It’s over. Just like that! I caught the series finale of Dollhouse on Hulu w/o even realizing it was the series finale until some pretty crazy stuff (i.e. the world nearly destroyed gets miraculously saved) started going down. I’ll say one thing for commercials… at least they keep you in the loop. With my work/volunteer hours, it’s rare I’m consistently home in time to watch any show the night it airs. Even when I am home in time to catch it, I’m usually an ep or 2 behind, so I pretty much watch all my TV on hulu or the network site. Which means… no commercials reminding me the series finale is coming, no previews, no hype or warning that a show is about to end.
Anywho… the ending was very disjoint and probably massively confusing for a lot of people since it picked up from an unaired ep (actually, it was only aired in Europe but was on the DVD) of season 1. Thankfully, my friend loaned me the ep so I at least wasn’t completely clueless when I saw the finale. It was a decent ending (which flashes 10 years into the future) but rushed and felt like they were trying too hard to cram in all the Buffy/Angel/Firefly alums (except for Amy Acker… what’s up with that?? Even Summer Glau who was only in a couple of eps this season made a short cameo in the finale) to tie up as many loose ends as possible. I haven’t decided whether I’d consider it a good wrap up of the series. Overall, I was entertained (but I’m pretty easily entertained).
I like the Adelle / Topher storyline. They did a good job of growing & nurturing that relationship from a faux big scary lady boss bent on rising up the evil corporate ladder and the geeky genius who time & time again is betrayed and berated by her as she uses him to climb her way up to a much more humane and likable mother/son relationship. Topher’s character growth was one of the better (maybe really the only) one out of the complete cast. You see him gradually realizing that all this tech he helped developed that he was so proud of and hyper geeked out could and was in the plans to be used as a weapon for world domination / destruction. He begins to realize his own hand and unknowing contribution to this cool technology turned weapon and starts feeling remorseful and resentful of himself. He’s a tortured soul and completely off his rocker by the finale (he was driven to it by the Rossum folks who killed a person in front of him every day he didn’t deliver them the tech they wanted) but he got his moment of redemption in the end, when he uses his genius for good rather than evil (though, he was never really an "evil" guy) and sacrifices himself to save the world/humankind. Go Topher! I think he’s my favorite character on the show.
Priya/Tony (Sierra/Victor) – There was an interesting twist w/ Tony choosing to implant himself with portable wiping tech so he can download skills on the fly to fight the waging war. Basically, he chose to be Victor over leading a house on the prarie life as Tony with Priya and their son. I think I would have preferred if he died in the end tho and Priya raises T (Tony Jr.) to finally know who his dad was (it was their agreement to keep the kid in the dark about all the business w/ the wiping tech – daddy dearest included). This would have been the bitter to the sweet. The Priya/Tony relationship was much better cultivated than the Echo/Paul. You root for them the entire series, so it would have been WAY more of a heart wrencher if Tony had died. I also think the guy who plays Tony was one of the better actors on the show. He displayed quite a bit of range and was decently convincing in most roles. He does an awesome portrayal of Topher (they imprinted Tony w/ Topher on various occassions towards the end), which is hilarious! Anyhow, the happily ever after for those three is aight, but a little too sappy go lucky for me.
Echo/Paul – I was left with an "eh?" bordering on "creepy!" feeling about how they left this one. They set the stage with Paul telling Echo that for 10 year’s he’s been trying to connect with her but she just won’t let him in. How she’s got hundreds of personalities in her head but is the loneliest person he knows. Then he proceeds to get shot in the head and Echo has a massive breakdown when the reality of that finally sets in and she realizes w/o him she’s all alone. In the 11th hour when they’re about to reset the world (or what’s left of it), Echo finds a package left for her by Alpha. It’s an imprint of Paul… which she proceeds to imprint herself with!! WTF! She then has a little tete-a-tete with Paul inside her own head (so maybe that’s just a "tete") where he asks her if she’s sure she has room for him in her head… he’s got a lot of baggage afterall. She tells him she’s sure and they’ve got plenty of time to learn all about each other. The series ends with her going to take a little nap in her cubby in the floor… presumably so she can start the process of going insane by having conversations between herself and the imprint of Paul in her head. Or will she alternatively flip between herself and Paul and act out their little love story. Either way, it’s weird and creep!
Just about any other ending would have left me more satisfied and a lot less creeped out. I would have preferred Echo and Paul just end up together — cheesy as it is. Or slightly better would be if she decides to stay in the Dollhouse as "Echo" but Paul wants to leave and forget the whole thing ever happened. Maybe he promises he’ll never forget her and hopefully after a year underground she’ll finally be ready to let him in and she can come find him on the outside. When the big hard reset happens she has her little breakdown and realizes she never told Paul she loved him and what if he forgets her and she really is all alone. While sad, that would have been way more satisfying. Plus, it leaves room for a movie afterwards or something. =)
Anyhow, all criticisms aside, it’s unfortunate the series had to end so quickly. Technically there were 2 seasons, but just 26 eps, so really just barely more than 1 standard season. The eps since they knew they’d be canceled really kicked it up a notch. They expedited the larger, overarching storyline so they could get to the big finale. I doubt they could have done anything to really change the outcome of the series being cancelled, but I bet it would have done a little better if there was more of that earlier. Season 1, especially, felt so episodic – almost like a showcase of Dushku’s acting range (or lack there of). If you’re going to be episodic like that, you need to have some combination of likable/believable characters, good writing (which it had), good acting, and intriguing storylines/cases. There are only so many twists on the rich guy filling out weird fantasy scenario and even one is one too many.
Nevertheless, it sucks another Joss Whedon show is off the air. =(