“Dollhouse” 2×13 – Epitaph Two: Return

What an ambitious series finale.

Over the course of two uneven seasons, I watched Dollhouse juggle standalone cases, serialized arcs and high-concept science fiction, and while I don’t imagine I’d call this show one of my favorites, it’s certainly the most challenging and ambitious pieces of television I have ever seen. It was a relief, then, to discover that its finale, an appropriately difficult and mythology-heavy episode, goes out with a bang.

Joss Whedon must truly love the apocalypse because he brings it back for the zillionth time in Epitaph Two, but it is truly unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. There’s a depressing tone to the finale at first as we try to catch up with all the characters in 2019 — Sierra is raising a child on her own, Victor is using high-tech to fight butchers, Topher is mentally unstable, Adelle is a mess, and Caroline is still fighting the good fight — but once the entire gang is reunited and they’ve made their way back to the hole they were running away from for years, everything changes.

I’m not only talking about how sincere and honest Alpha seems (but that’s definitely worth mentioning); the show itself switches tones entirely. The dialogue becomes playful (the gang giving Paul a hard time for making a cringe-inducing inspirational speech was hilarious) and the characters suddenly become hopeful. There’s a delightful look on Echo’s face as she makes her way back to the Dollhouse and hears one of the Actives saying “I always try to be my best”, and even though the show ends with so many deaths (RIP, Topher and Paul), there’s a lot of positive energy at the very end. How often can you say that about a Whedon show?

I never thought I could come across a show that was half as thematic as Buffy (or Angel sometimes), but Epitaph Two is crammed with beautiful symmetry and stunning parallels. I love that Alpha leaves Paul’s wedge for Echo on “the chair”; after all, he was the one who stole it and imprinted himself with it just a few episodes ago. In addition, the fact that Echo ends up with both an imprint of herself and Paul is a brilliant way to bookend this character’s journey. She was lonely her whole life and now she will literally always have Paul with her. Superb and heartwarming.

Finally, for me, a show is only as memorable as its very last shot. Luckily, Dollhouse produces what is my second favorite final sequence in television history (after Angel, of course) as Echo (with Paul also inside her head) returns to her Dollhouse pod, only this time she leaves it open, probably for the very first time. The overhead shot as Echo smiles in her bed is a stunning and beautiful symmetry of her new profound freedom – and I couldn’t have possibly imagined it would end any better myself.


Bits

– Haunting scene as Mr. Harding has a lineup of male bodies to choose from – and the very last one is Paul.

– Adelle looked like a homeless person throughout this episode. And that makes sense.

– Badass, goosebumps-worthy fight sequence with the freeze-frames on Echo’s flashing light every time she fires her weapon. The powerful, chilling music was oh-so very fitting. What an immensely satisfying scene.

– Gut-wrenching moment between Echo and Sierra as the former breaks down after Paul’s death: “I’m all alone, I’m always alone”.

– I love that Sierra and Victor got their happily ever after with their son. These two really were the heart of this show from the very start.

– You can tell how the show switched from a depressing tale of the apocalypse to an uplifting story when we see strawberries in the garden, the symbols of life and rebirth.

– Zone and Mag (who were also in the unaired Epitaph One) were also great here. Their dynamic gave me The Walking Dead vibes.

– We never got to know what the little girl is really like! I kinda liked her as Caroline.

– Heartwarming moment with Adelle hugging Echo before the pulse.

– Nice symbolism with Victor and his son Tony (named after his dad) burning tech in the campfire.

– It’s fitting that Bennett is the one that helps Topher figure out how to save the world throughout one of her old videos, but it’s sad that we couldn’t see Claire or Boyd again.

– Overall, season two was a stunning improvement over the first one. The fact that a show that was destined to doom from the start with its high-concept, dense mythology ended on such a high note is a towering achievement, and I’m glad I stuck with it for the very end.

Quotes

Paul: I’ve been knocking ten years. You still won’t let me in.
Echo: I let you in a few times.
Paul: When you were sure we were going to die. What happens if you’re sure we’re going to live?

Paul: (to Echo) I think you’ve got a hundred people living inside your head, and you’re the loneliest person I know.
Echo: That’s kind of sweet.
Paul: Not for the person who’s with you.

