Science fiction has always stretched the imagination, and Dollhouse is no exception. The compelling storyline and multipurpose characters draw viewers in from the moment they start watching, and keep them in their seats until the closing credits fade into nothingness. Most of the first season has been about various missions which occupants of the dollhouse have taken part in. To say these are unlike the typical adventures is putting things a bit mildly.
Some background is in order. Adele Dewitt (Olivia Williams) runs an organization in Los Angeles which uses people who agree to have their minds totally cleared of feelings, original thought, and any personality. Why? So they can be hired to become whatever the client wishes. At the end, there is a mind wipe by Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) which removes any lingering traces of events. To outsiders like FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tamoh Penikett), it sounds like brainwashing. And perhaps he has a legitimate point. On the other hand, the "actives" sign a five-year contract. They are paid well for their deal, which is helpful for a variety of reasons.
Take Sam, for example. He is recruited after a chemical manages to get unleashed at a college and causes untold havoc ("Echoes"). The money he earns as an active, or doll, can be used to ease a burden on his mother. Echo (Eliza Dushku) is different. She seems to be escaping from a past she cannot forget. Although a boyfriend dies, this is only part of the story. The writers have wisely considered Echo to be a character who should be unfolded slowly. People watch each week just to see what more they can discover.
Sierra (Dichen Lachman) has the most troubled history. She is placed, or so it's suggested, in the dollhouse by a potential suitor who is enraged she does not participate in intercourse ("Needs"). This, however, might be a small bit of fiction. She wants to get power, and so she enlists the help of Victor (Enver Gjokaj) to help. Mellie (Miracle Laurie) is a sleeper agent, meaning she is trying to live in the real world. The dollhouse, however, has a deeper agenda for Mellie, known by her code name November, by allowing her to occupy the same apartment building as Agent Ballard.