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January 16 2010

(SPOILER) Discuss the twelfth episode of Dollhouse Season 2. Tonight's episode is called 'The Hollow Men'. And if you missed it, you can now watch it for free at the Fox site and Hulu and buy it at iTunes.

Just 20 more minutes! If I actually had a tv that is.
20 minutes? what time does it start tonight?

Edit to point out: I am paying attention to time zones.

[ edited by bobw1o on 2010-01-16 01:45 ]
It's on at 8pm EST again in Canada. Almost had to work tonight- so glad I get to see this one ASAP instead. Even though there are like 4 more hours for West Coasters, ha.
huh, good to know
I my have 4 more hours to go, but I also woke up later today than you did, so it's all good |-)~
I'm in Canada but it still comes on at 9 for me, it did last week too.

Edit: Oh, EST, duh.

[ edited by JAYROCK on 2010-01-16 01:51 ]
You woke up later than me? How do you know that?!? I woke up pretty late...
Simon, do you mean the twelfth? :)
It's always on at 8 here in good ol' central time. Except in December...
I'm expecting Boyd to turn out to be a relatively good guy, which will tick me off if there's not a damn good reason.
I'm expecting.... wait, I shouldn't say yet...
So excited! More Amy tonight! <33333333
I'm waiting for Joss & Co. to make my laugh, cry, "OMG", and gift me with an awesome-induced brain 'splosion.


Which I have no doubt will happen all in one episode...
is it just me, or was the guy that played robin wood in buffy,(sorry i forgot his name) in the next episode of bones?
@miraclelaurie i feel like i should be making lasagna in honor of tonight's episode. haha :)

I wonder if that's a spoiler.
Ah me. I did not expect that. And it seems to me that it goes against what we know to be true from an earlier episode.


And poor Mellie. But that I did expect. Just not how.
Okay, Enver is officially scary as hell...I knew who he was imprinted as the SECOND he started speaking! LOL
he even sounded like topher
Lioness: you are missing an important fact that happened in tonight's ep that made sense in regards to Boyd & has direct relation to E1.
Holy crap, did we just find out the connection between Adelle and Echo? Sorry, don't know how to do the spoiler tags and know people are watching in different time zones, don't want to spoil anyone... ack! it's back on!
My cable keeps going in and out AAAAAAAAAH!
"did you know that Rossum is the world leader in producing MRI?"

I knew they were pure, unadulterated evil. :(
Can someone please give me a catch-up of the first 20 minutes in spoiler text? i'm completely lost!
Im a bit disappointed in the lack of explanation for Claire/Whiskey/Clyde.
buffywrestling, tell me! I put things in spoilers but don't suppose I really needed to. Anyone foolish enough to read this thread now should expect to be spoiled.
And the connection between Adelle and Caroline ? That is less than I imagined, unless I missed that as well.
edited to add, it was such a delight to see Enver as Topher again!

[ edited by Lioness on 2010-01-16 03:28 ]
What is it about Joss that makes me yell at the tv?
OMG! Freaky! Goodness Gracious!!!
That last line Boyd said. Wow. That felt so quotable.
"I love you guys!" wtfrak??

I love this show LOL.
"I love you guys"
lol
OMG! Freaky! Goodness Gracious!!!
OK, I'm officially confused as all get-out. In a good way, though. I just really hope this all makes sense within the next half-hour.
What...? Ohh, so confused!
Why the hell is this dialogue SO UNPRECEDENTEDLY BAD?! Did they cut 15 minutes of film and leave only the lamest, most on-the-nose lines in every single scene?

Seriously: in most technical particulars this seems to be the worst episode in several months. Maybe it's a late (re)write due to cancellation? That's my hope anyhow...
I'm sure there's a good reason
I... decided not to read this just yet (seeing how I have 2.5 more hours until I can watch it), but I just wanted to pop in and shake my fist at bobw1o- you owe me a "where" spoiler!

*shakes fist*
You are spectacularly insane.

I LOVE that line!
"Go ahead and shoot, I'm sure I'll be more talkative with my brains all over topher."

Even when I'm confused its good.
NO!!!! Mellie can't die!
Well, that's one way to remove sleeper architecture from functioning..... =\
MMMMEEEEEELLLLLLIIIIEEEEEE!!!!
That looks like it hurts.
Man there sure are alot of head wounds lately.
Joss: not so much with the mister nice guy in this series.
agreed - this dialogue sucks badly; and the plotting is barely better. wow; what a let-down so far!
That spinal thing looks like the Master's blood harvesting machine from "The Wish".
Joss: making it easy not to come back with more Dollhouse. Running out of people.
as soon as Paul said "I know who you are" i sadi oh shit mellies gonna die
'When we were together...'

That'd be strike two for our intrepid writing partners.

Quiz: Any other actresses not featured in the future-tense scenes of 'Epitaph One'?
oooo - you made me feel like a real person... now let me blow my brains out... blech!
I was thinking the exact same thing Biff.
Damn it Joss, I wish I could hate you right now.
Ok am I the only one thinking Boyd and Sauders was Boyd and Cylde 6.0. Eeewwww!!!!!!!!!! on many levels.
looks like Echo could use some juice and a cookie.
How is Echo not paralyzed now?
When Boyd was talking to Caroline and said something about donating bone marrow to a cousin, then soon after that they showed Adelle touching Echo/Caroline's face so tenderly... I always thought there was a connnection between Adelle and Caroline... just me maybe :)
thoughtpocalypse, I love it!
not only is Echo not paralyzed, she is remarkably spry following her draining of CSF.
Paul, you've missed a lot, actually.
Two good lines so far. (Adele re: her old flame: 'Really?' Paul: 'What did I miss?')

Siiiiigh.
I am getting tired of the blood spatters on people!
Wow Baxter, I don't know what show you're watching but I'm on the edge of my seat! I knew Melie would die, but I never ever thought she would die like that!

This is really very awesome.
Hate to say it, but that was not one of the more convincing fights scenes I've seen in a Joss Whedon show.
the commercial breaks seem more shorter but frequent.
I'm very sad about this episode. It's pretty bad thus far. I can totally tell they were trying pretty hard to wrap things up, and the story suffered quite a bit. It feels forced, and sorta lame.

Also, I still don't get why they killed Bennet. I was sort of banking on them having an explanation in this episode. Nothing I've come up with makes that much sense. Same with Boyd-- I wanted some really good reasons for him being evil and what not. The ones they've provided sorta suck.
@biff > Just watched that episode of Buffy tonight & that's *exactly* what I thought too.
You know, I went to the pain clinic and had the same thing that Echo had done WITHOUT anesthesia. There was 8 needles and they did it with a flouroscoope. I screamed too, but I was just happy to get out of there when it was over. THe next time I had it done it was under anesthesia.
Ah, poetic justice for Boyd. On several levels. Waiting to see before hitting "post."

OK, yep.

Question: was "Epitaph: One" in the Attic?
Echo/Caroline running out of the exploding building is so reminiscent of Buffy in Chosen
Echo/Saunders fight definitly edited hinky. They had the wide shots to make it a classic Buffy-like fight (like a Fred Astaire musical number) but they interjected too many quick close shots. Plus, too much hair. Pretty but distracting.
For a last ep that was decent, apart from the "escape explosion by running". Loved so many, many lines.

I was expecting, though:

"Did we save the world?"

"For a little while."
Oh boy that's so oh boy. Oh, Topher. And Enver. Enver is my hero.
I'm liking Uber-Anthony. He gives me a happy. :)
I was expecting, though:

"Did we save the world?"

"For a little while."


So was I. :)

I was blown away once again.

How does one feel contempt for Boyd, that he got what was coming, and yet feel sorry for him all at the same time?

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2010-01-16 04:04 ]
Yeah, I'll be honest, this one wasn't as satisfactory as I'd have liked. We get no explanation for Boyd, very little closure for most of the character arcs, and it honestly just felt like the actors weren't giving it their all. And the odd thing is, I was totally into it until right about the halfway mark, but the ending just fell completely flat. I really hope Epitaph Two gives us some of this info we're missing, or else I'm going to be very disappointed in Joss.
Well, maybe we can forgive the ridiculous dialogue (cheeky throw-away lines, harlequin moments) now that we appreciate that probably every frakkin' character is a doll; I guess there more 'human' programming is fritzing.
Ugh.

Honestly, I'd prefer an incomplete well-told final chapter to this rushed hackjob. So, so frustrating and disappointing. Considering how layered and coherent the rest of the show has (surprisingly!) been, this is the biggest lapse since 'Omega.'
I must say that this episode was quite underwhelming. I love the ideas, and I love Enver, but the writing and directing left me wanting more... and not in a good way.

However, this season has been packed with amazing, so I can forgive them this. I can't wait for the finale!
"Did e save the world?"
Umm...no?
And they're going to manage to bring the world back? Is it possible that sane Topher comes from his body being imprinted with the wedge let for Anthony?
I somehow missed the above-referenced line about Adelle's old flame.

Did I fall asleep?
"Did we save the world?"
Umm...no?
And they're going to manage to bring the world back? Is it possible that sane Topher comes from his body being imprinted with the wedge let for Anthony?
This episode was kind of epically terrible. Epically terrible. After the reveal last week I was super psyched. I figured it was a list minute decision to have Boyd be the bad guy...but it could have been so amazing. Even wanting her to SAVE them all could have been amazing. What a ridiculous episode...and the loss of Boyd. And WHO GRABS WHISKEY FROM THE EXPLODING BUILDING!?
Excel52, yeah around the halfway point I was thinking it fell flat - once in the lab, it was like "Oh let's have Mellie and Ballard here", and "let's have Anthony and Priya." And how would any 2 lovers think of the idea of going to Tucson to take down Rossum on their own?

But how else could it have gone, to be honest? The show had to be wrapped up (a 5 year plan) in the span of about 4 episodes. From the storyteller's perspective, I would think that the big payoff is in Episode 13.
@lioness: Topher made the remote-wipe device usable on people without pre-dollhouse architecture. Hence, he was able to wipe Boyd, who was previously not a Doll. This leads directly into Epitaph World but still doesn't explain how boomboxes are dangerous.
I make a comment to my wife re: @bdh_girl's interesting speculation about Topher 'fixing the world.' Wife responds:

'You know what would fix this world? JOSS WRITING THE LAST EPISODE.'

I married, not carefully, but well.
The Caroline/Clyde fight did seem pretty choppy looking, editing-wise, considering what we've seen as far as fight scenes in other episodes.

Boyd: tragi-comic way to go...

@Dawnfire87... pretty sure Tim Minnear said in an interview that he killed Bennett because it was "funny." Maybe he was referring to the method of her killing, rather than the plot significance, but... anyway.
What about the dialogue was bad? What about that felt rushed, other than the lack of explanation of Bennett's death?
This leads directly into Epitaph World but still doesn't explain how boomboxes are dangerous.


Go rewatch 'Do the Right Thing.'
Still some unanswered questions - I watched Epitaph One right before watching this.

There are more scenes that seem to take place after the events we have seen - Dominic confronting Adelle after getting out of the Attic, Priya and Anthony having a falling out, Topher losing his marbles. How on earth did they get the Scooby Gang to run the LA Dollhouse again? That's what I'm wondering.

Unless Epitaph One was all one of Clyde's nightmares in the Attic hehe...
So... Boyd wanted to have a cure for wireless imprints, and yet he hijacks Topher to actually finish the imprint device when the Rossum guys can't?

Que?
who actually wrote this.... stuff? and who directed it?
Well, if Whiskey died in the exploding building (did she? I got a little confused at the end there), it would make it sort of hard for her to appear in the Dollhouse in 2020 ala Epitaph 1. So, maybe, indeed, Epitaph 1 was in the attic?
The Dark Shape: Boyd wanted to ensure that they, the "destroyers," would be immune. His idea of "saving the world" was more along the lines of saving the people he considers important. Mostly, him.
What about the dialogue was bad? What about that felt rushed, other than the lack of explanation of Bennett's death?


e.g. The opening scene, in which Priya and Anthony do an exposition-heavy intro to the situation and basically rationalize away an unbelievably complex moral dilemma with a literal shrug. Such narrative short-circuiting is common but is usually not Joss's style - and if forced into such unshapeliness, he generally is able to make the emotional arc clear despite its contraction.

This felt like the writers were 'getting the work done' without taking time for the emotional subtext. Un-Joss in the extreme, if you ask me. (I criticize the Angel comic for this same single-purpose writing style. Blah.)
To me, the dialogue just didn't have that usual...spark. Aside from Topher, who managed to get several solid lines in, the deliveries just fell completely flat for me. I don't know how to put it into words, but it just sounded... off somehow. I mean, one of the best things about Whedonverse shows is the dialogue, and it's easily identifiable once you're used to it. And this one just wasn't like the recent episodes. Does anyone know who wrote the ep.?
Did everybody miss the Bennett "explanation," or did I just misinterpret what Boyd said? I thought he did it to test Topher. Don't really like that, but that's it (I think).
I actually loved the structure of this episode. The pairing off of team mates juxtaposed against Echo/Caroline. It was a bit cheesy though but I think it will definitly run better when you watch E2 behind it. Those "Double Dollhouse Days" worked out awesome! (B!x)
There was a line, during the madcap running-from-building, about someone bringing out Whiskey. That's taken care of.
"Did we save the world?"

"No, but we look exactly the same ten years later, so it's ok!"

To be fair, Whedon actors tend to have good genes.

Must watch Epitaph Two NOW!

[ edited by Arsenal on 2010-01-16 04:14 ]
The ep was written by three writers, of whom two are (if memory serves) the 'Reaper' creators? I don't know their names. They were hired when (the sorely-missed) Craft and Fain left, I thought.
I dunno. I thought the episode made perfect sense and wrapped everything up pretty well.

1. Boyd is sociopathically insane. It was obvious that that was the motivation instantly when he made that remark about family, because that's exactly the sort of disconnect you would expect from that type of person.

2. Obviously they didn't save the world. Whatever else that ending might not be good at, it was good at making sense. Topher got awesome poetic revenge on Boyd, but it *didn't matter*. I mean, why would it? The Rossum headquarters has been blown up, but even ignoring the fact that Clyde still has at least four other bodies out there, that Boyd almost certainly has at least a backup body, and that they almost certainly had backups of the plans in a secure location somewhere else, it STILL makes sense. Why? Security of information. It's practically impossible to keep something secret compared to how easy it is to make something common knowledge. Just the simple fact that you can rewrite people's brains and the simple fact that ~20 programmers for other Dollhouses know that fact ensures that the secret tech that creates the thought/brainpocalypse isn't gonna stay secret forever. And so it makes completely, albeit perverted and nasty, sense. They stopped the evil dudes in charge, but it didn't matter. Too much momentum already.

3. Bennett. See above re: insane.

[ edited by Maratanos on 2010-01-16 04:15 ]
cellardoor: my point exactly. Who grabbed her? How? When?

waxbanks: was there really?
Waxbanks: I guess we might have different taste in stories, I guess. I thought this was emotional, character-driven storytelling. Everyone got their chance to have the big moments they deserve, there were some epic one-liners, and Boyd's end was just damn clever. Also, I think the Angel comics, particular "After the Fall," might be the most emotional, epic installment in the entire Angel series. So I guess we differ there/here.
Well. Between that ep and the dippy-looking trailer, much of my interest in 'Epitaph 2' has just been sapped. God bless Fox! Joss is boss, but damn, that was an hourlong clusterfuck.

waxbanks: was there really [a Whiskey-is-out line]?


I thought so! Did I hallucinate that stuff? Do I have a 'bicameral' mind all of a sudden?!$@#$$#
Yeah, I just checked IMDB, and the only other episode that those two worked on was 'Instinct,' which I think is recognized as the worst episode of season 2. I'm really not sure why they were chosen to give us what was essentially the wrap-up for the main storyline. I really wish Tim or Joss had come in to do this one.
I missed the first 10 minutes...when Whiskey/Claire shot Bennett, was she at that time actually Clyde trying to hide Boyd's identity by shooting the person reconstructing Caroline's wedge? When did Clyde get Whiskey's body?
Topher said he got Saunders out.
Worst episode of the season, IMO. Very, very bad. I did not like it that much at all. So, Amy was even brought back, becauuuseeee...? They did NOTHING thing Whiskey's original self, which was something I was so interested in. WHY did they have BENNETT shot again?! No sense at all. So.... Yeah. Echo was running through the building, and suddenly ended up next to Paul? Possibly bad editing there. The whole building didn't explode? So, now they go back to their Dollhouse, and hide? In Epitaph One they had all of their dolls as in the Dollhouse.... But they let them go in the last episode. -_- So, so, SO upset with this episode. It seemed like nothing happened for the first half, either. I... Just so upset. So much was left unanswered, and it seems like this writer did so little. The episode had some good moments, but the bad overruns the little bit of good.

I'd give this one a 5/10; Adding an extra point for Amy's presence.

P.S.: Paul needs to be shot... In other places than the leg.
This episode is so totally the Primeval (Buffy Season 4 wrapup) of Dollhouse!
Dude, this episode was indeed a clusterfrak. Just asking about the Whiskey line because I have NO memory whatsoever. At this point, though, I was sadly shaking my head and mourning what last episode's momentum turned into this week.
If Boyd not only has the the ability to give someone the disease but also the cure; guess who he thinks he is?

God.
Waxbanks: I guess we might have different taste in stories, I guess. I thought this was emotional, character-driven storytelling. Everyone got their chance to have the big moments they deserve, there were some epic one-liners, and Boyd's end was just damn clever. Also, I think the Angel comics, particular "After the Fall," might be the most emotional, epic installment in the entire Angel series. So I guess we differ there/here.


I've resigned myself to being the only one around here who found 'After the Fall' super-duper lame. I'm used to Joss's lines - and those written by his longstanding writing buddies, e.g. Minear/Espenson/Petrie/Noxon - functioning in multiple registers at once, funny and ironic and bitter and socially-aware and emotionally-naked. This felt like a deck-clearing episode to me. Boyd is a nutjob and an unbelievably skilled actor/fighter? Mellie is brought onstage as an assassin (iiinteresting) and then kills herself in a sub-Buffy/Angel 'Close your eyes...' moment? Topher and Adele actually do an 'I'm to blame!' 'No, I'm to blame!' exchange in captivity?

Rushed, truncated, and unfortunate. I miss the creepy intimations of early S2. This cancellation ended up hurting the show's endgame, even after a marvelous run near the beginning/middle of S2.
@Arsenal; That's exactly what this feels like! I mean, it's a serviceable ending, but it just lacks the resonance that other finales have had. I mean, our biggest fight sequence was between Caroline and Clyde, and there's no resonance behind that fight.

I dunno, I truly hate to be whining about this ep, because I really like this show and I felt like it had just been ramping up ever since Belonging. And this feels like there was a just a massive drop at the end of the ramp. Like a roller coaster.
I'm pretty sure I won't be able to talk for a little while. Crying too much. Even if it was rather sense-missing... Boyd.
In retrospect, this ep was also a tremdous shout-out to Twillight-gate. Once something is out there; you can't take it back.
WB--I canceled my subscription to the Angel comic, if that helps...
Is Amy Acker in E2? If not, we never get to see her backstory (unless I missed it at the start of this episode)?
I'll join the disappointment chorus. I'm still excited for next week, but this is pretty sub-par for Dollhouse. The Boyd ending was a compelling touch (but I, for one, do not find it an unambiguous decision by Echo), but I still want to know why Bennett had to die. Because Boyd wanted Topher to develop somehow...? Huh?

I'm still holding out hope.
I don't care about Whiskey's back story, I want to know why Saunders goes back to the Dollhouse.
Darn, Dollhouse was so great, I forgot there was anything else on TV that I wanted to watch after it was over again!
I thought it was a pretty good episode. The last episode was better, and I think it's because the writing was better, but I still thought it was amazing TV. Compared to everything else I watch (Bones, House, Castle), this was quite good.
Topher has been steadily growing in moral and emotional strength (while missing common sense things as some geniuses might happen to do, like say, not noticing that fixing the prototype in 10 minutes that he was so relieved to find non-functioning was a dumb feat to attempt). How is he going to turn into the weeping, psychologically destroyed, padded-room-type mess we saw in Epitaph 1? If having his beloved Bennett's brains be-splattered over his face didn't do that, what will it take? Or again, was Epitaph 1 merely in the attic? grr... argh!
Huh, I enjoyed the episode. Guess I shouldn't be surprised others didn't--I'm one of those weirdos who loved the show from the start, loved "Instinct," and think this is Joss's best work (tied with Buffy).

There are a couple of loose ends, but...there's still one more episode left. I'm not gonna wring my hands now just to feel dumb in two weeks if and when those loose ends are addressed.
I liked the episode although I thought last week was stronger.I still have some questions but the final episode hopfully will answer them.They certainly didn't prevent the future of Epitaph 1.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2010-01-16 04:48 ]
It seems like the last few episodes crammed so much into each show, to wrap the story up. It was one twist after another. Yet here in the last episode (in this time period), it seemed like they pushed less information in, when it would have been nice to wrap up a lot of the open questions.
For those who haven't read the poem "The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot (or would like a refresher), here's a link to it in case you're interested in the title of tonight's episode.

TS Eliot - The Hollow Men

"Those who have crossed / With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom / Remember us - if at all - not as lost / Violent souls, but only / As the hollow men / The stuffed men."

Wow... very fitting for Dollhouse and this episode particularly.
does anyone know if Epitaph 2 is one-hour?
I retract my previous statement! This is the Matrix Revolutions of Dollhouse episodes! Joss is no longer allowed to mock the Matrix sequels! :)
How could I ever have doubted this series...had Fox not meddled for half of Season 1...wow...I can only imagine where Whedon's creativity would have taken us...


Bravo Mr. Whedon Bravo


Till your next great endeavor...I sincerely wait and hope that it can be both profitable to the network and entertaining to us hardcore fans.
I'm joining the disappointed chorus, as well. I agree the dialogue on whole was flat. The acting was off, except for Enver's Topher mimicry--but, then, since we've already seen that, it seemed a little lame for the script to do this repeat. And the things left unexplained. Ugh. Too bad they didn't have more time.
I think we all can agree on one thing Enver really needs to not leave TV, he needs his own show or someone needs to snap him up asap. That talent should not be wasted for a second.
Not quite sure how I feel about this episode, but I imagine I will thoroughly enjoy the finale.

I will say that Mellie's last line and suicide were the best parts. Poor November. :-(

[ edited by Riker on 2010-01-16 05:05 ]
I'm confused didn't they establish that Rossum's computer mainframe was people in the episode "The Attic"?
"Did I miss something?" I thought that was really funny when he said that.
I liked this episode just fine, even if it wasn't quite as good as last week's... as for Bennett, I thought Boyd wanted her dead so she couldn't fix Caroline's wedge. Turns out he (via sleeper Whiskey) was too late, but that was the goal. Then Whiskey got sent to headquarters to be Clyde.

That's my interpretation, anyway.
What a gigantic disappointment. Probably my least favorite episode of Season 2. There were still some great moments (though few), and I understand they didn't have much time... but I can't forgive all the unanswered questions. Barely anything ties together or makes sense.

Epitaph Two will obviously deliver, but that's to wrap up another story, not this one. And boy did this one fail.
I still don't understand what makes Caroline so special. Someone please explain this to me!!!

I'm still hopeful that E2 will answer all of the questions though
Its going to take an army of monkey scientists to connect this to Epitaph One. I leave that task to you, oh noble simians...
I think the main weakness was the necessity to cram all this plot into so little time. (I do think this could have been executed better though, not sure how. My personal theory was that, with the cancellation announcement, Mutant Enemy had little time and money and had to cut corners.) I think these twists and surprises would have been more thrilling if given more time to develop.

(I thought Ballard's line "Did I miss something?" was a self-referential joke about how quickly the plot was moving.)

Rewatching Epitaph One again and saw the scene in which Ballard and Echo break through the brick wall - does anyone think that's the point in time where the end of tonight's episode will take us? That would do funky things with the timeline, however...

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2010-01-16 05:19 ]
sonofyork, it's Caroline Spine.
I loved the connection to that poem. I also loved more Victopher, but thank goodness we got Anthony back afterward, and with bonus madskillz! I was actually surprised that those madskillz didn't have repercussions, like, say, eliminating his love for Priya or something, much like what happened to Ballard. But hey, who am I to complain if the end of Tony/Priya as seen in "Epitaph One" doesn't play out? I was also surprised that the good guys didn't try to take Echo/Caroline's spine juice. I mean, Boyd had a point. The tech was going to get out somehow, and here is the cure. USE IT. *twitch* Anyway. Despite the stuff that frustrated me, I did like the episode.
I really did not care for this episode. Here are my major grievances, some my fault, some not. All IMO, please don't jump on me.

-Eliza's acting was bad. Also, even some good actors were ruined with poor dialog.

-This might just be me, but the plot is really confusing me a bit. I'm really not getting why Echo/Caroline is so special.

-That slow motion shot of E/C running away from the explosion. :/
The ep felt like human roulette to me. You figured some of the major characters would die, so during each interaction I was asking myself what the surprise killing would be: will her kill her or will she kill him? Result... the deaths didn't really resonate.
I dont get the confusion about why Bennet died, maybe Whiskey was just that crazy.
@Ronald_SF You put into words what I hadn't managed to yet - that line from Ballard did seem like a self-referential joke. Like he's the poor audience stand-in trying to figure out what the heck is going on, or the poor writer trying to cram everything into the end of the season and just having to stop and poke a little fun at the situation. :P
The spine thing is another thing that's kind of bugging me. A cure is something Rossum needs, sure I get that, but Boyd went through ALL this trouble just to get Caroline/Echo's.... spine...... juice? Ok.
eyes of the world | January 16, 04:49 CET
"Yet here in the last episode (in this time period), "

'Epitaph One' had scenes from other time periods...
he needed echo to block a few imprints to leave a marker in her spinal fluid that they can engineer a vacine out of, or something
Not with a bang, but a whimper indeed.
Thankfully (?) for the narrative, Boyd seems to be a sociopath (or is it psychopath? I get confused with abnormal psychology), so he doesn't technically need a logical motive for making this episode's events happen the way they did. He positioned his dolls just as he wanted them, to have all his family around him ("Goodness gracious!"). It does seem like pretty crazy of a scheme for obtaining the spine juice, but what do I know?
The spine thing is another thing that's kind of bugging me. A cure is something Rossum needs, sure I get that, but Boyd went through ALL this trouble just to get Caroline/Echo's.... spine...... juice? Ok.

No, I think at the start (right after Boyd captured Caroline after the lab explosion) they THOUGHT she might be a cure --- or was at least special --- but they put her in the Dollhouse and imprinted her over and over like the other actives to FIND OUT if she would end up resisting wipes on her own. She did. No other active did that. So once Boyd had confirmation of that, they then needed to find out why and determined that something with her spine allowed her to resist and that's where it came from.
But why exactly Echo? She didn't start blocking imprints until she got all messed up in Vows, but Boyd was already Echo's Handler/Head of Sercurity for months before that. Did he know Caroline was special.... aaannddd I just answered my own question. Remembered the part at the beginning when he had Caroline's medical records.

Fun, now I can scratch that off my list.
Okay, so the plot stuff made little sense if you dig too deep... But did Boyd have to be insane? I cringed when he called everyone his family before the act break. I get why the villains in Buffy were all insane and it worked on that show -- but Dollhouse, the morally grey show, didn't need that.

[ edited by Jackal on 2010-01-16 05:40 ]
Do we know that they didn't take the spinal fluid? It could be that is what they are doing in Safe Haven - put people back to their original personalities and perhaps vaccinate them against re-wiping.
Hmm. I guess Boyd was a true believer after all :)

OOPS! Wrong actor = very confusing and unfunny joke. Sorry 'bout that.

[ edited by crippledlion on 2010-01-16 21:21 ]
Answers, guys ! (or my best attempt)

Re: Epitaph 1
For those I see still wondering, Joss has already confirmed in interviews, at least a couple times, that the 2019 scenes of "Epitaph 1" all "happen" and that the Whiskey and Not-Little-Girl's-Father re-telling/imprint memories/flashbacks from various characters' perspectives could be true, dreams/nightmares (as we saw with the Paul/Echo "Russian" imprint in "The Attic"), or a skewed memory based on personal biases, possibly.

Dawnfire87 said:
"Also, I still don't get why they killed Bennet. I was sort of banking on them having an explanation in this episode. Nothing I've come up with makes that much sense. Same with Boyd-- I wanted some really good reasons for him being evil and what not. The ones they've provided sorta suck."

miri47 got this one. So that Bennet couldn't complete the reconstruction of Caroline's wedge. Presumably so that Caroline wouldn't be able to identify Boyd before he was ready to reveal himself to the group. Presumably. Thought this was pretty obvious after last week's discussions, why Bennet needed to be killed (what a waste, but with any luck, for the company's cold unfeeling sake, they have her on a back-up wedge and/or she made copies of herself).

Re: reasons for Boyd being evil...they've already provided them, throughout the series. The immorality of big business (and probably some medium and small businesses as well). The danger of science without control and caution in the people discovering, inventing, and especially funding it. He was the head of a company, he was either smart enough to see the way things were headed or one of the Rossum scientists who created the tech made him realize the shitstorm the world was headed for...and he decided to do whatever was necessary to take control and prevent it from happening to him (and aw, he's a feeling villain, he wanted to pick a family to be with him, to weather the storm. He even gave them fair warning that some of 'em might still end up imprinted, despite his fatherly protection). And yeah, on top of that he's insane, 'cause I guess you'd have to be (or at the very least, sociopathic) to see this all coming, admit defeat without attempting to 100% prevent it (though I guess that'd be hard if you don't believe it's possible to prevent it), and be complicit in the development of the source of mankind's downfall without seemingly having much guilt over the matter.

I may be dumbing it down a bit, but I think it's all there. We don't need to know who Boyd was when he was 27, we don't need all kinds of flashbacks. His feelings of protectiveness were apparently genuine, in their own twisted way. but now they're tinged with the knowledge that he was unapologetically using all of them too.

