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Review: Dollhouse - Getting Closer

by Brad Trechak, posted Jan 9th 2010 3:15AM
Dollhouse(S02E11) This was an episode that went from zero to sixty in under a second. So much was thrown at the viewer in both backstory and current happenings that everybody watching was suffering from dizziness and possibly nausea. But it was the good kind of nausea.

It's a fair bet that this episode and the subsequent ones were written (or re-written) after learning that the series wouldn't be renewed. Alternatively, perhaps Joss saw the signs in advance having worked in television for so long. After the jump, the real spoilers of the episode will be discussed. Those who wish to remain unspoiled can move along.
The revelation of Boyd Langton shouldn't be a surprise. First, Whedon's shows have always thrived on expected twists. Second, he's always enjoyed turning heroes intovillains (see Buffy, season two). Mind you, the viewers haven't been fully informed about Langton's motives, but odds are it isn't good.

Notice that they threw in one of the "Epitaph One" flashback scenes tonight? I guess they had to in order to make the same future happen in light of the revelation about Langton. While Adelle has always acted the cold one (particularly as of recent), Boyd was far more ruthless.

Of course, that was the second twist of the night. The first one was Dr. Saunders shooting Bennett. Perhaps Amy Acker was simply jealous of Summer Glau's Joss Whedon movie career. In light of tonight's revelation, it's possible she was acting on her own free will based on her relationship with Langton. Nah, I don't believe that either. Have i mentioned how cool it was to see Amy Acker and Summer Glau on screen together?

Going back to the "Epitaph One" comment, we do meet Mr. Ambrose, who was occupying Victor's body in a flashback in that episode. Given that he's now dead, it could mean that the timeline of Dollhouse is fluid. Or his personality has already been copied elsewhere.

Have there been any signs of Langton's double-cross that I missed in the two years of this show? His back story was that he was an ex-cop. Was that a cover? Did he imprint cop knowledge on himself?

At least now we know how Caroline kept herself occupied between the time of her boyfriend's death and admission into the Rossum program.

Given that they gave November back the Mellie personality and they did an "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" on Paul to wipe his emotions toward Caroline, it seems likely that Mellie and Paul will stay together. In "Epitaph One,"

I'm sorry, but I could never believe Summer Glau as the ugly, smart girl. It's one of those stretches of the imagination that only works on television. I liked her better when she was introduced as the female version of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

Tonight's episode pulled out all the stops. It was mind-blowing and awesome. I have no idea how they could follow this one up, which is why I'm going to be tuning in next week.

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ok i reviewed episode 1 season 2 it was hate that was programed in(no love), so topher would have an apposing oppinion to make sure the dolls stayed safe because he knows how hard he wants to push his skills into the dolls brains.

January 14 2010 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does everyone forget that Saunders was imprinted with feelings for Topher, it was half of an episode, Topher and Saunders talked about it. She was imprinted to want Topher but figured it out when she found out she was a doll, and the old Saunders was an old GUY, so it was hate over love. Still a shock to see Summer Glau all dead, was hoping to see her some more, at least for the rest of the show. No pay backs to Caroline with echo holding her down, lol.

January 14 2010 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's really sad that the thing about Dollhouse is that at the beginning it was really just an interesting concept for a show that you didn't really love. Because the main character was essentially void of any substance, because the characters all seemed to hate each other in some way, because it was more stand alone episode driven than actual arc driven. Now you totally love the show and you can see how all the things you didn't love were exactly crafted to bring the show to the point where you would love it. The status quo had to be established so it could be blown to pieces. But still, being blah in the beginning just killed the show. I'm so glad I stuck with it but most tv viewers just aren't that loyal. Next time I hope Joss doesn't take quite so much time to build up to his normal awesomeness.

January 12 2010 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These last episodes are great, but I wonder how much of that comes from the fact they knew it was coming to an end. I think that maybe some shows might be better off to only get a set number of seasons to tell the story. Like BSG, for example. The overall concept of the show was interesting but I am not sure how much longer it could have played out. I will say, I think at least one more season would have been nice.

January 11 2010 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I so badly want Whedon to do a show on HBO or Showtime, like Dexter or True Blood, but of course in his own sci-fi style. I think he'd have more freedom there and could cultivate a cult following that network tv won't give the time for. Anyone agree!?


January 11 2010 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Amazing episode. I, too, was fooled by the twist at the end. I can't wait to get to the end. It's going to be dark, thought-provoking and epic.