Alpha: We’re not freakshows! Well, okay, maybe I am. And Echo. Topher’s a little off. But Adelle, she’s a class act all the way.

Alpha: (about the Dollhouse) It was like this when I bought the place.

Topher: Reflection. Like an echo. Put things back the way they were, minds back the way they were. I can bring back the world.

Adelle: I’m very glad you didn’t clean up.
Alpha: Yeah, it spoke to the schizophrenic in me. Well, both of them actually.

Topher: (to Adelle) I’ll fix what we did to their heads. You fix what we did to the rest of the world. (whispers) Your job is way harder.

Adelle: (to Echo) Alpha said to dismantle all the tech in the building. He said you should start with the chair.

Paul: Am I–Are we…
Echo: You wanted me to let you in.
Paul: You sure you got room? I got a lot of baggage. Childhood stuff.
Echo: We’ll work through it. We’ve got time.

Rating
A

“Dollhouse” 2×12 – The Hollow Man

Well, that was horribly rushed.

Everything about The Hollow Man has a series finale vibe to it, but sadly not everything works. The manner in which we go from “we trust Boyd” to “Boyd is evil” is extremely rushed, it barely has an emotional effect on us. Whereas a development like this should have been game-changing for the audience and characters alike, due to time constraints (and FOX, ugh), this particular twist ends up falling flat – unlike what I originally thought of it in the cliffhanger last time.

Dr. Claire Saunders’ arc is equally disappointing, probably even more than Boyd’s, and that’s largely due to the horrendously choreographed Claire/Echo fight sequence. The hand-to-hand combat scene should have been at least entertaining to watch, but unfortunately it just looked like someone from the editing room pressed FastForward repeatedly. Unacceptable.

What salvages The Hollow Man from completely going off the rails from its hectic plot developments is the amusing dynamic between Victor and Sierra (who, by now, I should probably start calling Anthony and Priya). Victor being Topher 2.0 was just as delightful and hilarious as last time, and the fact that he and Sierra figure out Boyd’s secret before Paul (who was frustratingly idiotic this week) was impressive.

Thankfully, the penultimate episode ends on a gritty and effective note with a ten-year time jump (only a 3-year jump if you’re watching in 2017 like me, which is depressing), revealing that the Dollhouse team didn’t really prevent the apocalypse, even after taking down Rossum. It’s the only exciting thing about this hugely anticlimactic and underwhelming hour, and I’m very cautious about heading into the series finale now.


Bits

– How did Echo even survive after all those needles that were stuck in her back? And can we say ouch?

– As expected, Mellie dies a horrible and anticlimactic death. I can’t believe how rushed and unnecessary her return was, only to have her demise be just as disappointing. So long, Mels, we barely knew ya (literally).

– Boyd using Adelle’s recorded voice of the damn vase to switch Mellie back to sleeper mode was a stroke of genius, but is the show gonna end without revealing the secret behind that vase? The curiosity might just kill me.

– I wonder if that’s actually Echo or Caroline ten years later.

– As much as I’m intrigued about another Epitaph, a part of me does think the time jump is a bit of a cop-out. Especially for a finale.

Quotes

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.

Rating
B-

“Dollhouse” 2×11 – Getting Closer

The twists keep piling up as Dollhouse nears its tragic end in Getting Closer, a thrilling hour that brilliantly brings together several storylines in exciting fashion.

My favorite thing about this episode are the Caroline-centric flashbacks. Eliza Dushku may not know how to play Echo (as I might have mentioned already), but she perfectly balances Caroline’s heroism with her idealism in a way that feels truly natural. Her days back at Tucson were particularly heartwarming to watch, and Dushku’s dynamic with Summer Glau, who looked especially gorgeous this week, was a welcome development. If only we could have seen more of their sisterhood before.

Getting Closer also managed to shock me twice. Not only does Dr. Claire Saunders return (and she’s dating Boyd!), but she also murders Bennett right in front of Topher’s eyes. It’s a welcome development because I was beginning to feel like the show was getting overcrowded with characters who weren’t doing anything. And as much as I am disappointed in Sierra and Victor being horribly underutilized this season, a part of me is glad they got to escape the Dollhouse and (maybe) live their happily ever after away from this hellhole.

