Dollhouse: Needs (season one, episode eight)


Rating 2¾

Created by Joss Whedon

Written by Tracy Bellomo

Directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá

Starring Eliza Dushku (Echo), Olivia Williams (Adelle DeWitt), Fran Kranz (Topher Brink), Harry J Lennix (Boyd Langton), Reed Diamond (Laurence Dominic), Amy Acker (Dr Claire Saunders), Tahmoh Penikett (Paul Ballard), Dichen Lachman (Sierra), Enver Gjokaj (Victor), Miracle Laurie (November), Teddy Sears (Mike), Emma Bell (Tango) and Angel Desai (Sophie Alvarez)

Echo, Sierra, Victor and November (previously known to us as Mellie) awake with aspects of their true personalities somehow restored, although most of their memories are still just out of reach. They plot their escape from the Dollhouse, but at the last minute Echo stays behind, wanting to expose what the Dollhouse is doing and free the other Actives. Once the others have escaped from the complex, November goes in search of her daughter, while Sierra goes to confront the man who was responsible for her ending up in the Dollhouse, taking Victor with her. Elsewhere, Paul Ballard has a dream in which both Caroline (Echo) and Mellie (November) appear and realises that the Dollhouse has bugged his apartment.


‘Needs’, while I was watching it, put me in mind of the ‘Cube’ films and afterwards I thought of old episodes of ‘The Prisoner’ in which Number Six attempted to escape the Village, only to end up back where he started. It’s a very well constructed episode, certainly the most impressive one for me so far, but I still came away from it not caring as much as perhaps I should have done. Early on, we discover that the restored memories and successful escape have been orchestrated by Adelle DeWitt and while I momentarily wondered where this was leading, almost immediately I decided I simply could not be bothered to try to guess and just waited for the revelation to come. When it did, I will admit that it came as a surprise and it was quite clever, but it still did not arouse my interest in the show to any greater degree than my current state of slightly disinterested curiosity. I might have decided to stick with it until the end of the season, but I don’t feel any sense of anticipation about what is coming. This is a pity, really, because the show is clearly getting a lot better after a decidedly shaky start, as has been stated elsewhere.

Early on during the episode Laurence Dominic, the head of security, tells the minders that they should avoid becoming too emotionally attached to their Actives and should, instead, think of them as “pets”. However, we later discover that Adelle DeWitt would appear to have an even colder and morally indefensible attitude towards them and any earlier suggestions that she had an idealistic if skewed take on what the Dollhouse does would appear to be entirely inaccurate. Topher Brink, when confronted by Caroline/Echo, argues that he is just the science guy and therefore cannot be held accountable for what the Dollhouse does; the common argument too often put forward that scientists are not responsible for the appropriation of their scientific breakthroughs for purposes other than good.

I wasn’t very keen on the performance of Dichen Lachman here, although I am not sure that I know why. Once again, though, I was rather impressed by Amy Acker.

Review posted 28 June 2009


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