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The Target is the second episode of Dollhouse, and it was written and directed by Steven DeKnight. It aired on February 20th, 2009 on Fox.


Echo is imprinted to be the female counterpart to an avid outdoorsman, Richard Connell, and quickly learns how the hunter becomes the hunted during her wilderness adventure. Agent Ballard receives a clue to Echo’s real identity, encouraging him to continue his investigation, while flashbacks reveal the tragic events at the Dollhouse that led to Boyd's arrival and Dr. Saunders’ scars.


Echo is imprinted to be the female counterpart to an avid outdoorsman, Richard Connell, and who tries to kill her with a bow to find out if "she deserves to live." He tells her he's a big believer in hard work, or - as his father used to teach him - "shoulder to the wheel," illustrated with a slap to the shoulder. Prior to the engagement Connell kills a park ranger and plants a canteen filled with poisoned water at the ranger station. The poison causes her to hallucinate previous personalities, including Caroline, and flash backs. A man posing as a park ranger approaches Boyd Langton and his driver killing the latter and holding a gun on Boyd in an attempt to stall the response team. Boyd gets loose beating the imposter badly but leaving him alive. Boyd makes contact with Echo, but is promptly shot by Connell. Echo ultimately confronts and kills Connell. The man Boyd escaped from was found dead with wounds strikingly similar to the ones inflicted by Alpha during his composite event. After her imprint is erased, Echo encounters Laurence Dominic who mocks her and says if he had his way she would be killed or put in the Attic. After Dominic turns to go, Echo slaps her shoulder, indicating that she has some traces of memories of the days events.

Agent Ballard tours the house that Echo rescued Davina Crestejo from in the previous episode, "Ghost". After a number of Dollhouse jokes at his expense by other FBI agents, Ballard finds a manilla envelope at his desk at the FBI with a picture of Echo inside. The picture has "Caroline" written on the back and was sent to him by the unidentified naked man that was seen at the end of "Ghost".

Flashbacks reveal Alpha's composite event at the Dollhouse that led to Boyd's arrival and Dr. Claire Saunders’ scars. Echo is apparently the only person Alpha encountered during his composite event that he did not kill.


Active Client Alias Personality Mission
Echo Richard Connell Jenny Dream Date Sex, Adventure; apparently also imprinted with necessary skills to survive being bowhunted
Victor In House Anton Lubov Russian Mafia Informant Misleading a federal agent (Paul Ballard) in order to prevent the discovery of the Dollhouse.
November In House Mellie Paul Ballard's Neighbor Spy on Ballard; Sleeper Active — will act in the Dollhouse's interest in extreme circumstances


Main cast[]

Recurring roles[]

Guest starring[]

  • Matt Keeslar as Richard Connell
  • Rich McDonald as Park Ranger
  • Karina Michel as Lubov's Girl
  • Jennifer Segal as Female Active
  • Erin Cummings as Attendant
  • Rico E. Anderson as Agent
  • Omar Adam as Male Active
  • Tim Conlon as Shaw
  • Kevin Sizemore as Driver
  • Haley Alexis Pullos as Davina Crestejo (flashback)

Background Information[]


Production on "The Target" began on September 25th, 2008. "The Target" was the fourth episode produced, and it was the first episode to be produced after production went into hiatus to focus on future scripts in September 2008. Steven DeKnight commented on the premise of the show: "One thing to remember when you're watching this episode: it wouldn't exist without Joss Whedon. He gave me all the tools and all the pieces to put it together. He also gave me an episode that played to my strengths. Without the juice squeezed from that big pulsating brain of his, I'd be sitting here with an empty glass."[2]


Overall reaction to "The Target" was positive, with most reviews pointing out improvements over the pilot and some even speculating that it would have been a better pilot than "Ghost".

