Dollhouse 2.13 “Epitaph Two: Return” Recap

Speechless, angry, joyful, confused, and heartbroken. If you experienced all of these feelings then you have just watched a Joss Whedon series finale.

If you take a look back at my wish list for what I wanted from the Dollhouse finale, you will see that I got only two and half of my wishes, but one big revelation made up for the other ones in abundance. All in all, I enjoyed tonight’s episode, but I have seen and heard of others that did not. That’s OK, too, because this wasn’t an ending for everyone. I mean, in my eyes, the ending of The Sopranos does not hold a candle to the epic ending of Angel. The latter was the one I was screaming at when I saw the credits appear all of a sudden. But without further adieu. I give you, Dollhouse – “Epitaph Two: Return”…

The Set Up: 2020

Our survivors from “Epitaph One,” who include Zone (Zack Ward), Mag (special guest star Felicia Day) and Iris/Caroline (Adair Tishler) are ambushed by a crowd of “butchers” while collecting water. As they drive, they mention how they don’t have much gas and that Iris/Caroline can’t remember the exact location to Safe Haven. Zone lets his feelings be known that he doesn’t think anything can be done to save the world, but Iris/Caroline believes that they can. The trio reaches what looks like an empty barn area, but are captured as soon as the disembark their vehicle by armed men.

They are taken to Neuropolis, which used to be Tucson, and are put in a cell in the old Rossum building as “merchandise”. Iris/Caroline mentions that Safe Haven and Neuropolis are practically neighboring areas and that her camp used to get vaccine and techs from raids on the building. Upstairs, we realize that Harding and Ambrose have imprinted themselves in new bodies. Harding’s body has gotten so fat that he is in the market for a new one. The guards bring in muscled guys in chains. As Harding inspects the “merchandise”, he notices one of them look familiar… Of course. It’s PAUL!!!!

“Harding” flips when “Ambrose” says that they captured Paul with a girl. Uh-oh for him. Hell YES for us!

In the cell, the guards come and fall into Echo’s trap and she takes out all of them. “Harding” shows up and he and Echo exchange insults, one of which involves “Harding” asking Echo if she ever thought that if she had not of cut the head off of the snake (Rossum) that the tech wouldn’t have gotten out of control. Hmmm… He mocks Echo about her killing him, because his personality is backed up. She offs him anyway. While tending to a wounded woman, Echo and Iris/Caroline meet. Meanwhile, Paul finds Topher, who has lost his mind. Turns out that Rossum shot a person in front of him everyday that he didn’t build the tech they wanted. That’s all kinds of frakked up. Echo tries to get through to Topher, who reveals that he can build tech to “bring back the world”. Let’s get this man a lab, people! STAT!!!!!

Safe Haven

Safe Haven is actually a barn where everyone is planting, sowing, and plowing to keep the food supply steady. In the middle of the garden is our dear Adele DeWitt, rocking a Sarah Connor look and the couture fashion a thing of the past. But it’s who’s with her that has me in glee: a little Asian kid, whose name is “T”. After Adele shows him some edible strawberries in bloom, he runs into the house and shows his mom: Priya.

YESSSSSSS!!!!!!

Later, the group sits for dinner, but I notice that 1) Tony is nowhere in sight, 2) that there is more than one house for the Safe Haven crew, and 3) Adele still has some snobbish standards about her. But that’s the least of our worries as Paul, Echo, Zone, Mag, and Iris/Caroline enter the house. They got Topher, which seems to make Adele’s entire life. See? Tight family here.

The gang then gives a rundown on Rossum’s plans and how they are going to counter them. Rossum wanted Topher to build a “pulse bomb” that could wipe the remaining humans. Why would they do that and risk themselves being a part of that equation? I don’t know. The crew then announce that according to Topher, they can reverse that tech and replace everyone back to their original identities. Downside to that plan? It means that people could forget everything past their mind wipe, for Priya that means forgetting T. Another problem is that Topher needs a certain type of tech… which can only be found back at the L.A. Dollhouse. Womp womp. If the pulse bomb works then the imprinted Dolls will have to stay underground till it wears off so they won’t get wiped in the process.

The group needs Zone and Mag to help out by being guides since they know the area well, but Zone is not for dying for an untested theory. While he rants, there is a sound and a huge ass truck from the world of Mad Max appears outside the house with soldiers who look like they just escaped from New York. They have shields, gear and shards of metal in their heads and faces. One guy stands out, speaks Russian, then he switches his tech to English.

Damn, TONY what happened to you?!??!

The Road To Nowhere

Tony and Paul talk about Tony’s methods, which the Safe Haven group doesn’t care for. Tony spots one of the tech heads showing T how they download tech to their heads. He orders the guy to go do something and leave T be. Later, Tony, who has now taken on the Victor persona, chews the dude out, whose name is Romeo, for showing the tech to T. Back in the house, Priya is livid that Echo called Victor and his cronies, because she doesn’t like what they stand for and is trying to shield T from their ways. Echo explains that they need Victor to get back in to the Dollhouse so they can stop the horror around them. Priya makes it known that she doesn’t want to go. Meanwhile, Zone apologizes to Mag for his behavior and is ready to help out. We also learn that Mag has an eye for one of the female tech heads, Kilo (Maurissa Tancharoen).

