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Season 1 Episode 13

Epitaph One

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Unknown on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
701 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

The year is 2019, and the world is broken. A small band of survivors discovers an abandoned Dollhouse and as they explore they begin to understand the shadowy organization and to suspect that they may have been responsible for the current state of the world.

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  • A very different episode with a lot of information

    I really liked this episode but I had a little trouble with it at the beginning. It's always hard when a series decides to jump to the future and change the entire cast. I kept panicking that we weren't going to see Echo and all the series regular in the episode which would have sucked. Thank god they got a way for us to get glimpses into the past with the regular characters and this is where it got interesting. I loved the way that we only got a little bit of information as to how this apocalyptic future came about. The scene that got me the most has to be the one where Topher goes crazy and Dewitt comforts him. That scene is so touching; Fran Kranz is so convincing as Topher, really emotional. Love the little shrine he made himself inside the doll's sleeping area. I also love the fact that he was scribbling on the wall, similar to what Fred's character used to do in Angel (played by Amy Acker).

    Speaking of Acker, I really loved what they did with her character. She got so interesting. I also enjoy the fact that she was Whiskey again and not Dr. Saunders. Some people pointed out that she might have imprinted herself back to being Whiskey but I think that it might have been Echo who did it to have someone inside the Dollhouse who could retract Caroline's back up personality.

    A very good episode reminiscent of Firefly at times, mostly at the beginning with the war on the streets and only a couple of "good" people left.moreless
  • Epitaph One

    The good;

    All of it, just terrific stuff. Gritty opening title rather than the normal dreamlike sequence. Whiskey's appearance is especially good, the scene where Adele confronts an imprinted Victor is awesome (lovely touch that he's enjoying shellfish whilst in Victor because he's allergic in his own body).

    The bad;

    Couldn't we have Joss doing the commentary and not his brother? How does the little girl reach high enough up to attack the girl in the shower?

    Best line;

    Topher; "Children with matches!"

    but also like

    Echo imprinted little girl "Great, puberty all over again"

    Packing heat; everybody is armed to the teeth (even Adele for the first time apparently at the request of the actress). Weird to see this little girl running around with guns considering how anti-gun Joss seemed in Buffy?


    Boyd; 8

    Dominic; 9

    Sierra; 4

    Victor; 3

    Ballard; 10

    November; 1

    Echo kissage;2

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost;

    Echo; 3 definite, 1 possible

    November; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Victor; 1

    Adele; 1

    Sierra 1 possible

    Topher; 1 possible

    How'd they get away with that?

    All of the stuff with the little girl.

    This weeks fantasy;

    Victor is the Rossum head honcho, Echo is a Russian immigrant

    Total number personalitites;

    Echo; 22

    Sierra; 10

    Victor; 7

    November; 3

    Total dolls; another Doll, Juliet is mentioned but we don't know which one she is. Also November is mentioned but Victor asks 'Which one?" implying that there was the replacement from the girl who played Mellie in season 1.

    8-Echo, Sierra, November, Victor, Mike, Tango, Alpha, Whiskey

    Topher is a bit geeky;

    The survivors describe Topher's rumpus room as a nursery. Topher from 2 years back is reminiscent of Michael J Fox.

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche;

    When Zone teases Mag about regretting killing an imprinted person she replies "I wish it could have been you"


    Sierra tied up; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Knocked out;

    Echo; 2

    November; 1

    Sierra; 1

    Victor; 1

    Topher; 1


    Sierra; 2 kills

    Echo; 1


    Capt subtext;

    The first thing Dominic notices when he's freed from the attic is that suits have three buttons again. The commentary also seems to hint he might be gay? Adele and Topher almost seem to be like a mother and son.

    Happy hookers

    Zone comments that the Dollhouse is a brothel built to make better hookers. Apparently the network gave instructions to avoid prostitution in the series. I wonder what went wrong?

