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July 28 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the thirteenth episode of Dollhouse. There seems to be a growing consensus that 'Epitaph One' is the best Dollhouse episode to date. What say you?

I think Maurissa and Jed can be proud of themselves. They wrote both the worst and the best episode of the season.

I hope we'll hear more of their music in season two.
I think Maurissa and Jed can be proud of themselves. They wrote both the worst and the best episode of the season.

Heehee, there are people out there saying "Epitaph One" is the best episode since "Stage Fright".
Holy CRAP, what an awesome episode. And so many amazing lines! My favorite of which, I think, was "How's it feel to end the world, Ms. DeWitt?", closely followed by "Kids playing with matches. And they burned the house down." I cried for Topher and Whiskey, I totally fell for the "innocent child is the villain" twist right up until she shot the nice guy, and I was left in gut-wrenching fear for the fates of every single one of the main characters. As awesome as it was, though, it does bode rather ill for the fate of the world, but I still can't wait to see how everything gets to that point.
Glad to see I wasn't the only one to fall for the child's tricks!
I thought it was a great episode and something akin to Babylon 5 epicness. Though I did giggle at the end, the ladder bit reminded me of the rocket ship coming down in Joey's play in 'Friends'. Little bit cheesy but aside from that, the first Dollhouse episode to really get me interested in the show. I can't wait to see how the second season unfolds.
I really enjoyed the episode. It had atmosphere oozing from its pores, features some great dialogue, featured the resolution to one of the most interesting questions passed this season (textually; not thematically): what would happen if the imprinting technology ran rampant? Would it mean the end of civilization as we know it? And appearantly: yes.

I also loved all the little bits of future history that got filled in. Adelle chosing to not turn over Victor to Evil_company_figure (or at least: that was implied) and the way she cared for the broken Topher (which was heartbreaking). Snippets of Echo evolving and controlling her imprints; Boyd and Dr. Saunders; Boyd leaving; Whiskey's role in the after-apocalypse world, the scary holocaust reflections when she gasses the imprinted people; the search for Alpha (is he now a force for "good"?); Echo possibly killing Adelle.... and that was just our regular cast, because our guest starts had some really interesting stuff going on as well.

It was an episode filled to the brink with story, without seeming overly full or becoming uninteresting. I'm not sure if it's my favorite episode of the season (it might be, though), but it's certainly in the top 3.

Very good and well worth the wait, although it's pretty bad this didn't get aired.
Other than the DVDs that I dont have, or the comic show that happened last weekend (that I didn't attend), where can I see this?
Honestly, I thought it was awful. I don't want to piss in anyone's lemonade, but I hated it so much it made me not want to watch season 2. I've calmed down and decided that I will give season 2 a try after all, but I still didn't like this episode.

I'm not going to go too much into why I hated it. Suffice it to say I thought it was a mess of half-baked ideas that were dropped on us all at once, when a slow build over the course of several seasons would have been so much more satisfying. But I think I understand why Joss did it the way he did. It just wasn't for me. I'm going to write up a longer, more specific review for my own blog later this week.

I'm a little disappointed that I'm one of the very, very few people that feels this way. It makes me feel like I must be crazy. But hey, different people like different things. That's what makes fandom interesting. I'm just glad that Joss is doing work that so many people can enjoy, even if I'm not one of those people.
One question: All flashbacks are basically in chronological order, if you switch the one with Victor and Priya and the one with Caroline and Paul's return, right?
wisengrund, I found that really confusing! I started to realize that the flashbacks were mostly in chronological order, but the fact that Victor and Dr. Saunders had unscarred faces later on without explanation made it difficult to confirm. Watching the episode took a lot of Reading Between the Lines. I need to watch it again.
I loved it. Best episode? Maybe. Certainly got me very emotional over Whiskey and Topher... but Man on the Street is so brilliant, IMHO.

So, few notes. 1. Why in the world would you tattoo yourself on your back? The old guy shows the problem with it, no one notices it. Maybe the arm or something? 2. Does the Dollhouse now also offer agelessness? 3. Of course the big one, is Whiskey alive? Good lord, I hope so.
1. Why in the world would you tattoo yourself on your back? The old guy shows the problem with it, no one notices it. Maybe the arm or something?

I guess the point of that would be that you can confirm your identity only via others (which is a nice thematic point the show's making there). If the tatoo would be on a more visible place, printed people could actually learn what it says there about them, thereby making the whole birthmark-process worthless.
I thought it was pretty plain that Whiskey is a goner. What with the gas and the closing of the eyes. Although, it was really just an escape mechanism for the others, so maybe it's not a deadly gas, just a tranq? Of course, Whiskey's a goner when everyone wakes up. |-)~
I can see that Fox was worried some may find it a confusing jump from "Omega" to this episode if people had never seen the other shows. It was still a great episode that I think should he available on Hulu and iTunes. It'll certainly sell more DVDs
My guess is that the gas Whiskey set off was too heavy of a compound to reach her on the balcony in deadly quantities.
I'm really tired right now, so I'll just copy-paste what I tweeted while watching it:

Epitaph. One.

Wow. Lacking words now, but like the rest of the season, Epitaph was all about potential, just in a completely different direction. Psyched.

Acker stole the show once again, though I wouldn't have expected anything less. Also, didn't notice cheapness.
It may not be the best episode of the season in a technical sense, but it was certainly the one that sold me on the show. I was still wavering about how I felt about the show both technically and thematically until I saw it, but this episode just did it for me. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic stuff, as well as anything that features a small group of people banding together and fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds, so I felt like it was kind of designed for me. If this is the direction the show is going, I'll stick with it.

Tawm, can I just say how much I appreciate your comment? The internet seems to bring out all the extremes--either manic squeeing or total flaming, and to hear (read?) someone voice their opinion respectfully and yet honestly is a wonderful thing.
Whiskey is my favourite character, and I thought she was definitely dead, though I don't think it quite hit me because I was still under the impression that this could be some kind of alternate future which won't necessarily happen. And it's ten years away yet, so it wouldn't mean the "end" of the character in the series.

Hang on... that really was Whiskey dying. That's actually incredibly tragic.

Oh God Joss, you just killed Whiskey.
I'm excited about this whole Alpha teams up with the good guys business that Echo hinted at. I *love* when the villains and the heroes team up against a common enemy. And I'm also a sucker for the post-apocalyptic stuff, even if it's slightly terrifying.
I was really impressed by the little girl. I've seen her in other things, and she seems like a good young actor. She totally had me going until the holy crap moment, and did well as Caroline too. Was the person in her body anyone in particular though? Just some random baddie?

How did the memories work? Were the imprinted people just narrating them?

On a shallow note, I'm glad to see Victor will become scarless again. And I guess this means Amy Acker needs to still be around (yay). Oh, and Felicia with a gun is badass.
I got the impression that Alpha did something that had a useful-to-the-heroes result as a byproduct, not that there was ever a team that included him. Short of borrowing a chip from the Initiative on "Buffy," I don't see how Alpha could be rendered reeliably cooperative (or even non-homicidal). Not "Epitaph One"-related but something I wonder -- why did Topher make Claire Saunders so melancholy? I understand why he'd program her to hate him, but if he felt guilt enough for that, why not give her more resilience? The original Dr. Saunders didn't seem particularly unhappy. From "Epitaph One," it seemed that both Adelle and Topher had consciences -- why create such a dark blue long-term persona?
Really good episode. I have to say that I've come to like Enver Gjokaj's acting. He had such a minor role here, but he really ran with it. I really feel that he's one to watch. Good work was done by everyone else as well.
I really, really liked it but I have one question. Where in the hell are they going at the end? I mean, they crawl out
of the Dollhouse high-rise and climb UP the ladder. Where
the heck does that lead? I mean, is the top of the building their ultimate objective? Also, I watched the original pilot and DAMN did that rock! It really grabbed my attention, unlike the pilot Fox aired.
I could be showing my cynicism here, but I felt like they made the choice to have them climbing up more as a thematic/metaphorical moment than because it actually makes much sense. Joss & co. are often willing to sacrifice continuity for the sake of the emotional moment.

Also, I think Enver Gjokaj is brilliant, too, Tmas. He's knocked it out of the park with every single "role."
I haven't seen it yet. My DVD's are still "in transit" according to Amazon's tracking page. :( I can't wait until it gets here. Gah!!
Loved the episode. Makes me wish the main characters were the guest stars actually. We could look at it like this this though. Joss finally did it. He had an apocalypse that actually took hold!
With no reset switch at all!

