Season 1 Episode 6

Man on the Street

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Mar 20, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
1,077 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Echo tries to help a client heal the ache of a lost love as a TV reporter prepares an expose on the Dollhouse.

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  • Finally, a great episode!

    Yeah! Finally a great episode! Now this is what I was waiting for, so many things happen in this episode. First off, how great was the scene between Patton Oswalt and Tamoh Penikett? Patton Oswalt is such an underrated actor, I've seen him in so many things and he's always interesting to watch. The dialogue in that scene was just perfect. Joss wrote this and it shows.

    I really liked the storyline with Victor and Sierra, the way that Victor got (wrongly) accused of raping Sierra and her reaction to him when she sees him...poor Victor! We knew there was no way that Victor had raped her but just the idea that he could go to the attic for it just petrified me. Gotta love Boyd's police work on this!

    What a great fight scene between Echo and Paul, very reminiscing of Buffy and Angel. Love the fact that someone's working from the inside and that they got their message to Paul through Echo.

    I actually started caring about Mellie in this episode, didn't much care for her before but this episode really made her interesting. Loved the way we find out she's a doll!

    Overall, a really good episode with a lot of reveals and enough things happening to keep us watching.moreless
  • Man on the street

    Man on the street

    The good;

    Wow! Mellie is a Doll! Did ANYONE see that coming? Excellent ep with loads of character development, first meeting of Ballard and Caroline (excepting 'Echo') and a heck of a dust up. The subplot with an abused Sierra is horrible but very well written and acted, you just knew that this would be a problem sometime as Herne says (CHEERED when Boyd punched him through the glass, great stunt from Mike Massa). And Echo has paid sex with her first realistic and sympathetic client.

    The bad;

    Not much, very good ep. You do think that Adele takes a hell of chance with November by not activating her about 30 seconds earlier?

    Best line;

    "Perhaps I need to give it to you" Adele gives Boyd a bonus, not because he wants it but because she needs to give it to him to salve her conscience.

    also like

    "PORN!" (all in the delivery)

    Packing heat; Echo takes Ballard's gun off him, Dominic pistol-whips Herne


    Boyd; 6

    Dominic; 5

    Sierra; 1

    Kinky dinky;

    According to Joss when they asked casting for extras to play the Dolls they were inundated with pictures of porn stars. Must have been hell. Why do we all bother to pay for porn? Why don't we just phone up a casting agency and pretend we need attractive background players for our TV show? Echo's personality thinks her fiancee has suddenly become rich through internet porn.

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost; November beds Ballard (and she's a heck of a screamer) and presumably Echo returns to finish her romantic engagement with her client

    Echo; 3

    November; 1

    How'd they get away with that?

    The funny "What a rick!" and the indescribably horrible, Herne abusing Sierra. He's a son of a bitch but November killing Herne makes me wince every time.

    This weeks fantasy;

    Echo plays the dead fiancee of the Internet mogul and then a hit chick. November plays Mellie and death-in-Laura-Ashley

    Total number personalitites; 2 for Echo

    Echo; 13

    Sierra; 4

    Victor; 1

    November; 2

    Total dolls;4, here's November!

    Echo, Sierra, November and Victor

    Addy is a bit British;

    Topher is a bit geeky;

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche;

    The client is actually a sympathectic figure and is even concerned about the security guards Ballard knocked out. For once we have a fat client rather than a male model although Mellie actually thinks him kinda cute.


    Sierra tied up; 1

    Knocked out;

    Kills; November kills Herne with her bare hands (never talk flower arranging with HER!)

    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo; 1


    Dolls injured;

    November badly roughed up by Herne

    Capt subtext;

    The redneck guy thinks the Dollhouse is a great idea because it allows a guy to be with another guy but means that there's 'Nothing queeny' going on (his wife/girlfriend's expression when he says this makes me laugh out loud every time, just like Echo's 'Porn' line). Dominic punches Herne when he hints that there was something between him and Adele. Jealousy?

