The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Onwards to the Apocalypse…

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Dear Moth Chase Readers,

Read on for continued conversation about the final episodes of Dollhouse by our two guest contributors, Martin and Travis.

Kathryn and Natalie

Hi Travis,

…so I’m not really sure how I feel about this week’s episode of Dollhouse. First of all, the episode is so disjointed and non-linear that it is difficult to tell any sort of coherent story about it. Second, the episode feels incomplete serving largely as a bridge between two halves, the other half of which we have not seen yet. For that reason, I will largely say a few things, staccato-like about my impressions of the episode. Ultimately, on the one hand, it’s obviously an entertaining episode that gives us more background on not only Caroline, but also Dr. Halverson. On the other hand, the “twist” feels like a total Scooby Doo: we didn’t predict it because it’s not developed and nothing in Boyd’s past would point to it. This is all either entertainment genius or entirely cheap writing.

Of course, there is also  the predicament of figuring out precisely what we have “learned” about Boyd. Is Boyd the head of Rossum? Is he a doll working for the head? Is he head of Rossum, but a head who has gone “rogue” and is working against Rossum? These are all questions that will only be revealed in the final two episodes. And in that sense, those two episodes will determine the success of this episode.

Obviously, the other huge event in this episode is the death of Bennett Halverson, one of the, in my opinion, great creations on this show (and not just because of Summer Glau’s acting presence). Having her be killed by Whiskey aka Number One aka Dr. Saunder’s carries some sort of ironic twist (a lost imprinted employee doll returns and kills current employee that is employed in bringing back a doll) that isn’t even yet fully apparent in its twisting deviousness. But by that same token, this action feels like a cheapening of Amy Acker’s character  (who was also one of the most interesting on the show), since it also seems to employ her character as an instrument for advancing the plot in a certain way. Now, in part, I am sure what is registering as my apparent disappointment is in part sadness at the impending demise of the show, but at the same time, I am almost certain that some of it has to do with what now appears as lazy or compressed writing. Perhaps the last two episodes will justify everything and this episode will look very different, but right now it feels like one of the season’s worst.

I should add, however, that Adele Dewitt and Echo have become significantly more interesting characters, mostly because of their general overlap. Notice, that Dewitt is more and more becoming well, generally unlikable, while doing “the right thing.” In her desire to overthrow Rossum and to stop the apocalypse, she is largely willing to go to any means (e.g. throwing Dominick back into the attic is not an issue). By the same token, Echo seems quite capable of adopting a similar “ends-justify-the-means” attitude…not only in her support for some of Adele’s tactics, but also in her willingness to use others to achieve her ends (including, e.g., herself as Caroline). In this regard, Echo is actually beginning to look a lot more like Caroline: someone who also was perfectly willing to use those around her for “the cause.” In this regard, the show is starting to come full circle…the only thing left is the return of Alpha.

Lastly, I wanted briefly to mention the allusion—explicit this week—to Karel Čapek’s “Rossum’s Universal Robots.” The play, which in 1921 introduced the term “robot,” is quite interesting in this context because it argues explicitly what the show introduces implicitly: the development of normativity from  non-normative means. In the play, the robots ultimately fall in love and so—for all intents and purposes—become human. We have, obviously, seen Echo evolve in a similar manner. What remains to be seen—amongst other things obviously—is whether the apocalypse will be necessary (as it is in “Rossum’s Universal Robots”) or whether it can be averted…

Until next week,


Read the entire Dollhouse conversation from start to finish.

Written by Martin

January 10, 2010 at 10:28 am

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