It's fair to say that Echo and Caroline are still essentially the same person, that the residual bits of Caroline that survived Topher's wipes still inform her actions as Echo in both Tabula Rasa and Active modes to the point where in Needs, Adelle is able to easily make the correlation between Echo's actions during the drill and when she broke into the Rossum lab prior to joining the Dollhouse. "That's Caroline," Adelle says with something bordering on maternal pride. In that sense, Needs foreshadowed Omega and gave us all we'd need to know about why Alpha and Omega are so fundamentally different.

The use of the term Tabula Rasa in Dollhouse is mostly ironic, but still critical to any interpretation of the series. The most common usage of the term is in reference to the philosophical position that we are born into life with a blank slate. From a biological perspective it's on the extreme side of the nature versus nurture debate, but is most useful in contemporary discussion in taking a non deterministic view of life, that we are open to write our own destinies.

In Dollhouse, Tabula Rasa is less to do with beginnings than it does second chances, as the dolls have all signed contracts with the intent of escaping their previous lives and transgressions with the promise of starting over fresh- Tabula Rasa- at the end of their five years at the Dollhouse.

But over the course of the first season, a point most clearly made in Omega, there is a certain irrepressibility about the dolls' personalities. Alpha- for instance- is not an insane criminal because he experienced a composite event and had all of the imprints designed for him loaded at once, but because he was a flawed vessel and thus the result was literal cognitive dissonance. Topher couldn't change the basic nature of Alpha or any of the other dolls, only interrupt and inhibit it.

Alpha's character arc is essentially the same as that of Alex in A Clockwork Orange; he is a violent offender who volunteers to be rehabilitated through science, through attempts to alter his behaviour at a physical level with disastrous results. The point of A Clockwork Orange was not that violence is glamorous or that man should be free to indulge the whims of the id, but that to seek to limit that which makes us human- both the positive and the potentially negative (as we see that Alex's treatment robs him of the ability to defend himself or engage in consensual sex)- is to rob us of our humanity. That, and that science can never fully prevail over nature. Of course there are also shades of Phillip K Dick's We Can Remember it For You Wholesale, which is better known as the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall.

While Alpha is the more obvious analog to Alex, Echo's character arc functions much in the same way but predicated on very different instincts. I'm sure that many viewers saw the last line in the episode (Omega) as being a subtle reference to Citizen Kane, it also evokes A Clockwork Orange, which ends with a smirking Alex daydreaming a sex scene, implying that the attempts to control him through behavioral modification had failed, much the same as "Caroline," implies that Omega persists in Echo's head.

Alpha and Omega are more than simply experiments gone wrong, they represent the point at which Dollhouse begins to explore the concept of identity the deepest and overlaps with The Invisibles (as well as Grant Morrison's run on The Doom Patrol. For nearly his entire career, Grant Morrison has been writing about the mutability of identity and the interpretation of Tabula Rasa that suggests not only is there infinite potential for society to shape identity and human psychology, but that the individual can modify their own identity, which is a re-ocurring theme most notably employed in The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, as well Batman.

While identity modification has many sources and implementations across his writing, the inspiration and philosophy behind it is heavily informed by post modern magic and the occult, most notably in the chaos magic approach to invocation, in which the practitioner seeks to take on the desirable personality aspects of a godform. The "Kali in the Disco" chapter of Phil Hine's Condensed Chaos describes methods and means for ritually taking on aspects of the personality of a given mythological figure, the eponymous example being a female acquaintance of his who invoked the goddess Kali in order to be more confident and seductive while clubbing. Morrison himself, in his Pop Magic essay, takes the concept one step further by suggesting invoking pop culture figures such as James Bond or Metron. In many ways the imprints that Topher creates for the dolls are based on the same underlying principle.

In the final issue of The Invisibles Dane and his protege infiltrate a corporation about to release a video game based on the training and doctrine of the Invisibles a decade after the end of the main plot of the series, only to find that the corporation is being run by King Mob, who was involved in developing the video game, which takes the form of a virtual reality simulator in which the player lives out several randomized lifetimes. The five year contract of the dolls is very similar in premise to the Invisibles game, given the range of identities and situations that the dolls can be expected to take on over the course of their five years.

Which brings us back to Alpha and Omega. While the intent of the imprints is that they are to be used one at a time and forgotten, both the accident that "created" Alpha and the procedure he used to duplicate it and thus create Omega brought them all into interaction. This of course drove Alpha even further insane than the man he was before joining the Dollhouse was, while Echo's strength of character and empathy allowed her to become not a cacophony of competing voices, but a confident and high functioning gestalt, several individual personalities working in tandem. Taken together Alpha and Omega mirror the beginning and eventual end of Doom Patrol member "Crazy Jane's" character arc whose many personalities each had a separate super power.

While officially unable to add it into the narrative for copyright reasons, Morrison has suggested that Crazy Jane of his Doom Patrol is the same individual as Ragged Robin of The Invisibles, who creates The Invisibles in the future, travels to the past in order to join them, and then travels into the future through the supercontext (another metaphor for leaving Plato's cave), ending her journey at the apocalypse in 2012 where she provides King Mob with what he needs to defeat the King of All Tears, which frees them to evolve into their next stage of existence.

Which brings me to my conclusion. I'm not going to say that it was necessarily written with this intent, but my personal interpretation of Omega is that she's Crazy Jane/Ragged Robin downloaded into Echo's body (slash the Dollhouse world). Hence; Fire bad, tree pretty.