On the bus, which contains all the tech heads, the Epitaph One survivors, and the L.A. Dollhouse camps, we get to see each faction communicate with each other. Iris/Caroline and Adele marvel over Topher’s genius, while Zone gets wigged out by Kilo. He (as do we) learn that the tech heads use USB drives of different skills to upload tech into their brains when they need them. They can’t hold all the tech like Echo does and have to eject certain techs for others to fit. Hmmm… Interesting.

Priya and Victor catch up and we see that things didn’t work out for them, except for T. The relationship seems like it ended in bitter tears. From the looks of things, Tony left three years ago and returned as Victor, because he really thought that the tech would help them. Priya is bitter that she has to take T to the one place she didn’t want him to see in order to retain the memories she will have of raising him. T doesn’t even know that Tony/Victor is his father, which is something Priya and Tony decided on together earlier. They continue to argue over who said what and what went wrong and it breaks my heart to see this couple at odds with each other. Will they make up by hour’s end?

Meanwhile, Echo is fidgety and nervous. Paul notices and tries to calm her down, but its not working. She asks Paul why does he think everything will be peachy after they send out the pulse. Paul answers that Echo won’t have to fight anyone else’s battles anymore and that scares her. Echo surmises that Paul thinks he knows her, but Paul said that its not a claim and that he would know her if she would just let him in. They reveal that they have been intimate a few times in light of death, but that’s it. Paul then says that he thinks that its ironic that Echo has over 100 people in her head, but is still alone. Deep… That’s deep…

Toy Soldiers

The group makes a plan to enter the Dollhouse and as soon as they arrive outside the place, they are shocked to find that the butchers have either multiplied or just been hiding. They leave the safety of the vehicle and make their way to the Dollhouse entrance. They shoot, fight, and kill butchers along the way. After they get Topher, Adele, Iris/Caroline, Priya and T underground, Paul tells the rest of them to follow pursuit. In the process, Mag’s legs are shot up! Paul runs back to get her, but is SHOT IN THE MOTHAFRAKKING HEAD!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Echo, clearly hurt but toughs it out, calls for Zone to get Mag and tote her back. They then enter the Dollhouse. Damn, Paul…

The group convenes outside the hole into the Dollhouse. Zone tells them that the last time they were there, that butchers had infiltrated the place and that they need to be careful going in. Echo and Tony/Victor enter the rabbit hole first to find…

The Dollhouse fully operational and running with Dolls as before.

Huh?

As the two marvel at this, they are approached by…ALPHA (special guest star Alan Tudyk)!!!!!! Then they give him hugs.

HUH?!!?!?

Seems that Alpha joined forces with them at times, but Echo thought they lost him in Reno. But Alpha made his way back to the Dollhouse and made it his own. I’m still confused, but OK! Alpha asks about Paul, but is shocked to find out that Paul was taken down not even fifteen minutes earlier.

Adele and Echo try to get Topher to tell them where the tech is, but he isn’t making any sense whatsoever. They ponder if there was anything at the Dollhouse that Topher needed to begin with, but they are ambushed by the tech heads who don’t want to return to their old selves!!! They aim their guns at Topher, ready to shoot, asking for more imprints to help them become unstoppable. Tony/Victor walks in with Alpha and they try to talk down the tech heads. When Tony/Victor lets them know that he is not down with their plan, they aim the gun at him. This is when Alpha and Echo attack, disarming and taking out the techies. Whew!

Adele tends to Topher and she mentions that he is tired. Topher then gets an idea and runs to the bed chambers, where his bed area from “Epitaph One” sits untouched, thanks to the two schizophrenics in Alpha’s head. Adele realizes then that Topher didn’t come back for the tech, but for an idea.

In another room, Priya gleefully destroys the techs that the techies had, all while claiming that Tony/Victor would be back for them. She also feels that Tony/Victor wouldn’t have been able to take out Echo to retrieve the tech anyway. Echo, meanwhile, tries to keep her composure as she tells Priya that she is wrong. When Priya doesn’t listens, Echo snaps and berates Priya for not seeing that the love Tony has for her is not on a memory stick. It’s there in his brain, always was and always will be no matter what. Then Echo loses it and combines Priya’s problems with her own as she finally deals with Paul dying and never telling him that she loved him. It’s a powerful scene and if anyone still thinks Eliza Dushku can’t act after that, then I feel sorry for you.

