Thursday, July 30, 2009

"I hope we find me alive"

Warning: for the purists out there who have not yet put their money down for the Dollhouse DVD set, this contains spoilers for the final episode, Epitaph One. Reading any further will sour your enjoyment not only of the episode, but of life itself. Food will be as ashes in your mouth, and your lamentations will drive nearby squirrels to commit seppuku.

Okay, the lightweights are gone? Good.

Like everyone else, I heard the basic plot outline of Epitaph One months ago: Felicia Day (Mag) and an intrepid band of survivors whose names I never quite picked up, are trying to survive in the far-off future of 2019 after Dollhouse technology has made everything go kerblooey.

The basic plot is this: the survivors stumble into the Dollhouse while taking a shortcut through the sewers, trying to avoid the signals that can turn you into a reaver killer angry person. Realizing it is the origin point for "the tech" that's driven the world into its current zombie apocalypse/rise of the machines state, they use a mindwiped refugee they're dragging around as a template for a series of memories they find programmed into the chair. So we get a series of sequential flashbacks, showing events both before the first episodes of Dollhouse, and later, possibly up to just a year or two before 2019. Meanwhile, someone is killing off the survivors one by one, and a spooky, Dollish Whiskey, sans facial scars, shows up to offer them some help.

This is another Dollhouse episode that feels far, far longer than its actual running time (in a good way). There's a lot going on here, and each flashback is crammed with both exposition and character development. In general, it's extremely well done, and if it were just a vehicle for a "Days of Future Past" style storyline, it would get an A+ just on that score. But the main plot thread isn't bad either, even if it does revolve around the "and then there were none" contrivance of having the survivors killed off one by one. This is another way the show is good: who is killing the characters should be an obvious twist, but I didn't have even five minutes when the show slowed down to let me actually try to puzzle it out.

So this brings the number of really good Dollhouse episodes up to seven, meaning the first season was more than 50 per cent awesome after all! Hooray!

Up next, a review of the original pilot, and some of the special features.

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