I'm just a girl sitting in front of her TV asking it to entertain her.

Dollhouse –2.13– Epitaph Two: Return– A to Z Challenge – Day 04


“Endings Are Hard”

‘Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There's always gonna be holes. And since it's the ending, it's all supposed to add up to something. I'm telling you, they're a raging pain in the ass.’

― Chuck, Supernatural (episode 5x22: Swan Song)


Prologue
This episode falls firmly in the category of “Finales”.

About the Show

Seasons: 2| Episodes: 26| Premiere Date: 2/13/2009| End Date: 1/29/2010|Status: Off Air

Genre(s): Science fiction, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Cyberpunk, Drama

Story in a nutshell: The story follows Echo (Eliza Dushku), a "doll" or "Active" for the Los Angeles "Dollhouse", one of several fictional facilities, called "Houses", run by a company which hires out human beings to wealthy clients. These "engagements" range from romantic interludes to high-risk criminal enterprises. Each Active has their original memories wiped and exists in a childlike blank state until programmed via the insertion of new memories and personalities for each mission. Actives such as Echo are ostensibly volunteers who have surrendered their minds and bodies to the organization for five-year stints, during which their original personalities are saved on hard drives, in exchange for vast amounts of money and a solution to any other problematic circumstances in their lives.E-1 Echo is unique however in that she remembers small amounts even after personality "wipes", and gradually develops an increasingly cognizant self-awareness and personality.

Best Reason to Watch the Show: It’s in the Whedonverse! Also it features fan favorite actors such as Eliza Dushku, Amy Acker and Alan Tudyk.

Best Thing about This Episode: A return to the apocalyptic future which meant we got to see Felicia Day and Zack Ward again.

Previously On Dollhouse(here’s what you need to know): As the group leaves for Tucson to take down Rossum, Boyd attempts to sabotage its efforts by drugging Echo. Boyd uses Topher's trust to serve Rossum's agenda by tricking Topher into finishing his remote wipe/imprinting technology. Anthony and Priya, who were told in the previous episode to spend their last night together, return to the Dollhouse and discover that Boyd has been betraying them all along. Boyd reveals that he has spared the group's lives because he loves them like family. Caroline has a special genetic trait, expressed in her spinal fluid, which allows her to survive the wipes. Boyd watched over Echo and allowed her to be pushed to her limits in order to allow her to form a complete personality, as every time she "survives" a wipe the gene's expression grows stronger, allowing for Rossum to create a "cure" for wiping. Boyd activates Mellie's sleeper programming and she assaults Paul, but is able to fight it off long enough to tell Paul that she loves him, and then kill herself. Echo manages to fight off Clive 2.0, now in the body of Whiskey, before having her final confrontation with Boyd. Topher wins the ensuing fight by hitting Boyd with the mind-wipe tech he created and hates, and Echo uses the now-Dollstate Boyd to as a suicide bomber to destroy Rossum's headquarters. Echo and Paul have saved the world... but the episode's epilogue depicts them fleeing through the apocalyptic future of "Epitaph One."
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Writers: Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon & Andrew Chambliss | Director: David Solomon

Episode Summary: In the year 2020, one year after the events of "Epitaph One", Echo and her team rescue Topher and the last of the Actuals (guest stars Felicia Day, Adair Tishler, and Zack Ward) from the hands of the Rossum Corporation after he reveals that he can restore the world to order. After reuniting with Tony, who is a tech-head, Echo and her team race to Los Angeles, which is now a war zone. They fight their way in through the butchers, mindless killing machines, and Paul Ballard is killed. Echo breaks down, and Priya and Tony argue about why they are no longer together. Alpha (guest star Alan Tudyk) returns and reveals that he has taken over the Dollhouse and is using it as a refuge for wiped beings, reformed from his past. Tony renounces the tech, and Priya reveals that her son T is Tony's son and is named after his father. Topher uses help from recordings of Bennett Halverson (guest star Summer Glau), and sacrifices his own life to detonate the wiping signal into the ionosphere, dispersing it over the world and restoring everyone's mind to order. DeWitt begins the cleanup process as Tony, Priya and T reunite as a family. Echo finds one final gift from the imprinting technology and downloads Paul's personality within her. With the memory of her lover literally living inside of her, Echo settles down to sleep in her old sleep pod to dream of Paul and of a world restored to sanity with a smile on her face.
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Awards

Character of the Night
•Topher

Best Character Interactions
• Adelle & Topher

Best Line
• Topher: I don’t want to cause any more pain.

