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Ending Interpretations
July 20, 2008
2:44 am
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Crawfordsville, IN
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One thing that I just noticed, watching it a second time…..

During the first number of Act III (”So they say…”), Billy has gotten so consumed with anger at Capt. Hammer that he has decided that killing him is the best way to go. He's completely forgotten about going to the laundromat and seeing Penny in the midst of his anger and frustration. If he had been paying attention to how much of a tool the Hammerman was to everyone else, he would have noticed that he was not far from getting the girl. While Billy is creating a “Death” Ray, Penny is at the laundromat waiting for him with an extra frozen yogurt!

During Capt. Hammer's “Everyone's a Hero” number, Penny is starting to realize that he's a jerk and slides off of the stage so she couldn't be tied to him as easily. If Billy had kept to his routine, he could have had the girl, which might have made Dr. Horrible unnecessary.

Yeah, yeah….maybe I'm being a little “Mr. Obvious” here. But I feel bad for the poor guy…anger and self-pity will do you in every time….

*sigh*

July 20, 2008
3:34 am
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very jekyll and hyde...It takes the death of the woman he loves to wake him up. Poor guy...

You know that he probably wouldn't have done anything bad unless the hammer (more like the jerk) had been a total crapbag to him. I think during that death ray scene when he was going down the aisle, he really didn't want to be doing that.

And, yeah, duh the red suit was an obvious symbol for his transition, just like in the play jekyll and hyde when he sings the song red and blue.

I'm telling you it's almost the exact same thing....

And the very end, yeah i totally think it was like a daydream. Same outfit as the first day of the webisode...I don't think if he was really like he was in the first act, that he could've created that genius stuff nor could he have almost hurt people.

P.S. I still think it was totally cool, how he said, \"Don't\" when Hammer was going to get hurt. He's such a great guy. I love him. I will be a villain just to marry Dr.Horrible.

~Shelby
July 20, 2008
3:38 am
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double p.s. did his song remind you of sondheim. this was totally a mixture of jekyll and hyde (the two sides of man) and everything stephen sondheim created (statements on humankind and society's down fall). There's alot of intelligent discussion that could be conducted.

~Shelby
July 20, 2008
3:39 am
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There’s a lot of foreshadowing, if you go back and watch things again:
When Dr.H (dressed as Billy) is doing the Wonderflonium heist, before Penny shows up, listen to the music that plays: it’s the same as the music at the very end, when he’s singing “Now the nightmare’s real, now Doctor Horrible is here!”

Like Dr.H has his own theme, but it was only playing quitely in the background, and later it comes to the forefront.

I’m not sure that the seperate personalities are literal, but it is clear that there are two aspects at work, and one is gaining ascendance, and the previously dominant one is aware of losing control.

But I wonder: Billy seemed like a basicly good person, albeit a person who became convinced that achieving meaningful Good required desperate measures, such as World Domination.
It seems like Billy’s goodness is what was holding Dr. Horrible back from achieving his goals: he repeatedly balks at putting innocents at risk, for example. So my question is: is the Dr. Horrible now in the ELE the same (effective) bumbler with a kind heart, or has he purged that influence and is now an Evil force to be reckoned with. Could Dr.H take over the ELE? The world? Would the “new” Dr.H hesitate if given the chance to kill Captain Hammer?

Is it possible that all he needed to do to achieve his greatest ambitions was to get rid of his reason for wanting them?

July 20, 2008
3:55 am
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TheGamut said:

This was a story about how a man became a monster. There was only one way it could go.


And even more so having been written by Joss who...well....does this to us frequently.

"If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck."
July 20, 2008
3:55 am
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i think that it would be a better world if Dr.Horrible took over. Because I honestly think he would've made the status quo. Like he says in the first episode, he doesn't care about \"making money\" he cares about taking money. And the reason he's doing everything is to make the status quo. I think he's the true super hero because he fights for justice-hammer doesn't deserve to live, he's a womanizing pervert who only cares about himself and his man parts.

~Shelby
July 20, 2008
4:19 am
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unforgiven91
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I, and my younger sister were both saddened by the ending, and I think Dr. Horrible Didnt get what he wanted, if you listen you can hear the airy sound of \"Everything you ever wanted\" sung in the background as if it is just a dream like state. I think that he was just reflecting on what could have been if he had not failed, as in he didnt kill Captain Hammer.

I love how there are tons of interpretation

July 20, 2008
4:55 am
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Well, in lieu of the past writer's strike, I think Captain Hammer
\"corporate tool\" represents the networks. Penny represents past
projects aka \"Firefly\" and Dr. Horrible is Joss Whedon. With these
parallels in mind, the story makes a lot more sense, and in a sense,
wouldn't networks want us to believe that Horrible is still evil,
though embarking out into a new world.

