Season 1 Episode 5

True Believer

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Mar 13, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
766 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Echo becomes a blind woman so that she can infiltrate a very secretive and well-guarded cult.

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  • Echo goes blind!

    This is my second viewing of Dollhouse, I've seen it the first time around when it aired and really loved it but the memory I had of it now, not so great. So I decided to re-watch them again just to see where I stand.

    First off, I was really happy to see that Tim Minear wrote this episode. It shows. He's one of the better writers of Joss's universe. Really loved how he handled Victor's "man's reaction" that's great writing! Great to see Topher with Dr. Saunders, very funny scenes. I really like Topher as a character, I think he's as interresting as Alan Tudyk was in Firefly even if he's essentially playing a similar character.

    As for the central story, even if we all seen this before, it was nice to see Echo not play some type of hooker. I think Eliza Dushku did a really nice job playing the blind girl.

    Interresting also when Paul Ballard saw "Caroline" on television, it's nice to see something finally happening with this storyline.

    Overall, not the best Dollhouse episode but still very funny and entertaining.moreless


    The good;

    Pretty good story and some nice political campaigning from Adele. The start of Victor and Sierra's relationship is sweet and Topher's reaction to it hilarious. Also like the gag where Ballard asks Mellie to describe the guy who gave her the letter only for her to describe the mailman. Also love Echo/Esther hitting the cult leader with the candlestick.

    The bad;

    Rather odd that Boyd uses his real name when dealing with the ATF?

    Best line;

    Topher (on the phone, upon seeing Victor's 'man reaction' to naked Sierra) "I gotta go, somethings come up"

    also like

    Echo/Esther "God brought me here with a message. That message is MOVE YOUR ASS!"

    Packing heat; Boyd/Dominic with an SMG. Oddly in an ep full of guns Echo never uses one


    Boyd; 6

    Dominic; 4

    Sierra; 1

    Kinky dinky;

    Victor and Sierra, some impulses obviously stronger than brain wiping

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost;

    Echo; 2

    How'd they get away with that?

    Can't watch Echoes eye surgery, very Clockwork Orange. The cult leader has a penchant for underage girls.

    This weeks fantasy;

    Echo is a blind religious zealot

    Total number personalitites;

    Echo; 11

    Sierra; 4

    Victor; 1

    Total dolls;3

    Echo, Sierra and Victor

    Addy is a bit British;

    Topher is a bit geeky;

    Prefers the term 'man reaction' to errection.

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche


    Sierra tied up; 1

    Knocked out;

    Echo by Dominic


    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo; 1

    Dolls injured;

    Echo roughed up and slapped around again

    Capt subtext;

    Happy hookers

    Know the face?

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


    Big goverment kicking in the door and storming discover enough illegal weaponry to take Iwo Jima in the hands of those seeking the end of the world. Hard to know who's right or wrong?


    Missing scenes;

    Very nice dinner scene on the deleted scenes, actually makes the cult members much more likeable.

    Reminds me off;

    Questions and observations;

    Hard to know what to make of the rights and wrongs of this ep, the ATF agent plays a dirty trick although ultimately he's proven to 100% right and avoids another Waco. The irony that the cult members have sacrificed their free will much more by choice than the Dolls have (or have they?). The difference is that the cultists pose a threat to the outside with their arsenal whilst the Dollhouse doesn't...yet? Dominic shows his dislike of Echo whilst the affection developing between her and Adele also becomes evident

    In many ways these eps remind me of early eps of Angel, that it was supposed to be an anthology show with the case of the week but eventually became more a story of Angel Investigations themselves with the cases as incidental. The problem is that with the Doll's wiped every week it's difficult for the characters to develop. Also whilst it's a slick series it lacks the humour and and joi de vive of Buffy and Angel (and even Firefly) it feels too sterile.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10, again, enjoyed this more in the rewatch than I thought I would

  • watch this episode before any others!

    In my opinion this episode was by far the best in the series to date- lots of moral ambiguity (yay!), and an interesting and amusing subplot (that gets a whole lot darker next episode), plus some overdue developments in Ballard's arc - everything that's felt loose about Dollhouse so far got suddenly tightened up here. I'm amazed that we've had to wait so long for an episode that actually imbues the series with some pace. I reckon that any new viewers would be better off starting with this one and then watch in reverse order, as it probably make dross like epiosde 3 seem better in hindsight.moreless
  • A good example of how to garnish the mediocre.

