30
Jan
2010
Dollhouse: Season 2, Episode 13
Epitaph 2: The Return
Jordan
Well, its all over. After the mad rush toward the end we've made over the past few months, we've finally reached the finish line. And, appropriately for the ending of Dollhouse, technology destroyed the first draft of this review, which was (of course) far more awesome than anything I'll write this time. Reaching the end of the show, it came to me that while Firefly is on one level about Confederate sympathizers after the Civil War, Dollhouse is on its own level about a terrorist cell doing battle against a gluttonous, power hungry corporation. And it is fitting, then, that the show ended with a suicide bombing that saved the world.

And what a bombing it was. Topher, who has had likely the most interesting character arc in the series, was able to reverse all the damage he had done to the world, and lay himself to rest in the process. It was a nice additional touch that a video of Bennett was the key to his salvation, but there was probably no better way to end the story of a tortured genius who developed his morality far too late than with his beautiful sacrifice to save the world. Tohper discovering the "To Remember" wall seconds before being blown to bits to save the world was just a wonderful moment, especially as it allowed one of the show's most tortured characters to find a modicum of peace.

"Epitaph Two: The Return" showed yet again how adept the writers are at bringing us up to speed with incredibly complex relationships within the span of a scene. We quickly learn of the totally understandable fractures between Sierra/Priya and Victor/Tony. Tony, a lifelong soldier would of course think the only possible course to follow would be to protect the love of his life and their child by going to war against the enemy, even if that means becoming a techhead who could wipe and imprint himself with any needed skills. And Ballard and Echo's on again, off again relationship, troubled by her isolationist tendencies made perfect sense. From the Return of the Jedi-esque opening rescue from Neuropolis to the return to the Dollhouse required to save the world, the episode shoved as much plot and action as it could into an hour, and still managed to end with a resolution that provided some hope for every character.

That Victor and Sierra managed to brave all the dangers in front of them and overcome their issues to end up together was like the whipped cream on top of the sundae that was this episode. Killing off the most virtuous, pure (and yes, corny) character in Ballard was classic Whedon, but the romantic (and a little wierd) resolution that allowed Ballard to become a part of Echo and let them live on together was really very sweet and pretty much the perfect way to end that relationship. Topher finally found peace by sacrificing himself to set the world right again. Alpha managed to find a bit of tranquility amid his dangerous psychosis. And Adelle gets to continue her redemption by leading a new batch of Dolls out into the world where they can resume their original lives again. That the bleakest show on network televison managed to wrap up with a bit of happiness and a hint of hope is quite an accomplishment. That it did it with subtlety, philosophical and moral implications, and some excellent action turns it into something more like an out and out triumph.

Grade: A

Notes:

-Apologies if this is abbreviated. Re-writing a review somehow takes the joy out of it.

-Harding got fat. An excellent prediciton of what would happen if people were able to switch bodies at will.

-"I can bring back the world." A line like that will always get me.

-"We just left that party. That party was on fire."

-"I'll fix what we did to their heads. You fix what we did to the rest of the world. Your job is way harder." A really sweet moment between Topher and Adelle, handled excellently by both actors.

-An Olivia Williams is an awful thing to waste, Fox. More importantly, if Enver Gjokaj doesn't go on to ridiculous success, there is no justice in the world.

-Its been a real pleasure to cover Dollhouse these past two seasons. I can't wait to see what Whedon comes up with next.
Tags: Dollhouse
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