WARNING: SPOILER-ISH STUFF AHEAD.
There's still traces of Buffy in Dollhouse, but, thankfully, it's not Buffy goes And so far, it's not bad.
Our girl Faith, of course, is front-and-center as Echo, complete with
And that, right now, is the first big angle: will Paul the Fed crack the case and catch the 'House before Echo stumbles onto the truth for herself? If him doing so means the former Caroline has to face the music for whatever Dark Secret she's hiding, do we root for him?
As the pilot, "Ghost," kicked off, we're not told how long Caroline has been Echo, or why she felt forced to sign on with the agency. But, in the midst of her latest assignment, Echo not only walked into another Active's initiation, but was ambushed by the memories of her latest persona, a hostage negotiator, when she ran into the man who kidnapped and (it's heavily inferred) abused her years ago.
Instead of taking her own revenge, though -- which would have been the Buffy resolution -- Echo, in this new persona, instead stands up to the guy and simply finishes her job. It's somebody else who does the shooting. A small change, perhaps, but a very telling one, and one I'm interested to see develop over the course of however many episodes it gets.
"Ghost" was allegedly the victim of Fox's ham-handedness – even creator/geek deity Joss Whedon said to wait it out 'til Ep 2 before rendering judgement. But, sure enough, Whedonites' opinions are already split between "WORST. EPISODE. EVER" and "OMGTEHJOSS!" Between trying to keep the show from getting canceled, of course.
No reason to worry just yet, though; not only did "Ghost" did well enough in the ratings to keep the show safe for now, but, as a pilot, it fulfilled its' own engagement – set up the rules of the game, introduce the antagonists (besides Paul, a former Active has apparently gone off the reservation, in a bad way) and establish Echo as the one to change the game. I'm not willing to write it off just yet.