Dollhouse is my first “real time” Joss Whedon show. I turned my nose up at Buffy the Vampire Slayer the entire time it was on the air (and only recently deigned to watch it for the first time on DVD), and I didn’t learn about Firefly until it was already a thing of the past. When I first started watching Dollhouse I thought it was a poor substitute for Firefly, and frankly would not have watched beyond the first couple of episodes except my wife liked it. I not only didn’t like it, I actively disliked it through most of the first season.

Something happened near the end of the first season, though, that caused me to reassess my opinion. Then the show went on break for the summer and I forgot what that was. I do remember thinking of the entire first season as set up, a“season zero” if you will, and was willing to watch the new season with fresh eyes. Unfortunately, the new season has had to start at ground zero as far as I am concerned and has yet to “re-win” me over.

The main problem for me is that show has no sympathetic characters… not one. The people who run the Dollhouse are totally amoral, and the “dolls” are simply victims, more pathetic than sympathetic. That’s a huge challenger to overcome, but I’m curious to see Whedon and company try. The people who run the Dollhouse are totally amoral, and the “dolls” are simply victims, more pathetic than sympathetic. Dr. Saunders (i.e., the doll formerly known as “Whiskey”) and her relationship with Topher was intriguing, but she’s been written out of the plot (at least temporarily).

Oddly, I think Topher Brink, the most amoral character of them all, may be my current favorite. Joss Whedon surprised me once before by turning the vampire Spike into a sympathetic character on Buffy, and I think Topher may be Dollhouse’s Spike. I’ll be keeping my eye on him.

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I hear you Jeff...I am still wrapping my head around it...I think both make some sort of sense...but the second one while it didn't feel wrong...did come as a huge surprise...and I love that Minear and Whedon can still do that too me. The first hit me, but you know it was almost expected...I was just surprised at who delivered the blow, despite at how creepy the scene was from the start.

The stuff I liked best in the episode however was the way they interwove previous flashbacks and reinterpreted them. Also that they did tell us what Paul lost in exchange for living again...

Jeff of Earth-J said:
Two BIG twists toward the end of the January 8 episode, and both came as complete surprises to me! (I like being surprised.) The first of the two (in sequence), while surprising was not particularly shocking under the circumstances (the show's imminent cancellation, I mean), but the second one I couldn't have foreseen, not no way, not no how!

Two episodes left!
I didn't figure out the second surprise, but it didn't surprise me, either. Well, that's not entirely true...

Can I go into semi-spoiler mode? I can? Okay!

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HERE

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SPOILERS

Right, so. What makes it unsurprising is primarily the meta-knowledge we have: that there are only two episodes left to the series. So, knowing that Caroline is the only person who's seen the secret partner's face, that means that when that partner is revealed (as s/he had to be this episode), it had to be someone we already knew, because using those last two episodes to establish who a baddie is in the first place is time lost for wrapping up the heroes' story. And more to the point, it had to be one of the apparent "good guys:" if it was one of the already-established bad guys, it would make keeping the identity secret a pointless exercise. If it was a peripheral character — another doll, a Dollhouse client — it gives more value to the reveal, but still makes it more or less irrelevant to the reveal nature of the story.

So having to be a "good guy", that then eliminates anyone whose pre-Dollhouse backstory has been established: Echo, Sierra, Victor, Topher, Ballard, Dominic, November... Doesn't really leave a lot of candidates, does it?

(Personally, I think it would've been awesome if Mark Sheppard's character — the FBI agent who showed up at Ballard's early investigations-gone-bad and mocked his dedication to finding the Dollhouse — had been revealed as the Big Bad. But then, that has more to do with wanting to see Mark Sheppard again than anything that would make sense in-story...)

I'm honestly not too keen on this reveal, because with something like this, it should be seen and then responded to with an "Of course! It all makes sense in retrospect!" headslap, and I responded more with an, "....okay, I guess? But...how does it make sense with what we've seen before?" It's going to take the next two episodes to sell me on this; I'm hoping team Dollhouse can pull it off...
Meta-knowledge does play into it...they would have never thrown this all at us right now if the show wasn't being canceled.


At Whedonesque I saw a link to someone who makes the "of course" links to why Boyd makes sense.


One that I did appreciate was that very recently we have seen him be the one to push for the re-take over of the house and how he is the person who orchestrates bringing Echo back in.

I do like that Boyd is invested in Echo, but adversarial to Caroline. Echo is a private project and it explains why he would risk so much for her even if he is the big bad.

