|Season 2, Episode 11|
|Airdate:||January 8, 2010|
|Written By:||Tim Minear|
|Directed By:||Tim Minear|
|Dollhouse Episode Guide|
"The Hollow Men"
With the Rossum conspiracy now fully revealed, Echo and her allies must now make their stand to stop the it from enslaving the free world with their newest remote mind-wipe technology. Topher meets up with Bennett Halverson when she is forcibly taken from the DC Dollhouse and brought to Los Angeles to help restore Caroline's past memory, as she is the only one who can identify the two Rossum corporate heads. Echo will finally face herself as Caroline, even as Ballard struggles with the facts of his new existence as an Active, while he also brings former active November/Millie back into the fold. The background story between Caroline and Bennett from three years earlier is revealed during Caroline's status as a student in Arizona. As Adelle tries to prepare an evacuation of the Dollhouse, Rossum soldiers invade it, just as Whiskey/Dr. Claire Saunders finally returns to the Dollhouse at the request of Boyd with some info for all involved--and a few surprises as well.
The episode opens on the end of "The Attic", where Echo, Paul Ballard, Anthony, Priya, Boyd Langton, Ivy, Topher and DeWitt have gathered after Echo's announcement that she needs to meet Caroline. Ivy and Topher raise the question of whether or not Echo will survive if her original, intact personality joins with the conglomerate being that is Echo, but she insists that if Caroline tried to wipe her away, Caroline would lose. However, when they all go to the imprinting room, Ivy discovers that Caroline's original memory wedge is missing, and all that is left is the back-up that Alpha destroyed in "Omega".
A memory is recalled, as Caroline seduces a security guard and tricks him into letting her into Adelle's office. There, she handcuffs him as she investigates several files, including her own and Bennett Halverson's. When Caroline finds security footage of the Dollhouse, she resolves to find Halverson and take down Rossum with their own prodigy.
Topher uploads a virus into Bennett Halverson's computer at the D.C. Dollhouse, which triggers one of her Actives to trap her in her programming room until Ballard and Anthony arrive to take her back to Los Angeles. Ballard is sidetracked, however, when he sees that Madeline Costley/November has once again had her memory erased. He insists on rescuing her despite Anthony's objections, returning her to Los Angeles.
The memory continues as Caroline befriends Bennett by chasing off rude college students, impressing Bennett with her charm and intelligent mind.
Upon their return, Topher reveals (between flirtatious gestures) that he wants her to help him rebuild Caroline's damaged back-up wedge, but withholds the identity of the personality. Although the two make progress, Bennett realizes that they are working on Caroline's wedge and becomes upset, striking Topher. He is forced to confine her in one of the solitary cells beneath the Dollhouse for fear that she would attempt to sabotage his lab while he retreats to the infirmary to tend to his split lip. There, he is cornered by Echo, who has noticed a change in Paul. Topher admits that he needed to rewire Paul's brain, but to do so was forced to take something away to make room--in this case, Paul's love for Echo, although his memories of her still remain. Dr. Claire Saunders is revealed to have been staying with Boyd the last few months and she returns to the Dollhouse in time to tend to Topher, receiving a warm welcome from Echo and displaying a greater tolerance toward Topher, even going so far as to joke with him.
Another memory of Caroline triggers, showing DeWitt and Laurence Dominic discovering Caroline's spying and that she has become Bennett's roommate. Caroline and Bennett bond over common interests and Bennett reveals that she wants to be just like Caroline as Caroline tries to bring her out of her shell and get her to "impress" the people at Rossum as she starts her new job. Caroline appears to be battling with herself over her duplicity when Bennett says how much she trusts Caroline
While Topher continues to imprint Actives with their original personalities and release them from the Dollhouse (with the exception of November, who is imprinted as Mellie, so as to enable a deep trust of Paul), Echo learns that the House is going into lockdown and urges Anthony and Priya to leave, suggesting that they not return, much to their gratitude. Just as they depart, however, Laurence Dominic stumbles down from the Attic to warn Echo and the others that Rossum is onto them. Dominic, however, has spent too long in the Attic and cannot survive well outside it. Knowing that sending him to a hospital would be too risky, Adelle decides to send him back to the Attic, where he can continue to perform as an inside source. Afterward, Echo approaches Bennett and admits that she is displeased with the idea of Caroline coming back as well, but knows that it is necessary. Upon offering to allow Bennett to torture Caroline while Echo holds her down, Bennett finally agrees. Pleased to see her return, Topher immediately begins to help Bennett.
