Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Last of Dollhouse


From SpoilerTV, Copyright FOX

I can't do much of a formal review for Dollhouse's "Epitaph Two: The Return", since I never saw "Epitaph One". As such, I was mostly along for the ride and didn't spend much time trying to figure out what was going on. It would certainly help if I knew more of the backstory about Caroline being imprinted into the little girl!

Whedonesque has a good listing of reviews here, and I mostly agree with what all of the writers had to say. The series finale should have been stretched out over an entire season, but unfortunately, Whedon et al didn't have that luxury. In fact, I would say the last two episodes of Dollhouse had that "everything thrown in including the kitchen sink" quality that was actually quite effective. My only real criticism of "Epitaph Two" was I thought that the brownish tinged tintype lighting and the jerky "looks like an amateur shot this" camera work (sorry for my lack of knowledge about the correct terminology) came off as affectations. But other than that, I liked what I saw.

What was striking to me was how a lot of the threads were tied up by the end of the series in surprisingly upbeat ways. I was actually expecting a lot more tragedy. The world was saved; Topher died a hero; Adelle lost her moral ambiguity and was able to allow her mothering and nurturing instincts to come to the forefront; Alpha, who I always liked, finally was able to emerge as a good guy; and Victor and Sierra got back together. The only part that didn't quite ring true to me was what happened to Ballard and Echo. I could handle Ballard dying, but I wasn't convinced that the upload of Ballard's memories into Echo could really lessen the hurt she felt for not letting Ballard more completely into her life. However, if Echo was comforted by the "lie", all power to her.

I almost didn't watch "Epitaph Two" last night, because I thought, what's the point? I don't know that I'll ever purchase the DVD's simply because I don't have any compelling curiosity to learn more than what I already know. One of my main criticisms of the series was the fact that I couldn't really get absorbed into the characters. However, I totally agree with what A.V. Club reviewer Scott Tobias had to say:
It’s a frantic rush to the finish, no question, but “Epitaph Two” proved a thrilling, twist-filled hour with real emotional resonance. I’ve always found the idea of this show engaging on a pure, abstract sci-fi level, with its themes of identity, corporate control, and human exploitation. But I’m newly surprised by how much I’ve come to care for these characters and where they wind up in the end. And that’s a small miracle, given how the main complaint many have had with the show is how the ever-shifting identities of the characters made it impossible to glean who they really were. In the home stretch, I think we have a pretty strong grasp to care about their destinies. (I’ll confess that the Caroline/Ballard relationship didn’t quite resonate with me in the end, though I loved the romantic notion of her “letting him in.”) And at the end of the bleakest network TV series I can recalls, I’d say a little hard-won hope and happiness is well-earned.
I certainly am grateful that the producers and the FOX network let me say goodbye to the series by giving me something that looks an awful lot like a happy ending. The acting in "Epitaph Two" was also uniformly excellent. Dollhouse certainly had a good run, and, more importantly, gave its audience a lot of food for thought. I think the series will go down as being definitely worthy of holding one of the more prominent spots within the Whedonverse body of work.

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