The biggest shock, however, is the final reveal that Boyd is Clyde’s partner and co-founder of Rossum. It’s a twisty, jaw-dropping moment that flips the show’s entire status quo in a stunning sequence that perfectly parallels Caroline’s flashbacks with her present-time escapades. It’s a rushed development, for sure, but it’s without a doubt the show’s most exciting cliffhanger so far, and it makes me want to power through the next and final two episodes right away. Wow.


Bits

– Chilling ominous moment with Bennett asking Caroline via flashback what she wanted to study in college and the latter responding that she’d like to be “a lot of things”.

– Loved seeing the video of Caroline again, which was first introduced way back in the pilot. Nice continuity.

– Sad moment with Echo wondering if she’s a real human or not.

– Paul’s imprint made him lose that connection he had with Echo. Sounds a little forced to me.

– Mellie’s subplot is horrible now. I don’t see the point in bringing her back now that the show is absolutely incredible. Something about the actress I just don’t like.

– Topher was actually amusing in this episode, hilariously making a fool out of himself in front of Bennett.

– It was nice seeing Evil Dominic again.

– Chilling final shot between Caroline and Boyd. I can’t wait for Echo to be imprinted with Caroline, just so I can see the look on Adelle’s face when she realizes who Boyd really is.

Quotes

Man: Oh God, you’re a thief? I let a thief into the building?
Caroline: Relax, I’m not a thief. I’m a terrorist.

Echo: We haven’t really talked since you…died.
Paul: I guess we’ve both died since then.
Echo: Yeah. Weird week.

Adelle: Caroline Farrell left quite a trail of unhappiness in her wake and not a few bodies.
Echo: Are you saying she’s evil?
Adelle: Worse. An idealist.

Adelle: The flight not too exhausting, I trust?
Bennett: You used the company jet to abduct the programmer of a rival House.
Adelle: I’m certain I’ll be kicking myself come holiday bonus time.
Bennett: I’m sure you’ll be dead by then.

Boyd: You won’t be harmed in any way. You’re far too valuable.
Caroline: And I’m just gonna trust you?
Boyd: With your life.

Rating
A

“Dollhouse” 2×10 – The Attic

This must be Dollhouse‘s version of Restless, and by that, I’m referring to Buffy‘s flawless and spectacular fourth season finale.

Much like that show, Dollhouse goes full-on experimental when its characters are put into the finally-revealed Attic where they all get to live (and relive over and over) their very worst nightmares. It’s a mindbending, visual treat that never has a dull moment, and it’s absolutely satisfying to finally watch Echo become the badass heroine we need to root for.

The twist that The Attic was created to power up Rossum’s mainframe through the Doll’s own brains is a brilliant revelation and is wonderfully treated as a well-written development. It’s these details that make me believe the masterminds behind this show always had everything thought-out in advance because a lesser show could have easily treated The Attic as simply a place of torture. But to have this haunting, unbelievable place be a huge part of the show’s mythology is a stroke of genius. Color me impressed.

Even better is that pulse-pounding, empowering ending. After a brutal and effectively harrowing montage showing Echo, Victor and Sierra dying in their own nightmares, the show pulls the rug from underneath with a jaw-dropping twist: Adelle and Echo have been working together this whole time to bring down Rossum. Once again, it’s not a Hollywood twist done for the sake of shock value (a la How To Get Away With Murder); it’s a marvelous reveal that makes sense from a writing standpoint and only shows that Adelle is truly the most complex character here.

Of course, The Attic doesn’t become nearly as brilliant as Restless. I probably sound like a broken record now, but Eliza Dushku continues to be mediocre at best (through no fault of her own because this is an extremely delicate and difficult role to master). Nevertheless, it does make the episode feel less of a masterpiece than it probably sounded on paper. Sad.


Bits

– Echo waking up in The Attic, escaping then having to watch Sierra and Victor get murdered in front of her was a horrifying and effective teaser. I was glued to my screen.

– Gorgeous visual of Echo standing underneath the tree covered in snow.

– I don’t know how I feel about Ivy possibly replacing Topher. I could hardly care any less about either character, although I have grown fond of Topher a little bit, I guess.