I'm actually amazed that no one has yet brought up the funny of the episode - looking at Bennett's file, Caroline says "You could kill me with your brain." Which happens to be a mirror of my favorite line from the entire series of Firefly.

January 11 2010 at 1:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to david.a.stefano's comment
Eric H

I was just coming into this post to mention that! You beat me to it! I don't think anyone else mentioned it because of how much the episode melted their brain.

January 11 2010 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't say anything that hasn't already be said so I'll just add to the accolades: WHAT AN AWSOME EPISODE! Sadly, just 2 episodes left but at least, this time, they'll give us a proper ending. Anyone know if Whedon has another project in mind?

January 09 2010 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, i'm still floored by this episode. Not sure what to make of Saunders. Either she acted on her own because she hated Topher, or Boyd made her do it, either way is entirely plausible. Certainly changes my perception of Epitaph One where I had assumed that Whiskey was waiting for Boyd to come back, but who knows. And as for the Boyd reveal... wow... he managed to create this amazing father-daughter connection with Echo, while remaining the mysterious character on the show... and now we see why. I'm shocked, and cannot wait for nxt week's episode.

January 09 2010 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think that Boyd was devised as the big villain from the very start. The rapport between him and Echo was never truly explained, and the scene in Belonging when Topher is baffled to discover that Boyd knew how to destroy a corpse was a major loose end, which I just knew had to be important. Cops don't habitually destroy bodies, at least not the good kind. The Attic Boyd was a great clue that I missed. Part of Echo's brain still retains that he's her enemy.

When it came to who the nemesis would be, the choices were very slim. I didn't think that they would introduce a new actor to play him or her, because that wouldn't have emotional resonance. That left an ongoing character being secretly duplicitous, and there were precious few who would have been adults at the time of Rossum's founding. Boyd was the best choice.

But what his motives are, remain to be seen. Global domination, insanity, love of chaos, greed-- all are possible. Or it may turn out to be something stranger. He has many of the attributes of Alpha-- sneaky, experienced with murder, and a perverse fascination with Echo. There may be a connection or a parallelism there. The coming apocalypse might be accidental, or the product of a deranged notion about human personas and the soul. And Caroline fused with Echo is the key; she's a living prototype for a new weapon.

Saunders is a much more interesting matter.

When they conjectured that she was a sleeper, that was considered purely in the absence of knowledge that Boyd is their enemy. She's not a sleeper at all.

Saunders is also Whiskey, or at least has some awareness of her doll life. She knows that it was because of Alpha's love for Echo that she was horribly mutilated, and downgraded from the First and Best in the LA Dollhouse. And she blames Echo. Intensely. She's held onto those scars as a way of reminding herself of her ultimate objective. To destroy Echo.

She's been studying Echo's development from the start and wants to hurt her terribly. Hurting a blank doll would have given no satisfaction, but now Echo is a real person and that means her depths of anguish can be so much deeper. She's nurtured Echo's awakening and helped hide it, but not for Echo's benefit at all.

Everyone uses Echo. She really does have no friends there, after all. Attic Boyd spoke the truth.

Saunders most likely made a deal with Boyd. She'd do his bidding in exchange for punishing Topher for the sin of making her personality, and for disposing of Caroline once she has been studied sufficiently.

Sound a bit like Bennett regurgitated? Adelle? Well, Echo/Caroline is the center of the drama, and that means you have to love her and pity her, or envy her and hate her. Themes will tend to recur.

Now, what explains Whiskey in Epitaph One? My bet is that Boyd betrays her, and she is appalled by the end of civilization. In self-disgust she obliterates her personality and her distinguishing marks, and has herself programmed as a sentinel and guide for survivors. Or this is forced upon her as punishment.

January 09 2010 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To review, for those with no memory, this show had to be on Fox because it was part of a development deal that Eliza Dushku signed with Fox. She called Joss and talked him into creating the show for her.

January 09 2010 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Leroy's comment

That's what everybody seems to have forgotten. Fox owns Dollhouse so Whedon and Eliza and company can't just bring it to another network. For a different example WB owned Southland so once NBC decided not to air it they could go to another network like they did.

January 09 2010 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Then what about FX? I remember when FX would show encore episodes of 24 during season 2. Based on the other recent series they had on-- Damages, Nip/Tuck, Sunny, et. al -- they're no strangers to experimental concepts.

January 10 2010 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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