Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘Joss Whedon

Well, this is it.  Dollhouse is over.  It’s done.  A lot, a lot of stuff happened in “Epitaph Two.”  I don’t even know how to summarize it.  “Epitaph Two” starts up where “Epitaph One” (the lost episode of season one) in the year 2020 when the tech has gone crazy and there are completely wiped people called “dumb shows” or imprinted people that attack everyone called “butchers.”  Mag and Zone are following the mini-Caroline to haven when they meet up with “real” Caroline and Paul and find Topher (who has gone crazy).  But Topher is close to developing tech that will restore everyone’s (as in the whole world, everyone) original identities.  At haven they find Adelle, Prya (Sierra) and Prya and Tony’s (Victor) son, T.  Tony brings his merry band of butcher-fighting tech heads.  They all head off for Los Angeles to get to the Dollhouse where Topher can find the tech that he needs and Caroline, Prya, and Tony can be protected from the pulse that will restore everyone’s original identities.

So they get to Los Angeles and Paul is killed by an attack.  Caroline doesn’t react then, but then loses it later because she didn’t tell Paul how she felt about him and now she’s all alone. And it turns out that Alpha has turned the dollhouse into a dollhouse again…and he’s friends with everyone!   Topher ends up having to sacrifice himself for the sins of his tech because the bomb that activates the pulse has to be set off manually.  And in the end, Caroline imprints herself with Paul (I think) so that they can be together in her head…it was kind of weird.  And those who were imprinted and don’t want to go back to their original identities (Caroline, Prya, and Tony) are stuck underground in the dollhouse for a year waiting for the effect of the pulse to wear off.  The end.

(Note: This summary is not totally complete because so much happened that I couldn’t really include everything or else it would get ridiculously long as opposed to just long.)

First of all, I liked that they brought most of the people back for the finale.  We didn’t see Amy Acker (Claire/Dr. Saunders/Whiskey) or Miracle Laurie (Mellie/November).  But we did see Alpha and Bennett come back (Bennett in an old video as she was killed a couple episodes ago).  It felt nice (if that’s the right word) to see everyone together again, kind of.

But I didn’t really appreciate how people who were wiped were referred to as “dumb shows.”  It was kind of ableist and offensive…and by “kind of,” I mean totally.  But we already knew that Joss Whedon has a tendency to create ableist shows.

I just don’t really know what to say.  It’s over and so much has happened that I don’t really know where to start.  They brought a little bit of their original questioning of what makes a person back into this episode.  With Prya and Caroline not wanting to return to their original identities, I thought that they were showing that Prya and Caroline, despite being imprinted, are real people.  They have real memories and feelings.  I thought this was kind of saying that memories are what make you a person.  But Bennett, in her video, was bringing up the idea that “we are what we do, not what we have done or will do.”  We are best defined why our actions in the now.  But that still holds with the idea that people who are imprinted are still people.

And Eliza Dushku did a great job in this episode, especially when it came to showing emotion.  Throughout the series, she has struggled with showing emotion.  I know that as Actives, they aren’t really supposed to show a lot of emotion, but even when she was imprinted, I didn’t always buy the emotion that she was trying to get across.  It usually felt a little forced.  But tonight, especially in her reaction to Paul’s death, she did a great job.  She was good at showing her sense of both loss and loneliness.  And she was, of course, good at tacking control and kicking ass.  But Eliza Dushku is usually pretty good at that…just look at Faith on Buffy.

And I like/am kind of frustrated by how Joss still left us with a major question: Right before Topher exploded, he looked at the “Remember” wall in the office and said “huh?”  But then he (and everything around him) exploded so we have no idea what he saw.  My idea is that since he was looking at the wall of people who had fallen in the fight or were imprints, I think he saw a picture of himself.  But that’s just my idea.  No one really knows.

And also, when did Dollhouse become an action movie?  There were parts of the episode, mainly the big gun fight, that I thought were a little over the top and didn’t really fit with the series as a whole.  I’m pretty sure it was just Joss living out his childhood fantasies.

