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Dollhouse (Re)watch & Discuss: 1.13 Epitaph One & 1.00 Pilot

Athena

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Black Thorn
#1
This week, we'll be doing a special double-feature, by watching the thirteenth episode of the first season of Dollhouse - Epitaph One - teleplay by Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon, story by Joss Whedon, and directed by David Solomon. In addition we'll also be watching the pilot episode - Echo - written and directed by Joss Whedon. This (re)watch is open to new Dollhouse viewers (such as myself) and existing fans. Everyone is welcome to join in!

This episode 13/0 (re)watch takes place between 18th September 2016 - 24th September 2016. You can watch this episode at your leisure during that time and discuss the episodes below.

Although Dollhouse has aired for some time, this and all future episode threads are a dedicated no spoiler zone! Please ensure any spoilers are spoiler tagged. :)

Epitaph One - S1E13
Synopsis​
In the future, the imprinting technology is rampant. A few people stumble on the Dollhouse.

Echo - S1E0
Synopsis
FBI Agent Paul Ballard searches for Caroline, a missing person, who may be connected to a Dollhouse. A place that people say doesn't exist.
 

Taake

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#2
I love Epitath 1 because obviously season 1 starts and ends with the characters still IN the Dollhouse. Including Paul who's been trying to take it down. It opens up for a lot of questions. So Epitath 1 is really perfect because we get a glimpse of the "thoughtpocalypse" actually having happened, that everything spiralled out of control and now the tech is everywhere. It's really kind of scary to think of what we saw in "Gray Hour" with Echo being remote wiped, could happen to anyone. And has happened.

I love Zone.
I love seeing Mr. Dominic back.
I love that Iris is a little creep.
I'm curious about Whiskey, her presence and her lack of scars. She's altogether probably the saddest character of this -verse.

The flashbacks are great but just open for more questions. How did we get here? I want to know.

Nice to see that Adelle took a stand.

I really, really love the Topher and Adelle connection we see here. Very mother/son. I also like that Topher has clearly cracked under the weight of what he has done, when he realizes he thought of it...

I love the song "Remains" that plays at the end.


Pilot
I can't get over how much better I think this pilot is. I feel like they do a great job explaining exactly what an Active is and why people might get them. No need for like 5 filler episodes before we get into the nitty gritty of the show. I'm glad they used a lot of the scenes from this episode at other points, because they're good scenes, but if they had gotten all of this out of the way right at the start we could have gotten a lot more character development during the rest of the season, instead of wasting time on weak episodes about pop stars and cults.

Saunders is terrific in the pilot, so is Topher. Setting off their antagonistic relationship from the start was a great idea.

The only thing weak about this episode is that I do like in the actual pilot that we get to see Sierra turned into a doll. Here she already is one.

I also like that Paul meets Echo this early. It makes it more personal, and understandable that he'd be so obsessed with her. I like that Echo's imprint reacts when he asks if she's Caroline and then "misses" the kill shot. I feel like they get something of a connection here that's lacking in the show otherwise.
 

GwenRaiden

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#3
Haven't watched the pilot yet, just Epitaph One.

Epitaph One definitely raised the bar in terms of the concept of the show. I know they made Epitaph One because they thought Dollhouse was being cancelled and were going out with a bang, but either way, it worked in what they were trying to achieve. It definitely made me excited for season 2.

Seeing Whiskey again was chilling. Amy is just amazing to watch. And FINALLY, I felt something for Topher (and Adelle). Seeing Topher inconsolable and insane by what he had done while Adelle comforts him in a very motherly way is pretty sad. I remember saying back when we started on s1 how I thought it would be difficult to feel sympathetic towards the dolls and some of the characters in general due to their lack of identity, but I guess what Epitaph One succeeds in is making you feel sympathetic for all of humanity in the wake of what has happened with Dollhouse technology.

Seeing the once perfectly glossy and shiny Dollhouse in the dark and a state of disrepair is downright creepy and really sets the mood of how much has changed. I'm interested to see the goings-on from between the present and the future. Is Topher's descent into madness featured along with his growing bond with Adelle? What happened with Whiskey and Boyd? Etc etc etc. It was definitely a bold move by the makers to make such a strong, fleshed-out, futuristic episode. It really worked.

