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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Dollhouse - The Complete Second Season'
(Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: From creative mastermind Joss Whedon comes the second and final season of the sexy, suspenseful thriller Dollhouse. Joss Whedon’s take on the ultimate identity theft follows a cast of Actives, or Dolls, who serve as agents of Dollhouse, an illegal underground organization providing elite clientele with programmable human beings. Personality imprints allow Actives to temporarily become anyone or anything—the perfect burglar, lover, spy or assassin. When the mission is completed, memories are wiped clean.

DVD Verdict: What is this Dollhouse, why does it exist, and where is it located ... and how can we destroy it? These seem to be the still-revolving questions asked of a building that contains an underground organization that wipes away someone's personality, leaving them in a mindless, childlike state - much like a doll.

And, much like said doll, if you never saw the first season, or did, and rather like myself had forgotten many aspects of it, then settling into this first episode of season two (the final season) is much like being one of those wiped dolls - remembering nothing that's transpired!

Because in the season opener, 'VOWS,' we get straight into the action without one single flashback or update reel! Echo, on one of her 'engagements' is marrying an arms dealer. It's six months after Alpha's reign of terror and with him still on the loose, Echo now begins randomly picking up flashes of past engagements - flashes that tend to get in her day-today 'fake' lives! Solid intro to the season, that features a great battle of an ending, and which also finds our hero starting to mind-fritz back to portions of her once self ie: Caroline.

In 'INSTINCT,' the story that Echo is living this time is very confusing. No real plot, save for the fact she now seems to be a mother to a beautifully cute baby boy, and a husband that wants nothing to do with either of them! Oh, and further complications arise when, thanks to Topher's programming, Echo takes too strongly to motherhood due to her maternal instincts ie: lactating boobs! This has to be the most mundane of the episodes in the season, sorry.

In 'BELLE CHOSE,' one portion of this story is about a weird, brain-disfunctional serial killer being put into a coma by a car accident (and the subsequent search to find some people who may have been abducted by him), whilst the Echo portion revolves around becoming a teacher's pet to a school teacher (Arye Gross as Professor Gossen)! The ending is a little weird, but fun.

In 'BELONGING,' the episode evolves around Sierra and how she came to the Dollhouse. It also features the arrival of new (semi) cast member, David Carradine ('Dexter') as the bigger boss to Adelle.

In 'THE PUBLIC EYE,' trouble is brewing within the Dollhouse. Echo is sent to Washington, DC to stop Senator Daniel Perrin before he can expose the Dollhouse's secrets. A twist comes a little later in the episode, but what a twist! Also, the beautiful Summer Glau ('Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles') makes her first appearance as genius programmer, Bennett Halverson, a woman with a mysterious past connection to Echo.

In 'THE LEFT HAND,' a reference to Bennett Halverson's 'dead' left arm, things come to light about the 'special' relationship between Echo and Bennett, in which a flashback reveals the real truth of how things came to be. Meanwhile, Topher sees double when he involves Victor in his espionage plans to hack into the DC Dollhouse computer to locate both Echo and Senator Perrin as they try to run from Perrin's wife Cindy, who is more connected than thought to the DC Dollhouse.

In 'MEET JANE DOE,' after her entanglements with Senator Perrin and the DC Dollhouse, Echo finds herself out in the world-at-large as she struggles to control her multiple memory downloads, as well as those of her original memory of Caroline. Unsure who she is, Echo/Caroline calls upon the only person she can remember; Ballard, when she lands in a jam in a small town in Texas involving an illegal Mexican immigrant woman whom gets jailed - because of something she did to try and help her.

In 'A LOVE SUPREME,' a few old favs from Dollhouse episodes gone by come out to play, but not for long for most of them! And that's due to the return of Alpha (the brilliant Alan Tyduk), who emerges from hiding and sets about 'removing' all of Echo's past romantic engagements! Not least a great (sorry) explosive scene atop a building! Another outing here for Patton Oswalt, who takes it with both hands, is fun to watch. At the same time though, Echo is locked in a cell, her brain on meltdown, Adelle trying to figure out what's going on inside her head. This is truly the first action episode of the second season!

In 'STOP-LOSS,' Victor's five-year contract with the Dollhouse elapses and he goes back out into the real world under his old personality of Anthony Ceccoli. But his past as a soldier fighting in Afghanistan suddenly creeps up on him (literally) and he is 'programmed' by another sector of men to, once more, become a fighting machine. Echo is then forced to recruit Sierra, under her real personalty of Priya, to help rescue Victor/Anthony.