The writer can't move onto new projects until they properly say goodbye
to their past ones. So Penny's death becomes a sort of closure, and
perhaps all of \"Dr. Horrible's Sing A-Long Blog\" is that closure as
Joss is moving on to work on other projects after his issues with
networks.

So with that in mind, Dr. Horrible, though a very political
breakthrough, is still great, as it is that breakthrough

July 20, 2008
9:18 am
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SpyOne said:

There’s a lot of foreshadowing, if you go back and watch things again:
When Dr.H (dressed as Billy) is doing the Wonderflonium heist, before Penny shows up, listen to the music that plays: it’s the same as the music at the very end, when he’s singing “Now the nightmare’s real, now Doctor Horrible is here!”

Like Dr.H has his own theme, but it was only playing quitely in the background, and later it comes to the forefront.

I’m not sure that the seperate personalities are literal, but it is clear that there are two aspects at work, and one is gaining ascendance, and the previously dominant one is aware of losing control.

But I wonder: Billy seemed like a basicly good person, albeit a person who became convinced that achieving meaningful Good required desperate measures, such as World Domination.
It seems like Billy’s goodness is what was holding Dr. Horrible back from achieving his goals: he repeatedly balks at putting innocents at risk, for example. So my question is: is the Dr. Horrible now in the ELE the same (effective) bumbler with a kind heart, or has he purged that influence and is now an Evil force to be reckoned with. Could Dr.H take over the ELE? The world? Would the “new” Dr.H hesitate if given the chance to kill Captain Hammer?

Is it possible that all he needed to do to achieve his greatest ambitions was to get rid of his reason for wanting them?


The reformed, re-garbed Dr. Horrible is essentially heartless, I think, and no longer interested in truly reforming the world. He can't handle the guilt and pain from killing Penny, so he dons an unfeeling, cold exterior ('And I won't feel a thing') and leaves the true emotion to Billy, including any passion he had for improving humanity, albeit by destroying it and rebuilding it in his image. Dr. H is all he has left, so Billy clings to that instead of potentially taking Penny's death as a wake-up call and trying to improve the world through less drastic means. Chances are all this has only worsened his dismay in society, and the new Dr. H could be a truly formidable villain now that he has all the incentive for causing havoc, and none of the guilt.

It's an interesting take on some of the classic villain backstories. Guy has potential for good, guy makes foolish mistakes that result in a tragic loss, guy becomes incredibly bitter villain with serious baggage. And really cool goggles.

July 20, 2008
1:56 pm
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Take this review with the grain of salt it is worth.

Dr. Horrible and Billy, one and the same person, represent the duality within all of us, which is why we sympathize with Billy/Dr. Horrible. As with any goal in life, none come without sacrifice, sometimes even those sacrifices we least expect or want.

Penny represents the good within Billy/Dr. Horrible, which must die before he can truly become Evil. While he initially mourns the loss of that purity within him, he soon comes to realize that he's gotten what he always wanted and he accepts it.

Then again, it could all just mean that Joss was looking for a really cool twist at the end that no Studio would ever OK, and wanted to go that way. Let's face it, what studio would actually endorse a comedy with a \"downer\" ending? And if this is as successful as everyone hopes, it would mean that Joss really would get the last laugh.

July 20, 2008
2:40 pm
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See, here's part of this that no one is talking about. Horrible played maybe the smallest role in his fate of the three main characters. Penny chose Hammer, even if she was starting to see through him by the end. Horrible was between a rock and a hard place, threatened with death by Bad Horse if he didn't kill someone, and he was very adverse to murder, even at the cost of his own life. Hammer, however, drove him to it. He physically and psychologically assaulted Horrible until he was driven over the edge. Then, at the end, even when Horrible had the death ray pointed at Hammer, he couldn't do it. Hammer, however, didn't hesitate to shoot at Horrible, and it was that lack of hesitation that caused the weapon to explode and kill Penny. Hammer killed Penny, and this is what drove Billy to fully become Horrible. The two parts that we see post-Penny are the depression that Billy feels as a result of losing Penny and the rage that Horrible feels towards Hammer. Horrible doesn't feel any sadness, hence the last song. The irony is that everything that Horrible doesn't feel, Billy does, and he ends Act III worse than he began Act I.

July 20, 2008
3:48 pm
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“Live every day as if it were your last.” “Carpe diem.”