I am a sucker for the Post Apocalyptic stuff anyway, but also It's hard to say what really happened in the episode for definite. Did Caroline shoot DeWitt? Doubt it. Whiskey's fate? Not enough information to go on. Could be anything from nerve agent (unlikely) to sleep agent (more likely given Whiskey's demeanour) Unless of course they go for the old TV trope in not showing just how nasty nerve agent is when it's used on you, but my bet is on the latter cause this is Joss. He's not afraid to kill you nastily. Especially in an episode without network interference.

As for the cheapness... well If you look at the Episode as a whole. Very little location work, using the same locations budgeted for the finale albeit redressed at the start. Then everything takes place on the standing sets. And redressing them was mostly an exercise in taking things away, not adding stuff to them, The exception being DeWitt's office, and the flashbacks (but even then it wouldn't be THAT expensive).
So they got away with making a relatively cheap episode but up to the usual quality. It's almost a bottle show but not quite.

Was good and I'm looking forward to the continuation of the two timelines.
My feelings are ... mixed.

Don't get me wrong, it was a good episode in a lot of ways, but it felt a little manipulative. I mean in the sense that they gave us a lot of answers as a way to kinda say, "Keep watching, everyone!" I was almost sad to see some of those answers without the necessary work. It's like having the season finale of Buffy Season Five right in the middle of Season Two. I'm not sure what I think about that, but not all my preliminary thoughts are good.

My first problem with it is that unless they've got their ducks in a row, they're opening themselves up to continuity problems. We'll see.

I'll admit that it does make me want to see how they're going to get from point A to point B. But I can see a frustrating series of shows if they're simultaneously covering two timelines. I generally don't like that sort of thing.

One thing I was impressed with was how fully realized the end point (or, more precisely, the middle-point, as this wasn't really an end) of the story was. Very bold, very different, and far more tragic than I would have expected for this show. Just goes to show how brilliant Joss is. He's got this knack for moving between small, personal moments and end-of-the-world moments at the flick of a switch. He's a master.

Again, though, skipping so far ahead made the relationships difficult to track, particularly with Adele and Topher. It works, I just think I would have preferred a build-up first. But that's just me.

Spoilers below, of course:

I was less impressed with the girl. I saw what was coming from the beginning. I figured that if the father was wiped, the chances of the girl being a problem were pretty high. It's not that I wasn't impressed with her acting, I just didn't think the twist was all the decently hidden. Whiskey's death (if it really is that) is only partial, of course, since she's obviously still alive in the B-E1 (before Epitaph One) timeline.

Great, now we're going to look like Lost discussion groups when talking about Dollhouse. :(
Loved it. And you can add me to the fanlist of post-apocalypticy stuff. This makes me want to see S2 even more!

The Topher/Adelle sceen was heartbreaking.
And Whiskey. We've lost Whiskey! (even though we haven't lost her just yet)
I love the fact that Alpha teams up with them - more Alan Tudyk!

The regular and guest stars were great

[ edited by Shep on 2009-07-28 18:13 ]
I thought that both this, and the original pilot were brilliant. They make me incredibly excited for season 2. I am curious if Fox will allow Joss to make an Epitaph Two for the season 2 DVD set and the international broadcasters who are airing Epitaph One.

It is actually a very interesting idea, including a DVD exclusive episode on the box sets. It will boost sales for the company, and give Joss a chance to tell a story once a season with no studio influence.

I may be wrong, and I don't read a lot of spoilers because I like to be surprised,..but I don't think the events in this episode will have much bearing on the show. At least not initially. My understanding is that Epitaph One was simply a glimps at the future events of the shows universe, not so much a future glimps of the show itself. As an audiance, we may never get to see the actuall fall of society...then again, if the show does go in that direction, that's fine too. I just hope Fox steps off enough to let Joss take this show where it needs to go.
Yeah, I reckon this was the future future. I think we have a pretty long way to go before everything starts to fall apart, though we may see just the tiniest hints towards it later.
Amazing episode. I think the little girl act was helped by the girl being played by Adair Tishler - Molly Walker from Heroes.

It was very sad to see Topher broken like that. We also have confirmation that Ballard will become Echo's handler.

My guess about the cure is that Echo found a way to "lock" a personality in place so it couldn't be wiped. This might be something left over from the composite event.
RE: whether E1 has any effect on the main timeline...

Also add me to the (very short, I'm sure) list of people who preferred the aired pilot to the original pilot. I felt it moved too quickly, and gave us too much mythology without earning it. That so many of those moments were spread out over the first set of episodes made the story better. Granted, I might have spread them out over two or three episodes rather than six, but cramming so much into one episode? I think it was a mistake.

But that's me, not happy with anything that I'm given. I also thought the aired pilot was a perfectly good episode. My early problem with the show is that any of the first five episodes would have made fine pilots. What I liked about the long Serenity pilot (also unaired, damn it) was that it managed to be both an introduction to the characters and a sort-of look at what one episode might look like, with the job, etc. Unfortunately, neither the original pilot nor the aired pilot for Dollhouse pulled that off for me.

I think that's reflected in the ratings. It's unfortunate, because Dollhouse has at least as much potential as any other Whedon shows.
Best episode so far.

As far as I'm concerned, they could have started S1 with this one and go on from there, but then backwards.

But I wouldn't mind DVD exclusive episodes/minimovie format, I really want to know what's next! (Hey, anything to see Felicia again)

Loved the music at the end to death!
Whiskey didn't die, she just sat there waiting for the next thing.

Good solid ep. Most liked the Dominic bits, he rules.

I'm a bit annoyed at Joss now. He said Epitaph One wasn't really part of season 1, and he said the original pilot took the wrong direction. Clearly those statements weren't entirely honest. I hope he realises that Being Nice To Fox won't ultimately do better for him than being a huge honest bastard.
Why is everyone so convinced that Whiskey died? To me, it just looked like she sat down to watch the (very dense) gas kill all of the intruders since she had nothing else to do (and possibly still had some spark of survival instinct which meant that she wanted to make sure the gas was working). Then she'll get up, turn the gas off, sit around while the air on the lower level is filtered, drag the bodies one by one to an incinerator or something, and keep doing whatever she was doing before Felicia Day's character and the others showed up. She said she has to wait. She's still waiting for Boyd, and she's going to keep waiting for him. That doesn't involve suicide. I'm more worried about why he hasn't come for her yet.
it was a good episode. but not the best. I love long stories with an ending. This made me say wow and cool a few times. The acting was great and the script was beautiful. But it wasn't the best one.
Finally! A Episode 13 thread...

Ahem, ok WOW, OMG, WTF

The LANGUAGE is IT. Joss has such a way of expression. Simply ace. The teases, the twists, the acting - all ace!

Enver is brilliant. I think we established that already.

The love match-ups were heartbreaking - I was most moved by Adele and Topher. I will choose to ignore the fact that Victor and Sierra are over.

Moving on...

If Whiskey is really dead, then she died hero's death...

Mr Dominic was priceless...

Nice to see the slashed faces got fixed... curious to see how they explain that

We got so many answers, yet they raised lots of questions which I'm sure S2 will tantalize us with.
Oh, could someone tell me: Joss didn't direct this episode? I could've sworn we've been hearing for months that J-Mo wrote, he directed. I even thought there were quotes from him saying as much. But it said, "Directed by David Solomon." Did we know this going in? Did I miss something?
This was indeed a great episode. And the fact that both Amy and Felicia was init didnt make it any worse ;)

All the small character moments were interesting and the fact that Adelle was true to her principles made me like her all the more. About the chronology I got the impression that both Saunders and Victor had removed their scars, not that those flashes were from an earlier point in time. And that Alpha was part of the good guys one way or an other was a surprise. But hey, its Joss so I'm not surprised come to think of it.

I've always like post-apocalyptic stuff and this was no exeption. Its always pleasent to have these kind of episodes where consecvenses of earlier actions become clear. And no, my sympaty is with Adelle, very little with Topher.

Do we know if season 2 will pick up after this episode or after number 12?
Satai, according to Joss's comments at Comic-Con, season 2 will .
Amidst all the love for Ms. Acker (totally deserved though it is), the performance that completely floored me was Fran Kranz'. It was both multi-faceted and unexpected. We see him at his arrogant, obnoxious extreme in the scene where he is first hired. Then we see him anguished and broken, in the heartbreaking scene with Dewitt.

