Season 1 Episode 2

The Target

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Feb 20, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
975 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Echo becomes the ultimate outdoorswoman when she is is hired by a handsome young client named Richard, but it may turn out that neither of the pair is what they seem to be. Meanwhile, Agent Ballard receives a clue about Echo's past, and we learn about Dr. Saunders' scars and the rogue active "Alpha".


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    The good;

    Lots of it, exciting story and some great background. This may be the pivotal ep of Dollhouse as it's the first to suggest Echo is really moving beyond her programming and Alpha is set up as this big bad bogeyman.

    The bad;


    Best line;

    Boyd (handing Echo a gun)" Know how to use that?"

    Echo (handling it confidently) "4 brothers, none democrats"

    Very cheeky for trendy lefty Joss

    Packing heat;

    Echo with a S&W 9mm. Boyd has exchanged his automatic for a .357 revolver perhaps in keeping with his backstory as an ex-cop.

    Kinky dinky;

    Echo and client play the naughty Girl Scout together.

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost;

    Echo; 2

    How'd they get away with that?

    Echo being hunted is horrible but nothing compared to Alpha slaughtering everyone in the pool! Amazing how much blood they got away with.

    This weeks fantasy;

    Echo is a fun loving outdoor girl and a sweet girl who loves fat guys in flashback

    Total number personalitites;

    2 for Echo making a total of; 8

    Sierra; 2

    Victor; 1

    Total dolls;3

    Echo, Sierra and Victor

    Addy is a bit British;

    Topher is a bit geeky;

    He asks for a gun but no one trusts him with one

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche

    Hello Mellie, proving that women of a fuller figure can be attractive on US tv. Her real first name is Miracle? Were her parents hippies? Speaking of which in the flashback Echo is hired to be the girlfriend for an obese man as you would expect dolls to be but we never see him.


    Knocked out

    Kills; Boyd's driver and the Ranger killed.

    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo kills the psycho; 1

    Dolls injured;

    Echo and Boyd badly injured

    Capt subtext

    Topher expresses 'Big, big man love' for Boyd and describes his eyes as 'dreamy'. Boyd is protective of the actives from the start and Topher tells him it's all about trust.

    Happy hookers

    Know the face?

    4th Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd was Badger in Firefly (and the 2nd BSG star for Jane Espenson to bring with her)


    Boyd tortures the fake Forest Ranger to save Echo (Jack Bauer/Dick Cheney would be proud)


    Missing scenes

    Reminds me off;

    Joss bascially reuses this storyline from the 3rd season Buffy ep Homecoming, it's derived from the famous short story 'The Most Dangerous Game' which in turn inspired real life serial killer Robert Hansen who hunted and murdered over twenty people after kidnapping them, releasing them into the Alaskan wilderness and giving them a head start. Also reminiscent of ED's horror movie Wrong Turn. Addy uses the term Tabula Rusa which was the name of a 6th season ep of Buffy.

    Questions and observations;

    Got to admit when Dominic walks away from Echo at the end I thought she just gave him a 'screw you' gesture. It wasn't until I rewatched that I realised she gives him the psycho's 'shoulder to the wheel' action. Is the drug in the canteen the catalyst for Echo's specialness or was there something before? I think if they'd have kept stories at this level Dollhouse would have been much more successful than it was.

    8/10 MUCH BETTER

  • OUTstanding. Dementey, Kinky, but outstanding.

    Wow. I mean wow. This was candyland for deep twisted fantasies - leaving us all wondering if the platform really needs to be so outlandish to make the same ethical points.

    Echo - is really living up to her names. They really need to sort out her kinky coding. But then again, we don't really know if the same holds true for the other dolls. Yes she is living the "dream" - which seems to turn into nightmares more often than not. Is the sacrifice of free will really a price anyone should be faced with?

    The handler - Echo now has a daddy who loves her so much. He played the beginning of the transition from an unwilling protector to a doting father figure rather well.

    Alpha - a bent slasher. A twisted firestarter. With a crush on our girl. Freaky awesomeness.

    Who are we - our personalities really are formed by memories and experiences. Would we all be so different if things had not panned out the way they have for us? What makes us human? Are we all just echoes of our pasts?

    And so the plot thickens.moreless
  • A fantastic second episode, twice as strong as the first, showing this series has enormous potential.

    I wasn't sure about Dollhouse after the pilot, it didn't really impress me but this episode really did. I am definitely going to watch this from now on.

