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Dollhouse: The Hollow Man

Boyd: "Topher. Think."
Topher: "That's what got us here in the first place. I'm going for mindless destruction now."

Nearly all of this episode was a series finale worthy of a Joss Whedon show. Rossum was defeated, Caroline's role was finally defined, all of our questions were answered. The bad guy was caught and wow, was he punished; Boyd's end was poetic. ("Did I fall asleep?") Boyd's death upset me nearly as much as Mellie's suicide. I just knew Mellie's sleeper assassin was going to get activated again; you could feel it coming. Poor thing.

I even believed that Boyd believed he loved his compatriots at Adelle's Dollhouse and wanted to keep them all alive, although the way he treated Caroline made it clear that he was incapable of love. He sure faked it really well for a long time. (That thing about Paul being the one relative you put up with but don't really like was pretty funny.)

I didn't like seeing Claire/Whiskey as Clyde 2.0. I kept thinking of what she was doing in "Epitaph One." Sad. It's been awhile since I saw "Epitaph One," but I remember that Boyd was in it in flashback. It doesn't conflict, doesn't it?

Tony was Topher again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. He and Priya rescuing Caroline was karmic: she freed them, they freed her. I loved Adelle with a machine gun, Topher taking down Boyd with the end-of-the-world tech, and Paul missing the entire revelation about Boyd ("What'd I miss?").

Emotionally, this is where I want to stay, how I want to remember this 'verse and these characters. Boyd was right, though, that you can't put the genie back in the bottle; the tech will out. I'm just hoping the actual series finale won't leave a bad taste in my mouth, the way the finale of Angel did.

Bits and pieces:

-- "Press Enter" reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. I was afraid of what would happen to Tony. Fortunately, a little enhancement went a long way.

-- Paul had an epiphany. He feels like himself, therefore he is himself. A difference that makes no difference quacks like a duck.

-- That many needles in the back? Normally, you'd die.

-- The series finale has been bumped for a week. It will air January 29.


Tony: "Just, you know, try to stay away from the junk."

Priya: "We have to fight."
Topher/Tony: "That is so Ripley of you."

Topher: "Maybe they don't have the cojones to finish the job."
Did Boyd looked down at himself? I thought that was funny.

Topher: "Wow. Boyd. You're right. I'm the tin man, she's the lion, and you're the head of the lollipop guild... who's a traitor."

Adelle: "Is such a thing possible?"
Topher: "The mad scientist in me says yes."

Topher: "I did all of this. I brought about the thought-pocalypse."

Paul: "So. Did we save the world?"
Caroline: "I guess we did."

If it weren't for that last minute (well, and "Epitaph One" and the finale), we could walk away fairly happy. Four stars,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Interesting. I had nearly the exact opposite reaction to this episode.

    I DID NOT like how they resolved the Boyd business. I thought we would learn something much more interesting about what he was up to, that would fit in better with the Boyd we'd come to know and love. But no. He was just evil and crazy. (That "I love you guys" business was really out of left field.) Even if Echo turning the tables on him was sort of poetic, I found it all a very unsatisfying ending for a great character. I'm kind of ticked at the writers for doing something that now feels like retconning for the sake of a shocking twist.

    The business with Caroline and the spinal fluid just made me go "What? Are you kidding me? She's got this remarkable ability and all you need from her is her spinal fluid?"

    I DID like seeing Whiskey as Clyde 2.0. I found her entertaining. Although I'm wondering how she gets from "knocked out by Echo and possibly left for dead in an exploding lab" to "waiting in the Dollhouse."

    I was not thrilled with the Priya and Tony stuff. While I loved the romance between Victor and Sierra, I'm not feeling the chemistry between Priya and Tony. They just don't work for me as a couple, so I was kind of bored with their stuff until Tony was turned into Topher again. Now that was entertaining. (It is a credit to Enver that he can have chemistry with the same actress in one guise, but not in another.)

    I also wasn't feeling the Paul and Mellie stuff. Mellie's presence seemed completely unnecessary and superfluous. Even reactivating the sleeper personality just served as a brief distraction before yet another female character got her brains blown all over her love interest's face.

    Topher and Adelle had some nice moments, but overall, I was pretty unsatisfied with this episode. I'm hoping for much better in two weeks. If this had been it, I would have been left with a very bad taste in my mouth, as you put it.

    (It is funny that you brought up the Angel finale, because you and I also had completely opposite reactions to that episode.)

    I'm curious what others thought.

  2. Jess, I'm kind of with you on this one. I was a little disappointed with the episode too. It felt incredibly rushed somehow. And likewise, I didn't buy into Priya and Tony's relationship. I'm tempted to lay the blame at either Dichen's or Joss' feet. Generally I've enjoyed Dichen in the show. But the way either Dichen/Joss handled some of Priya's exchanges with Tony just felt completely flat. I find Dichen and Enver more entertaining when they're playing Dolls. As Priya and Tony they're as dull as dishwater.

