Season 2 Episode 4


Aired Friday 9:00 PM Oct 23, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
674 votes

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Episode Summary

We learn more about Sierra's connection to Rossum and the twisted trail of deception, obsession, and murder that led her to the Dollhouse.

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  • A Sierra-centric episode, one of the best episode of the series

    WOW! How amazing was this episode! If all of Dollhouse's episode were like this one, we would have a classic on our hands. This is a Sierra centric episode and boy, is it moving. We get to see Sierra (Priya) a year ago before she got to the Dollhouse. We meet the man who will try to destroy her because she's doesn't love him back. She confronted him in season 1 but this time, we understand exactly where this man stands and how money and power can, sometimes, get you the girl you want.

    The storyline involves Priya getting pumped with drugs that make her paranoid/schizophrenic and then she gets sent to the Dollhouse and become the man's whore. When you think about it, all of the dolls are pretty much in the same predicament (getting raped without knowing it) but here, we feel for Priya, we want her to succeed in getting out of this hell.

    Topher is changing gradually and, in this episode, he really steps up and goes against Adelle. This has consequences, like Boyd clearly states out. It's amazing to see Topher acting with a conscience and Boyd coming to the rescue. It makes the future Topher, as seen in Epitaph 1, even more heartbreaking.

    Speaking of heartbreaks, how sad was it to see Victor waiting for Sierra's return when we knew what was coming. The Victor/Sierra love story is so beautiful and so touching, we really care about these characters.

    Top notch episode, can't wait for what's in store for the rest on the season.

  • Belonging

    The good;

    Very good mislead at the start, you keep trying to figure out the nature of Sierra's assignment. Nice to see Adele with long hair again. Some great acting from Dichen in her madness.

    The bad;

    If Kinnard has used the LA Dollhouse before in his seduction of Priya isn't he worried anyone will remember her?

    Best line;

    Kinnard;(of Priya) "I'm a collector, you're the real deal" (collector of what exactly?)


    Topher; "I'm not the bad man" (as we shall learn)

    Packing heat; nope


    Boyd; 8

    Dominic; 9

    Sierra; 4

    Victor; 3

    Ballard; 10

    November; 1

    Echo kissage; 4

    Kinky dinky;

    Of course you can't go to Venice Beach to film and not have a couple of shapely bimbos in bikinis wander across the screen. Plenty of both straight and gay sex at the art exhibition 'chill out room' along with a few lines of coke. Note that among the pictures in Kinnard's drawer is a picture of Sierra in a schoolgirls uniform.

    Capt subtext;

    Note how tactile Adele is with Topher, hinting at the mother/son like relationship we saw in Epitaph One.

    Notches on the Dollhouse bedpost; definitely Kinnard for Sierra

    Echo; 4 definite, 2 possible

    November; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Victor; 1

    Adele; 1

    Sierra 1 definite

    Topher; 1 possible

    How'd they get away with that?

    Boyd and Topher butcher Kinnard and dissolve his body with acid. Yeessh! The whole Sierra/Kinnard fight and Topher's disposal of the corpse is incredibly bloody and brutal, to judge by the commentary it was even more visceral in the first cut, must have been the full Evil Dead 2. More needles, you know some of us suffer trypanophobia Joss.

    This weeks fantasy;

    Sierra is essentially her original personality of Priya but in love and devoted to Kinnard.

    What do we think of the client?

    Adele hits the nail on the head, loathsome scum. Essentially the Dollhouse is a high tech brothel (although not every assignment features sex), whatever you think of prostitution it's the choice of the actives to go there. They're all consenting adults, doing it for money and other benefits, Caroline to avoid going to jail, Mellie to help her get over her grief, Victor to presumably help him recover from his traumatic wartime experiences . However we now learn that Sierra ISN'T a volunteer, she's there because the man who couldn't have her despite all his wealth and influence pumped her full of drugs and then had her brainwashed into his submissive concubine. She's a slave pure and simple and what he does to her is rape. And Rossum is quite willing to let this continue. Thankfully Topher isn't.

