It’s one thing to believe someone is brilliant. It’s another thing to see that brilliance and be utterly wow-ed by it. That’s how I felt when I watched Epitaph One,episode 13 of Dollhouse which will remain unaired (but be available at Comic Con and on DVD releases). I always believed Joss Whedon was brilliant. He had me hooked from Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, even Toy Story, so when Dollhouse was announced, I was just one of his large cult following to anxiously await the show’s arrival. Then the writer’s strike happened and the show was delayed. (I’m only partially sorry for that, as Whedon went on to create the webseries Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, which is fantastic. Whedon has hinted at a sequel, can’t wait!) Then Fox announced it would be airing on Friday nights. Every Whedon fan had the same thought: they are going to mishandle the show just like thye did with Firefly. But thankfully, by some stroke of luck or genius or something else altogether, the show is still alive and kicking.
For those who haven’t seen Dollhouse at all (and you are seriously missing out), the show follows the Dollhouse, where people’s (called Actives or Dolls) memories are wiped so that they can then be imprinted with other personalities, memories, and skills, according to clients’ desires. The catch: Echo, one of the actives played by Eliza Dushku is slowly retaining her memories. The last time this happened, the Doll, known as Alpha, went crazy, attacking and killing various members of the Dollhouse. However, he retained a certain soft spot for Echo, leading him to seek her out after escaping the attic (where they “retire” people for whatever reason). At the same time, Detective Paul Ballard has been searching for the Dollhouse, which is buried well underground, intent on revealing it and finding Caroline (aka Echo).
So far in the series, the show has done a good job of mixing formulaic episodes with those that further the bigger plot and reveal the mythology. There is rarely a dull moment and we are often surprised by who is who. Something to always keep in mind while watching a Joss Whedon show: nothing is ever what you think it is. (To add to the show’s excellence is a strong cast, including Eliza Dushku who in my opinon stole the show from Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy and Amy Acker who did an amazing job as Fred/Illyria.
But as the season aired, you wonder where the show is going. Epitaph One reveals an intended direction for the show (how that may change now that they’ve been picked up for a season is uncertain, but at least some of this larger storyline will be taken). As always, Joss Whedon has outdone himself.
Having seen the episode, I now understand why it wasn’t aired, as it is sort of a “if we can’t have another season here is everything we were thinking about” episode. Since the show was renewed, it wouldn’t have really made sense to air episode thirteen as part of the series. And even though in some way it feels like watching the episode means I won’t get the full impact of surprise wheneverything is revealed within the series itself, the episode was just so great that I’m not too bothered by it. And since it ended on a cliffhanger as well, I want to know what comes next for it.
I highly recommend buying season one (which includes episode 13):