Dollhouse End of Season Review


Well, Friday marked Dollhouse‘s final episode of the seri…season! I mean season! We’ll most likely find out during the May 18 Fox upfronts whether we’ll get a chance to follow in season two the many intriguing plot lines left all dangly and enticing with the season finale, “Omega.” Here are the (mostly) non-spoilery questions I’m dying to have answered:

  • Will we ever find out Mellie/November/Madeleine’s full story?
  • What the hell is going on with Topher and “Dr. Saunders”? There’s definitely a provocative history there.
  • How’s Ballard going to manage his new position?
  • Exactly how big (and evil) is the Rossum Corporation?
  • What “girl” brought Boyd to the Dollhouse?
  • When oh when will we see Alpha again?
  • What’s going to happen with Victor next season?
  • Will I ever be as frosty awesome as Adelle Dewitt?

So many questions! Please oh please let them have the opportunity to be answered. In the meantime, here’s a brief recap of the roller coastery season.  (You can find my recap of the pilot here, my mid-season review here, and my brief review of the fantastic penultimate episode “Briar Rose” here.) SPOILERS BELOW!

Episode 1.01 “Ghost” Aired 2.13.09

We meet the inhabitants and staff of the Dollhouse, as well as FBI agent on the prowl Paul Ballard. Echo’s mission is as a hostage negotiator. There’s a trouble-maker named Alpha on the loose. Episode Grade: B+.

Episode 1.02 “The Target” Aired 2.20.09

We learn about Alpha’s rampage in flashback, and the handler/active relationship between Echo and Boyd develops. Echo is on a mission with an outdoorsy man who wants to hunt her and she regains some memories about her life as Caroline. Episode Grade: A-.

Episode 1.03 “Stage Fright” Aired 2.27.09

Echo is engaged as a back-up singer to a pop singer with a stalker. She goes off mission to save the day again, and Ballard is almost killed on a tip by Victor disguised as an informant. Episode Grade: C-. (How hilarious was it when Topher made fun of this engagement during the finale? “…unless he’s starting an evil band.”)

Episode 1.04 “Grey Hour” Aired 3.6.09

Sierra must be brought in to rescue Echo on an art heist mission after Alpha remote-wipes her. Boyd is awesome, as per yuuuzh. Topher learns that Alpha is still alive and Adelle ups his security clearance. Episode Grade: A-.

Episode 1.05 “True Believer” Aired 3.13.09

Echo is sent into a dangerous cult as a blind believer. We learn that security head Laurence Dominic wants her dead because he finds her dangerous, and Boyd is always and forever amazing. Ballard is still obsessed with finding the Dollhouse and, more importantly, Caroline. Victor is showing some atypical interest in Sierra. Episode Grade: B+.

Episode 1.06 “Man on the Street” Aired 3.20.09

Game changer! Ballard briefly finds Echo ensconced in a mission with Patton Oswalt. Sierra is being sexually assaulted by her handler, and Mellie is revealed to be a sleeper doll. Echo is sent to kill Ballard and then, at the last minute, reveals a coded message from someone within the Dollhouse. We learn that there are dozens of Dollhouses all over the world. Episode Grade: A+.

Episode 1.07 “Echoes” Aired 3.27.09

We meet the big bad behind the Dollhouse, The Rossum Corporation. A drug released on a campus makes everyone act loopy and awesome, including Topher and Adelle (!!). We learn much more about Caroline’s history, including the death of her boyfriend after he broke into the Rossum lab with her to free the lab animals. Episode Grade: A-.

Episode 1.08 “Needs” Aired 4.3.09

Adelle recruits her staff to solve the problem of the actives regaining their memories, and they choose to imprint the problem actives with their original personalities so they can gain closure. Victor and Sierra kiss, Mellie/November has a dead daughter and Caroline/Echo “liberates” the dolls. Episode Grade: B.

Episode 1.09 “A Spy in the House of Love” Aired 4.10.09

Adelle goes on vacation to reveal that she is the Miss Lonely Hearts that is frequently engaging Victor—here imprinted as a British fencing partner with impeccable grammar. Can’t fault her for taste. Topher discovers there’s a spy in the Dollhouse, and Echo (after urging Topher to imprint her to help him, something she should have no understanding of) discovers it’s Laurence Dominic. Dominic is sent to the Attic and Adelle retires her “relationship” with Victor. Ballard learns from a coded message within Mellie herself that Mellie is a doll. Episode Grade: A.


