DOLLHOUSE

Epitaph Two: Return

POSTED BY: ROCKETJOCK
UPDATED: Monday, February 1, 2010 21:44
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Friday, January 29, 2010 8:47 PM

ROCKETJOCK


Whew.

It's been said that Dollhouse is a show people generally can't be neutral on; like yogurt, tofu, or The Three Stooges, you either love it or hate it. My wife and I make no bones that we are in the "love it" camp.

Watching the series capstone tonight, after two years of gradually learning who these people are, why they are the way they are... Watching the show itself grow through the (roughly) twenty-four storytelling hours from the relatively bland beginning to the more complex details and interplay of the later arcs... Learning to appreciate the new faces, enjoying the novelty of seeing old friends in new roles...

Seeing how the tale told out was, to say the least, an emotional experience.

Select to view spoiler:


Ballard's fate. Topher's amazingly upbeat sacrifice. Echo's breakdown at her final loss. Priya and Anthony's reconciliation. Zone's re-acceptance of his own humanity in taking responsibility for his new young charge. And, of course, that final, beautiful reuniting - - -



I feel no shame in admitting that both my wife and myself had tears on our cheeks by story's end. If the later episodes were a bit rushed, the finale was, IMHO, a near-perfect little gem.

Postscript: As I said at the beginning, I'm well aware that there are many who dislike the show, and that's their right. What I'd like to ask of them at this point is, if you wish to comment on this thread, please be respectful. The show is gone now, there's no further need to put it down. Let those of us who loved it celebrate the wake in peace, just for now.

"It spoke to the schizophrenic in me. Well, both of them, actually. . . " -- Alpha


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Friday, January 29, 2010 9:23 PM

CALHOUN


Quote:

RocketJock wrote:
Friday, January 29, 2010 20:47
Whew.

It's been said that Dollhouse is a show people generally can't be neutral on; like yogurt, tofu, or The Three Stooges, you either love it or hate it. My wife and I make no bones that we are in the "love it" camp.



Ahh.. you're one of "those" people. forever pigeonholed as loving Dollhouse.

It did improve over the last 4 or so episodes though it was obvious a lot more was crammed in to wrap it all up.

Quote:

I feel no shame in admitting that both my wife and myself had tears on our cheeks by story's end.


Were you cutting onions at the time?



Quote:

What I'd like to ask of them at this point is, if you wish to comment on this thread, please be respectful. The show is gone now, there's no further need to put it down. Let those of us who loved it celebrate the wake in peace, just for now.


Ding, Dong, The Doll is Dead!






Hehe, seriously though, I am glad some people enjoyed it and am sincerely sorry for your loss. Now Joss can make a great show again.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 3:04 AM

GWEK


EXTENSIVE SPOILERS THROUGHOUT

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 3:06 AM

GWEK


SPOILERS THROUGHOUT

I still have to re-watch (both Epitath II and the Hollow Men), but I felt that both finales were a bit weak.

I think this stems from one of the problems I had with the show originally: there were no characters to care about.

In season one, the characters were in one of the three following categories:

1) Dolls (and therefore plot devices more than actual characters)

2) Dollhouse staff members (with the arguable exception of Saunders, these are bad people; not antiheroes, like the crew of Serenity or even Spike, but scumbuckets who trade in sex slavery. Pretty it up however you want, but what DeWitt, Topher, and even Boyd do for a living makes them bad people)

3) Ballard (*yawn!*)

Although these characters evolved a bit during season two (the Dolls in particular), I think a lot of the damage had already been done. And, to be honest, I never bought DeWitt's or Topher's road to redemption (and now I'll add Alpha to that list). I feel these changes were forced on us rather than "earned" through proper storytelling (although I'm sure time didn't permit the evolution Joss would have preferred... and the forced,awkward, artificial nature of the changes is rather in keeping with the tone and themes of the show itself).

So, my feelings on the finale(s) are largely driven by where the show has been. When Ballard dies unceremoniously (shade of Wash), I didn't much care, because I'd never come to care for his character. All I could think, from a writing point of view, was "Well, if Ballard didn't make it, then Echo will, because Joss never lets a couple be happy, but he never kills 'em both."

Topher's sacrifice? Sorry, but the guy deserved to die for his crimes (as did DeWitt). It's nice that he went out doing something good, but I have not an ounce of sympathy for him at his moment of death. He got better than he deserved, really.

I found the Ballard/Echo reunion more intellectually interesting that emotionally satisfying. It raises some serious questions. Echo knows this isn't REALLY Ballard, so will she live in willful ignorance for the rest of her days? Will Ballard be like the other imprints she has in her head (which she can sort of turn on and off on whim)? If not, why not? If so, how long before she gets sick of him and pushes him to the back?

