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“Getting Closer”

January 9, 2010

This isn’t a review.

I recently looked at my Briar Rose review where I went on and on about how the fairy tale motif had been developed all season long and that the season had a thematically coherent shape and was coming to a logical climax. It was not a matter of predicting plot twists, just a matter of thinking the season did make sense as a unified work. Anyway, I was ticked at the other reviewers for dissing the show based on things they just hadn’t noticed, but I sounded a little “let me explain to you how the world works,” so I leap at this opportunity to say:

I have no clue what’s up with Saunders or Boyd. Or Saunders and Boyd. None. Baffled.

That’s kinda cool.

  1. January 10, 2010 3:05 am

    I’m clueless too.

    These last few episodes have been great, but so packed with information, both in the text and subtext, that I kind of have no idea what’s going on. In fact the only (living) characters I’m fairly sure I understand right now are Topher and Dominic, maybe Anthony and Priya as well, though I’m not 100% sure I know why she’s signed on for war. (It seems to me Anthony’s just replaced his previous war commitment with “Fight Rossum.”) Adelle’s playing multiple games simultaneously, and I don’t know how long Adelle’s been playing her game against Rossum. (Since “Stop Loss”? “Meet Jane Doe”? Recruiting Ballard? Recruiting Caroline?) I’m having a bit of a hard time reconciling the different facets of Echo we’re seeing. Ballard is missing something and Topher’s theory doesn’t seem to fit, especially since we really never knew what his feelings for Echo were in “Meet Jane Doe” and “A Love Supreme,” exactly–we mostly heard Echo’s side of things. Caroline, between her meeting with Boyd and Clyde 2, and her imprinting, seems a mystery to me too–what brought her to the…defeated girl in “Ghost,” or the one imprinted into Wendy in “Omega”? And Boyd and Claire, I have no clue.

    This is both exhilerating and distressing, because on the one hand I’m dying to know what else there is in this story, but on the other it’s very possible the show won’t give the answers I’m looking for. Obviously we’ll be given an explanation for some things–Boyd is the big one–but how many of these are even open questions for the writers? Or is the text clear and I blind?

    Two more weeks. Can’t wait.

  2. Pointy permalink*
    January 10, 2010 12:12 pm

    You got me thinking, William B.

    One think: Boyd’s relationship with Echo/Caroline is a development of the Mayor’s relationship with Faith.

    The Mayor was a villain from the get-go, but Faith brought out the best in him — he genuinely loved her and served (in his own twisted way) as a father figure.

    With Boyd, the viewer first saw how Echo brought out the best in him, starting with the first episode, in which she gives him the opportunity to help take down a child molester. We’ve seen that he’s willing to lay down his life for her (though that is never, in Mal Reynolds’ words, “Plan A”), and that, I’ve read somewhere, is the greatest love. It’s not all there is to love, but it is definitely love. Whatever else is going on with Boyd, he genuinely believes in, and cares about, Echo. He has protected her from some real threats and has, in good parent-style, cultivated her growth as a person.

    And now we find out he’s The Mayor, and one that’s not just gonna take out one town, but the whole world.

    Bold, Joss Whedon and Tim Minear. Very bold.

  3. January 11, 2010 11:20 pm

    That’s a really good point, re: the Mayor and Faith. Something about Ms. Dushku just brings that out in people, huh? And that somehow makes the line, “Caroline’s the only one who MET THAT SNAKE” much funnier.

    SPECULATION: I think how Boyd/Echo’s relationship develops will depend pretty heavily on what his plans were all along. It’s interesting that Echo’s primary skills are useful in working against Rossum’s apparent interests, not for–primarily, she can maintain her identity while being given different imprints. This means she can’t be controlled. Boyd might be trying to stop the same apolcaypse Clyde 1.0 predicts. And this ties in with Caroline (conspicuously, not Echo) being the key to salvation in “Epitaph One.” Why he does so seemingly behind the back of the company is anyone’s guess.

    Have you seen the Tim Minear interview about this on io9? Good interview, but a little worrying, in the way he describes decisions for pragmatic reasons and not thematic ones. But then, ME is at its best when both come together, so there’s still two episodes left to make it all clear.