Cool of Joss to sorta bring up and then blow apart the whole "found family" thing at the end of this fourth show of his, after it being so important in his first three series. I suppose those remaining of the LA Dollhouse sorta fit the bill, but then again (given the way Caroline and Paul are separate from the group and it looks like Caroline is about to shoot Adelle in the head--seems to be the theme of the month now--maybe they're not so much a found family. I dunno. Where am I?).

Nebula1400 said:
"How does one feel contempt for Boyd, that he got what was coming, and yet feel sorry for him all at the same time?"

I know, I felt sorry for the blank slate/doll-Boyd at the end there. It was innocent. For the drama, for the story, it was poetic justice for Boyd to fall (technically he died the second Topher remote-imprinted him) on the end of his own sword. But that blank slate could've turned out good/had a better life. Then again, Alpha is a case for arguing that evil/murderous dolls aren't a good idea, hmmm...So maybe they were right to kill the Boyd-doll, however play-god/death-pentalty-ish that may be. I dunno.

baxter said:
"Well, maybe we can forgive the ridiculous dialogue (cheeky throw-away lines, harlequin moments) now that we appreciate that probably every frakkin' character is a doll; I guess there more 'human' programming is fritzing."

How do you figure that ? We already know from "Echoes" who isn't a doll. Boyd was never a doll (until that last minute), if that's what you've assumed. The device Topher used to zap him was the remote-imprinter (works on anyone), not the remote wipe device (works only on dolls). They clearly showed us both zappers/props too in the episode. There were no surprise-doll-reveals happening this ep.

The Dark Shape said:
"So... Boyd wanted to have a cure for wireless imprints, and yet he hijacks Topher to actually finish the imprint device when the Rossum guys can't?

Que?
"

The Dark Shape, what pat said, plus Boyd wanted himself and Rossum to be in control of the tech first, before anyone else got there and could use it on them. He wanted the cure and the ability to wield the tech. Wanted to be the destroyer and the saviour (to those he deems worthy--what buffywrestling said, Boyd wants to play/thinks he can essentially be God...though he's probably not so insane that he thinks he can start wielding supernatural powers and suddenly having his main body live forever, but y'know, thinks he can play God within the limits of reality).

waxbanks said:
"The opening scene, in which Priya and Anthony do an exposition-heavy intro to the situation"

I agree that it felt like way too much time was wasted with them talking/discovering what had happened and I was really eager to get on with it already, but I suppose it was necessary, to show why they came back and all (and Echo sending them away last ep was necessary to reaffirm that they all care about eachother--otherwise, I would've wondered why they didn't skip the "Priya-and-Tony-are-leaving" thing because it could've saved us time this week).

"and basically rationalize away an unbelievably complex moral dilemma with a literal shrug."

I disagree that they shrugged away Tony jumping right in the chair to be imprinted (I assume that's what you're talking about). He's shown himself to be the jump-right-in kinda guy, eager to "do the right thing" and play hero, a soldier to the core on top of that. Whereas I would be like "no fucking way", because there's too much risk that I don't get my body back (and who knows if Priya and Tony are really themselves after being doll'd already), I can see, from what little we've gotten from his character so far, and if Victor's caring nature was in any way influenced by his original personality as well, that it's a believable thing for him to do. Especially for Priya (who, yes, he just met, but they've sidestepped all that/sped it up with the whole "they remember their attraction to one another").

"This felt like the writers were 'getting the work done' without taking time for the emotional subtext. Un-Joss in the extreme, if you ask me."

I found lots to like. Almost every character had a small emotional moment, line...the entire main cast pretty much got a chance to shine, which you can't say about every ep.

My gripes would be...Eh...As soon as Paul handed Mellie a gun, I had a feeling the trigger/sleeper might happen. Yes, we were prepared for possibly losing this November (when future-Priya-and-Tony talk about it in "Epitaph 1"), but watching it play out on screen was a little underwhelming. Once she was triggered, I was hoping, "Oh man, don't make Paul shoot her, that's brutal, guy's been through enough for now". It felt a little forced to have her shoot herself, but I guess Mellie was fighting the programming so hard and she was programmed to adore/support Paul in the first place, so her programming would dictate that she kill herself for him, if necessary. That's my theory. But it was so rushed-feeling, probably the first time I can really complain about that with the pace of this season. Bright side: Miracle Laurie cried/broke beautifully. Downside: wish she'd gotten more to do. Suspect that her character arc would've lasted a lot longer, had cancelation not been hanging over the Dollhouse crew's heads since Season 2 was renewed.

I didn't love them bringing back Enver's Topher impression. It's fun to see, but I thought there were one or two lines where he sorta lost it or went overboard with it (and now that we've heard him speak with that voice more extensively, the vocals don't quite sound right, but I chalk that up to Topher's voice being strained through Anthony's vocal chords, which I'm guessing are different from person to person and would affect the sound coming out of his mouth). More than that, I was just afraid that whole scene that they were gonna ruin the ridiculously convincing illusion of what we got in "The Public Eye"/"The Left Hand".

No, we didn't get Whiskey backstory. Maybe in "Epitaph 2". Gossi's already revealed that we can't trust the casting news, so expect no one (all right, aside from our main cast) and everyone to appear, heh. I'd like it cleared up about when was she Saunders for real, when was she Clyde, when was she acting, etc, but that might be a mystery they leave up to us to speculate over and I'm okay with that. It would be nice if we found out who Whiskey originally was though, even if it's no one significant. Just to know what she was like, her original.

I suspect there're some very worthwhile scenes on the cutting room floor for this season, especially from the past two eps.

[ edited by Kris on 2010-01-16 05:52 ]
It felt like Safe Haven was a place where you could RESIST being wiped after you took the cure. I'm not sure it was established that you could return someone to who they were if they were wiped and there was no "backup."

[ edited by recoil on 2010-01-16 05:52 ]
So - Boyd is Twilight?
I'm on the west coast and the episode is just starting, so I haven't read the comments yet and someone might have already mentioned this, but in the headline, twelfth is spelled incorrectly. Sorry, those things just drive me insane!
sonofyork
"I still don't understand what makes Caroline so special. Someone please explain this to me!!!"

It's the same as how small percentages of the population are immune/resistant to whatever diseases in real life. Boyd didn't seem to go into detail, just that her physical make-up was unique/promising. So, just her brain, I guess ? She had an MRI done when she was trying to help her cousin, so Rossum got a scan of her ? (watch that come up in "Epitaph 2"--we haven't gotten a thing about Caroline's parents/family. Was that them at the end of "Ghost", the ones the brown-haired, naked Alpha killed ? For a second, in that first scene of this ep, it was almost feeling like Boyd was gonna say they genetically engineered Caroline. But I think instead, Rossum/Boyd maybe influenced her anger at them, subtly set her on their trail, but nothing more. Just enough to corner her/have her alienate most of her friends & family with her obsession/proactiveness)

[ edited by Kris on 2010-01-16 06:01 ]
I think you're the first to point it out, Deanna_Lynne. :)
Clyde wouldn't give a shit about Topher being in love with Bennett - and a sleeper would have just carried out the murder right away.
To me, Whiskey killed Bennett out of her own tragic hatred for Topher.

Also

Never before have I really wished that a plot was stretched more.
That ep should have been two eps.
(neglecting the fact that, really, it should have been a few seasons)

GOD, we could have seen BadBoyd so much more developed.

I sympathised :(
I was sad, how the childlike, innocent doll was sacrificed to blow the building up.

I hope that the little girl in E1 is Boyd.
(I haven't seen E1 in ages, so there's probably something in it that makes my hope redundant)

This episode was GOOD, though. Nowhere near deserving of this level of criticism (I think anyway).

It just suffered from being rushed, both in terms of plot and in emotional resonance.
Not much anyone can do about that, really. It's nobody's fault.

Fran Kranz & Enver Gjokaj were as amazing as ever. Topher's line about having someone to shoulder some of the blame, asking whether he was in Victor's body, was both amusing and sad (seeing what Topher is reduced to in E1).
Well I don't know why there's such negative feedback for this episode on here but I absolutely loved it!

This was a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish. It just didn’t let it up and I was on the edge of my seat watching the entire thing. This episode touched me a lot, I really felt bad for Echo when she was on the verge of tears over Boyd’s betrayal and when Mellie killed herself! I wasn’t even a big fan of her but man was that a terrific scene. And I thought Tamaoh was so great with Paul’s reaction – especially when he meets Boyd in the halfway and he’s just in shock and disbelief

And does anybody else think it was really dark how Boyd was imprinted as a Doll and used to blow up the building!? I don’t know how I feel about that scene but it was such a sad end to a character I had loved throughout this entire show :(

And Amy Acker was wonderful as Clyde! It really did feel like a man in a woman's body and I thought the Echo/Clyde fight was awesome. But I wonder if Amy appears in the series finale because there's still a lot of unresolved issues with her character? She appears in E1 so she had to have survived the explosion and she's back to being Claire and had her scars removed! I wonder how they're going to explain all of that if this was her final episode?

And I LOVED the ending. I love that it was hopeful and the characters think they've won and then we're catapulted into the future and the apocalypse happened. They lost. The world ended. This wasn't a happy ever after.

Well this is it 1 more episode to go and then it's bye, bye Dollhouse. I'm so excited to see it but I also don't want it to end :(
Jackal said:
"Okay, so the plot stuff made little sense if you dig too deep..."

Which parts ? What did I miss ? Explain what made little sense instead of just saying so, perhaps other viewers can shed some light.

manreaction said:
"This episode was GOOD, though. Nowhere near deserving of this level of criticism (I think anyway)."

There isn't that high a level of criticism, it's just that many of the same negative-talkers are posting many times (the same as many of us do when we like an ep). It's all good, I have a feeling it'll even out over the night. There's no getting around that the ep just flew by, but...oh well, didn't bother me.

vampmogs said:
"Well I don't know why there's such negative feedback for this episode on here but I absolutely loved it!"

I loved it too, despite the two or three scenes or aspect I pointed out that were a bit weak/rushed or that I would've traded for something else. Some of the gripes above are way-legitimate, but some are sour grapes over not getting the answers expected/hoped for(premature ones at that--we still have Epitaph 2 to go folks, some of your questions may still be answered. Even posthumously for some characters, though I won't hold my breath for Boyd backstory and it might not be all that necessary).

More from vampmogs:
"And Amy Acker was wonderful as Clyde! It really did feel like a man in a woman's body"

Heh, I was watching to see, when she got up from the couch while talking to Adelle in the big boss office, if Amy had tried to affect a man's walk. I think maybe I noticed a change in her gait. I'll have to re-watch some day and check more closely for her body language.

It's perfectly plausible that they re-imprint Claire Saunders onto Whiskey (but unless they made a recent recording of Claire, none of the Claire imprint's memories will be intact, which is pretty sad). They'll need a doctor, someone useful for the team, someone they can trust.

Sucks that we might not get to see the immediate fallout over the assault on Rossum played out more extensively (I'm sure it would've been tense). Maybe we'll get snippets of it in "Epitaph 2".

[ edited by Kris on 2010-01-16 06:24 ]
I did mostly enjoy this episode, but I want to watch it again in the context of a completed series. I think I'll appreciate it even more then. I'm still trying to come to grips with strapping the grinning Boyd-doll with dynamite and telling him to walk into a room and pull a pin. Hm, maybe that *was* him being his best, though he would have had no way to realize the significance.

...On a different note, I wonder if there's any way that the BenBella books Dollhouse essay contest can be stretched out one more time, given that Dollhouse's finale schedule has been pushed back? :P
Just to confirm, the Dollhouse finale is on at 8/7c in two weeks time?
Simon, that's what the network broadcast in USA Central time, yep.
Kris, I was mostly referring to the Boyd twist, which didn't really work for me.

Having said that I did like a lot of the smaller moments -- Mellie's suicide, Boyd's death, Victor as Topher and any scene with Adelle.
This episode needed a rewrite or 12.

I loved Miracle's final scene. So, so sad.
The episode broke my heart. I don't know what else to say. Total betrayal.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2010-01-16 07:05 ]
I'm sort of stunned that people hated this episode. Everybody looooved that one with the serial killer and Victor as Kiki, which was close to being the epitome of a weak episode of Dollhouse.

This episode creates some problematic conflicts with "Epitaph One." Paul and Echo look basically the same ten years later. So it wasn't perfect. But I did think it was pretty great in general, and all of the story stuff makes absolute sense.
I'm on the "meh" team. Some great scenes, some good lines here and there, and always fun to see Enver be Enver, but more disappointments than rewards here for me. The highlights:

Are we supposed to believe that Whiskey was Clyde while she was hiding with Boyd? Or are we to believe that she, out of all the possible bodies/dolls available, was spirited from LA all the way to the home office just so Clyde could have that body? Before this ep I had no sense she was anything but Dr. Saunders. Gotta wonder if Boyd and Clyde have something going on. Otherwise, wouldn't Boyd be really pissed that Clyde picked his girlfriend to inhabit?

Also, if she's Clyde now that means that once again Amy Acker's personality was wiped clean and replaced with an evil one. Except this time it happened off camera, so we didn't even get to see her go.

Didn't buy Boyd. He's been too rational, too intelligent, too moral up till now, and his sudden slip into crazytown seemed forced. Might have helped if he had shown a little desperation over trying to bring things to a head before the tech got out there. He had to have known how the others would treat him and his plans -- he talked them out of morally questionable moves before -- so having him plead with them to see why his way was right would have been more fitting. How about some anger, even? We were never even really told whom he was racing against. His own company? Other dollhouses? The government? Who?

(I did love how he "cracked" the door security, though :) )

Why no mention of Alpha? He clearly had the same physiological thing as Caroline.

I was wincing through the spinal fluid scene. She was moving around an awful lot for someone getting spinal taps. How was she not paralyzed afterward, much less doing the crouching tiger thing?

Paul and Mellie went sent off on their own and I knew she was going to die somehow, it was telegraphed a mile away. (Me, if I were Ballard I'd have been screaming "There are three flowers in a vase! The first flower is red! No, dammit, um, second flower! Second flower!")

The lower budget was also more apparent here, much more so than in previous episodes. Bashing the server coolers was unimpressive, the explosion looked more like the Buffy high school explosion (complete with running star in front) and we didn't even get an exterior visual, just the tired heroes reacting and suddenly Echo/Caroline appearing on the sidewalk.

But what really bugged me was that we had this big buildup over integrating Caroline back with Echo. It's been the undercurrent for the whole season. Would Echo die? Would Caroline fight for control? Would they integrate, come to terms, become a new third person? What would we learn about the self, the soul?

Nothing, actually. What we got was a somewhat harsher Echo, a Caroline with skillz.

I was expecting something huge, like the superBuffy fighting Adam with ease at the end of S4 or the dramatic "everyone's a Slayer" end of S7. I expected a battle of wills or some sign that she's more than she was before. I wanted to see that even though she's the result of Boyd's machinations that she became more than he expected and more than he could plan for. I wanted to know that Echo and Caroline were working together, or maybe even that Caroline took over but then (mentally) stepped aside to let Echo emerge for the good of the mission.

Dammit, I wanted a triumphant or tragic (or both) emotional payoff for Echo, something to cap off the whole story, and I didn't get one, not at all.

What I got was her charging up and down empty halls, getting into fairly standard fights and muttering sullen defiance. Woo.

That's why I was disappointed.

[ edited by C. A. Bridges on 2010-01-16 07:09 ]
Everybody looooved that one with the serial killer and Victor as Kiki, which was close to being the epitome of a weak episode of Dollhouse.

I actually thought the serial killer episode was one of the best episodes, overall. In a stand alone sense.
I just remember being totally unsatisfied after the serial killer one, which seemed to me really standard despite some advancement of the remote wiping thing. One step forward, two steps back. But then "Belonging" came next. And that was like fifteen billion steps forward.
Well I really enjoyed this episode. It seemed a fitting end for Boyd, as someone above said, to fall on his own sword. Mellie's death was so sad but since she was willing to kill herself back in season one just because Paul dumped her, I guess it makes sense that she would kill herself to save him. The story was enjoyable and it's kind of bittersweet to see the team thinking they've won while knowing what's going to happen. All the Topher and Adelle scenes were just great as usual. And Enver is just simply amazing.

The biggest problem was just getting everything in line with Epitaph One. But I guess that's bound to happen with such a short amount of time to cover ten years. I just can't wait for Epitaph Two!
Honestly, what I would have liked to have seen was Caroline taking back her body, and then going through this ep without skills at all as she fights off the other personalities and deals with the fact that everyone likes Echo more than her. Let's see her emotional state after the horror she's been through and the mindrape she's undergone. Have her confess that she's afraid to stop fighting the other personalities because she might get lost. Then let Echo "talk" her around, and at the right dramatic moment Caroline could bravely "step back" to let Echo take over and save the day, or something along those lines.

I would have liked to see Caroline do something to acknowledge Echo.
C. A. Bridges
"We were never even really told whom he was racing against. His own company? Other dollhouses? The government? Who?"

Scarier thought than the whole "I-want-to-destroy-the-world/control/play-god first" line of Boyd's ? What if no one was working on the kind of tech that Rossum (and whatever other group of companies fall under Rossum) created ? What if Boyd's own paranoia led him to this ? An unnecessary catastrophe of his own making. *shudder* But even if that's the case, if you challenged him on it, he'd probably say that all this was a "just in case" in his defence, a lunatic contingency plan.

"Why no mention of Alpha? He clearly had the same physiological thing as Caroline"

Did he though ? As seen in "Omega", he sure wasn't dealing all that well with them, not as fluidly/capably as Echo has. The show seemed to imply that his stalker-of-women/wanting-to-cut-them-up tendencies from his original self were strong enough that they carried over to his wiped/doll state. He became the self-aware Alpha only after the "composite event"/multiple-personality-dump-mistake and was incredibly unstable. Besides the fact that Rossum apparently can't catch him, would they even really want him for their purposes ? Even if he's almost like Caroline (special spine fluid), doesn't seem like his body is as effective at adapting/dealing with imprints.

Re: Paul and Mellie's trigger
Seemed like the trigger was programmed to only respond to Adelle's voice (I know drugged-Adelle and Topher were worried about November herself saying it in "Echoes", but either they were just paranoid that she might be able to self-trigger, or they re-programmed it to only respond to Adelle after the incident in "Echoes"). That's why Boyd had to threaten her, then thought of pulling up the "Man on the Street" spy recording from Paul's apartment. Otherwise Boyd could've said it over the intercom himself.

I really hope we get more Echo/Caroline dilemma in the finale as well. Maybe they saved it for a big meaty flashback/chair-memory scene because it's one of the big moments in the series that needs to close things out.

There's still time for many different resolutions that we didn't get here. In the same way that "Epitaph 1" touched on different moments in time and even a memory of a dream, "Epitaph 2" could pay off a lot of things that've been building, but happened before 2019/2020.

Sorry I'm taking up so much posting space tonight guys. I almost always work late on a Friday night, so I don't get to watch the episode until Saturday or Sunday, I miss out on the same-day discussion. Just excited/enthusiastic is all.

[ edited by Kris on 2010-01-16 07:32 ]
I'm definitely in the "meh" camp, but I've realized it's because I wanted so much more. And not from this episode, but from the series. That the writers couldn't fit the quality of storytelling growth and maturity into one episode is disheartening only because I wish they didn't only have one episode.
Re: negative feedback - I've been watching this board and forums long enough that it seems to me that when episodes like this are made, whether they are loved or hated ultimately depend on how the story was broken. Most finales end up with plot holes as a product of cramming too much into too little time. They are almost always exposition and plot heavy because they're resolving something.

To be fair, there has never been a Joss Whedon series finale that I've loved (I liked Not Fade Away and Objects In Space doesn't count since it wasn't meant to be a finale) because they always feel forced to me. Probably because he builds his series on subtlety and character interaction and then always tries to end epically. It has always felt "off" to me (the uncreative viewer). That's not the point here, but just to point out that I don't feel this episode is entirely different in that regard.

I truly feel part of the reaction to this episode in particular is more about the story lines people wanted to see. Boyd turned out to be a sociopath with psychopathic tendencies. Saunders coming out party was cut short without fanfare or care that was a shade harsher than Anya. Paul was just Paul. Echo wasn't really a big factor. She was the main character, but she didn't have a "moment." Priya, Anthony, and Dewitt were just kind of there.

Mellie died, but I'm not even sure what the writers want me to think about Paul's feelings for Mellie so its hard to care a great deal while watching. As I wrote about Paul last year and even the first part of this year, I think the scene would have worked. That is, make it unambiguously clear that Paul has feelings for Mellie/Madeline. But if the writers intended this, they didn't lead up to this point well enough for it to be effective. And if it wasn't dramatically effective, its only point was to connect the dots with Epitaph One which quite frankly could have been done without screen time.

This, although it's the pentultimate episode of the series, IS the finale of the storyline we've been watching. And somehow I felt like the emotional core of everything was just sucked out.

Still, things I did like.

1) No Boyd nice guy cop-out. The idea to make him secretly work for good (even in a self serving manner) might have been clever, but it's also an easy alternative to making people actually feel betrayal.

2) Saunders as Clyde for a spell. Towards the end it wore off, but Amy was great again.

3) The one-liners.

It wasn't bad, but it didn't seem up to standard. I still enjoyed it.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-01-16 07:52 ]
I thought it was a mostly great episode. I do agree that we need more Claire/Whiskey/Clyde exposition, but perhaps it was Amy's lack of availability, not storyline inadequacies, that prompted it. As for Boyd, I bought ninety percent of it. He is insane. And hopefully Caroline/Echo's moment will come in E2, because that is a BIG part of the story overall. Thanks Joss and company, for a great ride!
Also, someone asked about why Fazekas and Butters (sorry for spelling incorrectly) were writing this episode. Didn't they take over show running duties for Craft and Fain? Or was it they just took over their writers spots?
I think that with the last episode being so tremendously amazing, that this episode kind of pale's in comparison. What I'm not clear on is which of the identities in Caroline's head is the dominant one (Echo or Caroline). I'm guessing that is something to be revealed in Epitaph 2. I rather liked this episode though, despite it's shortcomings and I can't wait for the next episode.
Re: C.A. Bridges. They didn't have time for that. There are so many more things the writers could have dont, but right now they needed to get us to some sense of closure.

I'm more upset to realize exactly how naive all of our beloved characters are. I don't know how any of them at the end of this could have thought the war was over.

THEY DIDN"T SUCCEED at stopping the apocalypse and here is how:

A. The Dollhouses all still exist. Yes, Boyd is evil and the head of the company. But he is the only one who knows the truth of the direction the tech is going as well. There are many other minions below him who don't have this knowledge but still have the TECH, the Dolls, and the evil impulses to rule the world. The cut the head off a monster who can grow three in it's place.. good thinking.

B. Destroying the mainframe - blowing up the center as they did, would NOT have destroyed the mainframe. It looked stupid because it was stupid to think this would succeed. I'm only upset that all of these smart people thought it WOULD.

C. Destroying the tech - Hello! Of course the other dollhouses would be working on fixing the remote mind-wiping tech. Boyd would have gone everywhere else to fix before trying to re-convince Topher to do it for him. The plans are everywhere by this point and it's only a matter of time before they fix it.

D. Getting the cure- Echo already went through the pain. Why wouldn't they keep the spinal fluid JUST IN CASE?

I'm disappointed because there was no time to show a more believable way for our beloved characters to epic-ly FAIL. That they couldn't have done it in a more intelligent "trying to cover all loose ends but still let one slip" way.

*and yes I would have liked more closure for Whiskey/Claire
**I'm gonna have to go back and watch for that Caroline/Adelle connection.

However, I am still looking forward to the finale.
I can accept that perceptions and opinions of Boyd and other points differ. It worked for some, didn't work for me, and not because he was the bad guy. I loved the end of the last episode, and I was hoping they wouldn't cop out and make him a secret good guy. But I wanted a believable reason besides just "he's psychotic" since he showed absolutely no sign of it in the last two seasons and was, in fact, the moral center of the show, the most perceptive, the most empathic. I wanted to be amazed at the compelling plan behind his actions, but I simply could not accept that he would be so blind to how his actions would look to his "family."

But the lackluster resolution of the Echo/Caroline story was simply criminal. Her story in both seasons led to this, and there was no emotion to it at all. And it had to happen here, now, when Caroline was finally returned to her body. That's when Echo was potentially sacrificing herself, that's when we finally found out what would happen to both women. Only we didn't.

I am still eager to see the next episode, mainly because it's by Mo and Jed and I trust them to blow my mind in all the ways that this episode didn't.
C. A. Bridges,

Well, Echo was drugged and then had to fight to save her friends and the world. Caroline was not in control. I think Echo was running the body the whole time and using Caroline's memories etc.

Now that the whole is saved, there will be time to "meet" Caroline.

C. A. Bridges, sounds like a great opportunity for some fan-fiction writing.
Re: C.A. Bridges. They didn't have time for that.

They should have made some, then. Trim the girlfight. Cut back on the Victopher lines. Among all the various storylines we had going, the most compelling, the reason for the whole show, was Echo becoming Echo and what would happen to her when Caroline was brought back, as we knew she would be.

She should have woken up as Caroline, remained Caroline (which would have been an excellent way to get the needed exposition in since she'd need to be brought to speed), and dealt with the disappointment of the others who really would have preferred that Echo stay.

You know what I would have loved to see? Caroline asking someone what Echo was like. Eliza could have acted the shit out of that scene.

Or something else entirely. One thing this show has been good at, the last episodes especially, is coming up with plot twists that caught me, the jaded watcher, completely off guard yet still remained, in retrospect, completely believable. I just didn't expect them to not address it at all.

[ edited by C. A. Bridges on 2010-01-16 07:57 ]
At stopping the apocalypse, it is just like the Terminator movies/show without that pesky time-travel stuff. All they did was delay the apocalypse.
One thing this show has been good at, the last episodes especially, is coming up with plot twists that caught me, the jaded watcher, completely off guard yet still remained, in retrospect, completely believable. I just didn't expect them to not address it at all.

That means they still caught you completely off guard! ;-)
Well I really enjoyed this episode quite a lot! I liked all the new moments between the characters that we've never had before, and I thought the whole thing was pretty cool. It wasn't quite the satisfying end that I was hoping for though, so the next episode better do it, as Joss has been almost crystal clear that this world won't continue.
The were moments I liked-- Boyd's ending was good, and fitting-- but overall it felt too rushed and not quite cohesive. Other than Boyd's moment, no other great character moments stand out to me.
C.A. Bridges

You have won me over. I REALLY WANT that line. "What was Echo like?"

But then I JUST WANT MORE DOLLHOUSE. period.
Hmm. Okay. Hmm. So this was clearly a loose ends episode. Forgive the convoluted metaphor, but it felt like calling your ex and saying all the right things to create some sense of closure, but not having much of anything real to back it up. Does that make sense? I think it will take me a little more time to form cohesive thoughts, but my first impression is that it could have seriously used both a stronger foundation of subtext and much, much cleaner dialogue (and sparklier? Shinier? Something of the like). So the middle was good, the outline. Hmm.
Well, truthfully it is not uncommon that a psychopath can mimic normal behavior. So the idea that Boyd needs to be displaying "tells" wouldn't be psychologically valid. There are psychopaths that you can see coming, but honestly its a term that gets used easily is a pejorative directed at people who are socially misguided and may or may not be actual psychopaths. In fact, that use is so common that if someone isn't killing someone or torturing animals, most people couldn't tell you what an actual psychopath is. The term is used for everything from extreme OCD to social retardation these days.

Which is one reason I find this portrayal actually interesting. Most psychopaths do their damage in society because a majority of people can't see the difference. The fundamental difference being a lack of real empathy. That's NOT to say that they don't understand what empathy is or that they can't project it if they find it useful.
I'm confused as to why they scan the Rossum building at the end to find no traces of destruction
Although I won't argue anyone who says the storyline doesn't work for them. I just don't want psychopathy getting too broad a definition. I'm a psychological term obsessive compulsive.
I'm confused as to why they scan the Rossum building at the end to find no traces of destruction.

Yeah, no kidding. That was a hell of a lot of C4.

Also, the press releases can kiss the curb, IMO. Do NOT promise me a Reed Diamond and expect me to forget about it when one doesn't show up...
Finally was able to watch it. No time to read this entire thread, but I did skim a bit. I just wanted to say that, like the episode or not, everyone be proud that the cast and crew were eating yummy cake in between shots of that parking lot scene near the beginning of the episode!

Also, for anyone waiting for me to give out that clue... What I thought for sure it was, it wasn't, and now I'm worried that it may yet be something that is revealed in E2, so I'm afraid to give away the location. I'm gonna try to confirm that whatever it is, it's been in an aired episode, and then I'll tell everyone where it is. And I guarantee at that point it'll be anti-climactic!
If I was editing this episode, I would have ended during Echo's running away from the explosion.
Kind of a clunky episode (although I'm not going to call it the "finale" until I see Epitath 2.) Honestly, it just felt rushed, which frankly, it was. I feel like they were trying to fit 22 episodes worth of storyline into 13 episodes, and the Boyd stuff especially could have been served by a little breathing room. I actually find the idea of it very emotionally resonant.

The idea that the show's "rock" is the main villain isn't a new idea, but his reasoning might be. He doesn't seem to be making the technology out of some misguided attempt at power, rather he seems to believe that the technology will get out there either way, and he wants to be able to protect himself, and the people he cars about, his "family" if you will. I don't really see it as "kill the world and carry around the cure", but ratheran attempt to survive the inevitable. It is very clear that even after taking out Rossum's main computers, the technology gets out there, and I wouldn't really be surprised if they showed that it was another company's responsibility.

What really worked for me was Echo whimpering that she loved him, and turning Boyd into a "doll" who kills himself. Also since they knew at the start of this season this was the direction he was going in, watching how he pushes Adelle and Topher through their own crisis' just seems even more twists, almost like a game that he plays to see if he was right to "choose them."

Unfortunately, with so little screen time, we got the really clumsy version of this, rather than the compelling, kind of twisted version. I guess I'm just content to fill in the blanks in my head. All in all though, terrific season so far. I loved this show.

