Saturday, January 30, 2010

Recap of Dollhouse "Epitaph Two: Return", or Sequel To A Lost Episode

Nearly a year, 26 episodes, 25 shown on TV.
Now, Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku's Dollhouse is closed.
The finale had a lot to offer, but some may think there was still something missing. If Epitaph One had aired, and there were more episodes to fill the gaps, it would have been perfect. As Dr. Saunders said, "I wish we had more time."

"Epitaph Two: Return" makes history as the first sequel to a lost episode. Of course, it's "Epitaph One", available only on DVD or iTunes. Fox decided to start the final episode with a quick review of what happened there. Still, some fans may wonder how Dr. Saunders wasn't Clyde Randolph anymore, and how she turned into Whisky...and who are Mag, Zone and a little girl who also calls herself Caroline. That may be the only problem with this episode. Even loyal fans may have missed E-1, and wished they had seen it before the "sequel".

The story starts somewhere in the Sierra Nevada in the year 2020. A man in a suit wanders around, looking lost. He's met by a pack of well-dressed Butchers out to clobber him. Someone wakes from a Jeep after hearing the commotion, It's cynical Zone, while his friends Mag and Ivy/MiniEcho are nearby looking for get water. When they see the Butchers, they leave quickly. Mag wonders if MiniEcho knows the way to SaveHaven. She says she does, and that it's possible to make a true world. Zone doesn't believe that, since half the world's been wiped, and MiniEcho isn't an Actual like he and Mag are. MiniEcho says "We are lost. We are not gone."
It looks like they could be gone. As soon as they return to camp, they are kidnapped and sent to Neuropolis, the City of Minds. It used to be called Tucson, Rossum's home base. It's also next to SaveHaven, but that was out of necessity.
We also see Rossum has turned from a company to a dictatorship, but it's also suffered. Matthew Harding is more interested in committing the Seven Deadly Sins, then change bodies after using it up. That's why people are called "suits", and that Harding looks like Oliver Platt, not Keith Carradine. His assistant is a slimy looking guy who used to be Clive Ambrose. FatHarding looks over several guys who could become him, but looks at a familiar-looking "DumbShow." It's Paul Ballard. As FatHarding leaves the room, SlimyClive wonders what's so special about Paul. One headbutt later, and he knows.
Meanwhile, Echo takes care of the guards, and shoots FatHarding dead. Sure, he says there are "backups" of him, but she'll deal with that. Echo is impressed meeting herself as a nine-year-old girl, while Paul finds a familiar face...Topher Brink.
The years have been tough on him. He's been forced by Rossum to make a pulse bomb that will wipe everyone, or as he says "erase" the world. If he doesn't, he sees someone get shot to death. He relives the nightmare of losing Bennett every day. However, he's also come up with a way to erase the Dolls, and make them people again. He can erase the world, but he can also bring it back.

Meanwhile, a woman and a young boy are admiring the strawberries growing on their farm. The woman is Adelle DeWitt, and the boy is called T. His mom used to be called Sierra. Call her Priya now. She's happy to be away from the tech and the Dollhouse, and prefers this oasis of peace in an insane world.
However, the insane world comes to the farm's doorstep. Echo explains that if they want to take down Rossum, they have to go back to the Dollhouse to find what Topher needs. This doesn't go over too well, but there's no choice. Paul also adds that if Topher is successful, those Actives who want to keep their memories will have to stay underground for more than a year. Since Priya doesn't want to forget her son, this is a choice she has to accept.
Then a nasty group of Tech Heads, or people who plug in abilities in their brains, arrives. They include a bald guy named Romeo, a weapons expert named Kilo (yes, that Kilo, also known as Maurissa Tanchareon), and a tough guy named Victor, also known as Tony. Yes, that Victor. When he adds English to his skill set, he explains he was asked to help in the road trip back to the Dollhouse.

The road trip features some revealing scenes. It starts with Zone getting to know Kilo, and how she has to switch imprints to stay sane. There's Priya and Tony, talking about how the tech pulled them apart. He accepted it to protect her and save the world. She rejected it because of the pain, and decided not to fight. They both have something they care about, and that is their son.
Then there's Paul and Echo. He wonders why she stays so guarded around him. There's a connection but she won't admit it. He thinks that she's scared what may happen when she has to stop fighting and stay in one place. It means having to reach out to someone. "I think you've got a hundred people living inside your head," he says, "and you're the loneliest person I know."