– I can’t help but feel underwhelmed about Sierra seeing the rapist she killed in her nightmare. I truly wanted this character to be more than just a rape survivor.

– Arcane, the faceless villain, reminded me of Black Panther.

– Victor’s fight scene with himself is actually Enver Gjokaj with his twin brother Demir.

– Hilarious meta moment with the gang wondering what year it was and Echo responding “2010, I think? I don’t know how long we’ve been off the air”.

Quotes

Echo: (to Arcane) You’re not real. (he punches her) That’s real. That’s very real.

Sierra: In [my nightmare], I was constantly making love to you.
Victor: Oh?
Sierra: And then you’d turn into the rotting corpse of a rapist I killed.
Victor: Oh.

Echo: Nobody’s ever gotten out of the attic.
Adelle: Nobody else is you.

Echo: We’re one soldier shy. It’s time for me to meet Caroline. It’s time to win her war.

Rating
A-

“Dollhouse” 2×09 – Stop-Loss

This show is finally becoming must-see television. I’m glad I didn’t give up on it, even when it was producing horrendous episodes.

The best thing about Stop-Loss, besides the fact that it’s another serialized episode devoid of any useless subplots, is that it focuses heavily on Victor. Enver Gjokaj gives his best performance yet as Victor leaves the Dollhouse and returns to his normal post-military life. It’s tough to get attached to a character who barely appears on a show, but Gjokaj is absolutely fascinating, especially when he’s just alone in his new modern house, unable to sleep. That image of him getting up from bed and going to sleep in the bathtub instead is truly mesmerizing.

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention Adelle’s subplot in Stop-Loss. Granted, all she does is sit around drunk and complain about losing control of the house, but her final act of villainy, which includes taking Echo, Victor and Sierra to the Attic, is a harrowing and effective way of showing just how ruthless she can be. The fact that she’s still somehow likable and amusing to watch despite everything she has done so far is both a towering achievement and proof that these characters are layered, complex individuals.

Yes, it might be too late, but I’m officially hooked on Dollhouse.


Bits

– I’m enjoying the nostalgia on this show because, while Buffy was much richer and enjoyable to binge, it wasn’t heavy on pop-cultural references. And yes, I’m referring to this episode’s use of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.

– So Victor’s real name is Anthony Ceccoli. Interesting.

– Touching moment with Victor mistaking a woman at the club for Sierra.

– Did Dollhouse make an Angel reference by reserving a suite for Victor at the Hyperion? Pretty.Damn.Cool.

– The transition from Victor sleeping in his bathtub to Sierra in her underground bunker at the Dollhouse is beautiful. Seriously, this show can be just gorgeous sometimes.

– LOVED the music during Victor’s hide-and-seek fight sequence with the masked men at his apartment. The drums were such a unique and unexpected musical choice.

– Heartwarming moment between Victor and Sierra in the backseat of the car, wondering if this was their first kiss.

– Haunting final shot with Echo waking up in The Attic. How did that happen?

– In case I forget to mention this in the next (and final) four episodes: damn you, FOX. Why can’t we have nice things?

Quotes

Adelle: (to Echo) All those people in your head, I know their deepest, darkest secrets. You’re forgetting who put them there in the first place.

Echo: (to Adelle) You may think all these people knocking around in my head are useless, but that’s 40 more brains than you have.

Sierra: My grandfather took me hunting in Gippsland once.
Echo: So you know how this works?
Sierra: I shot at rabbits! I didn’t hit anything.
Echo: Same idea, just bigger targets.

Victor: I’m Anthony by the way. You can call me Tony.
Sierra: Priya.
Victor: Nice to meet you. So, you’re from Australia?
Sierra: Maybe we should save the small talk till after the gun fight?

Adelle: (to Boyd) Sometimes, I think you were the one bonded to Echo, not the other way around.

 Rating
A

“Dollhouse” 2×08 – A Love Supreme

Another excellent hour.

Not a lot of shows can expertly connect its season arcs to the standalone weekly cases, and the ones that do are hardly successful anyway, so imagine my surprise when A Love Supreme brings back Alpha by having him target every single mission Echo has been on at the Dollhouse. Moreover, it was brilliant for Topher to finally find out that Echo is self-aware and has been for the past six months. It’s amazing how all three storylines connected very smoothly in a near-perfect hour.

