Saturday, 23 January 2010

Recap: Dollhouse – Epitaph One

In preparation for next week’s second Epitaph I thought I would repost this. Below this short discussion on the first Epitaph you will find links to each of the expanded flashback posts.

I just finished watching episode 13 of series one of Dollhouse and snapshot(17)seriously, we’ve seen Joss being ambitious before, but this is on a scale we’ve never seen!      

10 years on and the imprinting technology has gone wireless. The entire population of the world can switch bodies whenever they want, become who they want, what they want. That was the motto of the Dollhouse, giving people what they wanted, what they needed, children, playing with matches, burnt down the house…

At first I was a little sceptical as it appeared Felicia Day would be spearheading the episode and although I loved Dr. Horrible, she, in my mind, was the weak link. Then we had a flashback and I felt cheated, I couldn’t believe that Joss was daring to do a clip snapshot(18)episode, but then again, this is Joss and he doesn’t do things the same way normal people do…

The story follows Mag, (Felicia) and her team. They are actuals, people who are still themselves. Since the imprinting technology went wireless no one can really know who they are. Actuals tattoo themselves with their names so that they will know if they forget who they are. Mag’s team have dedicated themselves to resisting the new order and saving as many as they can in the process. They eschew technology and fear it.

The team has liberated a small girl and her father, although her father is a vacant shell who the team intend to put down. They quickly hole up in an underground bunker that we recognise as the Dollhouse. After finding the chair they imprint the little girl’s father with a series of memories that tell the story of what snapshot(23)happened to the world, of how it all began in the Dollhouse with a scientist called Topher.

The list of memories appears to have been specifically compiled by someone, maybe Topher, Dewitt or Caroline, so that anyone who comes after may learn the truth. As we enjoy these cleverly crafted flashbacks (which give us a sneak peak into where the show is going without giving us a timeline to reference it by)

Mag’s team are picked off, one by one, by none other than the little girl, who it turns out was a spy, sent to kill those who resisted. However, Zone, another member of the team, is too quick for her, slamming her tiny child-like body into the snapshot(19)imprinting chair and downloading a copy of Caroline’s personality into the little girl.

After a quick skirmish the team leaves with Caroline, heading to a place know only as “Safe Haven”. Doof… Joss Whedon…

That in and of itself makes Epitaph One a very interesting episode, but it’s the flashbacks that ultimately make this episode mind-blowing in the scope of its ambition. The title itself tells us more than maybe we realise at first. Epitaph, is defined as “A brief literary piece commemorating a deceased person.” In this case it’s not a person but the show itself. This episode is a hint about snapshot(22)where Dollhouse would have gone if it had not been cancelled. (It hasn’t been cancelled yet but it looks doubtful that it will last to the point at which Epitaph One is set in 2019) A kind of commemorative statement about Joss’s vision for the show, a vision which seems to be constantly under fire from fans and critics alike. The second half of the title, One, seems to suggest that that season 2 will end with Epitaph Two, meaning part 2, because Epitaph One is only part of a larger story arc. 

So this episode tries to be what Serenity is to Firefly, the conclusion that we will ultimately never see because of the fickle, capitalistic nature of  television, and like Serenity, Epitaph One leaves the story open enough to continue, while offering enough answers to satisfy the fans. It is an amazingly clever mix of conclusion and intrigue that only Mr. Whedon knows how to achieve. It would be a dire blow to the future of intelligent snapshot(20)television if we lose Joss’ talent and if we do not continue to cherish his genius, we will!

Now you may notice that I didn’t mention any of the flashbacks, well, that’s because I wish to talk about those in my daily nibbles, which will actually give me more space to give them the analysis they deserve.

So for now, this has been My Two Cents, make sure to pick up your copy of Dollhouse season 1 for your chance to witness the brilliance of Epitaph One for yourself.

You can check out the Epitaph One flashbacks here:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

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