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May 29 2014

Joss Whedon's best heel turns. The Artifice looks at Whedonverse characters who change their allegiance.

Now I'm sad.
I expected videos of him literally turning on his heel.
I enjoyed this article. I would put Angel's turn to Angelus before Willow's turn. I read the comments and someone mentioned Faith should be in the list, which I agree with, but Faith's turns were not really as shocking as the one's listed. IMO there was always a lot of forshadowing to the audience about the way Faith was going to behave.
I also, like one of the posters, took major exception to the idea that "Condelia" was the result of voluntary action by the real Cordelia. And agree with Passion that Faith's recurrent heel-face pivots were to be expected.

I pretty much agree with the order. I almost agree with one of his posters, that Jayne shouldn't be on the list, but mainly because I don't see it as a turn, just as Jayne's being Jayne. Deep down, I found neither Angel/Angelus or Willow/DarkWillow all that surprising, which likely says more about me than about Joss. But the illustration he sued for DarkWillow tehcncially isn't, I know it's a nitpick but it bothered me.

Boyd , as I understand, never would have happened if Joss ahd had five full se asons, or evne five half-season,s instead of two half-seasons, to build the storylines. I dor ecall re-watchign it for Mark Watches. When the group got togetehr in Olivia's office to turn against Rossum, I commented "This needs to be real." *grin-snerk-grin.
I think the Boyd reveal is one of the worst ideas in the Whedonverse. I stil can't get over it. I just didn't make any sense.
I'm sad they only gave Angel the series an honorable mention, some my favorite heel-turn has to be Wesley.
I think the Boyd reveal is one of the worst ideas in the Whedonverse. I stil can't get over it. I just didn't make any sense.

Yeah, it was one of those "wouldn't it be shocking if..." ideas that was all about delivering a shock in the moment but made absolutely no sense at all in the larger story context. When you rewatch Dollhouse it's clear in every episode that they didn't have any thought that Boyd would eventually turn out to be the Big Bad; in fact they're dropping hints all the way through for a very different backstory, which never gets paid off. It's a shame, too, because it's a bad blot on what is otherwise a pretty terrific series-end.

(And yes, I know that if you tie yourself in a million knots you can special-plead your way to making the Boyd reveal "make sense." But that's always going to be possible with any character. You could write a story in which Buffy turns out to have been the demon behind the Hellmouth from Day 1, and find some way to make the story "plausible" [i.e. she had to pretend to be good in order to defeat the Blargly-Argly Magic Spell which would otherwise have exposed her etc. etc.]. The point is not "it's physically impossible for Boyd to have been the Big Bad." It is that it made no sense, at all, within the fictional world that was created. If you were going to do it at all, it needed to have preparatory groundwork or you needed to know that you'd have another season of storytelling ahead of you to lay out the underlying logic. As a one-off "tah-dah" moment it was just cheap and unmotivated sensationalism.)
I agree with the Boyd dissenters; it was a horrible idea and it helped wreck the Dollhouse ship that was righting itself. I also have to agree about Wesley's turn not getting singled out. The writers did too good job on that to lump it in with everything else on "Angel". The one that impressed me the most doesn't even get a mention--Faith. Every step of her turn (and turn back) was handled perfectly. It's one of the examples I hold up when touting the great character writing on "Buffy".
I reject the Boyd turn. Never happened. Dollhouse shenanigans.
I'm with you, NYPinTA. I prefer to just skip straight to the Epitaph eps.

The strangest thing about the Boyd turn is that his explanation for why he'd spared our heroes so long ("You guys are my friends!") makes perfect sense on one level and none at all on another.
Weird list. Especially if it's supposed to be the "best." Spike was the example of switching allegiances that I remember most. Oddly not on list. Also, Anya.

Maybe I missed something about their criteria.
The main criterion was lack of foreshadowing for the character.

Impressed by our near-umaniminity on Boyd.
Put me down as another voice for the Boyd turn made no sense whatsoever, for all the reasons enumerated above. It was clearly a "Hail Mary" pass - we've got to end this series 3 seasons early and there is always a betrayal. Boyd was the only character left to be the betrayer.

Wesley merits mention for the kidnapping of Connor. Spike for turning to the light. Andrew also for turning from the villainous side to the heroic. Jonathon would went both ways, but didn't go as far evil as Andrew or live long enough to become heroic.
Iloved the Boyd turn and it made perfect sense. Sorry.
I thought that the Boyd turn made sense. He was the only one in the Dollhouse that knew what they were doing was wrong. Adele and Topher had deluded themselves that they were somehow doing good things and weren't really hurting anyone.