As much as I did like the final episode of Dollhouse, I’m a little disappointed with how the series ended overall.  In the end, the show was moving away from the themes of identity, consent, human trafficking, and personhood for a more of an action storyline of trying to bring down Rossum.  I think, though, that this was a result of trying to wrap the show up earlier than they would have liked and they needed to have some sort of finality in the show.  And bringing down Rossum and restoring everyone in the world to their original identities definitely had a sense of finality.

Sorry my review is kind of all over the place.  So much happened in this episode and I’m still trying to process everything.  And writing this post has helped me a little in processing and because of that, I think of a new idea and add a paragraph and it might feel out of place.  But I think it makes sense for the most part, so that’s good at least.

Also check out meloukhia’s review up at this ain’t livin’.

What did everyone else think of the final episode of Dollhouse?  Did you think that they did a good job of wrapping the show up?  Did you have any problems or issues with the episode or show in general?

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00029996So the posse travels to Rossum headquarters where they all discover that Boyd is in fact the founder of Rossum and has some sort of evil plan for all of them.  Here are some of the main points:

  • Rossum has been mass producing and weaponizing the remote imprinters that Topher designed
  • Boyd wants to harvest Echo’s spinal fluid to create a vaccine for imprinting because Echo’s DNA is special and prevents the imprints from sticking
  • Mellie kills herself because her sleeper protocol is activated but she can’t bring herself to kill Ballard
  • Whiskey has been imprinted with Rossum’s co-founder Clyde and Amy Acker is a great actress (just thought I’d throw that out there)
  • Topher remote wipes Boyd with  the tech that he created and Echo gets him to blow up the Rossum building with him inside

So, Dollhouse is coming to an end.  There is only one more episode left that is set in the future, in the year 2020 after the “thought-pocolype” (Topher’s term) has happened.  I can’t remember if 2020 is before or after the events of “Epitaph One,” but I’m thinking it’s after.  Anyone know for sure?  Anyways, I’m excited to see the final episode and how to decide to wrap things up, but I am sad to see the show ending when it had so much potential.

I think the big question is why did Rossum want to develop the remote imprinters in order to make pretty much the entire population into Actives?  What did they gain from that?  The obviously were going to protect themselves from ever being imprinted with Echo’s spinal fluid vaccine.  So with this massive imprint plan, does this move the show away from the themes of human trafficking, or closer to it?

I’ve talked before about how the show obviously pushes on questions of human trafficking, consent, and personhood, but I have felt that recently (with the whole storyline of trying to bring down Rossum and everything) moved away from these themes.  But was Rossum’s endgame a way of bringing these themes back into the forefront?  Or does the mass scale of their plan move away from the idea of human trafficking.  It still obviously brings in the themes of consent and somewhat personhood, but I think that the show has moved away from the examination of human trafficking.  Any thoughts?

I’m hoping that after the final episode airs in two weeks that I will prepare an analysis of that episode as well as a cumulative look at the series, but we’ll see how motivated I am at that point and how much time I have to devote to that post.  But I am really excited to see how the series ends.  Stay tuned.

Dollhouse is back this week with the start of the final three episodes of the series and some majro things happened this episode.  We learn how Caroline and Bennett (guest star Summer Glau) first met and became friends, Dr. Saunders has come back to the dollhouse (it tunrs out she has been shacking up with Boyd for the last two months), and we learn the identity of the leader of Rossum (this is where the hating of cliffhangers comes in).

As you may have guessed, Summer Glau has reprised her role as DC programmer Bennett, ex-friend of Caroline and love interest of Topher.  They need Beennett to reconstruct Caroline’s original personality which has been destroyed.  Caroline is, of course, the only person who has seen the leader of Rossum and “lived” to tell the tale, so they need that information to bring Rossum down.  Now that Dr. Saunders is back, some things seem to be tense.  Then she goes and shoots Bennet after giving a speech about how she is surprised that Topher can love another human being.  It is assumed by everyone that Rossum got to her while she was away from the dollhouse.

dollhouse_ep2_harrylennixAnd that assumption is not surprising when we get to the end of the episode.  At the very end of the episode we see the face of the leader of Rossum.  There are two men in the room.  One we’ve never seen and … Boyd.  So if Boyd is not the leader of Rossum (which we can assume that he is), he is at least lying about his involvement with Rossum.

