It is arguably the oddest example yet of Joss Whedon’s odd relationship with television networks. He creates Dollhouse for Fox, they treat it like an ugly step-child, no one thinks it will be renewed, then it gets renewed, but they don’t show the final episode of the first season, “Epitaph One.” Whedon said the episode was more of a coda than something that flowed smoothly from the rest of the season, and that is indeed a more accurate description. It shows scenes from 2019, intercut with dream memories from approximately the time that Season One inhabited.
The good news from my perspective is that the 2019 scenes were clearly dystopian. I love dystopias, of course, but in this case it’s more than that. My primary problem with Dollhouse was the ambiguous presentation of many of the main characters, who seemed evil to me but who got off pretty lightly. “Epitaph One” shows us what happens down the road, and it isn’t pretty. It casts a much darker light on what came before, so much that I suspect Season One would look better in retrospect.
The bad news is that, so far, “Epitaph One” is only available as a DVD/Blu-ray extra, or via illegal download. Fox is apparently holding to their decision not to air the episode. As others have pointed out, since “Epitaph One” is crucial to understanding the upcoming season, it’s a mistake to make it so difficult to see. Ah well … such are the economics of television. If we really want to see it, we’ll buy the discs, and if we don’t know what’s going on, and the show bombs, Fox never liked the show, anyway. I gave Season One a B, but “Epitaph One” gets an A-.