I guess the scene was supposed to be about Echo "finally" letting someone in, but since the idea of Echo keeping people emotionally at bay isn't something that was sufficiently played up during the series, and because she DIDN'T LET ANYONE IN (just a controllable copy of someone), it had very little emotional impact for me.

The reunion of Priya and Anthony similarly did not resonate emotionally for me, probably because we see them mostly "together". The entire emotional arc plays out over the course of a few moments in this episode. I've barely been given a chance to care about the fact that they're broken up, so why should I really care when they get back together?

All in all, it wasn't terrible, but, like much of the show, was uneven and hollow (especially compared to the depth and nuance of Joss's other shows). I know much of this is because the show was prematurely cancelled, but I think the problems extended beyond that.

DOLLHOUSE started out as a bad show and became watchable by the end of season one. It started to really find itself and become good as it progressed through season two (to be fair, there were flashes of brilliance in both seasons), but the end was rushed and lackluster.

Honestly, I'm a little concerned that this is Joss's new writing style. Forced, unearned character changes? Big time jumps to "advance" the story? Signifcant characters who virtually disappear from the story and then re-appear as needed? All very disappointing. I think Joss spent too much of his break watching BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.



www.stillflying.net: "Here's how it might have been..."

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 4:11 AM

EVILDINOSAUR


Agreed, it was awesome.

"Haha, mine is an evil laugh."

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 4:19 AM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


What Gwek said.

We were supposed to know what Joss' next project is by the time the finale aired but unless I've missed it I haven't heard anything definite.

Before anything else, I hope he and Summer do their ballet film. Then Dr. Horrible 2, then Serenity 2, then Firefly: The Return.




wo men ren ran zai fei xing.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 4:34 AM

GWEK


About 40 minutes into the finale, I remembered what Joss had said and logged into my laptop to head over here to see if there was any news.

Hopefully soon...

www.stillflying.net: "Here's how it might have been..."

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:14 AM

CYBERSNARK


I loved it and will be floating for the next few months.

This was a real departure for Joss; a happy ending (several happy endings, in fact). Strange that the wold is actually worse off than it was in Buffy, Angel, or Firefly, but it still feels more upbeat.

Too bad Joss said he doesn't want to revisit this 'verse, though --that ten-year gap has a lot of unanswered questions.

-----
We applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 10:38 AM

FARFLY


Not sure about the time line but didn't Buffy move to Fox about the time Joss started his killing spree? Joyce, Tara, Anya, Cordelia, Wash, and Book?

I guess he learned from Fox, get the viewer to become attached to something, (Firefly, Terminator,
Angel) and then kill it.


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Saturday, January 30, 2010 12:19 PM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


Buffy was produced through 20th Century Fox Film Studios, but it aired on The WB network then swithched to UPN for its last two seasons. So that is one thing you cannot blame on the FOX television network. Besides, Joyce was killed in Season Five while the show was still on WB and Cordelia was offed on the spin-off show Angel, also on WB. That's just pure Joss, no network influence needed for him to kill off sympathetic characters.



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Saturday, January 30, 2010 1:06 PM

CYBERSNARK


And Xander's best friend Ted was killed in the first or second episode, despite being in the credits (as deliberate misdirection, mind, but still).

Joss kills folk. S'what he does.

-----
We applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 1:12 PM

RAHLMACLAREN

"Damn yokels, can't even tell a transport ship ain't got no guns on it." - Jayne Cobb


Jesse not Ted. Ted (John Ritter) was a robot from S2.


--------------------------------------------------
Find here the Serenity you seek. -Tara Maclay

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 1:23 PM

TRAVELER


A little confused by the first few minutes of this final episode, but I give Joss credit for putting together the last few episodes of all the material he most likely wanted to do over a span of years. I had a tear well up to.

Select to view spoiler:


Goodby Topher




http://www.imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=28764731
Traveler

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:03 PM

NBZ


While I did like topher, killing him seemed stupid even for the finale - it was forced. Just add a timer and live.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010 8:16 AM

GILLIANROSE


I would like to have seen more of Alpha's journey from the last time we saw him.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010 8:20 AM

BYTEMITE


I've never liked Ballard, I thought his obsession with Echo made their relationship really weird when he became her handler. I felt like, when she was a Doll, he used her to fulfill his heroic fantasies. Save the girl, and the first episode, second season, take down some gun traffickers... When she started becoming a person proper, it started to move into real relationship territory, but it was tainted for me still by all of the stuff before.

So when I saw the relationship they'd apparently rekindled after Ballard having to be reconstructed, I was ambivalent. I was sad when Echo had her post Ballard breakdown, but I had trouble feeling anything at the moment when I saw Ballard die. Echo should have reacted THEN, and then maybe that would have resonated with me.

And the resolution to that also didn't really strike me as great. Yay, he's another personality in her head. I guess in a way she now gets to keep him alive, but he's still gone. The Ballard in her head is just an echo.

