Dollhouse: The Complete Season 2 (Fox) – The second and final season of Joss Whedon’s high-concept action conspiracy series was less a renewal than a brief reprieve. The low rated show about identity, control and people used as empty vessels for corporate power only got an additional 13 episodes before it was cancelled for good, but they are inventive episodes filled with hidden agendas, double-edged writing and characters the ping-pong between personalities. Eliza Dushku stars as Echo, the star player in the lineup of human “dolls” uploaded with entire personalities and skill sets, and it becomes clear this season that she is holding on to pieces of her imprints as she goes through her assignments. Harry Lennix, her handler in the first season, is promoted to head of security, Tahmoh Penikett the former FBI agent who joins the company as Echo’s new handler and partner in taking it down and Olivia Williams the head of the Los Angeles branch. Meanwhile the supporting cast of doll operatives (Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Miracle Laurie and Amy Acker) all evolve and even the resident tech boy nerd genius Topher (Fran Kranz) gets a romantic interest—in guest star Summer Glau (from Whedon’s Firefly).
Sorting through the motivations and the prime personas working their way through the imprinted personalities gives multiple levels to the drama while the moral implications take on epic proportions when the technology that wipes and imprints personalities is honed to operate at a distance, on civilians as well as dolls. And just wait until you get to finally explore “the attic.” Whedon didn’t have time to create a neat conclusion but he makes the edgy implications of the final episodes zing and caps the show with “Epitaph 2: The Return,” a sequel to the “Dollhouse” apocalypse episode from the first series. The series finale jumps ahead decades and is remarkably satisfying. Though not quite self-contained, the show has a remarkable integrity for being so brief (a mere 26 episodes over two short seasons) and invites repeat viewings.