  4. Pointy permalink*
    January 13, 2010 9:54 pm

    Oooh, hadn’t noticed the appropriateness of that “snake” comment. 😀

    Tim Minear‘s comments tend to be kind of playful in interviews, so I’m not reading them literally. After all, in a noir or a thriller, often the protagonists are betrayed by their best friends.

  5. January 14, 2010 3:44 pm

    True re: Tim Minear. Plus his appearance on Whedonesque to explain that his nuts-and-bolts statements didn’t at all mean he wasn’t thinking more deeply about the decisions force me to eat my words a little more.

    Poor sociopath-out-of-a-sweater-vest Bennett.

  6. Pointy permalink*
    January 14, 2010 8:03 pm

    Hindsight is my secret weapon. Heh heh heh.

  7. korkster permalink
    January 14, 2010 9:46 pm

    Just to leave a take from Whedonesque:

    “… He cannot undo it, only delay it. So the best he can hope for is to cultivate a place that’s going to be resistant. Which probably isn’t doable without a multiyear-plan involving Caroline/Echo using the exact same resources any shortcut would actually make unusable.” – [b]wiesengrund[/b]

    “Are you saying you think [i]Echo herself is the plan[/i] i.e. that the purpose is to find a way for people to maintain a coherent identity despite being blasted with multiple imprints ? Cos I like that idea quite a bit and while that would need something long-term, the actual details wouldn’t necessarily be that important, the whole plan wouldn’t necessarily be brought down by e.g. Ballard/Adelle/Topher/etc. zigging when Boyd needed them to zag.

    And it’d explain his clear affection for Echo since she’s not only a daughter surrogate to him, she’s also (as he sees it) the saviour of humanity, a very valuable “prototype” and the culmination of years of work.” – [b]Saje[/b]

    “That’s exactly how I see it. [b]He knows she’s special from the get go[/b] (which will still need some explanation) but once Caroline falls into his lap, he puts her in there and waits for the years to come, silently helping her grow (something that quite possibly cannot be rushed since it’s never been done before), and keeping everything around her in a state where she actually can grow. Building an Ark via Echo, that’s the scenario that makes most sense to me right now.

    And you’re right that doesn’t need any micro-planning. He probably chose the LA Dollhouse because he knew the predispositions of the people there (Adelle had a weak spot for Actives and the curiosity to let Echo’s development happen; Topher would be open to and awesomed by a Super-Echo…) and being there he could eliminate in-house threats like Dominic. (He probably joined up after the Alpha-incident since he realized that just putting her there doesn’t mean she’s safe.) I could even see a scenario where the whole DC storyline was a test to see how well the LA branch will fight against Rossum on a small, national scale, before having to face them on the world-ending scale… ” – [b]wiesengrund[/b]

  8. korkster permalink
    January 14, 2010 9:57 pm

    Wanted to ask you a question about “The Attic”. Mainly in regards to eyes & the two champions of Echo (Ballard & Boyd). My thoughts:

    Paul says “I’m a ghost – you can’t fight a ghost” in the elevator with Echo in “The Attic”.

    Ghost of the man she used to know? Can’t fight a ghost… maybe that’s why she let Alpha (with Ballard’s personality) go.

    Perhaps Caroline herself is a “ghost” to Echo. Not presently in her head, but she’s seeing through lived-in eyes. And everyone views her as another. Caroline does haunt Echo everywhere she turns.

    Ballard’s eyes are white and opaque (closed off, you could say), while Boyd has mansions, with big windows in his. One is shut-off from her because of his love for her ghost Caroline, the other spacious and inviting like shelter from the impending apocalypse.

    Of course, Echo is a ghost of her imprints. In “A Love Supreme”, Joel Mynor even references such as “I had no idea that Rebecca would live on after I stopped requesting her”. Rebecca is a ghost in two ways: 1) The actual Rebecca is dead and 2) the imprint Rebecca has been cast aside and even wiped… yet still goes on.

    “I am all of them, but none of them is me.”

    I think that is the counter argument. Echo’s imprints are ghosts; she is everyone of them, but NONE of them are Caroline. She does not have Caroline in her. No memories, no habits, nothing. Now we could argue that Echo is Caroline stripped away (at least, in the past we could), but once Echo made a decision that she wasn’t Caroline, she wasn’t. And hasn’t been. Echo rejects the impressions others place upon her. Paul keeps thinking she’s Caroline, which she gets offended by.

