It really is a measure of Dollhouse’s failure, that before I hit the play button, I feel the urge to hope that there are no sex scenes involving a lack of consent, or that I won’t have to watch Echo be actively hunted by some man. I thought when Gray Hour began that my wish was unfilled because once again Echo was dressed all sexay and rubbing her body over a group men. It turns out that all of this was part of a larger scam to break into a vault containing antiquities.
Once inside the vault, one of the co-conspirators attempts to leave with a part of the Parthenon. Echo of course calls Boyd to update him about the event and at the end of the call, the phone emits a weird sound thus wiping Echo and bringing her back to her blank slate. Without a personality to guide her, Echo is at a loss to figure out how to get out of the vault. Sierra is reprogrammed to talk Echo through the process but when she fails, Adelle and Laurence immediately consider terminating Echo. Fearing that Boyd has not kept a proper distance between himself and Echo, Adelle instructs Laurence to have two other watchers on standby to carry out termination orders. If that were not enough, Topher is more concerned with the security breach than with the fact that Echo is clearly in danger.
This tells me that not only is Echo a person who is routinely denied agency, she is considered disposable. Not a single person beyond Boyd was concerned about her well being, he was though of as not maintaining professional detachment. To dehumanize woman this way is absolutely in the service patriarchy. Even side characters like Ivy are not immune from sexist treatment as this episode, Topher treats her like a second rate girl friday. Isms should never completely disappear from the media because that creates an unrealistic world but when there is no counter to suggest that the ism being engaged in is problematic, it normalizes the action.