    As if buoyed by the success of Craft and Fain's episode last week, Whedon hires the services of fellow Angel veteran Tim Minear (one of the show's executive producers, it's worth noting) for this hour's emotional tale of difference, faith and community, and the result is a distinctly average concept conveyed in an astutely above average way. The crux of the story, the infiltration of a religious cult through the introduction of a supposed miracle into their daily machinations, is fairly bog standard narratorial fare, and the turns within it - the testing of the 'miracle', a mistake that leads to the police team's exposition – aren't exactly shocking. Even the abrupt culmination of Esther's 'blindness' is a guessable development, although the ensuing, hindering intervention of the slimy Mr. Dominic is rather less so. However, what sets 'True Believer' apart from other, bog standard Dollhouse fare is the successful marriage of script and production. Minear has a wonderfully keen eye for realism, and his dialogue manages to two-dimensionalise the range of characters within the story without ever seeming expository. His astute understanding of characterisation allows individuals like Jonas Sparrow and indeed Esther herself to acquire emotional layers that are often absent in the work of other writers. Importantly, this is complemented very well by a highly proficient cast; Dushku once again demonstrates how remarkably versatile she is by taking on an exceedingly difficult role and working wonders with it, while Brian Bloom turns in a superbly nuanced performance as Sparrow, and the remaining guest cast all sell their admittedly rather small roles as members of the cult exceptionally well. Of course, the episode is far from perfect: at the end of the day, the story is another fairly standard mission with little bearing on the overall mythology (save for Mr. Dominic's surprising move), and what we do get in the way of action within the Dollhouse amounts to little more than time-filler (really… Topher and Saunders inspect Victor's erections? Come on!) The show could do with upping the ante somewhat, but at least the production staff now appear to be on the right track. A good example of how to garnish the mediocre.moreless
  • Echo infiltrates a relegious cult posing as a blind woman. Topher realiises that Victor is showing signs of attraction to Sierra despite his mindwipe.

    Dollhouse continues with its reworking of an Charlie's Angels-esque story.

    If it weren't for the rubbish with the ability to give Echo blindness and installing camera's in her eyes which really is asking the viewer to suspend disbelief a lot the main storyline of this episode was another standard drama that I would have seen in the seventies.

    This series really needs to start pulling itself together and get rolling if it isn't to get labelled as Whedon's Turkey show. The drama isn't of a high standard and the mysteriousness of the Dollhouse just isn't there. The subplot of Victor showing signs of arousal when around Sierra was equally as uninteresting. Neither of these two characters have been built up enough to carry this storyline. The story could have easily have worked with two unknown charaters brought in purely for this storyline.

    That is where the problem seems to lay with this series. None of the performances stand out, not even the main characters which is a bit of a worry. With other Whedon shows you normally latch on to one or two characters. It's hard to get any connection with any of the characters and care about them.

    I want to be told that the people behind the Dollhouse are bad. I know they will be because that is the formula that these shows always have, but I'm not getting told that. I should be feeling the plight of the Dolls and how they are being used by the company. I don't because I'm not being given anything to work with. When the inevitable happens and Echo, probably Sierra and Victor turn rogue and escape or start turning on the company will I care? Probably not.

    Please Joss give me danger, give me excitement. Just give me something!moreless
Miracle Laurie

Miracle Laurie


Guest Star

Brian Bloom

Brian Bloom

Jonas Sparrow

Guest Star

Aisha Hinds

Aisha Hinds


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 (2)

    • When ATF have surrounded the compound, they incorrectly identify themselves as "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms". Since 2002, the full name of the organization has been "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives."

    • Just before Langton talks to the store owner, a white school bus is parked outside the store, yet from inside the store there is no bus visible through the window.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Echo: It's a miracle! I can see!
      Female ATF Agent: (as she loses the signal from Echo's corneas) We're blind.

    • Ballard: (about an envelope) Mellie, describe the man who gave this to you.
      Mellie: Sure, he was maybe mid twenties. Not overly tall. Cute. Brownish hair.
      Loomis: Did he have a cart?
      Mellie: A cart? Yes, yes, there was a cart there, I remember that.
      Loomis: Was there mail on the cart?
      Mellie: Yeah. A lot of mail.
      Loomis: That was Stevie from the mail room. Short, cute, brown hair. Too lazy to walk to your desk.

    • Topher: I was looking... glancing. I noticed... Victor.
      Dr. Saunders: You noticed Victor?
      Topher: Mm hm, in the shower and he's... naked.
      Dr. Saunders: Victor is naked in the shower?
      Topher: Right. Anyway, he seemed to be having a kind of... man reaction.
      Dr. Saunders: A what?
      Topher: You know. A reaction that a man-person might have in the... naked part... shower... Victor!

    • Topher: The images will bypass her own cortex and be broadcast directly back to the ATF. Echo, herself, will see no evil.

    • Topher: The latest in CSEVP. Cortical stimulation for evocation of visual perception.
      Dr. Saunders: Brain camera for the blind.

    • Loomis: Then you know that I've got plenty of faces to scan for people much more impressive than you.
      Ballard: Not as charming.
      Loomis: Was that flirting?
      Ballard: I think so. It's been a while. Did I mention I was shot?

    • Adelle: Echo, why don't you go and have a massage?
      Echo: A massage would be relaxing.
      Topher: If she was any more relaxed, she'd be ooze.

    • Dr. Saunders: It's possible one good sneeze could bring on a seizure.
      Topher: Or even worse, a sneezure.

    • Dr. Saunders: (studying video of Victor's erections) Of course! If it had been a snake... Forget I said that.

    • Echo: God brought me here to give you a message, and that message is "Move your ass!"

  • NOTES (2)

    • International Airdates:
      UK: June 16, 2009 on Sci Fi
      Australia: July 7, 2009 on FOX8
      Latin America: September 1, 2009 on FX
      Norway: October 26, 2009 on TV2
      Czech Republic: December 25, 2009 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: December 21, 2011 on JOJ Plus

    • Music: Moody Liz (Daxton), Leaning On The Everlasting Arms (Elisha Hoffman)