Sierra is a character on Dollhouse. She is an Active of the Dollhouse, part of a group of men and women who can be imprinted with identities, personalities, skills, and memories in order to be sent into the world on engagements. Between missions they live in the Dollhouse with no memory of their pasts. The current Sierra is at least the second doll to bear that name; her predecessor is known only as a doll who "got the job done," according to her handler Joe Hearn. She is portrayed by Dichen Lachman.
Character Development[edit | edit source]
Background[edit | edit source]
Sierra's full, tragic backstory was fully revealed in the season two episode "Belonging." Priya Tsetsang was a young, beautiful, and carefree bohemian artist who had moved from Australia to Los Angeles when she was a young woman. She was a struggling artist selling her crafts on the boardwalk when Nolan Kinnard, a rich and influential doctor, became obsessed with her. He used his wealth to grant her an art show, and used his connections to the Dollhouse to stage an elaborate seduction by having both Echo and Victor 'talk him up' to Priya. Despite Kinnard's intentions, Victor and Priya have instant chemistry.
Priya rejects Kinnard's at first gentle and later obsessively violent romantic overtures. After this, Kinnard has Priya hunted down. An expert in neurology, he had her admitted to his hospital where he pumped her full of drugs that inhibited her brain from producing enough dopamine and seratonin, thus leading the Dollhouse to believe that she was a paranoid schizophrenic suffering from acute visual/aural hallucinations. In an act of presumed altruism, Topher Brink brought Priya back to the Dollhouse and created Sierra, which was Kinnard's original intent all along.
Kinnard then had the Dollhouse create a docile imprint of Priya who was hopelessly in love with him, an imprint which he apparently purchased numerous times over the year that he monitored Sierra within the Dollhouse, effectively raping her over and over and over. Even worse, Kinnard took a different polaroid shot of Priya with her own camera every time she left to return to the Dollhouse, as a totem of his victory over her.
In the Dollhouse[edit | edit source]
Sierra first appeared in "Ghost" when Echo curiously wandered into the programing area and saw Sierra undergoing "tissue mapping", in obvious pain from the ordeal. Topher Brink quickly shooed Echo away, informing her that it was just Sierra's first time "Treatment," and therefore a little difficult, but Echo would soon have a new friend to play with. Sure enough, the two dolls met again twice over the course the episode: once in the Dollhouse, and then again when Sierra took out the kidnappers in a clean-up operation. The physics of the imprint process would normally dictate that they would not remember either encounter from one imprint to the next, or even recognize each other during the kidnapping engagement. However, later events suggest that their relationship survives in some form after each wipe.
In "Stage Fright" it becomes apparent that Sierra and Echo start showing signs of a friendship in this episode. Echo claimed Sierra as a friend in their inactive state when she caught the stumbling Sierra, declaring that friends protect each other. Even more interestingly, this friendship seems to be leaking through to their imprinted personalities. Although Adelle DeWitt rationalized Echo's bizarre method of protecting Rayna from her own self-destructive impulses, it is a video of a captive Audra (Sierra's imprinted personality) that spurred Echo into action, ultimately rescuing both Rayna and Audra from Rayna's deranged fan. Showing that their budding friendship has survived yet another wipe, Sierra smiled at Echo and began to approach her in their doll state at the end of the episode.
Beyond a capacity for friendship, Sierra began to show another level of awareness in her inactive state in this episode. She heeded Echo's warning not come close when her handler and other dark-suited Dollhouse operatives were watching, exhibiting self-preservation instincts. Her handler also mentioned to Boyd that she is not the first Sierra, and that the one before her "got the job done."
The friendship which began in the previous episode is continued in "Gray Hour", in addition to Echo, in her mind wiped state, Sierra seemed to also be bonding with Victor. Echo ushered her over to sit with her and Victor, after she was "uncertain where to sit" where she has a conversation with Echo and Victor regarding what each of them think it means to be their best. While in the personae of Taffy however, Sierra and Echo showed no sign of their connection.
In "Man on the Street" it is suspected that fellow doll Victor was raping Sierra when she screamed in fear and panic when he touched her on the shoulder. This put a deep strain on the developing friendship and put Victor's fate in the Dollhouse in danger when evidence from the previous episode (Victor developing "attractions" to Sierra) and the fact she said he would pretend that they were married and liked to play games (play house). Echo even mentioned that she heard Sierra crying when she was put to bed - a clue which might have led Boyd to discover the truth. Boyd proved Victor was innocent when he performed his own investigation into the matter and discovered Sierra's handler had raped her multiple times in a camera blind spot behind the sleeping area doors. After this, the Dollhouse disposed of her handler and Topher did what he could to erase the trauma. Sierra's friendship with Victor quickly recovered, and he was happy to accept her offer to join her in looking at a book.