They get to L-A, but are met by the meanest Butchers around. One of them shoots Mag, and Paul chases him off. He tells Mag she'll be OK...just as he's shot to death. Echo sees this, but has no time to cry. She has to get everyone to the Dollhouse.
Paul Ballard's death is a shock, but not a surprise to those familiar with Joss' works. Tragedy is always the payment for triumph, from Wash dying in Firefly to Angel being sent to Hell in order to save the world in "Belonging".

Once they get inside the Dollhouse, they find several Actives wandering around, saying they're trying to do their best.
They also find Alpha....who's a good guy. He also decided to quit the fight to make the Dollhouse his own SafeHaven.
Romeo and Kilo have other ideas. They want to be Super Tech Heads, and will shoot Topher if they have to. Alpha interrupts them, while Tony tries to stop his double-crossing friends. He says that while getting skills as fast as he can download them are great, he wants to rebuild the world with his own two hands. Romeo's upset because it makes Tony a Luddite just like Alpha.
This is a mistake. Alpha says he's no Luddite, and clobbers Romeo. Echo also pins down Kilo, who is impressed by all this.

As for Topher, he suddenly has an idea...naptime! Actually, he heads back to his personal space and comes up with a way to make the pulse bomb they need.
Priya is busy breaking tech, in order to keep Tony away from it. Echo is upset, telling Priya Tony loves her and always did, despite being an Active for so long. Echo tells her Priya should break the tech, shut him out of her life, never tell him that she loves him.
But then, that doesn't describe Priya. It describes Echo. Paul's death finally hits her hard. She realizes she's now alone, and could have had more if she let Paul in.

Thanks to a video lecture from his lost love, Bennett Halverson, Topher has what he needs to make the pulse bomb, and make sure no one becomes a Doll again. Thing is, he has to detonate the bomb himself. It's a small price to pay, since he was one of the reason why the world became a Dollhouse. Adelle offers to help, but he won't hear of it. "I'll fix what they did to their heads," he says, "You fix what we did to the rest of the world. Your job is way harder." It may be, but at least Adelle DeWitt is the only Rossum employee willing to apologize and atone.
Zone decides to take up a tough job, too. He'll look after MiniEcho, when she becomes Ivy again after the blast. Mag will stay in the Dollhouse while she heals. We also find out Zone used to be a landscape architect. Who knew?
We also see Priya introduce T to his dad. We also see T is for Tony, just like his dad. The family is whole again, even in a place they'd rather not be.
So, Echo prepares to dismantle the tech while she guides the Actives out. "Funny that the last fantasy the Dollhouse should fulfill would be yours", Adelle tells Echo. Echo says she doesn't have any fantasies. Some may say she has at least one.

Topher builds the bomb. Just before the blast, he looks at the wall of photos of all the Actives in Adelle's old office. It's the last thing he sees.

After the blast, all the Actives fall asleep for a little while. Then they wake up, and look at the mess. It will be a tough job, considering there's still the chance extra Hardings and Clive Ambroses could be out there, maybe planning to revive Doll-making.

As Echo heads to the imprint chair, she sees an envelope that's addressed to her. She sees there's one more imprint to be done. She imprints Paul into herself. She has finally let him in.
The last shot is Echo preparing to lay in her pod. She's going to fall asleep, for a little while.
The show, meanwhile, will rest in peace.

Considering how quickly they had to wrap up the show, this was a good effort. There were wonderful performances by the Epitaph One Gang, led by Felicia Day, and from Eliza, Enver Gjokai, Dichen Lachman, Fran Kranz(who should be on 24 if Mary Lynn Rasjcub retires) and Olivia Williams.
Still, fans may get the feeling the story is ending too suddenly. We want to know why Alpha has evolved towards a more peaceful state, what other adventures Mag and Zone had, why Priya and Tony split because of the tech, and how Rossum ruined the world, and eventually itself. It really would have helped if Fox decided to show "Epitaph One" first followed by the sequel.
And..there's also the wish we'd see how the survivors rebuild the world, while keeping Dollmaking tech at bay.

