On Dollhouse

"Let the Tide Come In"

How Claire Is the True Representation of Dollhouse's Premise

By Rebecca Levinger

The first season of Dollhouse promoted Echo with the tagline,
“She can be anyone, except herself.” At first glance, this is
certainly true of Echo’s story. She could be programmed to be
anyone in the world, but she was really Caroline, the funny,
outgoing, passionate activist, and her inability to be that person
showed that she was actually nobody at all. Throughout the first
season and for part of the second, even Echo felt that she was
really Caroline.

But in a way, this statement proved not to be true. It was
Echo, not Caroline, who defeated Rossum, despite describing
the effort as Caroline’s war in “The Attic” (2-10). It was Echo
who won (and lost) the guy. While Echo eventually incorporated
Caroline, her initial rejection of her original personality allowed
Echo to become an individual, one who would exist with or
without the memories and persona of its host. By the end of the
series, Echo wasn’t Caroline. Echo was Echo. Caroline was Echo.

So what happened to Dollhouse’s premise? Did Echo’s ultimate
self-discovery and its implications—that people are able
to transcend the expectations and limitations given to us by
society—negate the show’s premise: that the Dollhouse was creating
identity-less slaves? Maybe. Or maybe it simply moved the
story of loss of self off of Echo, and gave it to another character:
Claire.

From the moment  …

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