All the Actives going crazy on the security guards at the House was a truly badass fight sequence, quite possibly the show’s finest one yet. Even more impressive is how the show doesn’t insult our intelligence and remembers that Topher created a portable brain-wiping device (as mentioned in the previous episode), which helps bring the Dolls back to their semi-normal Active states, not without repercussions (Paul is now brain-dead). I haven’t seen an episode that manages to bring every subplot together like that in a very long time.

If there’s anything that keeps A Love Supreme from being a masterpiece, it’s the awfully disorienting camerawork. I’m not a fan of shaky cam (the only reason I still haven’t watched Friday Night Lights), especially when this technique is overused. I get its significance in a tense, thrilling scene, but when it is the only approach a director takes throughout the entire hour (as it was here), it just becomes distracting and unnecessary. That’s a shame because this was the show’s closest thing to a perfect episode.


Bits

– Chilling teaser with Alpha murdering that guy. What a terrifying opening!

– Topher was absolutely insufferable in this episode. Why can’t he be more like Birkhoff from Nikita?

– Echo finding her client’s throat sliced open and sitting across a long, empty dining room table was a harrowing and stunning sequence. Eliza Dushku might not know how to be several characters at once, but she sure knows how to scream.

– Loved seeing Joel (Patty Oswald) again! His subplot was just as heartbreaking as it was the first time we met him.

– The explosion Alpha made on the rooftop was too CGI for my taste, but I appreciated seeing the debris falling on Paul and Boyd. Such an intricate little detail.

– Not enough Sierra and Victor again. Sigh.

– Alpha’s dark sense of humor was amusing, especially with Adelle. God I still love this woman.

– Echo escaping from her cell by smashing the security camera and using it to break out from the window was clever and badass. More of this Echo please, writers.

– So, why can’t they just reprint Paul? I don’t remember seeing Alpha taking the hard drive with him.

Quotes

Victor: No wonder you despise that girl. Echo. She gets to be the virgin and the whore, and for both, she’s celebrated.

Paul: I don’t like being your pimp.
Echo: I don’t like it either.

Alpha: Am I the only one who bothered to dress for this? I mean, the black works because honestly, when doesn’t it? It’s functional, it’s slimming. But you? You don’t work for the federal government anymore. Why don’t you go wth just a splash of color?

Alpha: Alright, tell me the truth. What do you think of the suit?
Adelle: You’re quite the dandy.

Alpha: It’s ironic. It took 40 odd characters on the inside for me to realize that it’s what’s on the outside that counts.

Alpha: Are you scared?
Adelle: Out of my mind.
Alpha: Smart girl. Of course, I could never be out of my mind. I have so many, and the second I’m out of one, I’m right into the next.

Alpha: One of my imprints was an eagle scout. Another one was a sailor. (Pause) There’s a dirty joke in there somewhere.

Alpha: Do you see that in her face there? What would you say that is?
Paul: Lens flare.

Echo: He’s ten times the man you are, and you’re like 40 guys.

Rating
A

“Dollhouse” 2×07 – Meet Jane Doe

Finally an episode that lives up to the Whedon name.

On one hand, Meet Jane Doe was extremely well-done and gripping with Echo and Ballard staying outside the Dollhouse as they try to help Galena. Their scenes at the loft were tense and truly breathtaking, whether it’s Echo putting the moves on Ballard or the two of them training in the living room like it’s nobody’s business, and it made for amazing television. I’ve always wanted this show to be as Zen-like as the fictional brainwashing facility it’s based on, and so far Meet Jane Doe is the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to achieving that.

On the other hand, this entire subplot was too standalone-ish for my taste. Also, the fact that the show rushed through so many plot developments with that cringe-inducing three-month time jump was ridiculous. As much as I’m starting to love Echo (and Caroline, by extension), a part of me is prepared to be highly disappointed when the show comes to an end very soon (only six episodes left!), especially since it seems like it’s starting to rush through plot twists on the expense of character development. No cool.


Bits

– Echo with that iPhone 3GS was extremely nostalgic. That was my first ever smartphone!