Still, Joss Whedon had a lot to say about identity, reality, and relationships. He also had some things to say about how big bad corporations try to influence us for supposedly positive reasons, and how science can destroy as easily as it can improve our world. What Topher did, and how he atones, is proof of that.
It would have been just perfect if there were another 13 or so episodes to fill the gaps between "Hollow Men", "Epitaph One" and "Epitaph Two". We would have had a classic 39-part sci-fi series.
That being said, we still had an impressive 26-episode body of work that will be remembered and discussed for some time to come.
This also means Fridays will be pretty dull again, unless you have cable.

Thanks, Joss, for being your best...again.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Recap of Dollhouse "The Hollow Men" of the Thoughtpocalypse

We always wondered what was Boyd Langdon's story, and why he wound up in the Dollhouse.
Now we know...he created it with a guy named Clyde Randolph. Now Caroline Farrell has seen them both.
This week, Boyd will call her a savior, and she proves him right in a very different way. However, there are casualties, and the apocalypse came anyway. People who bought the DVD already know that

Before the recap, check out this from Aint It Cool News. It explains why the evil corporation is called Rossum, and how it's linked to the original creation of the word "robot."

We go back two years, just before the story of Echo began. Boyd is talking to her old self, Caroline Farrell. He says Rossum knows all about her, even the fact she had her bone barrow tested to see if she can help her cousin who has leukemia. Rossum is a big company, and she can't escape from it. She has two choices: face life in prison for her terrorist acts, or become an Active. He's doing this because she's special, and he promises he will protect her. She tries to turn down this offer, but we know she can't. Adelle DeWitt waits for her, with her tea and "sympathy."

Advance to "present day", where Sierra and Victor, or actually Priya and Tony, decide to postpone their life together to help the rest of Team Echo in its battle against Rossum. They come back, and find the place a shambles. "Looks like the war started without us," Tony says.
Above ground, Paul breaks the cell phones to keep Rossum from finding them. Mellie complains about the bleeding on her neck, due to removing her GPS chip. Adelle is there, too. Mellie loves Paul, but she knows that's just software, not passion. Paul thinks their love is real to him, even if he's an Active, too.
Topher drives up, and Echo comes out. She says her body is on fire, and she has to be sedated. They suspect she's been imprinted one time too many, especially after they put Caroline in her so she could identify the men who run Rossum. However, Adelle points out they can just go to headquarters in Tucson, and walk right in. Just show them Echo.
At the Dollhouse, Priya sees the security tapes of what happened are gone. She also sees a note that says "press enter" on the imprint chair. She figures out one of them has to be imprinted again. They had sworn never to be imprinted again, but i nthis case, they have no choice. Tony volunteers, and he becomes VicTopher (Topher in Victor's body) again. He is surprised to see Sierra as Priya, and the Dollhouse in shambles.
That's nothing compared to what Team Echo finds in Tucson: Clyde Randolph, version 2010, in Whisky/Claire Saunders' body. She's the corporate version of Illyria, in a fine tailored suit and tie and twice as scary. She says she's looking for people who can evolve, specifically Echo.

VicTopher is still trying to get a handle on things, but remembers he had a hidden camera in the imprint room. He was hoping to catch a thief. What he finds is Boyd drugging Echo just as Caroline's memories were put into her.
Meanwhile, Clyde/Claire share whisky (of course) with Adelle, and compliments her on how she's helped Echo evolve. Clyde/Claire sees Echo as the savior of "the deserving few". If Adelle cooperates, she may be included. She says Echo may not be in any shape to help anyone, but Clyde/Claire says it's Echo's body that she wants.

This will be a pattern. As a few Twitter fans have pointed out, there's a lot of exposition by both sides in this episode. It's possible Joss Whedon and the Dollhouse staff had hoped to have 22 episodes to finish the second season. Once they knew it would be 13, they had to speed up the storyline. The episode, in fact, was made just as Fox decided to cancel the show.

Back to the recap: the rest of the team is locked away, but Boyd gets them out by pretending to rewire the lock. Actually, he has his all access card. He tells Paul and Mellie to find weapons, while Topher goes with him. He tells Boyd that he suspects someone in the Dollhouse may have drugged Echo, as Nolan drugged Priya before making her into Sierra. He also tells Boyd about his plan to get Tony re-imprinted so he could be VicTopher again. Too bad Topher told the wrong guy about this.
VicTopher, though, is upset his "man-friend" betrayed him. Still, he's not sure if he should kill Boyd or get his autograph. Priya wants to help Echo and the staff. So, she brings back Tony, with additional skills to make him SuperVictor. They leave for Tucson.