Why does Boyd need Caroline?  What is his endgame?  Does Dr. Saunders know who he really is?  What is her involvement with Rossum?  What whill happen when Caroline comes back?

They are obvioulsy building up to the world that we saw in “Epitaph One.”  In fact, there was even a scene in this episode that was in “Epitaph One” — the one between Boyd and Dr. Saunders when Boyd is runnng away from the dollhouse, which was nwo know he was not intending to do.  And everyone is getting closer to being trapped in the dollhouse.  Sierra and Victor have their original personalities.  Etc, etc.

One of the major questions that came up throughout the episode was what happens to Echo if she is imprinted with Caroline.  I think this is a pretty legitimate quetion especially considering the trajectory of the show.  The show has put a lot of effort into creating Echo into a “real” person.  We have been forced to question what makes pershonhood and if Echo is a real person even if she started out as Caroline.  The show has obviously been telling us, especially in the past coupel episodes, that Echo is in fact a person.  So will Caroline be absorbed into Echo’s personalities or will Caroline take over and cease Echo’s existence?  I guess we will find out in the next episode.  My guess is that Caroline will just be absorbed into Echo.

Oh, and now that Ballard has had his brain rewired and is a doll in order to keep him alive, he doesn’t remember his connection with Echo.  He has all the memories but none of the feelings associated with them.  I don’t really know if this will be important but it could be.

I really wnat to know what Boyd is up to and if he is really the evil leader of Rossum!  This is why I sometimes hate cliffhangers (especially Joss’ cliffhangers)!  They just dropped this bomb on us and then we have to wait a whole week to get some sort of answers.  But this is just how it works I guess.  Joss also has a tendency to build up characters into these people that we like and have a connection with and then rip that away by making them out to be this completely different person who may or may not be evil.

Happy Sunday!

The Sexist: The Year in Consent

This was the year of the armchair rape analyst (ARA). If you’ve never run into such a person, here’s a job description: While men across the globe generate allegations of rape, ARAs are charged with casually dismissing the problem from the comfort of their living rooms. They sit back, stroke the chin, and plant gray where black and white work just fine.

Feministing: Avatar: Count the “isms”

Cameron’s movie does appear to be a white guilt fantasy, and as self-proclaimed “King of the World,” (referring to Pandora, the Na’vi homeland), he is responsible for at least some of the problematic undertones. And precisely because it was a lifetime dream of his to write and produce Avatar, the superiority of humans to the indigenous characters, exotic indigenous bodies, and “salvation” from disability within the movie are unsurprising given that he first dreamed of Pandora five decades ago.

this ain’t livin’: Whedon’s Brunettes

Can we discuss, for a moment, Joss Whedon’s obsession with disturbed brunettes who wander around barefoot? It really does bear examining, because various permutations of the exact same character show up again and again in his work. And I think that tells us something about Joss, that he can’t seem to produce a creative work without this character. He inserts her again and again, setting up situations in which she can be saved, but in the end, she’s often doomed despite the best efforts of the other (usually male) characters.

Bitch Blogs: The Decade in Feminist Pop Culture

No matter what those time/date sticklers who don’t think it’s over ‘til 2011 believe, according to us, tomorrow marks the end of the ‘00s. And though we’d hate to say “Good riddance” to the decade that brought us a bunch of kickass feminist blogs, a bevy of thought-provoking books, and a multitude of female-focused movies, coming up with a list of positive feminist moments in ’00s pop culture was no easy task. As it turns out, there were a lot more not-so-feminist moments this decade than feminist ones. (Too bad we’d already decided we wanted to keep the list positive – We’re starting our New Year’s resolutions early this year.)

