I can see so many negative reviews here (even if some are regretfully negative), but I thought this ending was utterly amazing. It struck just the right balance between an almost-cheesy happy ending and something dark and bitter, and between tying up loose ends and leaving a lot of questions.
Let's go character by character:
1. Boyd. Okay, so technically the previous episode, I know. Clearly, that was an immensely shocking revelation. And one that was always going to annoy a lot of people. I feel I can overlook the issues with that, though, because it was handled quite well and I liked his whole insane "we are family" thing. That worked as an explanation for me, but then, I'm also trying not to think too hard about it, because I don't want to ruin Dollhouse for myself.
2. Paul and Echo. Oh, was I glad when he got shot. I already did some rejoicing when Alpha got him earlier in the season, though I knew it couldn't last... And then, I don't know why, I just never thought about deaths in the finale. Clearly an oversight, given that this is Joss Whedon, after all. In fact, just as Paul was felled I was beginning to debate with myself about whether it would Anthony or Priya who went. (Obviously, I was very wrong there.) A classic Whedon death, anyway, going down in the style of my dear beloveds, Anya and Wash. Except this time I only cared for a shocked millesecond, because I hate Paul. (That would be italicised if I knew how to italicise in a review.) Anyway, I found his death fitting, and perfect for Echo. I did not see that end coming, with her being imprinted with him, but I think I kind of like it. It's weird, sure. Maybe if I cared more about either of them, I'd have more issues with it... As it is, I think it made a good ending for them. (A sidenote: Anyone read The Wind on Fire trilogy? Bowman and Kestrel was the first thing that came to mind when this happened. I found that awfully hard to accept reading those books, so I guess my mind has already adjusted to this type of thing as a resolution.) What else was there for Echo in this episode, now? I can't remember. She's always been rather unimportant to me... So she got Caroline back, and she got to keep her new self, and she missed out on the real happy ever after, but in the end the world was saved. Though in the end it wasn't her who did it.
3. Anthony/Victor and Priya/Sierra. Aww. Well, that was always coming, I suppose. Though I did have my moment when I thought Joss would do his cruel thing and kill one of them off. I love Sierra almost entirely because Dichen Lachman was in Neighbours. And I love Victor because, wow, Enver Gokaj is a genius! His Topher in "The Hollow Men" was the most outstanding thing I've ever seen! (Even better than his previous Topher.) And mention just has to be made here of his performance as pscho-serial-killer and Kiki-the-slutty-student. Anyway. The addition of a kid was interesting, and I liked Anthony's tech-addiction. I bet somewhere in there, given the change, there would have been something of Priya blaming herself, for allowing Topher to give him ninja skills in the previous episode. I think their story mostly covers the whole happy ending aspect. It could have been cheesy and too soppy, but I think it and its screen time stopped just short of that.
4. Mag, Zone and Caroline II. I'm glad they got resolutions as well. And though maybe all that went on with them was a bit predictable, it was still perfect and what had to happen, and I'm glad it did. Clearly another Joss Whedon touch with the lesbian aspect, but still, the message that gave was a good one. Along with them revealing their past occupations. To have been together, I'm assuming, for at least year, and not to know anything about each others' befores, that's almost as though even though they were never wiped, they still lost who they were. Zone going off with Caroline II was sweet. And I love Adair Tishler.
5. Alpha. What?! I'll admit, I've never entirely managed to understand the Alpha storyline. So pre-anything to do with the Dollhouse, he was a killer? I'd forgotten that. And he was afraid of reverting to this personality, so... he went outside? What? How does that work? And then, the bigger issue, Alpha-turned-good?! A shock, and maybe too neat of a tying-up, but... this is becoming a theme... I liked it. Of course, it would have been nice to know more about how he 'evolved' to this (I'm thinking Paul's personality was a part of it?), but I'm happy just knowing that he did.
