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Dollhouse: Omega

Alpha: "I will shoot it. I will blast the wedge."
Echo: "Go blast it. What's stopping you, Edward Scissorpud?"

We got a lot of answers, as well as a lot of intriguing questions. And they still managed to leave us with great possibilities for a second season.

The most intriguing thing was that the demon inside Alpha, the one with the crazed scalpel, was his original self -- an aspiring serial murderer. He destroyed his original self in order to be "free", but the real him never left, did it? The good person still inside of Echo, the original Caroline, was stronger than he was. She beat him. Caroline figuratively and literally climbed the tower and saved herself. Except Paul did ride in and take the credit in the end.

Alpha was after Echo like Victor was after Sierra, only more so, and got set off by that "Bobby and Crystal" cross country crime spree imprint. (That Lars guy deserved whatever happened to him. What a stupid thing to do.) As we all suspected, Claire was the key to a lot of stuff; she was permanently imprinted with the old Dr. Saunders (whose first name, I assume, wasn't Claire) and didn't know she was an extremely popular doll named Whiskey. Loved the thing with Victor and the lollipops. Poor Claire. And poor Victor. I wonder what they'll do to Victor? The same thing they did to Claire? Will he end up permanently imprinted with a security guard, or something?

Paul turned into a prince, after all. I loved that he made them let November go, that he chose her instead of Caroline. It made me like him again. That, and the way he connected with Boyd, like a cop buddy movie. And Paul working as a contractor for DeWitt to find Alpha, in return for November's freedom, was just lovely. What a great set-up for a second season.

I also liked the glimpses of Caroline we got in Wendy, who did a great Eliza Dushku impression. Although if this is the end of the series, I will always believe that the biggest error Joss Whedon made was with the character of Caroline. Twelve episodes, and we still don't know her or truly care about her.

The actual experience of enslavement in the Dollhouse was softened in this episode, oddly enough, giving us the impression that maybe Caroline isn't in such a bad situation, after all. November just woke up moments after "going to sleep", and it was all over. Years gone in a snap, with no recollection of what happened. I can imagine that if I had a prison term ahead, or if I were dealing with horrendous grief (as I imagine November did), a stretch in the Dollhouse would seem like a remarkably pleasant alternative.

Not that I approve, or anything. It's technology trumping humanity, erasing the essence of a human being. Doesn't matter if good things can be done with it. As has been mentioned many times, being a doll is worse than being a slave.

Bits and pieces:

-- Alpha holding a gun to Caroline's "wedge" made me laugh out loud. And I loved the outright obvious tribute to Young Frankenstein. This episode had its fun points.

-- I liked November walking past Paul and calling him "the furniture". And Sierra coming on to him in a very threatening way. Although what was up with imprinting Sierra and November and then not showing them in action? Like a dropped plot thread.

-- November's real name was Madeleine something. Kostly?

-- Claire mentioned Topher programming her to hate him. I don't think he did. That must be the real Claire.

-- If this is the last aired episode, I just wanted to mention that the opening credits show Echo repeatedly looking at an image of herself in the mirror as someone else. Very clever. I keep thinking about it and not putting it in a review. Well, now I have. Better late than never.

Quotes:

Topher: "Who can fathom the mind of a crazy person?"
Claire: "The one who made him crazy, maybe?"

DeWitt: "This is where you'll spend the majority of your non-engagement time."
Caroline: "When does the hankering for tasty brains kick in? These people are zombies."

Ballard: "So this is it. This is where you steal their souls."
Topher: "Yeah. And then we put them in a glass jar with our fireflies."
What a nice shout-out to the fans. Angel and Firefly in one metaphor.

Topher: "I'm smarter than everyone else in this room. But less scary."

DeWitt: "Carl William Craft."
Paul: "Three names. always ominous."

Echo: "New superior people with a little German thrown in. What could possibly go wrong?"

Echo: "I have 38 brains. Not one of them thinks you can sign a contract to be a slave. Especially now that we have a black president."
Wendy/Caroline: "We have a black president? Okay, I am missing everything."

Topher: "What's this? Background singer? Background singer ninja girl? I don't know why Alpha would imprint her as a background singer unless he was starting an evil band."

This episode served well as an intriguing jump-off to a second season as well as a reasonable series finale. Let's hope it's the former instead of the latter, because I feel that Whedon has just begun to explore the possibilities,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

19 comments:

  1. There was a lot I enjoyed about this episode but at the same time I found it a little anti-climatic. I thought it was nice that Ballard was allowed to redeem himself after being such a dick for the past few weeks. If there is a 2nd season will he be Echo’s new handler?

    I also got a massive kick out of Alpha holding a gun to Caroline’s wedge (“I’ll blow your brains out!”:) funniest thing since “Porn!”