But the one that sticks with me is that silent, stricken look on his face, as he listens to Ambrose (in Victor's hijacked body) calmly describe the nightmare the world is about to become. And Topher's realization that he has made this new world possible, reflected in the look on his face. Powerful stuff.
I agree Fran was particularly excellent!
Oh, could someone tell me: Joss didn't direct this episode? I could've sworn we've been hearing for months that J-Mo wrote, he directed. I even thought there were quotes from him saying as much. But it said, "Directed by David Solomon." Did we know this going in? Did I miss something?

I don't think we knew this, I was surprised by that too, Jobo. Joss indicated in interviews that he shot it (or planned to shoot it), and Solomon came totally out of the blue for me. Either way, I'm very happy with the outcome. :)
I thought Epitaph One was one of the better episodes of S1 but I still feel Briar Rose is the best ep of S1. I found the first few min of the episode rather confusing, like 'what's going on??' but I actually enjoyed having to "fill in the pieces" myself. I was one of those who didn't figure out the little girl was an imprint 'til the end. To me, jumping in the action right away and trying to figure out what's going on seems like it helped disguise any kind of hints they may have given out about the little girl so I thought it was well done. Felicia and Zack Ward gave nice performances. I also loved that Boyd and Whiskey somehow became close later on. I personally thought Whiskey sacrificed her life at the end with the gas since she had nothing to live left to live for. The scene is ambiguous so she could have survived but the way Amy acted in that scene, the way she sat down and looked like she was giving up on life, made me think she's going to die.

The only thing I'm iffy about Epitaph One is that the future seems set and as others mentioned, it's going to be harder to keep continuity straight in future episodes. Plus, the idea of Paul "winning" in the end-- closing down the Dollhouse-- seems futile now. We know he's not going to reach his goal and that's rather disappointing.
Oh I am in bliss!
I paid a little extra because I ran out to Target early this morning (not wanting to wait for Best Buy to open at 10am, which would have saved me a couple of dollars), and since then I have been getting happier and happier (well, a little mad at Fox).

I always love me some Post Apocalyptic depressing fun, and this was amazing. It isn't look cheaply made to me, it looked like it was made of awesome! I love Maurissa & Jed's writing (and the song at the end too).

I need to watch this several more times to really understand it all, but I am blown away. And really happy we have season 2 to look forward to!

I'll be buying lots of sets of these DVDs to give as gifts!
The only thing I'm iffy about Epitaph One is that the future seems set and as others mentioned, it's going to be harder to keep continuity straight in future episodes. Plus, the idea of Paul "winning" in the end-- closing down the Dollhouse-- seems futile now. We know he's not going to reach his goal and that's rather disappointing.

To be honest, that is the aspect I like the most about it. E1 feels like a pilot to me in that way, it is constantly pointing out stuff, we kinda guessed during Season 1, but never got to really know. Because there's always projecting and expectations going on with fans. We hope for the happy end, for a heroic journey, for a resolution. E1 spells it out: "Guys, not this time. If you were wondering during Season 1 about the ambiguity of the thing, here's exactly how gray it is. It all turns out fine, just like you wanted it. Not. Um, in case you didn't notice... this is a show about the punk-kicking the ass of mankind and money as the main ingredient of crazy. In case you didn't notice it... Topher is a character dealing with destroying the world... etc."

And then comes the Joss-quote about stepping back and avoiding eye-contact. Brilliant.
Now, deep breath... This was amazing! This rocked! Why didn't we all just watch this once a week this spring?

This was such a damn good story and that's what it felt Dollhouse has so often been missing. They had a great idea but then seemed to scrabble around every week for a decent thing to do with it. This felt like they sat down in the writers room and actually got to have some fun. It felt cared about, championed, like there was actually a story to tell.

Weirdly, without the focus on Echo, the ideas got more of a chance to shine. The characters had more depth and maturity. Enver has to be one of the best TV actors I've ever seen - his kitchen scene was flawless. Fran Kranz manages to perform his socks off. Olivia Williams, Felicia Day and Zack Ward are also all fantastic.

This is the kind of epic scifi dystopia I like. I am a happy geek. And I am totally on board the Adelle/Topher ship. :)
I thought this was a great great episode of television by any standard. I can't help feeling sad that this is the future all the characters are headed towards. I hope this is a possible future and that the characters get the chance to change their destiny. Or, that at some point the show jumps ahead (a la Desperate Housewives) and plays from this point onwards and we get to see Echo return and somehow save the world. But, knowing Joss, pure undiluted misery is where we're all going to end up.
Further comments from Joss on E1 and Fox's refusal to air it. Plus, talk of Dr. Horrible 2:

http://www.newsarama.com/film/070928-WhedonHorrible.html
I see Adelle and Topher's relationship as more of a mother/son thing. That's the vibe I was getting anyway, from this and the earlier birthday incident.
I don't know. Imagine the genders reversed. Obviously not when Topher is screwed up. That would be, um, screwed up.

Incidentally, anyone else suspect that he tried to imprint himself as a cure/experiment/attempt to get a better problem solving brain?
I agree, curlymynci: most scientists 'try' stuff out on themselves because they are right there, believing they have it right. So I totally see Topher trying to be the best he can be.
This episode rocks!
I loved every minute of it and i really hope their will be a continuation of this episode in the second season. They cant just leave it like that. I need to know more!
Regarding Whiskey slumping down on the balcony as gas fills the Dollhouse: I read it as completing the mission Echo had imprinted on her, and simply stopping--because she had reached the end of her programmed "to do" list.

And I see no reason why the gas would be anything but lethal. You wouldn't want the horde of Butchers waking up later, would you?
Yep, easily one of the best episodes for me. I am very much a fence sitter with Dollhouse but this actually made me think that the programme can go on and do something good. I'm just hoping my liking of it so much wasn't just down to Echo not really being in it and that S2 goes back to 'engagement of the week' without pushing things forward again.
Anyway, two thumbs up and look forward with renewed interest to the new series whatever it may bring!
Taaroko, prior to reading your comment, I assumed Whiskey died just because, well, with Joss it usually pays to bet on the darkest option. But your comment presents, maybe, an even darker option: whereas once she was responsible for caring for the imprints, she has reached a point where she's had to accept that her role is to kill the unfortunate imprintees of the future, so the blank resignation as she sits up there on the balcony could be not resignation to her own death but the scarier resignation to being the "cleaner" in this dystopic future, which is potentially darker than her own death.

Other than that, my favorite moment was Fran's, mostly because I've been assuming since episode one that Joss would have no interest in putting a character like Topher's in play unless there was something more complex going on -- or at least the potential to develop to a place of more complex insight on Topher's part. Keeping from venting frustration with every shallow dismissal of this character by boring reviewers showing the analytical skills of four year olds, etc, was a task I was not always up to. Joss ain't perfect, but he has better instincts/insight on story and character than the vast majority of his detractors.

And wouldn't it be great if each season ended with a new "epitaph" (Epitaph 2, Epitaph 3, etc.) that gave the writers a chance to re-reflect on the implications of whatever developments the most recent season revealed?
I suppose Whiskey's slump at the end could be considered ambiguous. It really could go either way, depending on what Joss wants, and how available she is for season 2 (not available much, from what we've seen). I rather like the idea of her dying. Makes up for the pointless and frustrating death of Fred in Angel :)

And yes, doubtful guest's final comment is worth keeping in mind: it is Epitaph "One", which to me heavily implies that we'll have other "Epitaph" episodes in the future. If Joss keeps these futuristic episodes to just a handful (two or three) over the course of the next one (or more) seasons, I think I can be content with them.

[ edited by ern on 2009-07-29 00:47 ]
Add me to the "Whiskey isn't affected by the gas and clears up all the bodies and starts all over again" camp.

One clue...

Whiskey was left in the Dollhouse when Caroline and everyone else left.
In Epitaph One when Felicia and her gang arrived Whiskey bought up "Safe Haven", and Felicia and her friends recognised the name.

But where did Whiskey get that name from? Caroline didn't know it because when Caroline's imprint was put in the girls body she said "Safe Haven? Is that what they're calling it?"

So Whiskey must have had contact with people for some time after Caroline and everyone else left.

So I say she's been doing this task for some time and will do it again.
This was a fantastic episode and I can't wait for Season 2. Is it September yet? J-Mo, you guys ROCK. *bows to Joss*
Spiral -

I think your point about knowing Paul is fighting a losing battle is valid now. But at the same time, we already knew that. DeWitt beats Paul, not because of a lack of intelligence or MAJOR personal failing on Paul's part. And yes, Paul has problems. She beats him, because in the end he holds no cards to play and has to resort to desperation tactics. He's not connected or powerful - he just happens to be right and that's it.