[ edited by rabid on 2010-01-16 08:52 ]
The only part of this episode I really disliked was the act break where Boyd says "I love you guys." That seemed too weak and unexplained, even after the break - and I/we were forced to sit through 3 minutes of commercials before we got something to wash it down with.

I also thought the Echo outrunning explosions bit was cheesy, its editing poor. However, I am quite glad to see that the building wasn't shown exploding hugely. Reinforced steel buildings don't collapse from one explosion, and it's uncertain that one would even see much effect on the outside if the explosion were set in a room at the center of the building, as the computer room's circular shape would suggest.

To conclude on a lighter note:
. . . in the headline, twelfth is spelled incorrectly. Sorry, those things just drive me insane!
Deanna_Lynne

Twelfth doesn't have a correct spelling, honestly; even when it's right, it's so, so wrong.

I still don't understand what makes Caroline so special. Someone please explain this to me!!!

sonofyork | January 16, 05:12 CET


midichlorians.
I liked enough things about the episode to overlook the things that didn't quite gel. Claire knew everything about her past with Topher when talking to Bennett so I have to assume she was imprinted with Clyde after arriving in Tuscon, however it is that she got there. Whatever the case, I believe Boyd was using her just as he used the others. She was likely unaware of his master plan, which makes the whole "I have to wait" thing much more depressing.
If I was editing this episode, I would have ended during Echo's running away from the explosion.


I really liked the "did we save the world?" "looks that way" exchange, then cutting to them in the future when everything is messed up. I thought it was good.
I wasn't crazy about the "Did we save the world?" because it seemed sooo obvious that they didn't. And not just because we the audience were blessed with E1-vision. I understand how they didn't see the thoughtpocalypse coming until Clyde told them about it, but it seemed really obvious that blowing up one little Rossum lab would not uninvent the tech, or destroy the bajillions of back-up Clydes and Boyds that must be stored all over the world, or any number of other kinks in the world-saving garden hose. I think they would have just been happy to make it out alive.
Well, I especially liked it for those who weren't familiar with Epitaph 1. It set up the finale in a way that will not be totally surprising to people who don't follow as closely as we do.
That's true Jayrock, the little 2020 tag does set it up just enough.

Another thing- possibly my favorite part of the show is how it handled character arcs in such a short run, the emphasis on moral decay and development and how they’re tied together. And it seems like there was a lot of room for that to play into this episode, and it really didn’t. I’m thinking about how we saw Victopher again, but what was clearly an earlier version of Topher, and then in the other scenes we have the current Topher, with all he’s seen and done. And in that vein, there was Clyde 15(?).0 in all his evil glory- I mean, he was pretty diabolical considering it was said he was originally programmed without ambition. I’m not calling foul, I just think the Clydes have evolved and that could be so cool! Compare DiaboliClyde to the original Clyde, who has spent ages brooding over his own actions and their probable consequences. I wish they would have found a way to highlight that type of thing, just a little bit, among all the crazy exposition and knotting of loose ends.
Am I the only one who thought that Topher was doing a remote *wipe* of Boyd rather than a remote *program*? Were we told that Boyd had never previously body-jumped, a la Clyde? I just assumed that Boyd had imprinted himself into this body a good while back, but that it wasn't the original, so there was an imprint to wipe. Because otherwise, this means that not only was Boyd's real personality wiped, but that a Doll personality, complete with the "Did I fall asleep?" protocol line, was zapped into him. It had never before seemed to me as though the Doll state itself was an imprint, but rather what happened when the original personality was gone and had not been replaced. If there's no imprint, Topher can't put it in.
Boyd wasn't a doll, this is proven in season 1. But Topher did do a remote wipe on him, you just don't need to be put in the chair for that to happen anymore as anyone can be wiped now with that handy device.
Am I late in noting that this episode looked EXACTLY LIKE BUFFY! It's not a bad thing, but Echo running from the explosion looked just like a certain scene with a certain Giant Snake and a certain explosion in a lovely little town called Sunnydale.
I don't know. I didn't hate it, but everything involving Boyd in this episode just feels wrong somehow. I think this is another one of those times where I care a lot about one of Joss' characters and feel like they were taken in an unnatural, contrived direction.

I can see Boyd believing he's doing the right thing by playing them. Making dark moral choices. But like this? And with that resolution?

Am I the only one who thinks the one who handed him the bomb was more Caroline than Echo?
Yeah, for sure peachgirldb. It's not that it's implausible, it was just written, uh, less than plausibly. And I think it's pretty understandable, given the circumstances. Just can't help wishing we'd gotten a little more.

Ugh, I swear, I did like the episode, contrary to the last few negative posts, haha, I'm just a bit let down.
It pains me to say it, but there were parts of the episode where I cringed. I don't think that's ever quite happened to me with an ME show (well, except for Cordelia saying "Give mama some sugar" to The Beast. Yikes). Some -- not all -- of the dialogue I thought was pretty bad. And was it just me, or was that scene with Priya and Anthony almost painfully bad when they make their way to the chair and Anthony decides to hop in it. What?! Strangely nonsensical, that was. And the super-fast, kinda unsatisfyingly unexplained wrapping up of stuff. Caroline is special how now? And the Big Bad Crazy Boyd thing. Too facile and plot-forced, for me. The best creepy character reveals get you thinking, oh yeah, I actually could believe it all along. This, not so much. For me, anyway. Wow. This is very unusual for me. I almost never have such a negative reaction to an ME production. Huh.

Oh, there was good stuff, too. And really, It can't be easy to wrap this super-complicated sucker up so quickly.

Hey, it ain't over until the fat lady sings, so who knows what will end up being explained in the last hour
Boo. Most, if not all of that could have been done better.

The plot was utter pants. Where was the texture? Where was the human element? Where were the themes that made the show so good? Adelle? Wasted. Saunders? Wasted. WHY?! *sob* Boyd's character shift totally sold out the "scary villain is the one with conviction" premise that Joss does so well, and instead turned a great character into a pantomime crazy bad guy. And what is it with the writers being incapable of creating good origin personas? Victor and Priya were knocked flat by exposition (despite Enver and Dichen's best efforts). The only bits that made me perk up were the in-jokes about Paul's character and my conditioned love response to Topher.

I am seriously disappointed. I can totally see this joining the caveat of my Dollhouse pitch: "Well it's worth watching the whole thing, but the first 5 episodes kind of suck, then it gets a lot better, and it goes utterly stellar in season 2 (apart from a disturbing lactating episode). The ending kind of sucks though. You might just want to stop watching the DVDs when they finally reach earth the attic."


ETA: Apologies for that "conditioned love response" line. Somehow that managed to sound even worse than "man reaction". Certainly not what I intended...

[ edited by curlymynci on 2010-01-16 11:40 ]
Right up there with the back singer episode and the one with the hunting. That is sad.
The ending kind of sucks though. You might just want to stop watching the DVDs when they finally reach earth the attic."

Hehe, the advice I sent to a friend and fellow TV nerd who is caught up to episode ten was "Watch 2.11, let your brain shudder and explode, then sit and think about all the unbridled potential for awhile. Now poor yourself a very tall drink and watch 2.12 like a very nice Fringe stand alone." A little dramatic, maybe, but it's what I wish I would have done.
This ep may have been a bit clunky, especially compared to the really excellent eps this season, but IMO it couldn't be more obvious that the reason is the rush job to tie up all the loose ends. And make everything jibe with E1.

When you consider that E1 was made when Joss & Co. had every reason to believe that there would be no season 2, I think they've done an admirable job of providing mostly excellent eps for a season they didn't really expect to happen, and a story line that leads into E1, in a time frame that needed a bare minimum of another (full length) season, to have done it real justice.

My only major problem was with the dialog - although not even that was all bad and in fact, had some excellent zingers. But the new guys just don't have the knack that the old ME hands have, with dialog. As to why someone else didn't write this one, who knows - it could even be a contractual issue.

As for the "did we save the world?" carping, I think it was a perfectly understandable reaction, given the circumstances. I see it as 'shock and trauma = denial'. They have to know that they're far from out of the woods. So it makes sense to me that the only way to deal with what they've just been through, and mentally re-group for whatever they'll be facing next, is a moment of "we're going to be OK".

I had no problem with the Boyd as a sociopath explanation for his behavior. Which I believe is a more correct psychological term that psychopath, for his type of mental disorder. (Alpha is the classic psychopath). My only problem is that of all the truncated story lines, this is IMO the one that suffered most from lack of time to develop.
That being said, Henry Lenox did an excellent job with the material. And the 'Boyd becomes a suicide bomber doll', was a nicely done piece of poetic justice.

Looking forward to the final ep, with much sadness. Not for two weeks? I didn't catch that.

ETA: Oh - it's because of the telethon for Haiti on most networks, on the 22nd. Certainly can't complain about that.

[ edited by Shey on 2010-01-16 11:50 ]
I would like to add some positive reactions before I turn in (sorry if these are just echoes- I read the thread, I swear! Just still processing the episode)-

More praise for the Boyd resolution. Even though it seemed like an obvious choice logically, I found it truly affective and poignant, I'm not even sure why just yet. Pretty moving.

The whole cast. Especially our Old Reliables, but everyone was really very good, I think, even those with less than compelling dialogue to sell.

And even if Victor was imprinted with an awful, molar-grindingly crap actor, it would be okay because Enver is very, very pretty and ninja skills suit him.

Adelle saying "Really?" I love a subtle nod to the fact that Adelle and Victor have slept together on several occasions, and only one of them remembers it. How does she say things like that and stay classy? As an American, it is beyond me.

All the Topher one-liners. Thoughtpocalypse is brilliant.

Okay, I think that's all for now.
The backlash really is surprising to me. I really liked the episode, it didn't twist actually anything (since that was all done by the previous two) it was just catching the already thrown touchdowns in a nice and reasonable manner.

Re: Boyd, I don't get the psychopath angle at all. Going back to the theory we discussed already after last week's reveal (seems like my gf really gets this show ;), he really is thinking of this little resistance cell as his family, since they are the only way to survive the apocalypse. Really, it's just logical thinking. He loves this guys. And to say that doesn't resonate at all with what with seen so far... "family" was THE buzz-word/undercurrent trope of all of season 2. "Vows", "Instinct" and "Belle Chose" set that up a long time ago. There were subtleties and layers all over the place in his storyline.

Re: writing. Seems like this one will become another "Haunted". Remember back during Season 1, when everyone was like "Stage Fright was the worst of the bunch"? When "Haunted" came people were pointing to J-Mo for the bad stuff (since they became fan-favs only after E1 and Belonging), not a word on Jane Espenson. Now it's Fazekas & Butters that are in the focus of critique, although Tracy Bellomo is right there with them in the credits, but she seems to be immune to the bad because she's written "Needs" and "The Left Hand". Just sayin', be fair as to where to put the blame.

I can only say that I found plenty of human element and resonating connections in this ep, and minor stuff might be missing out of time constraints (a Claire-timeline will probably only emerge after a careful rewatch). I also don't quite get why everyone is waiting/hoping for the Caroline/Echo-thing. "Omega" had them come head to head. I don't know what should be said about them now.
Rushed, weakly written in spots, with budget limitations hurting the execution, but certainly not the epic fail that some think, at least for me.

Boyd wasn't made into a good guy, which gave me a happy. I don't think he was a psychopath either. Sociopathic tendencies I buy. And like many a Whedon villain, he was right about crucial things - the tech was unstoppable and Echo/Caroline as an anti-virus was the best hope for surviving the apocalypse. He had genuine, if in a Mayor Wilkins-like way, affection for them too. He planned to save them all, Cutting off the Rossum head was never going to work and he knew it.

In fact, I could see them end up actually implementing Boyd's plan at Safe Haven by inoculating everybody, just not the Rossum bigwigs. But I agree the writers should have come up with a better initial plan for the proto-scoobies' to fail with. It made them seem uncharacteristically stupid, although maybe they were going with Echo/Caroline's plans always are ill-thought- out, Paul's not that bright and Adelle was too busy improvising to think clearly? After all, the time between The Attic, when they found out what was going on, and the events in this ep were a matter of a couple of days at most. But none of that was brought out enough.

The Caroline and Echo face-off still could occur in E2, but its place was here, I agree. If they don't deal with it at all, that's going to badly damage the ending for me, but we shall see.

Fran should have been showing Topher unravelling more. There should have been real devastation underneath his surface functioning, especially since the writers didn't give him much to verbalize. I didn't see enough of it, anyway. Thought Enver's Topher was good, but maybe too manic. Although since it was a pre-traumatized Topher imprint, that was acceptable to me. And bad-ass Anthony was great. I also bought him getting in the chair in the first plsce. It was in character for him. He's the do-that guy. Everybody else was competent to good, but they were hampered by the writing I think.

I am trying various fanwanks on Whiskey's story. Claire killed Bennett for her own reasons, then got sent for by Boyd - she's family too - and had Clyde downloaded into her for some reason, such as freaking out over who Boyd was. Or maybe Clyde took over months ago and we got our first male (most of the time) gay couple in the Whedonverse. Or Clyde took over after Boyd left Claire, wiped her, and somehow downloaded into her. Then he used her to get into the Dollhouse after the other Rossum people had been killed in order to prevent the Caroline wedge from being restored. But I'm having to do all this fanwanking because who the hell knows?

The second-string writing team who got the nod for this episode were doing it because it was their turn, no? People are assigned eps and taking them out of the rotation just because the show's been canceled and there should be a heavyweight in there to wrap things up isn't collegial, I guess. And it may very well have been a contractual thing too.

[ edited by shambleau on 2010-01-16 12:07 ]
Dear Joss,

in the next episode could you please explain who Whiskey was and what's her relation to Topher? Thanks in advance.

And, for the love of the gods, STOP KILLING WOMEN AS SOON AS SOMEONE LOVES THEM!!!

It was already one time too many when you did that to Tara!
rabid said:
I guess I'm just content to fill in the blanks in my head.
This is about how I feel about it. There are plenty of very valid criticisms here, but I thought it actually wrapped things up very well, especially when you consider just how many loose threads there were.

shambleau said:
I don't think he was a psychopath either. Like many a Whedon villain, he was right about crucial things

Oh, definitely. He's selfish, and a little bit crazy (but who wouldn't be once you believe that the end of the world is inevitable) and he probably had to be a bit evil to be a founder of Rossum in the first place - I'm assuming his realization came later - but he's not just an insane villain-for-the-sake-of-villainy.
Well, twists don't bother me at all as long as they're honest. That is pretty true to life, after all, the fact that we can never really know a guy. The harshest 180 is fine by me if there's something to back it up. In this instance, I think there is enough to back it up, but it takes a lot of inference and speculation, and the follow up that was this entire episode was not particularly artful.

Re: writing- Needs and Instinct are two of my three least favorite episodes, post-the notorious first five. Haunted had a lot of positive qualities, plus Jane had Briar Rose and Buffy/Angel/Gilmore Girls/BSG cred on her side. Bellomo has one ep (I really, really did not like the Needs script). Fazekas & Butters have Instinct and Law and Order SVU. Yeah. I've got blame aplenty, perhaps too much. But that should be weighted against the Jed-Mo example, as you pointed out- I can't get behind Stage Fright at all, but E1 and Belonging might be my faves of the series. This show has gravity-defyingly fantastic writers, all of whom take an occasional misstep (has anyone gone without a sub-par episode? Lucky Jenny DeArmitt with her one awesome Love Supreme...). I'm going to reserve pretty much all of my dissatisfaction with this ep for all three writers, but then again, the task at hand was damn near impossible...

I'm with you on Claire and Echo/Caroline. Did not really care to hear a Whiskey backstory- thought that was kind of the point of a self-realized Dr. Saunders. And I think Echo/Caroline was lacking, but only by a sentence or two. If this episode had been dominated by another "Caroline is the second freakin coming" A-story, I would have been physically angered. Just a little conclusive dialogue would have made me happy.

Okay, sorry I lied, off to bed.
I loved all the Rossum logos and such in the building. Neato!
I never understood why they pulled Mellie/November back into the DH when they were releasing the other dolls. Now it is clear it was done so that she could kill herself, thus causing Paul angst. Fortunately, that was quickly resolved... as we can see by the hairpin turn of dialogue: "What did I miss?". Many character's voices were a bit 'off' in this episode and IMHO crushed the necessary suspension of disbelief for the plot points (as one example, patients undergoing lumbar punctures in my hospital are rarely dressed in quite so fetching a manner nor are they capable of kicking ass within minutes after the procedure). And I had SO fallen in love with this show this season - hence my disappointment.
My take on the episode: I thought it was good.

1.) They sold me on the Boyd-twist. It was not perfect and I'm not particularly excited about this twist, because his character was my favorite from the beginning, but they did make it work to an extend. I also think Boyd's affection for his team was honest, but I don't think he anticipated just how much he would grow attached to them, when he started his plan. That's also how I explain his flashbacks in "The Target", where he doesn't think of Actives as real people and tries to stay detached. I don't buy him as a psycho, I don't think he's mentally unstable and I don't think he's just a villain, he's just extremely selfish and smart. He wants to have power over the tech, control it and he knows he can't save anybody, therefore he only wants to save those who seem worthy of surviving.

2.) I don't care for Whiskey's backstory honestly. I think it would be great to keep it a mystery. I do care however about Claire's journey from the beginning of this season to where she ended up in this episode. Sadly, I don't think we'll see that journey.

3.) How they explained why Caroline is special and how she became a doll made sense to me.

4.) Disliked Mellie overcoming her programme which seemed like a cheap storytelling device to have her kill herself for shock value.

5.) Loved everything related to Paul, Topher, Adele, Sierra and Victor in this episode.

6.) Sadly not enough time for Caroline vs. Echo.
Last week episode was hard to top, it was really good though, the present timeline is over, one episode left, I'm already sad about it, I hope Joss will keep his promise to announce what's next "by the time dollhouse ends" so I can have something to look forward to
Hmmm. Looks like Joss et al stirred up the fandom. Seems like Tuesday :D

[ edited by buffywrestling on 2010-01-16 14:21 ]
I don't think joss promised he would do that.
Yeah come to think of it, i don't think he promised anything either, but I really remember reading a purple post saying that we'd know by the time dollhouse ends, I think it was the post following the cancellation announcement
That's it "I'm off to pursue internet ventures/binge drinking. Possibly that relaxation thing I've read so much about. By the time the last episode airs, you'll know what my next project is. But for now there's a lot of work still to be done, and disappointment to bear."
Aye, he posted saying we'll know what the next project is. I'm not gonna hold him to it though cos, hey, Hollywood.
Well, I am in the meh camp. There are some things I don't get. For example, if Boyd was the head of Rossum, and if this technology really worried him, seems he might have other options than to do what he did. You know, like, shut the operation down or something. Take out Clyde. But this option? Makes. No. Sense.

But here is my biggest problem. At the end, are we supposed to see Adelle and Topher as good guys? And Echo/Caroline as a hero? Adelle was involved in human trafficking and knew it and did not do anything about it. Topher was completely amoral about what he was doing, and his angst at the end about the limits of what he was doing made no sense, because if was that smart he would certainly have known the potential in the technology and how it would be used. He was the one who created much of it to begin with. His angst is not earned. And Echo? Let's see; she was a terrorist, she actually killed Boyd by design, and she is the hero? This is not Buffy, and Boyd is not a demon; he's human, and killing him is fairly meaningless anyway since there are so many other hims out there, I would guess. And that is not a way to excuse her killing a real human body with a real intelligence in it. She is a murderer. So, I cannot see her as a hero.

Anthony getting in that chair made no sense to me. They know what that chair does, and they know they cannot trust anyone, and for all they know, that persona that is getting loaded is one that would do real harm. Makes no sense to take that chance in that situation.

That is the dumbest spinal tap machine I have ever seen. I know this is a quibble of a large degree, but the needles are too far apart, they are not adjustable, and you can't just lower someone down like that. There is a precision to do doing a tap. But hey, that's just me.

And like above, I am tired of a character death just after declaring love. That is getting very old, as is the spray of blood on a face and body after someone dies. And this one was so meaningless to the tale. Shock value. That Joss, he killed Mellie!

My one prediction for this episode did not come true. I thought we would find out there was someone above Boyd. Unless we see that in 2 weeks, I picked wrong this time.

If Echo was so important and they needed her spinal fluid to make antibodies ( science which, BTW, makes no sense whatsoever, so much so that to me this is a macguffin), why not just take some during dolltime? Send Whiskey over to get it. Once you have it, you can synthesize it. Because Boyd said they did not really need Echo alive. I assume that was because if she were just dead they could still get some to make more, because if she was really long dead, they could not get anything at all. Why wait so long for this, to a time where it is essential? Makes no sense.
Boyd's plan made sense to me, once you take into account that he thought that any shortcut (like for instance shutting down the corporation) would essentially only delay the inevitable, but more importantly take away the very technology and environment he needed to nurture the resistance cell. He cannot shortcut that. He needs a chair and a working Dollhouse to nurture Echo, to see her grow, to find people willing to be okay with that and people willing to fight Rossum once it gets hot. Once it's clear that Echo won't get along with his plan, he can obviously kill her and still take her fluid - he will have to build his ark without her, but he still got what he needed to do it. And the only way to do it was through this long-year strategy. Makes sense to me.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2010-01-16 14:42 ]
Just wanted to say that I enjoyed it. I especially liked:

1) Giving Anthony the vamp up (although I would have loved it if Priea had the "upgrade" too.) I liked this as it played into my desire to see them both at the heart of the action.

2) I cried when Mellie turned the gun on herself. I understood from the moment I saw her last week that the reason she was coming with was as a weapon. I just didn't know who was going to kill who.

3) Enver as Topher - good to see that again and once again played brilliantly by the wonderous Enver.

4) Boyd's explaination. Even when someone becomes responsible for starting the exploration into technology that can end humanity he STILL wanted to have people with him at the end. Twisted and I thought played well. Sure we could have had Boyd as trying to destroy Rossum as it fell out of his control and went "evil", therefore making him back into the "good" guy, but I bought him as the twisted individual that I saw at the end.

5) Topher. Full stop. Clapped and cheered when he wiped Boyd.

6) The fact that Caroline didn't overtake Echo.

7) Amy as Clyde 2.0 - totally bought it.
Could someone please reassure me that Adele did not say "Cor blimey!" when Boyd and drugged E/C drove up to the parking garage? I really hope I misheard.
Hey, I said that. Once. It's cool, I'm British too.
I'm a little perplexed by the spinal fluid explanation for why Caroline is so special. I get that there was something in her blood that interested Rossum. But how did they know, or guess, that this would lead to her being able to resist imprints? And when did they ever check her spinal fluid to find this super-special chemical? It's not that I want a whole lot of monologue-ing to explain every detail but, given how exposition-heavy this episode was, a throw-away line or two might have been helpful (to me, anyway).
At that very moment, my face mirrored Olivia Williams' look of disgust.
Ozjenny> it was hinted at in the mention of Caroline being tested for bone marrow compatability. There's a comprehensive explanation upthread too.
I felt the writing was clunky as well and the Echo/Clyde fight badly done . It also seemed very dark there and I wonder if it was to make it easier/faster when using their stunt doubles.
However, I think we do have an answer to Whiskey's scars. I'm assuming that Clyde gets them fixed.
Boyd getting wiped confused me because of the "Did I fall asleep" line. It seems unlikely that a non-Doll would say that but I see it now as shorthand to the audience. We recognize it as a Doll response so understand that he is wiped.
Well, Boyd's mindset sure does give new meaning to "family values."
Lioness, why would Team Echo allow Clyde to keep roaming around in Claire's body? Topher mentions that he took Saunders body out of the Tucson HQ, and E1 suggests that Claire will be back. So it makes sense that they give Saunders back her personality, and fix the scars.
The posts above really identify one of the main issues for me - why didn't we see some internal struggle or other evidence of the Caroline/Echo reintegration, besides having Caroline's memories?

Also, at first I was unsatisfied with the explanation that Caroline is special b/c of this chemical produced by her body that can be a vaccine, but in thinking about it, she produces the chemical *after* resisting the wipes. Therefore, it's still possible that her real strength is that her mind/soul can resist the wipes, and in fact, perhaps anyone who can resist the wipes produces the chemical. So she can perhaps save others by teaching them how to resist the wipes, not through a vaccine. At least, I'm hoping that's why she's special, and that she's not special only b/c of a mutated gene.

I'm also glad to see the following from the trailer for E2, which I hope I manage to black out:
Joining Team Meh.

There are a number of plot points in 11 and 12 designed to manipulate the audience (which is fine) but which never get sold with a satisfying explanation or at all. Very Disappointing after investing so much in the show.

C.A. Bridges sums my issues with it better than I could.

Oh, and the "women find love then get killed" thing reminds me of Spooks. At first when Spooks killed someone off it was a shock. Now it's more of a guessing game without much impact. Same here.

Edit: reads better with all the words

[ edited by Loose Deckplate on 2010-01-16 16:56 ]
The usual suspects have come out and dissed this episode. Just like they have EVERY episode. So it was rushed. It HAD to be. They cancelled the series for god's sake.

I thought it was swell that they even let the series FINISH. And in ORDER. And it's not done YET. Sheesh!

I thought this site was WHEDONesque. Show a little support for god's sake. I LOVE this show. I hate it when people diss it. For ANY reason. We'll just have agree to disagree on this.
Excellent episode. It was like a short horror movie loaded with twists and turns. Way to keep the suspense going for the better part of an hour and freak me the hell out every few minutes.

Blowing up the HQ lab and considering the world saved is clearly stupid though. Rossum's going to have copies of Topher's plans safely stashed elsewhere. Just a matter of time until Clyde and some engineers figure it out. That brings us neatly to the finale but I was disappointed that Paul and Caroline seemed to not realize that given what they know of Rossum at this point. Guess it's kind of in their natures to not think that way though.
I thought this site was WHEDONesque. Show a little support for god's sake.

Criticism is ok to express here within the usual constraints of civility. Commenting on other posters as you just did is not ok.
curlymynci:

I can totally see this joining the caveat of my Dollhouse pitch: "Well it's worth watching the whole thing, but the first 5 episodes kind of suck, then it gets a lot better, and it goes utterly stellar in season 2 (apart from a disturbing lactating episode). The ending kind of sucks though. You might just want to stop watching the DVDs when they finally reach the attic."

First off, count me in the Mixed-Reactions, But-Understand-That-The-Writers-Didn't-Have-Much-Time Crowd.

I think the best thing to say is what actually happened - that Joss and Co. thought they would be cancelled at the end of Season One, then got green-lit for Season Two, then didn't know how many seasons they'd stay on the air, and then had to rush everything at the very end.

I'm actually expecting some major inconsistencies or unanswered questions from Epitaph One in Epitaph Two - things to be filed away in the "Oh they must have dreamed it" box. There must have been SOME reason why they included the Russian girl scene in The Attic.

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2010-01-16 17:32 ]
Ok, I apologize. It won't happen again.
I'd like to note, as one of the people here expressing disappointment in aspects of this particular episode, that I'm also one of the show's biggest supporters. I just don't do blind praise and I try to support my complaints with reasons why.
Jumping in for the sole purpose of assuring waxbanks he is NOT the only person that finds AFTER THE FALL lame.
I think what really broke me last night, was knowing that even though it wasn't decided Boyd was Rossum by the show's powers until the beginning of S2, you have to look at all of his behavior retroactively; Echo trusting him with her life; Boyd saving Sierra from her raping handler; Boyd coming to Echo's rescue many times. Maybe the only insight we got into the "non-acting" Boyd was his drug-induced piano playing scene in Echoes. And everything you thought was the moral, fatherly center of the show is now one man's selfish, demented obsession. And I still didn't want him killed because I'd fallen in love with the guy as a person. Everything else in The Hollow Men I observed with great interest. Events seemed inevitable, rather than predictable, based on prior character behavior and plots, but that? That was the one thing I couldn't accept was about to happen.
I will say that one thing really DID bug me.

Boyd, trying to convince Topher to fix one of the wipey things:

"then we can get out of here without taking any more lives"
(or something like that)

This is idiotic, as wiping someone WOULD be killing them.
I appreciate that Boyd was trying to convince Topher...

but why on earth would Topher go along with that?
I've got to say- a disappointing episode. A lot of characters running round corridors, bumping into eachother, and I felt a little cheated by Boyd's reveal to the others and subsequent death. Victor and Sierra were used uncomfortably as comic relief. The actual 'destruction' of Rossum was a let down, and the show didn't seem to treat what were heartbreaking events as dramatically significant. For example, Mellie shooting herself, then Ballard quipping 5 minutes later: 'did I miss something'?

I get that the show is rushed, and that's fine, it just missed a lot of emotional intensity. And unfortunately, characters the audience enjoys getting shot in the head a lot, does not for emotional intensity make.
You know, when Whiskey showed up in the Rossum HQ as Clyde's diabolical copy and talked about this world being for people who are able to evolve, I thought that maybe one of Clyde's copies eventually somehow managed to bypass the ambition restrictions, that were imprinted upon him by Boyd, and became the Big Bad behind Rossum, whom Boyd was trying to stop by his infiltration into the LA Dollhouse and all his actions involving Echo. I know that this theory has many holes, but if given some effort, maybe it could be worked out in a way that it would make sense and be internally consistent. It would certainly be interesting, and ironic, if Boyd, who betrayed Clyde, was later betrayed by one of his more sinister copies. I would like this kind of motivation for Boyd's actions more, than the ones that we were given.
Could someone please reassure me that Adele did not say "Cor blimey!" when Boyd and drugged E/C drove up to the parking garage? I really hope I misheard.

I think she said "Look lively."
It was definitely 'look lively' but it did sound like 'blimey'!
I think that with the last episode being so tremendously amazing, that this episode kind of pale's in comparison. What I'm not clear on is which of the identities in Caroline's head is the dominant one (Echo or Caroline). I'm guessing that is something to be revealed in Epitaph 2. I rather liked this episode though, despite it's shortcomings and I can't wait for the next episode.


parsley, it seemed clear to me that Echo was still in charge. The whole "I trusted you!" "I loved you!" from Echo when she was fighting with Boyd was a personal thing that only Echo would feel. Caroline's dialogue with Boyd in "Getting Closer" was "Why should I trust you?", and Boyd countering with "With your life"... we know that she is eventually programmed to trust him, but it's his defense of her as Echo that makes her exchanges in this episode even more heart-felt. Echo is clearly in charge. When Paul & Topher ask what's next, Echo says "Let's do what Caroline tried to do before"... if she was Caroline in this episode, why would she refer to herself in the third person?

