Joss Whedon and Friends always seem to work best under pressure. Or maybe they work best when they have nothing else to lose. Dollhouse has had it’s weaker episodes, especially in the first season, but those were always the inbetween filler episodes, the episodes thrown in to pad things up, or maybe to satisfy the ‘higher ups’ with more traditional network fare.
Not so with the last few episodes of dollhouse. Faced with being taken off the air, Joss Whedon gave Dollhouse an appropriately apocalyptic ending, and we contented ourselves with not knowing how the war between Echo and shadowy ubercorp Rossum would lead to the dystopia that was featured in Epitaph One.
Everyone was surprised when Dollhouse was given a stay of execution, and greenlit for Season 2. The creative team then took the opportunity to cram as much story as they could to join Season 1 with Epitaph One. Which, I suppose is what made Season 2 the crazy ass-kicking double (triple?) reveal that it was. It’s like watching a magician perform an act. You see him put the rabbit in the hat. You know it’s going to disappear. What you don’t expect is when he comes over andfishes the rabbit out of your suit pocket. And then it shoots lasers.
There’s still moments of heart breaking warmth and sadness in between the nerve-wracking tension. Yes, we watch it to know [HOW IT ALL ENDS] but we’re also there to see how such achingly flawed people live, even blossom in such a world. I’ll have to admit, as important Echo and Ballard are, I’m really here rooting for Victor (EnverGorkaj) x Sierra (Dichen Lachman), or even Topher (Fran Kranz) x Bennett (Summer Glau). Which gets some closure in this episode.
As it should, the ep IS called Getting Closer, and we all get a little bit closer. Topher and Bennett, Dr Saunders and Boyd, and just with just about all the characters. We see the return of November, the gulf that is now between Ballard and Echo, and finally the Topher/Bennett kiss that I’m sure every geek who watches Dollhouse was rooting for.
Unfortunately, the fact that you care so much just means when one of them dies, it hurts all that much more. I think we’ve pretty much established that being a character on a Joss Whedon show is the worst thing that could ever happen to you. You’d think that we’d learn better after all those deaths, that we should have seen it coming, but that doesn’t stop us from investing in every character, and being absolutely shocked at the callous speed that Bennett Halverson met her end.
Of course, that was what charged the last 10 minutes. That’s when Topher found his humanity and pathos when his next act was in begging Ivy (that’s technician girl to you) to leave.
Up till that point, I still held (wildly naive and impossible) hopes that this would end well for all of Dollhouse, that Echo would composite all her memories into one superheroic character and the plucky rebels would fight and win the day… but I think that thought was killed with the death of Bennett. And we all now know thatRossum has always been one step ahead, with the Boyd reveal.
Now, is Boyd really the evil supergenius behind Rossum? I don’t know. I’m not putting any money on being able to predict Joss, but you have to admit… You know that shit just got real.