In "Echoes" however, Sierra flashes back to Hearn raping her under the influence of a memory-releasing drug. In "Needs", to prevent further glitching, the Dollhouse lets Sierra's real personality (Priya) confront Nolan with Victor by her side, discovering he had put her in the Dollhouse. She and Victor kissed one another before being taken back to the Dollhouse. The glitches seem to have stopped for now. Sierra appears to have had mostly in-house assignments since the rape trauma / psychoactive drug incident. As a secret agent, she was sent to discover the mole in the Dollhouse. On Topher's birthday, he programmed her to be his like-minded friend for the day. As an FBI forensics expert, she was sent to inspect a body killed by Alpha. Then, she was sent alongside November to track down Alpha and Echo. She and November managed to trap Alpha on the roof, but Alpha begins to awaken the sleeper-assassin within November, and uses this as a chance to escape.
Kinnard exposed[edit | edit source]
In "Belonging," Sierra is shown to be markedly disturbed by her repeat engagements as Dr. Nolan Kinnard's love-slave. She continuously paints over her paintings with black paint, which she explains as "the bad man." Echo confronts Topher with the paintings and Topher then pages through Dr. Saunders' notes on the subject. Saunders surmised that Topher himself was the "bad man," though this could have been a projection of her own feelings of hatred and rage toward Topher. Topher himself is very disturbed at the suggestion that Sierra thinks he is the bad man and determines to dig deeper.
Topher looks through the original Priya's brain-scans and finally connects the dots of the twisted and sickening trail that led to Sierra's imprisonment in the Dollhouse. He brings this knowledge to Adelle DeWitt, the head of the LA Dollhouse, who reacts with similar disgust. When she informs Kinnard that he will never be allowed near Sierra again, he uses his influence with the Dollhouse to order Sierra permanently engaged as the "Priya" imprint who is in love with him. DeWitt tries and fails to stop this, and orders Topher to go through with it despite Topher's moral reserves. Topher cannot bring himself to go through with it, however, and gives Sierra back her original personality. After explaining to Priya what was done to her, he let her go. Priya went straight to confront Kinnard, where she finally strikes him across the face and verbally lashes out for what he's done to her. She also comes to the realization that she is in love with Victor, whose "face [she] can't even remember!" She informs Kinnard that she "love[s] him so much more than I hate you," which is the final straw. Kinnard becomes enraged and beats Priya viciously before stalking toward her with a knife, obviously intent on raping her.
Priya fights back, however, and desperately stabs Kinnard to death. She calls Topher, and Topher and Boyd show up to clean up the body and make Kinnard disappear. Now that she has been stained by the murder, Priya sees no choice but to return to the Dollhouse. She shares a beer with Topher and makes one request: that if she should be "woken up" again, she'd like to have no memory of that night or of her murder of Kinnard. Topher agrees to keep the secret but remarks "I don't know if I can live with it." Priya asserts that she "know[s] that [she] can't." She appears frightened as she is wiped clean once again. Priya, now Sierra once again, returns to the Dollhouse to find Victor faithfully waiting for her. She appears to have found some peace, however, in her final confrontation with the man who enslaved her in the first place.
Epitaph One[edit | edit source]
In the "Epitaph One" future, Sierra regains her memories as Priya Tsetsang, and lives in the Dollhouse when it becomes a shelter from the social collapse. She seems to have an either strained or uncomfortable relationship with Victor. In the director's commentary, the writers state that Sierra's absence in flashbacks set later than this might imply she went on to start the "Actuals" resistance movement. What is clear, however, is that Priya began the marking trend of tattoing one's name on one's back so that other Actuals could identify whether you had been wiped or not. Priya also seems to suffer from severe headaches as a result of an unknown affliction (perhaps some consequence of the mind-wiping technology run rampant).
Later, a board of photographs of all the Actives marked "to remember" appears in DeWitt's old office; whether this means "remember who you are" or "remember those lost" is unclear. However this could just mean for them to remember each other, showing that a bond between the once-Actives and staff alike has grown while being confined together underground.
Relationships[edit | edit source]
Victor[edit | edit source]
Sierra's relationship with Victor has been growing and changing over the course of the series. At first they are friends, but both are comforted by each other. It is clear that Victor is more aware of his feelings for Sierra than she is of him, because he waits for her to enter her sleep pod at night to make sure that she gets to bed safely. Victor also begins to show signs of physical attraction to Sierra while they are in the showers.
Sierra, for her part, seeks Victor out for his friendship more than any other Active; they paint together, they read together, and more than once they can be spotted holding hands, usually while Echo watches over both of them to make sure that they are safe. In the season one episode "Needs," Victor and Sierra find closure in kissing each other, effectively sealing their love away from the mind-wiping technology of the Dollhouse. The relationship between Victor and Sierra has been more progressive over the course of season two. In the season opener "Vows," Victor allows Sierra to touch his healing face, something that he was uncomfortable with when DeWitt did it, and they hold hands again. This growing relationship is seen sparingly until the fourth episode "Belonging," which told Sierra's history and also her present.
