After a few weeks off, Dollhouse is back with a vengence, and Joss Whedon is up to his usual tricks and style. Take lots of backstory flashbacks, throw in some death of major characters, and end with a huge reveal that was, to me, unexpected.
This episode spends a lot of time flashing back between three years ago when Caroline first attempts to take down Rossum. We see how Caroline infiltrates DeWitt’s office and finds her and Bennet Halverson’s files, curiously marked priority. Later on, we see how Caroline ends up finding an introverted and shy neuroscience student Bennet in Arizona and befriends her, even becoming her roommate. Eventually we find out that the memories we saw in The Left Hand of Caroline coldly leaving Bennet to be captured were actually taken out of context. It is curious that for some reason Bennet saw her actions as betrayal when in reality Caroline saved her. Also curious, is why was Bennet so enthusiastic about joining Caroline to take down the company she was interning for, and why was she so interested in destroying the building, despite Caroline’s discovery of human test subjects? Whedon, as his style, finds way to misrepresent scenes to guide the viewer into a false character interpretation. You can never know what half-truths lie when you watch a Whedon show.
Back to the present, we find that the gang is about to have their hands very full as they prepare for the attack by Rossum to take back the Dollhouse. I found it showed a mark of compassion as DeWitt released all her actives from their contacts by restoring their original personalities. The question is will these released actives come into play later? They all still have their active architecture in their heads, and with Rossum’s ability to remote wipe and program, what’s to stop them from taking them back?
While this is going on, we find that the gang has kidnapped Bennet so she can rebuild the original Caroline data drives, which Alpha destroyed. Joss provides us with plenty of adorable scenes between Topher and Bennet as they rekindle their strange, violent, and sweet relationship to each other. Despite their standings, they are both quite in love with each other, and their interactions are very cute. The chemistry between Summer Glau and Fran Kranz is very apparent and works well.
As they prepare to lockdown, we find out that Boyd has been keeping Dr. Claire Saunders (aka Whiskey) hidden away with him for the last several months, and he is now bringing her back into the fold to help fight Rossum. Her return is met with a lot of surprise by the gang, especially DeWitt who seemed actually amazed to see her again. During this exchange, we find out what exactly Topher took from Ballard. Rather than have him a vegetable, he used the synapses that made up his love and care for Echo to bring him back to life, effectively destroying his emotional connection to her.
From here we fall into another one of Whedon’s tale tell twists with Dr. Saunders. While observing Topher and Bennet, she has a heartfelt talk with Bennet, commented that Topher truly loves her. It’s from there that she strikes, shooting Bennet in the head in front of Topher, revealing that she was a sleeper agent, that she still had deep seeded hatred for Topher, or likely a combination of both. While Bennet was not exactly a regular character, there is a lot of meaning to have her die so unexpectedly, scaring Topher deeply. Is this the start of his eventual decline we see in Epitaph One?
Topher and company have little time to mourn as Rossum starts their attack and begins to take the building. It’s from here we see that Boyd has not actually left the Dollhouse, but we find out though our final flashback that the man in the shadows, the original partner of the Rossum corporation, is in fact Boyd himself. In true Whedon form, he once again spends countless episodes getting his viewers to see Boyd as a caring, father figure that we all trust, only to reveal that he was in fact the mastermind behind everything. To be honest I never saw that coming at all. I had just assumed the hidden partner was one of the actives we’ve seen before. In the same way we suddenly go from despising DeWitt to embracing her, we suddenly go from embracing Boyd to despising him.
Joss Whedon is pulling out all of the stops these last few episodes. It’s fortunate that he has the opportunity to end his show relatively on his own terms this time around, and I’m sure he will keep us on our toes up until the very end as Whedon has nothing to lose. The show is already canceled, and as such…anything goes now.
- Joss Whedon tosses in a lot of verbal foreshadowing into the flashbacks.
- “There are lots of things I want to be.” – Caroline talking about her career goals
- “Are you saying she’s evil?” “Worse…an idealist” – DeWitt, interestingly has the same impression of Caroline that everyone else does.
- DeWitt “I’m sure i’ll be kicking myself come holiday bonus time.” Bennet “I’m sure you’ll be dead by then.”
- Don’t say i got beat up by a one armed girl.” – Topher after getting a split lip
- Why was Bennet so adamant about helping Caroline?
- Victor and Sierra run off together before the lockdown. Will we see them again?
- DeWitt put Millie’s imprint into November, to make sure she is loyal.
- “I always had a crush on you, even when I thought you were a dude….this is better.” – Topher to Bennet
- “You have a lot to answer for…you forced me to come to arizona…I loathe arizona.” – DeWitt to Caroline on her capture
- At the end we meet the current incarnation of Clyde 2.0 (or 5.0 as it were)
- The company itself was apparently named after the Czech play Rossum’s Universal Robots. This play actually invented the word “robot” and revolves around a world where artificial people are created to serve humans, at least until they rebel. Joss Whedon, you are the master of hiding details in plain sight.