    Know the face? Hooray! Hooray! It's Felicia, Felicia Day! Whedon veteran from Buffy and Dr Horrible plus The Guild. Zone remind anyone else of Patrick Swayze crossed with Corey Feldman?

    8 Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd, Amy Acker, walking action figure, Eliza Dushku, Jim Piddock, Gregg Henry, Alan Tudyk, Felicia Day


    The imprinted little girl describes Mag and Zone as bigots because they killed anyone imrprinted.

    Fanfic; more fic than you can shake a stick at to tide you over until the season 2 DVDs come out

    Dollhouse FanFiction Archive - FanFiction.Net

    Missing scenes;.

    I like the idea of the scene with the bear in the lift, I wonder if it's the same one from the Angel ep Soul Purpose? Anyone know where I can find that clip on the internet? Do they ask it to press the floor button and then it get's frustrated because it's paws are too big?

    Reminds me off;

    We have an apocalypse in LA just as we saw in Angel season 6. The evil little girl is reminiscent of the annointed in Buffy and the Conduit in Angel. Topher's idea of the cyber-attack via the phone is a feature of the Stephen King novel 'Cell'

    Topher's rambling like Wes in season 5 of Angel. The photo wall is very BSG. The commentators are Dr Who fans to judge by their 'Don't blink' remark. The butchers resemble the reavers from Firefly who were also the result of well intentioned technology gone wrong.

    Breaking the programming;

    Echo can now maintain her own personality (pure Caroline or the composite of her imprints?) whilst she's imprinted but still have all the knowledge of her imprint. She seems to have headaches as a result as does Sierra.

    Questions and observations;

    Great ep, truly, truly great, the first 10 out of 10 for the series. Kepler certainly does nice work, his Dollhouse has survived a remarkably long time. The tension between Topher and Dominic is evident right from the start. Dominic actually warns Adele of the consequences of letting the tech run riot. Whiskey's scars are healed as are Victor's. Is the argument in the kitchen the moment Adele turns against Rossum? Is the life after death idea a transfer of consciousness from one body to another or just a Haunted style imprint? If so, it's not really life after death, it's just making clones of yourself. Sierra's real name is Priva Testrene (Tibetan apparently). Adele strikes you as a very good leader, hope Caroline doesn't kill her. Interesting to see that Victor seems to lead the Dollhouse defence force (which is why Paul is talking to him whilst Dr Saunders is fixing Echo up?). So Dr Saunders blanked herself into Whiskey to avoid the madness of being alone for 2 years?

    So, does Whiskey kill everyone and herself with poison gas? Or as the commentary suggests it's just knockout gas, she imprints all the unconscious butcher's with Echo's wedge and creates countless guides to safe haven?

    Marks out of 10; 10/10 excellent, they saved the best until last, I wish the whole series could have been this good, can't wait for season 2

  • Easily the best of the season.

    Don't let the couple of low ratings fool you-- this is easily the best episode of the first season. It is the first time we get to see any type of overaching plot come through the storyline (something the rest of the season is lacking). No, it's not perfect, but it's a LOT better than the other episodes in this season. Also, I don't understand how the same people who hate Dollhouse can LOVE Firefly. They both have crappy first seasons with almost no plotline. As a matter of fact, all of Joss's shows are like this. He needs to realize that mediocre first seasons lead to cancellations.moreless
  • Opening with an Armageddon like future set in 2019, Epitaph One posits the dark future that the Dollhouse technology has led to

    Wow, I can't believe I waited this long to watch Epitaph One. Its really good, definitely one of the best episodes of this season.

    Opening with an Armageddon like future set in 2019, Epitaph One posits the dark future that the Dollhouse technology has led to. Imprinting has gotten out of control and the world is plunged into war. A small band of survivors, stumble upon a now empty and desolate Dollhouse and retrace the steps that led to their current stage. As they retrieve memory after memory, they find out through the different characters of the Dollhouse the events that transpired. Eventually they find Whisky who's left behind of her own choice, floating about in child like unawareness as she leads them to escape. Her role is very well etched out and has an amazing poetic resonance.

