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Epitaph One is the thirteenth episode of the first season of Dollhouse. A band of survivors attempt to find their way to safety ten years in the future, when Dollhouse technology has ravaged the world. It was not aired as part of the regular season, although series creator Joss Whedon has said in interviews that it is canon and was meant to either be the series finale (if the series wasn't picked up for another season) or a display of what is still to come.
Guest Starring: Amy Acker (Whiskey/Dr. Claire Saunders), Felicia Day (Mag), Reed Diamond (Laurence Dominic), Janina Gavankar (Lynn), Chris William Martin (Griff), Adair Tishler (Iris Miller), Zack Ward (Zone), Clayton Rohner (Dollhouse Client)
- Music: The song at the end of the episode was written by the writers of the episode, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, with Tancharoen singing the lyrics. The two previously worked with Joss Whedon on Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog. They wrote the song thinking that it should sound like a period pop song and not a song about the apocalypse. It was later released as a single on iTunes.
- Cannibalized: The first flashback where Adele is explaining the Dollhouse to a potential client is lifted directly from the original, unaired pilot.
- April Fools: Several of FOX's original programs were told to film on-set pranks to be aired on April Fool's Day during commercial breaks. At the time, the Dollhouse crew was filming Echo's first flashback with Paul Ballard during this episode and the joke they decided to pull was to have someone in a bear costume waiting in the elevator, where Paul and Echo would eventually end up. What they didn't realize at the time was that Paul doesn't become Echo's handler until the last episodes in the season and on April 1st, the series would only be up to episode seven. The crew regretted having to do the promo, mainly because it came at a time where the schedule was very tight and Dushku was so focused on getting her character right, including the Russian dialogue.
- Unreliable Narrator: Whedon has said that there is an "out" in this episode if he wanted to change some situations seen in the flashbacks. Because all of the flashbacks are memories retold by Whiskey, he has said that not all of the memories may be reliable and could play out differently when the events actually happen in future episodes.
Behind the Scenes
- Unaired: The reason why this episode went unaired was due to a contractual dispute between 20th Century Fox Television, the production company, and FOX, the broadcaster. The production company contracted 13 episodes for the DVD and Blu-Ray release, but FOX counted the cannibalized pilot episode as one of the 13 episodes that it ordered. As a result, the network refused to buy the actual 13th episode for broadcast and it was shelved for release on home video. It is unknown as to whether or not FOX will ever buy and air the episode, despite the fact that the network renewed Dollhouse for a second season.
- Censorship: Because this episode was created under different circumstances, it was not subject to any notes from FOX. For instance, they were specifically told to avoid the subject of prostitution in the broadcast episodes. But because "Epitaph One" was produced for DVD, they were able to have Zone come right out and say that the Dollhouse is a brothel. Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen say on the commentary for the episode that they were allowed a great deal of freedom, much more than they were afforded with the broadcast episodes and that they were allowed to use just about every idea they threw out.
- Filming: The entire film crew, including director of photography Rodney Charters, was pulled directly from 24. Many of the handheld style shots are staples in the 24 style, particularly the use of zoom and camera movement. The regular film crew was unavailable because they were busy shooting "Omega," the on-air season finale. The shoot only took six days to accomplish.
- Format: The idea for this episode came out of a desire Whedon had to shoot an interesting series/season finale cheaply and quickly by using video. He reasoned that in the apocalyptic future, there would be no film to be had, so video would be the only way to record. All of the future scenes are on video, while all of the flashbacks are on film like normal.