    Happy hookers

    Takana describes Echo as a 'whore with a heart of gold'. Herne makes a good point about Adele hiring out the Dolls to be sweating under 'some Emir' (the difference being they'd signed up for that, they hadn't signed up to be sexually abused whilst in their non-programmed state, Sierra actually saying she doesn't want to). Joss refers to Miracle Laurie as 'Being a pro' but rapidly rethinks his phrasing.

    Just idly watching '2 and a Half Men' whilst I'm writing this and Charlie and Alan are being treated to a pair of hookers by their future stepfather in Vegas. It strike me how attitudes to prostitution in TV and movies have changed in recent years, Pretty Woman, Belle Du Jour, Patty the daytime hooker in My Name is Earl, Hung etc. In a recent ep of The Big Bang Theory to cheer Howard up Raj and Leonard hire him a working girl. Times have certainly changed, used to be the only time you ever saw prostitutes on screen was when they were murdered or were informants.

    Know the face?

    5 Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd, Amy Acker, walking action figure, Eliza Dushku, Jim Piddock

    Whenever I see Herne I can never help but think 'Is that Dennis Quaid?"


    The Afro-American woman likens the Dollhouse to slavery. Ballard is pretty damn rough with Takana.


    Missing scenes;

    According to Joss plenty of spare material left over

    Reminds me off;

    The Vulcan grip from Star Trek is mentioned. The internet mogul is very reminiscent of David Nabbit from Angel who also frequents ladies of the night (but likes his a bit more demony). According to Joss' commentary Eliza didn't care much for her housewife look but I think she looks great, reminds me of when The Mayor gave Faith that dress in Graduation Day pt1

    Questions and observations;

    Interestingly according to the reporter the rumours of the Dollhouse have been circulating since the late 80s? Ballard and Mellie actually make a lovely couple, very sweet. For a moment I wondered if Echo's message was some sort of double bluff but to judge by Joss' commentary the message was real. From whom? We learn there are 20 Dollhouses all over the world. What is the greater, X-files style, conspiracy? Echo demonstrates genuine affection for her client, even after she's meant to have been wiped. Adele knows this but still keeps her in the field.

    Absolutely love the scene where Echo thinks her fiancee made his money through internet porn, she may be a Doll but she's no brainwashed sex slave, she reacts in exactly the same way the real woman would have done. The interviews on the street are also interesting, not to stereotype but you look at the blonde girl and kinda wonder if she is a Doll?

    Again, this almost feels like the 3rd pilot for the show.

    Marks out of 10; 9/10 best ep so far

  • The turning point for the Dollhouse

    This episode has Echo begin the show by posing as the wife of a man, when Agent Paul Ballard storms in. A reporter asks people what they think of the idea of the dollhouse. Sierra has been raped, and Victor is the prime suspect. It turns out to be Sierra's handler that raped her. Paul does it with Millie, then goes off and Echo talks to him about a spy in the dollhouse, while Sierras handler attacks Millie. De Witt then says a code word via the answer phone, and Millie kills Sierras handller cos SHES ACTUALLY A DOLL! OMG!moreless
  • Reveal Written by Joss Whedon Directed by David Straiton

    Echo: "The Dollhouse deals in fantasy. That is their business but that is not their purpose."

    Paul: "What is?"

    Echo: "We need you to find out. We'll contact you again, if possible with the same body but you have to let the Dollhouse win. Make them back off. You have to trust me."

    Remember when Joss Whedon said that everything would fall into place around the sixth episode of the first season? Well, I guess he wasn't kidding as this episode certainly had things falling into place and after five fairly hit and miss episodes, it was about bloody time.

    Paul's frantic search for Echo finally had him meet his desired girl when busting in on suspected Dollhouse client Joel Mynor. He was another in a long line of men having Actives programmed for romantic engagement, except that this was no ordinary engagement as such.

    Echo wasn't being programmed into some random hooker who thought the sun shined out of Joel's arse but at the same time, there's something very disturbed about her being programmed as the deceased Rebecca Mynor, all so that Joel can get a reaction from her in regards to a house he purchased.

