Dollhouse: Season 2, Episode 12
The Hollow Men
After rocketing through the back half of this season, we finally arrived at the penultimate episode, and were treated to an hour literally jam packed with action and revelations. While I have heard many complaints that the show has felt rushed in the last few weeks, I have for the most part disagreed. "The Hollow Men" did show a little bit of strain, however, as it basically wrapped up the entire present day timeline and set us up for "Epitaph Two" in two weeks. It isn't the fault of the writers that the five season plan laid out for the show had to be condensed into two abbreviated runs, and to this point they have done an excellent job at making it work, but there was a bit of a rushed quality to tonight.

One of the pleasures of "The Hollow Men" was watching Harry Lennix deepen Boyd's character while remaining totally believable. We have watched this man deceive us for the majority of the series, yet his transformation into a megalomaniacal croporate honcho is utterly believable, mostly because Lennix adds a layer of misplaced affection to the role. Boyd is evil, that much is obvious, but he truly loves his colleagues from the L.A. Dollhouse, and wishes the best for them. Sure, he's willing to torture Echo to retrieve her spinal fluid, hold them all at gunpoint and even use their faith in him to try and bring about the downfall of humanity, but on some level he thinks he is doing all of this for them. He even believes that he is on some level responsible for all of the growth they have exhibited over the series' run, and to some extent, he may be right. He pushed Adelle towards her level of cold conviction, he guided Topher through the development of his morality, and protected Echo while she developed into a human being. The fact that the villain of the piece is arguably instrumental in the development of the heroes makes Dollhouse that much more morally complicated and fascinating.

Another joy was the return of Enver Gjokaj's uncanny Fran Kranz impression, as Anthony/Victor was imprinted by Topher to help Priya/Sierra understand why the bodies of a Rossum army lay around her and what the group's next move would be. Afterwards "Topher" imprints Anthony with some brand-spanking-new ninja skills and sends the two on their merry way to join the gang in Tuscon (As Topher adorably enthuses, "Go team!"). Meanwhile, the rest of the gang just walks in the front door of Rossum's headquarters, using Adelle's bravado as a cover for an attempt to shut down the Rossum mainframe. This brings about the return of the always excellent Amy Acker, who is now Clyde, the other head of Rossum. The Boyd twist has taken all of the romantic tragedy out of Whiskey's doomed waiting in "Epitaph One" but its also allowed Acker to show off her acting chops and kick a little ass as well, so at the end of the day I approve of the choice.

While Echo does battle with "Clyde," ballard and Mellie try to shut down the mainframe by turning off the cooling system. Unfortunately, Boyd forces Adelle to activate November, who in classic Whedon style kills herself in order to save Ballard. Two women who were loved by primary characters have been shot in the head in the last two weeks, leaving their interests traumatized and covered in their blood, and each time it was as effective as it was intended to be. Also very solid was Boyd's transformation into a doll, who Echo coldly used to blow up the mainframe, seemingly saving the day. Of course this is a Joss Whedon show, and so the glimmer of hope that is the gang's victory here is short-lived. We immediately flash forward 10 years to see Echo and Ballard battling their way through the post-apocalyptic wasteland that will still arrive. How the show wraps up in two weeks will shed a lot of light on this episode, and likely make the entire series viewable in a new light, but for now I think the wrap up was at worst solid.

Some elements of the episode revealed how rushed the writer's were at this point, like Ballard's surprising amount of knowledge about the Rossum building, the mainframe, and how to bring it down. Also a bit of a stretch was the dearth of security in the headquarters of a nefarious corporation bent on world domination. With the influence and power Rossum has, you'd expect the place to be the most secure building around, yet our entire cast wanders virtually unomolested through the compound. All this is nitpicking, however, as the show reached a satisfying semi-conclusion tonight. Would I have liked to watch Lennix develop Boyd's villainous side over a few more episodes (or potentially a whole season)? Of course. Would I have loved more of Adelle's Army and theur sruggle to bring down Rossum? Definitely (and had we seen more of their war on Rossum, the rush to Tuscon this week would have seemed a whole lot less...rushed). Would I have liked more on basically every character, subplot, and major issue the series has teased out? Absolutely. But as we head into the series finale, I am pretty satisfied with what we were given, and very excited about the ending that lies ahead.

Grade: B+


-"This world is for people who can evolve." "And does that include us?" "Isn't that what you're here to find out?

-"You're here because you're my family. I love you guys!"

-"There's always one relative you don't want at the party."

-"You are spectacularly insane."

-"Is Brainpocalypse better? I figure if I'm responsible for the end of the world, I get to name it." For the record, I prefer Thoughtpocalypse.

-"Are you still me? Because I could use someone to help shoulder the guilt."

-Can't wait for Epitaph Two: The Return.
Tags: Dollhouse
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