Topher's ending was really good though. This is the thing people have to realize, Joss has been setting up for Topher's sacrifice from the beginning. It's a mark of a true writer, to take the LEAST likeable character, and make them the most likeable character by the end. Who didn't think Topher was selfish and inhuman and sick at the beginning, winced at his truly awful morbid geekily awkward jokes? He was mad science gone very, very wrong. But there's more to people than first impressions, and I think we learned through the series that when he was doing his whole chair thing, he was thinking not about what he was sending them off to do THEN, but rather about how he had helped whatever problem their ORIGINAL persona had, who they would get back. And he learned what he was doing was wrong, and realized he'd made a huge mistake, tried to destroy the technology he made that would destroy the world, and when that didn't work, he made something to reverse it. Something to give back the personalities he had mistakenly taken. And, of course, for the Heroic Sacrifice of a tragic former villain (?), Redemption Equals Death.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HeroicSacrifice
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RedemptionEqualsDeath


Hell, I'd even say by the end there, Topher was making a good play at being the Jerkass Woobie... Though honestly, yeah, I kinda DON'T want to hug him. Who knows where he's been?

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JerkassWoobie

Anyway, I liked this episode more than I liked most of the series, which is to say I think this should have been it's OWN series. I feel like Dollhouse could have been just Epitaph One and Two. Let the audience puzzle out what all has happened, maybe deal with who the characters were and their important development points in flashbacks.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010 8:25 AM

BYTEMITE


GR: Yeah, wasn't he kind of a face-slashing psychopath? When did he discover empathy?

Maybe the imprint with Ballard's "unselfish love" for Echo made him into a real boy. *gag*

Now THERE'S an interesting continuation, Post Ballard Echo x the Alpha she no longer hates. Who also has Ballard in his head. Weird. slightly disturbing... self love?

But I bet someone could theoretically do that credit. I mean, there's plenty of stories where the heroine starts off hating the romantic interest.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010 9:01 AM

GILLIANROSE


Yes, before he was wiped wasn't he in prison for slashing people's faces? So when he leaves and Topher's reset bomb reinstates his original persona, he's back to where he was. Echo is confident that he'll evolve again like he did before, but I feel sorry for the people who cross his path before that evolution starts kicking in. That was my understanding of why he left, so that he wouldn't be a danger to those around him?

I think Alan could have done a superb job with a redemption arc, given the chance.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010 9:24 AM

BYTEMITE


I was confused by that whole thing, I didn't realize they were talking about sending him out. Why? I thought he didn't WANT his old personality back? Which considering he turned good might have been a sign even way back when that he was trying to turn his back on his face-slasher ways?

That's all a little too deep for me. ._.

Redemption arc: absolutely.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010 4:34 PM

ASARIAN


Well, I'll probably stand alone in this, but I think Dollhouse ended the way it has been all along (a few episodes notwithstanding): it sucked. By the time we got to Topher's amazing rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick, creating a wave that can undo all people's memory programming and/or wipes, I knew Joss had basically given up on even trying to end the show with dignity. My God man, that was so incredibly lame! It was actually kinda sad, because Topher's role and acting were superb this time! But the hopelessly lame cop-out, and the overall chaotic way it all went down, was just too much.

I don't think I've ever seen a more disappointing series finale. Although I'd probably argue that, in reality, Dollhouse ended much earlier.


--
"Mei-mei, everything I have is right here." -- Simon Tam

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Monday, February 1, 2010 9:27 AM

ZEEK


I didn't like the episode much at all. The time jump made it feel like some weird high school reunion or something. A bunch of people who you knew a long time ago, but they're all really different now and you don't really have time to get to know who they are now. So, we ended up watching them resolve issues we never knew they had. Uh...ok

I would much rather see Boyd's storyline played out over two episodes rather than all rushed in Hollow Men.

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Monday, February 1, 2010 12:12 PM

BYTEMITE


Ahhh, maybe I'm just Lamey-mcCornington then, but the end of Topher's redemption arc was one of the few things I was genuinely interested in and that I LIKED about Dollhouse.

Some people have speculated that Topher might be Whedon's semi-author-insert though. Guess it's up to whether viewers whether he qualifies as "The Wesley" or not.

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Monday, February 1, 2010 12:42 PM

ASARIAN


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
Ahhh, maybe I'm just Lamey-mcCornington then, but the end of Topher's redemption arc was one of the few things I was genuinely interested in and that I LIKED about Dollhouse.



Like i said, Topher played brilliantly this time! It's just, the lame idea of wiping someone, for ages, and then pulling a lame Deus ex Machina to restore it all magically, that just killed it for me, totally. That's like having a recordable DVD, that you recorded on and erased for years, and then have Whedon come along with a magic wave to undo it all and restore the original data! Mind you, without the backup discs! Remember the backup discs needed? No longer! This time Topher just pulled the data out of thin air!