Professor What If?: What if Disney’s princess-of-color weren’t so green? (A review of The Princess and the Frog)

After 96 minutes of enjoyable animation and some good music, I would say I was pleased with parts of the film, dismayed by others. What irked me the most was that Tiana, the first ever Disney WOC protagonist, was a FROG for the majority of the film. Her turn to GREEN was especially disappointing as I was enjoying viewing a smart, sassy, capable black woman helming a Disney script.

Well, it’s Christmas Eve and I’ll be running around all day.  But here are some favorite posts from other blogs.  Sorry that I’ve just been doing link love lately, but hopefully that will change after my work schedule calms down a little bit and I have some time to focus on posting.

PopMatters: When TV Became Art: What We Owe to Buffy

TV has become art, but that was achieved well before the first episode of The Wire and even before the advent of this decade. TV became art when what should have been the antithesis of art, a teen drama about a cheerleader who against her wishes was forced to become a vampire slayer, redefined what could be done in the context of popular television.

Feministing: Top Ten Wins for Women in 2009

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the bad news about women’s issues we hear on a daily basis. From large to small, this past year has definitely seen its share of setbacks and sorrows. But 2009 has also been a year of victories and successes, progress and growth for women and women’s movements internationally.

this ain’t livin’: The Magicians

I’m always excited to read adult books like this, where the author acknowledges and plays with the idea of magic and doesn’t do it in a self conscious or pretentious way. I love the fact that Grossman built on prior worlds to create an entirely new sort of world for us to enjoy; reading The Magicians felt like getting to the end of the garden, opening a gate, and realizing that I had actually only been in a tiny corner of a much larger garden than I ever could have imagined.

Broadsheet: Carrie Bradshaw: Feminist Icon?

Today, the “Sex and the City” protagonist was declared an icon of the decade by noted feminist author Naomi Wolf. And just this past weekend, the make-believe Manhattanite was blamed by Camilla Long of the Times for kicking off a revolution that has made women increasingly unhappy. To recap: As the decade comes to a close, a fictional sex writer is being credited with both improving and ruining things for real, live women.

Another night of two hours of Dollhouse.  With these two hour episodes, so much happens that it’s hard to write a proper summary, so I am just going to bullet point some main things that happened:

  • Victor/Anthony’s contract was up so he was released into the “real world” where he was recruited by a Rossum-run army that needs ex-Actives for their programmable brain.  They implant a chip that creates neural radios and mass-group think among all the soldiers.  Echo and Sierra/Priya break him out.
  • Topher finds a way to rearrange Ballards brain and imprint himself with himself to bring him out of his Alpha-induced coma
  • Adelle seems to be running the Dollhouse into the ground and taken to copious amounts of alcohol.
  • Echo, Victor, and Sierra are sent to the Attic where they learn that the Attic feeds Rossum’s mainframe — they are turned into human computers.  The adenaline that is produced from keeping the people in a constant state of fear increases the processing power.
  • Echo finds out that you can escape from the Attic by killing yourself and bringing yourself back to life or being revived on the other side.
  • And it all turns out that it was part of Adelle’s evil plan to bring down the Dollhouse/Rossum!

I did like the first episode of this two-parter a little bit more because it wasn’t as Echo-centric — there was a lot of Victor in there.  Even sense Echo has become “self-aware” (as they call it) and “more like a person,” I haven’t really liked her as much.  I know that sounds weird, but now that she can fully access all of her imprints with no problems, it’s kind of boring.  I liked her more when she was having flashes and we weren’t really sure what was going to happen with her.

But one thing that I didn’t like about the episode “Stop-Loss” was the “love can conquer all” theme.  Victor/Anthony and Sierra/Priya can remember each other even when they are their “original” selves, when they are programmed as different people, or when they are in their “doll state.”  Does anyone else find this weird?  Don’t they advertise the technology as being able to wipe everything?  But apparently love is on a deeper level.  Don’t get me wrong, I like them together…it just doesn’t make sense to me in terms of the previous storylines and continuity with the technology.  And I’m just not a big fan of hugely sappy things.

