On Dollhouse

Goliath Is People!

How Dollhouse Took Distrust to a Whole New Level

By Zalina Alvi

In a Dollhouse, trust can be manufactured. If you have the right “tech” in your head, all you have to do is sit in a fancy chair, listen to some carefully chosen words, look deep into someone’s eyes, and presto!–trust.

If you’ve never had a dollbotomy, however, trust must be earned, just like in the rest of the Whedonverse. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, for example, trust was earned through trial and hardship, and demonstrations of loyalty between characters who cared for and protected each other. From the Scooby Gang to the crew of Serenity, the merry gangs of misfits banded together against those who sought to destroy them, through a process of learning to trust each other and becoming a family of sorts (albeit a dysfunctional and often incestuous one). Meanwhile, the Bad Guys were always double-timing each other or leaving you for a Fungus Demon. In the Whedonverse, trust is one of the main things that ultimately separates the Good Guys from the Bad.

So if in Dollhouse trust could be manufactured, what does that mean for the fine line between Good and Bad? It means the line suddenly becomes a whole lot blurrier, and pointing out the Bad Guy in a crowded room becomes a bit more difficult. Not only is the Bad Guy a hundred times your size, but he is also hiding in plain sight in your friendly next-door neighbor or your troubled but seemingly harmless doctor. In Dollhouse, more so than any other show in the Whedonverse, real trust is hard to come by.
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