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I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around this final chapter in the Dollhouse story. On one hand, Epitaph Two offered some resolution to the series with its jump to the future and I can’t really complain about that. But on the other hand, it’s hard to deny the feelings of disconnect I experienced as we got caught up on what’s going on with everyone. Tonight I felt even more disappointed that the show didn’t have more time to develop slowly as there were so many aspects of this story that could’ve been developed over the course of a couple of seasons as opposed to just being dropped on us in one last wrap-it-up episode.
While Priya was off living in a cozy little house with her and Victor/Anthony’s son “T” (short for Tony) with Adelle, Topher was being held captive by Harding and half-way to crazy-town as he’d witnessed one person get shot for each day he didn’t come up with the tech Harding wanted. I sort of loved seeing Harding enjoying the fruits of his evilness by eating to his heart’s content, knowing that once he stretched out the body he was using, he could just trade it in for something younger and healthier. The gluttonous Harding seemed relatively unfazed by the appearance of Echo and Ballard. It clearly wasn’t the first time they’d showed up to kill him, though that seemed like a minor setback to him. Again, a body’s just a body. Feed it to death or shoot it to death, he can just get another one.
Mag and Zone (who will always be Scut Farcus to me) and mini-Echo caught up with everyone and after Ballard and Echo got Topher out, met up at Priya and Adelle’s house. Where’s Victor? He’s off living the combat-dream with some of his fellow imprinted soldiers. While Priya and Adelle were content to live away from the tech, we learned that Victor/Anthony left Priya and their son to go fight the good fight and continue to allow his mind to be juiced with tech on a fairly regular basis. This came into play more later when his two soldier-buddies tried to stop Topher from coming up with the pulse technology to fix all of the crazies out there and give them their minds back. While Victor’s use of the tech was just a means to an end, his friends’ weren’t so keen on getting rid of the ability to lose their regular skill-boosting. That was a minor side-step that was quickly defused thanks to Echo. I thought it was interesting to see how the soldiers were using the technology as compared to how it worked on someone like Echo. While Echo seems to be able to handle a limitless amount of imprinting on her mind, regulard-joes like Victor have to take stuff out of their minds in order to put new stuff in. That’s what keeps them from being as powerful as Echo is as they can only be so much at any given time.
I wondered what would become of Alpha and the moment we saw him on screen, I knew he couldn’t still be a bad guy. Why would he be? Sure, he had his crazier moments but at the end of the day, he was against Rossum. Again though, this wouldn’ve been something that we could have seen play out and evolve over the course of a season or two rather than just getting the surprise twist that Alpha’s actually pretty useful when he’s not attacking people.
It seemed unlikely that we’d make it through the series finale with all of the main characters surviving, but Ballard’s death was so quick that it was hard to believe he was really gone. Shot in the head, there were no final words or last few breaths. No corny “the world still needs heroes” lines to throw out there as he bled out on the street. No. He was just dead and Echo had to deal with that, which she did a little bit later after she had time to let it sink in that not only was he dead, but she’d spent the last ten years keeping an emotional distance from him.
Topher also died but he was given a hero’s death as he was the one to make sure the explosion went off that would trigger the pulse that returned everyone out there to their original mental state. So while Echo, Priya, Victor and a few others who didn’t want to be reset went underground, where they’d have to stay for a year or so to wait for the pulse to finish it’s job, Adelle, Zone and child-Echo went outside and witnessed the mental reset.
Echo planned to destroy all of the technology in the dollhouse but not before imprinting herself with Paul’s memories. Now he’s in her head with her and that’s the closest thing to a happily-ever-after those two will get. And that closes the book on this story. Everyone will get their minds back, Adelle and some of the others on the surface will attempt to restore order to humanity and those underground will eventually be able to return to their lives, while also getting to be the few people on the planet who know what really happened.
The series explored some interesting topics and its true potential didn’t even really begin to break the surface until after the cancellation was announced and the writers abandoned the imprint-du-jour episode formula. So while we can look back on Dollhouse and think of what might have been, had Fox given the show more time to grow, at least we got solid (albeit rushed) ending, which is more than can be said for a lot of great shows out there.