Dollhouse Wiki

"Ghost" is the first episode of Dollhouse. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon[2] and aired on February 13, 2009, 9:00pm on the Fox Network.


The Dollhouse is a secret and highly illegal facility run by Adelle DeWitt. It is the home of the Actives - or Dolls - and also the place where they get programmed and mind-wiped. Echo's engagements include the role of a lovestruck girl on a romantic weekend, and then a ruthlessly efficient kidnapping negotiator. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Paul Ballard is struggling with his assignment to uncover information on the Dollhouse.


Caroline has a meeting with Adelle DeWitt, the boss of the Dollhouse, discussing the problems she is running away from. Adelle offers her a five-year stay at the Dollhouse, and Caroline decides to become an Active of the Dollhouse. Actives have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas. Hired by the wealthy, powerful and connected, the Actives don’t just perform their hired roles; they wholly become – with mind, personality and physiology – whomever the client wants or needs them to be.

Echo is seen on an assignment as a lovestruck girl on a romantic weekend. She races Matt Cargill on a motorcycle through LA, losing barely at the finish line: His birthday party. They had a perfect weekend together and dance. While Matt is getting some drinks Echo's engagement ends and she feels the urge to return to the Dollhouse for "treatment". She leaves the party and enters a van where her handler Boyd Langton awaits her. She is unaware of the Dollhouse, her role as an Active and the nature of the "treatment" waiting for her. Back in the Dollhouse Topher Brink, the Programmer handling the imprints and wipes, deletes Echo's memory of the weekend and she returns to the dormant, childlike state in which the Actives exist between engagements. Topher and Boyd have discussion about the morality of what they're doing: Boyd reminds Topher that they would be in jail if anyone ever found the Dollhouse.

Meanwhile, Agent Ballard is struggling with his assignment to uncover information on the Dollhouse. The case has destroyed his marriage and is wrecking his career, and his superiors are not happy with the way his investigation of "a fairy tale" interferes with other important investigations like the Borodin-case. He reminds them that someone even bigger than them wants him to investigate the Dollhouse, and that's why they can't pull him off the case.

Echo's second engagement is called for when Gabriel Crestejo's daughter, Davina Crestejo gets kidnapped by Mr. Sunshine and his three cohorts.


Active Client Alias Personality Mission
Echo Matt Cargill Unknown Dream Date Sex, Motorcycle Race through Downtown Los Angeles, Partying
Echo Gabriel Crestejo Eleanor Penn Expert on hostage negotiations and kidnapping situations Saving Davina Crestejo from her kidnapper, Mr. Sunshine
Sierra In House Unknown Special Forces Leader Eliminate Armed Kidnappers
Victor In House Anton Lubov Russian Mafia Informant Misleading a federal agent (Paul Ballard) in order to prevent the discovery of the Dollhouse.


Main cast[]

Recurring roles[]

Guest starring[]

Background Information[]


Originally planned to be the second episode, and also shot after "Echo" was finished, Joss Whedon decided to switch the two episodes and make "a second first" episode, since "Echo" seemed to have "a few clarity issues for some viewers" and "also some slight issues with tone".[3] An early studio draft of the script had "Mariposa" as the title of the episode. On July 22 Joss Whedon announced that he had "just finished the script".[4]Tim Minear said that he "may have suggested the Elizabeth Smart thing to Joss in the hostage expert thing".[5]

Production was originally expected to begin on July 16, 2008, with principal photography commencing one week later on July 23. However due to "script and casting problems" prep-work was delayed until July 30, with principal photography going from August 4 to August 14. The script and casting problems might be connected to the fact, that this episode was decided to become the first episode shortly before production was going to commence.

On August 7, 2008 casting sides for the episode leaked on the internet.[6] In October 2008 "Ghost" received its final cut.[7] On December 21, 2008 the first preview clip hit the internet.[8]



"But fear not, viewers, DOLLHOUSE’s first episode is mostly good and it’s something to be excited about. I’m not going to lie, it’s not perfect. There are a few missteps — and some even glaring mistakes — made in the first episode, but there is a lot of potential in the concept, in the characters and in the story."
Miles Baker[9]

First reviews of the episode were mixed, finding the new pilot "both better and worse than (...) expected, in different ways"[10] and remarking that it "doesn't feel like anything Joss Whedon has done before, in ways both positive and negative".[11] Favourable aspects include that the "more serial elements of the show seem promising",[10] with reviewers applauding the "sporadically witty dialogue"[12] and "a way-cool set"[12] as well as that there's "definitely a strong concept at work here"[11] with "a lot of plot strings to pull at".[13] Reviews also called "Ghost" a "clever, fast-paced, futuristic"[14] introduction to a series that "is going to be as riveting as it is eagerly anticipated"[14] and described Eliza Dushku as "terrific in her role".[15] "Ghost" was also reviewed as "okay as a stand-alone, but not great",[15] and while the "standalone plot in the pilot is nothing special"[16] the show has "incredible potential".[16]

Reviews however also questioned Eliza Dushku's range as an actress for this type of show,[10][12] as well as the retooling of the show as a form of "dumbing-down".[12] The "surprisingly humor free dialogue" and the "annoying mysteriousness for the sake of mysteriousness"[17] were also criticized.

