Dollhouse season 2 episode 12 review

The end is near for Dollhouse...but not near enough for Billy.

2.12 The Hollow Men

For the plenty of people who gave talkback after last week’s review, I thank you, even if you didn’t agree with my assessment that Dollhouse had jumped the creative shark by revealing Echo’s protector as the real bad guy.

After seeing The Hollow Men, I’m happy to accept that my assertion that he was a Doll was wrong, possibly, although really, the pieces of this narrative jigsaw fitted so badly that it was like someone had assaulted them with a large hammer to get them into place.

What we’re asked to accept is that Boyd realised that Caroline was ‘special’ before she ever became Echo, and that’s why she ended up a Doll and not dead. But how special she was, or rather, her significance, is only apparent once Topher creates his remote programming technology. So, Boyd predicted Topher would do that, and Caroline would solve that issue by having a possible immunity? If this makes sense to you then that’s fine, but it arrived in my brain as tenuous at best and more than I was actually willing to accept.

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I’m not going to recount the Hollow Men plot, but it involves lots of running down corridors, plenty of hand-to-hand combat and everyone eventually getting on the same page, and the death of at least two main characters. Although amusing in places, it all had the air of something stitched together from a long list of plot points with the least imagination.

For me some of the worst parts of this came in the form of painfully clich├ęd monologues that both Boyd and Clyde gave to justify their actions. Did they make these up on the day, and just put in the script ‘Madman speech: destruction is a positive force for change’?

But I think what annoyed me more was that they entirely forgot some of the information they’d already given us about Rossum.

In the final sequence they rig the Rossum mainframe to explode, destroying the information about Topher’s brain wiping and writing technology. Except we already got told that the real mainframe isn’t the tall boxes with flashing lights, but all the people in the Attic, who are spread around the globe! This is never mentioned by any of the characters that know these facts, and they never find a room full of people in plastic trays.

This gave me the impression that everyone involved got beyond caring some while back, and just wanted to move on with their careers as rapidly as possible.

At the end, they think they’ve saved the world from the brain-apocalypse, or whatever Topher decided it should be called, and unsurprisingly they haven’t. Probably because real computers have off-site backups, or maybe the Attic scenario I’ve already mentioned. The world goes to hell and it’s all the fault of Topher, I say.

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We’re nearly done with this show, just one episode to show and this concept can be neatly boxed before being wheeled away into the enormous secret warehouse where old TV shows are intentionally lost and forgotten.

In many respects, I’m slightly relieved, because wherever Dollhouse was intended to go originally, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t its destination. Or, maybe it was, but not in the annoying schizoid fashion we ended up travelling.

Dollhouse is like one of those really violent coaster rides where, for a time, it’s thrilling and unexpected, but eventually you start feeling nauseous and just want it to stop. That’s how I feel, although I accept others feel differently.

Two weeks from now we get the finale, Epitaph Two, a sequel to the season one episode Epitaph One. In typical Fox TV confusion-is-wonderful fashion, this will only make complete sense to the biggest fans of the show. Because, unless I’m wrong, Epitaph One hasn’t been shown on US TV, and was only in the DVD boxset! If only those people in charge of that network could be imprinted with some sense. Now that would be impressive tech.

Read our review of episode 11 here.