TV Review: Dollhouse – Omega


Dollhouse, Fox, Airs Friday 9/8c

Episode: “Omega” (Season 1, Episode 12)

Synopsis: In the season finale (sort of), the mystery of the composite event that spiraled Alpha into Crazytown is fully explained, as we see why Echo holds such a fascination for him. Meanwhile, events thought previously understood are given a new explanation and an old doll is revealed. Finally, Agent Ballard ties himself to the Dollhouse in exchange for playing knight on a white steed and saving the damsel, even though she’ll never know it happened.

Review: It confounds me that this episode received all-series low ratings. Plot wise, it was an all-season high, with threads previously thought to be fully understood completely altered. People had suspicions about Dr. Saunders, and some even hypothesized that she was a doll, but this was right out of left field. Of course, the episode wasn’t a one-trick pony. Trust Mr. Whedon to knock the season finale right out of the ballpark.

From the revelations regarding Whisky, Alpha and Echo to Agent Ballard’s new employment, Caroline’s witnessing of herself as a doll to Echo getting her head around the idea that she is a shell, even though she can contain the personalities of so many others, the episode provided one hell of an emotional ride. Best of all, even though we were left with some driving questions and a villain on a mission still to capture, we got answers.

A common issue with season finales is that they concentrate on the cliffhanger aspect so much that you end up seriously frustrated for three or four months, waiting for answers to finally come. Alpha’s origin (particularly what caused his composite event) was explained, his drive to hook up with Echo is understood and the mystery over why Dr. Saunders was left alive when so many others were dead during his attack is clear. Echo is back where she belongs, though the idea of “Omega” becoming an operative for the Dollhouse alongside Ballard was somewhat appealing and did offer an interesting possible arc to follow.

The remaining issues which can carry over to the next season (if we’re lucky enough to be granted one) range in size from mere wonderings to major plot points. What will happen to Victor now that he can no longer be his best? Why did Topher program Dr. Saunders to hate him? What other directives did he instill? Could this be tied to the still-unknown informant which leaked information to Ballard? Now that Ballard plays for the Dollhouse team, will he be an even better operative against them, operating from within to discover their purpose? How much does Echo remember of what has just happened? And of course, where is Alpha and what is his next move now that his beloved Omega has disappointed and betrayed him? There’s quite a bit of meat left in this series, not to mention character development and one-shot stories.

The season as a whole is difficult to categorize, as 4 of the initial 5 episodes were much weaker than the remainder of the season (the pilot being the notable exception, and even then there’s controversy). However, whilst many found the initial episodes dull and merely filler, I know that at the time I enjoyed them. Also, similar to shows like “Lost“, there’s more subtext there than can be gotten on the first time around. From episode 6 (“Man on the Street“) onwards though, the series was a powerhouse, with each new episode leaving you itching for more. Characters like Sierra and Victor have come into their own, and have had major plotlines associated with them. The show may seem to be all about a single character, but it’s more of an ensemble piece than you would think. The more it focuses on the characters and not just the engagements, the stronger it gets. One major concern which floated around after the idea of this show got out was that it would be nothing more than episode of the week fare. If the characters’ personalities change from week to week, how does one attach to any character at all? After 12 episodes, it’s safe to say that this isn’t an issue. They’ve found something that works. Hell, they’ve even moved an oft-dismissed boring character into the heart of the show (yes, I’m looking at you, Ballard). This is progress indeed.

Whether the story will live on beyond this episode remains to be seen, as we wait for Fox’s air schedule for 2009/2010 to get the final verdict on Dollhouse. Ratings have dropped in the last few weeks, so perhaps it’s too much to hope for another season, but these ratings don’t contain the numbers for DVR or Hulu viewings. Maybe some tech savvy executive will take a look at those figures and decide to save it, but only time will tell.

Finally, just to clarify this whole pseudo-season finale issue. There is an episode remaining in the season, but Fox doesn’t plan to air it. “Epitaph One” is a standalone episode following the events of “Omega”, but with no plot additions. It will feature on the DVD box set, so we will get to see it, but unless Fox changes its tune it won’t air on network television.

So that’s it for these reviews. Maybe we’ll be back next year, maybe we won’t, but either way you can still catch coverage of (most of) your favorite shows in the TV for Movie Lovers Archive. As usual, it you’ve missed any Dollhouse episodes, recap on them here.

Did you watch Dollhouse this week? What’d you think? Reckon it’ll be back? Sad to see it go? Did you see the Saunders twist coming? What’s Alpha’s next move? Anyone else notice that they caused the composite event that created psycho Alpha?

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