TV Alert: “Dollhouse” reaches the end with the finale tonight

So this is it, really it. The Dollhouse finale airs tonight and we find out if the world ends in fire, ice or a bunch of mind-erased marauders wielding baseball bats. The better apocalypse through technology that Joss Whedon built has been breathtaking to watch.

What started as a show about high-tech human trafficking (or, to be blunt, prostitution) has evolved into a morality fable about nothing less than the end of civilization as we know it. While it’s disappointing that Fox canceled the series after only two seasons, we’ve been rewarded with complex, riveting and mind-blowing television this second half of the season. I, for one, feel lucky to have been on the ride, no matter how long it lasts.

While we’ll never know what the show might have become had it been given more time to grow and develop, what is clear is that Joss had a magnificent, ambitious vision for this show. It’s too bad it took a death sentence like cancelation for the show to finally reach its potential.

The finale, “Epitaph Two: Return,” picks up where the unaired DVD bonus episode “Epitaph One” left off. It’s 10 years in the future and despite Echo (Eliza Dushku) and company’s best efforts the world is not doing so hot. Mind-erased mobs rule the streets and everyone else looks like refugees from Mad Max franchise.

The only question that remains now is who will live, who will die (this is a Joss Whedon show, people will die) and if the world can be saved. Fox has released three promo clips from tonight’s episode. (You can watch the other two on Hulu.com.)

Given all the twists and turns of the last few episodes, I can honestly say I don’t know what to expect. But what I do know is that Eliza and the fantastic cast needs to find new homes on television very soon. Dichen Lachman, Miracle Laurie, Olivia Williams and Fran Kranz have all been amazing — equal parts kick ass and heartbreaking.

In the end, no matter what happens, Joss, Eliza and company have made a show they can be proud of. As Eliza told the Los Angeles Times after the final day of filming:

Everyone was so sad, but we’re all really thrilled to have gotten a second season and we’re really proud of the second season. The first season was great, but the second just really gelled, and I feel like people that were watching the show can tell. They can feel and see the difference. The writers got into exactly what we wanted to tell with these stories and the characters and conflicts. We’re really psyched. And also, many shows upon getting canceled … that’s it. Game over. You don’t get the chance to finish out all the stories and air all of the episodes. So, it’s a really rare thing that we were really grateful for.

I know I sure am grateful I got to watch. “Epitaph Two: Return” airs at 8 p.m. tonight on Fox (an hour earlier than its normal timeslot). So, how do you want the world to end?

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