There’s a lot that I don’t get about the Dollhouse universe and technology, but I just completely do not understand the Attic.  It was really weird, even for Joss Whedon.  And I don’t understand how they can jump from one person’s head and worst fears to anothers.  How does that work?  I just really didn’t understand what was going on in that part of the show.

And I’m pretty sure meloukhia called it when she said (something along the lines of): “remember on Angel when he had to convince his friends he was evil in order to bring down Wolfram & Hart — that’s what is happening with Adelle.”  That’s pretty much exactly what happened in these episodes.  Throughout the whole episode(s) we are left to think that Adelle has gone crazy and evil and drunk and doesn’t care what happens to other people at all.  But wait, she has a plan to bring down the entire corporation!  Dont’ worry, Adelle’s got your backs.  And speaking of flashbacks to previous Whedon shows…Echo is starting to remind me a lot of Faith from Buffy/Angel after she turned good again — and not just because they are played by the same actress.  They both seem to have the “I’ve done some bad things before, but now I’m going to use my skills for good as a way to repay for my sins” kind of feel to them — in different ways, but it’s still there.

And I really like how this branch of the Dollhouse is being billed as the “Dollhouse that cares.”  None of the other Dollhouses care what happens to their Actives when they are in the Dollhouse, let alone when they are released.  But if you are lucky enough to get put in this Dollhouse, they will really take care of your and care about what happens to you.  It just feels weird that none of the other branches have gone looking for missing ex-Actives (as in the case of Victor/Anthony) or even slightly stood up to the Rossum corporation.

I do have to say that I was a little more impressed this week than I was last week.  It had more of a storyline to it.  Or maybe I was just in a better mood when I watched it.  But I think they are trying too hard to wrap it up into a nice little bow to end with that they are skipping over some important developmental steps — like all of a sudden Topher has morals (earlier in the season) without much of an explanation.  I know that the show is ending soon and they want to go out with a bang, but I think they are missing some important steps in getting to that bang with trying to make it look all pretty for Fox.

Speaking of going out with a bang, there are three episodes left of Dollhouse, which will apparently return in three weeks.  And I thought Amy Acker as Dr. Saunders/Whiskey was supposed to be in some of the later epsiodes of the season, so I wonder if she’s going to show up in these or they just took that part out after the show got canceled.  I hope she comes back because I think she was one of the more interesting characters.

Ok, so this week I’m going to forego a summary and much of analysis because right now I really need to vent.  Some of you might be upset about that, but you can leave your analysis of the episode(s) in the comments.

I don’t know if it’s because I watched these episodes after a long day of work when I was tired and cranky, but I just did not really enjoy these episodes.  I mean, they were entertaining enough, but they weren’t really up to the calibre of some of the previous episodes.

I really didn’t like that they did the time jump into 3 months later.  It just felt kind of forced and I didn’t really understand what was going on — in a bad way.  In “Epitaph One,” they jumped into the future, but they did it in a good way.  It was entertaining and it left a lot of questions that would be answered in the time to come.  It showed us what was going to be and left us to guess how they were going to get there.  These episodes just jumped forward without much of an explanation.

I do have to say that the second hour/episode was much better than the first — but I think that’s pretty much because Alan Tudyk was back as Alpha.  I love Alan Tudyk and I think he does an amazing job in this role, so I was really happy to see him pop up again.

I was just not impressed with these episodes.  I’m still looking forward to how Joss Whedon is going to go about ending this series.  I’m hoping that they will actually wrap some things up since they know it will be the last episode instead of leaving a bunch of things opened ended…like has happened before (cough…Firefly…cough — but I guess they did have Serenity after that).  Does anyone know when the end is coming?

I also think that they are trying to do so much with these last few episodes and fit in a bunch of guest roles (Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk, for example) that the stories are kind of losing some of their substance.  It’s less critical and thought-provoking and more in-your-face than it used to be (or maybe that’s just me).  I would think that Joss Whedon wouldn’t care what Fox thought anymore now that Dollhouse has officially been cancelled so he would have done things more his way.  Or maybe he is doing things his way and it’s just not that great for me.  Who knows.

What did everyone else think of the episodes this week?