Episode 1.10 “Haunted” Aired 4.24.09

Topher is lonely and just wants someone to play Playstation and Laser Tag with him on his birthday. Echo is imprinted with the mind of Adelle’s wealthy dead friend so she can solve her own murder. Episode Grade: A-.

briar rose

Episode 1.11 “Briar Rose” Aired 5.1.09

Echo is imprinted with the older, healthier mind of a troubled young girl so she can help her. Ballard callously dumps Mellie and then waits for her to attempt suicide and for her handler to rescue her so he can follow them back to the Dollhouse and learn its location. He tracks down the man he believes designed the Dollhouse, an agoraphobic pothead Wash who helps Ballard break into the Dollhouse, where we then discover that he’s actually Alpha. Enver Gjokaj gives an INCREDIBLE impersonation of Laurence Dominic but then gets his pretty face all sliced up by Alpha, after calling Dr. Saunders “Whiskey.” Ballard and Boyd have a kick-ass knock down drag out, and Boyd naturally wins and captures Ballard, but Alpha makes off with Echo. Episode Grade: A+.


Episode 1.12 “Omega” Aired 5.8.09

Joss doesn’t even bother to write or direct his series finale, leaving that instead to a (mostly) capable Tim Minear. Alpha has imprinted Echo with a Natural Born Killers-type personality that used to belong to Whiskey, who is confirmed to have once been an active before Alpha sliced her face and murdered the original (male) Dr. Saunders, with whose personality she is imprinted so the Dollhouse won’t have to waste an “investment.” Alpha has all 48 of his previous imprints in his brain and he tries to do the same to Echo so she’ll be as “special” as he is. He also imprints a grown-up Chrissy Seaver with Caroline’s original personality so Echo will kill her and be free. Echo instead fights Alpha who escapes, and Boyd and Ballard work together to rescue Echo. Whiskey/Dr. Saunders discovers she’s a doll and there appears to be some sort of history between her and Topher. Ballard agrees to work for the Dollhouse to help capture Alpha if they will release Mellie (now revealed to be named Madeleine) from her contract. Episode Grade: B.

I frankly wish the show had ended with an episode more like Jane Espenson’s exceptional “Briar Rose” than the more uneven “Omega,” but honestly, if we find out on May 18 that Dollhouse is getting a second season, I will be the happiest little blogger who ever blogged in blogville, and I promise not to utter a word of criticism between now and the season two premiere! Then, well—all bets are off.

9 Responses to “Dollhouse End of Season Review”

  1. does anyone know what else joss was working on that was SO IMPORTANT that he couldn’t write or direct the last ep of the sea-, uh, series? (meredith, that line cracked me up btw. so did the term “frosty awesome” which i shall now implement into my regular vocabulary)

    i definitely feel like dollhouse improved over the season, but, you know, it’s no T2.

  2. xymarla Says:

    No T2 indeed, Sarah! Actually, Erin told me last night that the ep they didn’t air was intended to be the season finale (I thought it was intended to tbe the penultimate ep), and Joss did write/direct that one. So I am no longer mad at him. We shall see how mad I am at Fox next week.

  3. It’s good to know that Joss did write the final ep of the season but once again, Fox sets up the show to fail by ending it on a weird note. It just felt incomplete. I will admit, I was lukewarm on the first few episodes of Dollhouse but I have really grown to like the show. But now that I hope it comes back, it won’t.

  4. when i think about how it compares to the first season of Buffy, uh, Dollhouse definitely wins. (other than Welcome to the Hellmouth, Buffy season 1 sort of blew. SORRY.)

    my favorite joss show is and will forever be firefly, so the introduction of Alan Tudyk (also . . . when did he get ripped?) was pretty much all I needed to officially freak out over this season of Dollhouse. I really want it to be renewed, if for no other reason than to delve into WHISKERS, my new favorite tv pairing (more than Coach/Mrs Coach! Or even Riggins/me!)

  5. erin. WTF. you like whiskers MORE THAN THE COACH AND TAMI?!!!!!!!!


  6. xymarla Says:

    hee, Panther Pride was the name of Lufkin’s drill team.

  7. Whiskers FOREVER! I agree that “Dollhouse” was a better first season than Buffy. Just imagine if Season TWO surpasses S2 Buffy! That’s some mind-blowing goodness, guys! The finale, while uneven (PLEASE, Ballard. Did you REALLY just catch that hard drive?) made me a: actually actively like Topher, and b: acknowledge Ballard, instead of just quizzically wondering what he’s doing with his mouth when he acts. Good thoughts on May 18, everyone!

  8. AlphaGenix

    Dollhouse End of Season Review | Danny Isn’t Here, Mrs. Torrance

  9. their explanation

    Dollhouse End of Season Review | Danny Isn’t Here, Mrs. Torrance

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