This episode showed what happens when you interpret that in the wrong way.

In essence, every day really is your last. Once the day is done, it's gone and cannot be redone. Make sure you leave nothing left to do as well as nothing left to undo. You may not get the chance to do or undo it tomorrow. (Too many forget the “undo” part and burn bridges thinking there'll be no one that will have to pay the piper after they're gone.)

Penny is a memorial of regret. Capt. H. is a symbol of regret. Dr. H. is a vehicle of regret. It is the regret of things that cannot be undone and things that weren't done.

The gamut determines the acceptible range of conditions. It's Genius' Awesome Sauce in an 8oz. glass bottle with a cork stopper.
July 20, 2008
5:14 pm
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My comments and observation:

-I was totally unfamiliar with Joss Whedon's works when I saw this, so I was unprepared for his characteristic twist endings. I literally sat with mouth gaping open until the credits. This was odd; I rarely become emotionally invested with the characters I watch in movies. However, I was drawn in with this, and suckerpunched. If I ever meet Joss Whedon I need to kick him in the shins. Anywho, I want to thank you all for your comments and theories, reading them has been somewhat cathartic.

-What made the death so unexpected was perhaps that the focus of Act III was comedy up until Horrible's arrival. The jokes were so funny I was willing to ignore the pathos.

-I think one of themes is action vs. inaction. One of the reasons we root for Billy is because he's so impaired with Penny because of his shyness. Penny doesn't react to Captain Hammer's insincerity despite her nagging feelings (I suppose she is a naive character for some reason). Captain Hammer is the only one that really takes a lot of action, he drives the plot forward, and he's a total jerk. He's why things end so badly.

-These interpretations comfort me because I suspect the ending was so harsh (as mentioned above) precisely because Whedon could get away with it. I read in one interview that overuling corporate people would sometimes make him (I paraphrase) change a character's death to a dog's death.

-I think this has been mentioned above, maybe not, but its worth noting that Horrible

July 21, 2008
2:17 am
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I considered whether the party scene was real or not. In the end I decided it was - the final shot was just so we could see the vulnerable, hurt Billy.

Either way, whether it was real or not doesn't really matter to me. The most important thing was all too real.

July 21, 2008
8:47 am
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It felt very much like a greek tragedy type ending.  Where the one struggling with his inner demon lets it take over to escape the pain of what he caused.  To go on, he has to become the demon in himself, or he can't cope.

July 21, 2008
8:50 am
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This may have been mentioned & I put it on another thread, but I\'ll chuck it on here aswell. Now I\'ve had time to think about it, the significance of the final shot is about perception. In act1, Dr. H saves Penny from the truck that Hammer caused to go out of control & Hammer gets the credit (\"what heist were you watching?\" ). Whereas the death of Penny is actually Hammers fault (the \"hero\" has no problem pulling the trigger) & Horrible gets the \"credit\" for it (a classic Joss inversion). The public perceives Hammer as good, so when good things happen around him, he is the one that causes them. Conversely, Horrible is \"evil\" so when bad things happen he is to blame. When the last number kicks in we are treated to images of the public perception of the new, uber-evil Doc, emphasised by the mirror image of the opening numbers portrayal of Hammer (news broadcast, newspapers, groupies etc). Prior to the final shot, we see Horrible lower his goggles for the first time, could it be he doesn\'t want the other members of the ELE to see the look (or tears) in his eye? In the final shot we see (for the first-time) Billy, not Horrible, sitting at his computer screen. The blog is a place where he can be the person he thinks he is (or thinks he wants to be) & now this shell, with the thousand-yard stare & the broken heart is how he perceives himself. All in all the show explored classic Whedon themes, the nature of good, evil and humanity. Very Joseph Conrad & very, very well executed in 45 mins

July 21, 2008
10:58 am
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Annon
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I really think Joss left the ending truly open.  There can be no definitive interpretation (though it is fun to speculate).  I hope it was not all a dream.  But also, this is a comic-book world and this type of “ending” happens every day and if the current Billy had Penny's suspended brain in a jar and was robbing banks to buy enough Wonderflonium for her new robotic body, or was working to push his freeze-ray to go back in time, it wouldn't even be weirder than current comic books.  

