dollhouse_impressions

Leave it to Joss Whedon to completely alter everything we’ve come to expect from a show within the course of a single episode. Dollhouse may have got off to a slow start, but if the ridiculously packed house at today’s Comic Con panel is any indication, I’m not the only one who thinks it eventually found its groove and developed into something great.

But nothing–and I mean nothing–could’ve prepared me for what I was about to see.

As a special treat for Comic Con attendees, Whedon gave us an early look at the unaired episode Epitaph One, which will be available on the Season 1 DVD set that comes out this upcoming Tuesday.

Let it be said right now: Epitaph One isn’t your ordinary Dollhouse episode. It was never meant to air on Fox. It wasn’t intended as the original Season 1 finale, nor is it the original pilot. It was always made to be a bonus for the DVD. And yet, everything that happens in it is a direct reflection of the insanity that’s in store for us in Season 2. It will, without a doubt, radically alter the way you experience the next season of the show.

Before you read on, you should ask yourself: Are you ready to take that plunge?

Still reading?

Good.

Epitaph One takes place in the future. 2019, to be exact. The world as we know it is pretty much in ruins. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of everything that happens in the episode (you can read a full recap here, or better yet, just check out the DVD when it’s released), but it doesn’t follow our normal cast of characters. Not right away, at least. The show opens with a group of humans who, unlike most of society, have managed to avoid being wiped or imprinted with new personalities. Their attempts to avoid contact with technology leads them underground, where they discover the abandoned Dollhouse facility, including the still intact “wiping” room and a large database of personalities and memories. Throughout the episode, we see glimpses of these memories through flashbacks that feature the show’s regular cast of characters, but they’re to events that haven’t yet transpired on the series.

According to Whedon, these memories are indeed real, but “we haven’t seen the whole picture.” Since they’re memories, some of them may be unreliable, and others possibly didn’t play out exactly as we might have interpreted. Whedon also confirmed that we’d be seeing more of the group of human characters, but only in the first episode. This teasing is one of the many factors that should make watching Season 2 unfold a joy to behold, but it doesn’t even address the biggest game-changer: We have seen the future of Dollhouse, and it’s not pleasant.

That this episode will likely go unseen by anyone who doesn’t check out the DVD is both perplexing and fascinating to me. In a way, it’s like Whedon is giving a special gift to all the true fans of the series. He’s offering viewers a handful of pieces to a puzzle, giving us the opportunity to put them together for ourselves once new episodes of the show start airing.

I, for one, cannot wait to see how they do.

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