    With the whole spine draining scenes, all I could think of was that the needles should surely have been going straight into Caroline's spine... not just somewhere in her back. And as anyone who's had fluid drained from their spine knows, no leaping around afterwards. Plus, the headaches can be terrible.

    There were undoubtedly some good bits (Enver as Topher, for example, and Claire and Echo going at it hammer and tongs). But I wasn't satisfied with Boyd being the big bad... wasn't satisfied with his motivation, and wasn't satisfied with Echo being "special" somehow, only to have her spinal fluid drained (as Billie said).

    For some reason -- mental laziness probably -- I thought this episode was the last one. Thankfully, we have one more. Hopefully it will be a little more satisfying.

  3. I agree, at first I didn’t like it at all – the previous episodes have been on total overdrive and I was expecting this really cool explanation that would bring the whole season together. And we didn’t seem to get that (yet). But then I watched it again, and I kind of liked this.
    It felt like a companion piece to the Attic – they are again searching for Rossum’s mainframe, again need to find each other, and as you said, Billie – this time Echo is saved by Tony and Priya. Visually, the computer mainframe reminded me of the twisted tree in the Attic – maybe that’s just me. And I liked the last scene between Boyd and Echo when she is tempting him with the hand grenade; it felt very right.
    But if they don’t do anything with Alpha, that would be weird – I mean, a) he has Paul within him, and the Paul within said he should be killed and b) he is just like Echo. Echo is not *that* unique, and Alpha must have amazing spinal fluid too...
    By the way, I love your reviews :).

  4. Nah, I'm with Billie on this one. I thought this episode was bloody fantastic, for all the reasons stated above. Topher/Victor is always awesome, and Boyd's sendoff was tragic, ironic and oddly fitting. My one complaint would be Boyd's "family" speech was just a little too corny, but whatev.

    And Billie, that scene with Boyd from Epitaph One was actually shown last week. It was the scene with him and Whiskey saying their goodbyes, so it still fits. Leave it to Joss to plant a red herring so far in advance.

  5. I just watched it... and maybe I should wait and really process it... but the first impression, which as the first guess with me is sort of the right one and doesn't change much...

    I am with the "disappointed" ones on this one... I don't know after brilliance of last few episodes I was expecting something more. Instead it felt like wrapping up. Nothing really was revealed much and they just tied the nots and connected the dots etc.

    On Claire as Clyde 2.0 I am with Billie - didn't like it, it just felt odd. And I also want to know how is she going to make it to the Dollhouse. Even that whole fight between Echo and Claire/Clyde didn't get to me - all this time I was thinking - They should have both have the hair up in ponytails! And that was the first time when I actually didn't like Amy's acting which I usually find terrific.

    I actually couldn't point my finger on what was wrong with Priya and Tony until you all pointed out here. And I agree with all of you - the actors as dolls have a chemistry that is absolutely lacking when they are other characters - what does that say about their acting kills - AMAZINGLY BRILLIANT! As was Olivia Williams, but she alwasy is :)

    Enver as Topher was fabulous but sending Boyd as a doll to blow the thing up felt wrong.

    Thank you Joss that there's one more episode.

    Did anyone else felt that Echo got out of the building safe and sound - I even suspected it wasn't her.

  6. Well just like season 1, the last episode of the present is a little underwhelming, but i hope Epitaph Two will be just like Epitaph One. I looked at who wrote each and every episode and Joss only did Vows (the premiere) so i guess he wrote Epitaph Two so i'm expicting to get my mind blown. :)

  7. This episode is a bit messy, but somehow and don´t ask me how, I buy the whole "Boyd is the head of Rossum".
    I also really liked Amy Acker as Clyde 2.0 (she looks good in a suit) and Tony again as Topher.

  8. Almost done with my rewatch. Just the last episode to go and I don't want to watch it because I don't want to cry more!! Paul and Mellie being together really made me sad. He's supposed to be in love with Echo. He WAS in love with Echo. Alpha wanted to figure out why Echo loved him and ended up destroying Paul's love for her. Irony is kind of ironic that way.

    LOVED Paul thinking Adelle was behind everything instead of Boyd. He wouldn't have known, it's not like they had radios or something. He had no idea what was going on which came across both as funny and realistic.

    I don't know how Enver doesn't get more work. The man can do anything, be anyone and do it flawlessly. Seriously.

    But, okay, so Boyd was sleeping with Claire and then let her go into the ether to put his buddy in her body? That's pretty messed up.


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