From my take, there's no way Caroline could ever dominate Echo. Caroline "died" when they first wiped her- anything else would be a lie. Reuniting her with Caroline wouldn't make the other imprints go away; rather, Caroline would join the collective making Echo of many minds/a special body/and one shiny soul.
Question: During the Boyd/Topher exchange after Topher confides in Boyd but before fixing the prototypes, Boyd goes off to get a gun (and call in people to kill Priya & Anthony)... what like does Topher say during that? It sounded funny, but I couldn't quite catch it all.
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.


For the link to TS Eliot's "The Hollow Men", in the fifth verse there seems to be a song "A Penny for the Old Guy" that is next to it. Why? I don't know (poetry isn't my strong suit), but the final verse seems to reflect how many portrayed this ending. If that was the desired effect, then the episode did a great job.

I also liked this part of the poem:

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer -

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


It seems to capture Boyd quite well. I like it. Has anyone done a side-to-side comparison with the poem? *cough*Pointy*cough*
Ok. I haven't read anything, but most of it...

My thoughts:

I liked it. I didn't loved it. It wasn't as "OMG, OMG!!" as the previous episodes... BUT, maybe I'm just not too critical/demanding, maybe my love for Joss is just too blind, but you know what? I feel like they deserve a break. They gave us a season with 8 (or 9...) [out of 12] episodes that blew our minds. It was spectacular. It was more than many of us (me for sure) could ask for. So I say they can slip in a couple episodes. Even if it's the finale (which I don't consider it as being... for me E2 is the finale).

I have questions, stuff I didn't like, but I'm gonna wait for E2 to say "that doesn't work".


Things I loved:

- Boyd's death.

- "Mellvemberline" (as Miracle calls her, hehe) death. ("Too obvious", as b!x pointed to me on Twitter, but it fits with E1, and it was a "good" death. She beat the Dollhouse, in her own little - and sad - way.)

- Topher and Adele. (Every scene with them. Ever reaction they had. And Adele holding Topher's hand was at the same time sweet and sad, cause it makes us think of E1.)

- Prya and Tony. (Their decisions made sense to me. And they are cute together. And Enver kicking ass was great.)

- Paul being played by Boyd after Mellie's death. (It was very sad, and it took me a split of a second to go "Oh, he doesn't know yet..." and then go "Awww, poor Paul!".)



Things I liked:

- Why Caroline is special. (There could have been a better explanation, yes, but I was satisfied with it. I prefer that to spend 10 minutes on it or something like that.)

- Amy Acker is always good. And I did feel like it was a man in her body, but that's all I liked from that. (see above)



Things I didn't like:

- Clyde on Whiskey's body. (Maybe Boyd did like her, and in a very weird way wanted to keep her with him - but by his side, instead of freaking out "OMG, you're evil!", and putting Clyde in her as a quick and useful way. But I think it was more like a way to keep Amy for this episode. I'd like way better if she had stayed in the Dollhouse since then. I'm curious to see how they'll do that.)

- I'd like to see the Caroline vs. Echo thing. Or at least Echo acknowledging Caroline. I don't think I'd like a "Caroline is so bad ass that she takes over Echo", but still... I'd like to see anything about that. (BUT, I'm gonna wait for E2 to see if that's addressed.)

- I have to re-watch the whole show, but so far Boyd being bad doesn't work for me. I do, however, understand that they were out of time with the show being cancelled and all, so I can pass on that. I think.


I think that's it.

[ edited by maxsummers on 2010-01-16 20:38 ]
Epitaph 1.5: This is Spinal Tap?

From this point onward, this episode is to be known (at least to me) as the "spinal tap" episode of Dollhouse.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-01-16 20:51 ]
So, wait, who is the one who sent Paul messages through Echo from inside the Dollhouse? Was it Boyd?
I guess it really was all Dominic despite the inconsistencies. It makes even less sense for it to have been Boyd, now that we know his motivations.
I was kind of too distracted by my first week back at an actual job to give the episode proper attention. But I will say that I'm uncomfortable with the murder of Boyd. I don't understand where that came from, why one would do it, or if we're supposed to be okay with the fact that Echo did it.

I'm also a little confused as to why, regardless of the motivations of Boyd or Clyde, the team didn't give any consideration at all to the idea of pursuing Boyd's vaccine proposal. Echo possesses the ability to prevent people from becoming victims of the imprinting technology... and she just says "fuck it, let's blow up the building and get out of here"?
And, for the love of the gods, STOP KILLING WOMEN AS SOON AS SOMEONE LOVES THEM!!!


And like above, I am tired of a character death just after declaring love...And this one was so meaningless to the tale. Shock value. That Joss, he killed Mellie!


Oh, and the "women find love then get killed" thing reminds me of Spooks. At first when Spooks killed someone off it was a shock. Now it's more of a guessing game without much impact. Same here.


I agree on all points. Note to Joss: The whole "Happy couples meet horrible endings" thing is starting to become cliche at this point. :)

As for the episode itself, it seemed to me like they were just doing the best they could with the time that they had. I don't think "Hollow Men" would have felt so anti-climatic if it had been given more time. The episode would have worked much better as a two-parter/two hour episode instead of trying to cram so many character moments and plot resolutions into one. IMO, trying to bring everything back to Epitaph: One with what little time they've had and at the same time trying to resolve character arcs in the current timelime just isn't working.
@Dana5140....Exactly. Caroline is so very far from the idea of a hero to me. That's not exactly a flaw in the show, but I hope I'm not the only one majorly disturbed by Caroline's/Echo's decision to direct a mindwiped person to blow up a building.
@b!X

I think it was a very passionate murder, actually. A "frak you, you betrayed us!" thing.

A stupid thing, yes. That's not gonna stop the end of the world, we know it, and they apparently were too dumb/naive to know it. Or maybe they just wanted to believe that so bad that they thought blowing up the building a enough.

Now about the vaccine... I'm betting they are trusting Topher to find out a way to do it?
@Dana5140....Exactly. Caroline is so very far from the idea of a hero to me. That's not exactly a flaw in the show, but I hope I'm not the only one majorly disturbed by Caroline's/Echo's decision to direct a mindwiped person to blow up a building.

The last I checked nobody was too fond of Caroline's motivations or behavior - least of all those who actually knew her...

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-01-16 21:26 ]
Very true. I just don't like the idea of WipedBoydBomber being a form of justice.
Dana said:
"But here is my biggest problem. At the end, are we supposed to see Adelle and Topher as good guys? And Echo/Caroline as a hero?"

Suppose it's open to viewer interpretation ? There's not always a "what you're supposed to feel" in every episode of Joss' shows when it comes to the characters' moral standings and I'm not sure why you keep looking for one in this series. Joss has done that, there's no requirement to repeat. I don't think the Dollhouse writers were ever attempting to give us traditional heroes, untarnished ones. More just people, very compromised people, who can sometimes perform heroic acts, have personal revelations (Topher), that sorta thing. Are they worthy of being forgiven, are they redeemable ? Up to the individual viewer to decide. Maybe character redemption isn't the point here, maybe the point of view most strongly portrayed is somewhere closer to "we're all fucked, now let's deal with it best we can/protect our own interests". Pretty grim, but maybe ? I'll maybe wait 'til "Epitaph 2" before attempting to examine the many themes more closely.

Echo is probably the closest we get to a full-on shiny hero. She grew and became her own person, whether through accident (Caroline's lucky genes) or design (Rossum's/Boyd's influence). Aside from killing doll-state Boyd and unless I'm forgetting much else (using that Mexican immigrant as a test for her capabilities for breaking into the LA Dollhouse?), Echo's record was pretty clean up until now.

And although Caroline was dangerous/reckless in her methods of bringing down Rossum, her heart was in the right place. She did care when she was about to blow up a building that had people in it (talking about the flashback), although it was naive in the first place for her to assume it would be empty without checking every room. Still don't know enough about Caroline, but I have a feeling she's the kind of activist who, after her friends and maybe family shied away from her extreme personality and ambitions, went just a little nuts in her over-the-topness. In a way, she's a little bit Boyd, with the "ends justifies the means"/"I need to win" thing.

Paul's not so bad either, except for the worry over him not considering the complexity of Echo being a person vs. Caroline's right to be back in her body (if that still counts as Caroline being back in her body and whole, instead of Caroline being dead and the copy of Caroline re-imprinted being less-than-original...Paul not feeling not quite whole anymore after being made an Active and the whole doll-infrastructure-never-completely-leaves-you-thing that was explored with Madeline this season makes the waters even murkier in this area, IMO).

"Adelle was involved in human trafficking and knew it and did not do anything about it."

Yeah, I don't think it's ever been pushed by the show that Adelle is a hero, nor Topher. Especially when aligning with Adelle in the Victor/Anthony episode and "The Attic", Echo was more making a deal with a devil than forming her own bright-new-shiny-redeemable-hero-squad. Maybe. Maybe we'll find out more about Adelle in "Epitaph 2". She's a fascinating, well-played character regardless of how good or evil or grey she might be, IMO.

"Topher was completely amoral about what he was doing, and his angst at the end about the limits of what he was doing made no sense, because if was that smart he would certainly have known the potential in the technology and how it would be used. He was the one who created much of it to begin with. His angst is not earned."

That's like saying the guy that created the first calculator should have been able to predict the internet. Inventors, even genius ones, don't/can't possibly see all the potential evolutions of their technology (only you have that kind of psychic power Dana, heh). It may also simply be a can't-see-the-forest-through-the-trees thing. Topher was concentrating on improving the technology for individual wiping and imprinting. Then, after dismissing the possibility of doing remote wipes, Alpha showed everyone in "Gray Hour" that it was possible, so it got Topher working on his remote wipe device. In his spare time since then, this apparently inspired him to think further ahead and he supposedly started working on whether it would be possible to remote-imprint. On anyone.

Yes, morally bankrupt from the beginning when he first started imprinting people. Although in Sierra/Priya's case, we're to believe that he thought he was helping her, so maybe this belief extended to most, if not all, of the other dolls, in Topher's mind--so maybe he's just got a skewed/alternative perspective of the Dollhouse's practices ? He's probably not too uptight about sex, so the whole pimping out thing likely doesn't bother him and he knows everyone's supposed to get put back in their bodies after their 5-year contracts are up. Where he really should've started taking a moral stand, IMO, if none of the other stuff bothered him or if he rationalized it all away, is when he first sent a doll on a kill/protection mission. Putting their lives at risk (I suppose some of the sex engagements may've done that as well, there was the possibility).

Anyway, regardless of what he was, he's apparently trying to do right now.

"And Echo? Let's see; she was a terrorist"

Echo is not Caroline. "Epitaph 2" may dispel this, but so far, this is something the writers have been clear about. Even with some of Caroline's personality possibly influencing the fight in Echo, she's been shown to be her own distinct, newly formed persona.

"Anthony getting in that chair made no sense to me. They know what that chair does, and they know they cannot trust anyone, and for all they know, that persona that is getting loaded is one that would do real harm. Makes no sense to take that chance in that situation."

I wouldn't and you wouldn't have taken that chance, but Anthony (what little we've gotten of him so far) has been shown to be a can-do, jump-into-action sorta guy. If the Victor dollstate was in any way influenced by him as well, he was shown being protective/concerned about Sierra. He was with Sierra/Priya in last night's episode, he did what he thought was right to get the info they needed to save his and Priya's friend(s?). Yeah, I would've gotten the hell out of dodge, hid out for a while, maybe checked on my family when I thought it was safe, but not everyone's gonna make the same considerations.

I know this is mean, but maybe Anthony's just not that bright either (this isn't a blanket statement about soldiers & marines--I forget which one Anthony is supposed to be--I know there're ridiculously intelligent folks working in the armed forces).
This was really terrible work. I'm incredibly disapointed. And it is fair to blame the episode writers for a lot of it though it's all ultimately Whedon's responsibility. For instance take the scene where Mellie kills herself, extremely sloppy writing.

As scripted:
Adelle's voice comes over the telecom. Paul realises what is happening and tells Mellie to cover her ears. (Mellie would also know about the trigger since she was shown the tape) Mellie doesn't comply and starts shooting up the place. Paul sneaks up behind her and more or less talks her down until she shoots herself.

How it could be scripted:
Adelle's voice comes over the telecom. Paul and Mellie both realise what is about to happen, they share a look from across the room of fright and sadness. At the last possible moment before she would have tried to kill Paul Mellie takes the gun and shoots herself.

Throughout the execution of every scene was handled very clumsily. And speaking of the budget why plan this episode as a huge blowout if you don't have the means to pull it off. Come up with a finale that is powerful in a different way than the standard summer blockbuster way of doing things.

And yes this episode should have centered on the re-integration of Echo and and Caroline, and that was not what happened in "Omega". For instance wouldn't it have been interesting if Boyd somehow would have had more rational explanations for his evil plan, more of a grey area the end justifies the means kind of thing. Basically what this entire show has been about. So it comes down to Caroline wanting to shut him down permanently and Echo, both in the same body, still trusting/loving Boyd and wanting to side with him.

I basically just feel like this was too most lost potential for Epitaph2 to win back.
I'm holding out hope that the last episode will bring the series to a satisfying conclusion. After all, I was severely disappointed with the penultimate episode of Buffy, but nearly completely satisfied with the ending.

However, I have to agree with someone's earlier characterization of this episode as akin to the Matrix sequels. I was reminded quite strongly of my reaction to the conclusion of that trilogy. After the buildup with what appeared to be endless potential and exciting possibilities, I was severely disappointed with the possibility that they went with. It seemed to me to be the least interesting and simplest explanation. Last night's ep reminded me of that. If this is the explanation, the buildup seems far more interesting than the resolution.

Still, fingers crossed.
I don't understand why anyone would consider Boyd amoral, insane or evil. He was none of those. His only sin was being pragmatic.

Thing is, there is no stopping science and technology and change. There is no stoppng their inevitable impact on the world. Knowledge and science are ever advancing and the sharing of such knowledge and integration of new scientific advancements are building to point where someone, somewhere will concieve that one Idea that can enslave and/or destory mankind. The 'Tech' of Dollhouse is a reasonable representation of such an Idea.

The genius of Boyd was recognizing that inevitablity early enough to do something about it before the world and mankind was destroyed by the 'Tech'. He was smart enough to realize that if he and Clyde can create this technology, somebody else could and would. Ideas cannot be stopped. They can be delayed, locked up for awhile. Yet Ideas, the good ones, the bad ones, will always manage to integrate themselves into the collective unconciousness of mankind. All you can do is minimze the destruction they wreak.

So is a man who can recognize the horror of his Idea coupled with the realization of the inevitablity of discovery, who then actively pursues the only route open to him to reduce the unstoppable destruction the Idea will ultimately bring; is he truly a Bad Guy? No, of course not. If anything he's a Hero. And for Dollhouse, Boyd is THE Hero. Not Echo, not Ballard, but Boyd. It is Caroline and Echo and Ballard and Adelle and Topher, these are the insane, the short-sighted, the fools who think that murdering the Savior, whether you nail him to a cross or strap C4 around his waist, is somehow a Good Idea.

Boyd...He died for our sins. Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.

[ edited by mangydog on 2010-01-16 22:01 ]
Except for the fact that Boyd has apparently been sitting on an affective innoculation to the coming technological scourge I'd probably agree.
brinderwalt, true, but Boyd would probably argue that if he let out the secret (of Caroline's spine fluid) and attempted to get the whole world innoculated, whoever else might've been working on imprint-tech would simply attempt to find a way to override the immunity in time. He apparently thinks that he needs to let the destruction/mass-wipe/mass-imprinting happen (or perform it himself/have Rossum perform it), then he'll be at an advantage with the cure. Yes, if I were living in the Dollhouse reality and had the power, I'd probably try to innoculate everyone too, rather than what Boyd's doing. But, from a self-preservation perspective, that might be short-sighted of me, because then it allows others the chance to overcome the immunity. Yikes, this is becoming like a nuclear arms argument, mutually assured destruction almost (well, that's what Boyd was trying to avoid, not a draw).

Interesting take, mangydog. I think the biggest support of Boyd being at least a tiny bit insane, or at least having come unhinged, is in his delusion that his LA Dollhouse family would just get on board with his plans. Sure seemed like he expected them to. But (and this is possibly due to episode time constraints), he sure didn't make a good sales pitch.

Where it's hard to get behind Boyd's method is the seeming "need to break a few eggs to make an omelett" approach he's taken. For those of us who believe in the individual's worth...it's hard to get around all the people Boyd needed to manipulate and kill (and all those he's apparently willing to let die/fall into chaos) to accomplish his goals.

Also, like I posted above, despite Boyd theorizing (or maybe Rossum had intel on rival companies that indicated something) that someone else would eventually think of it and have one up on he and Rossum...Boyd's paranoia may've quickened this process. He and Rossum, all the other Dollhouses, maybe they wouldn't have even needed to worry about imprint technology getting loose in their lifetime. But they developed and nurtured and kept trying to perfect it and may've doomed humanity just a bit sooner because of it.

I dunno, is this becoming a chicken and the egg argument/speculation as far as trying to place blame or figure out whether Boyd/Rossum were justified ?

[ edited by Kris on 2010-01-16 22:16 ]
IMHO, the multitude of characterizations we've seen in this thread regarding Boyd's motives and actions and therefore his subsequent murder reflects bad writing, plotting, etc that is unlikely to be rectified by any flashbacks in E2.
We'll see in two weeks. Maybe. Or it's a gift from the writers (whether they intended so or not), a big complex, question-marked bone for us to chew on.
Getting heartburn here :-(
Wow, I've gotta say, a lot of these comments here would have gone a long way if implemented. The script really needed a tuneup--instead of staying sharp and sure of itself (as the last 10 or so episodes have been), we got an interesting, but sloppy mess.

How it could be scripted:
Adelle's voice comes over the telecom. Paul and Mellie both realise what is about to happen, they share a look from across the room of fright and sadness. At the last possible moment before she would have tried to kill Paul Mellie takes the gun and shoots herself.


Eyeboogers, that would have been a fantastic way to make the Mellie/Paul scene ten times more moving. It would have also fitted the show better than relying on an old trope.

The final "running away from the explosion" scene could have been done better without cranking up the budget--just cut it out! There's really no need for a classic fiery conclusion. After Echo walks out of the mainframe room (why not tell Boyd to wait five minutes?), show a long shot of her slowly walking down the hallway. Cut to the "Ten Years Later" card. It would have been less cheesy, and just as powerful.
Well, I'm a little surprised at the size of Team Meh for this episode. While it certainly wasn't perfect, I thought it was entertaining, edge of the seat stuff. Seems like the problem is one of expectations not being reached. Personally I've never really fallen in love with Dollhouse, so I think my generally lower expectations helped here. Some weak dialogue and some weak plotting is par for the course, in my opinion. The editing at the end was poor though - why no shot of Echo walking out of the building? Very strange.

The necessary rushing of the plot is a problem in that some things have been simplified, but I think overall they've done a great job. Having five seasons to tell this story would probably have been much better, but then the last few episodes has been my favourite run of Dollhouse, specifically because the plot has been motoring along. (I really wish that the plot had moved faster in season one - perhaps even an aware Echo at the end of the pilot.)

The other issue people seem to be having is not following the plot. With this episode in particular, you really had to be paying attention to every line of dialogue. I rewound it a couple of times when I didn't quite catch a line, but I think I understood it and I agree with all of Kris' explanations. Not saying it all made 100% logical sense though.

Echo / Caroline is an interesting situation. It's such a shame that we skipped so much of Echo's development with that "three months later" bit earlier in the season. My own personal take is that Echo had developed to the point where she had already effectively become Caroline. Adding Caroline into the mix therefore didn't make much of a difference, other than her memories. (I've always had a bit of a problem with how Spike is basically the same before and after getting a soul. It seemed similar to me to Echo / Caroline and I realised that the point could be that they had already progressed to the point where adding the final piece was almost unnecessary.) Epitaph Two could, of course, blow a huge whole in this, but it's where I am with it at the moment (and it's actually made me feel much happier about Spike's development, so that's a plus anyway).

Whether or not this makes sense to you, probably depends on what you think the dolls are. If you think that Echo and Caroline are two separate people then I can see why you would be disappointed that there was no clash between them. However, I've always viewed the dolls as the person that they were before, but without their memories (and plus whatever Topher loads them with to make them all similarly docile). So Echo hasn't developed into a new person, she's just unknowingly rediscovered Caroline. That's not to say that Echo was the same as Caroline, just the same person with a different set of experiences.

I'm assuming that Boyd's known about the coming apocalypse since he betrayed Clyde twenty (?) years ago and used his brain as a processor to predict the future. Have I got all that right? If so, I think that explains his mental state well enough. It's going to be weird re-watching the episodes knowing who Boyd really is. I think his plan regarding the technology and Echo does just about hang together from a few crucial lines of dialogue, but at the moment I can't quite buy how well he acted as old Boyd. (Interesting how the creator of the Dollhouse, which turns people into somebody else, simply pretended to be someone else.)

Also on Boyd, I don't think that he ever was in a relationship with Saunders. After she left the Dollhouse, I imagine that he simply had her reprogrammed to love him and then played along to get her back in the Dollhouse willingly. He could then use her trigger if he needed it, which it turned out he did.

Boyd had a pretty dark ending. It's not really clear if Topher killed him or not as we don't know how that technology works. It might have saved his personality. But Echo/Caroline ordering a blank slate Boyd to kill himself was very ethically questionable. Kinda loved it though ;). Didn't care for Mellie's death as it was way too predictable, but the scene after that with Paul and Boyd was fantastic. The last time that type of death got to me was Penny in Dr Horrible. Renee, Bennett and Mellie just didn't work because it's the same note played over and over.

So that was a long post. Anyway, as Epitaph One remains my favourite episode, I can't wait for Epitaph Two.

[ edited by NotaViking on 2010-01-16 22:59 ]
Generally I liked it. That was a quote from something from what I remember. Though Boyd's remark about the family did make me blink.
The awful running from the explosion/now she's outside bit was the final nail in the poorly constructed coffin that was this episode. After the last handful of episodes I really though Dollhouse could do no more wrong, but the Hollow Men just failed to impress me.

Also: I was promised Laurence Dominic, and was disappointed when he didn't show. He was one of my favourite characters.
I love the alternate version of Mellie's death in this thread. At first, I thought the alternate wouldn't work, because the trigger entrances Mellie from its very first words, so where could there be time for realization and inner conflict? Then I realized they could have her entranced and frozen as usual, but crying silently to indicate she knows what's happening.
I keep tweeting random observations instead of posting them in longer form here. So, this is what I've been thinking over there.

Many of the problems with "The Hollow Men", I think, were caused by cancelation-induced need to tell instead of show, because there was no time left. All of the final run of episodes, both the stronger and the weaker of them, eventually just remind that there was no time to build to certain moments or events.

I don't envy writers who have to try to balance telling a story with not quite having the time to do it the way it deserves. Frankly, I'm willing to bet that, in time anyway, an honest discussion with "The Hollow Men" writers would reveal where they wish they'd had more room.

In the end, I think Dollhouse worked least when it was gun shy about embracing its premise, best when it burrowed deep into it, come what may. For the shorthand "premise" read "the show's premise and the myriad implications of it, as well as of the characters' decisions around it". Last night's episode was a good example of needing to be gun shy about some elements in that context simply because there wasn't any room (time) to burrow.
Indeed. I also would have taken out Whiskey as Clyde, and made Whiskey Topher's younger sister. Which he had been involved with long ago and was in complete denial about.
crippledlion STARTING to become clichéd?!? I love Joss Whedon to death (no pun intended), but seriously... there's no shock value whatsoever in these character deaths anymore. From now on the REAL shock would be if a happy couple DIDN'T die horribly (or become possessed by ancient evil, or be whisked off to hell, or turn out to be Republican).

I wonder if Mo ever worries. I mean she's a woman that has married into the Whedon cult. That's a scary prospect...

[ edited by Haunt on 2010-01-16 23:36 ]
Whew... ok finished reading everything from last night to today. Some great points there. However, I would like to officially request a team name change from Team Meh to Team Gachnar since expecting something bigger than you received seems both appropriate and it lends itself to a cute little mascot and T-Shirts. No? Ok then.

Regarding the term psychopath, I think the easiest way to tackle this one is to point out that my many conventional definitions, psychopath and sociopath are synonyms. They are however frequently used to describe different behaviors, but usually not in the same way because there's not consensus on the behaviors that should be assigned by each. I don't usually resort to wikianswers, but this is a condensed version of what you can find elsewhere if you look harder. The definition gets shakier as you go down the page (I think there are multiple authors on it). http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_between_a_sociopath_and_a_psychopath . In the end, they're both terms referring to antisocial personality disorder.

I do however find it interesting that we're downplaying Boyd as a psychopath. If we take him at his word that he's trying to save himself and his family, I believe it fits perfectly. Boyd is willing to commit homicidal acts, permit human trafficing, allow the rape of his actives, destroy the lives of others, and pretty much every "bad" act you can think of seems to be OK in his organization. All this in the name of protecting himself and his family. A family, which we learn just a few scenes later, he has no problem killing or putting on life support if they threaten HIS goal. Boyd's lack of empathy and real emotional connection is what we're looking at, not whether he's right about needing a cure. Even if he wasn't willing to kill his family, I still don't know that someone willing to kill the world to save only his family could be considered anything else. Especially if the family is functioning as an extension of his ego or desire not to be alone. He's obviously not asking his family if THEY want to live in a world that's just them. For the record, Terry Kerrans didn't want to be alone either but I don't think anyone has trouble identifying what he was.

By the way, the idea that Mellie could have killed herself before she was activated might have been a more compelling twist. The only problem is I don't think it had been established that she was self-aware of what her trigger was.
My initial take was similar to Eyes on the world above. That they probably saw something in Caroline's bone marrow tests that they theorized would make her immune, but they needed to test it by continually wiping/imprinting her. I also think that they had other dolls (Alpha??) that had the same characteristic and some that didn't to use as controls in the experiment. After Alpha's freak out, Boyd took a more hands-on approach to protecting Echo b/c she showed such promise. Also had the same take on the info in the trailer.

As to Boyd's state of mind, knowing several neurologists/neurosurgeons, as well as surgeons and medical researchers - those folks all are kind of detached from their patients/subjects. They kind of have to be - would you want the guy cutting open your head to be super emotional? I think Boyd was testing Adelle and because he was such a blank slate to us the viewer - we were able to project other things onto him. This show was kind of like the Sopranos in that the majority of the characters in it was somewhat bad guys and it is disconcerting to find yourself caring about them.

I also personally think that once Adelle and co. get over the shock of the day, they will all realize the issues various posters have brought up - multiple boyds, backup tech etc.
I quite liked Boyd as insane Giles. Despite some of the lines, Harry Lennix did knock that one out of the part. And given Caroline's amoral and self righteous past I wasn't really surprised at the payback she gave Boyd.
azzers as i recall Mellie/november saw the tape of her being triggered to kill the rapist handler. I'm certain that Madelyne saw it but I'm not 100% on whether Mellie watched it. Just one more reason to look forward to rewatching the show from the beginning. About that should I be worried since no release data has been announced for s2 on Blu-Ray/DVD ??? Hopefully it's just that the crew has been too busy to think about things like dvd extras yet.
DPatel, why would they have to 'realize' all the holes later - they have lived the DH for many years - longer than us!
I thought the Fox people were asking about what fans wanted to see on the DVDs... There's no reason not to release a DVD, I wouldn't worry about it.

***On that note, in the name of everything holy, I hope we get LOTS of commentaries, like from Belonging on. *fingers crossed*
I think was a fan account on Twitter that was asking what fans would like to see. I'd love loads of commentaries but it depends on how much of a budget they get.
Ah, I see. Grr... Argh, I hate DVD sets that skimp on the commentaries. *fingers still crossed*
Well I just hope the DVDs get Chapter Selection this time round. I was a bit taken aback to see that the Season One DVDs didn't even get that basic feature.
If they do a Belonging commentary, I'd like to have Two-Take Frakes on it. It's not his story, but I'd love to hear why he did things the way he did and what it was like to come into the fold having no major prior connection to Whedon or the Whedonverse. That, and he hit it out of the park as far as I'm concerned. If I could get a commentary with Jed, Mo, and Frakes I'd pretty much have a party.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-01-17 00:29 ]
Simon, it was the official Fox Home Entertainment site asking. I heard they got lots of helpful suggestions. I wouldn't worry about the release date not be set. Street dates are very flexible on cancelled shows since you don't have to schedule it around the new season premiere date.
Oh cool, I stand corrected. Cheers for that.
Simon, I agreed that Harry L did a great job as the new Boyd. His smile was incredibly creepy and his calm demeanor compared to the stuff he was saying and doing was horrible to see.
I also liked the slight pause when he realized that Paul had no idea about him. It was as though he was putting on the "good guy" persona again.
Did anyone else find it hilarious when Boyd was talking about how the LA Dollhouse gang was his family, "...except for Paul." I laughed inappropriately loudly.
I'd want a long blooper reel, commentaries on "Vows", "Belonging", "Meet Jane Doe", "The Attic", "Getting Closer" and last night's episode, maybe even a featurette about how "Epitaph 1" influenced writing decisions and world peace would be nifty too. Just imagine the tagline:

Dollhouse: the DVD that brought world peace. In HD.
Did anyone else find it hilarious when Boyd was talking about how the LA Dollhouse gang was his family, "...except for Paul."

