Season 2 Episode 12

The Hollow Men

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Jan 15, 2010 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
492 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Echo and her team travel to Arizona in order to destroy the Rossum Corporation's mainframe.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • The Hollow Men

    The good;

    Once again we have Victor/Topher and it's brilliant although how we get it, this seems a little bit contrived. Couldn't Topher just leave a note with the Topher-wedge saying "Victor/Sierra, I think one of us is a traitor, please follow us to Tuscon and try to find out who it is". The rest is a thrilling ride but frankly Miller's Crossing was easier to understand first time around (but worth it).

    The bad;

    The machine that can be blown up to make everything ok seems a little contrite (think They Live) but they didn't have much time to work with (3 eps of Dollhouse after cancellation compared with 10 for Angel). Although we know that Topher is a genius it seems awfully convenient that he can be lured to Rossum headquarters and solve a problem that has perplexed their experts in about 10 minutes. Truth be told there's WAAAYYYYYY too much Duex et Machina in this ep, I've watched it several times and in honesty still cannot figure out Boyd's motivations, the whole thing makes exactly zero sense. More redundant cocking of pistols.

    Best line;

    Mellie; (declining Ballard's offer of a rifle)"I don't think so, I'm afraid"

    Ballard; (placing it in her hand) "So am I, that's why we have guns" (Words to cheer the heart of Sarah Palin/The National Rifle Association)


    Ballard; (as Boyd turns on him) "What did I miss?" Frankly Paul you're only as lost as the rest of us.

    Packing heat; Sierra and Victor pick up the Sig and MP5 from the dead hitmen at the Dollhouse, Adele also packing an M4, everyone swaps guns at some point. By the end of the ep Ballard has traded up to some serious firepower with the M249 SAW (Squad Automactic Weapon) beltfed machinegun. Also see best line.


    Boyd; 11

    Dominic; 10

    Sierra; 8

    Victor; 8

    Ballard; 13

    November; 2

    Adele; 3

    Echo kissage; 4

    Kinky dinky;

    Victor/Anthony gives Sierra/Priya permission to shoot him if he turns evil but tells her to 'avoid the junk'. When Sierra tells Adele that Victor has had some 'enhancements' she says 'Really?' in a very suggestive manner.

    Capt subtext;

    When someone questions whether Bennett fixed the wedge Topher immediately springs to her defence. Adele comforts Topher over his loss of Bennett, pets Echo in a very maternal manner and Whiskey does the same to her in a far from maternal manner. Topher refers to Boyd as his 'best man friend'. Boyd jealous of Ballard, perhaps seeing him as taking over his role in the group? He also disapproves of Adele pimping Echo out in a very paternal manner.

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost;

    Echo; 6 definite, 2 possible

    November; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Victor; 1

    Adele; 1

    Sierra 1

    Topher; 1 possible

    How'd they get away with that?

    I'm really going to be happy when there's no more needles (shudder), the scene where they drain her spinal fluid especially wince inducing. Also someone showered with brains from their beloved who's just been shot in the head for the second time in 2 eps.

    Total number personalitites; note that it's Mellie in this ep, Paul's next door neighbour and not Madeline, the girl we saw testifying in The Public Eye.

    Echo; 41

    Sierra; 13

    Victor; 11

    November; 3

    Total LA dolls;

    9-Echo, Sierra, November, Victor, Mike, Tango, Alpha, Whiskey, Kilo

    Addy is a bit British;

    She remarks "Look lively".

    Topher is a bit geeky;

    He thinks that gun-toting Sierra is super sexy in a 'Ripley' sort of way (Joss of course having written Alien 4).

    Bondage; Echo tied to the surgery table

    Sierra tied up; 2

    Ballard; 2

    Echo; 6

    Victor; 2

    Knocked out; doped Echox2

    Echo; 9

    November; 1

    Sierra; 2

    Victor; 3

    Topher; 4

    Ballard; 1

    Kills; Victor kills at least 2 of Rossum's hitmen and Echo sends active Boyd to his death.

    Sierra; 3 kills

    Echo; 4


    Victor; 2

    Boyd; 4

    Happy hookers;

    Boyd refers to Echo bedding 'half of LA'. It's a very dominating concept, Caroline who was the righteous crusader against Rossum surrendering to them and becoming their willing slave whom they pimp out as they please.

