Dollhouse – Epitaph One Review: Post Apocalyptic Barbie

August 10, 2009 by  
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Dollhouse Season 1 Finale: Tuesday 11th August, Sci Fi Channel UK, 9pm Alert Me

Remember the bit in The Matrix when Neo downloads Kung-fu skills into his brain and suddenly becomes Bruce Lee?

That’s pretty much the premise of Dollhouse; people who have their minds wiped clean only to have a new one imprinted so they can be hired out for anything.

These agents are called ‘actives’ and live together in an underground spa-like facility called the Dollhouse.

This episode is remarkable for three reasons. It’s never been aired in America (thanks to nervy network bosses), it’s the Season 1 Finale and – most importantly – it’s totally worth watching as the big boss man himself, Joss Whedon (he of Buffy/Angel/Firefly fame), directs it.

To catch you up quickly, a rogue, psychotic active named Alpha (Alan Tudyk) is the big baddie and wants Echo (Eliza Dushku) for himself. Meanwhile, inquisitive cop, Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett), is made an offer he can’t refuse and must work with the Dollhouse leader Adelle (Olivia Williams) in order to save Echo.

The finale, entitled ‘Epitaph One’, throws us into the future and shows a post apocalyptic world in which the Dollhouse technology has been stolen by the Chinese. It’s been used for wireless mass-imprinting around the world and now almost everyone has a new personality.

Now the world has been sunken into chaos, a group of rag-tag ‘actuals’ (lucky ones that still retain their original personalities) are in search of somewhere safe from technology. Mag (Felicia Day), Zone (Zack Ward) and Iris (Adair Tishler) stumble upon the now deserted and semi destroyed Dollhouse but it’s not as empty as they think.

Though Eliza Dushku is as the lead active, she hardly appears in the finale which is a shame because, after the last episode, there are so many questions in need of answering – like where did she go and what’s going on between her and Ballard?

Mag and Zone are interesting characters and dominate the episode and the word from Joss Whedon is that we’ll see them again in season 2. They’re a nice break from the norm considering most of the people on the show are either actives or they already work at the Dollhouse. Given that she’s already worked with Whedon twice before on Buffy and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, and he has a history of re-using his favourite people, we anticipate seeing Mag a lot more.

If you’ve been watching the series half-heartedly then try to give yourself a catch up session because there’s a lot going on here. The timeline flip flops between pre and post worldwide screw up and at least we get to see what kind of world will be waiting for us in the next series.

Though the finale might not answer all your questions it does create some awesome new ones like, what the hell happened to Dr. Saunders? With the Dollhouse in ruins and the world in tatters, where will the actuals go now? What happened to all the other actives? Will we get to see the other Dollhouses? And where is the psychotic Alpha?

Roll on Season 2.

Emily Moulder

Check out our Generation Defining TV Shows and see if Dollhouse would make the grade. Or if thought it was harsh that Echo had her memories trashed, come see how Hollywood Ruined our Childhoods and cry with us.