Note: This should be completely spoiler free for the final episodes except for character traits
Forget Firefly, Dollhouse was the quintessential Joss Whedon masterpiece. This is the show that we should all be pissed got canceled. His first show to ever be set in the real world (or close to it), he took the idea of mind control and brainwashing to a new extreme. If this had been given the six seasons that Lost was given, or even the five seasons that Whedon's Angel was given, I have no doubt he could have made this the greatest sci-fi show to ever grace the airwaves. Alas, it could not be.
However, in the short 27 episode run, we were still treated with more than Whedon has ever given us. The story was delectable, the settings and encounters splendid, and the villains (especially Alpha) oh-so delicious. What Whedon did so well, though, was outdo himself in character development, not an easy feat.
The way Topher went from some crazed über-nerd, hellbent on proving his genius and furthering his own tech without care for the consequences was dazzling to watch. He lacked any conscience at all in the beginning, but by the end, he didn't care about anything but saving everyone; saving his protege from becoming him, saving his mother (there really wasn't any other way to describe his final relationship with Adelle), saving his friends, and saving the world. To be completely honest, Topher was, quite easily, the most impressive character I have seen in a tv-series in ages, perhaps ever. He was complete in every possible way as a character. The ultimate of the many, many Topher-isms we encountered is that he never lost sight of who he was, not even when he had pretty much completely lost his mind and was facing his ultimate test.
Enver Gjokaj continued his brilliant performance as Victor tonight. We all went into this show expecting to be infatuated with Eliza Dushku and the Whedon regulars that were sure to show up. Instead, we witnessed the transcendence of a complete no-name actor that Whedon scooped up. Gjokaj started off dry, but by the midway point of the first season, viewers craved the next character he would portray. Likely the most versatile actor that Whedon has ever cast, Gjokaj's Victor portrayed everything from super CIA-like agent to mobster to a party girl to what will likely amount to the greatest impression of all time in his impression of Topher. In his encounters with Adelle, Victor revealed to us that not even a mind wipe can negate who you are. His love for Sierra was stronger than hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mind wipes and new personalities. In my opinion, that's an incredibly strong message that Whedon, a lover of love, is trying to send to us.
Adelle, too, really transformed herself. Olivia Williams portrayed Adelle remarkably the entire series. In the beginning, we were led to be unaware whether she was a villain or hero. Every week for the first season we would get one or the other; an evil Adelle capable only of following the faceless Rossum's every whim or an Adelle who only cares for her charges, her Dolls and only wishes to see them fulfill their contract and return to their original lives. In the end, the single most beautiful part of Adelle was her relationship with Topher. In the beginning, she seemed to loathe, envy, and even fear him because of his personality and the sheer power his mind was capable of. By the final episodes, though, she came to see him only as her son. The attachment she craved, the attachment she so desperately tried to get by programming Victor as her personal lover, was not that of a mate. No, the attachment she so longed for was that of a son.
Whedon's regulars appeared every so often and really helped pull the show tighter when it got loose at times. Alan Tudyk's Alpha, Amy Acker's Whiskey, Summer Glau's Bennett, Felicia Day's Mag, and Alexis Denisof's Perrin were all incredible (especially Alpha and Whiskey) and really helped tie the show together. The rest of the characters were equally as great and, again, Whedon managed to do nothing less than cast every single one of his characters perfectly (except for the odd and unneeded Rick Fox cameo).
The amazing thing is that I haven't even mentioned the show's main character yet, other than a quick mention of the actress who portrayed her. While not as great as the aforementioned Topher, Victor, and Adelle, Caroline's story was the truly amazing part of Dollhouse. A single paragraph could not describe just how exceptional Echo and Caroline were, even when played by the mediocre Dushku. An entire article would be needed.
In the end, though, Whedon managed to stop the Brainocalypse and reboot the world he so easily transformed into his own twisted dystopia. Like all of Whedon's previous creations, Dollhouse had very strong messages throughout the series and especially in its climax and conclusion. No matter what, we are all human and should treat all others as human. It doesn't matter what happens to a person, they are still them on the inside. And, as with everything, love prevails over all.