    Know the face?

    17-Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Amy Acker-2 (Dollhouse/Angel), walking action figure-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse), Eliza Dushku-3 (Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse), Jim Piddock-2 (Angel/Dollhouse), Gregg Henry-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Alan Tudyk-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Felicia Day-2(Dollhouse/Buffy), Alexis Denisoff-3 (Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse), Kristoffer Pohala-2 (Dollhouse/Angel), Stacey Scowley-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse) Clyde Katulas-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse), Maurissa Tanchon-2(Dollhouse/Dr Horrible), Summer Glau-3(Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse) Glenn Morshower-2(Buffy/Dollhouse). Greg Collins-2(Angel/Dollhouse) Mike Massa-3(Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse)


    This time it's Ballard who says they can't wait (because Topher removed his love for Echo?)but Adele who insists on staying for the others.

    Reminds me of;

    Besuited Whiskey is reminiscent of Demi Moore's famous cover shoot from the 80s. The Wizard of Oz again, something much quoted in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, another series with Summer Glau.

    Whedon cliches; again we see that with it's cutting edge medical Rossum is actually quite benevolent in many ways (like the Alliance in Firefly). As was the point made in Buffy/Angel, humans rule because they evolve and demons don't, Boyd making the same argument here. It's not necessarily those who are stronger and smarter who survive but those who adapt and evolve best, fire, TV and opposable thumbs. Boyd refers to the Dollhouse crew as a family, much like the Scoobs, AI and the Serenity crew. We're told that Echo is 'The Key', like Dawn and River Tam. Another big girly fight that isn't girly at all.

    Maimed characters. Rich and powerful famillies who cover up the evil deeds of their wayward sons. Top security installations which aren't secure at all. Loving self-sacrificing mothers who risk all for their children. Corporate politics literally played with deadly seriousness. Monty Python quoting villains. Offices full of zombies. Strawberries. Sleeper agents.

    Breaking the programming;

    All the Dolls can now break their imprinting to a greater and lesser degree, Sierra and Victor feel their love for one another whatever they're imprinted and Mellie now kills herself rather than hurt Paul.

    Questions and observations;

    So, they always had the idea of Caroline being special, it was clear to them from the start. Her physiology holds the secret to being able to resist being forcibly imprinted. Who killed the Rossum hitmen at the Dollhouse? One could see the dangers of the Dollhouse tech as an analogy for nuclear proliferation, that even if every nuke were destroyed it wouldn't matter because once the knowledge of how to create them exists it can never be de-invented. Adele refers to Nero fiddling whilst Rome burnt. Actually he didn't, his actions during the fire were quite heroic but that story was spread afterwards by his enemies when he tried to raise taxes. Victor quotes the Ranger creed 'Leave no man behind'.

    Marks out of 10; 8/10, enjoyable despite the bafflement

  • Too many writers, too much to resolve

    It's often the case that "episode by committee" results in a lackluster, scattershot final product. This is particularly the case when the episode is designed to bring a series to a relative conclusion, wrapping up several plot arcs with as much efficiency as possible. The final script may be the sum of the contributions of the entire writers' room, but having a strong and deft hand bring it together can be a godsend.

    That was the case with the previous episode, in which Tim Minear managed to take an over-stuffed hour and make it work, despite several flashbacks and plenty of twists. This episode was short on the revelations by comparison. And that was a major problem, because this was the episode that had to make complete sense of Boyd's motivations, given the reveal that he was the secret co-founder of Rossum (and not Clyde 2.0, as I had mistakenly believed). The integrity of the entire series comes down to making that work.

    Based on this episode, the logic is fleeting. Here is how I interpret the direct and indirect aspects of the story:

    The founders of Rossum developed the Dollhouse technology, but Clyde quickly came to the conclusion that the technology would get out of control and lead to the destruction of civilization. Rather than destroy the technology, as Clyde would have preferred, the founder and Clyde 2.0 chose to accept the fact that the genie was out of the bottle and develop a covert program to find a way to survive the apocalypse of their own making.

    Using their massive healthcare infrastructure, they selected candidates for their Dollhouses that had the potential for a natural immunity to the technology. They also hired technical experts who could take the technology to the tipping point, in the hopes that those same individuals would then have the knowledge and experience to develop a defense. Eventually, an anti-Rossum activist named Caroline came to the attention of the founders, and it just so happened that her biochemistry was perfect for development of a "vaccine" against the wiping technology.