In "Belonging," Victor brings to Echo's attention the fact that Sierra is sad, expressed by her drawings. When Sierra says that she doesn't like the color black, Victor hurriedly gathers together all of the black paint in the art room and takes it to the showers to wash it down the drain. Sierra finds him there and, apparently touched, she and Victor paint each other's faces. This unexpectedly leads to Victor having a flashback to his life before he was an Active, an indication that his connection with Sierra goes deeper than the surface of the Actives to the core of who he really is. While in Sierra's original personality, Priya, she recognizes Victor in the dollhouse and realizes it is he who she is truly in love with. She asks Topher if that feeling is real or residual of an imprint, to which he answers that the connection is real; perhaps deeper than any imprint.
When Sierra is called for what is supposed to be her final treatment, she invites Victor to come along. When Victor is told that he can't, he assures Sierra that he will wait for her in one spot, and sits down. Victor apparently never moved from that one spot for the rest of that day, until Sierra returns. When Sierra is "woken" as her original personality, Priya, she remarks "I don't even remember his face, but I love him!" Victor walked her back to their sleep pods and, guarded by Echo, Victor and Sierra sleep together in the same sleep pod, still holding hands.
In the year 2020, Sierra who is now her original personality, Priya, lives in Safe Haven with her son, Tony, whom she had with Anthony (the original personality of Victor). However, she is furious with him for joining the Techheads even when she asked him to give up the fight with Rossum and help her raise Tony, which caused their estrangement. Unbeknownst to her, everything Anthony did was because of his deep love for them both. Echo, through her passionate grief makes Priya realize that Anthony has done everything in his power to protect them, even going through multiple wipes. Despite this, his love for Priya and Tony never faded. At the end, Priya introduces Tony to his father and they are seen reading a book, becoming a family once again.(S2: "Epitaph Two: Return":"Epitaph Two: Return").
Echo[edit | edit source]
Sierra also builds a unique relationship with Echo, and it seems that in Echo's quest to find herself within the Dollhouse, she will turn to Sierra and Victor first in her search for allies and friends. Echo is the first to actively search out Sierra to ascertain that she feels better after her "painful first treatment" in the first episode. In each subsequent episode, Echo and Sierra reach out to each other more and more, becoming apparently close friends -- even to the point of the end of the episode "Stage Fright," Echo and Sierra show more than the normal signs of recognition and both know enough to hide it.
While Echo has shown to have something of a heroine complex in wanting to save everyone, she has shown that she has a particular 'mother hen' attitude toward Sierra (and Victor, to a lesser extent). When Sierra is being abused by her handler Joe Hearn in the episode "Man on the Street," Echo actively seeks out Dr. Saunders to tell her that Sierra cries at night. She makes sure that Sierra eats and she usually eats with Victor and Sierra. Echo seems to be aware of the development of Victor and Sierra's relationship and she stands guard over them, ensuring that they aren't caught and punished.
When Victor tries to get rid of all the black paint in "Belonging" so that Sierra doesn't have to see it anymore, Echo encourages his behavior and has apparently scrawled on the inside of her sleep pod "Victor loves Sierra." At the end of "Belonging," Echo stands outside of her sleep pod to ensure that Victor and Sierra are allowed to sleep together in peace before she too goes to sleep.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Sierra does not appear in 1x02 "The Target", 2x03 "Belle Chose", 2x05 "The Public Eye" and 2x06 "The Left Hand".
Engagements[edit | edit source]
|1x01 "Ghost"||In-House||Special Agent||Agent||Killing Davina Crestejo's kidnappers.|
|1x03 "Stage Fright"||Bill Zarella||Audra||Fan||Protecting Rayna Russell in extreme danger.|
|1x04 "Gray Hour"||In-House||Taffy||Safecracker||Help Echo escape.|
|1x07 "Echoes"||Rossum Corporation||Dr. Gawas||CDC doctor||Preventing a drug outbreak at Freemont College|
|1x08 "Needs"||In-House||Priya Tsetsang||Real personality||Find closure for Sierra's old life.|
|1x09 "A Spy in the House of Love"||In-House||Secret Agent||Spy-hunter (field agent)||Infiltrate NSA headquarters and discover the mole within the Dollhouse.|
|1x10 "Haunted"||In-House||Topher's Friend||Friend||Fill the lonely spot in Topher's heart for his birthday.|
|1x11 "Briar Rose"||In-House||Gerhardt||Forensics expert||Examine a body killed by Alpha|
|1x12 "Omega"||In-House||Sierra||Bounty Hunter||Track down Alpha and Echo|
|2x01 "Vows"||Unknown||Unknown||Racist 1950s woman||Dream date(?)|
|2x02 "Instinct"||Nate Jordan||Kelly||Friend||Support Echo as a new mother|
|2x04 "Belonging"||Topher Brink/In House||Priya Tsetsang||Real Personality||Confront Nolan|
|2x08 "A Love Supreme"||Alpha, posing as "E. Hap. Lasher"||Unknown||Date||Hired by Alpha to give a message to the Dollhouse.|