But I think it works perfectly for a theme Joss seems to be toying with. People with power abuse it and tend to steer the course of history towards disaster. Those without it, usually see the danger but have no ability to stop it.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-07-29 02:07 ]
I guess I'm in the strong minority, but I didn't like this episode at all. I found both the writing and the acting to be rather stilted and inconsistent. I thought the story was okay, and while there were several nice moments, I felt that they were too jammed together to work as a cohesive episode.

Overall, I'd say it was pretty much an average Dollhouse episode. Not as bad as Stage Fright, but not as good as Echo.
Azzers: I understand it's unlikely that Paul would achieve his goal in bringing the Dollhouse down but still, it would be enjoyable to watch him fight the good fight, to root for him. But now that we know what happens in the future, it seems useless to root for him 'cause we know he will ultimately fail. So in that way, I wonder what's the point of the Paul Ballard character? I understand he will eventually help Echo achieve full consciousness but is that all he's there for?
Brilliant!

The best revelation for me was Fran Kranz's heart-wrenching performance. We all knew Enver and Amy are brilliant, but Kranz hit it out of the park.

This was definitely worth the wait!
This episode was ridiculously good. The direction was just awesome. The writing was so sweet and the plot has me so excited for what's to come. I think Epitaph One is the episode in which Dollhouse found its groove, although I've been enjoying it very much... I feel super-invested in it now.

Geez, so excited for September to come.
Wow! Very dark and creepy episode! I really enjoyed it. Not sure how I feel about the story continuing throughout S2 though... not that I don't want to see more, I just love the idea of waiting a whole season for each snippet. (Does that make me weird?). But I guess we can't count on having enough seasons to go anywhere with that story if it's just an episode per season. Looking forward to seeing what they do with it, for sure.
Embers: "I agree, curlymynci: most scientists 'try' stuff out on themselves because they are right there, believing they have it right."

Uhhhhhhhhh...what lab are you working for? 'cause most of the people in the field I know would definitely not try it out on themselves first. [/scientist rant] We have mice for that.:P [/troll]

OT: OMG. This episode needs to be watched and rewatched several times to take in everything. Right now, my brain is kinda at the "fire bad, tree pretty" stage.

So, let me just give some love: Victor and Sierra. Love. Adelle. Love. Topher. Omg love and heartbreak. Little girl (Molly from "Heroes"). Excellent. Love. Whiskey. LOVE LOVE LOVE.
Whedon, Whedon and the Ruler of the Whedons; as always, I am your humble servant.
Really, really good. A few misses in writing, here and there; but notng important. And my God, this is devastating. Possibly the twist about the little girl wasn't actually necessary for the episode's main strengths to shine through; I've got to think about it. But the flashbacks are piercing, and the acting of Felicia et al. helps keep the 2019 material well grounded.
Now we just need a Felicia Day spin off series!

My only problem with Dollhouse was that is was not epic. It was just a few people in a small place not doing anything really that interesting or world altering. This episode changed all that and gave me a show I could really get into. It is too bad that they will probably just go back to the old dollhouse routine next season. I would much rather the future became the main story line.
Another Comicbookresources write-up, this time with a very interesting and new nugget about Inara's possible arc on Firefly:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=22301
I liked it, they blew up the entire storyline and set the stage for the apocalypse to open season 2. I would be disappointed if the show returned to the doll-of-the-week format and did not develop this concept furthur. It is thought provoking and original instead of some of the early episodes which were a little too formulaic.

I haven't read a comic book in 20 years, but this reminds me of some of the grand comic book arcs when I was younger.
I loved it. On balance, it was probably my favourite episode; I love post-apocalyptic fiction so these themes were right up my alley. I loved the way the story unfolded, which felt very cinematic to me and never explained too much.

I also think it actually benefitted from not being shown the week after Omega; I think Amy Acker was brilliantly heartbreaking but that she might been overshadowed by coming so quickly after Alan Tudyk's bravura performance. Of course, that's a nice dilemma for a show to have!

I do agree with Simon, though - that stairway at the end made me laugh so hard! I couldn't figure out why they were going up, not down - I get that the streets are filled with tech and crazy people, but the buildings didn't look close together enough that they could make a daring escape across the rooftops of LA.
Wow! What a great episode...where to begin?

I feel like as a whole Epitaph One is there for us to kind of lend perspective on the bigger, macrocosm-y human questions raised by the show's premise. Specifically, we get to see, "What would happen if everyone could be wiped (with a phone call)?" Now, I feel like this is just one of a whole slew of big questions raised, not to mention the smorgasbord of medium-sized questions and the legion of smaller questions...anyways, where was I?

Yes, we get to see a worst-case scenario. Why a worst-case scenario? I always find myself asking this question. I'm sure any given character living in said worst-case-scenario-world would also ask that question a rather precipitous amount. We see the worst of things because we want to see the black-and-white questions answered. Why don't things in life always turn out like this? There have been plenty of opportunities for life as we know it to end. The scale of destruction depicted in the episode is pretty massive, but we're really just shown all that to get a sense of what it is we're talking about: the ability to take a person out of a person, as the little girl put it so succintly.

So, as a whole I really see this more of a rhetorical episode, if you will, instead of an episode more closely tied to a timeline. Joss tends to script to such a high level of detail that I'd be safe assuming this stuff isn't gonna change. He didn't "lie" to us or anything, he's just setting us up for some kind of evil twist as usual. But, to get back to my point, I believe we're intended to watch this episode with a little more mind paid to the form of the substance, as opposed to just the substance of the episode. My mind was racing to grasp at all the little weaves that Joss threw into this episode. We got a great look at just what kind of world he's been planning for us. Humble beginnings inside the Eden of the Dollhouse seem to be just the beginning of this (deliciously evil) story! Awesome episode. Reminded me of Restless in many ways, and also of the complete mastery Joss seems to have balancing his themes and the story. Gah, I'm like a drooling fanboy!

With all that said, Simon and Ildeth, I believe that to answer your question as to why the characters are climbing up: The Dollhouse represents the plight of humanity. Adele's office was sort of the place where the Dollhouse's world met the human world. Not really ground zero literally, but it still has the symbolic between-two-worlds thing going on, and so it's a great departing place for our heroines and hero. They go up because that's where they're going. Down is where they've been, where they've been going all these 10 years. This episode is about how things started going up again.

[Edit: I can't take credit for this, as my roommate pointed it out, but re: Whiskey: couldn't she be waiting for Langdon? Maybe she's just playing sentinel for a while, sending people on their way as Whiskey until Langon returns? Sounds an awful lot like a princess asleep, having pricked the damn spindle again, and waiting for the prince to return.]

[ edited by Rossaroni on 2009-07-29 09:53 ]

[ edited by Rossaroni on 2009-07-29 09:58 ]
I think you're definitely right about the symbolism of why they're heading up. I think what Simon and Ildeth was saying that there was no story reason why they were moving up. (I'm holding out hope there is such a reason, though)
Oh, yeah indeed, I didn't mean to say there was for sure something at the top of that ladder. It could be they all got up there and died. I, like you, also am holding out hope that they have some purpose in the story. I have a theory, go with me:

Let's say that Safe Haven is where all the original Dollhouse crew made it to, and they've been there from 2009+ to 2019+. What are they waiting for? Are we supposed to believe after escaping the devastation in the city they just sat by for what could be 10 years? It goes back to Caroline. What would she do? Caroline's--the original--fate is still uncertain; perhaps she's gone/dead, and the return of Caroline-in-Iris is what starts the story moving again? You know how Joss likes to make characters rescue themselves, perhaps Caroline-in-Iris has to somehow save Caroline? I get giddy thinking of the possibilities!

I see this as just one of many ways our intrepid Actuals could have an immense impact on the entire story, and Joss isn't one to use a character (played by Felicia Day!) lightly. I bet Mag and Zone (and hopefully Iris) are just getting their start.
Other than the DVDs that I dont have, or the comic show that happened last weekend (that I didn't attend), where can I see this?
alexreager | July 28, 16:07 CET


Just so you wont feel so alone .... me too, literally too broke to buy the DVD and wondering if this ep is ever going to show up anywhere else (legally).

I don't think anyone answered the question, although I only skimmed the thread, trying to avoid serious spoilers.