    In some ways, Joel has a very poignant story. He finally became a success, wanted to share that with the woman he loved and she died on him. There's a part of me that is sympathetic to his plight but not enough for his actions to be condoned. His conversation with Paul is a master class in Whedon writing.

    Although Paul was able to piece together Joel's motives for having Echo imprinted as Rebecca, Joel was able to do the same thing with Paul's need to rescue Caroline. It'll shock no viewer that Paul has got something of a saviour complex and the allusions to fairytales are eerily appropriate.

    Also on a superficial level, Tahmoh Penikett has the kind of physique that would have him cast as a Prince Charming in any fairytale adaptation. Also, while Paul's motives aren't entirely pure (love/lust for Caroline and all), this is the first time since the series started that I actually cared about him and his desire to bring down the Dollhouse. One is going to be tricky Paul but I dare you to try and take down over 20 of them.

    Earlier on in the season, I found myself uninterested in his motives and almost siding with the fellow agents who happily took the piss out of him searching for a thing that might not exist. Then this episode reintroduced Agent Tanaka and I found myself wavering towards Paul's side.

    Mark Sheppard might be a good actor (he was certainly enjoyable in Battlestar Galactica) but he's rather miscast for this role and Tanaka is little more than a wooden oppressor trying to railroad Paul's research into the Dollhouse. Plus he warranted the injury Paul gave him alone for the sleazy comment he made about Caroline. Seriously dude, shut the frak up already.

    I think another reason why I actually found myself liking Paul in this episode is that the writers finally took the stick out of his arse. Paul was actually funny in this episode. Maybe not in the sense that stand up comedy is the vocation he should be really pursuing but funny in the dry sarcastic way that can often make certain characters endearing in their own right.

    I loved his banter with Loomis while they were drawing up more links to Joel and the Dollhouse and there was the fun, playful side with him and Mellie (and Paul, you are a fine piece of meat). That leads to another thing – how bloody amazing is Mellie? Seriously, let me count the ways.

    First of all, Joss grasped an excellent handle on the character with this episode. No longer the clingy neighbour but more the sympathetic ear that went out of her way not to pressure Paul into a romantic liaison. Of course, Paul did end up sleeping with her but that also might have been as a result of Mynor pointing out his fixation on Caroline.

    As for the big thing with Mellie – she's a doll. Come on, who on Earth didn't figure that one out? It had been obvious since her first appearance and while this episode did go some way to try and throw viewers off the scent, she certainly revealed herself during a life and death situation with Hearn. Oh Adelle, you really do play a bad hand very well.

    I'm not sure how Paul is going to react when he discovers that his nice neighbour is really keeping an eye on him but I was blown away with the reveal. And how convenient was it that a corrupted Echo also gave Paul the big hint to go and check up on Mellie? If he had arrived a few minutes earlier, he would've caught Mellie in action and if Adele hadn't activated Mellie when she did, Hearn would've succeeded.

    Paul and Echo's first meeting should've been the highlight of the episode but I think in a lot of ways, it just fell into a long line of excellent moments. The fight scene between the two of them in the kitchen and then an alley is up there with some of the best scraps on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel.

    Echo also gave Paul enough rope to hang himself with and even with a suspension, it's nice that Adelle seemed aware that Paul wouldn't give up searching for the Dollhouse. I wonder will Adelle have Paul killed. She certainly had no problem sending Hearn to his death.

    In "Stage Fright" Hearn came across as a massive jerk and while he had a point to attack the ethics of the Dollhouse, he had no right whatsoever to rape Sierra and have Victor nearly sent to the Attic for it. I loved that Claire pointed out the difference between being attracted to someone (like Victor is with Sierra) and hurting someone (Hearn/Sierra). Boyd piecing things together and setting Hearn up to reveal himself as the rapist was exquisite. Just when I think that character can't get any better and protocol or not, even Adelle looked impressed with him.

    Also in "Man On The Street"

    The vox pops weighing the pros and cons from local people on an organisation like the Dollhouse was interesting. It's not the kind of thing that could've been avoided I guess either. That being said, why didn't Adelle try and kill the story?