Yes. I laughed that the writers gave voice to the Paul haters, and did it through the mouth of the villain.
Re: the DVD suggestions thing, I think the confusion about who asked for them came from me and TamaraC having suggestions, which prompted FOX Home Entertainment to reply saying have other people chime in too, which I then relayed via my Whedon-related account, and so a lot of the tweeted responses came to me in addition to, or instead of, them. So it might not have been clear at the time, depending, but as TamaraC says above, it was definitely them asking.
Some character observations on Boyd and Claire. (Note: NOT intended as defenses or justifications of any of their particular actions, but as possible insights into what was going on inside two of the most interesting characters, for me, on the show.)

If, through Adelle and others, we know Rossum was originally (still is primarily?) a biotech firm looking at issues like Alzheimer's and Schizophrenia tx, etcetera, then easy to imagine an early-days Boyd whose motivations and interests were in that direction -- and easy to imagine someone whose underlying temperment and and personality were very much those of the Boyd we know from most of the series. People have already alluded to how he mirrors or inverts Giles or Book. Maybe his tragedy, inverting the path of ex-Ripper Giles or (presumed) ex-Operative Book, is that of an innately kindly/fatherly soul who, through pursuing certain of his realizations too far, became capable of atrocity, and his initial temperment never went away but gave a very eerie psychological coloring to his ultimate insanity. I enjoyed the fact that, as the villain, he was not much of a Nietzchean raver like Alpha, but still clearly and basically the Boyd we'd always known, as if temperment were as essential to the soul and mind, even at their most corrupted, as anything else. As for his fate, it is ugly and ethically compromised for sure, but it is hard for me to see an alternative once he is (very clearly unavoidably!) wiped. I mean, I'd love to imagine him downloaded with a version of Boyd with all of the fatherliness and gentleness intact but all of the insane over-reaching deleted, but (assuming his identity even existed on a wedge somewhere to do this with) how would this really be more ethical than what was done to Clyde? Do you summarily execute him? Turn his blank-doll self in to the cops? Or, in full knowledge that you are by no means doing something innocent, do you send him off to try to do his best, to sacrifice himself in a way that honors something of the idealistic, um, effulgence, of the sort of man he once was before he became a monster?

And Claire? I tend to believe she was indeed Claire Saunders when she shot Bennett. However free she may have looked in that convertable when she left the Dollhouse so many months ago, this is still a tormented person, one who I think we are very much supposed to think is not just physically scarred. And Bennett, who has spent the last few years being the Topher of another house, (and, from what we know, quite possibly an even less ethically mature Topher than Topher!). I suspect, in her pain, seeing those two on the, um, brink of happiness, fullfillment, etc while she remained in hell (and having just had to resolve herself to the end of her short fairytale period with Boyd), it wasn't improbable that this fractured soul could lash out. I also suspect that, if it was Claire who fired the gun, she felt the full weight of being all the more broken, guilty, and far from redemption even at the instant she pulled the trigger. She doesn't forgive herself any easier than she forgives anyone else. Whatever she fled from to become Whiskey, and whatever solace she got from wearing the hairshirt of remaining "Claire," her actions in episode eleven could easily torment her enough that, given the chance to committ the "suicide" of being wiped for the Clyde identity, she might take it, despite her earlier fears of losing the only self she knows. I don't know if Boyd would have given her the option or just done it to her, but, given what I believe about Boyd's character, it seems just possible that he could offer her the option and mean it BOTH as the sort of escape-from-pain that Madeline once sought AND as a way to offer the woman he loves some solace in the only way he knows how.
so the FBI thing with Paul is just a backstory, then. For such a huge threat, no wonder they didn't really save the world. Such a small army against a giant that's after the "messiah's" bodily fluids. but was it really a five-year plan? The stories could've been better told but stretching the stand-alones, using the dolls for engagement after engagement until the big reveal seems.. i don't know, uber cruel now if it isn't very much already.
My summary of this episode: I would have written it somewhat differently.

I have to say, though, that there are hints that there's something else going on: that last pan up an undamaged Rossum building is a brilliant lead-in to "No, we did nothing." And on the last five or six episodes of Veronica Mars, I've seen things that bothered me as poorly-constructed elements of the tale, only to realize later that they were actually built that way intentionally, to hint at other problems.
My wish for the DVD? Another twenty or so episodes made for the DVD...
I really liked the episode, and I was one of the season one naysayers here. I don't see any difference between Caroline and Echo, though. I guess that's Eliza's acting.
Can anyone honestly say without super-human efforts to suspend disbelief, that the premise of the show makes any sense at all anymore? Caroline is discovered to have a physical genetic trait of interest to the Rossum Corporation, so rather than researching it, they wipe her mind and rent her out to external clients, frequently in dangerous scenarios that could easily have gotten her killed. She is, however, under the full time supervision of the founder of the company who is operating incognito from his own subordinates to facilitate the growth a new identity (Echo) that is of absolutely no use to the company whatsoever. She could just as easily be brain dead for their purposes. The company ultimately just needs her spinal fluid (that they could have just collected in the first place) as a counter measure to the tech that they, themselves are actively developing. WHAT?

I'm seriously disappointed with the show in general. And that was before our heroine decided in a stunning fit of hypocrisy that it was okay to take a being in a doll state and instruct them to pull the pin on a grenade after she walked out of the room, because she didn't like the person he used to be before he was wiped. That was an act of pure evil – and this from our dear Echo, who was so loathe to reconcile with her own past in Caroline. See, Echo isn't Caroline, but Boyd... well he never got a new name for himself, so I guess he's to be held accountable.
She could just as easily be brain dead for their purposes.

Well, no. Boyd specifically states that every time Echo blocks an imprint, chemical traces of that act are left behind. So every time she blocked an imprint, she was accumulating the solution to the problem of imprinting. The only way to get her body to produce the cure was to subject her to repeated imprinting. That couldn't be done if she had simply been killed.
Though - in that case - wouldn't it have made a lot more sense for them to put her through her "imprinting paces" so to speak in a closed environment until her spinal fluid had sufficient amounts of whatya-ma-call-its in it for them to harvest?
Indeed. I also would have taken out Whiskey as Clyde, and made Whiskey Topher's younger sister.


Agree 100%. Since Amy Acker could only be in one more episode, seems almost a waste to use her as the body Clyde chooses. It might have made sense if there were some reason Clyde and Whiskey were tied together (for example, if the story had been that Whiskey shot Bennett because Clyde was already in Whiskey's body) but that wasn't the case. Only Amy Acker could portray Whiskey, but the writers could have had Clyde choose another body, or even dropped the Clyde part of the episode (although then we might complain that we never saw Clyde 2.0).

The Topher/Whiskey scenes in Vows were, I thought, very powerful, and it seemed clear there was a strong prior relationship with the "deal" being that Whiskey could never know the truth. I guess we might still learn the truth in E2, but presumably Amy Acker cannot be in that episode, so less satisfying.
Though - in that case - wouldn't it have made a lot more sense for them to put her through her "imprinting paces" so to speak in a closed environment until her spinal fluid had sufficient amounts of whatya-ma-call-its in it for them to harvest?

My wank on that would be that it wasn't merely the imprints, but the imprint scenarios. Like, controlled environments would not have resulted in authentic biochemical responses. Imprints plus stimulus.
(although then we might complain that we never saw Clyde 2.0)

Which would have been illegitimate complaints anyway, since we saw him at the end of "Getting Closer".
I thought there were a lot of little things that were off, but the biggest thing that bothered me was that they could take the time to construct a suicide bomber jacket for Boydless but didn't have time to just put a bomb in place and set it off either with a timer or a signal. I mean, Topher, Paul, Anthony, and half of Echo's imprints could have made a bomb blindfolded that was just as powerful. That way they could continue to use Boydless for more important things, like maybe taking over the other houses or something? I know it's not an issue with one episode left, but it's lazy not to pretend the story will go on forever.
The bomb thing - Echo (not Caroline) gets Boyd to pull the pin after she leaves. Meaning she could have just pulled the pin herself and thrown it at the bomb, and still have time to leave. She just murdered Boyd Doll instead, which makes no narrative sense.
We could always hope that the reason Echo isn't in the Dollhouse with everyone else in "Epitaph One" is because the rest of the team passes judgment upon her for that murder and refuses to let her stay, I suppose.
It does occur to me that Echo being the idealist who blows up Rossum and kills somebody for not agreeing with their cause is maybe the whole point. Can you wipe away a soul (of Caroline)?
I tend to believe she was indeed Claire Saunders when she shot Bennett.


I'm really amazed at how popular this theory seems to be. Even just looking at that episode alone, I'd argue against this interpretation, but surely the current episode made what happened pretty clear. Topher says to Boyd that he was responsible for killing Bennett and Boyd doesn't deny it, instead commenting about making sacrifices. Boyd had Bennett killed in an attempt to stop her bringing back Caroline because Caroline could identify Boyd as the head of Rossum. Saunders was a sleeper, as discussed by the other characters afterwards, who we know now was triggered by Boyd. Is there a problem with this reading? For me it fits perfectly.
Saunders was a sleeper, as discussed by the other characters afterwards...

That latter part is why it keeps nagging at me. The only "proof" we have that she was a sleeper is that Paul is of the opinion that she was one. More than anything, this is an artifact of the crushed schedule of ending the story and being unable to show us things and left instead with having to tell us things. But when the writers (whether by design, necessity, or happenstance) choose to tell us things via characters that don't actually know but who narratively would only be able to guess, it's a little annoying.

Which isn't to say that she wasn't a sleeper. Just that the manner of letting us know this unfortunately was kind of an artless mess.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2010-01-17 03:53 ]
Yes, I agree, b!X, it's not ideal. I partly assumed, at the time, that it was true because of the rushed ending - there just isn't time to have characters give out false information unnecessarily. However, now I mostly think it's true because the Boyd aspect of it makes complete sense.
Well, that was that. One left.

I think I liked the ideas in this episode better than the execution. Boyd wanting to protect his found family is a terrific reversal of Whedon's families-as-salvation trope, with Boyd, Adelle and Topher as a deliberate inverse of Echo, Victor and Sierra. And he imprints Whiskey with Clyde! Very creepy, in terms of showing Boyd's attachment to both Clyde's mind and Whiskey's body but his neglect of both as individuals. Mellie didn't affect me as much as maybe it should have, given what just happened with Bennett, but still, it's pretty huge. Echo/Caroline as a secret weapon is consistent with what we've seen, and the notion that it's something physiological and kind of incidental belies the Echo-messiah stuff. I like Topher's role in the episode as well.

Still, did Boyd have to become such a cackling villain for this episode to work? That he still cared about everyone (besides Ballard--heh) is great, and I understand him completely about the need to develop the tech and the counter-tech/vaccine in Caroline. But why use it? To what end? There's no real account of why Boyd wants to rule the world and what that means to him. And no guilt about bringing about the end of the world, from Mr. We're-Pimps-And-Killers? (And the racial politics are, of course...uncomfortable.)

Adelle's plan doesn't make much sense--walking through the front door, because, er, Rossum wants Echo? Fine, but she's sedated and the rest of them can easily be killed. Bad plan. I'm unconvinced about Boyd letting Ballard and Mellie wander around the premises as well, but at least he had a pretty reasonable contingency.

Uncomfortable, but maybe in a good way: Boyd doesn't want to kill Echo or Topher, but the two do turn on him. And Echo/Caroline kills him by strapping up the big, brainwashed black guy with explosives and making him a suicide bomber. Is the show merely paying lip service to the idea that the good guys are using deeply wrong tactics, or developing a coherent story about the loss of innocence? Hard to say right now.

Again, not much on Boyd's moral concerns. Not much on Caroline & Echo and their getting along. Nothing by way of explanation of Dr. Saunders last week, or the return of that hugely interesting character we know and love. Nothing on the role of the Attic in the Rossum mainframe. Nothing on how the tech is obviously distributed throughout the world and not just Rossum, until the very, very end. Some of these "Epitaph Two" may deal with, some of them probably not.

I did like it, but it did just seem like there were a lot of missed opportunities. Maybe I'll pick up more on a rewatch.
not sure if I'm repeating b!x, but...

Boyd, whatever his motivations, is not required by any particular narrative logic to give a straightforward answer to Topher or other's questions or accusations about how he was related to Bennett's death. Was his "sacrifices had to be made response" a straightforward admission of having used Claire as a (programmed) sleeper? Was he being more evasive (he talked Claire into the conscious belief in the necessity of killing Bennett? He talked up Bennett's supposed evil and/or her possible impending happiness with Topher enough to mess with Claire's head enough to set her off? He had nothing to do with that particular act, but, after the fact is claiming responsibility and/or covering for Claire by letting her appear innocent of intent?). At this point, I don't think we know for sure, and it doesn't feel particularly difficult to me to believe that it was Claire (not Whiskey or Clyde) who pulled the trigger. especially given the content of her speech to Bennett right before pulling said trigger, which was pretty complexly reflective of Claire's ongoing feelings about Topher and her own relationship to the Dollhouse.
I think I liked the ideas in this episode better than the execution. ... I did like it, but it did just seem like there were a lot of missed opportunities.

If this were 140 characters, I'd tweet it as the summation of my response. Although, like you, I need to do the re-watch (and my first watch was through the numb haze of having worked a full week at a regular job for the first time in centuries).
I think I liked the ideas in this episode better than the execution. ... I did like it, but it did just seem like there were a lot of missed opportunities.

Heh. To me, that about sums it up for the entire show. Here's to future Whedon ventures a little more rewarding in the execution department.
In fairness, I thought season two of Dollhouse has executed the ideas really well, especially compared to the first season. The episodes, to me, have been good to amazing, with things like Belonging and The Attic being examples of a premise and mythology well used. It's just a shame about Instinct and this episode, but it's still a very good batting average.
I agree gossi. I'm not going to ignore everything that was good about this season because they fired off two average episodes.

And honestly, often times I enjoyed the more subtle version of the show. People point to The Attic or Belonging, but the seeds of a great show can be seen in Belle Chose, A Spy in the House of Love, and Briar Rose. We had only begun to start seeing payoff.
It's like a freight train that took a long time to build speed and now they're having to end it too quickly. End result, it flew off the track a bit.
In fairness, I thought season two of Dollhouse has executed the ideas really well, especially compared to the first season. The episodes, to me, have been good to amazing, with things like Belonging and The Attic being examples of a premise and mythology well used. It's just a shame about Instinct and this episode, but it's still a very good batting average.

Don't get me wrong. I've seen worse - faaaaaar worse - but I've seen a good bit better as well - including stuff done by many of the same people - which only adds to the potential disappointment factor.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-01-17 04:57 ]
I think she said "Look lively."

GoldDust12 | January 16, 19:32 CET

It was definitely 'look lively' but it did sound like 'blimey'!

fivebyfivefaith | January 16, 20:08 CET


Thank you SO much. I feel better now.
For a prediction, I think that Victor's upgrades will cause the trouble between him and Sierra. I hope they get back together, though.
The upgrades caused problems for Gunn. #angel
"@Dana5140....Exactly. Caroline is so very far from the idea of a hero to me. That's not exactly a flaw in the show, but I hope I'm not the only one majorly disturbed by Caroline's/Echo's decision to direct a mindwiped person to blow up a building."

See, she did not have to do that. Once Boyd was wiped, he was wiped. He could be controlled. Instead, she sent a mindless person to blow up a building- I see nothing honorable in this whatsoever, and if we do, that bothers me. She had other options and used none. She allowed this to happen.
Dana, maybe that's the point?
An idea just now popped into my head that I had to share: our issues with the episode came about because Joss is severely distracted -- he has started preproduction on Goners. *sighs* Yes, I'm a hopelessly incurable optimist. ;)
I'm in the "that should have been a better episode" camp, for pretty much all of the reasons that have already been said. I felt like I was watching a normal episode of Dollhouse while pressing the skip button on my DVR every few minutes. Whiskey is Clyde? Echo is Caroline again? Boyd loves everyone? The building didn't actually explode? Huh?
Since when were we led to believe that Caroline was ever or ever could be honorable? Everything I've seen has led me to believe the exact opposite. I expect her to behave callously without any regard for human beings. Caroline is a dangerous loose cannon. I hope Echo can keep a firmer rein on her or be rid of her completely somehow.
Echo has been using people in much the same way. Echo is attempting to bring down Rossum, knowing full well people are going to get hurt. Echo has treated people as a means to her ends. She downloaded Caroline to "take" what she wanted.

I'm sorry, but I'm just not finding the Caroline personality entirely dissimilar to that of Echo. I view downloading Caroline as a composite. She only gained access to the memories of the person she already is. Or at least, that's how I view it until they show us more scenes with her actually "fighting" herself. I just honestly don't think we're going to see them.
No kidding, Tamara. And I find it highly ironic that that woman was Paul's obsession for so long, when it was really Echo he ended up falling for (which is not a small part of my appreciation for this show).

[ edited by Tonya J on 2010-01-17 05:49 ]
Hm, I wonder why so many people seem to think, that if the credit doesn't read "written by Joss Whedon" then he has gone of drinking somewhere and have no idea what they have written. Surely Joss goes through the script and says yes or not to things.
Echo making doll-Boyd a suicide bomber is the ultimate rejection of what she has worked for--using a doll rather than freeing him. I think we're legitimately supposed to be so gobsmacked by the episode that we don't notice until afterwards and then hate ourselves.

I like the observation on io9 about the characters constantly rejecting the tech and then coming back to it a moment later. Hypocrisy in our hero narratives.

I guess it doesn't matter that much, the weird lengths you have to go to in order to justify Boyd's plan for Echo from day one--let's say, I guess, that Boyd didn't want anyone to know about his little thing so he won't be betrayed, and so carried out his entire Echo thing mostly in secret. I do wish that Boyd had been written more convincingly. There's the potential for Boyd as not quite a cackling villain, and they didn't quite go there.

I am kinda disappointed. I'm trying to rein the disappointment in. This episode doesn't undo what good there is in the series. But with each episode, the narrative is a little more closed off. I'm glad that the events of this episode happened here, to allow more room for the next episode to breathe characterizationally. It's possible that the episode contains hidden depths--I've read a few things elsewhere that convince me that maybe it does, and most of that has to do with accepting that the episode's surface presentation is a mislead, and all the icky morality is there under the surface.

It's the thing about this show: I'm involved. I'm attached. When other series are disappointing I...don't really care. This one guts me when it is, because it's always just on that razor's edge of not working, if the subtext fails to engage, if the text becomes just a little more ridiculous.
Hunted, as far as I know joss isn't the show runner - he wasn't last year - so he might not be reading all the scripts. (which is one of the reasons why I get a bit miffed whenever people like an episode they declare joss a god).

[ edited by gossi on 2010-01-17 07:15 ]
For sure, gossi- twitter floods with "OMG JOSS U R MY HERO, U BLEW MY BRAIN OUT!!!1!" and the rest of us are thinking, uhh, you know he didn't write that, yeah? I love Joss, but most of this series belongs to the baby writers and so many others, the way I see it.

Re: Boyd/Saunders/Whiskey/Clyde/Madness- The best explanation I can come up with is this:

The scene from E1 where Boyd says goodbye to Saunders doesn't make a whole lot of sense within the context of Getting Closer, considering Boyd isn't actually running away, and Claire seems to understand there is a mission at hand (since she was aware of that in the make-out scene when Boyd says "I think it's time we bring you in"). Why would Boyd say bid farewell if he knows full well he's not going anywhere?

Well, it would make sense, if he was actually planning to imprint her with Clyde soon after (or activate an advanced Clyde hybrid or Clyde-centric sleeper code; some kind of techno-speak for Saunders taking a back seat to Clyde). So he did have feelings for Claire, and let her go to carry out his plan (that would also add a depth to his line about "making sacrifices"). He would have wanted Clyde in her body because the Dollhouse staff would trust her, and then Clyde could shoot Bennett and try to stop Caroline from coming back. This is the best I can do with why Clyde would still be in Whiskey's body during The Hollow Men. Because seriously, that did not make sense. Other than to see the Faith/Ilyria fight we never got.

And I am completely satisfied not knowing anything about Whiskey's backstory. I've grown to think of Whiskey as the poster child for Dollhouse victims. She has neither a past nor a future; she exists as merely who she is asked to be at that very moment. With Saunders, she embodies just about every conflict and question raised about the life and worth of a fabricated self, and I don't think she needs a human tie to any of the other characters to be validated. On the contrary, I think she's supposed to live without a history, that's the point. The girl she was is dead; Whiskey is someone else entirely, even if she's never really whole.
so he might not be reading all the scripts


I would find that hard to believe.
Just watched it and agree with much of what was said here. I don't think it's quite as bad as Instinct, though -- or rather, it wasn't bad in the same way.

Hollow Men was mostly bad for what it DIDN'T do (explain Caroline/Echo's integration, or do anything with all the wonderful Claire/Whiskey stuff set up in Vows). As a standalone thriller, it was pretty good, a few clunky scenes aside (well, and a few massive plot holes).

And yeah, this is the first time all season where I really felt the budget cuts. Maybe because they left their expensive and cool Dollhouse set to shoot most of the episode in a series of generic-looking hallways with zero extras. Very anticlimactic.

And yet, there was also much to enjoy. Topher/Boyd. Topher/Adelle. Several great lines. Boyd's fate. The ideas raised (and again, already mentioned), about those opposed to the tech deciding to use it "for good," as well as Caroline's terrorist tendencies coming out in her decision with Boyd.

Oh well. Season two has been fantastic overall, and maybe Epitaph Two can redeem this episode, or at the very least, function as a Restless to its Primeaval.
One other realistic thing I enjoyed in this episode: Boyd's 'hacking' of the keycard locks. Topher told him that wouldn't work, and was of course quite right.

Also, b!X, maybe they blew up Boyd because they couldn't find/make a timer for their detonator? ...Nah, I got nothin'.
JossIzBoss said:

However, I have to agree with someone's earlier characterization of this episode as akin to the Matrix sequels. I was reminded quite strongly of my reaction to the conclusion of that trilogy. After the buildup with what appeared to be endless potential and exciting possibilities, I was severely disappointed with the possibility that they went with. It seemed to me to be the least interesting and simplest explanation. Last night's ep reminded me of that. If this is the explanation, the buildup seems far more interesting than the resolution.


I also drew a parallel to the Matrix Universe, but not to Revolutions. Dollhouse has become more like Reloaded to me in that it is actually "fixing" the idea of the Matrix via the Attic and also because it is essentially Neo's meeting with the Architect (still the very high point of the whole franchise for me): After years of developing and following a mythological journey, a heroic path worthy of western civilization storytelling the hero finds out that he or she is a function of the system.

The differences between the two ideas are of course: Matrix ruined that wonderful point by Neo going all "Love is all you need" and becoming blind Messiah in Da Real World, while Dollhouse had Echo be the savior inside an inevitable collapse that will actually not be averted. I like the second idea much more.

As for the problems people seem to have with Boyd being bad: This is probably the first time (not counting the played-for-fun "A New Man") that Joss specifically took The Dude, the old father-figure supporting and nurturing female empowerment, and made him be the motivation for the empowerment. The whole narrative of Echo's journey collapses on our heads as a function of one guy's self-preservation, not as the True Heroic Journey a lot of people want it to be, something that I have been anticipating since the early days of the show. Not bragging here, just pointing out what other's have said before: The show kinda came full circle, and the same way people were disappointed about not-fulfilled wishes (about a show on wish-fulfillment, heh) and Jossy expectations at the beginning of Season 1, they are right now also starting to get disappointed because Joss took his trademark narrative and turned it on it's (imo far more interesting) head. In this way (and in the way people reacted to it) this very much reminds me of those early days and problems the show seemed to have in terms of connecting with the audience. In this way, this twist is not classic Joss. It is classic Dollhouse.

Simon said:

I quite liked Boyd as insane Giles. Despite some of the lines, Harry Lennix did knock that one out of the part.


Agreed re: The Other Giles, and I really want to express my being awesomed by Harry Lennix in this episode too. He was solid for every step he had to take along the way (and "The Target" was of course his first real masterpiece on the show), but this was acting the ball out of the park. His smile when he tells Topher that he chose him? Aweee!

gossi said:

Hunted, as far as I know joss isn't the show runner - he wasn't last year - so he might not be reading all the scripts. (which is one of the reasons why I get a bit miffed whenever people like an episode they declare joss a god).


As far as I know, Joss and Tim were the show-runners for Season 2, with Joss overseeing filming and post-production and Tim running the writer's room. Which still and almost certainly means that Joss probably read and commented on each and every script, story-idea, general outline and line heard on the show.
Having watched again: that final Mellie scene is amazingly acted by Miracle and Tahmoh, and a fitting end to November and, well, Ballard's quest. Ballard investigates the Dollhouse to take it down; ends up losing his job, becoming a client, sleeping with a Doll, working for the organisation, killing a Doll (and woman he fell for), and then helps bring about the fall of mankind. Yep. Worst male lead character ever.

Madeline ends up killing herself for a man she doesn't actually like, unless she's programmed to.

I can see why the show got cancelled. It's called 'the show'. And I absolutely love the show.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-01-17 14:20 ]
Oh Lord - I have read all the comments and feel a little bit foolish for declaring how much I LOVED this episode.

Yes I have two tiny caveats - Victor/Topher seemed to go on just a bit too long, and the Echo running from the 'splodey building and presumed missing scene, seemed like a fake generic attempt at one final build of tension which wasn't required.

I understand the criticisms of Joss killing the female love interest but I am not over interested in comparing Dollhouse to Joss's other work. I think he has moved on. I saw the current slew of deaths as proof of the collateral damage that society accepts on a daily basis and also the misnomer that love can save us all or offers redemption in itself - death is our final destination.

I watched the season one first episode after some very negative press and was more than pleasantly surprised. The story did not evolve as conventionally as I expected and I was left to examine why I felt that why. I am happy when drama does that to me. Sometimes not having the answers means that the issues raised bug me and stay with me and I am more than willing to accept that as an artistic choice. (For a quick comparison I would offer "Le Quatre Cent Coups" by Francois Truffaut. A film that has haunted me since I was 15.)

I have no problem with Echo/Caroline sacrificing Boyd - when he asks who she is - she replies that she is everything that he made her - and that includes a sadist, an activist/fundamentalist and a psychotic murderer - and when I saw him wearing the belt of explosives and his innocence being manipulated I saw only real world parallels.

Personally, I will have no issues if the Caroline/Echo conflict is not resolved within the show because then I will have to satisfy the dilemma within my own mind. I am tired of television that insists on telling me exactly how I should feel, and repeats motifs and expresses morality in black and white.

I know I believe that if I ruled the world it would be a better place, but I also know the outright naivety of that statement, and how much of a Dictator that would make me. Which makes me angry because really the world would be a much better place if I was in charge and everyone thought the same way as I do. Natch.

Which isn't to say that the viewpoints of others regarding the construction of the episodes is wrong but I like that things remain open to interpretation and nothing is what it appears to be. Where others see bad writing I see interesting choices. (Potentially compromised by time/budget/Fox constraints I will accept but intruiging choices nonetheless.) Life is messy and confusing, for me at least, so television which plays out the same way gets my vote.

I don't think Dollhouse has been a conventional drama from the off and I have been seriously fine with that. In fact it may be one of my favourite things ever.
"I understand the criticisms of Joss killing the female love interest but I am not over interested in comparing Dollhouse to Joss's other work. I think he has moved on. I saw the current slew of deaths as proof of the collateral damage that society accepts on a daily basis and also the misnomer that love can save us all or offers redemption in itself - death is our final destination."

I don't think he has moved on. He keeps repeating tactics he has used before, and he keeps discussing, in interviews, the same reasons he has always offered for doing so, sometimes even joking about it. Yeah, we get that no one is safe, but, y'know, why is it always the love interest that dies? Jenny, Tara, Bennett, Mellie, Fred, even Cordy, it is same same same. What would shock me would be him not killing someone. And for that reason, let's see who dies in the final ep. I'll bet it is someone in love with someone.

"I have no problem with Echo/Caroline sacrificing Boyd - when he asks who she is - she replies that she is everything that he made her - and that includes a sadist, an activist/fundamentalist and a psychotic murderer - and when I saw him wearing the belt of explosives and his innocence being manipulated I saw only real world parallels."

There is truth to this, but I think that there is more to it. I am not sure that Boyd's death really was earned, in the sense that we sometimes see the archvillain get offered in a striking fashion, like in, say, a James Bond movie. Since we only found out Boyd was the big bad last week (and boy, I am still not convinced he is the biggest big bad, but anyway), that's not a lot of time to process and vicariously accept the death he had. And that death was so unnecessary. It changes Echo/Caroline/whomever into a stone murderer, so that if you did invest in her, how can you continue to do so knowing she was so willing to kill someone when there was no real reason to do so- she had other options for taking that building down, many that did not require Boyd's death. They could take his mind and put it on a wedge and then look at it to glean information they could use. Instead, they destroyed their best asset.

"Which isn't to say that the viewpoints of others regarding the construction of the episodes is wrong but I like that things remain open to interpretation..."

Finally, glad to see you are so much a reader response guy. :-) LOL, been a long time since I could throw that into a response here. ;-)
I suspect there're some very worthwhile scenes on the cutting room floor for this season, especially from the past two eps.


Quoted for truth.
gossi said: Can you wipe away a soul...?

Mrs. Haunt and I were truly hoping THAT was the ultimate focus of the series, and therein probably lies much of our initial disappointment with it until recently. While I haven't always necessarily agreed with the results, I can say I've always been a fan of the search in Joss' works for the soul, both literally and figuratively. I'd been fascinated by what I'd hoped would be the Dollhouse version of that... learning what the human soul IS, what it means, how much it "weighs", and whether or not it can be mastered through technology.

If only there were more time...
So disappointed by that ep :(. Perhaps most of all, I didn't see any hint at all of what it meant for Echo or for Caroline that they are now a part of each other. The whole series (it seemed to me) was leading towards that moment, the Caroline vs. Echo moment, and it just disappeared in the midst of a whole lot of nonsensical plotting and action. And then Boyd. It feels like the cheap and pointless loss of a character that had really intrigued me before he was turned into a loony. Eliza Dushku did her best with cheesy lines like "I believed you!" but she wasn't being given much to work with. Even Mellie suddenly finding herself seemed silly to me. Why was one imprint able to overpower another all of a sudden, and why couldn't actives do that all the time? There was good stuff in the episode, as always, and great performances pretty much all round. It was the script that just sucked, IMO. As if whoever wrote it watched the series but didn't know the endgame and had to try and tie it all together as best they could in one episode. I'm assuming that's the result of the sudden cancellation, but it's still disappointing.