In Tucson, Echo's on a table. All the memories of what she has been though,and who she has been, come flooding back in. She wakes up and says "Boyd."
Meanwhile, Boyd and Topher see that Rossum has made several prototypes of the Imprint Gun that can turn anyone into a Doll. Topher breaks one of them, because he is sick that his technology is being made into weapons. He's also upset he invented them. Boyd argues they should have one working gun to protect themselves. Of course, there's a darker reason.
Paul and Mellie are able to find guns. She wonders why she's here, in this situation. Paul says he couldn't let her go. She reminds him that their love...and themselves...are all programmed. They're not even real anymore. Paul says what they are and what they feel are him, at least.
Topher's able to make a working Imprint Gun. Boyd says he's very impressed. It's why he "chose" Topher. As he's asking for what, Echo enters the room and clobbers Boyd. However, Clyde/Claire is there, too, with a gun at Echo's head. Topher is stunned by this, even after Echo explains who Boyd really is. Boyd says he wasn't going to kill Topher because he's "family" are Echo, Clyde/Claire and Adelle.
He's also impressed how Topher has developed ethics while Adelle has developed conviction. Topher says it best: "I'm the Tin Man, she's the lion, and you're the head of the Lollipop Guild who's a traitor." He's also upset he got Claire to kill Bennett last week, but he says sacrifice is necessary. After all, he says it's all part of evolution. When new technology is made, it can be abused. So, once Topher's imprint gun is released upon the world, certain people have to protect themselves. It's a matter, he says, of being the destroyed or the destroyers.
Yet, it all comes back to Echo. Boyd tells her that her spinal fluid is very special. It can be used as a "vaccine" against being imprinted, and that she literally has to be harvested to protect the deserving few. She balks at this, but Boyd has an imprint gun that quickly disables her.

Paul and Mellie start destroying the mainframe, but Boyd knows about this. He forces Adelle to tell Mellie that there are three flowers in a vase. This, of course, is the code to turn her into a killer. While Adelle refuses, Mellie hears that phrase. Whether it's a recording or Adelle really doing it is unclear, but Mellie starts shooting at Paul and the mainframe. As he tries to get her to stop. she says she can't kill him, but has to stop herself. She shoots herself, and the blood falls on Paul's face. Another love story ends in tragedy.

Echo is laid out on a table, just as how Sierra was prepared to become a Doll. This time, she is not a Doll or a person. She is a vaccine. However, Tony and Priya arrive to get her out.
Topher is stunned over what has happened, and the fact he has created the "thoughtpocalypse". "I figure if I'm responsible for the end of the world," he says, " I get to name it." Priya and Tony pretend to be captured...until they set up a few bombs to get everyone out. As for Echo, she's confronted by Clyde/Claire, who is all Clyde. They get in a big fight, and it looks even.
Boyd is told of Echo's escape, then meets Paul, who tells him about Mellie. Boyd pretends it's really Adelle's fault, and they both confront her.
Echo says she may wind up killing Clyde/Claire and herself, but Clyde/Claire says he's got plenty of spare bodies to use. Come to think of it, who says this Clyde is the only one right now? Still, Echo is able to knock this Clyde/Claire out. She's about to blow up the mainframe. when Paul comes in with Boyd. Before she can explain, Boyd pulls a gun at a stunned Paul.

Paul tells Echo to shoot him, but Boyd thinks she won't because she loves Paul.
Finally, Boyd is wrong. Echo does shoot Paul as a distraction. They both try to overtake Boyd, but he pins Echo down, ready to kill her. After all, all they need is the spinal fluid. They don't need her alive.
Then a shot is fired...from Topher's Imprint Gun. Despite the fact that he said his invention would cause evil, Topher had to use it to save Echo. Boyd, the toymaker, the now a toy. He asks Echo, "did I fall asleep?"
She turns Boyd into a suicide bomber, and he destroys the Rossum mainframe. Everyone is able to get out alive.
Finally, Echo asks Paul is she really did save the world.
It looks that way, but anyone who has seen "Epitaph One" knows the mission didn't succeed after all. Imprinting the masses still happened. The world still spiralled into a thoughtpocalypse. The last thing we see is "ten years later", with Echo and Paul with guns, trying to keep moving.

