Fighting with the Sky

Dollhouse: Epitaph Two

Posted on: January 29, 2010

Well, this is it.  Dollhouse is over.  It’s done.  A lot, a lot of stuff happened in “Epitaph Two.”  I don’t even know how to summarize it.  “Epitaph Two” starts up where “Epitaph One” (the lost episode of season one) in the year 2020 when the tech has gone crazy and there are completely wiped people called “dumb shows” or imprinted people that attack everyone called “butchers.”  Mag and Zone are following the mini-Caroline to haven when they meet up with “real” Caroline and Paul and find Topher (who has gone crazy).  But Topher is close to developing tech that will restore everyone’s (as in the whole world, everyone) original identities.  At haven they find Adelle, Prya (Sierra) and Prya and Tony’s (Victor) son, T.  Tony brings his merry band of butcher-fighting tech heads.  They all head off for Los Angeles to get to the Dollhouse where Topher can find the tech that he needs and Caroline, Prya, and Tony can be protected from the pulse that will restore everyone’s original identities.

So they get to Los Angeles and Paul is killed by an attack.  Caroline doesn’t react then, but then loses it later because she didn’t tell Paul how she felt about him and now she’s all alone. And it turns out that Alpha has turned the dollhouse into a dollhouse again…and he’s friends with everyone!   Topher ends up having to sacrifice himself for the sins of his tech because the bomb that activates the pulse has to be set off manually.  And in the end, Caroline imprints herself with Paul (I think) so that they can be together in her head…it was kind of weird.  And those who were imprinted and don’t want to go back to their original identities (Caroline, Prya, and Tony) are stuck underground in the dollhouse for a year waiting for the effect of the pulse to wear off.  The end.

(Note: This summary is not totally complete because so much happened that I couldn’t really include everything or else it would get ridiculously long as opposed to just long.)

First of all, I liked that they brought most of the people back for the finale.  We didn’t see Amy Acker (Claire/Dr. Saunders/Whiskey) or Miracle Laurie (Mellie/November).  But we did see Alpha and Bennett come back (Bennett in an old video as she was killed a couple episodes ago).  It felt nice (if that’s the right word) to see everyone together again, kind of.

But I didn’t really appreciate how people who were wiped were referred to as “dumb shows.”  It was kind of ableist and offensive…and by “kind of,” I mean totally.  But we already knew that Joss Whedon has a tendency to create ableist shows.

I just don’t really know what to say.  It’s over and so much has happened that I don’t really know where to start.  They brought a little bit of their original questioning of what makes a person back into this episode.  With Prya and Caroline not wanting to return to their original identities, I thought that they were showing that Prya and Caroline, despite being imprinted, are real people.  They have real memories and feelings.  I thought this was kind of saying that memories are what make you a person.  But Bennett, in her video, was bringing up the idea that “we are what we do, not what we have done or will do.”  We are best defined why our actions in the now.  But that still holds with the idea that people who are imprinted are still people.

And Eliza Dushku did a great job in this episode, especially when it came to showing emotion.  Throughout the series, she has struggled with showing emotion.  I know that as Actives, they aren’t really supposed to show a lot of emotion, but even when she was imprinted, I didn’t always buy the emotion that she was trying to get across.  It usually felt a little forced.  But tonight, especially in her reaction to Paul’s death, she did a great job.  She was good at showing her sense of both loss and loneliness.  And she was, of course, good at tacking control and kicking ass.  But Eliza Dushku is usually pretty good at that…just look at Faith on Buffy.

And I like/am kind of frustrated by how Joss still left us with a major question: Right before Topher exploded, he looked at the “Remember” wall in the office and said “huh?”  But then he (and everything around him) exploded so we have no idea what he saw.  My idea is that since he was looking at the wall of people who had fallen in the fight or were imprints, I think he saw a picture of himself.  But that’s just my idea.  No one really knows.

And also, when did Dollhouse become an action movie?  There were parts of the episode, mainly the big gun fight, that I thought were a little over the top and didn’t really fit with the series as a whole.  I’m pretty sure it was just Joss living out his childhood fantasies.

As much as I did like the final episode of Dollhouse, I’m a little disappointed with how the series ended overall.  In the end, the show was moving away from the themes of identity, consent, human trafficking, and personhood for a more of an action storyline of trying to bring down Rossum.  I think, though, that this was a result of trying to wrap the show up earlier than they would have liked and they needed to have some sort of finality in the show.  And bringing down Rossum and restoring everyone in the world to their original identities definitely had a sense of finality.

Sorry my review is kind of all over the place.  So much happened in this episode and I’m still trying to process everything.  And writing this post has helped me a little in processing and because of that, I think of a new idea and add a paragraph and it might feel out of place.  But I think it makes sense for the most part, so that’s good at least.

Also check out meloukhia’s review up at this ain’t livin’.

What did everyone else think of the final episode of Dollhouse?  Did you think that they did a good job of wrapping the show up?  Did you have any problems or issues with the episode or show in general?

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1 Response to "Dollhouse: Epitaph Two"

Wow, you got the recap up fast. I loved the series and the finale was as close to perfect (for me, at least) as one could get in one hour. It could have easily been a two hour finale to answer more questions, but do we ever get all of our questions answered in life? I think the entire cast brought their A game to the show. Last year I truly despised Topher and for most of this season I felt Paul (and Tahmoh’s acting) were ick. I cried when Paul died and lost it, completely, when Echo/Caroline/Eliza fell apart over his death and their missed chances. Regret, the most common emotion when we lose someone we love. Again, as I said earlier, I feel she hit it out of the park. And the evolution of Adelle? Whoa. I could never have predicted that she would turn into a compassionate, caring person. I can’t think of any other TV show in the over 50 years that I’ve watched TV that had such a sterling cast of amazing actors. I think this rivals the cast of West Wing. I think the “happy” ending was a reflection of Joss’ love for this show and his team and probably the fandom. All in all, I have been blown away by the entire series and truly enjoyed the final episode. A fitting farewell to an incredible ride, IMHO.

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