Dollhouse head of security Boyd Langton is talking with Dr. Claire Saunders, who is struggling with her discovery at the end of last season that she used to be an “active” (people whose personalities have been wiped clean and can be imprinted with any number of new personas) named Whiskey who was imprinted with the personality of the Dollhouse’s former physician who had been killed. In Saunders’ words, her “entire existence was constructed.” When Langton asks her to go to dinner with him, she is caught off guard and unsure how to answer.I resonated with this exchange in the season primeier of Fox’s Dollhouse. It reminds me of those deeper truths about who we are—and who we were created to be.
Saunders: I don’t go out.
She sits down at the desk, looking off into the distance.
Saunders: I’m afraid to leave this place. I have a problem with crowds, with people, and sunlight. Open spaces. Noise. Pets.
She looks meaningfully at Langton.
Saunders: For some reason I’m just built that way.
Langton: Every person I know is pretty poorly constructed. Everyone has an excuse for not dealing, but eventually that’s all they are: excuses.
Saunders: Hmm. What’s yours?
When I heard Langton’s words, I thought of scripture’s description of how we are all broken, our “construction” cracked and riddled with fears and flaws. Yet, like Saunders—even with her intentionally broken construction—has the power to make choices about her fears and flaws, we too have a choice of how to respond to being a broken shadow of our original creation. Refusing to deal with it or even choosing to settle for it can be expressed in excuses. But in the end, as Langton implies, excuses are simply a choice we make.
Interestingly, one of the running themes in Dollhouse is that there seems to be something in us that breaks through the programming and begs to remember who we really are. I can’t help but think how this reflects our experience as well: Whether (like Saunders) our brokenness is inflicted upon us by others and the broken world in which we live or it’s simply a part of the broken and cracked reality of human nature (as Langton suggests), there seems to be something in us that wonders if we and the world around us weren’t meant to be better, more whole. Like the actives in Dollhouse, there’s something in us that begs to remember what that was like.
If Scripture is right, this makes sense. We were created good and whole, walking in utter freedom with God and each other in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory. But then came that day when our hearts ripped and broke, when the cancer that is sin greedily scuttled through the wounds and ravaged our very core. We broke. But, God refused to leave us the way, living as an echo of what we once were. He assailed that malignant evil that infects and strangles our hearts. All along, he’s been working to redeem, restore and return us, to make it all right once more—to not only help us remember who we are but also help us to become who were created to be.
What we do with all that is up to us. But I, for one, appreciate a series that helps me to think about these things—and bring God-talk into open spaces.
(Image: Fox via Hulu)