SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
I just got to the last episode of Dollhouse, and far from my “OK, not great ” impression when the show started: Oh Fuck Yes!
The plot got complicated in wonderful ways, the characters became interesting and compelling, and (in retrospect, probably most importantly) the acting stepped up; Eliza Dushku (Echo) and Fran Kranz (Topher) get their “crazy” roles down perfectly by the end; Echo really does seem to shift between personalities visible from the earlier episodes, and composite states thereof (the best are the composite/Caroline transitions), and Topher really does come off as a shattered genius. Even the actors I strongly associate with previous roles mostly rolled over; Eliza Dushku as Echo instead of Faye and Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard instead of Karl “Helo” Agathon stopped having that weird “third character” effect for me only a few episodes into the series, and Summer Glau as Bennett Halverson instead of River Tam, and Alan Tudyk as Alpha instead of Wash were mostly de-aliased, but only mostly; partly as a function of screen time and partly as a function of the relative similarity of the characters. It’s worth noting that three of the four character aliases are from other Whedon series.
The end of the plot arc is a solid ending to almost all the threads, and it completes the way I would have liked in almost every way: Most importantly, it works out such that the solution to a technological problem is understanding and improving technology (not necessarily the same technology; in this case it was). I pretty strongly feel that way about all sorts of tech, and in particular like that it stresses that the worst thing to do is to try to hoard or hide a technology, as that is how it comes to be abused. I was also very pleased with some of the character choices; the sympathetic interpretation of Adelle is mostly affirmed (and the odd, vaguely oedipal relationship between Adelle and Topher is just neat characterization.)
I think the only big issues is that I would have liked an extra season in the middle to develop things at a more stable pace, particularly the Boyd/Rossum plot, and the redemption of Alpha, which just kind of appear in the second-to-last and last episodes respectively.
As for the closing episode itself, the aesthetic for Epitaph Two is spectacular; it cues from Fallout and Mad Max (I believe it actually made a couple of in-joke references to each), and has the same Whedon last desperate battle feel from Serenity (which, frankly, is a good look.)
A couple of my favorite quotes from the closing episode:
Topher to Adelle: “I’ll fix what we did to their heads, You’ll fix what we did to the rest of the world — Your job is wayyy harder”
Echo: “It’s just the next thing.” (on spending years underground in order for actives to retain their memories when the world is reset… and the reset itself.)
For someone watching from the start (and everyone with even the slightest inclination toward scifi really should), do watch in broadcast order. Having Epitaph One in the middle really does enrich the mystery of the second season.
Now the last (non-terrible) Sci-Fi standing (at least until Warehouse 13 and Stargate Universe come back on) is Caprica, which has just started actually running. Hopefully it lives up to its pilot, it was promising in many of the same ways Dollhouse proved to be interesting.