Fox’s Dollhouse finished its first season about 3 months ago and was released on disc last week. After a rocky start, the series seemed to gain some momentum when Joss Whedon directed a few episodes and Alan Tudyk gave an utterly stellar performance as Alpha. However, I’m pretty sure everyone that had been following the series was still taken by surprise when Fox actually renewed the show for its second season. When I say everyone, that includes the creators of the show. Why else would they make Epitaph One?
If you haven’t read all the hubbub about Epitaph One, it was created as an effective series-ender to give a final farewell after the inevitable show cancellation. When a twist of fate picked up Dollhouse for its second season, Epitaph One was pulled from the TV schedule and appeared likely to become a lost episode. That is until it was slapped on the Season 1 disc set.
Epitaph One is effectively a “What if?” episode, taking place ten years into the future when the world has been torn apart. People have been ‘infected’ on a worldwide scale with the imprint technology that the dollhouse(s) used only a decade earlier to make glorified hookers and super soldiers. Discarding any tech devices for fear of infection, the survivors must stay off the grid and out of the way of the infected.
We follow one of these surviving groups as they stumble into an abandoned dollhouse looking for refuge. Led by two-time Whedon alum Felicia Day, the group discovers the infamous imprint chair and starts embedding memories into a mind-wiped member of the party, looking for answers from the past.
Revealing sporadic events over the last decade, Epitaph One serves as a flash back episode. It’s almost like a bullet-point presentation of some future key turning points regarding both plot and character arcs.
The scope is simply massive, but it plays out rather well. Nearly nothing seems out of place, with the exception of the implied connection between Saunders and Boyd. Everything feels completely natural and really hooked me to see how things pan out in the timeline.
If you had at least a passing fancy for Dollhouse, this is one episode to watch. Granted, it might be a bit of a spoiler if the writers do decide to take the show this route. If I had to say that anything was bad about Epitaph One, it would be only that. Now we potentially know where things are heading, just not how or why they’re getting there.
That remains to be seen. Be sure to tune in for Season 2 of Dollhouse September 25th at 9/8c on Fox.