The majority of reviews seemed to go along the lines of "Good, not great, but clearly with potential for what comes next".[18]


"Ghost" averaged a 2.8/5 Rating/Share, 2.04/6 Rating/Share in the 18-49 demographic, a 1.7/6 Rating/Share in the 18-34 demographic and a 2.4/7 in the 25-54 demographic. 71.43% of the audience was in the 18-49 demographic. The episode was watched by 4.204 million viewers Live, 4.778 million Live+SD and 5,799 million viewers Live+7. The DVR numbers showed and increase from 2.04 to 2.58 in the 18-49 demo. 27.5% of all viewings of "Ghost" happened via DVR, that's the eighth greatest percentage of DVR viewing for broadcast TV shows of that week. "Ghost" mostly held it's audience throughout the hour, losing approximately 30.000 viewers for the second half-hour according to the overnight numbers.

"Ghost" was Fox' highest-rated Friday series premiere in over four years (since Jonny Zero's premiere on 1/14/05) among Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34.

The quarter-hour breakdown:

Time Period Rating/Share Rating/Share (18-49)
9:01 PM–9:15 PM 3.0/5 2.0/6
9:15 PM–9:30 PM 2.8/5 2.0/6
9:30 PM–9:45 PM 2.8/5 2.1/6
9:45 PM–10:00 PM 2.9/5 2.1/6


  • "Mariposa", the original title of the episode and the nickname Gabriel Crestejo attached to his daughter Davina, is the Spanish word for butterfly and the name of a community and county in California about 300 miles north of Los Angeles. The scene where Gabriel and Ms. Penn discuss the "pet name" didn't make the final cut of the episode, but it can be seen on the Dollhouse Season One DVD as an Extra.
  • According to the shooting script of the episode, Ballard's name was originally Paul Smith.[19]
  • Gabriel refers to Edward James Olmos, an American actor and director best known for his role in the remake of Battlestar Galactica TV series. Joss Whedon is apparently a big fan and Tahmoh Penikett appeared in the show as a series regular.
  • Topher quotes Hamlet with the line "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
  • Wardrobe designer Alana Stone said about shooting the scenes in Chinatown: "We had multiple units shooting all over Downtown LA I moved with Eliza over to a location in Chinatown and realized that her shoes were in the trailer sitting on the 405 freeway on the way back to Fox. I had to find the closest department store that carried them and run to go get them. Literally run... across busy Downtown streets. Good times."[20]
  • An earlier part of the discussion between Caroline Farrell and Adelle DeWitt can be seen in "Echoes". "Omega" also shows another part of Caroline's recruitment, more specifically, the tour she receives of the facility.


Davina Crestejo, on her father, seconds before being kidnapped

Echo: Did I fall asleep?

Topher: For a little while

"You can't fight a ghost."
Eleanor Penn


In this episode, Echo says you can't fight a ghost. In second season episode "The Attic", Paul is in the elevator with Echo, and says I'm a ghost: you can't fight a ghost.


  • Into The Fold by The Duke Spirit plays during the motorcycle race.
  • A remixed version of Lady Gaga's Just Dance plays while 'Echo' dances at the party.
  • Civilization by Front Line Assembly plays when Matt gives 'Echo' the necklace.
  • K.O. by The DNC plays while Paul Ballard watches Lubov and then The Way You Like It by the same band plays as Lubov orders champagne.

Promotional Photos[]

Notes & References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Seidman, Robert (February 14, 2009). Updated: Friday Ratings: How Did Dollhouse and Terminator do?. TV by the Numbers.
  2. Dos Santos, Kristin (2008-05-14). EW Party Is TV Fan Heaven. Watch with Kristin. Retrieved on 2008-07-22.
  3. Whedon, Joss (2008-07-22). Welcome (back) to the Dollhouse. Retrieved on 2008-07-22.
  4. Ryan, Maureen (2008-07-23). Joss Whedon talks 'Dollhouse' and 'Dr. Horrible'. The Watcher. Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  5. Jackal (2009-03-14). A Post-Episode Chat with Tim Minear. Retrieved on 2009-03-16.
  6. Anders, Charlie Jane (2008-08-07). Joss Whedon's Dollhouse Is Even Creepier Than You Thought. Retrieved on 2008-08-08.
  7. FEATURE - Inside Production - Terminator, Dollhouse and more. (2008-10-16). Retrieved on 2008-10-16.
  8. Ausiello, Mark (2008-12-21). Exclusive 'Dollhouse' video: Watch Eliza Dushku's memories vanish!. Retrieved on 2008-12-22.
  9. Baker, Miles (2009-01-05). Review: Welcome to the DOLLHOUSE. Retrieved on 2009-01-07.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Poniewozik, James (2008-12-04). I Have Seen Dollhouse. Retrieved on 2008-12-20.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Goldman, Eric (2008-12-19). Dollhouse: Advance Review. Retrieved on 2008-12-20.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Salem, Rob (2008-12-23). Sneak peeks boost the new year. Retrieved on 2008-12-24.
  13. Thomas, Jennifer (2009-01-12). Review: Joss Whedon's 'Dollhouse' not perfect, but don't panic. Retrieved on 2009-01-13.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ostrow, Joanne (2008-12-30). Writers taking us into higher dimensions of science. Retrieved on 2008-12-30.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Trechak, Brad (2009-01-12). Dollhouse -- An early look. Retrieved on 2009-01-13.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Surette, Tim (2009-01-09). Review: Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. Retrieved on 2009-01-13.
  17. Sullivan, Brian Ford (2008-12-27). THE FUTON'S FIRST LOOK: "DOLLHOUSE: GHOST" (FOX). Retrieved on 2008-12-28.
  18. The One True b!X (2009-01-12). Whedonesque : Comments on 18642 : (SPOILER) TV Squad takes an early look at Dollhouse.. Retrieved on 2009-01-13.
  19. "Ghost" - Trivia & Quotes.
  20. Ask Alana Anything: The Answers!. LA Dollhouse (2009-09-30). Retrieved on 2009-09-30.

External links[]