In 'THE ATTIC,' (a great, revealing episode that I think we can all agree we've been waiting to delve into for over a year now!), when Adelle fears that Echo's multiple mind imprints are making her a danger to her goals for Rossum, she has her sent to The Attic! A place where such people as Echo are kept in limbo, forced to face their worst nightmares over and over. A weird episode this one, for sure, and not too left of center to hear that it was directed by American comic book artist and writer, John Cassaday! With her former Dollhouse rep Laurence Dominic in there to aid her escape the Matrix, they also run into the dark figure trying to kill everyone, named Arcane.

In 'GETTING CLOSER,' and with an in-house team of people all culled together to take down Rossum, the conspiracy now fully revealed, Boyd's away day secret is revealed! Topher meets up with Bennett when she is forcibly taken from the DC Dollhouse and brought to Los Angeles to help restore Caroline's past memory from a broken imprint. A great line here is uttered by Adelle to Topher as she walks by his office: "That troublesome, once-armed creature. Where is she?" Classic, especially with that posh British accent involved! Ballard struggles with the facts of his new existence as an Active, while he also brings in former active November/Millie back into the fold. The background story between Caroline and Bennett is revealed from three years earlier, and before the episode is over, two major twists are brought upon us ... including the death of a (semi) main character!

In 'THE HOLLOW MEN,' and with the secret of who the 'in their midst' actual co-creator of Rossum really is, Echo and the survivors of the Dollhouse head out to Arizona to locate and shut-down the Rossum Corporation's mainframe computer system - which is scheduled to go into active status for remote mind-wipes in global proportions. This episode, as the season/series winds down, feature the death of another (semi) main character. And, come the end, when the bombs go off inside the building, and everyone pats each other on the back for saving the world, a) externally there is nothing wrong with the just-blown building ie: HORRIBLE CGI, and b) with one final episode to go, me thinks they celebrated too soon!

In the final episode, 'EPITAPH 2: THE RETURN,' well, I have to say that the first 10 minutes are very confusing! First set in LA in 2019, we quickly jump to somewhere else in 2020. "Half the world is wiped, the other half are crazies," is uttered, giving us knowledge that Rossum's plan to wipe the entire world is (still) more than in motion.

With events finally having come full-circle as Echo and the few surviving Dollhouse staff struggle to restore mankind after the devastating events seen in the first season episode, 'Epitaph,' fellow actuals (those not affected by the wipes thus far), Mag, Zone, and the mind-restored Caroline (within a young child) set out to find the safe haven that can save man-kind from total extinction.

And, captured and working within the Rossum building, told to create a worldwide mind sweep device, or witness the death of a human being every day in front of him, Topher actually sets out to create a reverse mind sweep device - one that only he can detinate in Adelle's old high rise office, come the end of the episode. But, before that we get the deaths of two major characters - one seen, and sad, the other known-to-have-happened and (somewhat) joyous!

As for the actual ending, well, you'll have to watch that to find out - for, I ain't gonna spoil it for you! The special features are good, especially the Joss Whedon audio commentary on 'VOWS' where he talks more about the smaller budget this time around, the two cancelation notices he received for both seasons, the lighting within the Dollhouse, and the new cameras brought in for the HD shooting, etc. There are 7 deleted scenes, but they add noting to any story not already told or hinted at through the series, and the outtakes show the fun they had on set.

The 'Defining Moments' featurette is 10 minutes long and is basically a behind-the-scenes expose on what everyone went through for the art of making this show. "I am enormously proud of this weird thing that we created," creator Joss Whedon admits at its close. And, the resturant dinner with all the main cast in 'Looking Back' is a little static, very stoic, in places, but serves up some tasty fun treats along the way. And so, enjoy, one and all. (RT) These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.77:1), and comes with the Special Features of:

Dollhouse Comic Book
Audio Commentary on 'Vows' by Joss Whedon
Audio Commentary on 'Belonging' by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen
Deleted Scenes
Defining Moments
Looking Back

Dollhouse Comic Book:
Each Blu-ray and DVD comes with a 28 page exclusive limited edition comic book by Dark Horse Comics. Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, joined by longtime Buffy the Vampire Slayer artist Cliff Richards, take us on an intricate trip through the precise moment when the Active technology went global, and how the protagonists from Epitaph One and Two narrowly avoided death, and worse.