– Weird how both Echo and Ballard were undressing in front of the mirrors. Who does that?

– The training scenes inside the loft were very well-choreographed. The chilling music in the background was a nice touch too.

– Anyone else got a Prison Break vibe with Echo drawing the maps?

– I find it funny that there’s a Dollhouse in Dubai. And yet it makes so much sense!

– One thing I’m very frustrated about: how Echo becomes other personas at very random times and in really inconsistent ways. And do we really need to sexualize Eliza Dushku in every single episode?

– Adelle using Topher’s portable device which can wipe out anyone’s memory on the streets is a very welcome (if not creepy) development. It’s about time the Big Bad actually does something on this show!

– Powerful ending with Adelle’s line “I rule the house” punctuated by Echo arriving back at the Dollhouse and eyeing Sierra and Victor (both of whom were horribly underutilized this week). Can we get an Echo/Adelle faceoff soon please, and thank you?

Quotes

Topher: Bennett has twice the resources I have. She thinks she runs that house. And she might, for all I know. But there is one thing of which I am certain. I have a cooler office.

Paul: The Dollhouse made you fall in love, over and over.
Echo: You told me that. They also made me aggressively sexual. And phenomenally creative in bed.
Paul: Now that’s just cruel.
Echo: Also: sociopathic, inexperienced, blind, and at least seven times gay.

Topher: I think they’re trying to build a portable device that will be able to imprint anyone without any active architecture implants Any innocent on the street with a new personality.
Adelle: That’s unnerving.
Topher: No. What’s unnerving is I figured out how to do it.

Harding: I have to say I’m surprised. Topher Brink is a genius, but I didn’t realize he was actually smart.

Rating
A-

“Dollhouse” 2×06 – The Left Hand

After forcing myself to sit through the first couple of episodes of Dollhouse this season, I’m glad The Left Hand proved to be a remarkable installment that showed momentum in an otherwise disappointing series.

My main problem with this show is that it keeps treading water without making us care about any of the characters. Luckily, this season is about to become much more interesting now that Echo is out in the real world on her own. I must say, I’m finally excited about finishing this show, and I hope the last few episodes don’t disappoint.

The biggest surprise here is Enver Gjokaj’s outstanding performance. While he usually plays Victor (and mostly Sierra’s love interest), I love that he was imprinted with Topher’s brain this time. Everything from his body language to the tone of his voice was a near-perfect imitation of Topher, and it was surprisingly amusing to watch these two characters interact.

I know the world was obsessed with Summer Glau (especially when she was on Firefly), but her performance hasn’t been that great on Dollhouse so far. While the actress is undoubtedly stunning, I do wish she gets to do more than swoon over Topher (and she reminded me of Fred from Angel a lot with her stuttering). Luckily, it seems like there’s potential with the hints that she’s had a complicated relationship with Caroline. Hmm, I’m intrigued.


Bits

– It means so much to me to see Alex Denisof and Eliza Dushku in the same scene together after just finishing the Buffyverse recently. I hope we see more of the Senator in future episodes.

– I think the show has no idea what to do with Madelyn (November/Mellie). Sadly, I think the actress is horribly cast for this role as I find myself cringing during most of her scenes.

– I didn’t understand why Bennett erased “assassin” and replaced it with “puppies” into the Senator’s brain. How random was that?

– How badass (and icky) was Adelle grabbing Littman’s balls?

– I always find it annoying how easily people’s necks can be broken on television and film.

– Chilling moment with Senator Daniel going on live television and saying the Dollhouse isn’t real while simultaneously accusing Madelyn of being locked up in a mental institution for the past 3 years. Wesley would not approve!!

– I’m afraid the show is just about to get into its stride, but I honestly don’t know whether to blame FOX for the early cancellation or Joss Whedon for taking too long to get here? But mots likely FOX.

Quotes

Echo: Does it matter who you were? All what matters is who you decide to be.

Victor: Then you’d have a second opinion.
Topher: No, it would be the same opinion twice.

Rating
A-

“Dollhouse” Unaired S1 Finale – Epitaph One

Well, that was different.

