- This article is about the location. For the episode of the same name see The Attic.
- "Yeah, and even though the Attic was originally pitched by ["Dollhouse" writers] Jed [Whedon] and Maurissa [Tancharoen], it was not my idea, I was watching "Toy Story" [a script that Whedon contributed to] the other day with my kids, and there's [that concept in that movie also,] "You're going to end up in the attic!" I was like, "Well, I've come full circle!""
- ―Joss Whedon
The Attic refers to both the physical place where out-of-favor Dollhouse employees are sent, and the mental condition in which they live once sent.
The nature of the Attic is left entirely amorphous until "A Spy in the House of Love", when Topher Brink describes it as the sensation of being unable to remember something "on the tip of your tongue" - save that what one is unable to remember is their entire life. This suggests that Attic-dwellers retain a greater sense of identity than do Dolls, albeit not by much.
Later, in "Stop-Loss" Topher is either cagey or unaware of the details in discussing the attic with Boyd, and its specifics are left ambiguous until "The Attic". In that episode, it is depicted as physically analogous to an intensive care ward, with residents in private rooms suspended in a gelatinous liquid hooked up to machines for breathing and monitoring purposes. Needles are shown as being inserted either into the forehead or (more logically in the context of the story, but not explicit on-screen) into the brain via the forehead. Experientially, the attic is revealed to be a recurring nightmare. Purposefully, Rossum uses the brains of attic residents as a massively parallel computer system; the nightmares are not merely to torture inmates, but to keep the body's adrenaline levels high, amping up the brain to maximize processing throughput. It is implied that each Dollhouse maintains its own attic linked into Rossum's global computer network.
A relatively violent wipe is shown as the gateway to the attic. Two have been shown on-screen, Dominic and Echo, and the differences between the wipe for a doll versus that for a person without the active architecture do not appear significant. Both showed extra wiring and restraints. Significant pain was also apparently observed in the form of the body tensing, although this may simply reflect panic. Dominic's wipe implies that the personality of a non-doll is retained (after the wipe, Topher holds up a wedge, referring to it as "the unabridged Laurence Dominic"; DeWitt tells him to "lose it in the archives"), while the original personality of a doll presumably remains in situ.
When Dominic is about to be wiped, he can be seen attempting suicide with a gun. Two possible conclusions suggest themselves. Dominic's motivation could be that from what he knows (or believes) about the Attic, he deems it a fate worse than death. Alternatively, Dominic could have been motivated by a desire to alert the NSA by denying the dollhouse the use of his body; since suicide as a notification method implies an extraordinary devotion to the NSA and his mission, however, this latter possibility seems less likely.
Sent to the Attic
Laurence Dominic has suggested that Adelle DeWitt send Echo to the Attic, but DeWitt remains adamant about Echo's continued usefulness to the Dollhouse. Joe Hearn feared Adelle would send him to the Attic, the first suggestion that non-Doll employees are vulnerable to being sent to the Attic. In "A Spy in the House of Love", Dominic himself a resident of the Attic as a penalty for espionage, and as insurance against his now-former employer, the NSA, from discovering that he has been compromised.
In "The Attic", Echo, Anthony Ceccoli, and Priya Tsetsang, are sent to the Attic as a result of the events of Stop-Loss. There, they meet Dominic, who tells them that the Attic's residents are kept in a constant, repeating nightmare, and that he has found a way to cross between the prisoners' minds. They eventually learn from Clyde Randolph that the Attic also serves as Rossum's Computer Mainframe.
"Epitaph One" shows that Dominic eventually leaves the Attic to confront Adelle.
Notes & References
- Ryan, Maureen (2009-04-20). Joss Whedon on 'Dollhouse's' renewal chances, that missing episode, 'Dr. Horrible' and more. The Watcher. chicagotribune.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-21.