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Commentaries on this Media!

Technology & Modernity

by Laura McConney

Generally speaking, television can serve as a powerful means to critique the larger world. While not all shows implement such criticism, Dollhouse certainly does. In order to fully illustrate how Dollhouse acts as a commentary on society, I'll be jumping ahead to the very end of the first season, focusing my attention on the unaired "Epitaph One." The most significant theme of the episode lies in associating technology, both our dependence on it and our desires to forward it, with societal collapse. Ultimately, this connection criticizes humanity's current relationship with technology and predicts a potentially dark future. "Epitaph One" is certainly an experimental episode. Eliza Dushku appears about seven minutes into the hour, and the episodic plot line remains firmly focused on new characters, including Mag (Felicia Day), Zone (Zack Ward), and Iris Miller (Adair Tisler). By jumping ten years into the future, the episode can explore the ramifications of the Dollhouse and the experimentation conducted by Rossum. Even if one were to remove the knowledge that the audience gains through the numerous flashbacks to Echo/Caroline, Adelle, and Whiskey, the rough world of 2019 emphasizes the danger posed by the influx of technology in the contemporary world. The rag-tag team that consumes the audience's attention seems similarly devoted to avoiding 'tech' at all costs. Within the first minute of the episode, Mag and Griff both agree to "ditch the tech," which includes their relatively low-grade walkie talkies. Mag chucks her communicator away once she's finished with it, almost as if simply touching anything technology-related holds the potential to poison her.

Mag and Her Walkie

Felicia Day's Mag in the opening moments of "Epitaph One," Dollhouse Episode 13 Season 1

from Dollhouse "Epitaph One" (2009)
Creator: Joss Whedon
Distributor: FOX
Posted by Laura McConney
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