Since Dollhouse was canceled, in accordance with television logic the shows have been getting better and better. Last week’s episode, “Getting Closer,” was edge-of-the-seat amazing from start to finish and had me droolingly eager to see tonight’s episode, “The Hollow Men.” Everything is coming to a head, the characters are finally taking on evil corporation Rossum directly, Echo has undergone some major changes, and it all ends tonight.
Short review: Meh.
Long review after the jump, where spoilers live.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some great scenes, some good lines here and there, and it’s always fun to see Enver be Topher. Mellie’s death was touching, Boyd’s end was perfectly fitting and still sad, and Amy Acker turns out to be a pretty convincing guy. But there were more disappointments than rewards here for me. The highlights:
Are we supposed to believe that Whiskey was Clyde while she was hiding with Boyd? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but what happened to Claire?) 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. And wouldn’t Boyd be really pissed that Clyde emptied out Boyd’s girlfriend and moved in?
Also, if she’s Clyde now that means that once again Amy Acker’s soul 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’s been by far the most perceptive, empathic character on the show — so seeing him suddenly oblivious to how he had to have known they would take his plan was horribly forced. Couldn’t he had tried to earnestly convince them? Maybe 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 quirk as Caroline. Was he an early test that went wrong?
I was wincing through the spinal fluid scene. She was moving around an awful lot for someone getting spinal taps. How was Echo not paralyzed afterward, much less doing the crouching tiger thing?
As soon as Paul and Mellie were sent off on their own I knew she’d be dying soon. (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!”)
No problems with the Adelle or Topher scenes, or Priya and Anthony.
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 greenscreen blowup (complete with running star in front) and we didn’t even get an exterior visual, no smoke, nothing, just the tired heroes reacting and suddenly Echo/Caroline appearing casually on the sidewalk.
But this is mostly nitpicking and open to opinion. What really bugged me, what I found unforgiveable about this episode, 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? How would this show, which has produced some of the most brilliant and subtle examinations of what it means to be human, deal with Echo’s sacrifice to bring Caroline back? What would we learn about the self, the soul?
Nothing, actually. What we got was a somewhat harsher Echo, a Caroline with skillz, and no real sign of which one, both or neither was in there.
I’m sorry, 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 mental 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’s become more than he expected, more than he could plan for. I wanted to see Echo’s worst fear realized — Caroline back in full control of her body, Echo gone — and then see Caroline come to terms with the fact that Echo was needed for the mission, or (worse) that Echo was a better person. I wanted Caroline to sacrifice a little of herself to bring Echo back. I wanted to know that Echo and Caroline were working together, or maybe even that Caroline took over but then stepped aside to let Echo emerge for the good of the mission. Maybe Caroline is still Caroline, but there’s some Echo in there guiding her. Or something better; this show has been amazing at twists that this jaded TV-watcher didn’t see coming, I have no doubt they could come up with something believable, surprising, triumphant, tragic, and deeply emotionally satisfying.
What I got was her charging up and down empty halls, getting into fairly standard fights and muttering sullen defiance. Woo. She did absolutely nothing in this episode (other than supply spinal fluid) that couldn’t have been done equally well by Anthony. There was no use of any of her other personalities/skills, no sign of warring minds, and no emotional payoff.
That’s why I was disappointed.
I’m still looking forward to the final episode, “Epitaph Two,” written by “Epitaph One” writers Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, and Andrew Chambliss. But this one, despite some excellent bits, was a letdown.