    Echo: "I like to be alone sometimes."

    Victor: "It's peaceful."

    Who was the person that corrupted Echo's programming because it wasn't Alpha for sure? I actually want it to be Claire but that could be too obvious.

    Paul (re Joel): "I've liked this guy for a while."

    Loomis: "Ever thought of asking him out?"

    Mellie: "I get that I'm not the gold standard in LA."

    Paul: "Please, you're gorgeous."

    While it's nice that Paul is no longer treating Mellie like she were a nuisance, was it wise for him to be sharing the information he had about his investigating?

    Echo (to Joel): "You did porn. My husband has porn."

    Joel: "I think your fantasy is sadder than mine."

    Paul: "Won't know until I hear it."

    Eliza Dushku's squealing of porn was hilarious. Now, that is good acting if you can make one word hysterical.

    Claire: "How does Sierra make you feel?"

    Victor: "Better."

    Paul (to Joel): "You might not be punished and I might not be alive but this house will fall."

    During the fight scene with Paul, didn't Echo look a little Buffy-esque in her attire? I also read recently that Tahmoh Penikett is a dab hand with Muay Thai.

    Sierra (re Hearn being thrown through a window): "That wasn't quiet."

    Boyd: "It wasn't meant to be."

    Adelle (to Hearn): "We are in the business of using people but the problem is, what is the best use for you?"

    Which apartment was Mellie in when Hearn attacked her? If it was Paul's, wouldn't Adelle's little voice message to activate Mellie been risky to have done?

    Paul (to Mellie): "I'm not a piece of meat you know. I have a heart."

    Paul: "Whoever you are, I swear I don't want to hurt you."

    Echo: "I know. I'm counting on it."

    Echo showed more traces of remembering assignments when she painted Joel's house in her blank state. Adelle really should be worried. And Dominic was somewhat decent in this episode.

    Echo: "The Dollhouse is real. They know you're after them. They are going to have you taken off the case. That's why they sent me."

    Paul: "Why are you telling me this?"

    Echo: "We have a person on the inside. This person corrupted the imprint while the programmer wasn't looking. Added the parameter."

    Dominic: "You played a good hand, ma'am."

    Adelle: "I played a bad hand very well. There is a distinction."

    Dominic: "Of course."

    Standout music: "Sweet Dream" by Greg Laswell. As a side note, I enjoyed the song he had in the Grey's Anatomy season finale.

    Okay this might not be the best piece of television I've ever seen in my whole life but "Man On The Street" is incentive enough to see this show through. Finally the ante seems to be upped and hopefully the payoff will be worth it.moreless
  • This is Dollhouse's much talked about climate change.

    This is Dollhouse's much talked about climate change, Whedon's mid-season shift in the direction of his latest project. It's a bit of curious beast, feeling rather like an experiment in narrative divergence, and as such one is left feeling rather unsure as to whether the episode is successful or not. There are a number of highly memorable, skilfully executed set pieces around which the script seems to gravitate, not least of which is the dual one-two suckerpunch of Ballard's physical encounter with Echo, in which she aides the agent by way of a piece of programming from within the Dollhouse, and the crushing revelation that Mellie is in fact a doll, and a decidedly kick-ass, scary one at that. While this twist was always on the cards, especially after we learned that Victor wasn't actually a Russian millionaire, so the sequence is not entirely unexpected, the finer points of the scene are certainly far from what we might have anticipated for the character. November is a sleeper active, able to be transformed at DuWitt, or indeed anyone else's, will through the utterance of a simple phrase… and boy, once those words are spoken, does she change. I'm still scraping my jaw off the floor following that headlock… geez. This sets up a wonderful slice of dramatic irony within the Ballard/Mellie dynamic, and also further illustrates the murky morality of the entire imprint process. There are other impressive moments too, such as Ballard's heart-to-heart with Echo's latest client, which offers a wonderfully human justification for the existence of the Dollhouse, and the series of vox pops that puncture the narrative, which serve to remind the viewer of the sheer size and scope of the implications of Topher's work. Unfortunately, the narrative does feel rather like it is struggling to keep itself above water while traversing these points, and occasionally seems to wander aimlessly, filling screen time with unnecessary conversations between characters, where they deliberate about whether or not to do something. Still, at least the plot is finally given a shift in emphasis, from the intricacies of Echo's missions to the intrigue of the world within which she inhabits. Whedon finally seems ready to harness the potential of his wonderfully rich concept, and if the rest of the season consists of episodes like this, we can only be onto a winner.moreless
Aisha Hinds