So, how did the thoughtpocalypse happen?
Well, in E-1, Clyde/Claire apparently was turned back into Whisky. This may mean Clyde/Claire got out, but was defeated later on. Also, Harding's still around. Maybe he made copies of Topher's plans, and that at least one other Dollhouse may have been working on the Imprint Gun. A lot can happen in ten years. Boyd was right, though, about how technology can change the world, and sometimes destroy it.

"The Hollow Men" is more like a bridge between the present day and the series finale, "Epitaph Two: Return", set in 2020. That's why the plot was a bit rushed, and there was a lot of backstory and exposition to be explained. It's to be expected, since this was filmed just after Fox decided to cancel the show after 13 episodes. Joss Whedon had a lot to say about technology and moral choices, but not enough time to say it.
The final episode on January 29th will see if the destroyed can defeat the destroyers, and if Echo winds up as a savior after all.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Recap of Dollhouse "Getting Closer", or Meet Caroline Farrell

Remember when this show was all about a girl who could be anyone but herself, and the FBI agent who's determined to save her and destroy the evil organization that has imprisoned her?
As Dollhouse prepares to be foreclosed by Fox, it has become a very different place. The girl has become more than just herself, or what she used to be. The agent is now a Doll, and the boss wants to destroy those she works for. That last fact would surprise even her.
This week's episode, "Getting Closer" looks at the connection between Bennett Halverston and Caroline, how the truth is a little different than what Bennett remembers, and the scariest secret about Rossum itself.

We start "three years ago" (let's say 2007), where Caroline has infiltrated an office by using her charms on a security agent. We find out it's Adelle DeWitt's office. While she handcuffs the guy to a pipe, she gets her own file, and that of a brainy girl who apparently could "kill me with your brain" (hello, Firefly fans). The girl, of course, is Bennett, and she seems to be very important to the company. She tells him she's no thief...but she is a terrorist who thinks Rossum is out of control.
Advance to now, or actually where we left off in "The Attic". Team Echo is there, including Paul, Adelle, Boyd, Sierra, Victor, Topher and Ivy. Echo recaps what they have to do: find Caroline's memory wedge, and put it in her. That way, they can find out what Caroline learned about who was the person who betrayed Clyde Randolph and advanced Rossum towards making the whole world a Dollhouse. Finding him or her is what counts. Ivy's not sure about putting a real person's memories into Echo, considering Echo doesn't want to be what she was. She could wind up confused, insane, or Alpha 2.0. Still, they have to do this.
Echo talks to Paul, saying they haven't talked since he was brain dead. He noted she's died in a way, too.
One problem: Caroline's wedge is missing. There's a backup, but it's damaged, thanks to Alpha. Want to bet he took the original, too?

Back to 2007, we see Bennett at Tuscon Tech, on a Rossum scholarship. She's looking for a place to have lunch, but Caroline chases away two obnoxious blonds at a table by pretending to vomit due to bad bisque. That's what those girls get for thinking Bennett was a waitress. Looks like Bennett and Caroline will be pals after this.
Then we see Echo look at Caroline's video yearbook, like the one in "Ghost". Adelle notes Caroline looks so innocent, but she's left a trail of unhappiness and a few bodies. She's worse than evil, Adelle says...Caroline is an idealist.
Interesting point, but what about your ideals, Adelle? Is your ideal being a model employee at Rossum, running a Dollhouse that fulfills the needs of the rich and powerful? Did you do this because Rossum is still doing good things thanks to what they learned about imprinting brains? Is that your ideal, or your excuse, or really your explanation? Caroline is a wrecking crew because she knows Rossum's dark side, which is making anyone a doll that the rich and powerful, or Rossum itself, can play with. Why else would they make a senator? Remember, the events involving Caroline and Bennett take place three years before, about the time Rossum "improved" Daniel Perrin to make him the senator of its dreams.

