Archive for the 'sci-fi' Category

The looooost episoooooode

Watching the unaired 13th Dollhouse episode on the just-released DVD cemented my anticipation for season two.

(For those who haven’t seen it, I’ll let you know when the spoilers begin.)

It seems to be pretty much the consensus that the second half of Dollhouse’s first season was more “Joss-y” than the first half, possibly/probably because FOX took a step back. It hit its groove, started asking bigger questions, making bigger revelations, and still delivered its best stand-alone episode all season (“Haunted”, when the woman had prepared to be an imprint so she could solve her own murder…all kinds of awesome; I watched it twice). But still missing was the sort of overall theme or mission statement of the show. As viewers we’d heard many characters raise questions about the purpose and/or morality of the Dollhouse, but these eloquent speeches hadn’t resulted in much more than indignation or defensiveness. The ideas weren’t advancing the plot.

Now, maybe, we’re getting somewhere. Watching ep 13 is odd, though, like watching Dollhouse filtered through the mind of the creators of Lost. We’re in the future, then the not-future, then between the future and the not-future….oy.


In 2019, LA is ravaged. Gradually we come to understand that a technological mistake or revolt is the cause. Felicia Day (woo!) and a band of other refugee-types search for a safe place to stay. They’ve got a pre-adolescent girl in tow. Her father is behaving like an imprint-less doll. I’m not alone in asking that universal sci-fi fan question: what the frak is going on?

Imprints have gone rogue, and wireless. Bodies can apparently be taken over without warning. “Actuals” (those who are in their original bodies with original personality) tattoo themselves to prove a point, run away from “Butchers” who seem awful like the Earth-version of Joss’s Reavers. It’s scary. And it’s all the Dollhouse’s fault.

Somewhere in that mid-time-space, we see our cast of favorite Dollhouse employees. Dr. Saunders/Whiskey has finally agreed to have her facial scars fixed, which might have something to do with the fact that she seems to have fallen in love with Boyd. He’s setting forth to run away somewhere, away from the danger, promising he’ll send for her. Sometime previous, a rich man lets Adelle know his intention to keep downloading his personality into new bodies, willing or not, to achieve immortality. Her objections seem desperate. Sometime after that, Topher is, quite simply, a mess. Adelle acts a mother towards him as he spews forth a jumble of nonsense and deep philosophical questions, forgetting and then concluding again that he was the one who came up with whatever idea it was that set forth all this chaos in the first place. Sierra and Victor know who they really are. She wants to love him like they did before, but that is over. He demonstrates how he cares for her still by showing where he stashed copies of the original hard-drive-saved personalities of their generation of dolls, should something happen. Something bad, unknown, has already happened to November, though maybe not the November we know. Then Caroline and Paul show up to rescue everyone.

It’s a lot to follow.

It’s also more engaging than any previous episode, even though you can see how the show can go on without ever considering this episode to be part of the continuity. Put simply: we don’t know whether this is the future, or just one possible future. And we have no idea how long it might take for us to find out (Caroline on waking in Iris’s body: “2019??“).


Things I do know: while I still have issues with the actor, Topher’s character has grown on me, and his purpose besides being resident techno-geek is becoming clear. Olivia Williams as Adelle is wondrous. I want as much Amy Acker as possible. And the bigger themes of this organization in Joss’s imagination will make for more compelling TV than the everyday minutiae. Though I will watch any amount of minutiae if it involves Victor acting suave and/or having his shirt off. Mmmmm.

I imagine people should be able to follow season two whether or not they’ve seen “Epitaph One”. But I also imagine Joss knows that the majority of his fans will seek it out before season two begins. And that’s a day to look forward to.

P.S. The DVD also contains Joss’s unaired version of the first episode of the series. I sort of think it’s a lot better than the one that actually aired. I also think I don’t know whether that opinion’s biased, since knowing what comes in the rest of the season kept me from possibly being confused while watching. Still, I implore all future people who work with Joss: just trust the guy.


Other projects:

Downton Gabby: podcasting about Downton Abbey from a funny, foul-mouthed, feminist perspective

Quick Lit: reading one short story a day in 2015

Grand Dames: collecting sundry achievements of admirable women

The MacGuffin: archive of my days as a film critic

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