Aisha Hinds


Guest Star

Kevin Kilner

Kevin Kilner


Guest Star

Mark Sheppard

Mark Sheppard


Guest Star

Amy Acker

Amy Acker

Dr. Claire Saunders

Recurring Role

Reed Diamond

Reed Diamond

Laurence Dominic

Recurring Role

Liza Lapira

Liza Lapira


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Professor on Video: Forget morality. Imagine it's true, right. Imagine this technology being used. Now imagine it being used on you. Everything you believe, gone. Everyone you love, strangers, maybe enemies. Every part of you that makes you more than a walking cluster of neurons dissolved at someone else's whim. If that technology exists, it'll be used. It'll be abused. It'll be global. And we will be over. As a species, we will cease to matter. I don't know, maybe we should.

    • (after making love)
      Mellie: I was thinking about Caroline.
      Paul: Well I wasn't!

    • Adelle: I find it a bit sad that you think of yourself as a candidate for anyone's fantasy.

    • Echo: The Dollhouse is real. They know you're after them. They are going to have you taken off the case. That's why they sent me.
      Ballard: Why are you telling me this?
      Echo: We have a person on the inside. This person corrupted the imprint while the programmer wasn't looking. Added this parameter.
      Ballard: Is this the person who sent me the tapes and the picture?
      Echo: No. This is their first communication. Security inside is very tight.
      Ballard: Where is it?
      Echo: You can't know that. You're going about this the wrong way.
      Ballard: I have to take down the Dollhouse.
      Echo: There are over twenty Dollhouses in cities around the world. They have ties to every political power on the planet. You cannot possibly stop them alone.
      Ballard: You're going to help me?
      Echo: The person that sent this message is.
      Ballard: Why?
      Echo: The Dollhouse deals in fantasy. That is their business, but that is not their purpose.
      Ballard: What is?
      Echo: We need you to find out. We'll contact you again, if possible with the same body. But you have to let the Dollhouse win. Make them back off. You have to trust me. He's got a gun! (yanks Ballard's arm, forcing him to shoot a police officer who has just come around a corner) You have to go now. He'll live. You'll be blamed. The engagement is complete. They'll never know I spoke to you.
      Ballard: No.
      Echo: You have to go. I don't want to kill you but they will protect the information.
      Ballard: (to bystanders) Call an ambulance! Officer down!
      Echo: Go!
      Ballard: You can't just-
      Echo: They will protect the information. They don't want you dead, but anyone else...
      Ballard: Mellie!

    • Ballard: Tell me about the Dollhouse.
      Joel Mynor: The Doll... Uh, it's pink, and it opens up, and there's teeny furniture, and you put the boy doll on top of the girl doll and we learn about urges.

    • Boyd: They don't think I can handle that?
      Topher: Ahh, not everything is about you, Mr. Infinite Ego Man.

    • Dominic: You played a good hand, ma'am.
      Adelle: I played a bad hand very well. There is a distinction.
      Dominic: Of course.

  • NOTES (2)

    • International Airdates:
      UK: June 23, 2009 on Sci Fi
      Australia: July 14, 2009 on FOX8
      Latin America: September 8, 2009 on FX
      Norway: November 2, 2009 on TV2
      Czech Republic: January 8, 2010 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: December 21, 2011 on JOJ Plus

    • Music: Memory Box (Alessi's Ark), Concerto For Oboe & Orchestra No. 11 in B-Flat Major, Op. 9: Adagio (Tomaso Albinoni), Sweet Dream (Greg Laswell)