Dollhouse 2.11 "Getting Closer"
The Big Bad Reveal: Boyd the Sneakiest Motherfucker Ever
I have to start off with talking about Boyd, because this shocking reveal just completely blew my mind and I've been thinking about it since the episode aired.
Boyd, good old protective, morally judgmental and having been there since the beginning Boyd is actually the founder of Rossum. Boyd, who was so Papa Bear to Echo, who seemingly had major issues with the things the Dollhouse was doing, who was all part of Team Awesome with Echo and Paul and Topher and the rest of them, has been orchestrating the whole thing from the beginning. He met Caroline Farrell, he wanted her to join the Dollhouse, for whatever purpose that may be, he made everything happen. This just...still boggles my mind, and although we still don't have any hows or whys regarding this, I have a feeling this might all make sense and we'll look back at all the episodes seeing things in a whole different light. Which I have a feeling many, such as myself, actually went back to the beginning after this episode aired and looking for those subtle signs.
The thing is, we hardly knew much about Boyd's past, about his history and background. We just naturally assumed he was one of the good guys being inadvertently dragged into something he wasn't much prepared for, much like Paul had been. And who wouldn't blame us for thinking so? That was never the intention for his character to be made suspicious, since he made his views very clear from the start. We had no reason to think of him as anything other than being Echo's handler, a father-figure in such a way. I had constructed my own theories about his background, whether he lost someone close to him (his line to Paul, "there's always a girl" in the S1 finale) and even before it was revealed that he had Claire Saunders living with him outside of the Dollhouse I had speculated that whatever was going on at home was connected to that loss of said girl he mentioned, or something deep about his past, and whether his old job prevented him from saving someone. There were many possibilities going around in my head.
But somehow, this raises a whole truckload of questions.
How precisely has Boyd managed to keep this secret from everyone, including Adelle (unless she already knew)? What exactly are his intentions for Caroline/Echo? There has to be a specific reason why they went through all this trouble for one girl who was poking her nose in their business, any other organization would have just killed her and that would've been that. But clearly there was something inside of Caroline that Boyd and Clyde 2.0 saw that made her valuable to their cause, whatever that cause may be. Which is probably why they wanted her to be in the Dollhouse. Also, could it be they even constructed the same thing with Alpha? I have a feeling there's some grand master plan involving their tech and having these blank slates suddenly start gaining a personality of their own, or having themselves become like a superego of some kind. To enhance their production and realize that hey, they are evolving the species (like when Alpha said in "Omega" about them becoming more than just people, they transcend beyond that to become Übermensch. And perhaps once realizing that Alpha went berserk and completely psychotic that Boyd had to step into position of making sure Echo didn't do the same.
There has to be a grander plan here, he believes Echo has the key to something, and whatever that something is it can be either good or bad depending on where this all leads to and judging from the implications, it might all just lead to the apocalypse. Despite knowing beforehand what they need to stop, they already had the snake with them the entire time, and it would be too late to do anything about it.
Mindfrak after mindfrak, this reveal is perhaps the biggest shocker Dollhouse has given us, and I am pleasantly surprised by it. Looking back now will make us see Boyd in an entirely different light, and trying to pinpoint where those subtle clues might be. In fact I remember thinking at the beginning of this season that something seemed off about Boyd, I just thought it was how they filmed or written it, but now given everything we've learned it might have been there intentionally.
Caroline Farrell vs Echo
I've made it clear that I prefer Echo over Caroline, but what I appreciated about this episode was that we finally get a bit more background information and a glimpse into who Caroline Farrell had been before entering the Dollhouse, and precisely how that process actually happened. The flashbacks with her befriending Bennett, all part of her ploy to get closer to the Rossum corporation by using her, really makes us see who Caroline really is which is rather interesting, and a bit frightening.
Caroline is described to be an idealist, which Adelle deems as very dangerous for someone as persistent and unrealistic as Caroline when she has a particular goal set. In this case, Caroline is gung-ho on stopping the Rossum corporation, something that everyone wants but she wasn't going about it the right way; the intentions were good in theory, but her ideas and methods turned from innocent to absolutely insane. Sneaking into a highly secured facility, using others to get what she wants, blowing up buildings, and Lord knows what other damages she's done over the years she became obsessed with taking Rossum down. She even half-jokingly refers to herself as a terrorist, but perhaps she doesn't really understand just how painfully true her statement is as her extremist actions were getting very much out of control. Perhaps it's her persistence and resilience to continue popping back up into their lives that Rossum decided they wanted to test her limits, saying they thought her to be special, no matter whether it is Echo or Caroline, or both.