Well, Echo says she's glad the wedge is gone, and suspects people think she took it because she likes herself as she is now. As for now, Echo and Caroline may have the same body, but they are two distinct people.
At the imprint room, Topher tries to program an Active in the Washington D.C. office. Bennett, in D.C., catches them, but Topher succeeds. The Active grabs Bennett, while Paul arrives with Victor. One gingersnap (the word, that is, to disable the Active) later, they're on their way back to Los Angeles. They do stop to bring November/Mellie back, too. Bennett snipes at Adelle, even at how her Actives roam like free-range chickens. Hey, what's better than organic Actives?

When Topher meets Bennett, it's clear his crush for her is still strong, and it kind of hinders their goal to fix the backup wedge. She flatly refuses, despite Adelle's subtle threats. Once Topher praises her skills, and uses his own geeky charms, she starts to reconsider...for the challenge. Topher and Bennett make a cute romantic couple. They almost kiss, but then he implies the wedge Bennett has to fix has Caroline's personality. Apparently that led to her punching him in the face, because he said so in a later scene. Instead of seeing Bennett's anger, we go back to 2007, where Caroline gives Bennett a treatment, or rather a makeover. Bennett likes the attention, and even wishes she were more like Caroline. It would be a cool college friendship if not for the fact Bennett works for the enemy.
Later, we see Boyd coming home to....Dr. Saunders. Apparently she and Boyd are close, and she has the confidence to return as the doc. Not bad for someone who used to be the top Active.

Just as Dr. Saunders starts to mend Topher, it's back to 2007 when the then-security chief Laurence Dominic tells Adelle (in a hairstyle she should have kept) that some security footage was deleted three months ago, and that two files are missing. Basically, it was Caroline, and Adelle seems to be familiar with her. She also learns Caroline is rooming with Bennett, who seems to be pegged to be a major figure at Rossum. So, it's off to Tucson, where Rossum is headquartered.
Speaking of Bennett, she confronts Caroline with the fact she has her file. What makes Bennett mad is that Caroline wouldn't confide in her. What's more surprising is that Caroline admits she wants to bring Rossum down because they're out of control...and Bennett asks if she can help. This is a surprise because she doesn't ask Caroline for proof Rossum is evil. After all, Rossum's the reason why Bennett's in school.

Back to 2010, Echo looks at Bennett, who's locked up. Echo notes that some people can't believe she's a real person, not even Paul when he tried to help her. That's why she doesn't want Caroline back into her to "reclaim" her body. Boyd notes that won't happen because she built herself from scratch. Not bad for an Active. He even says Caroline may be proud of her, once the two egos meet.
Later, she sends Victor and Sierra away, so they can spend at least one night together. She points out it's going to be a war, and they may lose a lot when it gets bad. Them, Dominic emerges from the Attic, dressed like he's from the cast of Tron. He says that the original Clyde Randolph (former co-founder of Rossum) is dead, and the company is now after them.
Adelle is forced to take action, including "firing" the Actives. She must also send back Dominic to the Attic, and move the battle to Tucson.

Another flashback to Rossum Central in Tucson, They're ready to blow up a building, until Caroline finds a hidden room. Bennett tells her not to go, because if you get curious, you get dead. Ask any cat. Caroline goes in, and sees three people encased behind glass. One opens his eyes and sings opera. She tries to abort the mission, but the bombs go off.

Back in 2010, Paul is surprised that Echo agrees with Adelle that Dominic has to go back to the Attic. Paul says "I don't know you anymore", which is true because forgetting her was the only way to save him. However, he has Mellie back. She's happy to see him, programmed or not. She turns to Echo, thinking she's Caroline, and said Paul never gave up looking for her. She agrees.
Adelle then meets with Clive Ambrose, who's got plenty of people ready to help him take over, and toss her out. Well, a few bullets from Boyd eliminates the problem. As Adelle sees the rug is done for, she also sees Boyd is, too. He's been shot.

Back in Tucson 2007, Caroline sees Bennett is trapped, her left arm pinned by a large tower. Caroline is unable to get her out. She sees Adelle and Dominic are coming. So, according to Bennett, she was deserted. However, the real story is that Caroline decided to give herself up, and save Bennett from Rossum's wrath.
In 2010, both Echo and Bennett meet. Echo diffuses the conflict by pointing out she doesn't want to be Caroline again. She only wants to know what she knows. After that, Bennett can do what she wants with Caroline, such as what she did in "The Left Hand."