Amazon On Demand maybe?
Perseo, that Inara tidbit is pretty heavy stuff. I'd love to see that fleshed out further in another Firefly comic. Thanks for sharing the link!
Shey and alexreager: "Epitaph One" will be released on iTunes and Amazon Video On Demand on August 11th.
It seemed very clear to me that Whiskey was still waiting for Boyd. If she was about to knowingly gas herself as well as the butchers, she could have said something like "I'm not coming with you", but instead she kept saying "I have to wait". But what happened to Boyd, if he still hasn't come back for her? And what happened to the personality that is truly hers? If Boyd is dead and her true personality has been destroyed, it would be far more tragic than if she died from the gas rather than hollowly continuing to wait for a "prince" who's never going to come for her.
Very strong episode, and it served its dual purpose of perhaps being the end of the series, had the show not been picked up, and as a means to enrich futures episodes, with the show's continuation.

Excellent acting from all, especially from Enver, who is becoming one of my favorite actors, period. I wasn't as moved by Fran's climactic scene as others--don't know why--but I thought his acting in the kitchen was quite good. Since Topher is not one of my favorite characters, I was happy to see elements to the character that exhibited some sense of accountability for what he is doing/has done.

I had fleeting thoughts that something might be up with the little girl, but I was still surprised with the twist. Fine acting on Adair's part.

Re: Whiskey. I felt that, since her mission was done--to tell Actuals where Safe Haven is and to imprint Caroline into someone--that she did die. I got the sense that the gas might be a one-time-only defense of last resort, and the Dollhouse's location was no longer a secret. Again, her mission was completed. She had the ultimate "time for her treatment."

Re: climbing the stairs. I also thought it was a little silly in terms of the events of the moment, but, metaphorically, as mentioned just above, it worked to suggest a higher plane--one where "truth" could be found, beyond the lower world of illusions. I kept thinking throughout the episode of Plato's allegory of the cave, and it made sense in the metaphorical context.

I'm looking forward to s2, and the greater depth to the series promised by the last episodes of s1 and by this one. I had been ready to write the series off at mid-season, but I'm delighted that we now have something that is Joss-worthy in its complexity and quality. (BTW, I was amazed at what they were able to do here on little money and little time.)
Thematically, I think I would have preferred they climb down, to go straight from their moment of escape back into hell. Physically, if the set is built on the floor, there might not have been a down to go. The ladder might end a step or two below what we saw.
Metaphorically, that works, too, from a different perspective. Not the choice they made, though, and I was just trying to find, for myself, a rationale for an otherwise lame and seemingly pointless bit of action.
Wow, this episode had laser focus compared to a sometimes diffuse season. I loved it.

In my metaphorical reading of the events, one that is somewhat theological, the ascent at the end is very appropriate. I’m also not convinced this apocalypse business is such a bad thing, ultimately.
Maybe there is a helicopter parked on the roof?
Or they could pull a Mirror's Edge.
I liked this episode, but I hope this isn't the inevitable future that the rest of the series will build up to.
Hard to say it was the best, but definitely in my top three. I absolutely loved this episode! Everything was a surprise, so kudos to the writers and everyone else.

Most of the reasons why have been covered already, but suffice to say it gave me all that I was least expecting, and now I'm officially addicted in an almost desperate way I didn't think would happen.

I don't want Whiskey to be dead, and we know in the Whedonverse that doesn't mean much, but it makes more sense that she would be. I prefer that she'd remain waiting for Boyd...

Juicy tidbit: I learned somewhere (?) online, in a review I believe, that the actor who played Zone was Scott Farkus in A Christmas Story (He's the mean red-headed bully). That cracked me up.
Do you think Dr. Saunders was scarless for budgetary reasons?
It's a possibility Riker, but I think Joss would have to be fairly happy with the consequences for him to accept that.
Since Saunders scars are constant in every episode they must be "mass produced" and the make up people able to apply them quickly, so I doubt they'd be that expensive.
I loved this episode. best one yet. and I've been reading the comments and it seems everything I meant to say has been said already. add me to the list who think Whiskey didn't die, she's just waiting.she's there as a guide to direct people to safe haven.
Fran Kranz was brilliant.I love the scenes with Topher and Adelle. and I still can't choose a favourite,I love both of them.
and I did get a mother/son vibe. even when Adelle first meets Topher, she seems to sort of take him under her wing.
I watched the original pilot and then 'Epitaph One' in that order. I wish "they" had gone along with Joss’s original premise.

'Epitaph One' rocked on an epic scale. I think if left to his own accord Dollhouse would have felt more like Jossverse than a Fox compromise.
Easily the best episode of the series thus far. It crushes me that it's not going to air, but at least Joss is sticking to his guns and will play off of what happens in S2.
This is now linked to on the sidebar on the front page.
Shey and alexreager: "Epitaph One" will be released on iTunes and Amazon Video On Demand on August 11th.
wiesengrund | July 29, 11:16 CET


Thank you weisengrund, that's great info. I'll probably spring for the DVD next month, even as broke as I am.
As long as I can still feed my parrots. ;)
I think Whiskey is waiting, not dead. Her mission isn't over; telling two random actuals there's a Safe Haven and sending them off with a Caroline isn't much of a mission. She's there to guide anyone who stumbles on Dollhouse to Safe Haven. I imagine she's done it before and will again, perhaps until she dies. If she had to be the Caroline, perhaps she'd have gone and be done, but I still don't think so. I think she'd maybe just have told them or implanted the memories in one of them if they didn't have someone to be Caroline.

I had the suspicion that she was dying as well, but thinking about it, waiting is what she says and it makes more sense. And I like the idea that she's still waiting for Boyd, though I got the impression he died or she realized he was probably dead, and that's why she wiped herself of everything but the Safe Haven program. She didn't want to know it anymore.
Wow...just wow.

There is so much to say about this episode. Dark, moving, insightful, depressing, and yet hopeful. Those wacky Whedons do it again.

Seeing Topher just totally and utterly break down in Adelle's motherly arms is just gutwrenchingly heartbreaking. He is now broken, and I don't think anything can fix him.

The professor was right in "Man on the Street", that tech was used and abuse, ending makes us, us. You can say many things about Ms. Dewitt, but in the end, she would never cross that moral event horizon. She's danced perilously closed, but she didn't have the heart to do so. This episode actually convinced me that Adelle was the mole who was feeding Paul information. She was scared what the Dollhouse's purpose was and wanted to stop it, but it was too late.

Loved the performances of Felicia Day, Mr. Ward, and the little girl both as the killer and as Caroline. They were brilliant.

This show is disturbing in many, many ways, but a 10-year old child expertly shooting people may be the top of the list. And that's what the technology can do.
I'd love to see 2019 in the last episode of every season...
I've got some friends and family that want to give Dollhouse a try, and I've been thinking about how best to present the show to them (e.g., expediting the process to episode 6 without losing important plot and character developments).

What does everyone think about STARTING a newbie's Dollhouse adventure with Epitaph One? It would spoil the Victor and Whiskey (and to a lesser extent, Paul and Dominic) plotlines. It could be a bit impenetrable without a primer by me.

But, it could really hook the audience by framing the show in an interesting way: here's the ultimate outcome of a dangerous power... and then, starting with Ghost, here's how we got to that point. Kinda like seeing Vader in the suit, and then watching how he got there.

Thoughts?
AMCsoldier:

For as much slack as the first five episodes get, I think the perfect jumping off point would be Grey Hour; it was not only a really really fun episode, but it is the first cue of how the tech can really be abused badly (on a wide scale I mean - "don't answer the phone, promise me you won't answer the phone."), and it doesn't spoil some of the big surprises that come in MotS, SitHoL, Omega, and of course E1. The whole episode intertwines the mythology with the "mission of the week". I think it's more effective to develop Mellie a bit, too, before exposing her as a doll; and you really don't want them to be spoiled for SitHoL; that one had me on the edge of my seat to the very end, and I think if you expose Dominic as the mole straight away, AND that he gets sent to hell- I mean the attic, it may dampen some of its initial impact.

Even seeing Haunted (one of my least favorites of the season, save the Topher stuff, really loved the Topher in that one!!) before E1 made me slap my forehead when Mr. Ambrose popped up in Victors body.

So, all in all I'd say a lot of the greatness of E1 came from how big it payed off all of the little nuances of what came before. Or, those be my two (or three) cents anyway! All I can say is I think this is an AMAZING show, and I'd like to see as many eyeballs watching it as possible:)

[ edited by crhobbs42 on 2009-07-31 22:43 ]

[ edited by crhobbs42 on 2009-07-31 22:44 ]
I'm shocked that it took me a half-hour's ruminating to realize that the big Fuck You line at the end of this episode criticized the Dollhouse for...