Alan M. said:
I didn't figure out the second surprise, but it didn't surprise me, either. Well, that's not entirely true...

Can I go into semi-spoiler mode? I can? Okay!

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..
...
....
.....
....
...
..
.
HERE

THERE

BE

SPOILERS

Right, so. What makes it unsurprising is primarily the meta-knowledge we have: that there are only two episodes left to the series. So, knowing that Caroline is the only person who's seen the secret partner's face, that means that when that partner is revealed (as s/he had to be this episode), it had to be someone we already knew, because using those last two episodes to establish who a baddie is in the first place is time lost for wrapping up the heroes' story. And more to the point, it had to be one of the apparent "good guys:" if it was one of the already-established bad guys, it would make keeping the identity secret a pointless exercise. If it was a peripheral character — another doll, a Dollhouse client — it gives more value to the reveal, but still makes it more or less irrelevant to the reveal nature of the story.

So having to be a "good guy", that then eliminates anyone whose pre-Dollhouse backstory has been established: Echo, Sierra, Victor, Topher, Ballard, Dominic, November... Doesn't really leave a lot of candidates, does it?

(Personally, I think it would've been awesome if Mark Sheppard's character — the FBI agent who showed up at Ballard's early investigations-gone-bad and mocked his dedication to finding the Dollhouse — had been revealed as the Big Bad. But then, that has more to do with wanting to see Mark Sheppard again than anything that would make sense in-story...)

I'm honestly not too keen on this reveal, because with something like this, it should be seen and then responded to with an "Of course! It all makes sense in retrospect!" headslap, and I responded more with an, "....okay, I guess? But...how does it make sense with what we've seen before?" It's going to take the next two episodes to sell me on this; I'm hoping team Dollhouse can pull it off...
I'm honestly not too keen on this reveal, because with something like this, it should be seen and then responded to with an "Of course! It all makes sense in retrospect!" headslap, and I responded more with an, "....okay, I guess? But...how does it make sense with what we've seen before?" It's going to take the next two episodes to sell me on this; I'm hoping team Dollhouse can pull it off...

I agree completely. I'm not saying they can't pull it off- I have a lot of faith in Joss' abilities. But it doesn't work for me yet.
Io9 interviewed Tim Minear on writing the latest episode...of course there are spoilery meta elements mentioned, but might just be the thing to read after it is all done...

He addresses specifically how, when and why certain choices were made.

The Truth About Dollhouse's Evil Mastermind
I'm going to hold off reading the interview Ana linked, but I completely agree with Alan and Chris's assessment of the "big reveal," BUT... what if Boyd isn't an "evil mastermind" after all, a twist within a twist. (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles pulled off a similar switcheroo in its final days.)
Tucson Institute of Technology. Har!
My first reaction was that it was just another body-swap situation, but again, I have to wait to see the final couple episodes to decide. And I have to rewatch Epitaph 1 to see what his character was up to in the future, if anything. As for the elimination of characters whose backstories had been explained- BSG kinda blew that whole concept up for me, so I hand't counted out anyone (I thought it might have been Reed Diamond...)

Jeff of Earth-J said:
I'm going to hold off reading the interview Ana linked, but I completely agree with Alan and Chris's assessment of the "big reveal," BUT... what if Boyd isn't an "evil mastermind" after all, a twist within a twist. (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles pulled off a similar switcheroo in its final days.)
It's funny that this plot turn with Boyd is happening at the same time the identity of Twilight from the Buffy comics leaked... I won't say anything about that in case anyone hasn't heard, but I find myself similarly scratching my head and wanting an explanation from both reveals.
Alan M. said:
It's funny that this plot turn with Boyd is happening at the same time the identity of Twilight from the Buffy comics leaked... I won't say anything about that in case anyone hasn't heard, but I find myself similarly scratching my head and wanting an explanation from both reveals.

Don't you think the identity of Buffy's Twilight isn't a bit of a jab at a certain author saying, HEY I was there first, lady!?
Doc Beechler said:
Don't you think the identity of Buffy's Twilight isn't a bit of a jab at a certain author saying, HEY I was there first, lady!?

It's amusing to think so, but they say Twilight's identity has been planned from the beginning, and the Buffy comic series started not that long after Twilight was first published (March '07 vs. October '05), and I'm not sure that it was that big of a phenomenon that such a jab would be needed at that time...

We should probably take this out of the Dollhouse thread if we discuss it any further, though. :P
Oooh... Today only, Dollhouse season one is on sale on both DVD and Blu-Ray at Amazon for 64% off.

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