Adelle figures Ambrose may have imprinted himself in at least one other body, in case he got killed. So, to give Boyd time to run, she'll tell Ambrose 2.0 what happened. Dr. Saunders, however, has to stay. We then see that tearful farewell they shared in "Epitaph One." What happened in that episode has to happen again, and that includes what's coming next week.

So, Bennett fixes the wedge, and she and Topher share a painful kiss. He's still smarting from her punching him. Their romantic moment looks geeky, but it's still better than all of Leap Year...and All About Steve...and The Ugly Truth...and When In Rome...well, you get the idea.
As Topher goes to find a part, Dr. Saunders suddenly shows up. She admits she is surprised Topher can actually have a crush on someone, even Bennett. She's so surprised....she shoots Bennett in the head, with Topher seeing the bloody tragedy.
Maybe this started the madness.
Paul thinks that maybe Rossum turned Dr. Saunders into a sleeper agent, and programmed her to kill Bennett. I'm not so sure. First, did Rossum have any idea Bennett would betray the company? She virtually had control of the D.C. Dollhouse, which means it were certain she'd be part of their new vision. I think Dr. Saunders killed Bennett because of jealousy. Remember, she tried to seduce Topher in "Vows", thinking that is what he wanted. Maybe seeing Topher with another girl was too much for her to bear. Now that she's killed someone, where will she go next?

Another flashback: Adelle confronts Caroline, saying she is upset her little stunt forced her to go to Tucson. "I loathe Tucson," she hisses. Then she gets a phone call from the head of Rossum, who wants to talk to Caroline. She goes. Adelle does not.

In 2010, the good guys at Rossum are trapped, as the Rossum Army closes in. Topher is still shaken by what he has seen, and wonders if Bennett could be saved. Not this time. Ivy wants to stay, but Topher pulls himself together to tell her to go. He tells her that she has an incredible brain that should stay in her head. His one piece of advice: "Don't become me."

Adelle is also told to go just as she sees the Rossum troops close in, She laments they keep breaking windows she just replaced, but she goes. Now, all that are left are Paul, Mellie, and Topher. He gets the wedge ready to go as one of Rossum's killers show up. He fakes being Bruce Lee long enough for Boyd to come back and kill the assassin.
Now Echo has Caroline's head inside her. She remembers going into the office of the president of Rossum....a quiet and polite guy who looks like Elijah Wood. He calls himself Clyde Randolph the second, and that he uses other bodies. He says he's quite impressed with her. His partner agrees. His partner....Boyd Langton??
Uh, if that's true, maybe Boyd did a little "improvement" on Saunders' brain when she wasn't looking, and made her a sleeper? If so, that must have been recent if he knew what Bennett was up to.
Well, in 2006, Boyd Langton and Clyde Randolph 2 are together, running Rossum, and they offer Caroline a proposition. She won't be harmed. In fact, she can help a lot of people. She's won't be a typical Active. They know that.
She is very skeptical about this. Should she trust these guys?
"With your life," Boyd says.

Leave it to Tim Minear to give us a story that changes the game, field, players, rules, stadium and league. He also did a good job fitting one of the clips from "Epitaph One" into the overall story.

We see that Echo is a real person, made from scratch through experience and technology. She has improved herself from what she used to be. Again, Echo and Caroline are two distinct people. However, can they be the best of both worlds, and merge? If so, would we get something better, or Alpha 2.0, which is even worse. Judging from what we saw of Echo in "Epitaph One", it's a good guess Echo stayed while her old self is still in a wedge. Thus, Echo will meet Caroline again, only she'll be a small girl who used to be Iris. How we'll get there is what happens next week. The point is, Echo is real, and she wants that to be recognized.
We also know that most of the crew will somehow survive, but what about November? We didn't see her in E-1, except in a photo.
The biggest tragedy, though, will be Topher Brink. He started as a snarky know-it-all, but has grown into a mad scientist who grows a conscience. We also see that it won't be guilt that drives him mad. It will be a broken heart.