Epitaph One and Man on the Street were definitely my favourites from s1.
 

Athena

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#4
I watched Epitaph One earlier (not yet the Pilot, hopefully later today!)

I must admit, my first thought watching this episode was OMG It's Felicia Day! I love her. I found the first few scenes to be a little dull, but it really picked up when they actually entered the old Dollhouse.

Little Iris was a creep, I like the twist that she was the bad guy trying to take them down. I don't recall her 'father' agreeing to be re-memorised though. But then, I don't think I understood him - was he an active or a real guy?

The scenes with Whiskey were great. How did she end up in such a pure, clean white dress though? The flashbacks were also great. It was fantastic to see that Adelle had some integrity and moral compass, despite her choice of business, and that Topher faced the stark realisation of what he'd done by going mad. Her comforting him was lovely to see.

Found it very weird that it was set in 2019 though - I find that dating future scenes like that can sometimes be weird, because 2019 will come and go and it'll feel out of place.

I thought it was a good episode, but I can understand why they didn't air it, because they presumably knew by that point they were returning?
 

Taake

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#5
Little Iris was a creep, I like the twist that she was the bad guy trying to take them down. I don't recall her 'father' agreeing to be re-memorised though. But then, I don't think I understood him - was he an active or a real guy?


I thought it was a good episode, but I can understand why they didn't air it, because they presumably knew by that point they were returning?
I think he's what they call a "dumbshow", he's just wiped, nothing put back in. So he's a real guy but he's not a person with a personality.

I don't think they did. From what I read this was the intended wrap up of the show because they thought they were canceled, and the previous episode ended with them still in the Dollhouse.
 

Fuffy Baith

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#6
I watched this episode and then I watched it with the Commentary on. Apparently it was shot around the same time they shot Omega, so that's why it focuses on the future cast.

I think this might be the best episode of the show. It sets up what will be explored in season 2. I'm not sure if anything here is retconned in season 2 or Epitaph: The Return. I might rewatch this again before we watch Epitaph 2.

Amy Acker is great as creepy Whiskey. It's like she's the automated caretaker of the Dollhouse or something. And she has no scars! Even when Caroline returns! I feel like this might conflict with season 2, but I don't remember clearly. Dr. Saunders line to Boyd "I wish we had more time", reminds me of Fred dying. But not as sad cause I don't care for Boyd and Saunders. lol.

The little girl is great! She was in the first season of Heroes also. For a child actor she does a great job playing the innocent girl, the killer and Caroline.

The shower scene was like out of a horror movie. That's like a rule, don't get naked or you will die.

It's also nice to see Mr. Dominic again! I really love his scene with Adele in her office. She's great in this episode. And poor Topher! I actually teared up a bit, it's really sad to see him go mad and then realize it was all his fault.

I don't really care for Caroline coming in trying to save the day. I kinda like that she and Adele still hate each other. lol. I also love the song at the end. Apparently they had no money in the budget to buy a song so Jed Whedon and his wife Maurissa created it to play over the ending. Where were they climbing too? The roof?

Found it very weird that it was set in 2019 though - I find that dating future scenes like that can sometimes be weird, because 2019 will come and go and it'll feel out of place.
Yea this happens in sci-fi movies. Like Back to the Future 2 which was partly set in 2015. Also The Running Man was set in 2017 and Blade Runner in 2019. These things tend to date the movie or show.
 
Ok I watched the unaired pilot. I really like this, I think it's better than Ghost. I like that they used a lot of the scenes throughout the first few episodes. I think I like the reveal of Lubov/Victor better here than seeing him rise in the chair.

I don't really care for the stuff in the bar. Eliza seems to be over acting a bit. But it's sort of a similar concept that we see in Briar Rose. Imprint an active with a better future self of someone in order to help that person.

Dr. Saunders is always so creepy. I like the extended scene of Topher and Boyd talking about the dolls. It works better than Topher's line to Boyd in Ghost "Why don't you just ask Echo? Oh because she doesn't remember." Boyd already knows that Topher! lol. Also this really doesn't make Topher look good, he even calls himself a monster to Saunders.