    3 Months ago – an alarm goes off and the 'actives' are hurried to their beds before the security team does their sweep. The reason for the drama is 'Alpha' who has had a 'composite event', namely the erasures haven't taken. This means they've got someone loose who has all of the knowledge and training he's been given over the years which makes him near unstoppable. He's the one who cut up Saunders. Langdon was brought on board right after Alpha escaped, the bodies are still in the offices. He asks the question: why didn't Alpha kill Echo? Langdon comes up with a nice analogy for the 'dolls' – "She's just an empty hat, until you stuff a rabbit in her."

    Agents have found the scene of the kid's rescue and Ballard is here because he thinks the Dollhouse is involved and they scoff at him, yet their theory is based on a mystery fifth kidnapper who blew the door open, who carries a huge gun and took the money? Are they really going to put that garbage in a report? The same mystery guy who was watching Echo's tapes in the pilot is sending Ballard clues, including a photo of Echo.

    The Dollhouse certainly is a full-service organization. Pretty boy doesn't want a partner to do extreme sports with, he wants to hunt her! That's the special extra service he paid for. The part no-one was counting on was the client hiring someone to get between Langdon and Echo. He intends to kill Echo. Shouldn't they have code words for situations like this? Especially with Alpha running around loose? They have taken the opposite precaution, deliberately creating an imprinted bond with her handler so that she will trust him no matter what. At first, Langdon deliberately distances himself from her because like he said, she's a doll, not the real person and she changes with every imprint.

    A side-effect of Richard's drugging and half-drowning makes Echo have flashes of Alpha killing at the Dollhouse. Langdon manages to get to Echo but she has the wrong imprint for this situation and he's shocked when she doesn't respond correctly to his code-phrase. She's having the same problem that Alpha is, flashes of real life and her other identities, and that will save their lives.

    The Dollhouse really has to review their background check procedures because they suck! Whoever Richard really is, he knew Alpha who seems to have directed him to Echo, and then Alpha killed the guy Langdon subdued. Even better, they lied about Alpha being dead. I feel for Saunders, she survived a horrific attack which left her horribly scarred and then to find out her attacker is alive and well. The head of security is naturally feeling pretty hostile toward Echo and is particularly nasty to her, even when she doesn't know what he's talking about. But this is the first truly overt sign that Echo's starting to remember – she slaps her shoulder the same way Richard did.

    Wow, I'm impressed. I wasn't with the pilot but if this is an example of what the series will be, I'm hooked.moreless
  • This was totally "Wrong Turn" without the gimpy cannibals

    This week Echo (Eliza Dushku) is made to order for a guy named Richard, for a seemingly romantic adventure weekend, Richard's CV states Handsome guy looking for love, has good sense of humour, likes white water rafting, rock climbing and hunting, seems easy enough, except it doesn't mention he is totally psychotic and the hunting he likes is hunting down his girlfriends to see if they deserve to survive, armed with a cross bow, he gives Echo a head start before he chases her through the woods firing arrows at her, she screams alot, runs, hides behind tree's, finds dead bodies,and when she finally manages to get some help he is shot with an arrow.. does this sound familiar to anyone.

    Ok so her help comes from a guy at the dollhouse who she has been programmed to know as her protector, so the plot changes there, she has been poisoned and also her vitals are being monitored, trouble is the guy monitoring them is held at gun point and has to report back to the dollhouse that everything is ok.

    You also find out abit about some Alpha guy who is going round killing everyone, who is supposedly dead but could have been the guy watching Caroline's year book the week before, wait a minute Echo, Alpha, Siera.. what next Fox Trot, Bravo and Delta, they are following the phonetic alphabet a bit, at least Victor and Charlie will have normal names.

    Anyway eventually Echo goes a bit Faith and toughens up, with the help of a large gun, and the knowledge shes programmed with.

    This is actually one time she can be thankful for getting her brain fried straight after she gets back to the dollhouse, cos it was a pretty traumatic experience and she just thinks she fell asleep again, but her protector seems to have a soft spot for her, even if she cant remember a thing, Im guessing she will remember somethings though cos she's dreaming about that killer Alpha alot too.

    Dont get me wrong I enjoyed "Wrong Turn" so this wasnt too bad, but it kind of felt like seen it all before.moreless
  • Come on Whedon, show us something daring.