6. I'm saving the best till last, of course. Adelle and Topher. Oh, my dear Topher... How I adore him. Whether morally ambiguous or saving humanity, he is utterly genius, and so hilarious. I love the guy, and I love Fran Kranz. I intend to track down more of his stuff, although it just won't be the same. So. I've been longing all season to know how he reached total mental breakdown (though, clearly, Epitaph One was nothing). So when Bennett was killed... Man, I loved that episode. Perfect. There needed to be some sort of a catalyst and there it was. I loved in "The Hollow Men" that he still had that excitement, even then, on seeing all that tech. The glee and small smile, there for a moment before he fought it back and knew the implications. And oh, that hand hold, when Adelle reached out to him when he realised Boyd was behind Bennett's death. I love them. I've been rooting for their mother-sonish relationship since the drug episode. My mum reckons it's a romantic relationship. No. Way. And "Epitaph Two" gave them such an ending. Oh, my heart still breaks. Maybe Topher sacrificing himself is too much, too much of a perfect tying-up... but, no, I have to love it. "I don't want to cause any more pain." Okay, I could go on about these two for hours. But I won't. This is a review, after all, and I realise that I'm entirely unable to be critical about their part of the series and finale.
And then there are all the other characters whose stories we don't know: Mr Dominic, Ivy, Whiskey. Where did he go, when Adelle let him out? Is he fighting his own part of the war, somewhere else? Did Ivy become Topher or did she break free? I wonder if perhaps the pull of science was too much for her and she ended up aiding Rossum. But ultimately, no, I hope she did what Topher, in that moment of clarity, wanted. I imagine her holed up somewhere else, using her science to try and repel the tech - fighting her own part of the war too. (But, of course, just not the genius that Topher is, able to find a cure.) Or maybe that's too neat, and she just got wiped or imprinted or killed. And Whiskey, clearly she's a big question mark.
I have to just mention Bennett here. I won't go on about the character, though I really could, but just her death. Everyone on the show seems to believe that she was a sleeper active, imprinted by Boyd to stop Bennett resurrecting Caroline. But I disagree - I thought from the moment she walked into that room, hands so conveniently behind her back, that it was just Clare Saunders, of her own volition, killing Bennett to hurt Topher; her final revenge on him.
The story itself is of much less importance than the characters to me. There are flaws... but I overlook them because I think the show is character driven, and this finale wrapped that up perfectly. And it is, of course, driven by its themes as well, and they were perfectly showcased too. And there's that question: did they cause the 'apocalypse' by attempting to end it? Rossum was crazed and evil, yes, but it was an organisation, led by a strong head, and without it there was no control. As was said, once something is invented it can't be forgotten. They tried to save the world in a 'perfect' finale in "The Hollow Men", and the show (any other show) could have been left at that. But that's the genius of the future episodes - that could never be a perfect ending, there's never any perfect happy ending (a constant Joss Whedon message). It's almost like the Angel message of the fight never ends. I'm glad it wasn't all wrapped up simply by exploding Rossum.
I've heard it said a few times that there are too many gaps, that they tried to tell too much and ended up not telling us enough. I disagree, because I like that I can fill those gaps myself. Like how Alpha evolved, Anthony's tech-addiction, Adelle and Caroline mostly overcoming their intense dislike, Topher's breakdown. Obviously, if the show had been allowed to run its course, we could have seen all this. But no. And I am, of course, bittter about that. But, it is as it is, and I think they've done an incredble job of wrapping it up but still leaving us with so much story to explore ourselves. It's good, because I don't feel cheated out of this wonderful story, taken from us too early.
So. Here ends my review. Epitaph Two, my heart wants to give you 10 out of 10. But thinking about it, it has to be maybe a 9, because there were issues that I'm willing to overlook. And it's the same with the series as a whole. But it's okay to overlook these flaws, because they're not the be all and end all, and they don't change the fact that Dollhouse was an amazing, dark, gripping, thought-provoking, funny, different, and utterly genius show.