Thursday, February 04, 2010

"Dollhouse" Final Episode

The series finale of DOLLHOUSE takes place in 2020, with the world reduced to a dystopia in which the personality-imprinting technology of the Dollhouse dominates society. Few "actuals," people with their original personalities, remain. The rich and powerful back up their minds as insurance against annihilation, to be downloaded into new bodies in case of the previous body's death. They keep mind-wiped dolls on hand for that purpose. Some tech-obsessed characters have multiple personalities, carried with them in what look like flash drives. Using USB-like connections on the sides of their heads, they can switch personalities at a moment's notice—again, so easy it feels more like magic than science, but raising fascinating questions about the nature of individuality.

The other situation that especially interests me comes at the end:



Echo downloads the imprint of her murdered beloved into her mind, to join the menagerie of other personalities already living in her head. Thus they can be together forever even though he no longer has a body. Previously, I don't remember any hint that the personalities inside her mind could talk directly to each other, but I don't have too much trouble accepting that premise. What this union reminds me of, actually, is the fanciful conclusion of Heinlein's I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, when brain transplant patient Johann Smith shares his consciousness with, not only Eunice, the former owner of his new body, but also the recently deceased Jacob, Johann's long-time friend and later (after Johann's brain is transferred to Eunice's body) husband. Unless we're meant to believe Johann has been delusional ever since he awoke after the operation (a hypothesis I won't entertain; for me, it would make the book into a wall-banger of "it was all a dream" proportions), Heinlein's novel conceives the mind or soul as a disembodied entity independent of the flesh. On DOLLHOUSE, the mind is a piece of software that can be transferred from one electromagnetic storage device to another, whether computer hardware or neural wetware. Fantasy (or spirituality) versus science fiction.

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt


  1. This is also similar to the new movie, Surrogates. Anyone can put their mind into any type of android body and live however they want. Nobody really knows who they're talking to.

    It did have a slight romance in that the main character is trying to reconnect with his beloved wife.

    I didn't watch Dollhouse, but you've intrigued me. I'll have to see if they rerun it.

  2. DOLLHOUSE was slightly off-putting at first because the very essence of the main character was, originally, that she HAD no character. She had a different personality in every episode. Soon, though, a story arc developed in which her personality was able to have some continuity. Because the cancellation of the series was known well in advance, fortunately, the writers produced a complete story that came to a definite conclusion.

    I'll bet the whole thing will soon appear on DVD. Most programs eventually do, these days.