Wednesday, September 30, 2009

1.13 Epitaph One

Summary and spoilers

There are three immediate surprises as Epitaph One begins: we are viewing the future, or a possible future (the year is 2019); the future is apocalyptic; and Felicia Day is Meg - a gun and walkie-wielding operative. From what we can ascertain from snippets of dialogue, her gang of fugitives is trying to avoid capture and identification in a world where tyranny and Big Brother reign. It’s difficult to tell exactly what is going on; these fugitives speak in a new language laced with words designed for their survival in this hell.

As the team searches for escape from the city, they descend into a seemingly deserted Dollhouse. Insulated from the probes that would wipe their minds, this seems like a safe haven. They examine Topher’s imprinting chair; There is dissent with the group; they are avowed tech-haters, yet team leader Griff wants to test the chair on an older mind-wiped man whom they are escorting (because they also are escorting his daughter). Through this blank slate, we flashback to various scenes from ‘Dollhouse past’:

The Dollhouse powers-that-be became horribly corrupted; they sold the use of the operatives bodies to the highest bidder, denying the operatives from ever having their bodies returned to them, and effectively killing them. DeWitt and Topher are appalled by this, but they also have a narrow choice; either go along with it, or be killed.

The apocalyptic future is one where innocent people are wiped and used as vessels by an immortal class of the very rich. It’s all so believable; is it the natural evolution of Capitalism? But in the Dollhouse universe, at least, there is hope. Caroline has a cure – a block – that can stop the mind-wipe. It has been successfully used to maintain the personalities of Caroline, Victor, and Sierra. She leads the actives toward this Safe Haven – and we are left up in the air about her decision regarding the fate of DeWitt – will Caroline kill her or save her?

Topher reveals a future where remote imprinting (which he invented) was used to convert entire cities into armies of drones programmed to kill anyone who was not programmed to kill. Topher’s mind is gone – and seemingly well past being saved by Caroline, even if she was inclined to try.

Back To The Present:

This seemingly empty Dollhouse of the present is not completely so. One member of the team is attacked and bludgeoned to death by a mystery assailant. Soon, Whiskey shows up with blood-stained hands, but she is not the murderer. She shares useful information on where to find food (the kitchen, of course) and how to get to the fabled Safe Haven (by using the chair to tap memories).

Iris, that little innocent girl, shoots Griff, then makes it seem like her father did it. Zone dispatches the dad and, believing the girl’s innocence, outfits her with her own gun. Zone knew more than he let on; the gun he gave her was empty. When she tries to use it, she reveals that her mind was wiped and she is just another of those programmed killers. Zone tackles her and puts her in the chair to straighten all that out.

Iris is implanted with Caroline’s memories, and Caroline leads Zone and Meg toward Safe Haven.


Ah…it is great to see Felicia Day again – I fell in love with her (her acting, singing, and overbite, that is) in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

I’m impressed by the production values and ambitious scripting of this episode. As seanax stated, this was treated as what would be the last ever episode of Dollhouse. At that time, the odds that it would be renewed were extremely low. Everything was poured into this. Did they leave enough ends open to continue the series? Not a problem – the open-ended Dollhouse concept could branch off almost infinitesimally and still not seem contrived.

Dollhouse Quotes

"Keep your eyes open and your weapons cocked. Paradise wasn’t built to take in strays."
- Griff

Dominic: What if their brains turn to jelly?
Topher: Well, with the obvious exception of yours, the human brain is a massively powerful creature. Underestimating it is usually the last mistake any culture makes.

DeWitt: Mr. Dominic is my eyes and ears.
Topher: Can I be nose and throat?

"Let’s blow this bitch back to the Bush years!"
- Zone

"Millions programmed to kill anyone who’s not programmed to kill anyone."
- Topher

Caroline: Thank you, Whiskey, for helping them find me.
Whiskey: Was I my best?
Caroline: Better.

"I hope we find me alive."
- Caroline as Iris

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