Looking forward to Epitaph 2 anyway.
Dana5140

Hey there. Thanks for the response. My point re Echo being a stone cold killer is that yes, it must be frustrating having invested in her, the same way that investing in Boyd as the "good guy" was repaid badly. I see your frustration but wonder myself if that is exactly the point. It's bleak and nihilistic and painful but also truthful. Should we be looking for heroes in the first instance? Are heroes always destined to do the right thing? Why do we have faith that things will always turn out well? And the fact that you yourself quote the honourable alternatives is proof enough, for me, that we are being played with. There WERE a hundred other ways it could have gone.

Regarding the wholesale slaughter of the lovers I see that it is repetitive but again, within this show, wonder if that motif is being played with differently this time? We all keep looking for a perceived happy ending, a prince or princess charming, and so we are blinded to the faults of others and the consequences of loving the "wrong" one. Mellie was so conditioned that killing herself was the only viable alternative to living without(killing) Paul. Topher loved Bennet without any thought for the woman he had driven crazy previously, his inability to deal with that rebounded on him, Whiskey should have been his number one. There was real culpability here.

Tara's death was a brutal accident - the tragedy there being that if Willow had not been so off her head before hand that she would have had more time to spend with her. Jeni was murdered by Angelus for his own safety - the fact that he toyed with her remains was sick - but he needed her dead. Fred didn't die as such - she changed suddenly and completely into a different person - how often have we heard divorcees declare he/she was not the person I married? Cordy was never going to outlive Angel - she was human - he endured (and actually, shh, I think that character arc WAS bad writing).

I offer you "Torchwood" by R.T. Davies. Killing lovers is popular and not the remit of Mr Whedon and his fellow storytellers alone.

Having said that, if I were a writer on Glee I might be tempted to do a "West Side Story" parody for the Joss episode ;-)
Was blown away! Loved every bit of it! The show is doing so great on its final episodes.
Blown away... heh heh... so was Boyd.
Well, baxter, who doesn't love pun?
gossi: Yes, yes, yes, re: Ballard/Mellie. It didn't feel right to me at first. That's because it shouldn't.

Along the same lines, Echo does exactly what she desperately hoped not to do--she becomes Caroline, only much worse. Topher uses the tech he created. Priya and Anthony swear off tech and imprints, except, maybe it would be awesome to have some extra skills, right? And via Boyd, the "family" that has been created on the show is explicitly criticized for not being enough, because caring about the people in your immediate vicinity doesn't mean you care about random people throughout the world.

There's a lot of great stuff in the episode's construction. A shame about the line-to-line writing....
Dana, the deaths you listed were only the female ones. What about Jesse, Doyle, Wash, Book, Ford or Wesley?

And everyone focusses on killing a (usually female) character only in the narrative, negative, sense. In the context of a drama a good death can be a positive element of the character arc. Mellie died a hero to save and protect the man she (was programmed to) love, for example. And for the actor a good death is a gift. Amy Ackers performance as she was being consumed by Ilyria was fantastic.
There have been hundreds of deaths in the Whedonverse, the only ones we remember or even really care about are the ones we loved and (for emotional impact) were in love. If a character no one liked died then why would we care? Of course the ones we remember are the ones in love.

And I really think it was Claire, not Clyde, who shot Bennett. We've seen sleeper programming, like Mellie, and they don't have a long conversation with their victim before killing them. That was Claire.
Do we even know for sure Boyd blew up with the building? Could he have been faking it (those programmed responses did sound odd since he hadn't been programmed)? Maybe he already had been equipped with the neural blockers and was hiding the fact until after Caroline/Echo left the room...
Of course there is only one episode to go, so I'm probably wrong (it isn't like Joss needs more characters to resolve in his finale!).
I doubt Boyd was anything but completely defenseless there. It's a powerful scene and it was awful to watch. He used to be the moral center of the show and now he's quite literally the single most responsible person for every wrong the show has explored. It's pretty horrifying to do all the mental math on that and realize that while it took a large corporation to carry it all out, one person was ultimately driving it all, and we've seen him from day one. The people hurt, killed, used, exploited, manipulated. It's a gruesome total before you even consider the coming apocalypse and the future deaths Echo/Caroline thinks she's preventing in that moment.

To see anyone killed that way is also really, really horrifying though. Especially Boyd. He's evil but so is that act.

Any kind of backsies on his death would ruin something that already works very well.
What did Boyd actually do wrong?
I thought the premise of this episode was great. But way too many plotholes and odd moments. It also moved slowly, which is kinda odd considering the content. Overall, there were enough emotionally poignant moments for it to be a decent episode (especially the end and with Mellie), but I don't think Frazekas and Buttars really understand the show or how to write it.
Fazekas and Butters.
Thanks, Gossi. That's what I was wondering; how and why he is uniquely the Big Bad as far as Rossum existing goes. So far, the only cold-blooded killer I see in the group is Echo (if you assume that sending someone to the attic is not actually causing their death). I understand that the emotional gut-check that the anti-scoobies (and we) feel is based on his status as the proverbial moral centre of the DH and now they feel betrayed. But as Adele said long ago, none of them has really clean hands.
Well, used Echo, for one.

"Dana, the deaths you listed were only the female ones. What about Jesse, Doyle, Wash, Book, Ford or Wesley?"

None of these were in the context of just admitting or readmitting love; thus, they had less dramatic impact (though Wash's death was set to occur after we had seen him with his wife, of course, which ramps up the emotion). No important male figure has died by murder just after admitting love- maybe Doyle was falling for Cordy, but his death made him a hero and was by his choice. You can quibble over the hows of each death, but Fred no longer exists in any way, even to her soul. Fred is dead; she is gone, and all that is left is a god inhabiting her corpus. Sort of like a doll, come to think of it. New programming. But that's a discussion for another time. :-)
But Adelle used Caroline. And Paul used Echo.
no clean hands... simple. The unwritten 'vision statement' of the DH is Faith's 'want, take, have'. Ironic, eh?
I'm going to post my own thoughts prior to reading any of the discussion, since I want to keep them isolated from what other people's reactions may be.

I expected a lot out of the Hollow Men. This episode had to bridge us ten years to the Epitaph future, had to resolve the present storylines, and had to explain the Boyd reveal of last week. As such, I feel that this episode in particular suffered from the lack of additional episodes, here you can really tell that they are being forcibly constricted into a very limited episode count with a story that would work much better with a back-nine, or a third season, or more. But this is what we got, so I am going to discuss what I liked about the Hollow Men, and also what I didn't like, or felt was missing from the episode.

What I liked about the Hollow Men:

Boyd's reveal from last episode was pretty well explained. I still feel the need to watch over the entire series to look for the clues. I like that he really did care about Echo and everyone at the Dollhouse, it was just twisted into "You are my family that I want to grant eternal life to with me while the whole world goes to hell". Evil Boyd was particularly powerful because he managed to deceive the entire audience. Harry Lennix is a great actor with an amazing screen presence, and he really does make you feel like you can trust him, which works particularly well when he then turns out to be not trustworthy at all. It was amazing how Topher reveals to Boyd alone that he found out about a traitor in their midst, because he feels like he can trust Boyd and automatically rules him out as a possibility.

VicTopher returns! It was great seeing Enver play Topher again. Also Anthony and Priya got a lot of great things to do this episode. Sad to know that in the future their relationship is doomed.

The balance of comedy and tragedy. Then there were powerful tragic moments like Mellie's death when she kills herself because she can't resist the sleeper programming.

Topher's regrets. The arc for Topher has been incredible, in such a short period of time.

The poetic ending for Boyd. I actually felt sorry for doll-Boyd, innocently following orders that lead him to carry out Caroline's ultimate terrorist act. (Where did she get her hands on all those explosives, though?)

Where The Hollow Men left me unsatisfied:

The ending. After a string of amazing shocker endings that made me desperate to see the next installment, this ending wasn't that extraordinary to me. "We did it, we saved the world!" Ten years later: "No you didn't". Anyone that has seen Epitaph One already knows the future is apocalyptic, that's no real shock to us. I think a better ending would have been discovering that some of the tech survived the blast, or finding out that it was already out in the wild and it was too late - perhaps one of our characters could be remote-wiped, or the phone call could go out that turns everyone into soldiers as the event that triggers the apocalypse. Something like that would be suitably powerful. What we got as an episode ender lacked that essential punch.

Missing puzzle pieces from Epitaph flashbacks. All the dolls were loosed in the last episode. In flashbacks, we see they (and Adelle, Topher, Paul and Caroline) are all in the LA Dollhouse surviving the apocalypse. And what about Claire/Whiskey? Since we know Acker is in only three episodes, it feels ashame that we got no resolution on Whiskey, or how she ended up back in the Dollhouse waiting for survivors to direct to Safe Haven. Plus, after her last act, why would the Caroline imprint be happy to see "Doctor Saunders" in Epitaph One? Then there was the Priya/Anthony flashback in Epitaph One where something has happened that ended their relationship, but as of The Hollow Men we have no idea what this is. Epitaph Two has a lot to explain about events that occurred prior to Epitaph One.

The running away from the explosion scene was a bit tacky, though, Caroline could have told Boyd to wait a minute before pulling the pin, but I get that it was more cinematic this way. This isn't really a huge issue for me because, yeah, it was pretty and exciting.

Questions that remain

How does everyone end up back in the LA Dollhouse, holed up against the terror outside? (Including Doctor Saunders, who later wipes herself back to Whiskey when she stays behind).

Does Caroline/Echo kill Adelle for her complicity in events in the flashback from Epitaph One?

What happens that separates Priya and Anthony? It would have to be hugely tragic.

Why is Dominic left in the attic? If the Rossum is destroyed (or rather, at least the servers, I hardly believe a company as pervasive as Rossum could be destroyed by one bomb in one building), can't Adelle let him go now?

Will we find out what happens to the other Dollhouses around the world?

Ultimately, we got a brilliant episode, which is only weakened by the knowledge that it is the second to last episode of Dollhouse ever. I really am going to miss this show, but it has left us much to discuss for years after it is gone, and I look forward to people discovering it on DVD. Do we know when the season two dvds are coming out, by the way?
What has Boyd not done? What events that have angered viewers did he not have a hand in, by either running Rossum and envisioning these uses of the technology or directing guiding the Dollhouse staff toward them? Adelle, Topher, and everyone else are somewhat responsible for a great many terrible things that required a lot of hands to carry out, but so is Boyd, as the person who chose them to carry them out, nurtured the development of the technology, and in some cases directly manipulated everyone involved toward his own ends.

And even if you want to say all that is borne by the staff and not their ultimate boss, he's single-handedly the most directly responsible for everything that's been done to Caroline. Adelle and Topher have big shares in that as well but it was Boyd who forced her to become and Active so that he could experiment on her. But I'd argue he also built and runs the great big lab running the experiments.
Even if true, clearly taking out the Big Bad didn't save the day. Perhaps there might have been a smarter way to use him if that was the goal. Otherwise, simply vengeance.
Re: comments about Boyd and what he's actually doing wrong. Well, first off, Boyd is a murderer, and I don't actually begrudge him all that much for this in comparison to his other stuff. Boyd did just last episode kill one of the Rossum security guards who was presumably sent by him. Not to mention the bodies of Ambrose et al. upstairs, also working for him. It seems hard to believe that he could have done nothing to stop them from dying.

I do think the intention may have been to have Boyd not actually be all that much worse than the rest of the cast, in what evils they actually perpetrate. But for all his lines about the tech already being out there, he offers no explanation for why it's important to use it himself. If he has a vaccine, why not try distributing it to the world, rather than wiping people he doesn't like?

See, if Boyd just said--"We have to stay ahead of the curve. Someone will eventually find a way to break through the vaccine, if we let them. Echo, you're amazing, and you can resist the imprints. But soon there will be better imprints. Rossum isn't the only company working on this technology, shockingly enough. So we have to act. The vaccine soon won't be enough. Don't worry, Adelle. The people won't miss anything. They won't remember to."--then I would have understood his motivation. It wouldn't justify what he's planning but it would make it plausible as genuine self-preservation and not evil world domination.

Boyd Langton could have been the head of Rossum AND the person we knew for two seasons, without coming across as "spectacularly insane." He didn't. And that's the great failure of the episode. And maybe the series.
Yeah, but who cried when Ambrose died? Nobody.

Why not strap bombs to Adelle and Paul? They used people too.
Oh don't get me wrong. Strapping bombs to Boyd = wrong. Pure revenge. And also consistent with what we know about Echo and Caroline.

I wonder if Boyd was written a little OTT as a villain to get us to the point where we are siding with Echo/Caroline and the others, wanting to see Boyd die, thus implicating us in the same kind of depersonification thinking.

As far as who cried when Ambrose died? His family, maybe? Maybe the families of whoever owns the bodies that he's living on in, because now there's no chance they will be back. If Boyd is a person too, and shouldn't be blown up, then Ambrose is kind of a person too, and shouldn't be shot by his boss in order to continue a charade. Although, again, this doesn't really bother me, and I don't hold it THAT much against Boyd.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2010-01-17 20:51 ]
Dana, if you can exclude Doyle because he died by choice then you can exclude Mellie. And Wesley died after professing his love for Fred, Ford and Buffy clearly had a close (platonic) relationship, he was her first crush.
The deaths of Wesley, Ford, Wash and Doyle, plus Spike and Angel (who both died as far as Buffy was concerned) were all made more emotional by their love for a woman.
Yes there have been similar cases of happy couples meeting tragedy, but we're talking about three hundred episodes of TV here. How many people have died that hadn't just told someone they loved them?
My take on Boyd is that ultimately, he was right. The best way to fight the tech was to be ahead of it. They (Adelle etc) killed him and ended up bringing upon the end of the world. Boyd's problem was his methods.
"What happens that separates Priya and Anthony? It would have to be hugely tragic." I have not seen Epitaph 1, so I do not know what happens to them. So, what happened to them? Is this the next death I think is going to happen?
@Gossi - I think you are right but indiscriminate blame and finger pointing "R" us as it were.

People have always picked up the newspaper that reflects their view and gone "look I am right" for ever, well since the cadoxtan press at least I guess...I still think people are looking for patterns and explanations where there aren't any. Good and bad are mostly concepts or individual perception.
Maybe you should just watch "Epitaph One".
Gossi: I think that was the intention (Boyd = right), I just think that the execution fell short of that.

The problem for me is that the other possibilities are not excluded. If Boyd has the vaccine, then is there any reason to use the tech he has, since he and his people are now immune? Besides world domination? There are several possible explanations for this, but none were really presented in the text. (The closest is Boyd saying that they can't replicate the spinal fluid, so that it explains why they might only have enough for a few people and not the whole world. And that still doesn't explain why imprinting the world is a good.)

And if Boyd was such a great actor, why couldn't he make a convincing argument?

I hope that on repeat viewings I grow to appreciate the "Boyd is right" element further. Because I do like that idea thematically and think it's a brave move for the show.

Dana: Well, one of them might die in "Epitaph Two," but no, in "Epitaph One" they've merely broken up. Also, you are probably right that if someone will die it will be someone in a relationship, but that's because of the six opening credits characters still alive, four are or might be in a relationship (Priya/Anthony and Caroline/Paul).

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2010-01-17 21:06 ]
OK, wait, just realized:

I am not positive (haven't rewatched the whole ep, just Boyd's exposition-monologue scene) but it seems like Boyd wasn't actually saying outright that he was going to use the tech, just that he was prepared to use it "when the end comes". So maybe this aspect of the episode works a bit better--it's unclear how he will know when to use the technology, or how we plans to use it, but the idea that he wants to have access to the remote-wipe-tech is not as mustache-twirling as wanting to use it without explanation. Still feels frustratingly incomplete but maybe I misread the episode there. This is a work in progress, understanding this show.

MY HOPE: Boyd returns (in someone else's body, perhaps) in "Epitaph Two" for a more nuanced, no pun intended, treatment.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2010-01-17 21:18 ]
I am firmly in the "I-love-Dollhouse-but-not-the-Hollow-Men-but-understand-everything-was-cut-short" club.
I found Boyd's character development unearned and shody. I understand they needed a bad guy with weight but their explanation was weak. Why didn't he just STOP the dollhouse's? Was it because Bad Clyde wouldn't let him? Was he resigned to Attic Clyde's apocalypse? Did he not care? I wanted more from his character's decision and was left wanting.
I am happy to remain speculative about who shot Bennett. Whiskey, Claire, Clyde, Sleeper Whiskey, Sleeper Claire? Giving us a straight answer would (for me) ruin the impact. Not knowing holds more emotional weight than knowing.
I REALLY wanted a confrontation between Caroline and Echo. Echo just absorbed Caroline and moved on? I know there was A LOT going on at the time but some mention of the composite event should have been referenced.

Things I loved:

Topher and Adelle! LOVED the actor's performances, loved the character's story arcs: the emotion, the weight of it all. Topher and Adelle's connection breaks my heart, it has been one of my favorite relationships from the beginning and I am so happy with where it is currently.
Boyd's death. It was absolutely horrific and terrorist of Echo/Caroline but fits nicely with their previous exchange of "Who are you?" "Only what you made me." Yes, Echo was for the cause and didn't want needless death, but the fact of the matter is Echo is a composite of many personalities, at least a few being psycho and murderous. He hurt her in a profound way and she reacted with the response of one of her most morally compromised personalities. What disappoints me though is that we won't get to see the fallout from an act of such hideousness (kind of like Giles not suffering the consequences of his murder of Ben/Glory).
Bix- well, I will but not in time to complete this thread discussion.

Oy- true story right now, and completely OT. My wife just called me from Chicago, where she had a 2-hour layover before coming home from visiting her folks. She let me know she missed her plane- although she had arrived on time and was at the gate where the plane was to take off. She got to reading, got so engrossed in the reading that she did not hear them call for boarding the plane, and never heard them call her by name at least 20 times while she sat right there. So now I am not sure when she will get home today! True story!
Dana - wow! That just goes to show how dangerous reading can be. I hope you will see her soon!

And P.S. do you know what the book was? Because that sounds like a recommendation if I've ever heard one.
I found this episode to be very disappointing. It felt rushed and the dialogue fell flat. Everything was too straightforward in terms of emotional resonance -- it lacked all subtlety.

The best parts were Topher (his dialogue still shined), Adelle, Echo's face as she walks away from Body after handing him the grenade, Pauls "What did I miss?"

The worst were Priya and Tony miraculously finding Echo and saving her in the middle of the episode (are they even trying to create suspension of disbelief?), so much of the dialogue being so obvious that I was saying the lines before the actors were, the awful running from the exploding fire finale, Boyd's turning into a lame "I love you guys" villain - he didn't need to become smarmy and creepy, it would have been better if he'd played it cool and continued being Boyd while still incredibly attached to the people he's Chosen - they took it OTT.

This episode accomplished things for plot significance, but did so sloppily, lacking the grace and wit that marks Whedon's shows.
Enjoyed the episode more than most here, it seems. Coming in too late to comment, really - everything's already been said.

But one question - what else can you do with Boyd, if you're Echo or her side? You'd kill him in hot blood if he was attacking you - which he was, when Topher zapped him. What is the difference between that (if Topher had had a real gun) and sending the trusting Doll into the mainframe? There is a difference, but why does it matter? And when you know that Dolls who are not Echo can keep some semblance of original self (November, Alpha at least) - can you take the risk of keeping him around, can you?

There is absolutely blood on Echo/Caroline's hands. There is blood on everybody's hands. Actually...*considers*...yes. Everybody. There is nobody left alive in the show who has not somehow caused another person to die, is there? And irony of ironies, out of those who are left, Topher and Adelle are probably the least directly responsible for deaths. Good lord.
The difference, is the view at least on this board and probably according to the show, the "doll state" seems to be given the status of an individual. So in a weird way, so it's like Topher killed the enemy Boyd in the process of protecting Echo. But Echo killed a defenseless person.

I do think that this is the type of distinction that would ONLY be discussed academically and at a distance. For these characters (or anyone fighting a war underneath a building) I can't imagine a scenario where they wipe Boyd AND spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to extract him from the building. He was the enemy, he was neutralized, and they still had to get out. It also might be a tad suspicious when Rossum security sees Boyd running around in a Doll state. I'm just saying, this is the kind of pragmatism over morality that we used to see from BSG all the time. And as much as we view Echo as the bloodthirsty villain here, how far were they going to get if they had done the right thing?

[ edited by azzers on 2010-01-18 02:30 ]
Dana-maybe your wife should have her hearing checked. Not a joke--two of my immediate family members are hard of hearing.

On topic:

While I understand the argument that Boyd might have had the best solution, getting ahead of the tech to be able to combat it, I don't know that that makes him right. I just feel like slowing it down as much as he could (from the top of the organization working on the tech) would've been the better solution. Granted, I also don't believe having a gun in your house on the incredibly small chance that someone might break in is a valid practice either. So take that for what it's worth.

My point--having a reaction to a potential problem doesn't really help. Try to solve the problem. Maybe I'm an idealist. Who knows.

I have one other problem with the show. Why do copies not value the body they're in? Isn't, once that imprint is made, such as Clyde in Whiskey, that an individual? That specific mind wouldn't transfer over to his copy in another body if he died. So the copies being not so afraid to die makes no sense to me.
That's actually a good point. You have two very different competing ideologies. Pure individualism vs. collectivism. Except in this case, it's collectivism of the individual.

Paul for example knows that he IS NOT Paul, but moves on. Clyde doesn't seem to realize or care that he is not not the other copies and therefore will die. Of course he was specifically created without ambition, so maybe that's reading too much into it.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-01-18 02:42 ]
Did my re-watch. While the episode plays better in terms of, say, pacing the second time through, everything that was observed to have been short-changed the first time is still short-changed the second time. Part of me feels like the story in "The Hollow Men" would have been better as two episodes. And viscerally, I realized this time through that the direction was kind of pedestrian and basic (which was my visceral problem with "Stage Fright" also).
Seconding the request to know what book Dana's wife was reading!!
azzers-

Are you saying that maybe Clyde doesn't worry about dying because he was created without ambition? If that's what you're saying, didn't we also see Ambrose not seem to care if he was wiped or not in Epitaph One's flashback?

Then we have Paul, like you mentioned, accepting who he is, and then Saunders not wanting to give up Whiskey's body.

I guess that's something (not worrying about dying) they could program in, but it seems like that wouldn't necessarily work and survival instinct would kick in. But maybe not.
Wow, I thought that episode was truly dire. It squandered the show's dark and morally grey premise so as to give us a cliched, dull and very silly hero story. I'm kind of in awe at how terribly this great show ended.
And dear god the dialogue in this episode and the last one has just been bad. What the hell happened?
I had no problems in the dialogue in "Getting Closer".
At this point I'm pretty much just ranting but I can't reasonably recommend this show to anyone anymore. I just don't know how Joss got it so wrong
I had no problems in the dialogue in "Getting Closer".

What about that awful scene where Topher says to Ivy: 'You have an amazing brain! I want it to stay in your head. Go. GO!' (or whatever his words are). Soooo cheesy
I found that line to be perfectly Topher.
Yeah, I have pretty much no problem with anything in Getting Closer, quite the contrary- I think it's one of the best of the series. And I thought the Ivy scene was absolutely lovely.
Wow. Very nice, although I still don't like Topher or Adelle. Harry Lennox was quite creepy, but Enver still rules. Not perfect, but what is?

Maybe Caroline and Echo don't fight. Could be a very successful partnership. Echo bring mad skillz to the table, could be very helpful in furthering Caroline's ambitions.
A major trend in Season 2 has been the unfolding of layers of meaning in unexpected directions through the introduction of missing snippets from scenes that then turn prior interpretations on their heads (e.g., Adelle sending Echo into the attic; Caroline leaving Bennett trapped). I suspect that this episode will read much differently in the context of E2 and that some of what appears shoddy here -- like E/C's improbable emergence from the burning building -- will be fodder for subsequent reveals.

I'm predicting/longing/yearning for some juicy Alpha stuff--another mind-meltingly searingly exquisite performance by Alan Tydduk--please!
Did anybody else find the Clyde character wrong? I see no reason why the sweet, slightly manic, intelligent Englishman would become a stock evil sidekick just through the removal of ambition. To me that felt like a completely different person (and an excuse to have a Buffy-fight).
I was disappointed, honestly. It was a decent episode, some great action and definitely thrilling. But they didn't sell me on Boyd. When I rewatch S1, I don't think I'll sit there thinking, "Oh maaaaan that's so part of his evil plan." I think I'm gonna watch it and think, "What a decent guy. Too bad they turned him evil." I dunno. I'm pretty disappointed by the Boyd stuff, honestly, just because Joss has never had a character twist ring so false to me.

Still thrilled about E2! Hooray!
The final "running away from the explosion" scene could have been done better without cranking up the budget--just cut it out! There's really no need for a classic fiery conclusion. After Echo walks out of the mainframe room (why not tell Boyd to wait five minutes?), show a long shot of her slowly walking down the hallway. Cut to the "Ten Years Later" card. It would have been less cheesy, and just as powerful.

I would do it like this:

Echo tells Boyd to count to 300 and leaves the mainframe room. Boyd innocently watches as the door closes behind her and starts to count. Cut to a shot of Echo slowly walking down hallway. Another cut to Boyd counting and a cut back to Echo. As she continues to walk a tear starts to pour down her cheek from of one of her eyes. We then see a collage of Echo/Boyd-focused flashbacks (the handler/active bonding scene, Echo cuddling up to a wounded Boyd in "The Target" etc.). Back to Echo, who is now crying more intensively. Still in the hallway, she wipes away her tears and walks out of the Rossum building. After that, we see a one last sho of Boyd, who is finishing his counting. As he says 300, we hear a sound of a released grenade pin falling on the floor. Cut away to outside of the Rossum building accompanied be the sound of a huge explosion...

I think this would nicely underline Echoes feelings for Boyd and her pain from his betrayal.
Re. how Boyd was killed .... throughout this ep, they emphasized the fact that they are now really at war, a war for survival. How stupid would it have been to leave the mastermind/mad genius who brought all this about, alive? Even in a Doll state, with remote tech beginning to run wild and his partner having mentioned how many bodies he had, just waiting for him.

It isn't as if they had the luxury of taking him prisoner and waiting for a convenient time to give him some kind of fair trial. He'd made it quite clear that his plan was to destroy the world, except for the people he chose to keep with him - his "family".
Which made him just as deranged and dangerous as Alpha. So as horrible as it was, I don't have a problem with it at all. The world is falling apart, a small band of desperate people are trying to survive, on the fly.
From a narrative perspective, it's the only choice that made sense. As an illustration of the moral dilemmas inherent in a survival situation that has just escalated into a full blown war, I found it to be an incredibly powerful statement.
Whether it was ethical or not, I do think there was some poetic justice in what Echo did to Boyd. He made it clear that she was only a body to him. She had his body destroyed.
I'm also on Team Meh but only as a sub for now - pretty disappointing episode all in all, felt very rushed and maybe worst of all for me, very conventional BUT i'm reserving complete judgement until we see "Epitaph Two: Some 'splainin' to Do" because E1 was littered with flashbacks and that may be too (i.e. we might still see an actual resolution to the story that, for me, has been the heart of the show for two seasons, Echo "vs." Caroline). And whatever happens, they had a very tough row to hoe, given the time pressure.

Mellie overcomes her programming through the power of love felt like a forced "moment". Anthony and Priya arriving just in the Nick of Time felt like a writer's cop-out rather than a plot development (and even less like what it was presumably meant to be, a triumphal moment). Anthony risking the smiley face imprint felt pretty stupid (particularly as he and Priya are the two characters with something beside their lives to lose). And Boyd. Is that it, really ? So the reason for his overly-complex machinations was at least partly "*booga booga booga* He's karaaazzzeeee !" ?? I don't mind him being a baddie but the extent to which he became the villain just didn't ring true, too much the out and out "black hat" (as was Clyde) for a show like 'Dollhouse' IMO, as if in order to reach the end in short order they had to simplify out all the goodness that made the show so worthwhile and brave in the first place - not only did they throw the baby out, it felt like the bath and half the fittings went too. Pity.

I'm sure everyone tried as hard as they could though and there were definitely things I liked too:

- as WilliamTheB said, the apparent perversion of one of Joss' strongest themes throughout all his shows, the found/chosen family. Boyd didn't find this family, he made it, our team of plucky heroes is no more real than one of serial killer Terry's tableaux. I didn't believe Boyd's motives from his perspective but the end result's still a powerful idea.

- Antopher. Enver's just astonishing. The voice wasn't dubbed was it ? Assuming not, amazing "impression" (as I said before, it's more like "channelling" ;). The plot point itself was pretty silly (still, it was a smiley Post-it, no harm can come from one of those surely ?) but the acting was amazing.

- some of the dialogue e.g. "Look lively", nicely observed and probably deliberately anachronistic bit of British military slang, wouldn't be out of place at e.g. Rorke's Drift. And neither, apparently, would Adelle ;).

- Echo, either deliberately or as a result of all too human weakness, relinquishing the role of "hero/saviour" (which had, to some extent, been foist upon her) and murdering blank-slate Boyd. She's not an ideal any more, not an abstraction or an experiment but a person, actual, whole, flawed.

So not great (or even good IMO) but not a dead loss either. 1 to go.
STILL haven't watched it (I know, I suck), but Mrs. Haunt's first comment to me about it was about the subversion of the found/chosen family trope. I'm looking forward to hearing that explored in what I'm certain will be the FLOOD of Dollhouse papers presented at this year's Slayage Conference.
Love the show. Inspired by Dollhouse.

Do not love the episode. Inspired by what not to do.