    Total number personalitites; Victor and Echo are a couple of highbrow art fans hired to make Kinnard look good

    Echo; 28

    Sierra; 12

    Victor; 10

    November; 3

    Total dolls;

    8-Echo, Sierra, November, Victor, Mike, Tango, Alpha, Whiskey

    Addy is a bit British;

    She tells it straight, describing Kinnard as a 'raping scumbag' but still serves him tea with a smile.

    Topher is a bit geeky;

    He does resemble Shaggy, zoiks!


    Sierra tied up; 1

    Ballard; 1

    Knocked out;

    Echo; 2

    November; 1

    Sierra; 1

    Victor; 1

    Topher; 2

    Kills; Sierra/Priya kills Kinnard with a steak knife to the heart

    Sierra; 3 kills

    Echo; 3


    Dolls injured;

    Poor Sierra nastily knocked around.

    Know the face? Clyde Katulas, one of those actors you see everywhere on TV. Here he plays the doctor at Pirya's mental hospital and played a very similar role on the Buffy ep 'Nightmares'

    12-Whedon alumni-Mark Shepherd-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Amy Acker-2 (Dollhouse/Angel), walking action figure-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse), Eliza Dushku-3 (Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse), Jim Piddock-2 (Angel/Dollhouse), Gregg Henry-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Alan Tudyk-2 (Dollhouse/Firefly), Felicia Day-2(Dollhouse/Buffy), Alexis Denisoff-3 (Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse), Kristoffer Pohala-2 (Dollhouse/Angel), Stacey Scowley-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse) Clyde Katulas-2 (Buffy/Dollhouse)

    Whedon cliches;

    Rich and powerful famillies who cover up the evil deeds of their wayward sons. Top security installations which aren't secure at all. Loving self-sacrificing mothers who risk all for their children.

    Breaking the programming;

    Echo can now lie and keeps a journal. Victor is already becoming more assertive although he decides he doesn't want to be the leader.

    Questions and observations;

    Directed by Jonathon '2 takes' Frakes of Star Trek fame. Very much the ep where Topher's conscience comes to the fore and Adele realises that Rossum truly are evil, she just hasn't picked sides yet. We're told that Dr Saunders is a permanent imprint on Whiskey. Does that mean she'll not be restored to her original personality at the end of her contract? Echo refers to Topher as 'Shaggy', can anyone tell me what Adele mouths to Topher afterwards? Topher can 'cure' schizophrenia? I suspect it's reasons like that why Adele became involved with the Dollhouse in the first place. Very little Echo in this ep and no Ballard (can't afford him according to the commentary). Sierra confirms her love for Victor both in her blank state and her Priya personality and they cuddle at the end, awwwww! Poor Sierra, sexually abused by this guy AND Hearne. No wonder she wants to continue as a doll in order to forget. Topher outside the Dollhouse, actually we see him twice, at the mental hospital and at Kinnard's house.

    Marks out of 10; 8/10, Topher takes a moral stand and it's nice to see. The rotten underbelly of the Dollhouse/Rossum comes to the fore.

  • We see Sierra before she came to the Dollhouse as a healthy vibrant Aussie with a great deal of artistic talent. She runs afoul of a Rossum Corporate stooge and the next thing you know her brain is scrambled and only one person who can help her.moreless

    One of the most solid episodes of Dollhouse ever. We learn the origins of Sierra and how truly corruptible some of the people involved in Rossum can be. One of their top scientists can't have something so he plays with it to the point where it is broken. This is a supposed Nobel level doctor who is famous for his many advances of medical science.

    Topher with all his "no moral boundaries" finally reaches his. Interesting how he handles the problem in the end. Nice turn of events even though they were a little gruesome.

    The secondary story line with Echo and Langton was also telling of the future and Epitaph One. It is nice how Langton has managed to really do his thing because he became the head of security.

    A great episode that was very entertaining. I would recommend seeing it as I think this is what The Dollhouse was meant to be. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • This episode details Sierra's origins

    Great episode showing that Dollhouse was at best an excellent dramatic show.

    Well hard to imagine why after an excellent episode like this Fox would cancel Dollhouse (in midseason, and despite the promise that they would give the show chance).

