On Dollhouse

What It Means to Mourn

Dollhouse and Aporia

By Martin Shuster

In “Omega,” the twelfth episode of the first season of Dollhouse,
Alpha explained to Caroline: “that’s just a body–they’re all
pretty much the same.” Through the course of Dollhouse’s two
seasons, it was difficult to determine whether Alpha was right
or wrong. On one hand, what the show seemed to suggest, in
a plethora of various contexts, is that there was some bodily
essence that constantly asserted and re-asserted itself, even in
spite of imprinting and global wipes. We saw this, e.g., in Victor
and Sierra’s impregnable bond, and in Echo’s somatic reactions
to Ballard and Boyd (neatly illustrated in “Briar Rose,” 1-11). The
body seemed to retain a certain sort of primacy over the mind
or the spirit. On the other hand, through the course of two seasons,
we saw precisely how disposable bodies were. They were
often cast away or worn like new suits: from Enver Gjokaj’s brilliant
doubling of Topher as Victor to Echo’s being imprinted
with Margaret Bashwood in “Haunted” (1-10) to Harding’s
expendable bodies in “Epitaph Two: Return” (2-13). The crucial
component seemed to be the wedge and the information it

Here, we seem to have one of Dollhouse’s many aporias
entirely insoluble standstills or moments of contradiction. Aporias,
according to Plato, often serve the function of bringing us
to an impasse that would  …

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