Dollhouse 2.10: "The Attic"

(Note: This review covers the second half of the two-episode event that aired on 18 December, 2009. A previous review covered the first half of the event.)

Just when I think I know where a story is going, Joss manages to throw a curve ball that changes the game. This is one of those cases where I was right to an extent, but I just didn’t see how all the pieces could fall into place. Thankfully, the writers knew what they were doing, and it’s clear that they had answers to basic questions waiting in the wings.

As it turns out, Adele was playing a dangerous game with Rossum, using her new Draconian methods to organize a resistance. She can’t hope to have this movement go unnoticed for long, but it shouldn’t need to linger. The damage is already done. It’s just a matter of determining whether or not this resistance simply fails or brings down severe unintended consequences on the world.

I was floored when the pieces finally started to come together. So Caroline, anti-Rossum activist, found out the names of the two people responsible for the plan to take control of the world through mind wiping. (It sounds silly put that way, but that’s what it amounts to in the end.) As a result, when Caroline was captured, she was effectively forced into becoming a Doll, as seen in the first season. This was meant to eliminate the threat that Caroline posed, but they never suspected that a Doll would ever exceed programming like Echo has.

Given Echo’s nature, she has now absorbed every skill she could possibly want or need to survive what’s coming. She also has a team in Paul, Victor, and Sierra. With the knowledge that the Attic “mainframe” has concluded that the future seen in “Epitaph One” has a 97% probability of coming true, all that is needed for the final mix to come together is the return of Whiskey. At that point, the stage would be fully set for the events alluded to in “Epitaph One” to take place.

The end result must be that Adele, Topher, and most of the Dolls in the Los Angeles branch must remain intact and in operation, with Caroline/Echo and Paul escaping to find Safe Haven (and, perhaps, a changed Alpha). After all, Victor is eventually imprinted with a copy of Clive Ambrose, and at that point, Adele and Topher are still considered loyal Rossum employees (unless, of course, that scene from “Epitaph One” took place in the three-month gap seen in “Meet Jane Doe”).

It seems abundantly clear to me that while the series timeline was accelerated to hit all the high points, this is where the story was meant to go. It just would have gotten there at a slower pace, had the show been a hit. I just love the idea that the entire series is going to feel complete when it’s over, thanks to the capstones of “Epitaph One” and the impending “Epitaph Two”. It’s now very clear that the second season was all about wrapping up loose ends, one step at a time.

I can see the story taking two different directions, both arriving at the same point. The first is the most likely: that the circumstances of this resistance, combined with Bennett’s desire for revenge, will force Adele to send Caroline/Echo and Paul out. This would explain how both Echo and Adele could see themselves as part of a resistance, yet still see each other as adversaries. This would leave Echo’s conversation with Dominic in the virtual “mainframe” world as a potential plot point for resolving things in “Epitaph Two”.

The other direction would be harder to pull off with the short time remaining. It might be that Adele and Echo try to use Dominic and the revelations about the Attic to their advantage sooner rather than later. This might introduce a weakness in the Rossum system security that fails to give the resistance a path to victory, but eventually allows someone else to come in and take control of the technology. After all, we don’t know how Rossum lost control of the tech, only that it happened.

Beyond the massive continuity and mythology connections, this episode is also one of the most visually impressive episodes of “Dollhouse”. The guest director (John Cassaday of comics fame, who worked with Joss on “Astonishing X-Men”) had a clear sense of visual communication, and the imagery helped to communicate the familiar chaos at the heart of the Attic. On nearly every level, this was yet another triumph for this surprising second season.


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