Dollhouse: Stage Fright   Rewatch 
September 29, 2020 8:08 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Pop star Rayna is in need of protection due to death threats, so Echo is programmed as a backup singer/bodyguard for her. Sierra serves as additional protection. Paul's investigation into the Dollhouse might cost him his life.

AV Club: C+

Poster’s notes:

In this episode, Echo and Sierra’s story starts off, Boyd and Dr. Saunders are slightly inappropriate after his injury last episode, Mellie surprises Lubov trying to break into Ballard’s apartment while Dr. Saunders and Topher spar over how much risk is appropriate for Echo. We meet Sierra’s handler (Earth: Final Conflict’s high point, Kevin Kilner), and Ballard continues to press Lubov for information on the Dollhouse, which ends up with him being injured while confronting the Russians about something they're uninvolved in.

Sierra is sent in to serve the A plot as adorkable Rayna fangirl Audra. Rayna’s stalker kidnaps Sierra to prove to Rayna that he is her number one fan, so Echo goes rogue and saves the day. Dominic starts pushing to have Echo sent to the Attic, but Adelle makes the point that Echo managed to turn the bad situation into a good outcome. Boyd and Dr. Saunders share some more background about Alpha. Mellie goes to find Ballard in the Hospital, and Echo and Sierra share a knowing look in the dollhouse.

On rewatch, I don't think there's anything terribly enlightening in this episode, it just starts to fill in more of what's going on in the background while the sort of ho-hum main storyline plays out. The look between Echo and Sierra at the end of the episode was the thing that made me go "hey wait, what?" on first watch, but on rewatch it's just a tease.
posted by Kyol (3 comments total)
Lost in the edit: I mean, there's some fairly obvious parallels about how little control over their lives both the pop star Rayna and the dolls have, but c'mon that's low hanging fruit.
posted by Kyol at 8:14 AM on September 29, 2020

I wonder if the writers thought about what was used as a template for when the dolls are supposed to be "blank?" They socialize like kids but have profoundly docile demeanor.

The Mellie and Lubov/ Victor double teaming Ballard buildup continues to be great, too.

"What do you want; someone who's paid to protect you or someone who wants to protect you..."

Liked the little bit of thematic exploration. If the programming is impeccable, then it really is the real thing.

Also, establishing Topher's ethical framework.

Not unexpectedly, the episode also solidifies that combat prowess can be programmed (which begs whether there's an arms race on combat programming modulo having the most combat capable dolls).

Even still, no way Echo is able to haul Rayna back up to the catwalk.
posted by porpoise at 8:10 PM on September 30, 2020

Yeah, when Echo booted Rayna off the catwalk, strung up by her wrists like that, I went "well, there go Rayna's shoulders..."
posted by Kyol at 6:17 AM on October 1, 2020

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