    Speaking of the devil, Alpha was just great. Sick, twisted and creepy long before his ‘composite event’. Love that one of his multiple personalities was a multiple personality. Top acting marks for Alan Tudyk.

    Despite my initial disappointment I’ve enjoyed Dollhouse. It’s not without its faults, chiefly among them a weak central character and dodgy potting, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for a second season because so-so Joss Whedon is still better then no Joss Whedon.

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  2. I still have a problem with the timeline for "November" though. If her original personality was back, as if it had really been "just a moment", surely she would still be in the grip of the unbearable grief that led her to take the contract in the first place? Or did they remove the grief for her?

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  3. If her original personality was back, as if it had really been "just a moment", surely she would still be in the grip of the unbearable grief that led her to take the contract in the first place?Having personally been in the grip of considerable grief, I can tell you that I didn't go about in tears 24/7. I did cry a lot for a year. But I still held down a job and functioned. Haven't you done the same?

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  4. Excellent episode, although I do not feel confident about a renewal since the ratings dropped by 2 million viewers from the first episode, although the exact opposite happened with the quality of the show.

    In regards to November and Sierra, I completely agree. I was actually thinking that they would swoop in at the last moment and save Echo, which would have been interesting.

    Also I do think that Topher programmed Claire to
    hate him. My first instinct was that they were siblings? Weird - I know. But maybe he put her in the Dollhouse as a test subject or something.

    Excellent review as always, Billie. =]

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  5. I finally figured out last night what it was about Dollhouse that has bugged me from the beginning:

    No one had any hope for it.

    There's been this rather defeatist quality to both the show and its audience since day 1. I feel like Joss was so expecting the show to be canceled that he didn't get emotionally attached to it. Yes, you read that right. Not the fans, Joss. What's been missing - despite the humor, the intellectual questions, intriguing plots and solid acting - has been heart. It was heart that made Season 1 of Buffy fun(if completely cheesey and uneven), and it was obvious from the beginning that Firefly was his baby.

    And because of that, I think that's why I couldn't quite connect to either the characters or the show, despite actually liking it more than Angel.

    I blame this completely on Fox, and their treatment of Firefly. Obviously that was hard for Joss. Otherwise, why so fatalistic? Chuck, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy, Gossip Girl - those all started out with only 13 eps, but instead of giving up, the creators put everything they had into it. Yeah, it took all these shows time to find their stride, but these shows basically said, "If I don't get renewed, I'm going to have told the story the best that I can." This is why you have millions of people fighting for Chuck, why its on every entertainment magazine's watch list. Its FUN.

    Same thing with Buffy, Angel. Frankly, I did NOT like Angel at all. I watched it diligently, and I enjoyed the eps, but in terms of grabbing me, didn't really do anything for me. But even then, you can tell that Joss invested in the show, because this was before he got stood up at the prom. If the creator doesn't believe in it, the fans won't either.

    I really like Dollhouse. I like that its dark, I loved the acting on this episode, and there are so many possibilities that can be explored, so many things that can be said about human nature allegory-wise. Eliza rocks (even if she can't act) and the rest of the cast has revealed an amazing amount of depth as the series progressed. I want it to survive. But I only want a Season 2 if JOSS believes in it.

    I honestly think having this show on Fox was a bad move for him. Continuing on the prom/relationship analogy, its almost like Joss got stood up, but then got back together with the date that ditched him to make out with his best friend. Not a lot of trust that the relationship would survive, being defensive, etc. Honestly, I sincerely wish that another station - SyFy (despite its retarded name) would be a good fit. If Fox cans it, screw them. Find someone else, Joss - you deserve better - and so do we.

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  6. What a good episode, sort of.

    Serena, I think you might be right about the passion: I would add to your reasoning that in Buffy and Angel, many of the "issues" (feminism, the state of the soul, redemption, etc.) were hidden behind great characters, great stories, and lots of heart. Same with Firefly.

    But Dollhouse is almost like a philosophical puzzle: how do we deal with people who volunteer for mental slavery? The issues take center stage, at the expense of characters, and--yes--heart.

    Switching gears: I think that Topher and Claire used to date. I have no real reason to support this, but I'm stickin' to it. Otherwise, why did he look so sad?

    I do like Dollhouse, and I wish it would continue. But I don't have the fanatical adoration thing happening, at least not yet.

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  7. hahah Topher and Claire didn't date! LOL Dr. Sanders was a old man pffft!

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  8. Good point, Anon. I meant Whiskey before she was wiped--her real self.

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  9. Nothing wrong with men dating men...