    When she grabs Paul’s hand and affirms “I’m me. I’m real,” she’s allowing us to see that Echo has divorced herself from the past. Yet she is still haunted by Caroline’s previous actions. Those actions led her into the Dollhouse and have made enemies for her.

    Paul is a ghost, but Echo doesn’t know that while she’s in the Attic (she finds out after). Could be intuition, I guess. Or…

    Playing with the “Actives are ghosts” theme, it could be that because Paul doesn’t believe in ghosts (he still believes she’s Caroline, even after all they’ve been through), he can’t see Echo. Can’t see her for who she really is, which could be why she is quick to understand and accept what possibility of love between them could have been, it wouldn’t have lasted (and not do to Activating Paul; he couldn’t love her for her).

    Paul even uses words that Echo herself has said. Echoing Echo, as to say. Those words were “echoed” from Elenore Penn, when she confronts the man who “killed her” (via rape). Which is funny because coming from Paul’s mouth we can parallel that to Echo/Caroline “killing Paul” (via brain-wipe & Active). Ooooh, I like that. Not only can he not see the real Echo, but she is responsible for his death. And when I say she, I mean Caroline; but he blames Echo because he thinks she’s really Caroline. *chills*

    On the flip-side, knowing what we know of Boyd, we could actually say that he saw Echo for Echo. Her potential to be whatever he needed her to be (in the theory that she is the key to saving the world by resisting multiple imprints).

    Which is why his eyes aren’t clouded. He knew the potential in Caroline even before Echo. The comment of “you have no friends” is hard to place because we do not know the relationship outcome, but his laughter at Echo is significant. Besides the evil “muah ha ha” moment, he is laughing at her. Like a child. As if the joke (that only he knows) is going over her head and she can’t yet understand.

    If you think about it, neither of her “champions” are talking directly to her. One is speaking as if she’s someone else, and the other is laughing at an unshared moment of understanding.

    What do you think?

  9. January 18, 2010 10:23 pm

    korkster, I like your thoughts. I feel like we will probably get some more development of the Echo/Paul side of things, maybe no more on Echo/Boyd for obvious reasons.

    On “The Hollow Men” (spoilers for that, not for “Epitaph Two” which I haven’t even seen the preview for): So it seems that the Mayor/Faith analogy was a good one to describe Boyd. My favourite part about “The Hollow Men” (on a first viewing anyhow) is the reversal of the Whedon found families-save-the-world trope. Boyd still loves his found family, but that doesn’t make him a “better person.” This dark side has been there before in Whedon works–there’s the Mayor, there’s Buffy willing to sacrifice the world for her sister (and the paradoxical way that this love also saves the world), there’s Angel willing to mindwipe his friends and “family” and make a deal with the devil for Connor. But this is one of its strongest expressions.

    Mileage varies though, as I’ve read a lot of people who saw Boyd’s declaration of love as fundamentally insincere. I don’t think so. A big part of me wishes that we had seen whether Boyd would be able to pull the trigger on Echo at the end, and I somehow suspect he wouldn’t be able to. But then, Echo will never know that, either. Lots of Boyd/”good guys” parallels abound too. Boyd fake-zaps Topher with the weaponized tech (and Boyd knew, though we didn’t, yet, that it didn’t work) and Topher zaps him for real; Boyd pauses considering whether to kill Echo when intending to use her body as a vaccine, Echo goes through with killing Boyd using his body as a weapon.

    I have a lot of disappointments with “The Hollow Men,” most of them to do with Boyd, but there are some things I like and I hope that it ages better. (I also hope against odds that he will have a less-villainy role in “Epitaph Two,” perhaps a backup in someone else’s body. Enver has done Reed and he’s done Fran, can he do Harry?)

  10. Pointy permalink*
    January 19, 2010 12:31 pm

    Things are starting to click into place for Boyd. May ramble on the subject. No promises! Enjoying reading you, William B and Korkster! 😀

  11. January 21, 2010 10:27 am

    Please do! Any help in filling out “The Hollow Men” (see what I did there?) would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

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