Well, well, well. We live to Joss another day. Good on you, Fox.
In what looks like fairly grainy video, we open on a futuristic, somewhat apocalyptic-looking setting that's reminiscent of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which is probably one of a long list of reasons the network decided not to air this episode. Amid distant shouts and the usual cars on fire that are the screen's most popular shorthand for "sci-fi society you, for any number of reasons, wouldn't want to be caught dead in," a rather armed redheaded woman informs someone code-named "Exultation" via walkie-talkie that the "Green Room" is open, "but the party has been crashed," not by "Wielders," but "Butchers" and "Dumbshows." While, having recapped both The Mountain and Big Shots, I'm certainly familiar enough with dumb shows, I have the feeling she's talking about something else. "Mag," by the way, is played by Felicia Day, who was Penny in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. For those that didn't know that, it's nice to meet the two of you. She gives her location and instructs the male Exultation to come in softly, and he instructs her in turn to "ditch the tech." She complies by winging the walkie-talkie somewhere far away, after which she settles down for a good cry, and having been an on-set movie producer I can certainly sympathize with both urges in that order. We pan up to see, presumably, Butchers and Dumbshows fighting in what looks like a power plant built on a studio backlot, or perhaps a power plant that looks like a studio backlot, but at least we get a chyron with the "Dollhouse" title to let us know that we put the right DVD into the player.
The next bit of helpful superimposed information is that the scene we're viewing is taking place in "Los Angeles 2019," and given the current year it seems like a rather quick trip to the end of days, but maybe The Simpsons finally got canceled. Mag's associates quickly make their appearance, missing, to Mag's chagrin, a "Laura," who apparently was a victim of a Butcher and got not "torn" but "printed," forcing one of the dudes, "Zone," to "put her down." I'd complain about the lingo, but it actually makes some visceral sense even if you don't know what's going on yet, and also, there's a bit about how Laura "almost took a bite out of Iris," which certainly is an interesting tidbit for those watching the episode a second time. Anyway, the other players in this group are the aforementioned Iris, played by Adair Tishler, or Molly from Heroes, Iris's dad, who seems, not to put too fine a point on it, rather Doll-like, Lynn, who was Eva/Papi on The L Word, and the leader, "Griff," who's done a whole lot of TV in his career but I will always remember best as Greg from Felicity. Like most ragtag bands, they have their roles to play: Griff is the Even-Keeled Leader, Zone is The Insensitive Jerk, Mag is The Bleeding Heart, and Lynn is The One Who's Going To Die Before We Can Really Care (SPOILER!) Okay, they don't quite fit so neatly into those boxes. Except for Lynn. Anyway, the plan is for them to get away from all tech and printing by going as far underground as possible.