    Thus "Boyd" contrived to get himself placed as a handler in a local Dollhouse, ensured that Caroline became a Doll, and cultivated the eventual development of the Echo persona because it was a direct consequence of her natural anti-wiping immunity. While other Dolls had limited success in demonstrating resistance to full wipes, especially Alpha, Echo was unique in how her underlying personality as Caroline managed to serve as a foundation for the Echo persona.

    In the process, "Boyd" came to feel that Adele, Topher, and Echo were all worthy of surviving the coming fall of civilization, and designed the "resistance scenario" to push Echo to full realization. The final endgame was to eliminate anyone not meant to survive who could interfere in the survival plan. Unfortunately for "Boyd" and his partner, their little plan didn't account for the free will of the individuals in question, and they brought about their own destruction.

    Ironically, what seems like a victory is actually the catalyst for the events seen in "Epitaph One". In a way, "Boyd" was correct; being the source of the tech also gave them the knowledge base to counter the tech when the time came. Knowing the end was coming, their plan was reasonable enough; it was just tainted with massive self-interest. But Team Echo's elimination of the founders (at least "Boyd", and presumably Clyde 2.0 in the creation of the Whiskey seen in "Epitaph One") only makes it that much easier for someone to steal and abuse the tech, and ensures that it will take that much longer to produce a solution without the Rossum infrastructure to facilitate it.

    Clearly, if this is an accurate summary of the overarching story of "Dollhouse", there is a terrific irony to it. Rossum's founders, despite their self-interested brand of ethics, could be seen as semi-heroic, since they are trying to find a solution to a mess they created. By creating Echo, they are partly responsible for whatever she does in the future, good or bad. It definitely makes one think about the relativity of good and evil.

    But that scope was also not part of the show's original DNA, especially given that Boyd's true identity was only conceived in the early planning stages of the second season. Joss and the writers were in a constant battle with FOX over the direction of the series, and it's well documented that FOX was the one that pushed the whole Rossum conspiracy angle. Once something of that scope was shoe-horned into the series, it was a question of having the time and space to explore it properly.

    As much as "Epitaph One" gave the writers a punch list of plot and character points to achieve by the end of the second, they had to take a roughly five-season plan and condense it into a total of perhaps 10 episodes, once they knew the writing was on the wall. It's shocking how strong most of those episodes were, given what had to be covered. The "Boyd" scenario may have facilitated that compression, but it also doesn't quite feel like the writers could make it all fit together. Too much of the overarching story is based on conjecture.

    As a result, despite the relative resolution, the episode feels a bit incomplete. The cast does its best to make it all work, but many of the twists and turns don't feel earned. To be fair, there just wasn't time to earn each and every payoff, but this is where the decision to include the "Boyd" twist may have been a mistake. It introduced a major complication at the very end of the story, and there just wasn't any time to explore the ramifications properly.

    There is still one episode left, so it's possible that "Epitaph Two" will provide enough perspective to smooth over some of the gaps. But it may be that this was the best solution the writers could conceive with the time they had left. If so, they deserve credit for doing everything possible to make "Dollhouse" a relatively complete story, but the cost was an episode that just doesn't quite work.moreless
  • Well, it wasn't a good series, but at least it will make a gorgeous DVD set.

    Dollhouse was ill-conceived. It was a show planned to be a case of the week wasteland for a couple of years, full of evil, amoral, unlikable characters only to later explode into a wild sci-fi romp later. It could only ever have worked based on star power to make it past the boring early stages into high gear territory and Whedon, beloved as he is by his own fans, can't pull that off. Most likely, nobody can.

    So what we got is a nice DVD set instead. Two seasons worth of episodes to make perhaps a twenty episode run worth watching. Not a bad plan B, if you ask me, and far better than Firefly's half baked finale. The last few episodes have felt somewhat rushed, but that certainly beats the terribly slow paced of the early stuff in the series. This episode, though, gives up all the plot and settles, a bit like Serenity, for an action movie final act, a clear goal and even clearer conflict. That, for those keeping count, is a good thing.

