The following is part of a series pitting the merits and abilities of similar characters against each other. We open with a disclosure of the personal bias of the author then outline some ground rules and end with an example of how a fight between the two might unfold.

Personal Bias: Two of my all-time favorite shows are both Joss Whedon creations: ‘Firefly‘ and ‘Dollhouse’. Like Whedon’s first hit show, ‘Buffy Vampire Slayer‘, both series feature a female fighter who can best any male opponent. Echo, the star of ‘Dollhouse’, has hundreds of personalities planted into her brain with a range of skills, abilities and motivations–many of which are combat oriented. River proves in the ‘Firefly’ tie-in movie ‘Serenity’ that she is the most formidable combatant of the ensemble cast. Although I thought ‘Firefly’ was the better show overall, Echo edges out River as the more interesting character in my opinion.

Ground Rules: Both characters will face off as their most powerful on-screen incarnations. Echo is aware of and has access to all her personalities and River is in control of her psychic abilities. The arena for this match-up is an empty bar room. Both women are unarmed, but the room is stocked with items that can be used as weapons. No guns are available.

Fight! Echo takes the initiative, going into a chain of jujitsu attacks. She is stunned to see each blow is systematically countered resulting in River using Echo’s momentum against her, hurling her over the bar. Echo rolls into a crouching position. She takes a wine bottle and breaks it on the floor, arming herself with a sharp weapon for River’s return. River leaps onto the bar, taking the high ground. Echo lashes out with the glass dagger, but River sidesteps the attack. Echo comes to the conclusion that River somehow knows her mind so well that she can predict her attacks. She moves into a different dominate personality to mix things up.

River kicks the bottle out of Echo’s hand after her second strike. Echo rolls out from behind the bar, leaps into a stance and takes up a stool for protection for River’s oncoming charge. Just before Echo goes for the stool, River slows her charge and hops down to go for a bar drawer full of knives. Echo notes that her opponent wouldn’t have had time to change her charging tactic if she didn’t somehow know Echo would go for the stool before hand. The realization that River must be reading her thoughts comes just as a half-dozen blades narrowly miss her face. Echo attempts to crowd her mind with as many active personalities as possible, shifting control constantly to confuse River’s psychic ability. It works! Echo’s next move of coming in low for a tackle was not foreseen and River goes down, fumbling her remaining two knives. Echo grabs hold of both her opponent’s wrists and braces her to the ground. With a final head butt, River is knocked unconscious.

Results: Echo wins. River may have enough combat training to defeat your average warrior, but her main edge in battle is her ability to read minds. When Echo learned to throw her off with too many minds to read, Echo’s extensive combat skill base prevails.