Still buying the DVD, still watching the finale. =)
I have a non-ethical problem with Boyd's plan. Caroline was supposed to be the source of an unsynthesizable MacGuffin substance that would protect the chosen few against being remotely wiped/imprinted. But whatever she has tucked up her spinal cord, it hasn't actually been able to prevent her original personality and memories from being wiped or they wouldn't need to imprint her with Caroline. All it does is protect successive new imprints from erasure and allow the emergence of an unwipeable but entirely new consciousness who may or may not be identical to Caroline in terms of character traits but firmly believes itself to be distinct.
I think the answer to this is that the process of imprinting personalities on Echo has built up this resistance in her spinal fluid. It couldn't prevent Caroline from being wiped because at that point, all she had was potential.

Otherwise Boyd could have just taken it from her before (or even without) making her a doll.
Agreed. Something else allows Echo to gradually resist the wipes (soul, strength of mind, etc.). We might think of it as mental strength to resist, but because she is resisting a physical wipe of her brain, the resistance produces a physical effect. The substance in her spinal fluid is therefore a by-product of the resistance, not the cause. I kind of think the whole vaccine angle is a bit of a red herring. That's my theory, anyway.
Re: Victopher/Antopher and dubbing- I'm pretty sure Fran confirmed via twitter that it is Enver doing the voice. Something about how they recorded Fran to dub it, but didn't end up needing the track as Enver just did it himself. Because Enver is a wizard.
But Topher and Ivy agree that a native personality is different from an imprint. Also from the druggie episode we know that that dolls store memories differently. Something that works for imprints isn't therefore guaranteed to have the same effect on an original personality and even if it did Echo isn't able to block imprints as much as manage them via her Echo self and not her Caroline self.

Moreover all they know unless they've already tested it (in which case why drain her if it worked) whatever accumulates in her spinal fluid is a correlate to the blocking activity. If may well be just a byproduct, in which case it will be useless for their purposes.

[ edited by hayes62 on 2010-01-18 23:11 ]
At the end of the day, hayes62, it is, as you said, MacGuffin. If you pick it apart, all you'll be left with is pieces and you won't be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Or something like that. Basically, try not to worry about it ;).
Because Enver is a wizard.

It's true, I think he may have the devil in him ;). 400 years ago it'd have been fiery curtains for young Mr Gjokaj, nowadays (if there's any justice) he'll become a huge star.

That's progress that is.
Kind of struck by a thought here. Dollhouse is just one big allegory for the whole Abortion/Right-to-life confrontation with Rossum and the Dollhouse being representative of abortion clinics and the pro-choice folks while Echo and co. are the self-righteous, hypocritical right-to-lifers. Its all right there. You have people who are in trouble (Victor, November for example) who want Rossum to remove (abort) painful memories from their mental womb. You have Rossum performing the invasive medical procedure to do just that. Then you have Caroline, a self-righteous 'believer' who is willing to murder and destroy those who do not believe/think like she does in order to preserve someone else's right-to-life. Someone who first tries, then succeeds in bombing Rossum HQ.

It's all so very confusing. Who are we supposed to be rootin for here, Joss? The pro-choice, pro-feminist Rossum Corp allegory or the anti-abortion, anti-feminist Echo?

[ edited by mangydog on 2010-01-19 01:57 ]
Who are we supposed to be rootin for here, Joss?

All and none, mangydog. That's my take on it.
PS, RE; my wife. She once forgot to pick up her kids the day they came home from summer camp. True! Her hearing is okay, her attention maybe not so much. :-) She got home two hours late, and was lucky to get on the next flight to Moline, IL. People are not fighting to get to Moline! The book was "The Glass Castle,' by Jeanette Walls.
The Glass Castle, check, add to list (but don't read when waiting for an airplane).

Today I am feeling downright GRUMPY about that lame episode. I wish they hadn't decided they had to wrap things up. I wish they'd left things open-ended and unfinished and I could have been mad about not getting to see it all play out, rather than being mad about seeing it play out so badly. I know, Epitaph 2 might rock, and I hope so. I'm still super cranky about Boyd. It's totally ruined my plans to re-watch the series. How am I supposed to love all the stuff I loved the first time round - Boyd and Echo, Boyd and Topher, Boyd Boyd Boyd, with the stupid "actually he's a LUNATIC BAD GUY" twist spoiling it. Grrr. And argh, too.

Still, I'm with Andrea 2s1. I'll be watching the finale. I'll even fork out for the DVDs. I'm feeling about Dollhouse the way I felt about BSG I guess. When it's good, it's so good (and Dollhouse is better) and when it's bad, it's really bad (and Dollhouse is worse).

On a more positive note: I adore Topher and his arc, and yeah, Enver the Wiz, absolutely. I will watch whatever Eliza does next. Great great great ensemble.
That's a pretty fitting comparison, catherine. Hadn't occurred to me, but considering the last 2ish eps are essentially season four or five crammed into 2ish eps, the way I feel right now is very similar to my reaction to all of BSG season four (barring the Blood on the Scales stuff). That season earned a big "Whaaaaaa?!?" from me. And yes, we've still got an Epitaph left- I'm incredibly excited.

Dana, I didn't even know you could fly into Moline! I used to live over there- they have a great ice cream shop! Damn, I'm totally flying that way next time...
Okay, I'm posting without reading the entire thread (got stuck somewhere half-way ;)) because catherine made me ;). So if there's points in here which have been mentioned and/or discussed to death, I'm sorry.

Unlike many, my first experience with this episode was one of 'wheee, fun'. That's partly because for a large part I only analyze after the fact, partly because the episode was crazy fast and partly because the previous episodes - since Belonging had made me fall head-over-heels in love with these characters. So I was basically glued to the screen, loving the entire thing, but when it was over I started having some reservations.

First of all, a lot of the stuff that many in their initial reactions were saying did not make sense, actually did (somewhere in the earlier parts of these comments, Kris did an excellent job of clearing a lot of stuff up).

What I loved:

- The dialog - there were some great, in-character, one-liners to be had and even the more exposition-y lines were handled nicely. I only vaguely remember the time we used to complain that this show wasn't witty.

- The found family theme flipped on its head. This pretty much made the episode for me. My instincts were correct, and Boyd really, actually cared for these people. The love in his eyes, almost fatherly pride, as Topher fixes the problem and his proud statement that he loved what Topher had become over the years (just like us viewers). The respect he has for Adelle (which gave me instant flash backs to the way he kept giving her tough love when she was being a drunken idiot a few episodes back), etcetera. He brought these people together for a reason and, hey, it worked. Much better than he could've imagined, because they've started really liking each other as well. This, of course, then leads to Boyd's downfall, which makes it all the more tragic.

- Anthony/Victor/Enver as Topher part II. 'Nuff said.

- Not Mellie's death, but the aftermath. The look in Ballard's eyes when he runs into Boyd. I think that was his character's best scene in the entire show. It was definitely one of the first times Ballard made me feel.

- The acting in general. I felt most actors here were on a roll - yes, even Eliza. They did a great job.

- The 'ouh, we saved the world' type ending we're used to in Joss' shows flipped on its head. Here comes the apocalypse anyway! Whoops :).

- The remorseless killing of Doll!Boyd. Echo's now no longer the innocent, being used like everyone else. She's now a person and one of her first major acts was morally dubious at best.

What I didn't like:

- Boyd's easy 'betrayal' of Echo. Would've liked to see him have more trouble with his decision. He was, after all, almost a father to Echo. This leads into a greater problem I had with the Boyd resolution, in that it happened too quickly. While there was more nuanced and interesting subtext, the quick decision making process makes him look like your garden variety lunatic. I'm pretty sure this wasn't intended; everything that we saw before and hints like how he was actually insulted that Echo'd think he'd kill Topher, proved that to me. I'd have loved to explore that some more. I think he would've seemed more interestingly layered with some more time.

- The lack of explanation for why Whiskey shot Bennet. It still makes no sense to me, and I was kind of hoping for a resolution to that in this episode. But thankfully we've still got one more episode for this to get resolved.

- The glancing over Echo vs. Caroline. We've built two seasons towards this confrontation and then it ends with.. a whimper. Here's hoping this gets explored in E2 (although I can see where, with the cancellation, something as potentially nuanced as this can't be done in one scene.)

- Why Boyd thought his 'family' would want to be with him. He's a better judge of character than that. I can see him hoping he'd get them to go along - and I can see him believing they would for a long time (after all, these people on the whole did not have the most highly developed sense of morality and have been known to compromise) - but after the events in the latest episodes, he must've known that part of his plan, at least, would fail.

- Why did Boyd keep Echo conscious? I can understand him not wanting to 'use' her further, but c'mon. If anyone should've known that 'Echo' might be able to find a way out, it should've been Boyd. I'd have liked it, if Boyd had somehow wanted to give her a fighting chance to be really free, from some twisted kind of character building perspective, but the script gives me no reason to believe anything like that.

- The Echo/Clyde fight. That was emotionally mostly empty and the editing sucked. We've had much more epic, and better, fights from this show.

- Echo fleeing the exploding building. One shot, she's almost swallowed up by the explosion, the next, she's outside. Right-o.

Didn't like it, didn't hate it:

- Why kill Boyd? Why not imprint him with a more malleable personality and make him explain how to use Echo's enzymes to help people? This just seemed wasteful. But maybe it's explained away easily by Echo simply wanting revenge. This is not a hero story, after all.

- Antony sitting in the chair. It seems like the thing he'd do. He's a soldier, he wants to protect everyone and they don't know what happened. There's a potential for more information and he takes it. I bought it.

- The Explanation[tm]. Echo's immune to wiping, because of some kind of enzymes or somesuch. The delivery was a little bit too techno-babbly for my tastes, but in the end this idea works to explain why Boyd would've entrenched 'Echo' in the Dollhouse, why he would have saved her life time and again (leading him to actually start caring for her - and the others - in the process) and why he encouraged her emerging personality. It also explains why he feels that he can rush the apocalypse and be safe himself and with his created family. I'm neutral on that 'rushing' the apocalypse part, by the way. I can see where it's hard to put the cat back in the bag once it's out, and I can understand saving your own ass - and the asses of those you care for - when that day comes. I still don't quite get the using Topher to rush things part, though, although I can see where one would think it didn't matter how fast the apocalypse came, if you felt it was inevitable anyway (ignoring the fact that it'd seem to me that more non!apocalypse years would be preferable to less ;))

- Mellie's death. Yes, it was a shocker. Yes, it was also predictable (they almost became a happy couple there, after all). The end result is me being 'meh' about the event itself (but 'loving' the effect it had on Ballard).

All in all, I felt this episode had some weak points, but also had more than enough to love. There's still E2 to resolve some open issues like why Whiskey shot Bennet and the hoped for confrontation between Echo and Caroline.

This is definitely the lesser episode when compared to last week, but all in all I still really enjoyed it. I don't see, for instance, how the Boyd story is bad in itself, apart from being a bit rushed (and therefore less nuanced than I'd have liked). But what's there doesn't singularly equate to 'ouh, look, Boyd was just insane'. It's more complex than that and most of the things that were there, I liked.
(I think I might've killed this comments thread ;))
The moment Echoline murdered Boyd was the moment I realized Boyd was the 'Good' guy and Echoline and crew were the 'Bad' guys.

Btw...are we absolutely certain Boyd is dead? Are we absolutely certain the Wipe-thingy actually worked on Boyd? Isn't it kinda suspicious that Boyd would say 'Did I fall asleep' after being Wiped via a different form of Wipe then what the Dolls use? There are two different Wipe thingies. One works on Dolls thru their architecture and the other works on non-Dolls (Dolls being immune due to their implants). Boyd could make himself immune to both via hardware implants and mods to those implants.

Just sayin.
(I think I might've killed this comments thread ;))

Ha! I opened up my computer with the intention of finding you in other threads and giving you a (friendly!) shove towards this one, but here you are.

I'm pretty certain Boyd is dead, mangydog, but we'll see in a couple of weeks! I think the "did I fall asleep" bit was used for the "moment" it provided - and it was a good moment. The pain in Echo's eyes when she says "for a little while" - Eliza really delivered in this episode, in spite of having a lot of really crappy material to work with. Echo on the other side of the Program a Person and Use Them in Terrible Ways thing was pretty awesome.

You're definitely getting more out of the BadBoyd storyline (if such it can be called) (sorry) than I did, GVH. I can see what you're saying, but emotionally I didn't buy it at all. Instead I just felt like I was being robbed of everything I had loved about that character and his relationships. (The actor, whose name I have shamefully forgotten, rocked as always). I also didn't like that Dr. Saunders, another fascinating character, just got shunted aside for ... well, what? Amy Acker is awesome whatever she does, but I don't know what the point of her Clyde was.

I agree with all your "likes" except for the flipping of the found family. Everything with BadBoyd felt like bad lazy rushed storytelling to me. Many lifetimes ago I watched the first season of 24, and when it turned out (SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT!!) that Nina was bad, I was a bit irritated, because it seemed all about the shock value. She was a likable and important character, and so yeah it was shocking, but it made a lot of things make less sense and took away the intensity from a lot of previous scenes (because she wasn't who we thought she was after all so she wasn't really feeling what we thought she was feeling, so who cares, etc). I thought that if they were going to do that, there should have been clues; that shock should come with the dawning realization that we should have seen it but didn't. I know that's hard to do. But a cheap shock is still just a cheap shock. I wasn't invested in 24 really so it just made me roll my eyes, but I am absurdly pissed off about Boyd. I guess you can say, well he really did care about Echo, he really was wry and resigned with a hint of self-loathing in his conversations with Topher, but it doesn't mean the same thing about the man if he was actually the head of the evil corporation with a craaaazy plan, and loved them all in a craaaazy way.

But no more whining from me. It isn't healthy.
Ha! I opened up my computer with the intention of finding you in other threads and giving you a (friendly!) shove towards this one, but here you are.


Why do I suddenly feel like a sheep? ;)

Anyway: I was actually heading off to bed when I saw your comment, catherine, but couldn't resist replying. I can definitely see your point, but I'm not sure I agree that Boyd was 'craaaazy'. Misguided and evil? Yes. But then, most of these characters were misguided and, yes, evil (or at the very least morally empty) at some point or another.

Boyd's intentions seem very clear to me, although most of the stuff is implied. Here's how I imagine his story went, from the bits and pieces we got:

There's technology out there (which he helped co-create) and being very intelligent, Boyd can see where it's leading - the end of the world as we know it. He's not a good man; in fact, he's quite ruthless (he pretty much killed off his partner and put him in a place of endless nightmare, after all).

He then finds Caroline and sees the promise of a cure. He sends her to the LA Dollhouse and later on, when it's not so obvious (and - possibly - when the previous attempt at something like this, being Alpha, failed), he appears as her new handler. His motivations at this point are probably both curiosity (he started creating this tech with Clyde for a reason, after all) and self-preservation: it's his ticket to safety. But, while he's at the Dollhouse, he becomes impressed with its occupants: Adelle is a fearless, intelligent and dangerous leader, Topher is quite possibly more intelligent than him and his former partner, but has a child-like, almost innocent, lack of morality. And then there's Echo, whom he's sworn to protect (if only initially from a standpoint of self-preservation).

He then challenges these people and watches them react to crises (some of which are his doing). Adelle steps up and is strong, weathers nearly every storm. Topher matures, develops and even becomes heroic. And Echo probably surpasses most of his expectations. He nurtures them to grow and watches what becomes of them. He finds that his budding friendship with Topher is meaningfull to him, that his partnering with Adelle is more than just something to be used as a tool. Maybe he's silently rooting for these people, hoping they win. And Echo, who trusts him with his life and is changing in new, unexplored directions, gets to him as well. He ends up loving her as a daughter.

Maybe those emotions are new to him, and maybe they're not. I don't know. I do think that Boyd doesn't think of himself as evil. He probably thinks of himself as highly practical - he can't protect everyone, he can't avert the apocalypse, but he can save himself if he speeds things along and becomes the one to cause it. And as he's doing that, he finds that these people he's surrounded himself with, have become very important to him - maybe even vital - and he vows to at least try to save them as well, while simultaneously plotting against their ultimate goal - to avert this apocalypse all together, something he feels is foolish and impossible, despite their best intentions.

He doesn't mind helping them on other business though. For instance: he probably feels the way Sierra was treated by Nolan was morally reprehensible; after all, there was no logical justification for his cruelty, and Boyd probably wants to help his friends - Topher, and yes, Adelle as well - to make things right. And he probably likes being able to do some good as well: he has no question about what his discoveries and technology has forced them all to be - pimps, human traffickers, possibly rapist by association - but he's not an evil man (or at least; he doesn't think so) and would rather do some good as well, than not.

So, basically, yes, I do buy that this is the Boyd we saw and knew all along. We also knew there had to be more to him. He was a stand-up guy in a morally corrupt business. Things could not be as they seemed. I'd always assumed that there was more to Boyd; possibly something that had slightly corrupted him, or something he was trying to make right by being there. I had not expected him to be the evil head of the corporation bringing about the apocalypse, but looking back, to me, it makes perfect sense. It hasn't ruined the character for me, but has filled in the blanks, even if I'd have liked it all to be stated less implicitly and more explicitly; there was great drama to be had with Boyd, I think, and that's a missed opportunity.

But: I can see where this wouldn't work for others and agree that the quickness of this episode at the very least made it seem like Boyd was simply insane. The difference between Audience_Favorite!Boyd and Evil_Head_of_Rossum!Boyd was too big and introduced too sudden for the implications, as I infer them from what we've got, to really sink in. But then again: maybe my conclusions are completely false. They're based on reading between the lines and not on anything definitively stated in the text. In fact, I think it may be borderline fanwank (even if I still firmly believe it to be true); but I'm fine with that in this case. Because if I was forced to conclude that, yes, Boyd was simply evil and insane, I'd probably have been angry as well, and I much prefer my interpretation of the text.

And I guess that's probably at the basis of our different reactions to this, catherine :)

[ edited by GVH on 2010-01-20 03:45 ]
GVH, I actually think that's an entirely reasonable breakdown. It really does come down, like for most things about this episode, to being development that simply got seriously shortchanged.
All that does make sense GVH, and I imagine your breakdown is pretty much how the writers saw it too, but it played out hollow to me. And I agree that the rush to wrap things up was the biggest factor in how disappointing this ep was to a lot of us. But even if it had been teased out more carefully and your version of events had been more obvious to the viewer, I don't think I would have liked it. There were gaps to be filled in re. Boyd, for sure, but this really felt like a total rewrite rather than a filling in of gaps. Can't remember where I read that they decided after S1 that Boyd would be the big bad (Tim Minear interview?) but it's pretty obvious that wasn't the intention from the beginning, and I can't think why anyone thought it would be a good idea besides the shock value. I can't think when I've been so disappointed by a plot twist. But it obviously really did work for some people, and maybe on re-watching someday I'll feel differently about it too.
The reveal/twist in "Getting Closer" worked for me generally. It was the aftermath of the reveal in "The Hollow Men" that I had trouble with. (And, yes, the Minear interview had him indicating that they focused in on Boyd as Rossum early on in making S2.)
Well it was always suspicious that such a sympathetic guy as Boyd would be working for the Dollhouse--he clearly had an unexplained backstory--so I think that given more time they could have made "Evil_Head_of_Rossum!Boyd" more believable. As it was, I agree that the "craaazy" felt sloppy and disappointing. Although I thought Harry Lennix was fantastic.

I somehow figured that the Caroline/Echo faceoff was still to come (in flashbacks maybe?). It seems impossible that they'd just skip over that.
GVH: Your interpretation is closest to mine, although I vaccilate between the extremes of your view and Catherine's. I did figure that the "craaaaziness" was a result of sloppy writing/explanation, not meant to be an intrinsic character trait, Adelle's accusation of his being spectacularly insane notwithstanding (and Adelle's certainly biased). If it was intentional I look much less fondly on this.

I think the reason for the reveal is not just shock value, but has something fundamentally to do with illuminating Boyd's role throughout the series: Boyd cared about Echo, but he also always wanted to keep her in the Dollhouse, to protect her from the outside world. Boyd benefited from keeping her cloistered, from keeping her disempowered, all the while caring about her. We care about Boyd because we recognize that he cares about her, but he's been one of the bad guys all along. He's the element of the patriarchy wanting to keep women in their place for their own protection, and he's genuinely sympathetic and loving because that's how men see themselves. The reveal helps to solidify that and take it to a new extreme.

At the same time, I do wonder if, even if the twist were better executed, this isn't over the top. After all, Boyd wanting to protect Echo because he cares for her and loves her and in so doing keeping her trapped in the Dollhouse is a darkly ambiguous story to begin with. Isn't making him the head of the organization too obviously skewing the story against him rather than letting us see that what Boyd is doing is wrong regardless?

One thing that's interesting is that the reveal helps shed new light on his attitude in S1. For example, he is absent from "Needs"; he tortures men, such as in "The Target"; he stands idly by and doesn't react when Dominic, more of a White Hat than anyone else in the DH is, is wiped and Attic'd. And he does all this while vaguely acting morally superior to other people. In season two, while Adelle and Topher are utterly shocked about Nolan Boyd mostly takes it in stride, and we don't actually see his complete reaction (he comes in as cleanup at the end, of course); when Harding takes over Boyd is pretty okay with the new setup. This works both with Boyd-as-too-jaded-to-care, AND Boyd-as-man-who-feels-it-doesn't-matter-anymore-because-the-world-will-soon-end-as-we-know-it. I have a lot of problems here but I do think that the early episodes aren't ruined per se. (Unless Boyd just is crazy, in which case I guess they are.)

I know this: "The Hollow Men" is my new #1 pick for "Whedonverse episode most in need of a do-over." Which isn't to say worst per se.
Not sure I agree with GVH on this one *waits for space-time to rupture ... ;)* and here's why:

1) Boyd is a very clever character who, as far as we know, doesn't have some disorder which makes him unable to predict human responses.
2) Harry Lennix is a great actor.
3) Boyd talking to the gang after the reveal is clearly acting differently - watch him deliver "I love you guys" and then tell me he's meant to be straight up sane (or at least the same man).
4) Boyd after the reveal seems to expect his "family" to see his point, to not think he's "spectacularly insane". That seems to me like a profoundly unrealistic expectation for someone who's both clever and sane.
5) Therefore, Boyd is meant to be (at least a bit) karaazzeee *booga booga booga* (cos who can resist a good *booga booga booga* And I hope you're all doing the actions when you read that BTW ;). And if he's crazy then he's a simplistic black-hat villain, unworthy of 'Dollhouse' IMO.

If Boyd had acted just like Boyd while telling everyone his evil plan i'd have felt a lot better about it (even if the plan still feels unnecessarily convoluted) - that'd be a character most of us have had suspicions about all along revealing that he's much, much greyer than he appeared, that'd make sense for the show (nothing is black and white, apparent baddies are often in it for the "right" reasons) and be believable from his perspective. Then all the stuff about him just being pragmatic about who can be saved, about him genuinely caring for them, the daft MacGuffin about Caroline's magic blood etc. would fit (BTW, does Madeline/Mellie have magic blood too ? ;). With the way he's characterised after the reveal (which I liked well enough in principle), it just doesn't IMO. Like catherine, I really just don't buy it.

(maybe it's purely time but the way Boyd is played afterwards seems noticeably different and like a conscious choice to me which might indicate that aspect is deliberate)
Wow, I've got catherine and Saje disagreeing with me; this may be a first. Let's hope the universe doesn't implode, and space-time does not, in fact, rupture ;).

Anyway, on the points:

* catherine, yeah, like the others said, the decision to make Boyd evil was only made in the second season. But, then again, they had deliberately written Boyd to be both sympathetic and elicit a 'what's up with that guy?'-reaction as far back as 'The Target' (which made us love Boyd for the first time). So even then, there was a question mark hanging above Boyd's head, the writers just hadn't thought of the answer yet.

But as WilliamTheB mentions much of Boyd's actions in the first season do seem to work with his 'Evil_Head_of_Rossum!Boyd' persona (I'd have to rewatch S1 to decide if it works entirely, but going on just memory of those episodes, it does). I do get, however, where this could feel like a 'rewrite' of the character, regardless of whether you're convinced that it fits or not; because, in the end, Boyd was not what he appeared to the audience to be (a moral and good guy in a den of thieves). But if that's the case (which isn't, because, like Saje, you're not convinced that this interpretation is right), then it wouldn't be a problem with the text itself, but with your expectations not lining up with what the text ended up giving you. Which is a fair reason to be disappointed, just not one we could really discuss beyond that fact ;).

* Saje, you make a fair point re: Harry Lennix's acting, and I guess this does add to the 'craaaazy'-factor that I contributed mostly to the speediness of the reveal. But there's always the question how much of that was personal interpretation on Lennix's part, how much of that is accidental, etcetera. I'm still not convinced that the writers wanted to make Boyd seem insane (although, given the breakneck pace of this episode, maybe they were fine with the implication, to help viewers along), and if they did, I think that's a very weak explanation. But given that this is pretty ambiguous, I still prefer inserting my own interpretation - as it makes me feel a lot better about that storyline - and just assume the execution in this episode of it, was slightly off.
...

are we ... ? ... I think we're still here. Still, not all good news since the only logical explanation is, Einstein was wrong about space-time and modern physics as we know it is founded on a misconception. Bummer ;).

Re: Harry Lennix, i'm sure it is partly his interpretation, that's part of the collaborative synthesis that makes TV so great. But the director/producer (maybe even writers) still saw it and OK'ed it, if it's actually misleading wouldn't they have changed it, done another take ? I'd love an after episode interview with the writers like Tim Minear gave for 'Getting Closer', this is one time (given the production pressures) when the authors' intent could make an appreciable difference to how I viewed an episode (it's not going to make me magically think there're no problems all of a sudden but it might help me believe it was only production issues that caused them).

I do agree though that ultimately it's down to how much fan-wanking is too much fan-wanking for each individual viewer - there's a lot of stuff we can assume or interpret charitably to make it fit better (up to and including the "nuclear option" of "Well, he's crazy isn't he, his actions/motives don't need to make sense" ;). Just that for me it's over the line (even though, to stress again, i'm happy to cut plenty of slack for time pressure and if i'm not exactly ecstatic about how Boyd played out, i'm still very grateful to the creative team for even trying to give us a resolution in the first place).

Just to be clear BTW, it's not that he's bad that bothers me, it's the fact that he's so bad and so unaware of it and how others will see it that it feels inconsistent with what went before, too unrealistic for the morally complex realism we've seen up to now, too simplistic - I mean, given Attic-Boyd in 'The Attic' can now be taken to be foreshadowing, he's an actual cackling villain (again though, maybe that's deliberately playing with clichés, absolutes have seldom fit a TV show less than 'Dollhouse' IMO). Throwing the odd line in about how the harvesting process is specifically designed not to kill Echo just doesn't redress that balance for me, doesn't let me square the circle of season 1 and 11/13 of season 2 Boyd vs 'The Hollow Men' Boyd. Mileage varies, as per ;).
Now that it's pretty much four of us to the room :), I probably won't go into this too much, partly because yikes, so much discussion.

I will have to rewatch this episode, but I'm not sure if we should take Boyd's expecting the people in the room to accept his plan too seriously as a character point. Here is why: it seems to me Boyd is excited and happy to be able to tell people about his real self. I don't think he genuinely expects everyone to jump on board; he doesn't seem particularly suprised with the reactions of everyone in the room; his biggest surprise is that the people in the room don't know that he really cares about them, but that is maybe something a little understandable. My take is that Boyd probably figures, "Well, they'll come around in time--let's lay things on the table and then Adelle will make the pragmatic decision to live."

Now, again, I have to rewatch, but that's an impression I got, which for me negates some of the "crazy". Not all of it, by a long shot. This is of course a very difficult episode, but I'm glad we can talk about it. :)

I totally agree, btw, Saje, on an interview post mortem where the writers talked about their intent. Intent doesn't change quality but it really helps us interpret it.

ETA:
Boyd: I know you're angry, but...
[later]
Echo: The first chance I get I will *kill you*.
Boyd: I have no doubt you'll try.

I don't think Boyd believes that his motley crew will accept him right away. Certainly he talks to Echo expecting her to be angry and vengeful. But I don't think it's 100% unreasonable that people will grow to accept him over a long enough period of time, if you believe (as he does) that he's ultimately right. After all, he grew to love them.

Oh Dollhouse, why must you inspire such mixed feelings.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2010-01-20 14:09 ]
Let's hope the universe doesn't implode, and space-time does not, in fact, rupture ;).

I wish you guys wouldn't be so cavalier about this kind of thing. The rest of us have to live in this universe too, you know. It wouldn't hurt to be a little more careful and just try to agree on everything.

I think my disagreement isn't re. your interpretation GVH, which is plausible enough (although I don't think the BadBoyd reveal was written well at all). But I do disagree that one could go back and watch S1 and say, ohhh, so that's what Boyd's mysterious backstory was, head of ROSSUM, ohhh, cool. Well, I guess I don't disagree... maybe "one" could feel that way (?), just not me. I don't think I'm merely disappointed that my expectations were upended. An unexpected villain can be pretty cool. Maggie Walsh in Buffy was obviously neither as central nor as likeable as Boyd, and seemed craaaazy-ish when her BadGuy-ness was revealed, but it worked with the question marks around her, and it was shocking in a good way. A character being not what they seemed can be awesome. But when they are so entirely other than what they seemed, and when what they seemed was central to the story that mattered (or what mattered to you about the story) then it's very jarring. In a bad way.

The question mark about Boyd (who is this guy? what is he doing in this place? why does he know how to dismember and get rid of a body?) was something I loved. But I really don't think it "works" (emotionally at the very least) with past scenes if actually he was machinating away, even if you can buy that he's a brilliant and complex evil(ish) mastermind rather than a *booga booga* crazy one (and who can resist doing the actions when reading that? ;)). Thinking back to the Tim Minear interview where he said they really make the stories up as they go along... OK, I get that (even though it *really* shows sometimes, and not always in a good way) but know your characters. Seriously. Not that they can't develop, not that you can't come up with new stuff. But lay the groundwork. BadBoyd just Does Not Fit with PreviousBoyd in my brain. (As always, I'm willing to accept that the problem may in fact be my brain, of course, but since I live here, I work with what I've got). (And I think the scenes you mention do work well enough with the reveal, WilliamTheB, but it seems to me that there are far more that don't as well... but I'm too lazy to give examples right now! I'd have to rewatch.)

