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Dollhouse Episode 12: “Omega,” Man! Pt.1

September 10, 2009

Shall I compare thee to a Summer Glau?

I shall, I shall! So this is your lucky day. Cuz she’s awesome.

What does this have to do with Tim Minear‘s magnum of whoah-pus, “Omega,” the season finale of Dollhouse (before the season coda, “Epitaph One“)?

The central theme of Dollhouse and fairy tales and life and faith herself, sweet and strong. I blogulate of nothing less than spiritual rebirth.

It’s right there in Little Red Riding Hood. After she’s eaten alive by a beast disguised as a grand mother, the hunter arrives and performs an emergency Caesarean with a pair of scissors. She emerges from the beastie belly a different person than the one who strayed from the path. (The Bros Grimm even published a Red Riding Hood sequel that’s oft-termed feminist, in which Red and Grandma encounter another Big Bad who tries to pull the same stunt, but this time they know better and . . . lure him to his doom!) The child has grown woman-like. Same person, but a different person. The old her died; how do you like her new me?

Yeah, Bruno B. writes about this in The Uses of Enchantment, but he has another book I’m not quite reading — more like intermittently sampling — called Symbolic Wounds: Puberty Rites and the Envious Male, that I think may be the source of the Joss-ian Whedon-y concept of Womb Envy, since the pages I’ve glanced at bring up a lot of cultural evidence that men are just fascinated by women’s ability to bring new life into being. No, I’m not gonna cite the pages, I’ve been citing pages all day, and I love it, but I’m cite-spent and ready for the little death called sleep to round out this day before I am reborn tomorrow morning to begin anew.

Rebirth metaphors come from, you know, birth. On the day you were born, you moved out of the darkness into the light, from “confinement” to (relative) freedom, from being one with a fellow human to being an individual human being. One stage of your life came to an end, and a new one began. You went through a narrow passage, and it was your first rite of passage. You left behind your old life and emerged into your new life. It was a moment of crisis, perilous, death-haunted, because there is always a risk to mother and child, and because birth always foreshadows death.

Like Summer Glau as River Tam in the final reel or two of Serenity. Not in the big showdown with the Reavers, but right before, when in the moment of crisis, she is transformed from protected to protector. What brings about the transformation? Her love for her brother? Her brother’s love for her? Yes and yes. It’s now or never, and she says yes. I love the lighting effect in that long, tubular, birth canalish sci fi structure — I think the technical term is “hallway” — the way the power goes off, plunging them into (artfully lit) shadow, so the emergency lights can go on behind River (as the emergency lights within her) as she runs with grace and purpose to face her fate, hastening from the darkness to the light, transforming from child to adult, protected girl to protective woman, passive weapon to active warrior.

And that’s not even the most awesome thing about her.

The awesome thing about this post is that it’s short. 😀

Read Part Two.

  1. korkster permalink
    January 14, 2010 8:54 pm

    “from being one with a fellow human to being an individual human being”

    I think Echo actually realizes this (yes, in “Omega”), but to actually [i]divide[/i] herself from Caroline, this doesn’t happen until “Meet Jane Doe”.

    She embarked from S2 E1 “Do you know the real me?” to “[b]I’m[/b] not her”.

    Reminds me of Who in a way (Borg from Star Trek: TNG). It’s not until he rejects his former life that he actually takes an identity and uses “I” in the affirmative. 🙂


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