    Things improve slightly this week but the essential problem illustrated so prominently in 'Ghost' still remains: the writing staff turn the attention of their stories to the minutiae of the actives' missions when actually, the most interesting element of the show is the concept of the Dollhouse itself. We'd rather turn the microscope inwards, examining the possibilities of the imprint process and the intrigue that seems to bleed from the walls of DuWitt's facility, than plod along with Echo as she tries to fulfil the fantasy of whichever multi-millionaire has hired out her services this week. To be fair to Steven S. DeKnight, he does add a considerable amount to the show's burgeoning mythology, hinting at the rather more sinister side of the Dollhouse equation through the character of the demented, mysterious and elusive Alpha. The idea of a 'rogue' active is a superlative one as it automatically pervades the narrative with a sense of apprehensive tension: the viewer is aware that the character could return at any time, and in any aspect, since his identity is carefully and cleverly left to our collective imagination. DeKnight does a wonderful job of cementing his position as a formidable foe too, coating the dialogue that references him in fear, anxiety and the laconic, and providing a shocking and rather repulsive explanation of the excellently realised scars on Dr. Saunders's face. It's a brave move to disfigure a central character and keep the injury consistent, especially in the rather glossy, picture-perfect and pristine world of American television. Good on you Whedon, good to see that your penchant for the horrific didn't end at a few episodes of eye-less Xander in season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Elsewhere, the A-storyline is passable if rather predictable; Dushku and Conlen play the roles of hunted and hunter perfectly admirably, but it's obvious from the moment that the crazy SOB turns on her that she'll escape from his clutches in the end and more than likely have some sort of epiphany about her status as a doll. It's a shame, again, that the show insists on concentrating on this sort of conventional, tried-and-tested plot when it has a wealth of untapped narratalogical gold at its fingertips. Come on Whedon, show us something daring.moreless
Mark Sheppard

Mark Sheppard


Guest Star

Alla Greene

Alla Greene

Russian Girl

Guest Star

Matt Keeslar

Matt Keeslar

Richard Connell

Guest Star

Amy Acker

Amy Acker

Dr. Claire Saunders

Recurring Role

Reed Diamond

Reed Diamond

Laurence Dominic

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Adelle: In their resting state, our Actives are as innocent and vulnerable as children. We call it the tabula rasa, the blank slate. Now imagine the imprint process filling it. Creating a new personality, a friend, a lover, a confidante in a sea of enemies. Your heart's desire made flesh. And when the engagement has been completed, all memory of you and your time together will be wiped clean.

    • Boyd: Everything is going to be alright.
      Echo: Now that you're here.
      Boyd: Do you trust me?
      Echo: With my life.

    • Echo: Do you trust me?
      Boyd: What?
      Echo: Do you trust me?
      Boyd: With my life.

    • Connell: (as Echo and Connell face off, aiming their weapons at each other) Is this the best date ever, or what?

    • Connell: (as they rock climb) You know what they say about looking down?
      Echo: Don't?
      Connell: Really don't.

    • Topher: Okay, retasking satellite 7115. It's going to take a few to move into alignment.
      Boyd: Thanks.
      Topher: Anything for you. Because I love you. Deep, deep man love.

    • Adelle: If you're amenable to the terms of your contract you will be assigned to Echo, one of our most requested Actives.
      Boyd: What happened to her last handler?
      Dr. Saunders: You're standing in him.

    • Topher: Uh, hey, sorry. I think we have a situation. The kind you need to shoot at.

    • Boyd: (handing Echo a gun) Do you know how to use this?
      Echo: Four brothers. None of them Democrats.

    • Connell: I'll tell you what. Why don't we ease up? We'll call it a draw.
      Echo: You'll let me go?
      Connell: Sure. No harm, no foul.
      Echo: You poisoned me, and tried to shoot me with arrows.
      Connell: Okay, so, maybe a little bit of harm.

    • Langton: How about clearing up my signal, Professor? My displays are crap.
      Topher: You're in the middle of "why would anyone want to be there?". What do you expect? HBO?

    • Topher: So, what do you think of your new girl?
      Boyd: She's not a girl. She's not even a person. Just an empty hat. Until you stuff a rabbit in it.
      Topher: Abracadabra.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      United Kingdom: May 26, 2009 on Sci Fi/Sci Fi HD
      Australia: June 16, 2009 on FOX8
      Latin America: August 4, 2009 on FX
      Norway: October 5, 2009 on TV2
      Czech Republic: December 4, 2009 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: December 7, 2011 on JOJ Plus

    • Featured Music:
      Get Out by The Vines - While Echo and Richard are rafting.
      Leave It On by Delorentos - When Ballard calls Lubov.


    • Client's given name: Richard Connell
      Richard Connell shares his name with the author of the short story The Most Dangerous Game, a story that - like this episode - features one person being hunted by another.