The Return

In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the night, Topher watches a video of Bennett (special guest star Summer Glau) explaining the concepts of Imprinting. Topher gets his info and the group is now ready to set the pulse off. Topher babbles that the pulse needs to be on a higher platform, which could be Adele’s office, and that the pulse will cause a sort of explosion. Adele becomes worried, because Topher said that the pulse had to be set off manually… No. No. NO NOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Topher says its a small price to pay, because he didn’t want to cause any more pain. FFWWWWT!!!! That’s an arrow going into my heart!!!! Later as Topher builds the “pulse bomb”, Adele tells Topher that he doesn’t have to do it alone. Topher says he has to fix their heads and that Adele needs to fix the rest of them and that her job is the hardest.

Meanwhile, Tony is burning all of his tech when Priya walks up with T and introduces the two as father and son. Tony reveals his name to his son, who responds first by saying that his name is Tony as well and then asks his father if he could help burn stuff. Priya stands by crying as Tony and Tony Jr. burn the past.

Zone and Mag give their goodbyes since Zone wants to be there when Iris finally becomes her original self. Mag begs for Zone to be a positive role model to the kid. Zone then asks Mag what was she before The Wipe. Mag answers a student of sociology at UC Berkley and Zone reveals he was a landscape architect. Hmmm….

Adele and Echo discuss the others, which include Alpha, who left because he wanted to be wiped, but Echo says that he won’t, because he has evolved. Adele then says she will lead the other Dolls out into the pulse, then plays with the irony that the last fantasy Echo fulfills for the Dollhouse is her own. Echo responds that she doesn’t have any fantasies, which Adele remarks is a pity. Before Adele departs, she tells Echo that Alpha said to dismantle all of the tech in the building, starting with the Imprint Chair.

The last couple of scenes feature montages of Adele leading the Dolls, Zone and Iris out the Dollhouse and Topher building the device in Adele’s office. Topher finally gets the thing to start up. He turns around and notices the memory board on the wall. He looks at it, notices something and says, “Hmmm…” Then the place goes up and the pulse is sent.

Out on the street, the Dolls all collapse with Adele and Zone still standing, then slowly they all start to wake up, their personalities all replaced. Iris wakes up and ask Zone what’s going on and he tells her it will be all right…

Inside the Dollhouse, Echo finds a package in the Imprint Chair with her name on it. It is an Imprint Wedge. She loads it up finds out that it was an Imprint of Paul, who tells her that he has a lot of baggage from childhood and if there is any room. Echo tells him that they have time and space.

Echo then walks from the Imprint Room; past Priya, Tony, and Tony Jr. who are reading; and past Mag who holds a vigil beside Kilo. Echo finally reaches the bed chamber and lays in a pod with only her thoughts… and Paul.

The End…

Wow…

Bravo.

The Final Imprinted Thoughts…

– So guys, it has been one helluva run. The one thing that I didn’t think Joss would do was give us a happy ending of some sorts, but he gave us Happy Endings all around! Except for Topher dying, which sucked, but served the story well. Now on to the good things…

– Priya, Tony, Lil TJ: The introduction of T as the love child of Priya and Tony was excellent. I didn’t expect it and it was a nice twist in their story line. The ten year gap did hell with this development (as well as others), but I thought it came out nicely and it was one of my favorite moments of the night. Who would’ve thought that Tony’s upgrades in the previous episode would be a precusor to this problem? Nice subtle setup… I’m going to miss these two the most.

– Adele and Topher: Sharp contrasts to the people we met last year this time almost. Very heartbreaking performances from both of them and I couldn’t get enough of Adele’s Mother Hen persona. I’m going to miss these two second to Priya and Tony. Fran Kranz gave a great performance and I have never felt so sorry for a TV character as I have for Topher tonight. He had the weight of the world, not only on his shoulders, but his mind as well. But for the love of GOD, what did he notice on the wall?!?!?!

– Paul and Echo: The notion of Echo literally having Paul with her in her head forever might sound too mushy, or stupid, to some people, but this, again, fits the Whedon mold and I bought it and loved it. Eliza Dushku killed that scene where she let loose her emotions about Paul dying.. Very well written and executed by everyone involved. Bravo.

– The Bad Things: 1) Alpha’s sudden appearance and conversion to the side of good. I am still in “Huh?!” mode with that one. 2) The techies going rogue all of a sudden. I would have really loved to see a hint of that somewhere. It just looked forced. Finally, 3) The time frame of everything. In other words, the nuanced plot points such as; the techies and Alpha’s conversion to good, for example, would have been able to be fleshed out if they weren’t rushed into an hour time slot. But we can’t blame Mutant Enemy for that. They had their hands tied.

– What happened to Whiskey? Or even Dominic? These also bothered me a bit. And is bothering more as I think of it…

– The 10 year gap is fodder for a comic book series. Just throwing it out there.

So what do you guys think? Like I said, it’s been one helluva ride and I am thankful and glad for all those who tuned in to the show as well as my recaps. Hope to see or hear from you all again, but for now, I would love to hear your comments.

It’s been real…


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