Best Scene
• Echo breaks down over losing Paul.

That Awkward Moment Award
• That awkward moment when I was supposed to care about a major character’s death and I didn’t. When Paul died I was more relieved than anything. I never really cared for how they pushed the Paul and Echo love story. It was creepy from the jump and I never could get behind it.

Highlights

Memorable Moments
1. Pria, Anthony and T getting to spend quality time together as a family.
2. Adelle leads everyone out into the daylight to be reset
3. Topher sees the ‘To Remember’ Memorial and is happily distracted as the explosion occurs
4. Zone is there for ‘Little Caroline’ when she wakes up

Notable & Quotable
•Paul: The world still needs heroes.
Echo: Did you really just say that?

•Little Caroline: We still have a chance to make a true world.
Zone: A true world? Look around you tiny messiah.

• Little Caroline: We are lost. We are not gone.
• Zone: And you didn’t mention that Safe Haven was parked right next door to the friggin’ Death Star?
• Adelle (referring to Topher): It’s good to see him productive again.

Superb Scenes
• Adelle realizes the sacrifice Topher is going to make.
• Echo and Paul are reunited in her mind.
• The family dinner where they discuss how to save the world and whose going to go.
• Paul tells Echo she’s the loneliest person he knows.


Lowlights

• When this episode aired, the near future was 10 years away, yet they had ridiculous clothes and slang, so much so that it made feel like a cheesy Thunderdome knockoff.
• Crazy!Topher grated my nerves.
• I was left feeling pretty dang indifferent about a major death in this episode.
• Criminal underuse of Alan Tudyk.

Miscellaneous

WTF Moments
• The city of Tuscon was renamed ‘Neuropolis’
• Topher suddenly becomes able to un-mind-wipe all of humanity (It was a huge deus ex machine).
• Zone was a landscaper at the start of the apocalypse

My Favorite Main Character
• It’s a tie between Adelle DeWitt & Topher

My Favorite Side Character
• It’s a tie between Senator Daniel Perrin & Dr. Claire Saunders/Whiskey

Least Favorite Main Character
• Paul Ballard

Least Favorite Side Character
• Bennett Halverson

Fun Fact: During the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that a comic book had been written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. The book, titled Dollhouse Epitaphs, features a new storyline to bridge the gap between the main series and "Epitaph One" and "Epitaph Two: Return". It was drawn by Cliff Richards and published by Dark Horse Comics.

The book was a 24-page one-off limited edition, only available in the season two DVD or Blu-ray Disc.

Tasty Tidbit: It was later revealed at New York Comic-Con 2010 that there will be more comics that take place in the Dollhouse universe. A one-shot was released on March 30, 2011, and a miniseries began with the first issue released on July 13, 2011.

The one-shot, which reprints the Season 2 exclusive with additional material, is written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and the miniseries is written by Andrew Chambliss. The comics are set in a future Los Angeles after the Dollhouse technology has reduced the city to ruins.

FYI: The only other episode of the entire series you need to watch to understand this episode is 1x13: Epitah. It was unaired in the US but it is on the DVD/Blu-Ray and Netflix actually has this episode as well.

Side Notes: Dollhouse had some of the BEST viral marketing campaigns of the time. My favorite was ‘Save Hazel’ BKA ‘Doll Play’.
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Grade: B-
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Comparable Shows
If you like love Joss Whedon, I highly recommend you check out one, some and/or all of the following shows: Angel, Firefly and Agents of SHIELD.
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Up Next: If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes come back and check out my blog tomorrow because I will be writing about the pilot of Elementary.

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