    Ratings are the majority reason as they equal profit, but anybody who thinks that a show is crap based on ratings alone is a moron. Dollhouse will go on like other short lived Whedon shows to be a cult classic. The show obviously has a fan following disproving the myth that it was a total failure. It made money of the DVDs (estimates are about a million) again disproving the notion that this show failed to make a niche with its fan. Fans are outrage that it's canceled.

    I don't call that a failure. Whedon's shows have never been what one would ratings monsters (Angel and Buffy in their prime averaged about four and half million viewers a week). Dollhouse averaged around two and a half million viewers a week, and then bring into account all the major changes to the show and well to make a simple assessment

    that the show was not a good show is very inaccurate. Whedon's show are basically tailored made for his fans. Fox has screwed over his projects before, so this was no different. Likewise, no real Whedon fan would ever gloat or be happy about one of his projects coming to an end. Also the notion that Eliza Dushku wasn't great in this series is beyond idiotic it's not even worth debating. I liked Eliza before, but this really made love her even more. She's underrated and won't ever get the respect that she deserves.

    That's the end of my rant.

    This episode was an episode that probably should have been placed at the end of Season One as it has a couple of major detail's about Sierra's background.

    It shows how the Dollhouse got her, and then used her. It also display's Topher's conflict with himself into manipulating Sierra as an active. This was a very good character development episode for Topher as well who has come across as a snobby computer geek, but here he comes out as the outraged devoted employee who must choose between carrying a direct order or listening to his conscious and allow Sierra to get some sort of justice in the end.

    Whatever he'll choose, Sierra's real persona, Priya will be ruined.

    One of the themes then of Dollhouse was the morality question and corporate environment where people (the actives) are basically used over and over again to do some questionable things under its goal whether it be profit, breaking the law, or bringing in a criminal.

    The other theme of the show is that looks can be deceiving. The characters and guest stars always seem to be impersonating someone or something. When Priya (Sierra) meets a nice guy who she thinks she'll be in love, she has no clue of the dark side in this guy.

    We also see how Victor and Sierra started to develop feelings for one another.

    Excellent acting by Dichen Lachman and Enver Gjokaj. They've been good from the Beginning and they were great here. Eliza Dushku as Echo was her usual brilliant self. I'll always loved Eliza's dedication to this show.

    It's not about winning or losing (ratings) when it comes to shows like Dollhouse. It's about the ideas, themes, and feelings that the show brings to the viewer.

    If you weren't impressed by this episode, then you're really not giving this show the credit it's due Many excellent dilemmas posed in this episode. I enjoyed it.moreless
  • Priya Written by Jed Whedon And Maurissa Tanchereon Directed by Jonathan Frakes

    Nolan: "I have offered you everything. What else do you want?"

    Priya: "I wanna walk out the damn door."

    If this show doesn't make it to a third season, then this is without a doubt going to be one of the most discussed episodes this show has pulled since "Epitaph One" to be honest. Last season we got hints of Sierra's back story. This episode went one better by detailing the entire thing.

    So, Sierra prior to her life in the Dollhouse was a nice girl named Priya who tried to resist the advances of wealthy Nolan. You can see why. Nolan might be a good looking man and loaded but he's also a deeply horrible man and this story highlighted beyond doubt that some people really do deserve to have their ass handed to them.

    Nolan realised quickly that he couldn't buy Priya and he tried his best on that one. Even getting her to paint something for an art show wasn't helping. Heck, not even Echo and Victor could try and get Priya into fancying Nolan. Actually putting Victor in proximity of Priya was a big mistake for Nolan.

    It sucks fancying someone who doesn't feel the same way but to completely destroy that person's life because they refused your advances is unbelievable. Viewers hated Nolan when he debuted in "Needs". Now that hate just tripled and intensified all the more.

    Priya made it clear that nothing would get her into bed with Nolan. Of course this episode would have to open with Sierra in Nolan's arms, believing that he was the perfect man for her. Another reminder of how horrific the Dollhouse is.