    What's left in Epitaph Two is probably the most interesting thing the series has to offer. Ever since the first episode, the concept of the Dollhouse tech has been more intriguing than the series let itself show, and Whedon, both in Epitaph One and in the last stretch of the series, plays with what makes sci-fi fun: a single, relatively minor technology taken to its ultimate social repercussion. Whedon channels Ray Bradbury for his apocalypse scenario and, again, that's good. Overall, although I admit there was some rush involved in the process of cramming what was most likely a five season outline into a few episodes, I think we got the best rendition of Dollhouse we could have. Its failure made it better, closed all the threads and made it waste less time in the unappealing (but necessary) period of Echo being a doll sent on assignments. I walk off satisfied, and Whedon gets to work on the next best thing. It's a win-win situation.

    A couple of things also worth mentioning: Enver Gjokaj is all fan service in this one, getting to both be the action hero and reprise his hilarious Topher impersonation. Hopefully, he'll stick with Whedon, as so many other talented actors do (when they can't really make the jump to the film industry, that is).

    And that would be thing number two. The premise of Dollhouse was always meant to be an actor's wet dream, the perfect showcase for their craft. Which is why Whedon's choice of serviceable but not stunning actors, and particularly Eliza Dushku for the lead, worked against him. As the series moved on, however, Dushku got the place where she's comfortable in the now strong and empowered action heroine role and the supporting cast, including Gjokaj, Amy Acker and Alan Tudyk still had room to have fun with the premise. This has been the saving grace of the show and hopefully, Whedon gets to keep being an actor's man. I'm willing to accept that a creator who genuinely likes actors will make bad casting calls based on personal relationships every now and again if he keeps bringing so many good actors to well deserved notoriety.moreless
  • Echo, Ballard, and Adelle come to head Rossum organization to destroy it, but the founder aims to cause them problems.

    Great ending to a great show!!! Totally impressed by the ending, and all the buildup. Almost every question was answered. All the twists made sense there was no confusion. I think if you still don't get the show by now, you never did.

    FOX canceled this great series thinking it was the best decision, but if you're like me and support Joss Whedon, his actors, and his passion for bringing something unique to television you can see how stupid FOX was.

    I think what I am impressed with the most is how Whedon, and the gang received stupid insulting news early that FOX pulled the plug a mere four episodes into this season (how can any idiot claim FOX gave this show a chance when it really didn't) aimed to still churn out quality episode aiming to satisfy his devoted fans.

    The revelation that Body was the founder of Rossum made a lot of sense when you think about it. Often the worst villains are the ones that try to pretend to be your best friend and then stab you and others in the back. Harry Lenix did a great job of doing that role perfectly.

    He was often Echo's supporters through thick and thin. As her handler, he was seen as a viable threat to Rossum. He's merely the footsoldiers for them or so we thought. What better to keep tabs on everybody that assuming a role where people aren't likely to realize what a scumbag you really are. Then Ballard took over things, and Boyd had even great camouflage to work with. That revelation and everything that led up to it was done in convincing fashion. You generally think of villains as the bad guys that are easy to spot (Adelle), but obviously that's not always the case. I give the writers a lot of credit for doing the same profile and routines that other shows have done for handling the same scenarios.

    Boyd then having his unassuming role intact can just sit back and watch things unfold. He's not stupid enough to kill everyone. As he told Echo in this episode, she had amazing potential. Potential that dolls like Alpha didn't have because he was a homicidal genius.

    He had Topher, who he admired for his ethics and morality over such immorality that Rossum does. He liked Adelle because even though she was often cold blooded, she saw the big picture.

    A lot of great writing to make these characters believable and realistic. All the actors should be proud of themselves from Eliza, to Harry, to Tomas, to Olivia, to Fran, Amy, Alexis. This show delivered an hour's worth of entertainment with relevant ideas, and themes. I loved every minute of it, I loved the actors passion for doing the show especially Eliza Dushku who once again proved she can carry a show.

    Back to the episode, everything ended as you expected it would. Echo killed Boyd, and defeated Rossum with help from her rebels or did she?.

    Naturally of course, the writers decided to leave things open for Epitaph Two, a supplement if you will to the series.

    You can ignore or accept the next Epitaph if you want. However, what really matters here is this show was great and showed many signs of brilliance, intrigue, and entertainment that many of his Whedon fans and followed have enjoyed. I am gonna miss this show.moreless
  • Going with bang..