I guess this is the show Joss Whedon wanted to create from the start when he came up with Dollhouse, but FOX’s constant interferences made it impossible for him to develop his ideas properly. That’s a shame because Epitaph One is full of great, underdeveloped ideas, and while it serves as an unaired and possibly unrelated season one finale (I assume it’s unrelated to anything that comes after), I couldn’t help but feel like this would have been an excellent pilot.

There’s an entire new gang in Epitaph One and not all of them are immediately likable, but within the span of one hour they seemed more fleshed out than some of the original characters on this show. The added haunting flashbacks to Echo, Paul, Boyd, Claire, Adelle and Topher provided some much needed clarification to this new world: it’s 2019 and the technology in Dollhouse has officially caused the apocalypse. It’s a frightening and daunting concept, but for some reason it absolutely works.

The ending is predictably uplifting and emotional with Caroline (now in a little girl’s body) and two other Actuals (it’s what they call the non-imprinted humans in 2019) literally climbing the stairs out of the Dollhouse and into the light. Thematically, this definitely works as a series finale (which was probably what Whedon & Co. intended), but I am definitely glad we get at least another season to flesh out the rest of the gang. But if the actual series finale (appropriately titled Epitaph Two) is anything like One, then I don’t suppose I’ll be disappointed.

Will I?


Bits

– Chilling opening with the Dollhouse credits appearing onto the screen without the usual theme song.

– Casting wise, I wasn’t very impressed with the new gang (although that seems to be an unpopular opinion). The little girl (played by Adair Tishler from Heroes fame) was appropriately creepy, though.

– I wonder if we’ll ever see these new characters in season two. The fact that the series finale is titled Epitaph Two makes me think maybe?

– I was very glad to see Dominic again! At least we now know you can survive being in The Attic.

– How creepy is it that we’re very close to 2019? Also: didn’t Dark Angel assume a post-pulse world would take place that year as well? 2016 doesn’t look so bad now, does it?

Rating
A-

“Dollhouse” 1×12 – Omega

That was a bit anticlimactic.

I thought Omega would have more shocking reveals and answers than the past eleven episodes, but even after shedding some light onto Alpha’s backstory I still feel a bit disappointed with this one. While I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Caroline again (in some woman Wendy’s body), it’s odd that we know very little about this character. Why are we supposed to be emotionally invested in our heroine’s journey if we don’t know who she even is?

The reveal that Dr. Claire Saunders is indeed a Doll was just as random. Seeing her as Whiskey in the flashbacks should have had a shocking effect, but this twist is executed in a very mention-it-as-we-go matter that makes it less impactful. Plus, if every character we get attached to ends up being a Doll, this could get pretty messy and, dare I say, dull?

Paul Ballard’s negotiation with Adelle and Boyd includes keeping him as a contractor in exchange for November/Mellie’s freedom, and it’s a nice touch for him to finally meet the real person behind all those Actives. Then again, this feels like a perfectly convoluted setup to keep him on the show for the second season. I’m not complaining, though, because all this Mellie drama was starting to get a little tame.

Finally, a part of me should have expected the final shot to be one from the unaired pilot (because, apparently, there’s also an unaired season finale), but while Echo uttering the word “Caroline” in her bed/pod had a chilling effect on me twelve episodes earlier, I could hardly feel anything here. On the other hand, this means Echo is finally becoming aware and the show could turn into must-see television next season. Call it wishful thinking, but I certainly see the potential now.


Bits

– Interesting that Claire mentions Topher programmed her to hate him. Could she maybe become aware as well?

– Echo getting out of the chair and attacking Alpha: so darn satisfying and epic.

– Less epic: Echo and Caroline/Wendy going on a cringe-inducing talk with an injured Alpha a few feet away. Lazy writing.

– I absolutely cannot stand Topher anymore.

– Anyone else notice the Angel and Firefly references? Check the quotes section below.

Quotes

Paul: So this is it. This is where you steal their souls.
Topher: Yeah, and then we put them in a glass jar with our fireflies.

Adelle: Carl William Craft.
Paul: Three names. Always ominous.

Echo: I have 38 brains. Not one of them thinks you can sign a contract to be a slave. Especially now that we have a black president.
Wendy/Caroline: We have a black president? Okay, I am missing everything.

Rating
B-