Also remember that Dr. Horrible didn't actually kill anyone.  It was an accident.  An accident he was responsible for, but still, he didn't ever pull the trigger on his “death-trap” ray while pointing at a person.  So Horrible is kind of in a moral gray area…   

July 22, 2008
6:27 am
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Twi
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Annon said:

Also remember that Dr. Horrible didn't actually kill anyone.  It was an accident.  An accident he was responsible for, but still, he didn't ever pull the trigger on his “death-trap” ray while pointing at a person.  So Horrible is kind of in a moral gray area…   


Actually, the ray malfunctioned because Hammer hit him. There's a conspicuously long shot of the ray on the floor where you can see it sparking; it wasn't doing this before. So really, Hammer is the one responsible for it, especially since Horrible saw that the ray was malfunctioning and tried to warn him not to fire it. ([Horrible looks at the ray when Hammer points it at him, and his eyes widen] “Don't!” Hammer: “I don't have time for your words!”) So- really, if anything, it isn't his fault, it's Captain Hammer's.

Additionally, I just noticed that Horrible's black/red costume still has white buttons and white stitching... perhaps symbolic that Billy is still in there somewhere, but there's only traces of him left?

July 22, 2008
8:49 am
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My wife and I were debating about the true nature of Dr. Horrible's “evil.” First, I believe that in a lot of ways that Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer were the perfect ying and yang. On the personal level, Dr. Horrible was caring and compassionate while Captain Hammer showed the “evil” part of his personality that would use a woman simply to harm Dr. Horrible. It left you asking yourself, “who is the real villain?”  The question of good and evil is extremely important because you see the shift from Billy to Dr. Horrible.

It can't be forgotten that Dr. Horrible intended to excise the portion of humanity he considered “a plague.” Initially, he is against killing and if you look at his concern about the kids in the park in a potential confrontation with Snow and his general disdain for killing in a conversation with Moist it’s clear that Billy controls this part of the moral character. However, Dr. Horrible views Billy as weak, a loser, and a geek. 

 

Billy’s dilemma is that to become something else, he’ll have to kill someone.  The decision is made when he realizes he can satisfy Bad Horse's command to murder someone by eliminating the source of pain (perhaps evil?) in his life. It's hard to reconcile these two warring parts of his psyche when you look at the fact he's trying to join the Evil League of Evil but yet he still has compassion, kindness, and a certain moral fiber (one that Captain Hammer does not). Hammer's interest seems almost fully self-serving as fighting evil is only about accolades he can accumulate (plus, he appears to enjoy the violence).

Although the victory of the “evil” side in Dr. Horrible appears to be assured at the end of Act 2, I think it isn't until the death of Penny that we see this come to pass. Witness the fact that Dr. Horrible hesitates to kill Captain Hammer and laments the possibility of Penny seeing Hammer die. Later, he warns Hammer about the malfunctioning “death ray.” However, in a fine piece of acting, Harris shows the good part (Billy) of him dying when Penny passes.

Dr. Horrible comes to Penny as she's breathing her last. Despite it really being Hammer's fault (what kind of a superhero shoots his conquered villain?), Penny still holds out her belief that Hammer will save them. She sees Billy in her wounded state (not Dr. Horrible), but we know she doesn’t die alone. Dr. Horrible/Billy watches in horror as she dies and then has to endure the questions from reporters asking, “Why did you kill her.”  Here Billy dies along with her and from this point forward Dr. Horrible is all that remains.

In the final song he states that the nightmare has come to pass and that although he’s receiving everything he ever wanted, it’s now empty and without meaning. The good in him that was capable of feeling joy and happiness was also the part feeling pain. With it dead, he feels nothing and is essentially directionless. The last scene is of Billy – not Dr. Horrible – saying he doesn’t feel a thing. It is Billy who is now dead and might be viewed as speaking to us from some place separate from Dr. Horrible.

 

My thoughts anyway. 

July 22, 2008
9:10 am
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Twi said:

Annon said:

Also remember that Dr. Horrible didn't actually kill anyone.  It was an accident.  An accident he was responsible for, but still, he didn't ever pull the trigger on his “death-trap” ray while pointing at a person.  So Horrible is kind of in a moral gray area…   


Actually, the ray malfunctioned because Hammer hit him. There's a conspicuously long shot of the ray on the floor where you can see it sparking; it wasn't doing this before. So really, Hammer is the one responsible for it, especially since Horrible saw that the ray was malfunctioning and tried to warn him not to fire it. ([Horrible looks at the ray when Hammer points it at him, and his eyes widen] “Don't!” Hammer: “I don't have time for your words!”) So- really, if anything, it isn't his fault, it's Captain Hammer's.


Yes, I thought it was clear that Capt Hammer broke the Death Ray and then he says to Dr Horrible “I don't have time for your Warnings”. So he is really partly responsible for Penny's death (Dr Horrible did bring the Death Ray there, so he's partly responsible too). It's very poignant that Penny died thinking her killer would save her. 

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