As regular readers will know, I’m attempting to catch up with the episodes of Dollhouse that I have missed, or not yet reviewed, by posting mini reviews before the series finale, bumped to Jan 29 (where I plan to post a full review, thus bringing closure to my WD journey). Below the jump I post my ‘quick and dirty’ but always honest thoughts on episode 2.12, “The Hollow Men”.
- Amy Acker. A genuinely good actress on this show. Her performance as “Clyde” enhanced the episode.
- Harry Lennix – his best performance of the season. I thought he did well to somehow sell the idea that he was the show’s ‘big bad’.
- Tension and high stakes.
- Despite its faults, this was an episode that was worth watching – I couldn’t always say the same for some of the past efforts – particularly those in season 1.
- Where this episode falls down is that it expects the viewer to believe that Boyd is suddenly the bad guy in all of this. As much as I loved the twist, it feels extremely heavy-handed and undermines some of the finer moments of the show’s past. They’ve effectively taken the two best characters (and I mean that both in terms of their moral and ethical displays on the show and in terms of their performance) and made them “bad”, whilst in the same turn painting Adelle, Echo, Caroline and Ballard et al out to be angels – the saviours of mankind. (Excuse me whilst I throw up). I get the premise of turning good and bad inside out, but their portrayal of this concept is frustrating because it feels unjust. I really can’t believe they had Adelle sit there like butter wouldn’t melt and act like she was on the high ground. There was no redemption for her character, nor did she have any journey to becoming one of the good guys – it was just transparent story-telling, one that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I just think that the writers got lost in their own twists and turns and ended up with a bunch of cool ideas but very little substance, especially where the characters are concerned.
- Boyd/Rossum’s plan just seems a little (OK, a lot) far fetched. Why go through all of that when there were far easier ways of controlling the world? Had he just hired Topher years ago I’m sure he would have created the mass imprinting weapon without too much conflict (it’s only recently that he’s found his ethical side). I’m also still unsure as to why Caroline was so special. I don’t get it..why her? It makes no real sense.
- After everything he and Sierra had been through, would Victor really risk imprinting himself based on a random post-it note with a smilie face? Way to go undermine their entire journey in one scene.
- The episode – and the series in general – spends too much time injecting unfunny jokes in inappropriate places. Mellie has just blown her brains out and Ballard still has room for a wisecrack as Boyd puts a gun to his chin.
- The end scene when Echo’s running out of the ‘exploding’ building. I don’t get it. Didn’t the building blow up? Why was it still standing with not even a trace of smoke coming from it – yet Echo has a smudge of dirt on her face and even did an action ‘hero dive’ as she got caught in the back-draft. I’m thinking this was down to budget constraints, if so, surely they could have found a more convincing way of bringing Rossum down without LITERALLY bringing the building down.
- The Mellie/Ballard Love Affair Part II seemed like false drama. Wasn’t he just in love with Echo? I realise that he lost that part of him, but still..
- When all was said and done I didn’t believe that humanity was at stake. I’m glad they widened the scope of the show, but just because Echo and pals said that they saved the world, doesn’t mean I believe them. For that reason the episode felt a bit…hollow (seriously, no pun intended).
I would say that this was easily the best ever episode of Dollhouse, but for some of the character turns that took place. And this isn’t just me complaining about my two favorite characters turning out to be the ‘Big Bad” – even before this episode, I was confused as to how the writers could possibly paint Adelle & Co. as ‘good guys’ without doing *anything* to illustrate their transition. It’s just such a shame that they made the decisions they did, because that apart, the show has genuinely improved with the last few episodes being very entertaining, if nothing else. I do think that some of the deeper, more interesting themes of Dollhouse got lost at the expense of heightened drama – the execution of which hasn’t lived up to my highest hopes.
That said, all in all, I think I will take away my own merits from the episode and not those that have been forced by the script. For example, the importance of freedom and individual choice, and the ability to be different.
A good “Dollhouse” episode, but cheapened slightly.
Best Character: Boyd
Episode Rating: 7/10 (originally given 7.5 but loses half point for ridiculous character turns and poorly developed context)