Or to be more succinct, this:
Just to be clear BTW, it's not that he's bad that bothers me, it's the fact that he's so bad and so unaware of it and how others will see it that it feels inconsistent with what went before, too unrealistic for the morally complex realism we've seen up to now, too simplistic

And while I'm quoting Saje...

i'm happy to cut plenty of slack for time pressure and if i'm not exactly ecstatic about how Boyd played out, i'm still very grateful to the creative team for even trying to give us a resolution in the first place

I'm willing to cut slack but I kind of wish they hadn't rushed to a resolution. I would have preferred unfinished, I think :(.
The reveal/twist in "Getting Closer" worked for me generally. It was the aftermath of the reveal in "The Hollow Men" that I had trouble with. (And, yes, the Minear interview had him indicating that they focused in on Boyd as Rossum early on in making S2.)

I agree with both The One True b!X and GVH's astute analysis of Boyd. It just feels right to me.

(I've been re-watching Veronica Mars, and there's an episode where one of the scientists gets attached to the monkey he's experimenting on. "Did you name him? Was that the problem" goes perfect with Boyd's developmental love for his LA Dollhouse. He didn't exactly "name" them, but he gave them purpose and connection.)

It needs to be said that GVH's attempt to rationalize that Boyd isn't really crazy makes sense as well (from the quotes pulled from "The Hollow Men"). Unlike Saje, I don't think he was being too simplistic in thinking evil or that they'd go along with it.

3) Boyd talking to the gang after the reveal is clearly acting differently - watch him deliver "I love you guys" and then tell me he's meant to be straight up sane (or at least the same man).

If Boyd had acted just like Boyd while telling everyone his evil plan i'd have felt a lot better about it (even if the plan still feels unnecessarily convoluted) - that'd be a character most of us have had suspicions about all along revealing that he's much, much greyer than he appeared, that'd make sense for the show (nothing is black and white, apparent baddies are often in it for the "right" reasons) and be believable from his perspective.

To counter Saje's argument, I'd like to point everyone still in this discussion to Season 1 Episode 8 (?)- "Echoes".

Let's re-cap that, shall we?

1) Anyone (person) who comes in contact with the drug drops their "blending in technique" and just acts like themselves.
2) Actives who are in contact with the drug glitch.

A) Topher- acts even more Topher, with less pants.
B) Adelle- shrugs off the responsibility of the Dollhouse, seeing it more as a burden than something she wants. (Plays quite well with her drunk-arc; as if we saw the "real" non-work Adelle.)
C) Dominic- actually feels regret for trying to kill Echo, likes simple things like suits and kittens; proclaims that he isn't such a bad guy. (Plays quite well with his Attic-arc, where he admits to being glad he didn't kill Echo; ends up being one of the really "good" guys of the entire series.)
D) Boyd- is very relaxed and chill. Is totally okay with Echo challenging his commands (Boyd: "Would you like a treatment?" Echo: "No." Boyd: "Okay, well that's that."), is totally okay with the chaos going on around him at the university (like the chaos of an impending apocalypse has no real affect on him), and loves the simple beauty of music... which he calls and plays to Adelle & Topher (who are his family).

When that episode played we thought Adelle & Boyd were the most *tweaked out* of everyone, but they're also the ones who carry the most pretense. We got to see earlier on that facade fall from Adelle's face when the responsibility she used to carry went to Harding for a while. She wasn't our ruthless commander, but a person with no real power over the situation complaining about the state of things. When she re-assumed power, she became the "cold hearted bitch" that we knew before... but even more so because she had assumed even more power- the General of the rebels taking down Rossum.

Boyd, in my mind, is the same. Released of his responsibilities, he's quite different from the Handler-Boyd or even Security-Boyd (both which I believe are different from each other as well). He's more laid-back, takes everything at face value, and is confident that things will work out. He states things simply and beautifully.

Unlike Adelle, no one took power away from Boyd, so besides "Echoes", we've seen him with his facade on. It wasn't until Arizona that we got to see our little musician again. But he chose the place for his family to see him for who he was. And he didn't argue with them on hating him, or thinking that he's nuts- he simply accepted it and knew the state of things.

catherine & Saje may see it as fan-wank now, but I think if they really re-thought that episode, they could see that we're onto something.

Now let's hope that I haven't killed the thread.
I'm firmly in the "Boyd-makes-sense" camp. Though others, particularly GVH, give excellent analyses of the character, there were a couple of points I haven't seen mentioned here (but it's a long thread so I may have missed something):

First, some posters have claimed that Boyd doesn't make sense because there were other, easier solutions that would have prevented the apocalypse. Some have fan-wanked that there might have been other companies etc. working on the tech that would have prevented an easy solution. I think there's a better theory. Though it's not mentioned directly in the dialog, to me it seems obvious that Boyd used The Attic (and particularly Clyde) to examine possible courses of action. Once Clyde predicted the apocalypse, it seems like Boyd's first hypothesis would be to run the simulation again, assuming that he destroyed all the tech he could and shut down Rossum. Clearly, the Attic showed that the apocalypse would still occur, or he would have never gone through the trouble he did with Echo. I agree that we could have used a few more lines of dialog to explain this, but to me it seems plausible. Even Boyd does not have the ability to destroy all evidence that the tech ever existed. Even in the ludicrous event that he managed to get rid of all of Rossum's tech, staff, clients, and former actives, how would he have gotten rid of Alpha? Alpha is clearly out of Boyd's control, yet possesses most of the knowledge needed to rebuild the tech, as seen in Omega.

Also, re:comments about rewatching old episodes, I was thinking of "The Target", clearly one of the most powerful episodes with regards to Boyd. In particular, the moment with Echo saying, "Do you trust me?" and Boyd replying "With my life" has an added layer that makes a lot of sense. Not only did Boyd trust her with his life in that moment, he trusted her to be his savior, and to see him (and civilization) through the coming apocalypse.
Just quickly because Sophie the Giraffe will only keep the baby occupied for so long... (oh sentences I never imagined making sense).

I don't think it's fan-wank necessarily, but re-thinking the episode doesn't seem like the issue either. I'd need to re-feel rather than re-think the whole series to see it the way you guys are describing it. And so I'm not really "arguing a point" - that'd be like arguing over whether strawberry ice-cream is good or not, it's a matter of taste, but still interesting to discuss how it tastes to me and to try and get how it tastes to other people. No actually that sounds boring... this is more interesting. Anyway. I loved Boyd in the crazy-drug ep (even though I thought that episode was sort of weak on the whole... saved by stellar and hilarious performances all round!) - it felt like a beautiful moment of revelation about his character, and I loved Boyd telling Echo in the Target that he trusted her with his life. Both those moments feel very different (and to me, far less compelling) when viewed through the BadBoyd lens (and of course, at those points, he wasn't bad). It's not that I think it can't make sense. There's nothing in the earlier scripts making it impossible for Boyd to be the Head of Rossum, playing all the others from the start. He has a mysterious past, there's something weird about him being there, so sure, why not Head of Rossum? There's no reason he couldn't be a former hockey ref who murdered puppies in his spare time, either, but that doesn't mean it's a satisfying answer to the Boyd mystery. It doesn't work (for me, of course) on a gut level. It feels last-minute, cheap, and silly.

Baddies being revealed as good (Snape!) or goodies being revealed as bad (Indiana Jones' girlfriend in movie number three! Faith's first watcher! ...ok I know there are better examples than that but Sophie the Giraffe is going to get hurled across the room soon) is classic and Very Cool when done well. But when it's done well, it's planned from the start, it fits more seamlessly with the character we know (clearly whether it does or not here is subjective), there are clues if we go back and look for them. I can get into being betrayed but I hate being disappointed. (Ack, there goes Sophie... back in a bit).
I'd need to re-feel rather than re-think the whole series to see it the way you guys are describing it. And so I'm not really "arguing a point" - that'd be like arguing over whether strawberry ice-cream is good or not, it's a matter of taste, but still interesting to discuss how it tastes to me and to try and get how it tastes to other people.

Yeah, exactly. This idea often crops up that if we just think about it a bit more we'll "see the light" and suddenly it'll fall into place. But it's not an intellectual thing, not a matter of having missed dialogue that might justify it (though I may well have), it's how it feels and to me it feels "off", it feels like it was set up and then didn't deliver enough to make it feel true.

I'm also happy to hear other perspectives but just to be clear, don't anyone feel like i'm sitting waiting/needing/wanting to be convinced of something because i'm not. Nor am I all that into the idea of various points being made which I either refute or accept - I don't expect my points above to change the minds/feelings of those for whom the Boyd thing worked (as GVH says, it works for him despite those possibilities) and that applies the other way around too. It's not an equation where someone can come along and point out the error in my working and i'll thank them and nod in agreement because the correctness of their solution is immediately apparent, it's an individual interpretation of ambiguous and incomplete information with a large emotional component.
Though it's not mentioned directly in the dialog, to me it seems obvious that Boyd used The Attic (and particularly Clyde) to examine possible courses of action. Once Clyde predicted the apocalypse, it seems like Boyd's first hypothesis would be to run the simulation again, assuming that he destroyed all the tech he could and shut down Rossum. Clearly, the Attic showed that the apocalypse would still occur, or he would have never gone through the trouble he did with Echo.

I think you're onto something here. Clyde 1.0 even mentions this while in "The Attic", and how of all other possible scenarios, there's still only a 3% chance of no apocalypse.

Even in the ludicrous event that he managed to get rid of all of Rossum's tech, staff, clients, and former actives, how would he have gotten rid of Alpha? Alpha is clearly out of Boyd's control, yet possesses most of the knowledge needed to rebuild the tech, as seen in Omega.

Oh, yeah. Good point. I wonder if Alpha inadvertently gave Boyd (& Rossum) the idea of remote wipes/imprints to begin with. I mean, Alpha already had remote wipes & imprinting capabilities in Season 1 (since "Gray Hour"). In Season 2, Topher starts up the remote-wipe thing, something he admits getting from Alpha in Episode 3 & 4... with the latter episodes only further developing the tech. Harding commends Topher on his brilliance & ideas... which have actually been inspired by Alpha. Interesting.

Not only did Boyd trust her with his life in that moment, he trusted her to be his savior, and to see him (and civilization) through the coming apocalypse.

Whoa, nifty, camber. I mean, we do see some glitching of Miss Penn in S1E1, and she does seem to help. But to out-right deny her programming and flip it on its head in order to save another's life- that's exactly what she did in "The Target". We also glimpse their previous history in that episode... and up 'til she saves his life, he's pretty mediocre about actually "feeling" anything for her.

Perhaps by doing that one save really showed him that they were on the right track?

Baddies being revealed as good (Snape!) or goodies being revealed as bad (Indiana Jones' girlfriend in movie number three! Faith's first watcher! ...ok I know there are better examples than that but Sophie the Giraffe is going to get hurled across the room soon) is classic and Very Cool when done well.

catherine, I enjoy reading your POV, but like you said, ice cream tastes differently to everyone. To me, Boyd being "bad" while being the "shock" of "Getting Closer", wasn't the main point of "The Hollow Men". They already shocked us with that trick. Why show you the mechanism behind the magic?

I'd much rather look at Boyd not being revealed as "bad" but rather just see the motivations of how he came to the Dollhouse. That's what we've all wanted from the beginning, yes? To understand how a man so cool & protective could end up in a brothel?

To find out that not just he runs the brothel, but he believes that the brothel can save the whores of tomorrow exactly by fulfilling their purpose is quite fascinating to me. And the super whore (Echo) actually develops an immunity to the sleaze she's subjected to rewards the world because she is not chaste. (Those may be harsh words, but nothing critics have not used to describe my favorite show. Kind of reminds me of horror movies where the non-virgins all get killed. Here, it seems, being a virgin will get you killed.)
Well, I didn't mean to come off as showing you the light, Saje & catherine.

I view these threads as a trip down high-school-English-class-memory lane. My teacher always said, if you feel something about a piece or come to a certain understanding, as long as you can back it up with evidence, it's correct.

That's just how I like to function. We can both be right, and yet be saying two completely different (and maybe conflicting) things about the series.

In fact, in another thread, someone conveyed a certain light about Angel not being a hero that I thought was fascinating. Never saw him as such a "villain", but by viewing the piece in that particular light, I can understand it.

Just like how I can understand that Boyd being a villain doesn't work for either of you. However, in my mind I think there is enough circumstantial evidence that portrays Boyd neither in a good/bad scenario, or even in a bonkers scenario. And because of that evidence, I tend to side towards GVH's possible conclusion.

Doesn't mean you're wrong, but perhaps you haven't given me enough evidence from your side of things to allow me to see that strawberry ice cream actually tastes good.

That is always my goal- to learn more about a topic through discussion and varying perspectives. I don't want to preach (because I don't know how), and if what I say can't give you enough of a perspective to be able to "feel" the other side, then I've failed (which seems to be the case).
There's no reason he couldn't be a former hockey ref who murdered puppies in his spare time, either, but that doesn't mean it's a satisfying answer to the Boyd mystery.


Well, of course, there's a difference between an explanation like that and this one (but I don't blame you for one example catherine, given the high risk of sudden Sophie the Giraffe throwage ;)). The difference being that your example is random: it doesn't tie in with the storyline in any satisfactory way. 'BadBoyd' works, even if you think it works badly or feels 'off', because it ties in with the storyline. It even offers extra explanations (like explaining why Boyd was so preoccupied with the emergence of the Echo persona, and why he was at that Dollhouse, caring for that active in the first place) which weren't even needed (an explanation of just why he would be at a Dollhouse would've been enough, just like his caring for Echo could've been "just natural"). It's stuff like that which makes this work even more, for me, and an equal alternative explanation would have to at least operate at the same level of "working" to be comparable. If that makes any sense ;).

It doesn't work (for me, of course) on a gut level. It feels last-minute, cheap, and silly.


Well, that's fair enough, of course. For both you and Saje (sorry we're not agreeing again, though, I'm really not trying to ruin the universe for everyone ;)). It obviously doesn't feel that way to me - I feel this adds extra complexity and layers to Boyd, which I'm enjoying a lot - despite the fact that my conclusions might be borderline fanwank-y and despite the fact that the ambiguity might even mean that Boyd is, in fact, *booga booga* ;) craaaazy (although I still don't believe that to be true :)).

Even in the ludicrous event that he managed to get rid of all of Rossum's tech, staff, clients, and former actives, how would he have gotten rid of Alpha? Alpha is clearly out of Boyd's control, yet possesses most of the knowledge needed to rebuild the tech, as seen in Omega.


Fair enough, camber, and it's an interesting though, but given the timeline, this would've only ever been an extra reason for the inevitability of the apocalypse. He'd already placed Caroline in the LA Dollhouse before the emergence of Alpha, meaning he'd already anticipated the apocalypse at that point. In fact, Alpha might conceivably even be his first try to get at a 'cure', with 'Echo' just being a "back-up" until Alpha failed, which made him want to be more 'hands on' with the second try :).
Universe hater ! ;)

My teacher always said, if you feel something about a piece or come to a certain understanding, as long as you can back it up with evidence, it's correct.

Yeah, as I say korkster, I don't really see it as being about "giving evidence" because whatever the evidence, that's how I felt (I sometimes think that the "evidence" in these cases is just a post hoc justification for whatever we immediately felt anyway - either it works straightaway for you and that's the position you justify or it didn't and that's the position you justify). And luckily this isn't an essay that's being marked by teach ;).

In other words, when it comes to ice cream, all you can do is say "Hey, I like this flavour, how about you ?". If they try it and don't then no amount of explaining how great Strawberries are or how packed with vitamins they are etc. is going to convince them that they like the taste and the only "evidence" they need for disliking the taste is their (honest) assertion of it. Of course we can all talk about our favourite flavours, that can also be fun in and of itself sometimes.

As to the whole "both being right" thing, well yes, agreed, as I say above. I dunno why you embolden it as if you're making a point when i've said the same thing myself upthread (no offence but that seems to happen a fair bit when we converse korkster and i'm not really sure why ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2010-01-20 23:01 ]
Universe hater ! ;)


Hey, you could always change your mind and agree with me, thereby saving the universe, but I don't see you making the effort either ;).

I sometimes think that the "evidence" in these cases is just a post hoc justification for whatever we immediately felt anyway - either it works straightaway for you and that's the position you justify or it didn't and that's the position you justify


Agreed. I feel I could quite convincingly argue the other side as well, but that's something I don't want to be doing (whereas with more factual discussions - i.e. not fiction interpretations - I find I can surprisingly often think of arguments which would topple my position quite easily, while I have much more trouble finding the arguments to strengthen it ;)).

Having said that though, I do think there's cases even in analyzing fiction, where one position can me more objectively right than another. This just isn't one of them :).

ETA:

If they try it and don't then no amount of explaining how great Strawberries are or how packed with vitamins they are etc. is going to convince them that they like the taste and the only "evidence" they need for disliking the taste is their (honest) assertion of it.


Re-thinking this point, I think that it's not entirely applicable in this case. To keep with the metaphor: we don't seem to be agreeing what flavor the ice-cream has to a certain extent here, agreeing that the flavor could be different for different people and it's then of course quite fair to lay down the reasoning for why we think it has a certain flavor (even if convincing each other of the flavor is nearly impossible :)).

[ edited by GVH on 2010-01-20 23:25 ]
Hey, you could always change your mind and agree with me, thereby saving the universe, but I don't see you making the effort either ;).

Well, i'm willing to meet you half-way if we change the origin so that half-way is where I started. ;-)

To keep with the metaphor: we don't seem to be agreeing what flavor the ice-cream has to a certain extent here, agreeing that the flavor could be different for different people and it's then of course quite fair to lay down the reasoning for why we think it has a certain flavor (even if convincing each other of the flavor is nearly impossible :)).

Yeah it's that last part I guess though as with the post hoc thing, I do think there's also an element of it just being a matter of taste. It's as if we don't agree on the flavour but with enough discussion might come to do so and yet if we did i'd still effectively respond "Well, it doesn't taste like Strawberry to me" and that'd still be true, even if it actually is Strawberry, if that makes sense.

I can know a thing without feeling it and i'd imagine most people are the same (and very handy it is too sometimes) and I suspect that for the most part, if you don't feel it straightaway, you probably won't truly ever feel it (you might agree that you should but you still won't i.e. objective justifications only make sense as justifications to other people, they don't work on yourself in these specific situations. The heart knows what it knows ;).
In other words, when it comes to ice cream, all you can do is say "Hey, I like this flavour, how about you ?". If they try it and don't then no amount of explaining how great Strawberries are or how packed with vitamins they are etc. is going to convince them that they like the taste and the only "evidence" they need for disliking the taste is their (honest) assertion of it. Of course we can all talk about our favourite flavours, that can also be fun in and of itself sometimes.


Well, I disagree (surprising, I know). You could try strawberry-flavored ice cream and say you don't like it... and follow up with something like "it's too sweet" or "it's too pink". They are well your own reasonings, ones that I could personally never feel- BUT they justify why you don't like that flavor.

I dunno why you embolden it as if you're making a point when i've said the same thing myself upthread (no offence but that seems to happen a fair bit when we converse korkster and i'm not really sure why ;).


I guess it depends on how much further up-thread we're talking. I'll admit, I skipped a few comments, waited for people to stagger out of this discussion, before I jumped in. It was just too many to ponder on, and I knew you guys would finish up those thoughts anyway.

The reason I posted twice (the second being about "both being right") was because you posted while I was still writing. I saw what you said, felt singled-out as in trying to convince you of something, and attempted to clarify. Here's what you said:

I'm also happy to hear other perspectives but just to be clear, don't anyone feel like i'm sitting waiting/needing/wanting to be convinced of something because i'm not. Nor am I all that into the idea of various points being made which I either refute or accept - I don't expect my points above to change the minds/feelings of those for whom the Boyd thing worked (as GVH says, it works for him despite those possibilities) and that applies the other way around too. It's not an equation where someone can come along and point out the error in my working and i'll thank them and nod in agreement because the correctness of their solution is immediately apparent, it's an individual interpretation of ambiguous and incomplete information with a large emotional component.


My response:

... if you feel something about a piece or come to a certain understanding, as long as you can back it up with evidence, it's correct.


My hope was that you could give me some indicators of why Boyd being "bad" feels off to you (too sweet, too pink, etc...), which is what I actually asked for:

Doesn't mean you're wrong, but perhaps you haven't given me enough evidence from your side of things to allow me to see that strawberry ice cream actually tastes good.


It seems that there is plenty of discussion on why people are comfortable with the progression of Boyd, and I'd like to see if Saje & catherine could come up with some uncomfortable aspects.

Or are you going to tell me that you said this already up-thread? And if that's the case, what are we actually discussing here?
No one even commented on my thoughts about a Brothel bringing on the apocalypse and saving the world. :(
Well, of course, there's a difference between an explanation like that and this one (but I don't blame you for one example catherine, given the high risk of sudden Sophie the Giraffe throwage ;)).


You're right, that was a dumb example, but it's generous of you to lay the blame on poor Sophie. I think she may also have hidden my house key. Evil, evil giraffe.

It seems that there is plenty of discussion on why people are comfortable with the progression of Boyd, and I'd like to see if Saje & catherine could come up with some uncomfortable aspects.


Not sure exactly what you're looking for here korkster but if I'm not giving lots of specific examples it's probably just laziness on my part (and Sophie the Giraffe's limited ability to entertain while I try to string together two thoughts, which is something I'm out of practice with in any case... I tend to stop around 3/4 of a thought these days). But I'll give it a shot.

So, I am really into this show most of the time, and Boyd is one of my favorite characters. Love the actor. Love how self-aware and defeated he seems re. what he's doing. Love his emerging relationship with Echo, how he starts to realize she is special and care for her, his budding romance with Dr. Saunders (unaffected by his discovery that she's a doll), the way he interacts with Topher and Adele. Wildly curious about his backstory. Of course there is a dark past, and in spite of his apparent sense of the Wrongness of the Dollhouse he is a very shady character (why is he there? how does he know how to get rid of a body? How could he just stand by while they sent Dominic to the attic?). I figure we're going to learn some really disturbing stuff about Boyd at some point. Can't wait.

Then, suddenly, he is the Head of Rossum. He knew Caroline / Echo was special from the start. He picked her out, in fact. He "chose" all these people and has been playing them from the beginning. Which means:

The contrast of Ballard's obsession with Caroline vs. Boyd caring for Echo (and not caring about Caroline, who he never met) doesn't mean anything. BadBoyd cares about Echoline's spinal fluid or something. One could argue that he was ALSO realizing how special she was as an emerging person, and sure, that's fine. But if there was all this manipulating and previous knowledge, it feels a lot less powerful to me and it fundamentally changes every single scene between Boyd and Echo. The way he interacts with Topher and Adele becomes part of his Scheme or Cover presumably (even if he actually Likes them, because in the beginning it seemed like maybe he didn't), and so those relationships don't feel as meaningful or organic as they did when I assumed they were all together by chance. His romance with Dr. Saunders seems a bit weird to me, as well, if he is the brilliant machinating head of the company rather than, say, a defeated ex-cop with several skeletons in his closet falling in love with a doll. If you can go back and watch and feel that this reveal adds layers rather than stripping them away, then... well, you'll enjoy re-watching the series a lot more than I will ;). I was expecting something cooler, both from Boyd and from Rossum. This doesn't taste like strawberries.

Having said all that, I'm glad to have read all this fan-wankery (kidding ;)), because when I finished the episode I was so pissed, I just thought it was the dumbest last minute pulled-out-their-asses twist I had ever seen. But obviously, it really does work for some people, which makes me think it doesn't suck as much as I thought; it just doesn't work for me. So I'm still disappointed, but not feeling quite as vehement about it ;).

No one even commented on my thoughts about a Brothel bringing on the apocalypse and saving the world. :(


Sorry korkster :). I'm going to leave that one for somebody else. My 3/4 of a thought is all used up for today. Goodnight all.
Hey catherine! Thanks for replying! :)

One could argue that he was ALSO realizing how special she was as an emerging person, and sure, that's fine. ... The way he interacts with Topher and Adele becomes part of his Scheme or Cover presumably (even if he actually Likes them, because in the beginning it seemed like maybe he didn't), and so those relationships don't feel as meaningful or organic as they did when I assumed they were all together by chance.


Ah, I can see how that would screw up the overall fuzziness of the series, yes. If Boyd had chosen every single one of them prior to his stint at the Dollhouse, their trials would be meaningless to me; a bond forced instead of a bond formed, so to speak. Thank you for putting into words what I wasn't getting. Your uncomfortableness not only falls onto Echo, but the other members of the Dollhouse as well. I see.

For me, the only thing he purposely selected was Caroline's spinal immunity. He did also select the LA Dollhouse, but I believe that was more based on status-reports and not actually knowing any of the employees there.

That would actually make his "cover" a lot easier- not needing to pretend not to know people he *really doesn't know*. (Seems to me he's a bit of a shut-in.)

I think S1E2 "The Target" really sealed the deal on his perspective of Echo from "thing" to "person". From there, I saw his relationships with them as genuine; not artificial.

Thanks again! (I don't know what to tell you about Saunders or Ballard. I can't make sense of those.)
You could try strawberry-flavored ice cream and say you don't like it... and follow up with something like "it's too sweet" or "it's too pink".

Or he seemed crazy or too simplistic or inconsistent or it didn't ring true or it needed too much fan-wanking and assuming of things we weren't actually shown (for me personally). Yes I could've said something along those lines couldn't I. *glances upthread* Hey, wait a minute ...

Or are you going to tell me that you said this already up-thread? And if that's the case, what are we actually discussing here?

Err, yeah I did so I guess I am and whether it's intentional or not there's a hectoring quality to your posts which I don't appreciate. End of the day, we disagree on the episode (or the Boyd element of it anyway) which I have no problem with but more importantly, we apparently also disagree on how a discussion is best conducted and as a result i'm getting very little out of it so i'm happier to leave it there korkster, have a good 'un ;).
What's funny, Saje, is that I actually like your discussions. I remember fondly talking about Dr. Horrible with both you and GVH.

I don't know how it's escalated to this. I certainly didn't mean to harass you either.

I joined this thread because I like Dollhouse and I like talking to you. I genuinely came into this being sincere.

When it seemed like my thoughts weren't valid here because they had already been discussed 200 comments ago, and that I seemed to be coming off as "trying to convert" rather than just talking... I genuinely became confused, and made several attempts to correct it and keep the thread going.

I did not mean anything with malice, Saje, and I deeply apologize if I've offended you or harassed you in any way. That was not my intention. I was simply looking for what the topic had become so that I could participate as well.

Instead, it seems as though I've not only stopped discussion on Dollhouse, but I've offended/bothered my fellow Whedonites to the point solitude.
korkster I think it would go better if you didn't try so much to direct other people's points. This isn't an admonishment, just a suggestion after having read the recent comments here. I think I understand where you're coming from, just honestly wanting to pick Saje and catherine's brains on a certain topic that's gotten really hard to follow at this point. But I can also see how your method of trying to keep the discussion on track could unintentionally make someone feel like the debate's gotten less friendly and more antagonistic.
Aw, I wouldn't sweat it, korkster. I don't think you stopped the discussion - we were pretty much winding down, since there are only so many ways you can say "I liked it cuz X" and "I didn't like it cuz Y." And while I can't speak for Saje (but what the hell, why don't I anyway? ;)) I don't think he was offended, just getting bored with it and feeling perhaps you were still asking a question he'd answered (ie. "it didn't work for me" is about as specific as one can get when a story point just feels off). Internetty conversations are hard sometimes, because there is no beer.
No beer? I'm outta here.
Why does there have to be no beer ? Are we trying to make baby Jesus cry ? OK, been to the pictures ('Daybreakers' - seeds of a good film but what ended up on screen wasn't that great unfortunately, like two movies that didn't like each other duking it out for the same reel) so here's a delayed response...

No-one has said that your comments aren't valid because they've been discussed before korkster - my point about "both of us can be right" was that saying something i've said myself (in so many words in this thread and basically word for word in others) as if i'm likely NOT to agree with it (i.e. requiring emphasis in bold type etc.) leads me to wonder if you're reading what i'm saying. Asking me to list points when i've specifically said that in this instance i'm not particularly interested in lists of whys and why nots that we swap back and forth (that i'm neither seeking to convince nor be convinced) just adds to that impression. And if we're not reading each others responses as closely as we hope for our own to be read then this isn't a discussion, it's a series of monologues.

But I came to the thread late myself and most of my points had been at least mentioned by others so it's not a matter of priority, we can all say our piece as individuals whatever anyone else has said (though obviously the more new stuff we bring the better it is for everyone, that's one advantage of many eyes/ears/brains watching the same thing).

When you say stuff like:

"Or are you going to tell me that you said this already up-thread? And if that's the case, what are we actually discussing here?"

in what seems very like an accusatory "tone", it's like you're claiming I haven't given any reasons and as if i'm personally obligated to repeat points i've already made just because they're upthread. Which puzzles me no end because the onus is surely on yourself to simply search for my posts upthread and read them. That's how threads work, right ? It saves us all restating our position every time someone enters the discussion - the blog records our comments so we don't have to keep repeating ourselves.

That said, your apology is graciously given and totally accepted. Don't let it bother you too much basically, I wasn't mortally offended just mildly annoyed, I don't hate you, I don't intend to avoid you forever more, I was just trying to disengage from this particular form of this particular discussion for the reasons i've mentioned (wait for it ... yep, you guessed it ;) upthread.
Thank you for your suggestions. I have a better understanding on how to give more effective communication in the future. You all have good days now.
So, I said somewhere above that I was disappointed that Team Echo didn't bother to consider Boyd's vaccine idea. Except, having just finished my S2 rewatch for Watch DOLLHOUSE Week, I now believe they not only go on in fact to consider it, but to pursue it. I think that's what the headaches Anthony and Priya discuss in "Epitaph One" are -- they are the same as Echo's headaches when she was first learning to incorporate and control her imprints, but in their case the result of the Echo Vaccine, produced to protect Team Echo during their fight, at some point after "The Hollow Men".

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