    I did wonder how Nolan exactly got the right to be able to sign Priya up for the Dollhouse. It turned out that all he had to do was drug her up so badly that she was institutionalised and the likes of Topher would believe that he was giving a mentally unbalanced woman a better life. Yeah, Topher not the brightest button, is he?

    Funnily enough, we have Echo to thank for a lot of this episode. In spite of the fact that she's underused in the story, she did show Topher one of Sierra's pictures that alluded to the bad man. In some ways, there were two bad men to speak of. Nolan doesn't have to be explained but Topher was bad for not looking at everything properly.

    It was only when he went through Sierra/Priya's scans again that he realised that she was drugged. In a lot of the ways, this episode was to be proof that in spite of viewing the Actives as toys, there's a part of Topher that actually gives a **** about them as people. It's good to know. Better was his intent to try and remedy the situation.

    Alerting Boyd to it was one thing, involving Adelle was another. Granted she overheard the exchange but even Adelle was disgusted by the lengths that Nolan went to keep Priya as his love slave. Was Nolan right to lambast Adelle as a hypocrite? Was Matthew Harding, the Rossum guy? Yes and no!

    Working in the Dollhouse is a degrading business because we've seen that the majority of the Actives were often coerced or plain forced into signing up, so on that level, Adelle might not have a lot of moral high ground. However, the fact that Harding elected to do nothing but force Adelle to hand over Priya to Nolan forever was cold.

    Seeing Topher and Adelle argue over the decision made for some of the best TV from the series. Both of them raised points about protocol and each other but the idea of Priya being trapped with Nolan forever was an unbearable idea in of itself.

    Because of that it wasn't surprising that Topher did some tampering of his own. Making Priya remember everything about her last year was supposed to be his way to help her and atone himself. Sadly, like some of the well intentioned plans, something had to do horribly wrong.

    In a realistic world, I wouldn't waste a second grieving over someone like Nolan. Even when Priya stabbed him, it was in self-defence and it horrified her. This was after seeing him knocking her into next week when she was finally able to stand up to him. Goodbye Nolan, you won't be missed.

    As for Boyd and Topher, it was their job to help cover the mess. Something tells me that burning the body aside in sulphuric acid won't be enough. There will be some long term consequences to what just happened with Nolan. Even Adelle herself didn't seem convinced when Boyd told her that Nolan skipped the country.

    As for the final scenes with Priya and Topher, choosing to forget might be the best thing for her now. Until Echo's plan goes into motion, she's still stuck in the Dollhouse but at least one joyful thing came out of this story – her and Victor.

    We know that they love each other and the writers and actors have made it hard for viewers not to love them as a couple and this episode proved why. Victor's devotion to her (he tried to get rid of the black paint) and Sierra realising how he felt for her (after Priya taunted Nolan about her love for Victor) was just delightful.

    Echo on the other hand, if Boyd can catch up with you trying to stir things in the Dollhouse, then soon enough someone else will to. Luckily for us, Boyd is actually on her side and even gave her an All Access card. He also might have a valid point about Echo causing a storm also.

    Also in "Belonging"

    We had a Season 2 episode of Angel, which was also called "Belonging". This was obviously better.

    Sierra (re black): "I don't like this colour though."

    Victor: "Why do you use it?"

    Sierra: "It's always here."

    Matthew Harding, the Rossum guy was played by Keith Carradine. I have a feeling we'll see him again this season.

    Victor (re black paint): "Is this wrong?"

    Echo: "No, it's good. You're taking charge. You're taking matters into your own hands."

    Victor: "They're in my shirt."

    Matthew: "What are we already?"

    Adelle: "We're not slave merchants."

    Because of this episode, we got to hear Dichen Lachman more in her native tongue, with the writers acknowledges that Priya is Australian.

    Adelle (to Topher, re Sierra): "You have always thought of people as playthings. This is not a judgement, you've always taken care of your toys but you're going to have to let this one go."

    Topher: "Do you know where you are?"

    Priya: "I'm in hell."

    Topher: "You're in Los Angeles but I can understand the mix up."

    In the UK, Sci-Fi will air the remaining episodes of Season 2 in January.