Next week, it will be the invasion of the Hollow Men. We have to accept they will win, because that's how we got to the world of "Epitaph One". The final victory may have to wait.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Team Echo Is Ready....To Lose

A new year has started, and it means the beginning of the end for Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.
It looks like the Dollhouse in Los Angeles is going to overthrow its mother company, Rossum, now that it knows the technology it has will lead to world-wide slavery, and an apocalypse that was illustrated in the DVD episode, "Epitaph One."
Too bad Team Echo is meant to lose.
After all, we've been told the events of "Epitaph One" must happen. We're supposed to have a small group of freedom-fighters trying to keep their own voices, now that nearly all of civilization has collapsed.
So, let's look at what is likely to happen:

We know Adelle Dewitt pretended to sell her soul to Rossum to get her job back at the Dollhouse, from giving Matthew Harding Topher's Turn Anyone Into An Active Ray
to sending Echo to the Attic. She's now aware the first decision was a very bad idea and the second will make up for it by discovering the company's deepest secrets. We also know Paul Ballard had to be Active-ized to save his life after Alpha fried his brain, while D.C. Dollhouse programmer Bennett Halverston has turned Madeline Costly/Mellie back into November, and will likely use her to kill Echo because Bennett blames her for losing her left arm.
On top of all this, Echo says she wants too get her old memories back as Caroline Farrell, so we can see who she really was, and whether Bennett may have a point.
The main goal, however, is to find out who or what betrayed co-founder (and now Attic prisoner) Clyde Randolph that led to the imprinting of people, and Rossum's real goal of taking over the government from the inside, thanks to Senator Ken, I mean Daniel Perrin.

Whatever happens, three moments have to happen, all from the DVD-only episode (thank Fox for that), "Epitaph One":

1. Dr. Claire Saunders helping Boyd escape the Dollhouse, apparently after she left the place in "Vows"
2. Clive Ambrose downloading himself into Victor's body, and in the other Dollhouses world-wide, to signal the company's final phase towards world domination
3. Echo and Paul become the new vigilantes for civilization, while Topher is insane because of the guilt of what has been done. The other Actives have gathered, hoping they will keep their true selves, while Adelle may be facing a bullet.

So, it's safe to say the bad guys win at the end of "The Hollow Men". When "Epitaph Two" plays out on the 22nd, though, that victory may not last.
There's also speculation on who will be the Last Actives Standing. I'm hoping our Freedom Fighting group of Mag, Zone and Iris/MiniEcho come out OK, along with Sierra and Victor, or Priya and Anthony. After that, it could go either way.
The beginning of the end is just hours away.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Quick note about "Demons"

I did see the first episode after seeing David Tennant's last act as Doctor 10.
I think the show should have made one change to get a second season:
turn it into "The Equalizer" because Philip Glenister stole this show big time, even with a terrible American accent. You can still keep the two teens, Luke and Ruby, but make them potentials rather than the "star".
Somebody called this the "poor man's 'Sanctuary'", only because it uses real sets, not CGI. Somehow that's better. I may come back towards the end, but it should have been more about Rupert than the teen demon hunters.
Also, throw in the fact the mom knew from the start, which surprises Rupert, and you may have something here. Also, add more info about the group Rupert works for.
I'll probably come back towards the end of this run, but I liked "Being Human" much better than this, and the sooner that show comes back, the better.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Why I'm Not Using Logo as My Buffy Fix

As some of you may know, only because this hasn't been mentioned a lot by anyone, Logo and MTV will start showing episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer every day. Logo has started a New Year's marathon by looking at most of season 2, where we were introduced to Spike and Drusilla, a new Slayer, and the first major defeat Buffy suffered by losing Angel.
Great start, huh? After that, you'd think they'd start from the beginning once they start daily airings of the show.
Well, no. According to the Logo Online website, this week will feature "Hush", "Once More With Feeling", "Dead Things", and "Dopplegangland".
All great episodes, but wouldn't it be better if we saw them in order?
Hopefully, Logo will do this eventually, but it would have been a better idea to do it that way starting Monday. At least FX did that.
On the other hand, the Logo Online website does allow you to see full episodes online, including "Hush" and "Once More..."
MTV is also supposed to start showing Buffy every day, starting with a marathon next weekend. No word yet on how they'll handle the series, but at least it's a chance for people to see what good teen horror drama can be, especially if it's funny on purpose.
After all, there are still some people allergic to DVD's. Why not have someone on cable keep airing a TV show that a lot of other shows are trying to live up to...such as a British show that features a teenage boy who's suddenly told his family's business is vampire hunting.
I'll get to that Sunday.