    I do not think this was as good as previous week episode what had more revelations and more wow moments.. but that wasn't bad either. It had motion, action, some great fighting scenes and everything coming together. Specially thrilling was the end.. Even thought they "saved the day", the ending is still the same.. So, I think the last episode will be interesting one.. showing us what went wrong.. So, they managed to bring down some of the questions, but leaving the big one still up.

    Loved some of the char moments.. how everyone were involved.. The thing with Boyd was questionable but.. at least it was a turn..moreless
Larry 'Tank' Jones

Larry 'Tank' Jones

Security Guard #2

Guest Star

Josh Latzer

Josh Latzer

Security Guard #1

Guest Star

Amy Acker

Amy Acker

Dr. Claire Saunders

Recurring Role

Miracle Laurie

Miracle Laurie


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Boyd: We like to keep the medical records of everyone who crosses our paths, especially the interesting ones. And, Caroline, you are definitely interesting. At least on the microscopic level.

    • Victor: And you know, no matter who I am, no matter what they put in my skull, I always remember you. That won't change. But if I turn evil... shoot me.
      Sierra: I'm not going to kill you.
      Victor: Well, seriously wound me, then.

    • Paul: Who the hell are you?
      Adelle: Clyde Randolph. Cofounder of Rossum.
      Topher: I thought Clyde was stuck in the Attic.
      Clyde/Dr. Claire Saunders: Not anymore. My original got himself caught in a loop. This world is for people who can evolve.
      Adelle: And does that include us?
      Clyde/Dr. Claire Saunders: Isn't that what you're here to find out?

    • Victor/Topher: This is terrible. Uh... I want my body back. Uh, it was a nice body. I mean, I-I cover it up half the time with plaid and cotton-poly blends, but I took pride in my physique. I had a physique, do you understand? I mean, this body's okay and everything, But I mean, still...

    • Victor/Topher: I had a camera installed. No one else knew about it. See? I was trying to catch a thief. I'm-I'm pretty sure Ivy's been stealing my turkey jerkies.

    • Victor/Topher: We've been betrayed! By my best man friend. Soft spoken, mild-mannered, Benedict Boyd. Although, I got to admit, I'm kinda impressed.

    • Boyd: What are you doing?
      Topher: Boyd! Look around! They're going to weaponize the tech. My tech. Why? For weapons!
      Boyd: Topher, think.
      Topher: That's what got us here in the first place.

    • Clyde/Claire Saunders: I have enhanced weapon skills. Anyone care to see a demonstration?

    • Mellie: Tell me they taught you how to sabotage supercomputers at Quantico.
      Paul: Right after the course on toppling evil corporations bent on world domination.

    • Adelle: Go ahead and shoot. I'm sure I'll be far more talkative with my brains splattered all over Topher.

    • Topher: I did all this. I'm the one who brings about the thought-pocalypse.
      Adelle: Thought-pocalypse?
      Topher: Is brain-pocalypse better? I figure, if I'm responsible for the end of the world, I get to name it.

    • Paul: So, did we save the world?
      Echo: I guess we did.

  • NOTES (1)

    • International Airdates:
      UK: February 23, 2010 on Sci Fi
      Australia: May 13, 2010 on FOX8
      Czech Republic: May 21, 2010 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: March 15, 2012 on JOJ Plus


    • Title: The Hollow Men

      Referencing the 1925 poem by T.S. Eliot, concerning post-war Europe under the Treaty of Versailles. The poem famously ends with the lines, "This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang with a whimper."

    • Victor/Topher: That is so Ripley of you, and supersexy.

      Referencing Sigourney Weaver's role of Ellen Ripley in Alien (1979) and the sequels. Ripley is a hard-as-nails warrant officer who survives everything thrown against her, and is credited with dispelling the myth of females in s.f. and fantasy movies as helpless assistants.

    • Topher: I'm the Tin Man, she's the Lion, and you're the head of the Lollipop Guild who's a traitor.
      Referencing the 1900 L. Frank Baum series of children books chronicling the adventures of Dorothy Gale, who is swept from her humdrum life in Kansas into the fantasy world of Oz. Best known for the 1939 movie adaptation, the first book chronicles Dorothy's adventures with her three friends, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow. The Lollipop Guild is the group of Munchkins who greet her upon her arrival.