    Echo (to Boyd): "I don't care. Something bad is coming, like a storm and I want everyone to wake up."

    Priya (to Nolan, re Victor): "I love him so much more than I hate you."

    This is the first episode not to feature Paul and to be fair, it works perfectly well without him.

    Topher (re Priya): "I was just trying to help her and now she's ruined."

    Boyd: "You had a moral dilemma. Your first and it didn't go well."

    Topher: "Priya does not belong in the Dollhouse."

    Boyd: "She does now."

    Priya (re Victor): "I love him, is that real?"

    Topher: "Yes, it's real. He loves you back."

    Chronology: A year since "Ghost", according to the flashbacks we saw in this episode.

    Without a doubt the best episode from the series. "Belonging" is just wonderful storytelling, brimmed with shocking and discussion worthy moments and sublime performances from Dichen Lachman, Vincent Ventressa and Fran Kanz.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • The identifiable and legible notes Echo wrote inside of her sleeping Pod to herself are:
      the Attic is Bad
      where is Caroline
      i was trained to kill
      my son killed me
      i'm a believer
      i have a right to survive
      my husband bought me a house
      blue skies
      I love my baby
      the baby isn't mine
      I like pain
      women are whores
      i tried to make shape
      i am nobody
      friends help each other
      i was blind
      shoulder to the wheel
      ghosts aren't ---
      mountains are safe
      Topher makes me ---
      Dominic was bad
      November is ---
      Victor loves Sierra
      Sierra loves Victor
      Dr ---

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Topher: It should work! Well, it doesn't work. It works in theory. Alpha got it to work through a phone nonetheless. Are you comparing my intelligence to Alpha's? Well, you are talking to yourself like he does. That's... a very good point.

    • Pam: The Aussie Princess can't hurt. Hey, do they have royalty in Australia?
      Sierra: We have a queen, yes, but it's the same one they have in England. Fickle bitch.

    • Topher: What's the word on this repeat client Sierra has been seeing?
      Boyd: Why?
      Topher: Something's bothering me about it. I have a hunch something's wrong. (off Boyd's smile) That's funny? That I have a hunch?
      Boyd: That it's bothering you.

    • Topher: I helped Sierra, you know. She was a paranoid schizophrenic when she came here -- psychotic -- and I helped her.
      Boyd: I didn't ask.

    • (to Boyd)
      Topher: Look, uh, this is a brain. Normal, boring brain like your brain. This... is a brain on drugs.

    • Nolan: And no doubt that's why you've asked me here -- to caution me yet again about your policy on repeat engagements, right?
      Adelle: In a way.
      Nolan: You know, I'm not interested in any of your other Actives?
      Adelle: Oh, that's a non-issue. I would no sooner allow you near one of our other Actives than I would a mad dog near a child.
      Nolan: I beg your pardon?
      Adelle: Given that you're a raping scumbag one tick shy of a murderer, I can't recall. Do you take sugar?

    • Topher: How can you expect me to do this?
      Adelle: You'll do it because you must. The cold reality is that everyone here was chosen because their morals have been compromised in some way. Everyone... except you. You, Topher, were chosen because you have no morals. You have always thought of people as playthings. This not a judgment. You always take very good care of your toys. But you're simply going to have to let this one go.

    • Topher: Do you know where you are?
      Sierra: I'm in Hell.
      Topher: You're in Los Angeles. I can understand the mix-up.

    • Adelle: Is it done then?
      Topher: Yes.
      Adelle: Good.
      Topher: If you say so.
      Adelle: If you have actually managed to develop some pangs of conscience, you may rest in the knowledge that in this matter, you... you had no choice.
      Topher: No, I didn't.

    • Topher: I was just trying to help her. Now she's ruined.
      Boyd: You had a moral dilemma. Your first. And it didn't go well.
      Topher: Priya does not belong in the Dollhouse.
      Boyd: She does now.

    • Sierra: This secret we have... can you keep it?
      Topher: I can keep it, but I don't know if I can live with it.
      Sierra: I know I can't. But I don't have to.

  • NOTES (3)