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Dollhouse — Episode 2.12 ‘The Hollow Men’

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I was pretty floored by the ending of Getting Closer, so much so that I couldn’t put any coherent thoughts together to write about it.  Initially the only question was: was all this part of the five-year plan?  Was Boyd always meant to be the Big Bad, or, after getting cancelled, did they just say ‘fuck it’ and do the craziest thing they could think of?  (“That dude can act” — ha).  My intuition points toward the latter (I’m sure I could try to find some interviews to corroborate that, but . . . there is that laziness I mentioned).

Thing is, though, it really doesn’t matter what was originally intended; that will never be.  This is now what is.  So — does this work?  Hmm . . .

I guess so.  It’s hasty, and slightly annoying (given what could have been), but I suppose under these circumstances it’s better to go out with bombast, and having Boyd go ballistic and end up being the ultimate belligerent is better than bringing things to a boring close with a more conventional sort of ‘bang.’  Although, by naming this episode The Hollow Men . . .

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

. . . it almost seems like the creative team sees the world’s (and their show’s) demise in the exact opposite way.

At any rate, I like the part about how, regardless of how much the show is about people’s minds, the whole reason Rossum wanted Caroline in the first place was because of her body (not in that way); that she has some sort of special spinal cord fluid which can be used to produce an antidote to imprinting (despite how ridiculous that sounds, it fits in with everything else).  And then, of course, the ultimate irony: by Echo being saved and Boyd defeated, the antidote is not produced, which leads to the thoughtpocalypse.  Whoops!

Thing is, after seeing what they saw in the Attic, they probably should have realized that, and you could argue that Echo should have sacrificed herself for the greater good.  Maybe you could argue that.  Will this issue be addressed in the series finale Epitaph Two?  Hopefully.

The other part of this is the intriguing notion of the inevitability of technological evolution.  “It can’t be uninvented, and it will be abused.”  This may be a classic sci-fi trope — willingly creating and running toward our own extinction — but it’s still a pretty poignant one.

Finally, the ending — turning Boyd, now a helpless Doll, in a suicide bomber . . . that’s cold.  Dark cold.  Delicious.


Unfortunately Adelle and Topher really didn’t have much to do in this episode.  And . . . not much more to say there.

I find it a little implausible that Anthony would imprint himself like that so carefreely, but it was nice for him and Priya to have a major role in this episode when they were completely unused last ep.

November/Mellie/Crazy-Sleeper-Ninja-Woman killing herself makes sense, but it’s annoying how some Dolls can always somehow manage to fight against their programming only at really specific (aka handy to the plot) times.

Clyde putting himself in Whiskey’s body.  Enh, why not?  Again — burn out, don’t whimper . . .  And evil Amy Acker — sexy.

Finally — weirdest/creepiest moment: “I love you guys.”

We loved you too. Ya big galoot.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. tgjkennedy permalink
    Friday, January 22, 2010 5:41 pm

    I had some issue with the whole “upgrades” to Whiskey/Clyde. With upgrades Whiskey could move ultra fast? Really? We’re really treading on some Matrix territory here… The editing of that whole fight scene was weird, as was the end where Echo/Caroline is running out of the building and then the building blows up and then suddenly she’s just standing there slightly out of frame. It was bizarre.

    I should reserve my judgements until I see Epitaph 2, but right now I’m disappointed. It feels like it’s all just thrown together and I am not really enjoying the episodes. I was playing Zelda: Spirit Tracks (amazing game by the way…) when the episode came on and I didn’t put it down until Melly went sleeper. I think that’s a really bad sign.

    • Friday, January 22, 2010 10:33 pm

      Well, sure it was just hastily thrown together — I’m cutting them some slack for that, given the circumstances.

  2. Thursday, January 28, 2010 9:36 pm

    Actually there were some items on Whedonesque to the effect that Boyd as Big Bad was a second season decision.

    But I think that the evolution of Echo has been very carefully planned and that we need to pay a lot of attention to the incongruity of the cutaway when the building is blowing up. That is not hasty or unintentional. I think it precisely like the moment in Instinct when there is a super “cheesey” use of the madwoman-with-knife motif and gratuitous thunder and lightning in the background. That was the moment that Echo transcended her programming and said, “This isn’t me.” She dropped the knife and listened to the baby’s father and gave him back to his father.

    In the same way, the Echo standing there after the very overused and jaded explosion scene asked if the world has been saved. She says she “guesses so.” I think Echo is waking up as she did in the scene in “Instinct” and questioning what she has just done, under the direction of Caroline, who is a single-minded person dead set on revenge. I wrote about this myself — that Echo is seduced into doing to Boyd what Boyd had done to her by her overwhelming sense of betrayal by him. But is there no difference between real family and Boyd’s hollowed-out idea of “family”? Is it perfectly okay to be for the bros and agains the ones that aren’t bros to the extent that you become exactly like your enemies?

    Joss is a humanist and at the core of the humanist tradition is the notion that we are not fully human without the capacity for compassion and without setting for ourselves certain ethical boundaries, something that Topher has been learning to do lately. (“Don’t become me.”) Growing up is hard to do. Being human ain’t easy either. But Echo will only lead us to a safe haven if she can draw some lines she will not cross, as we have seen her doing many times before. Using Boyd’s innocence and vulnerability as the means to blow up the mainframe was gratuitously ugly and repellent. We are supposed to question it. If we don’t , what are we? Robots? Simply programmed and mind-wiped by every formulaic action movie we’ve ever seen to think it’s fine to anything to the bad guys?

    • Friday, January 29, 2010 3:05 am

      “I think Echo is waking up as she did in the scene in “Instinct” and questioning what she has just done, under the direction of Caroline, who is a single-minded person dead set on revenge.”

      That’s a very interesting notion, and yes, I hope there is a reckoning for what was done to Boyd — that would work on many levels and help give the series a final dark and incongruous note to close on.

  3. Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:26 pm

    Well, the Echo/Caroline distinction I suggested never happened, or was not explored, but the last Epitaph episode was certainly dark enough. And I think the inevitability of dehumanizing violence was certainly part of its darkness, don’t you?

    That little scene of Priya and Anthony reading to their child was enitrely undercut by its setting — not by any means a happy ending as some called it — and Echo’s own meager consolation was so partial and limited that it was tragic too. I think Whedon’s deeply ambivalent about the violence of going to war, and the dehumanizing way that once you’re committed, you can’t make distinctions except for “them against us”….

    I suppose the writers would have explored all these plot threads and questions at length if only they had had enough time. Surely the difference between Caroline and Echo was finessed for lack of time. (Sighing deeply….)

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