However, the execution of the Boyd turn failed miserably. I could believe that he was evil. I could not believe that he had been a cackling, hand wringing, raving lunatic all along.
"I could believe that he was evil. I could not believe that he had been a cackling, hand wringing, raving lunatic all along."

He was neither of those things.

I say this loving the Boyd twist. Whether he was right or wrong is up to debate, but he was never either of these things.
Agreed with Boyd's turn made sense given the lack of filled in backstories and odd skills for an ex-cop. Not much wankage required so much as you take a lot of it to be unanswered by the narrative.

The execution wasn't great which I think is a testament to you can't make people love a character and handwave the motivation. No, the entire climax of Dollhouse hinged on the audience turning on Boyd which is hard to do with as little time as they ended up with.

Interestingly, I find Ward and Boyd to be funhouse mirrors of each other. They sort of demonstrate how much/little of a push the audience needs to buy something. People liked the characterization of Boyd hence more work was required. People were pissed at the end of just the reveal episode. Ward wasn't particularly well liked and it was considered brilliant the second it happened.
So Boyd decides to play undercover boss so he can keep close tabs on Echo. And then when his actual subordinate removes him as her handler, he allows it to happen. And then the DC branch of his own company kidnaps her. And then she gets into a fire fight with the Scytheon military branch of his own company. In either case, a phone call should have resolved the issue and yet he decides to let it play out because... why? What's the point in even being so close to Echo if you're not actually going to step in when things go wrong? Oh, and then he allows DeWitt to stick her in the attic. The Boyd turn just made no sense.

[ edited by BringItOn5x5 on 2014-05-30 01:32 ]
There were a few scenes with Boyd that made sense to me afterwards.

So heel turn means a turn to the dark side?
So heel turn means a turn to the dark side?

In short, yes, although - as written - the article could've been about going either way (and yet, all the examples are of the former type - go figure...)

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2014-05-30 06:28 ]
I never liked the Boyd reveal. It didn't make sense to me.

Someone mentioned Jayne shouldn't be on the list because of the foreshawdowing that he would turn if the money was enough, but since the "turn" can go either way I think Jayne's turn is when he "turns good" and wants to be remembered as a hero, he doesn't want the crew to know he betrayed them... but I am bias. I love that scene when jayne is in the airlock. It'
Oh - and about the Boyd vs Ward turns. Both had no foreshawdowing but the reason I feel differently about them isn't because before the turns I liked Boyd and didn't like Ward. The reason I like the Ward turn is because they explained why he was helping the team so that it made sense he was doing it. On Dollhouse, many things happened that (as stated upthread) if Boyd was in power he should have stopped (a prime example is that Boyd should have stopped Echo from being sent to the attic).
In wrestling parlance, a "heel" is a bad guy and a "face" is a good guy. So wrestlers can "turn heel" or "turn face". An abrupt betrayal is sometimes called a "swerve", which seems to fit the spirit of the article. Product of a misspent youth.

Passion, I actually liked Ward, but you're spot on. Ward explaining how his actions contributed towards his true motives really makes all the difference.
I actually didn't hate Ward before he turned bad or anything, I just found pre-turn Ward to be a flat and uninteresting character.
The Boyd turn made no sense to me, either.

Loved the Ward turn. It made perfect sense and I didn't see it coming at all. But the article left out possibly the most mind-blowing heel turn, which was Alan Tudyk's Stephen Kepler-to-Alpha. Alan deserved an Emmy for that, IMO.
i second the Alpha turn. I had been spoiled re the casting, but before the turn I thought perhaps the spoiler source had been mistaken. That's how well Alan acted it. He was amazing!
I totally forgot about Alan's Alpha turn. I agree ActualSize, I was also spoiled and knew that Alan was Alpha and while I was watching I too was starting to think the spoiler info was wrong. Alan did a fantastic acting job.
Alan Tudyk was amazing as Alpha. I never saw it coming. The way he went from goofy to insane was inspired. I also love his carrots.
Had there not been casting spoilers, I think quite a few Dollhouse character turns would've had more of a wow factor. Like "3 flowers in a vase..."

Tahmoh said (I think it was at DragonCon) that Harry Lennix lit up at the table read when they found out Boyd was evil. He was excited, but wished it would've come up sooner.

The bummers of a cannibalized original pilot. :(
I don't think "heel turn" is a wrestling reference. I think it's just related to the old English expression "he turned on his heels"--meaning "turned 180 degrees rapidly." Thus it's a "heel turn" whether it's a turn from good to bad or vice versa.

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