Monday, February 01, 2010

Dollhouse Series Finale "Epitaph 2: The Return" (Review)

My previous reviews of the last 6 episodes can be found on
And like was gone

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he was gone.”

Will anybody remember that a show called Dollhouse aired on TV for 2 seasons on Fox? Probably not. In the not so distant future we may have a few people who will recall something about a show with imprinted personalities, but like a reality star celebrity, those will disappear from the public consciousness in a nano second.

But like Echo remembering a fallen Paul in the series finale, I’ll remember. Though Dollhouse is not the caliber of Joss Whedon previous efforts, Dollhouse will be Whedon’s 4th best show on his TV resume. It had its moments of action, Zen and humor but will somehow be remembered as a return to TV that was over hyped, full of ratings disaster and ultimately cut short. My gut feeling is that we won’t see the end of Whedon from TV, but instead we’ll get a self imposed hiatus that will last what will seem like an eternity to us Whedon is our Master fanatics.

So what did Dollhouse bring us in its series finale Epitaph 2: The Return? Lots of closure in a sense without the closing credit “Where are they now?” text. But it seems most of Epitaph 2 was full of relationships that somehow were neatly bow tied for us die hards to consume. It’s a very disjointed series finale where if it were *gasp* 2 hours, maybe we’d see the end of some monumental storylines. These include Boyd and Clyde 2.0 as the Big Bads being completely ignored as well as how the tech got in the hands of evil. But Joss decided that, like all his shows the storyline and overarching plot were not the important aspects of the show. He focused on the characters and that’s where we break it down.

Mag and Zone

Mag (Felicia Day) and Zone (Zach Ward) reprise their roles in the post apocalyptic mind wiped world from Epitaph One. With little mini Caroline in tow they are captured, sent to Neuropolis (originally Tucson) and thus get to meet la resistance. The glimpses of this future make Book of Eli look realistic. Cities look like Detroit and the public are acting as if American Idol just got cancelled.

But throughout this episode Mag and Zone become full members of the resistance. Felicia Day gives a top notch performance and probably should have been a regular on the show as her screen presence is Dr. Horrible awesome. It’s a fitting conclusion for these 2 and if we could rewind, Epitaph One SHOULD have been the pilot and we could have had flash forwards seeing there future with the Dollhouse present. That would have been a better direction to go.

Sierra and Victor

Our Xander and Anya couple are having career choice marital problems in this episode. Sierra/Priya is raising their son little Tony in a non tech utopia while Victor/Tony is now a full fledge member of the Tech head Mad Max Road warriors (complete with NFL shoulder pads and techy jewelry). As both go and make the road trip to help the resistance, Victor makes the choice his comrades don’t want to. He abandons the tech that’s made them Six million dollar specials and reunites with his wife and son.

Dichen Lachman and Enver Gjokaj have been the unsung heroes of the show and whatever conflict they had gets easily resolved with less than adequate screen time. Gjokaj’s performances in Season 2 have been stellar (most notably his “Topher”) and Lachman in a scene with Eliza Dushku gives her best performance.

It’s a family reunion for these misfits of science.

Adelle and Topher

Adelle and Topher play the rather obvious mom and son relationship to the max here. It’s been subtle but both Olivia Williams and Fran Kranz have done their best to keep it that way. Topher is cuckoo crazy but his genius brain invents the tech to cure all the Actives and revert them back to the way they were. But it’s Williams as Adelle that plays mommy to Topher, consoling him and shouldering some of the burden he has gone through. Topher has been my favorite character on the show (as he’s the most nerdy and pop culture savvy of the cast) and here he turns all Dr. Sam Beckett serious to leap from life to life, fixing what went wrong. Dying in an explosion with his deux ex machina tech he recites to Adelle before he activates it and says: “I don’t want to cause anymore pain”. His death, one of 2 in this episode, hit me the hardest.

Echo and Paul

What didn’t hit me hard was Paul’s very abrupt death in a lackluster gun battle. Tahmoh Penikett’s Paul Ballard had many changes to his character that I just decided not to care anymore. From dedicated rogue FBI agent, to Echo’s Handler, there just seemed to be too much two face in Paul. Adding to the fact that so much time was dedicated to the innuendo of Echo and Ballard that it was somewhat surprising to see a scene dedicated to Echo mourning his untimely death. Eliza Dushku for the first time shows off a very emotional performance as she comes to grips with her lonely life.

Paul tells Echo that she really hasn’t opened up to him since they’ve been together and than seeing her feel guilt for not telling him how she felt was witnessing the evolution of Echo. Dushku had often played Echo as Buffy but without the emotional baggage. Here we finally see Echo “feel” human. In the final ultimate last scene, Echo is united with Paul via an imprint wedge and they finally are together (well in her mind anyway) and the last shot is Echo sleeping in the Dollhouse bunk, smiling.

Miscellaneous Tidbits of Bits

Alan Tudyk makes a cameo as Alpha, now a resistance member who fashions the Dollhouse back the way it was. Summer Glau also cameos via video footage so that Topher can say goodbye. Maurissa Tancharoen played Kilo, one of Victor’s Road Warrior tech heads. She is married to Jed Whedon and was also a writer on Dollhouse.

It’s time for a one final treatment

Epitaph 2: The Return resulted in some world saving, some families reunited, some unfortunate sacrifices and true love for one. It’s far from a perfect series finale but more of a dedication to Joss Whedon to the fanbase that the characters of the show are what matters most. Whedon didn’t want us to speculate on the fate of our characters and we should be thankful we got closure on all of them.

In the end, Dollhouse will be remembered as a show that took an idea from Eliza and Joss, evolved it and brought back one of the geniuses of modern day TV back to the medium. However, even a genius can make something that backfires. What started out as a good idea turned into a total misfire. Hey, ask Topher Brink about that. He knows exactly how Joss Whedon feels.


  1. Goodbye T:SCC killer. You will not be missed.


    This episode should have been one of the best one but it ended up being one of the weakest. I didn't give a damn about any of the characters while watching.

    I will miss Topher Brink though.

  2. I read in an interview with Joss Whedon somewhere that Dollhouse was a love story, ultimately. "Epitaph 2" tied the loose ends of the romance between Echo and Paul. I was pretty torn up over Paul's death. Topher's just killed me.

    I'm still trying to come to terms with the finale so that I can write my own review. Great job on yours!

  3. Thanks Elizabeth...I'm pretty bummed by the end of the show. I really thought it was getting sorta good in Season 2.

    Let me know when you write your review. I'd love to read another point of view of the finale

  4. I know I'm a little behind the times but hey, working two jobs for several months doesn't leave much room for movies or TV... fail! I just finished this series and I'm kind of glad I was able to watch it back to back because the wait would've done serious damage to my nerves. This show was oh so good and now all I can do is :(
    Not a bad way to wrap it up but I could've done with more. At least I'm only on E102 of Buffy...