...giving humanity not what it wanted but what it 'needed.'

Heh. Dana5140 et al., that Bud's for you.

(Brilliant episode to boot.)
I have to tell you that I have stayed completely spoiler-free until today when my Dollhouse DVD finally arrived, and it was damned difficult! But now WHOOOOOOOO!

After being blown away by "Epitaph One", the commentary that I finally read really opened up my mind much more and made the episode so much more enjoyable.

I'm thinking that Joss has set up a doomsday premise in which he can play mind games with all of us - he's saying these are memories, and memories can be flawed. And I'm also betting he made bend the timeline and change the outcome. I'm on board for the whole ride.

I was first a fan of Buffy, but I became a Firefly fan late to the game because of the way FOX juggled the episodes around, it made it difficult to get the continuity on the first broadcast. I actually saw Serenity in it's entirety and THEN bought the Firefly set and it made much more sense. Whedon's genius then became like a Van Gogh painting for me.

I am fully expecting "Dollhouse" to take on the same mythical quality all his works have done and that it will be one of his finest.
I'm with everybody on this being one of the best episodes so far. It's right there with Man on the Street, but the two are hard to measure against each other because what they're doing is so different. Man on the Street is great as a piece of serial drama, it has big implications, but stuff comes before and after. Epitaph One is obviously more its own thing.

Would it be better not to know where the story is going? Yes, somewhat... Joss's hand was forced by the probability that the show wouldn't be renewed. But I definitely think if there was a Lost type thing, where we follow the story in two different time periods at once, that could be pretty cool. The "One" in the title also seemed to me to imply that there will be more Epitaph episodes, maybe one at the end of each season as some people mentioned.

I have to say I did notice the limited budget. Particularly in the street scene at the beginning. It was supposed to be a street and a big crowd, and it was pretty obviously an indoor set and about 15 people. They worked around it very effectively, but a big impressive post apocalyptic setpiece would have been really cool.

Um, what else...

I didn't get the impression that Alpha ever actually teamed up with the good guys (to the extent that the good guys are even teamed up with each other). I saw it more as Caroline and Paul had some adventure, Alpha was involved, and somehow as a consequence of what happened, Safe Haven is safe.

I also really dug Enver and Fran in this episode, particularly the one scene in the kitchen. And I've sorta dug Topher and Adelle as a couple ever since Echoes.

Re: climbing up to the roof: I assumed there was some sense behind this. Fixing an escape that doesn't involve taking a crowd of people to street level would be a very good idea. Maybe a zip line next or something? Even if it did involve a lot of footwork by Caroline or somebody to set up, it would be worthwhile for moving the group.

This episode got me thinking about how Firefly was sort of moving toward the same theme, the consequences of screwing with people's minds. River through the whole series, and then Miranda in the film...

"Felicia with a gun is badass."
Yeah, I agree, but I kept hoping for a Michael Mann type moment where she demonstrates that she really knows how to use it too.

Apologies for the fairly massive post.
It's a good ep but I just can't shake the feeling I watched a big fat spoiler. Maybe what Joss and Co. have planned for S2 will make people like me think twice about that.
OK, firstly I love Amazon.com. Not their estimated delivery dates, those totally suck. But their actual delivery dates ? Epic win. Turns out this has been sat downstairs in my mailbox since yesterday but I hadn't even checked cos their email said August 31st.

Secondly, new rule - Amy Acker should not be allowed to cry onscreen. OK ? My manly man-ness took a bit of a hit, let's just leave it there.

Thirdly, Fran Kranz was great throughout the series (and in 'Echo') but here he's amazing. You believe he's broken, simple as that. And you get to watch the moment that breaks him. Good to see even Topher has a line he won't cross, I smell arcy goodness.

Nextly ...

Good episode. Not the best IMO but pretty good. You can see the budget but not so much that it detracts from the impact of the dramatic scenes and the apocalypse cast were great too.

- had shades of one of my favourite sci-fi stories, Greg Egan's "Unstable Orbits in the Space of Lies" about a group of survivors of a sort of ideapocalpyse where most folk get "caught" in the influence of various ideologies and the protagonists have to navigate (literally) their way around them.

- and maybe shades of "Logan's Run" too [ETA:] with the Safe Haven/Sanctuary thing. Though, possibly coincidentally, if I type 'safe haven' into google I get a financial site top followed by an organisation that helps survivors of rape and sexual abuse.[/ETA]

- wouldn't have minded seeing a bit more/any of the infection spreading (maybe later, now that we know there is one). Budget might've been an issue there, or maybe continuity worries.

- the ladder didn't make a lot of sense and to be honest, even metaphorically it feels a bit of a cliche to me. I suspect budget again.

- apologies if someone else has mentioned this but did the wall of remembrance in Adelle's office remind anyone else of BSG's similar wall ? There was even a tiny shake in the camera at the end, as we zoom into Caroline's photo. Wee homage maybe ?

[ edited by Saje on 2009-08-02 22:11 ]
I didn't get the impression that Alpha ever actually teamed up with the good guys (to the extent that the good guys are even teamed up with each other). I saw it more as Caroline and Paul had some adventure, Alpha was involved, and somehow as a consequence of what happened, Safe Haven is safe.

I think it's much too early for us to make very sensible guesses. You might well be right but it also seems possible that Alpha has made some sort of uneasy alliance with Caroline et al.

And I've sorta dug Topher and Adelle as a couple ever since Echoes.

Eww, that would feel pretty incestuous now. There was a strong mother son vibe to their big scene together

Good episode. Not the best IMO but pretty good.

Yep, I preferred Spy and on balance I probably also preferred MotS and Omega. This episode wasn't quite the 'Restless' I was hoping for. Very good episode though.

the ladder didn't make a lot of sense and to be honest, even metaphorically it feels a bit of a cliche to me. I suspect budget again.

I'm just curious what you mean by that. Why would budget issues make them climb up rather than down?

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-08-03 08:25 ]
They'd spent their gravity budget already ? No reason at all ;). I meant the end sequence itself is down to budget (existing set, no outside shots etc.) and the "going up into the light" is slightly clichéd as endings go. If they'd headed downwards it would've been less clichéd but also less hopeful and I don't mind that the ending is guardedly optimistic (it could just have faded out on the photo without us seeing them climbing at all for instance but that wouldn't have connoted them starting their journey towards sanctuary).
I actually don't get the problem with Topher/Adelle. If there were to be any sexual element to their relationship, hey, they're both attractive, but just because she's got a nurturing tendency (not just him but all her actives) and he's a bit hapless... IT's not like they're actually related.

As for the ladder thing, maybe in terms of budget it's since you can't really show them climbing downward since the floor of that set is already at ground level and they'd need to either pantomime or show establishing/contextualizing shots of the exterior.

In any case though, it made sense to me in terms of the universe. I assume that Adelle has an express elevator straight from the Dollhouse to her office (and presumably a lobby for clients) but they can't really go walking around all willy-nilly if the streets of LA are as apocalyptic as they claim it is. There seems to only be one real entrance/exit into her office--making it seem like an extreme fire safety hazard-- so they can't really have a rope ladder go down to street level where phone-answerers can somehow make their way up. Plus it seems like someone had to come for everyone camped out in the office anyway.
If the set's at floor level they could still have gone with any sort of secret exit (because Adelle having one of those makes perfect sense) rather than a ladder out the window which then requires us to fan-wank in zip-lines or helicopters etc.

Ultimately, fan-wanks of varying degrees of plausibility aside, I think it was mainly driven by production issues rather than what makes most sense but who knows, maybe even with all the time and money in the world they'd still have gone with that ending (it seems at least possible for instance that it's a very deliberate allusion to Jacob's Ladder to heaven - or Safe Haven in this instance - as it appears in Genesis), it's a good question for Jed/Maurissa/Joss if and when the opportunity arises (i'm assuming they don't mention it in the commentary which I haven't listened to yet). And to me it's a minor quibble anyway, far from a deal-breaker.
Are the people who see a sexual relationship between Topher and Adelle the same ones who assumed he shagged his playmate Sierra? Or is this the 'shipping' phenomenon I read about before coming here?
Sweet fluffy Christ I've been wanting to comment on this since I got the DVD last week, but was without computer. Anyway: There are not enough expletives of joy I can muster to properly describe how blown away by this episode I was. Felicia Day AND Zack Ward?! The joy gland in my brain melted, gelatinized and reformed three-times as big. Joss, Jed and Maurissa, you folks are amazing and I bow to you. Amazing cast, incredible story, and I'll be counting down the days till' Season Two begins.
I have to say I did notice the limited budget. Particularly in the street scene at the beginning. It was supposed to be a street and a big crowd, and it was pretty obviously an indoor set and about 15 people. They worked around it very effectively, but a big impressive post apocalyptic setpiece would have been really cool.

