This was the season (maybe series) finale for the best sci-fi show on right now (of course after Battle Star Galactica ended). So what did Joss Whedon have in store for us? An information-packed, thrilling conclusion to quite an excellent first season.
So Echo and Alpha are cruising down the highway with some new clothes, Southern accents, and a hostage tied up in the backseat. They talk about their past with smiles until Alpha shows a different side to himself… well actually a number of different sides. At this point we’re unsure exactly what’s going on, but I was impressed with Alan Tudyk’s ability to act out different personalities in such a maniacal way.
The episode flashes back a lot, showing us the back-story of Alpha when he was an Active and exactly what happened to make him this feared, psychopath. First we see Alpha torturing a client with a silhouette of Alpha’s girlfriend dancing in the background. We’re supposed to believe she’s Echo (I totally did), but when she steps out of the headlights we see it’s actually Dr. Saunders, who goes by the Active name Whiskey! Their handlers go back and they’re brought back to the Dollhouse where we see the past Dr. Saunders, who is an old man. Also, Caroline walks the floor of the Dollhouse with Adelle DeWitt and Alpha shows an immediate interest in her. In fact, he becomes obsessed in a way, placing her above everyone else. He sees her as this special, prized discovery… which is why he attacks Whiskey with scissors when the handlers say how she’s the #1 Active.
So they attempt to send Alpha to the Attic, which fails. Instead, 48 personalities are imprinted into Alpha and then he goes off on his infamous killing spree, which includes a bunch of wedges containing personalities, including his own. The idea of destroying your wedge as a metaphor for committing suicide was pretty neat, in my opinion.
Meanwhile, back at the Dollhouse Agent Ballard agrees to help Langton, DeWitt, and Topher track down Alpha and to save Echo. Ballard reads Alpha’s file and we discover that he was a criminal. The Dollhouse used to function as a bunch of criminals who chose to spend five years as a doll to avoid a lengthy jail term. This makes a lot of sense, at first, until Alpha happened. But it’s noteworthy to mention whether or not the Dollhouse still functions in this way. What kind of trouble was Caroline in that she was constantly running from, which made her agree to a contract at the Dollhouse?
This is where things got a bit confusing for me. Ballard and Langton visited a victim of Alpha’s and find out that Alpha has kept some of his memories before the Dollhouse, leaving him as a criminal with a crapload of other skills and personalities. Meanwhile, Dr. Saunders goes through Topher’s computer and finds out the truth that she’s a doll. Apparently, she had the skills to hack pass Topher’s security, something Alpha couldn’t even do. She confronts Topher saying she understands why she was imprinted as a doctor, but she doesn’t know why Topher programmed her to hate him. This leaves quite a mystery as what connection Whiskey and Topher had in the past.
We then see Alpha, Echo, and the hostage in some bootleg version of the Dollhouse’s imprint station that Topher runs. He imprints the hostage with Caroline’s personality, which completely freaks her out. He then imprints Echo with all of her past personalities and renames her “Omega.” Alpha insists Omega now kills herself, in the hostage’s body. Caroline pleads for her life and then everything backfires against Alpha. Omega (Echo) attacks Alpha instead of Caroline, reassuring that she’s not the psychopath that Alpha was before entering the Dollhouse. This suggests the idea that everyone’s soul outlasts all of the wiping and imprints the Dollhouse does. This is surely another issue that I would love the series to discuss in the future, though that might be wishful thinking.
Alpha is seemingly down and Echo frees the girl up, only to have Alpha shoot the girl in the throat and killing her. He then holds Caroline’s wedge hostage, threatening to destroy her true self. What follows is an action/chase sequence that involves Echo chasing Alpha, and then Langton and Ballard chasing both of them. The scene ends with Ballard catching Caroline’s wedge before it smashes to the ground and Alpha escaping.
The season comes to an end at the Dollhouse. Ballard seems to have struck a deal with Ms. Dewitt. For his assistance at the Dollhouse, an Active was to be released early from her contract and paid in full. Of course we all expected this to be Echo/Caroline, thinking this would be a nice way to end the show in its entirety… but Whedon seems to be anticipating a future for his show. The Active that’s released from Ballard’s request is November. This was an “aww” moment for sure. And then the episode concludes with Echo returning from her treatment, lying down in her pod, and whispers “Caroline.”
This wasn’t my favorite episode of the entire season but it was certainly one of the most important ones. After some thought, the season finale was as strong as it could be. I was a bit underwhelmed with how the loose ends seemed to tie together effortlessly, but now as look back, I realize there are still questions that still linger that could make the possibilities for next season great (if there is one).
There wasn’t much of a cliffhanger from the episode but there are lots of directions Dollhouse could go in. The fact that Alpha is still out there and that Agent Ballard is now working for the organization could spark up a whole new research/cat-and-mouse game. Or maybe Ballard will secretly try to exploit the Dollhouse while on the inside? Also, what about the mole that was inside the Dollhouse? I guess it can’t be Dr. Saunders anymore since she’s a doll, so can it be Topher? Also, what is Victor’s future as an Active after being slashed up by Alpha? Will he get the Whiskey treatment? And how much does Echo remember from all her personalities and past?
All I can say is that, if this is the final episode of Dollhouse and FOX cancels the show… well, it was a good run. Dollhouse proved (after the first five episodes) that it was full of surprises with compelling storylines, important human-interest issues, and sensitivity for the characters on the show. Joss Whedon didn’t disappoint his fans. I really hope that this show is renewed.