In another memory flashback, Bennett reveals to Caroline that she's found her file that Caroline had stolen from Rossum, and is hurt not only that Caroline kept it from her but kept her from the truth about Rossum, revealing that she wants to help Caroline take it down. Caroline reluctantly agrees.
Boyd and DeWitt meet in DeWitt's office, where Clive Ambrose and his bodyguards threaten to take over the Dollhouse and liquidate all of its assets. Boyd kills all three as DeWitt watches calmly, but Boyd is shot himself with a minor stomach injury. Hatching a plan to direct Rossum's attention to Boyd, Adelle sends Boyd away and Dr. Saunders tearfully helps him pack extra medical supplies and bids him farewell.
The memory of Caroline and Bennett's disastrous attempt to destroy Rossum's headquarters is finally fully revealed. Bennett helps Caroline through the tunnels to lay charges, but Caroline gets sidetracked despite Bennett's urging when she sees a hidden lab full of people, where she finds rudimentary experiments of dolls in various stages, such as a man trapped in a glass case who sings opera upon activation. Horrified, Caroline tries to call the bombing off in order to avoid killing innocent people, but Bennett informs her that they don't have a chance. Bennett runs to meet Caroline when the bombs go off. Caroline desperately tries to shift the stone column off of Bennett's arm, but can't. When she sees an intact security camera showing her that DeWitt is on her way in, Caroline gives Bennett a security identity card so that she can avoid punishment, revealing that Bennett's hateful memory of Caroline in "The Left Hand" was misleading: Caroline was ensuring that only she, Caroline, would be captured so that Bennett could evade capture.
Topher and Bennett continue to flirt as they rebuild the wedge. Topher leaves for supplies, but turns back to kiss Bennett, continuously hurting his lips as he does so and the two admit their feelings for one another, promising to stay together if they manage to avert the impending apocalypse. Once he leaves to fetch the supplies, Dr. Saunders enters and notes that Topher loves Bennett. Claire tells Bennett that she is amazing, as she was unaware that Topher was even capable of admitting another human exists. Topher then returns with supplies and Saunders immediately shoots Bennett in the head, killing her and splattering the room and Topher with blood. She calmly walks away.
In the memory of three years ago, DeWitt and Dominic tell Caroline that she has plenty to answer for, but that she must send Caroline to the top of the building to meet the head of Rossum, saying that those who go up rarely come down and telling her to "enjoy the ride."
Topher falls into shock as Adelle attempts to comfort him and Bennett's body is placed on the couch and covered with a sheet. Paul and Echo surmise that Rossum got ahold of Dr. Saunders and imprinted her as a sleeper active, possibly months ago when she initially escaped. Topher continuously tries to reason that he could 'bring [Bennett] back', but Adelle simply insists that there's nothing left to bring back and begs him to focus. Ivy begins to work on the wedge, but when Topher sees her near bloodstains, he begins to panic and begs her to leave and not to become like him and to use her mind for good things. Unnerved, Ivy leaves the Dollhouse and Topher continues to work on the wedge. Suddenly, Rossum security guards drop in on the Dollhouse, just as Topher completes the wedge, and Paul rushes to reach a cache of weapons. The remaining staff rushes to the imprint room and Echo gives Adelle a gun with Topher begging her to run, stating that she is their general and without her, they will lose. She departs with Mellie while Topher imprints Echo as Caroline. A Rossum security guard appears and knocks Topher unconscious, but Boyd reappears behind him and snaps his neck. He tells Echo to "hang in there" as she accesses the memory of the head of Rossum, triggering the final memory of Caroline's infiltration of the Tucson compound:
At the top of the elevator, Caroline meets Clyde 2.0, in his fifth body, promising her that she'd understand soon enough what he meant. She then meets the head of the Rossum Corporation, who promises her that she is special and that he will use her in ways that she won't understand, promising a disbelieving Caroline that she will trust him "with her life," revealing Rossum's final twist:
The head of the Rossum Corporation is Boyd Langton.
- A scene originally aired in "Epitaph One" (in which a tearful Dr. Saunders bids an injured Boyd farewell) was included in "Getting Closer".
- After Bennett's murder, Topher goes into shock, possibly foreshadowing and contributing to his eventual mental breakdown.