I really like the stuff with Echo and Paul though. If he had encountered her (or real Caroline) before it would have made his whole obsession a lot better, and not creepy. They sort of try to do that in Man on the Street but I think this works better, right from the beginning. Because we have no idea why Paul started investigating the Dollhouse to begin with. When we meet him in Ghost he has already been kicked off the case or something for being crazy.

One of my favorite parts though is the bride at the wedding, "this is the best day of my life" then her friend interrupts her to talk about Echo and she says again "THIS is the best day of MY life!" A little more irritated. lol.
 

Carrie Hopewell

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Sineya
#7
I watched Dollhouse for the first time last week, so I'm not going to rewatch the episodes. I did like the pilot. I thought it was interesting and set up the Dollhouse universe really well. I never had the problem of not having enough sympathy for the Dolls. I was endeared to them from the start and also liked Paul, Adelle and Saunders. I thought Topher was a cliché and badly acted, but now he's my favorite character. Adelle's character also got more interesting with time. The opposite happened with Paul though...
When I was watching "The Target" I realized that the pilot was set in the future, which was cool but confusing. I feel like I need to watch the show again to fully get the timeline.

It's very interesting that everyone likes Epitaph 1. I didn't. In fact, I was extremely disappointed by the apocalyptic scenario! I hate those kind of movies/shows. Dollhouse was a thousand times more interesting and creative without the destruction of civilization story line. Most unethical acts don't destroy the world and happen right under our noses without people noticing and/or caring. I thought the show was realistic when the Dolls were just being hired by millionaires for various purposes. The show dealt well with the moral dilemmas the Dollhouse workers faced and with the immorality of the Dolls in general, even if there was technically consent and some genuinely good actions being performed. My favorite season 1 episode is "A Spy in the House of Love" because of Adelle's dark secret and vulnerability. The show is uninteresting when it's simply a black and white "Dolls are wrong and people are slaves" scenario. I wasn't disappointed with how the show ended, so I got used to the idea, but I wish Epitaph 1 didn't exist. It wasn't the right time.
I also didn't love the actors from the future. I did like Topher, Adelle and Whiskey, but I didn't like the implication of a romance between Boyd and Dr. Saunders. My biggest wish for S1 was to finally see Alpha and he was a bit disappointing, but interesting. In 'Omega' we finally had Caroline and a conscientious Echo and I wanted to see the follow-up to that. Instead I had Epitaph 1. Seriously almost dropped the show.
 

Athena

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#8
I'd just like to say I fully intended to watch the pilot, but for some reason the disc won't work in my PC.... (others will, just this one won't) so currently trying to sort out the issue. (I realise I'm late, and I still need to post the start of Season 2, but technical difficulties take precedence :p
 
Also, I didn't grade Epitaph One. I'll give it a solid B.
 

Athena

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#9
I enjoyed the Pilot, there were a few scenes they obviously reused in future episodes. I thought the episode on the whole did a good job of explaining the actives and what they were there for and explain the roles of the characters.

No need for like 5 filler episodes before we get into the nitty gritty of the show. I'm glad they used a lot of the scenes from this episode at other points, because they're good scenes, but if they had gotten all of this out of the way right at the start we could have gotten a lot more character development during the rest of the season, instead of wasting time on weak episodes about pop stars and cults.
Agree totally. I can understand why they never aired it, as there is a lot of repeated scenes later in the show, but they definitely could have either condensed the first season down to fewer episodes, or made those episodes count towards the main narrative more, rather than the random filler episodes we ended up with, like Stage Fright and Gray Hour, which were pointless and rubbish.

I think I'd give the Pilot a B+, definitely better than the first episode we ended up with.
 
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#10
I really like Epitaph 1. I think there are some issues with continuity that come up later because of it, but we'll deal with it when that comes up ;). I haven't been able to watch the pilot yet!
 
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#11
I will be watching the original pilot last of all.

On Epitaph One? Boy it throw me through a loop. Really confusing!;) I liked the action in 2019, thought it was gripping and a fresh perspective on things. A lot of the other parts with the regular characters was such small fragments and it was hard to tell what was happening in what time frame. I would like to see more of Sanders and Boyd as a couple. Overall I liked that they did something bold and fresh for the season finale, but it was a little hit and miss at least on first viewing.
 
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