Cast & Crew[]

I loved directing this episode, but I'm not sure I would use the word "fun". It was a grueling shoot that took us to rivers, woods, and rocks. The woods part of it was particularly demanding — and vomit inducing. We shot at Angeles Crest only about 30 miles north of LA, but 26 miles of that was gut-churning mountain roads. I was chewing Dramamine like Tic-Tacs. The trip to Kern River, where we shot the water rafting sequence, was just as bad. I actually did blow my breakfast on the location scout to that one. And those rocks for the mountain climbing sequence heated up to a thousand degrees by late morning. Plus we had to fend off rattle snakes and avoid bee hives the size of a Buick. But looking back, I had a blast. The crew was amazing, Eliza and the cast were delightful, and the end product came out pretty good.
Steven DeKnight[2]

Eliza Dushku described the episode as "beyond dope".[3] Amy Acker recalls coming back after the hiatus: "The first show that came back was a Steve DeKnight show; he was directing it, and it's just really, really great."[4] Joss Whedon himself called "The Target" "an ep so cool it helped not only define the show but save its ass".[5] When asked why they didn't start out with "The Target" as the pilot, he replied: "That episode was meant originally to be around episode five, or possibly even eight, and it was the network who said, excuse me, did you say bow hunting? That will come second please, because we already had the pilot working, so it kind of got bumped up further than, but you’re not the first person to say why didn’t you just open with that, and my answer would be I don’t know. I had the other idea first."[6]

Dana Walden, Co-Chairman of 20th Century Fox Television, commented on the hiatus the show took around the time "The Target" was produced, while describing the episode as "as compelling a script as I’ve ever read. You just fly through it. It’s engaging, it’s exciting. It was the script where everyone said, “You know what, Joss is on to something. We need to give him some breathing room. Let’s take a couple weeks down so the scripts can catch up to this direction.”[7]


"pretty great stuff, and it does what you'd want the second episode of a new show to do: deepen the mysteries while delivering a fun self-contained story"
io9 Recap
"After a shaky premier, Joss Whedon & co deliver a strong follow up to kick start the series and really get the audience asking questions."
FilmSchoolRejects Recap
"This episode was much stronger. I found myself caught up in the story and not swimming in questions like I was with the first episode."
SyFy Portal Recap
"It’s a decent improvement from the stumbling pilot. Whedon has his hand firmly on the tiller as the plot strands begin to move into place."
The TV Critic Review


"The Target" averaged a 2.7/5 Rating/Share, a 1.67/5 Raring/Share in the 18-49 demo and a 1.9/5 Rating/Share in the 25-54 demographic. 62.96% of the audience was in the 18-49 demographic. The episode was watched by 3.787 million viewers Live, 4.204 million viewers Live+SD and 5.245 million viewers Live+7. Including 7 days of DVR viewing showed an increase from 1.67 to 2.21 in the demo (a jump by 32.3%). Overall "The Target" had 1.458 million DVR viewers. 27.8% of all viewings of "The Target" happened via DVR, that's the third greatest percentage of DVR viewing for broadcast TV shows of that week.


Promotional Photos[]

Notes & References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Seidman, Robert (February 21, 2009). Friday Ratings: Dollhouse downer, Terminator not uplifting. TV by the Numbers.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Anders, Charlie Jane (2009-02-23). How Steven DeKnight Survived Last Friday's Dollhouse. Retrieved on 2009-02-24.
  3. Dushku's true calling. (2008-09-16). Retrieved on 2008-09-25.
  4. Spelling, Ian (2008-10-20). Acker On Dollhouse Interruption. Sci Fi Wire. Retrieved on 2008-10-20.
  5. Whedon, Joss (2008-10-26). What happened when the lights went out.. Retrieved on 2008-10-26.
  6. Goldberg, Matt (2008-02-06). INTERVIEW: Joss Whedon – DOLLHOUSE. Retrieved on 2008-02-07.
  7. Adalian, Josef (2008-10-12). 20th Team Celebrates Cable Wins. Retrieved on 2008-10-13.

External links[]