- Topher urges Ivy to abandon the Dollhouse and save herself, which she seems to do, accounting for her absence in "Epitaph One".
- Boyd is revealed to be the mastermind behind Rossum.
- In "The Attic" Clyde Randolph reveals that one of the security personnel "here"—in the Attic—mentioned, that Caroline could identify his former partner (the head of Rossum) because they "mistakenly let her in". This means that either the security guard in the first flashback or one of the security guards in the Tucson Rossum building was placed in the attic for failing to keep Caroline out.
- Eliza Dushku as Echo/Caroline Farrell
- Harry Lennix as Boyd Langton
- Fran Kranz as Topher Brink
- Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard
- Enver Gjokaj as Anthony Ceccoli
- Dichen Lachman as Priya Tsetsang
- and Olivia Williams as Adelle DeWitt
- Amy Acker as Claire Saunders/Whiskey/Clyde 2.0
- Miracle Laurie as November/Mellie
- Summer Glau as Bennett Halverson
- Liza Lapira as Ivy
- Reed Diamond as Laurence Dominic
- Philip Casnoff as Clive Ambrose
- Rick Otto as Gabe
- Jay Malone as Young Man
- Rhashan Stone as Test Subject I
- Erin Korda as Test Subject II
- Rick Fox as Gary Walden
- Joe Howard as Old Dr. Saunders
Principal photography wrapped on November 23rd, 2009.
- Rick Fox had a brief cameo appearance as an Active within the Dollhouse. Fox, a former NBA basketball player, was Eliza Dushku's boyfriend at the time of filming.
- The Test Subject singing from "Rigoletto" is played by Rhashan Stone, the real-life husband of Olivia Williams, making this is the third time during the second season that a cast/crew member's spouse/significant other has guest starred as an Active; Rick Fox, as mentioned above, and the doll designated Kilo in the episodes The Public Eye, The Left Hand, and Meet Jane Doe was played by Joss Whedon's brother Jed Whedon's wife and script writer, Maurissa Tancharoen.
- The excerpt from Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Rigoletto" is from the canzone of the Duke of Mantua (Act Three). Interestingly, the text revolves around the fickle nature of women as well as being deceived and manipulated by their theatrical behavior. Whether this is an allusion to one of the female characters—especially to Caroline herself, who in this episodes proves to be well capable of deceiving others—remains unclear.
- While looking through Bennett's file, Caroline says to herself, "She could kill you with her brain." This is an in-joke for fans of Joss Whedon's previous series, Firefly, in which Summer Glau's character informs another that she can kill him with her brain. Another Firefly reference is at the cafeteria when Bennett desperately exclaims that it's "very crowded!"
- Caroline calls the shirt she bought for Bennett the 'tasty couture'. This is what Echo's imprint, 'Crystal' called a shirt she stole along with Alpha in Omega. What, if any, significance this has is unclear.
- In the scene where Claire Saunders and Boyd Langton tearfully say goodbye, some of Amy Acker's dialogue is similar (if not taken directly) to those of Winifred Burkle in the Angel episode "A Hole in the World".
- The death of Bennett Halverson involved her blood splattering onto Topher's face, a common visual theme in the works of Joss Whedon.
- This is not the first time Summer Glau and Amy Acker have appeared in the same episode of a Joss Whedon-produced show. Both appeared in the Angel episode "Waiting in the Wings". However, their characters did not interact in Angel.
'"Another brisk walk through several exciting developments which could have used much longer to develop. The show just doesn’t have the time to hook your emotions the way it needs to."' The TV Critic review
(Having been ordered to restore all current Actives to their original personalities, Topher has convinced a disoriented former active that his five-year contract is already up)
- Gary Walden: Wow... seems like only yesterday!
(Walden walks away. Topher sighs.)
- Topher Brink: It was last Tuesday, actually...
- Topher Brink: You know, I always had a crush on you, even when I thought you were a dude.
- Bennett Halverson: ...
- Topher Brink: This is better!
- Bennett Halverson: (about Topher) He's remarkable.
- Claire Saunders: I honestly didn't think he was capable of admitting the existence of another human being, let alone loving one. I think you're the remarkable one.
(Bennett smiles at Saunders. Saunders pulls out a gun and shoots her.)
Notes & References
- Fienberg, Daniel (January 9, 2010). TV Ratings: CBS, NBC leave 'Dollhouse' in the Friday dust. HitFix.