Dolls All The Way Down

Dollhouse started out a bit slow, but this most recent episode really pulled it out. (I’m going to talk about plot points, so watch it first or you won’t be surprised.)

The time period for the show is today. A few years ago, unbeknowst to the rest of us, scientists made a breakthrough in using light and magnetic waves to affect neuroplasticity. They essentially figured out how to delete the personality from a body and write a new one in. Using this technology they created an underground organization that provides made to order people: The Dollhouse.

This episode included a couple entertaining twists. It was revealed that the stern British headmistress who runs the organization is in a secret affair with one of the “actives” as a programmed doll is referred to. Imagine her position of having a man tailored to be her ideal mate, but who is a fabrication. She’s a high level executive in a massive criminal organization, her dating pool has to be pretty shallow. What’s more is that he is programmed to be passionately in love with her:

To see the clip, go to the original entry or watch it on Hulu.

That’s a great setup, isn’t it? Is her love “real” even though he’s a fake person? Would the “real” him love her if they had known each other through different circumstances? Is his “realness” his mind or something else?

Because to some extent you can say that he has something unique, a spark of life, that he hasn’t been separated from even thought that spark now powers a very different personality.

Imagine that human civilization doesn’t right itself in this most recent totter and we have a future ahead where a very few people control amazingly advanced technology and live in relative ease as the masses starve. Would you take a designer drug that makes you pleasant and focused all the time if you knew that since so many other people are doing it there’s no way you can compete? We’re already seeing this trend at our top educational institutions.

This übermensch phenomena was highlighted in the second part of the show after Echo is imprinted as a spy hunter who promptly both uncovers that the headmistress’ second command for the last five years is a NSA mole and beats his ass.

Real people have complex needs. Competing against the equivalent of a highly competent individual with the equivalent of years of dedicated experience in her head would be hugely difficult. They’re engineered for their environment in a way that a balanced person is not.

It made me wonder, why would any of the staff not be dolls? A reasonably good game plan as an ethically flexible scientist with the ability to rewrite personalities would be engineer myself an entire research organization run by the best of the best in every position. Keep it a secret until it’s too big to fail and ride it to world domination. (I’d start of with the noblest of intentions and eventually end up with hordes of knife wielding attack squirrels to crack those few eggs needed for our omelet.)

Bear Calvary: Yeah, You're Pretty Much Fucked.

Like with the Robot Obama bit I tried, imagine that the American people find out the President is a doll. How does the country come to grips with an obvious wrong doing so much good. Lets say the real Obama was murdered and this is a friend who believed in his work and replaced him even before the election. This engineered politician we call Obama never knew he was lying, should he have to step down?

The tide of public opinion would certainly go with him there. We’d all make whatever ethical allowances needed to be made to keep him as the President, and no one would ever really have to know if he was secretly reprogrammed at night. I’d be Cheney.

Bear Calvary: Yeah, You're Pretty Much Fucked.

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