I am pretty sure I read somewhere that scene was shot outside, on the site of the defunct powerplant they also used for "Omega", since "Epitaph One" was shot at the same time as "Omega".

Anyway, even if they would have had sock puppets enacting that scene, I would still get goosebumps by the way the word "Dollhouse" imprints itself onto the screen, birthmarking it, and that guitar riff yelling dreadfully "Were you really expecting the usual theme? Yeah, didn't think so." at me.
I don't believe Topher/Adelle could be more incestuos than Victor/Adelle.
I enjoyed it. I am still enjoying it. I'm in midjoyment.
Fantastic episode, but not the best of the season. Too open-ended and non-Dollhouse-y to really compete with "Man On The Street," "Needs" "SITHOL," or "Briar Rose," for me at least. But a very well done episode, full of great twists, cool ideas, and funny dialogue. Felt like classic Whedon.

And even though it serves a similar function, it actually wasn't very "Restless"-like at all in the end. Remember when we were all speculating it would be like that?
Oh, did they use a different theme/opening? I skipped it because I really don't like the opening credits for Dollhouse and it is too late now because I already put the disc back in the mail to Netflix.

I liked it a lot. I don't think it is better than some of the other episodes at the end of the season, but I did find it intriguing.

Sage they do not mention the ladder in the commentary. I had already read many of these comments by the time I listened to the commentary, so I was wondering that to, but no such luck. I've been trying too come up with a visual that they could have done instead that would have been as cheap to do and had the right impact. I had the same thought as everybody else when they started climbing up the ladder, but I'm coming up dry for alternatives with the restrictions they had.
Oh, did they use a different theme/opening? I skipped it because I really don't like the opening credits for Dollhouse and it is too late now because I already put the disc back in the mail to Netflix.

They had none. The word "Dollhouse" appeared over the shot showing the anarchy (people butchering each other in the streets) and the casting credits ran during the first act, just like the crew credits usually do. There was no intro sequence.
It's a shame Fox chose not to air "Epitaph One", I was all set to write the show off and not Watch season 2 until I netflixed Disc 4 to watch that episode which gives a great idea the direction the series is heading.

I'm sure there are many others like me who were on the fence about Season 2 that the episode would have pushed them over the edge.
I'm scratching my head as to why them climbing up is a problem. Anyone? (Because honestly, this is 2019, do we really believe that climbing up a building is the same as it is in 2009?!)
People can fly in 2019?
Has climbing up a building changed so much since 1999?

They had none.

I guess it was the pilot whose credits I skipped.
The last thing I want is for this to start being like that shipping phenomenon, and anyway I don't really care who ends up with who... but I do think that Adelle and Topher have a somewhat romantic sort of chemistry that I enjoy. Like orangewaxlion says, I don't think the scene between them is incestuous just because she's a nurturing type and he's hapless. I think that scene might sorta be what lovers look like when one of them has suffered some kind of debilitatation. Anyway, check out the earlier scene in the episode where she tells Dominic to get him a fridge. She might be getting a bit of a crush on him there...
I just wikipedia'd what "shipping" is... hilarious stuff. I can't believe that the romantic relationships in shows lke Daria created so much heated debate.

By the way, I always thought Trent and Daria should have hooked up.

[ edited by mortimer on 2009-08-04 13:23 ]
I think that scene might sorta be what lovers look like when one of them has suffered some kind of debilitatation. Anyway, check out the earlier scene in the episode where she tells Dominic to get him a fridge. She might be getting a bit of a crush on him there...

If you never had a mother, have you at least seen them in films?
My friend and I just watched this last night and were totally blown away. We just sat there with mouths agape for the entire things, occasionally exclaiming and making inarticulate sounds. I had no idea they would choose to take it in that direction, or to show us it so soon anyway, I'm with the person above who said it felt like watching a big fat spoiler. But in a good way.

With regard to the other comments regarding the ladder thing at the end. I didn't have a problem with it at all. The way to Safe Haven is through the Dollhouse, it has to be the only way in order to keep it safe. The entrance has to be hidden somewhere in the Dollhouse and continue from there. From Adele's office they can't have gone straight out the window due to people being heavier than air, so the opitions were up or down. If I was building a secret pathway to somewhere I would do it up 1. for ease of buliding (an aerial walkway being easier to construct than an underground tunnel), and 2. because no-one is going to just come across it by accident due to the earth-bound nature of people.

I don't think it needs to be fanwanked to make sense. Seems like it'd be harder to come up with an explanation for them to go down.

Also, re. Adele and Topher. Definitnely got a mother/son vibe rather than a lover vibe. Largely because, come on, who can seriously see Topher in an adult relationship???
Seems to me they left via a ladder at Adelle's window because it was the only way out.
Do we know how the company (can't remember name) is initally scanning brains? I assume that once the decision was made to give people 'upgrades', the 'consumer', for lack of a better term, has volunteered their personality acquisition with the possible caveat that portions of their digitized personality could be used for other applications (just a guess). But how were the initial batch of digitized personalities acquired?

And what is the status, from a philosophical perspective, of the imprints? Do they receive full standing, or do they need to be embodied to gain that level of agency?

Can someone remind me why an army needed to be created? Was that addressed, or were we given that nugget now for possible future exploration in subsequent seasons?

Revolver, I also instantly thought of River/Miranda and Serenity. Another tale of unintended consequences, the arrogance of power, etc.

I was intrigued by the episode. I started watching BSG in season 3, and have only now watched the earlier seasons. There is that element of surprise that is lost when you know how the future unfolds, but I found during that viewing experience that story lines and moments had a lot more significance once I knew the backstory than they did upon first viewing. I'm hoping the E1 reveal will be the same way - we know many things now about how the story ends, but the significance of these relationships, events, etc. won't be revealed until we experience the stories firsthand.
Hey Haney-Hope,

I thought that the Chinese Government had supposedly created "the army" in order to weaken America... I'm not 100% sure on that though.

[ edited by mortimer on 2009-08-05 18:48 ]
We don't know who created the army. We know that China has been doing blanket wiping but that doesn't mean they started it
Maurissa Tancharoen corrected the lyrics to "Remains."
I finally got around to seeing this crazy episode. It really was an excellent show, it was compelling and exciting, very well written and acted. It is possible one of the best hours of any Joss show, but I still can't shake the feeling it was a bad idea.

I know this future jump thing is a storytelling technique that can be used very effectively, especially in a self contained story like in a book. I really just don't like when TV shows take this approach for two very important reasons. The first is that it just scares me from a practical standpoint. I value continuity in a show like this, so a radical jump into the future makes it a little too easy for the writers to write themselves into a creative hole. I'm not doubting that these talented writers can make it all make some kind of sense, but now they have a distant point for the characters that will limit the decisions they make.

What if the story would be best served to kill of a character who we now know to be alive and well after the apocalypse? Sure they COULD do it, and we'd all have a little mystery to decode on how they are going to resurrect the character, but the point is they've now created hoops for themselves to jump through, obstacles in creating an organic and evolving narrative like TV shows are supposed to do.

Shows have to constantly create some kind of tension and suspense. Now that we know where the characters will be in 2019, the focus of that suspense will no longer be the "is this character going to die?" variety, it'll be the "hey...how does this plot twist jive with the future I'm already aware of" sort. It will be super easy for the writers to fall on that old crutch of just introducing a slew of mini mysteries that they probably don't even know the answer to yet. In other words, this show is in danger of becoming Lost. Or Heroes...ugh

I'm all for a twisty mythology and all, but Joss has never been about twistiness for twistiness sake, his stories are supposed to tell us something about ourselves, to explore the blacks and whites and grays of everything that is human. I can't help but feel that this new stuff will be a distraction to that process.