    This is a very layered episode, as much as it is futuristic and outlandish. It also raises a lot of interesting questions about ethical science, human greed and the dangers of playing with nature without lapsing into regressive arguments.moreless
  • 'Epitaph One' stands head and shoulders above just about anything that was actually aired under the Dollhouse moniker.

    In a somewhat frustrating turn of events, it transpires that Dollhouse's greatest episode is also the one that the vast majority of the viewing public will never get to see (well, unless FOX tag it on to the end of season two or something.) In case you weren't aware, 'Epitaph One' was never broadcast as the show's season one finale, as it was supposed to be, due to a load of codswallop wrangling between the network and the production crew over how many episodes were ordered and how many delivered (if you want to understand the minutiae of the situation, just check out the notes on TV.com.) Consequently, the only chance that the programme's fans have to see it is on the recently released first season DVD (well, the only legal chance anyway…), but trust me, it really is worth forking out the £25 for. Whedon's script is a masterpiece of ingenuity, transporting the viewer to a depressingly bleak, nondescript future in which the technology of the Dollhouse has gone global and caused society as we know it to effectively fall apart at the seams. With the Rossum Corporation controlling which personality they want to imprint in each body, and the option available for 'lesser', 'weaker' individuals to have their minds replaced with more preferable models, a Hellish dystopia has been created, wherein no human being is necessarily who they claim to be. Amongst this chaos, Whedon weaves the tale of a ragtag band of 'originals' struggling to survive, who suddenly come upon the very thing that they may need to save mankind: the original Dollhouse itself. The viewer is launched headfirst into this unfamiliar, unforgiving environment and has to work to piece together the minutiae: the characters' dialogue is littered with jargon and self-reference, which is often somewhat impenetrable, but such astute attention to detail greatly enhances the believability of the piece (after all, if you'd been living in such a world for the better part of five or so years, you wouldn't explain everything to your compatriots in every sentence, would you?) The conflict and tension amongst the members of the group is also deliciously palpable; the guest cast do an absolutely stellar job of selling the paranoia and distrust that have become a natural part of their everyday lives. It's something of a brave move to depart from the standard formula of the show and reduce the regular cast to B or C storyline status but thankfully, in Whedon's masterful hands, it works wonders. The flashback sequences that do involve the Dollhouse occupants are all the more enjoyable and intriguing for their brevity. We are only allowed glimpses into the sequence of events that have led to the catastrophic environment in which we now find ourselves: we get an idea of how Ballard and Echo work from within to 'free' the Dolls, how Rossum develops its plans for the facility and, perhaps most significantly from a characterial perspective, what happens to Topher and DuWitt as they begin to see society falling apart around them. The scene in which she comforts the scientist in his mock Doll-hole is beautifully minimal, loaded with emotional meaning. Whedon is careful not to reveal too much here, suggesting rather than delineating, although one is tempted to question whether he wrote the script imagining that it would be Dollhouse's last. It does seem to be a definitive path for the narrative post-'Omega'; would he have been so revelatory if he'd known that the show was to be renewed? We can but speculate; just as we can but ponder the episode's title, which seems to suggest that there are several epitaphs, not simply this one. Could this be a hint that we are seeing a possible future, not a definitive one? Or that a future season could pick up the story after this episode? Who knows? At the end of the day, perhaps it is actually for the best that 'Epitaph One' never aired. As a 'bonus' episode, outside of the official, televised canon, we are able to choose whether we treat its suggestions as sacrosanct or simply conjecture. This gives the episode an even greater weight, a rich ambiguity that makes its story all the more rewarding. A considerably brave move from Joss Whedon and one that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout, desperate for the next revelation or morsel of exposition. With a fantastic guest cast, beautifully laconic and bleak production and another damn fine turn from Amy Acker (really, she's just the best damn thing about the show, isn't she?), 'Epitaph One' stands head and shoulders above just about anything that was actually aired under the Dollhouse moniker. An absolute must see.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions