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April 19 2013

'Boyd Langton and the Fantasy of Trust' - a Dollhouse essay. This essay originally appeared in the 'Inside Joss' Dollhouse: From Alpha to Rossum' anthology.

The interesting conundrum articles like this (and indeed many characters) pose on television is do people like them for rational reasons or irrational reasons. And often that ties the hands of writers or speaks to mistakes in portrayals.

I think Boyd and Ballard are inexorably tied together. I believe a great deal of what made Boyd hard sell at the end was the belief that was created very early of how he contrasted with Ballard. While I think the original plan was for Ballard to "deal" with his own baggage, he came across as white-knightish, rapey, and ineffective the first season. People wanted Boyd, the fairly straight forward, effective, good listening, rapist catching character to BE Echo's companion. It's easy to find articles written at the time

I think the writers always intended Ballard to be liked. I think perhaps like Angel in S8, it was always a case of not knowing how to write material for the actor and the story to accomplish "flawed but likable" or "making mistakes but not beyond redemption." In that void where that character needed to be liked, Boyd was the fill in. After that happened, anything less than a brilliant explanation for Boyd being the Big Bad wasn't going to work. And what we got wasn't brilliant. Essentially, we were given an entire season where the writing said, "like this man." We got a couple of episodes of the writing saying, "just kidding."
I think what we got was brilliant.

I dont think anybody told us whom to like or dislike. Boyds likable features were still there as he became the big bad. Its just that sometimes the big bad might be more likable that the hero, wich is a very whedonian theme. He certainly didnt see himself as the big bad.

And i thought having one of the family members having a distorted, yet honest, view about family was a genius variation on the whole "family" concept that runs trough the entire whedon ouvre.
I'll just always wonder whether Boyd was always intended to be the big bad from the original pilot on or not. His going to save Ballard's life suggests a different trajectory somehow.
barboo, pretty sure someone said somewhere - but who was it, and where? - that as of the end of Season 1, Boyd was *not* intended to be the Big Bad.

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