Also in the practicality vein, what happens if (God forbid) one of the actors is unable to continue on the show? In order for the story to have any semblance of closure we need to see how we got from A to B. There are any number of things that could go wrong that would have been a simple matter of writing around before, but now threaten to unhinge the entire story. Especially consider how this show is always a threat of being canceled at any minute. Where Joss could have continued to work with a neat little package that could wrap up at any point, now he's got a huge epic that in all likelihood he won't be able to complete with any sort of satisfaction.

My second concern is just as a consumer of good fiction, the whole working backwards thing just ruins a lot of the suspense for me. This episode felt like I was halfway through a great book I was enjoying, then I skipped to one of the last chapters. Sure it was a great chapter, but I would have much rather gotten their organically and enjoyed the process.

I understand that this is where Joss wanted to end up with the concept anyway, it is the logical conclusion to the show's premise. I also understand that part of the consideration in making it was so that we can see this awesomeness in a show whose future was uncertain. I just feel that it would have worked way better at a different time, even if it was hastily thrown in as a final episode after they got the inevitable cancellation notice. As it stands now, it just leaves me feeling a little empty inside.

Someone tell me I'm wrong or that I'm taking it too seriously, I concede both of those things are definite possibilities :)
The thing is that we don't know if any of the major characters survived until 2019. We actually don't know when these flashbacks/forwards took place. They could have happened in 2013 or 2017. We only know Whiskey's fate in 2019. Caroline may have died in 2014 or she may be still running Safe Haven. So the suspense is still there. That's why the line "I hope I find myself alive" that Caroline-imprinted little girl said is so crucial.

The only things we know is what we know, which is the Imprinting tech is now wireless, China is involved somehow, the world as we know it is over, and there could be a "Safe Haven". Other than that, we don't know. So, the writing staff has not painted themselves in that big of a corner. Yes, they put themselves in a box, but it's a huge box.

[ edited by crazygolfa on 2009-08-06 05:52 ]
This is true, but we know that those characters are around until the events that we see. This means that until we get there (which I'm thinking is no time soon, if at all), certain parts of the suspense are gone.

But hey, I'm going to be in love with the show regardless. I had faith even during the rocky beginning, Joss and Co haven't let me down yet. I even love the episode and the things it introduces, it just makes me....uncomfortable. That's not a new thing with a Whedon show either though so...I'm game.

Sorry for writing a novel BTW, didn't realize I got so carried away.
Saje: ...apologies if someone else has mentioned this but did the wall of remembrance in Adelle's office remind anyone else of BSG's similar wall ?

No one else has mentioned it, but it was the first thing I thought of when I saw it.

Re: the ending & ladder up - I fully expected them to be heading somewhere up-ish, but somehow I thought they'd be headed for that safe mountain-top that Echo always longed for. Maybe they were, in fact, but it was too expensive to show it. It's where I picture Safe Haven, though - maybe in Big Bear or somewhere mountainous closer to L.A.

I liked this episode - a lot. Watched it today for the first time; then listened to the amusing & informative commentary by Maurissa & Jed; plan on watching the episode again real soon.

I got both a motherly vibe and a romantic vibe from Adelle regarding Topher - which I don't find contradictory in any way. As Revolver suggested, an obviously nurturing parental vibe is something that can easily manifest in one partner when the other is suffering & incapacitated like Topher was. And like many of you, I don't care who ends up with whom or if anybody does at all - but I've seen far more unlikely couples in real life. Oh, gods yes.

The actors were the bomb on this - with Felicia Day not surprising but certainly wowing me with her talent. She brang it alright - as did everyone else - especially Adair Tishler, who was special.

I haven't had occasion to mention this on any other thread, but add me to the list of those who preferred the original pilot "Echo" to beginning the show's season by broadcasting "Ghost." I liked "Ghost" just fine - but I think we could have gotten to the "new improved Dollhouse" much earlier than "Man in the Street" if the execs had liked & aired the pilot.

Alright, I'm off to get my back tattooed with my name in case I ever need it - you never know.
I watched this a little while ago today. Topher and Adelle were heartbreaking in their future scenes. Also really dug the awful body-snatching dude's immediate shellfish eating.

I love a good jump to the future with lots of raveling and unraveling bits to work with. Would like to have seen Adelle's decision about the body-snatching made and enacted, but the fallout speaks volumes about the implications, anyway.
I don't think knowing that characters are going to survive for a while is a problem with this show because the suspense doesn't rest on them surviving do-or-die situations from week to week. It's not like they spend all their time fighting monsters.

I can't wait to see how they get us from here to there.
I see it as only semi-spoilery for future events. We know certain things can't happen until Saunders' face is fixed for instance and we know various people can't die until at least the "imprintocalypse" but there're lots of ways to get to each fixed point in the continuity. I also think it's possibly significant that we see memories of the events, memories being the one thing we can't rely on in this show.

That said, Joss has said in interview that when they made it they deliberately "didn't save anything for the ride back" (which I liked cos it's seems to be a paraphrasing from 'Gattaca' wherein Ethan Hawke's character says almost exactly the same thing. Joss is such a geek ;), they just tried to make a great "hour" of TV so in that sense I think he may have revealed more than he would've if he knew they were definitely coming back.
Something I'm surprised has not been mentioned, unless I missed it, was the conversation between Victor and Sierra. In it one says something about "...what happened to November." and the reply was "Which one?"

Rather than working themselves into a box, I feel that they opened up a lot of interesting possible issues.
Just watched this. I'm not sure if I loved it or hated it. The whole thing was one big spoiler and takes away the mystery of several of the things that will happen (Caroline/Paul will hook up at some point - an idea I find creepy at the moment - as will Victor/Sierra and Boyd/Whiskey. I didn't really want to know any of that. Whiskey dies (?). Laurence comes back etc etc). Also a lot of the nicknames/techno/new talk was pretty much babble to me. That said I did enjoy the idea of the episode and a lot of the scenes were deeply dramatic/touching... but at the same time it felt like a bit of a cheat, I want to see those moments earnt.

Felicia was wonderful and the acting from the regulars was also great. I think if I see this as a middle, rather than an end, then I can just about cope with liking it, but the idea of knowing even some of what to come kinda ruins it for me (also, I quite like the things that grow organically from the show, like actors working well together leading to their characters hooking up/mortal enemies, the flexibility - this makes it feel like there is no flexibility in the rest of the series, though I'm sure it could be fanwanked away).

Not sure if it was in a good way or not but I certainly found the apocalypse part pretty jarring. Could definitely see shades of TSCC and BSG. S1's events seem so far away from this right now. I like the epic feel it creates. At the same time I wonder how we're going to get there - it seems like it would take several seasons of building but I kinda want most of the flashforward events to happen next season so that if there is a S3 we're starting from fresh. I kinda feel like I've watched 'City Of...' then watched 'Conviction' right after.
The whole thing was one big spoiler and takes away the mystery of several of the things that will happen

Except we don't actually know that. As Joss has said since, memories are funny things and not always exactly accurate. And all we saw were replayed memories. Who knows how things actually played out.

But even beyond that, consider this: Almost the first lines in Romeo and Juliet tell the audience that the title protagonists die at the end. And yet people don't feel cheated by being told how the story ends.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-08-14 00:35 ]
I like the idea that the memories are fuzzy. Heck, Topher is a genius, they could all be completely faked for some nefarious reason. Find that more comforting than the idea of knowing what is going to happen. So having that posibility out there is good.

Knowing a character is going to die is an interesting narrative technique but it it usually used with some mystery there - how, when, who kills them? I felt a lot of the mystery was taken away with E1. If we were starting S2 after E1 then that's great, but we're not. For example, is there any reason for Paul to find 'the real purpose' of the Dollhouse now that we know what it is (assuming the memories are correct)? I suppose from the Mellie-is-a-doll Dramatic Irony standpoint, sure, but there is less mystery there.

I hope I'm not coming across too harshly as I did mostly enjoy the episode.
Coming late to the party as Epitaph One only aired last night in Oz... Been great reading comments and reviews, but I just wanted to say that I thought it was an excellent episode, but unfortunately not as mind-blowingly/world-changingly amazing as I had been led to believe. Even though I was spoiler-free, the hype has been pretty huge, so I guess it would be hard for anything to live up to the expectation. However, I still really enjoyed the game-changer of an ep (going for the second watching in a few minutes), and it had some fantastic acting and chilling moments.

As for knowing 'the end' of the story (which is open to interpretation of how finite and accurate a portrayal this is), I don't feel spoilt for season two or any following - E1 just makes me more interested in how things play out. I have to employ that ol' cliche that it's not about the end, it's about the journey - and that applies to Joss's shows more than anything.

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