I remember talking about that earlier: the tech in Dollhouse, when it becomes available to mankind, can really only end one way: in disaster. I even coined the phrase "Extinction Level Technology" for it. Joss should have left it where he ended Epitaph One, with the world in chaos. Instead he went for the 'happy ending', thus painfully yanking the rug from under his own show's credibility. Actually, he went off the deep end with it much earlier, when he started introducing remote wipes, and pulling the odd switcheroo on brain personalities getting mixed up (like in "Big!") and such. But the magic wand he waved this time was just an insult, really.


--
"Mei-mei, everything I have is right here." -- Simon Tam

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Monday, February 1, 2010 12:52 PM

BYTEMITE


Quote:

It's just, the lame idea of wiping someone, for ages, and then pulling a lame Deus ex Machina to restore it all magically, that just killed it for me, totally.


Ehm... Was it though? One of the things that bothered me about how they revealed Alpha's composite event, and then claimed that ECHO was the only one that retained aspects of her personalities when she was wiped was that because as shown it was never quite true.

All through the series we see examples of dolls retaining something from engagement to engagement and even when they are dolls. Sierra and Victor still have feelings for each other even when they're PROGRAMMED to want someone else. Alpha still slashed people's faces. And Caroline's take-down-Rossum fight-for-the-little-guy magnetism existed no matter who she was, and shone through all of the personalities overlaid on top.

The original question this series meant to pose was you can erase the memories, but can you erase the soul? Being that's the premise I heard from Joss, I assume Joss believes in the idea of a soul (at least in this context), so what if the SOUL was the backup? It was already there in the body, just needed a jolt to start remembering again?

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Monday, February 1, 2010 1:10 PM

ZEEK


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
Ahhh, maybe I'm just Lamey-mcCornington then, but the end of Topher's redemption arc was one of the few things I was genuinely interested in and that I LIKED about Dollhouse.


Eh I liked Topher the whole time. I never saw him as Mr. Evil Mustache guy. Though I think the way they killed him was stupid. Why exactly couldn't that device have a simple timer attached to it? You're telling me this mega genius couldn't add a timer?

They should have made it something like he'd have to infiltrate Rossum. Then it's simple enough to say they wouldn't be able to stop all of Rossum and couldn't trust that they wouldn't disarm the device. Therefore someone had to set it off manually.

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Monday, February 1, 2010 1:18 PM

BYTEMITE


I didn't like Topher at first, but I caught on to what Joss was planning for him in the second episode, and I liked him ever since.

It's a good point, but maybe, considering Topher blamed himself so much, maybe that's the way he wanted to go, and didn't want to live through it?

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Monday, February 1, 2010 1:30 PM

CYBERSNARK


Yeah, I figured the "reset button" was something Topher learned based on Echo's ability --the wipes weren't actually "wipes," they were just suppressing everything.

It's exactly like "deleting" something on your computer. Unless you deliberately overwrite every sector of the disk, then delete that, and repeat a few times, the data itself is still recoverable.

Remember, of course, that it took Topher --the Supergenius par excellence-- ten years to develop technology that could do it (and he had to come back to the Dollhouse for that one final lightbulb moment).

-----
We applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient.

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Monday, February 1, 2010 1:36 PM

BYTEMITE


Yeah, much better stated. Thanks Cybersnark.

In the case of the dolls that repeatedly had new memories overlaid onto the "deleted" original data, perhaps when the memories are gone all the neural connections go back to a particular arrangement?

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Monday, February 1, 2010 9:44 PM

RAHLMACLAREN

"Damn yokels, can't even tell a transport ship ain't got no guns on it." - Jayne Cobb


Well, when E2 started I thought my wish was granted, sort of. (I wanted the S2 premire to continue the E1 storyline)

There were only parts I really enjoyed, usually involving Mag, Zone, and Little Caroline.

Zone made a joke, but he was right, why have Safe Haven so close to the "Death Star"? (Zone is clearly the Jayne/Cordelia of the series)

Although, it does makes sense in a "Lord of the Rings" way.
Pippin: "The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm. It's the last thing he'll expect."

Still, through out the series, it seemed like Caroline knew of a place in the mountains (not foothills) where everything was all right (possible childhood home or vacation spot). [see: Grey Hour, Needs, The Attic] I wonder how far the nearest snowcapped peak is from LA?

I thought there should have been an extra twist, when Topher was about to set off the "bomb". I mean, Mal didn't have an easy time getting to the "back up unit" in Serenity (Movie).

With all the miscrossed wires of the series, I'm not sure how much another hour would've helped smoothe out the outcome.



--------------------------------------------------
Find here the Serenity you seek. -Tara Maclay

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