Now that the episode ended we don't know whether Caroline is Caroline again or if she's fused into Echo's brain with all the other personalities, and personally I am not ashamed to say that I want Echo to overpower Caroline. Even though in "Epitaph One" it's implied that who we see is actually Caroline, hence having Caroline's memory wedge still there in 2019, I'd like to think that perhaps both Echo and Caroline have melded together instead of just one -- as Echo is essentially Caroline, only without those experiences Caroline had in her life (as that's basically what the soul is, and with Echo helping others is the core of Caroline, or rather her conscience before that conscience started becoming a person of her own...many, many meta stuff regarding the wiping a soul bit, since we know Alpha's original self still existed long after being wiped, that part of his core that still said "hey I'm a serial killer psychopath"; Echo's is basically Caroline without the batshit inserted, of course). I would much rather have Echo taking on her own life, since she's doing so well without that original personality who, as she's witnessed and heard from, is more destructive. But I would love to see Echo lay the smackdown on Caroline, as she's the more sensible one and she's lived and has observed the Dollhouse and its operations with Rossum firsthand, Caroline only knows from the outside. I think it would be interesting to see how all this plays out.
Hell, even Echo knows that allowing that risk of losing herself, ceasing to exist, is a horrible idea, and however took that wedge, whether it was Boyd or someone else, wants Echo to remain who she is too. It's all very complicated and fascinating and I want to know more. What's going to happen in the remaining two episodes, we don't know. But it's going to be huge and epic, if not catastrophic.
For everything else in this episode, it was one huge rollarcoaster of epic shit going down.
I really adored the fact that Bennett wasn't really evil without a purpose for being evil. Although we knew that she felt strong feelings about Caroline and wanted to do her harm, we now understand the origins of these feelings and how she felt the way she did. Meshing the scenes together between Bennett's memory of Caroline and seeing how it really went down, I do think that Caroline did care about Bennett and thought she was a sweet girl, but she still used her for her own personal gain at getting into Rossum. She let her friend down even though she meant it for only herself to get caught, not Bennett. Bennett felt betrayed, having the only girl she could have considered a true friend, and that's how those feelings came about. Topher/Bennett was adorable, but of course being adorable and after their first very cute kiss something had to happen to make them not possible, being a Whedon show after all.
And because of this, Topher is completely broken. The scene where Adelle is comforting him, trying to break him out from his state of shock so he could continue to complete the wedge totally mirrors the scene in "Epitaph One" where she is cradling him in her arms. Just imagine how he's going to feel once learning the truth about Boyd. D: Oh God, poor Topher. *hugs him*
Claire Saunders, I also have a feeling that Boyd's time in the Dollhouse was meant not only getting close with Echo but getting close with Claire, so she could be useful for something like this. However that was constructed, I don't know, but I have a feeling we're going to find out.
Then there's Dominic. Flashback!Dominic and present!Dominic who just got himself out of the Attic...only to be put back in again. D: That is the worse kind of Hell, as we've seen. Makes me wonder whether he'll be back, not just flashback mode, because from "Epitaph One" we see that Dominic is released from the Attic and confronts Adelle. Perhaps being placed back into the Attic leads to exactly that, just a bit differently? I don't know.
I also love the title of the episode, "Getting Closer", as this could mean many things. Getting closer to the end, whether it be the end of the series or the end of the world, getting closer to revealing the truth behind everything, the Dollhouse and their intentions and purposes, of Rossum, of why Echo is so special, of everything. Because remember in S1 where Paul was getting messages from some unknown source about finding out the truth behind the Dollhouse and their purpose? We're assuming it was the NSA, but was it really? What if Boyd was behind that as well? If so though, why would he have Paul go on some wild goose chase like that?
So many questions, only two episodes left to answer them....
It makes me sad that this show has been canceled. It's not a masterpiece by any means, but it has so much amazing potential and the possibilities are endless, and had FOX trusted Joss enough to allow him to take full control of this project we would've had this instead of what they started off with. That is just depressing, because it could have been amazing except for the network intervening, and this statement by them just pisses me off:
“We committed to thirteen episodes,” admits Reilly. “We told Joss going in, we’re going to air these. For whatever good moves we made in the fall. Friday isn’t the finest move of the night. Back to the drawing board on Friday’s. [DOLLHOUSE] is a good show, it had a run, but obviously, that’s that.” (Source)"That's that", really? I want to believe that they trusted the project, and I am grateful to have had two seasons instead of a premature run, but when it comes right down to it the network seemed to not really care either way what happened. Promoting the show poorly, and rather incorrectly which is ironic in itself since the show is about the morality of exploitation behind massive corporations, and it just royally pisses me off that after everything FOX hasn't learned anything about their advertisement strategies and making room for at least attempting to get the show noticed by their audience. I understand that it's a business move, poor ratings means nobody is watching, but obviously to them, and most networks sometimes, quantity > quality. This is why you see long-running shows that are just so horrible and stupid and the more worthwhile, better quality shows are left out in the dirt to suffer unknown or doomed fates.
Obviously, with the exception of Fringe, science fiction is not the demographic for the FOX network. I kinda wished they had paired Dollhouse with that show, because it would have gotten more attention to those interested in such a genre. That would have been a smart move, but alas FOX isn't known for being smart.