adelle?

    The Echo story this week was griping and tragic at the same time. Very sad and hard to watch at times. In the end it shows you how dangerous and terrible this technology really can be. Topher seems not to really understand the consequences of his actions. You know the old, why did you do it? Because I could!?! He seemed surprised though when Echo ended up doing what she did and then Ballard mentioned that physical changes might be more drastic than mental. Sometimes science does not know when to leave things alone. It was funny when he offered to "enhance" Mellie and her reaction to that. Ventriloquist??? It is a lost art!

    Interesting episode. Not as enjoyable as last weeks but sort of creepy like I had to watch it no matter what happened. Thanks for reading...
  • Just like some of the best episodes of The X-Files were "monster-of-the-week" installments, this "imprint-of-the-week"

    Just like some of the best episodes of The X-Files were "monster-of-the-week" installments, this "imprint-of-the-week" chapter was simply brilliant. It explored the full capabilities of the Dollhouse technology, where we got our first hint that Topher's genius can sometimes push him to doing things he shouldn't. At least not without testing. It's this character flaw that led to his failures in "Epitaph One."

    By doing so, however, it allowed us to perhaps get a better understanding of what the Echo 2.0 experience is for what mind is left there in her Doll state. I thought she remembered everything that had happened from every one of her imprints, but it may not be that simple.

    The explanation she gave to Paul at the end of this episode, where she explained that it's more than remembering what happened. She feels everything they've done to her. She feels the loves she's had, and in this case, the love of a mother toward her child. In fact, it was the strength of that maternal bond that overwrote the wipe in the first place.

    It's crazy to think that Topher can push the mind to the point where Echo was able to lactate and breast feed her child. We know the power of suggestion in our minds is staggering, but as he said, the implications of this advancement are mind-blowing. It's a wonder the military isn't already using this technology to create soldiers in this world.

    I wonder if that's why Perrin (Alexis Denisof) wants to take down the Dollhouse. I know he says something about his mother's life and all that, but he's a government man. Imagine what it would do to his career if he could out this kind of technology and bring it into the hands of the US Military.

    I know, that's painting him as some kind of opportunistic monster. So far, we're supposed to believe that he's a good man and that he's working on the side of right. But we all know how Whedon likes to switch things up.

    Speaking of that, I'm not sure what the reason was for pulling November back into the storyline. I know it was just for a check-up, but the fact that we got to see her, and Paul got to see her, tells me that Whedon isn't done with her storyline.
  • This week on Dollhouse Echo becomes a mother of baby, and she won't let anyone hurt it. The Senator gets news on The Dollhouse. November makes a surprise appearance.

    Another Brilliant episode. This week on Dollhouse Echo becomes a mother. I love how crazy Echo got in this episode. Eliza did some awesome acting. It was really sad when she was screaming about her child. My favourite scene has to be when Topher wipes Echo's memory and she wakes up and punches him in the face. I like how crazy she became, almost like a serial killer or something standing there with that knife. I liked the ending of the episode with conversation between Echo and Ballard. Alexis Denisof's character seems interesting. It looks like he will try and take down the Dollhouse. I can't wait to see what will happen next with his character. NOVEMBER'S in this episode. Madeline is very different from Mellie. I wonder if she's going to be in more episodes. I hope so. I give this episode a 10/10.
  • ''It's not a toy, Ballard...leave it to the grown-ups''. =D

    ''It's not a toy, Ballard...leave it to the grown-ups''.
    Had to start with this line, as it was one of Dollhouse's classic lines. Haha! This was a very fresh, original and exciting installment. Even though it was focused more on Echo's engagement, I didn't mind it, as engagement of this week was very good compared to last week's. It may have been boring to some of you BUT I'm sure it was worth watching when you watched the scene's where Echo's wiping didn't work...right?!
    Amazing scene. Loved the horror type of mother scene when she went back to get the baby. Eliza's acting kicked ass.

    Although they left out an important part...they never explained why the dad wanted to get rid of the baby? Or maybe I missed it because I might have not heard some of the lines towards the end.?

    This season's episodes are ending with the same scene(which isn't a bad thing but more than once can be too much) : Ballard & Echo talking. I do hope they take the storyline of ''Echo remembering everything'' to some exciting point.

    Overall 10 out of 10.