    A fairly average season finale for a Joss Whedon show (not taking the 13th ep into consideration of course). My main gripes:

    - Ballard working with the Dollhouse to bring down Alpha made no sense at all. Likewise Adelle wanting him to help. Then Ballard convincing Adelle to let Melly go... and it being implied that Ballard would continue working for the Dollhouse... Wouldn't it be more logical to keep your eyes on the guy who has pledged, only 5mins previously, to bring down the Dollhouse at any cost rather than get him to work for you? Adelle's rationale was that he was an FBI agent and therefore had the capability of finding a criminal on the run (Alpha). But wouldn't it make more sense to imprint a Doll with skills even more superior than Ballard has? Hell, why stop at one doll - why not send an army of them? In episode 11 Adelle was threatening to take Ballard to the Attic... Yet in this episode she goes from allowing him to work alongside Boyd to offering him a freaking job What's with the lazy plotting, Tim Minear?!? I'm sure there are many other ways we could have seen Ballard work with the Dollhouse that would have made more sense.

    - Alpha as a two dimensional bad guy was another example of sloppy writing. What happened to the complex grey villains we're used to from a Whedon show? Alpha not dying/having a proper conclusion reminsced Sylar's similar fate at the end of season 1. I was hoping the character would die - merely cause I don't want to see them again.

    - I too guessed Saunders would be a doll so it was no big surprise. I was hoping that we would get more background info on who she was, but I'm guessing they're waiting to do that in season 2 (if we get a season 2).

    Overall, it was a boring episode. Much like the first 5 or so episodes, I was looking at the time every now and then to see when it would end. I was bored. I've never felt bored in a finale from a Whedon TV show. Argh.

    Excuse the longish rant, needed to vent!

    Love your reviews Billie :). More often than not I either gain a greater insight on the particular episode or I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments.

    (and how awesome is the Lost season 5 finale going to be! :D)

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  10. pretty terrible, all things considered. what a shame.

    it's impossible to have any sympathy for, or care about, any of the characters which just makes it impossible to care about the show...

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  11. Holy cr*p! This just in! Dollhouse was actually RENEWED!!!

    Only for 13 eps, but that's about 13 more episodes that I'd given Fox credit for.

    Hopefully JW will relax into the show now that he's got at least some more time to tell the story, and start building a spectacular new mythos.

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  12. Hey Billie. Any plans on reviewing the 13th ep, "Epitaph 1"? I just finished watching it and thought it was amazing! A far superior season finale :)

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  13. Hey go_banana. Yes, I'm going to review Epitaph 1. The DVD comes out at the end of July.

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  14. Hi Billie - I've been reading and enjoying your reviews for a while now. So thanks

    I just popped into this thread to see if you were going to review Epitaph One but someone beat me to the question

    While I'm here, though, I thought I'd point something about on your review of Buffy's 'School Hard' (there doesn't seem to be a comments section for those reviews). In the inconsistencies section you point out that Spike says Angel is his sire when, in fact, Drusilla is. But just recently I came across all of Joss's old posts at the Bronze and in one of them he explains that he uses 'sire' to mean any ancestor of a vampire. So Spike's sires are Drusilla, Angel, Darla, The Master, whoever turned The Master and so on. And Joss's comment wasn't an excuse after being caught out being inconsistent - he made shortly after 'School Hard'. Anyway, I thought it was very interesting that it wasn't a good after all

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  15. Not the best finale this show could've pulled off. It's improved greatly in weeks but the episode sort of lacked a certain spark.

    Alpha wanting to ascend Echo as Omega felt a let down. Again, why is everyone so fixated with her?

    I did enjoy the scenes with Wendy/Caroline trying to appeal to Echo. Very good actress for that part.

    Alpha escaped. I'm pleased. So we can expect Alan Tudyk in Season 2 then, yes?

    Loved Mellie calling Paul the furniture. Ha. Liked that he got Adelle to release her from her contract.

    Poor Victor wanted reassurance and Claire was harsh with him. She did soften later on.

    I did find the flashbacks with Alpha, Whiskey and Echo very interesting. Damn, Alpha's one mean bastard.

    Topher and Paul, both are annoying but at least Paul was actually trying to be competant for once. I think Boyd somewhat empathises with Paul to a degree.

    Paul working for the Dollhouse. He's done in one year what took the Angel crew four to do. I'm just saying. 7/10

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  16. Omega was great, the opening alone was a tour de force.

    I'm loking forward to season 2.

    Watchng the dvd special features you can see the embattled unit and people clearly being unconfident during the early stages - there are some surprisingly candid featurettes.
    But then you get to see the change when ep 6 rolls around and everyone finds the groove - word from the set apparently is very postitive right now. Huzzah!

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  17. Very good episode and I was sorry that the deleted scene of November and Sierra as bounty hunters (it´s on the special features and the scene is very funny) didn´t make it to the episode.
    I also liked all the flashbacks a lot.

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  18. Jesus, that forced threesome thingy as the opening scene lol. This show can get wild.

    Echo having a conversation with Caroline was really interesting. There's something unsettling about your body being able to ask you why you abandoned it.

    But I want more Claire stuff!

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