Dahlia Archer In ‘Citadel’ Season 1, Explained: What Did The Manticore Want?

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It is rightly said that it is easy to choose between good and evil, but it is very difficult to choose who is the lesser evil when both parties have transgressed to a good extent. After watching the season finale of Citadel, we realized that Dahlia was not after the Citadel agents just to prove her worth and loyalty to the heads of the families who had started Manticore; she had a personal motive backing her actions. When we were introduced to Dahlia at the beginning of Citadel Season 1, we didn’t know the extent to which she would be willing to go to fulfill her agenda, but as soon as Manticore kidnapped Bernard, we saw the shrewd woman unleashing the beast within her and torturing him in ways he couldn’t imagine. Dahlia wanted to know the whereabouts of the surviving agents of the Citadel and also wanted Bernard to tell her where the nuclear missiles were hidden and how to access them.

Bernard was not the kind of person who would break easily, and Dahlia knew that about him. The two had known each other for a long time before Dahlia joined Manticore. It seemed like, at one point, they must have been cordial with each other because, while Bernard was held captive, he referred to the time when Dahlia fought for the cause of justice and had not been so vengeful. It was Dahlia who eliminated the Citadel agents and was responsible for the downfall of the agencies. Dahlia was after Citadel’s X case, which contained the nuclear codes and also the whereabouts of all the agents who were still alive. For the longest time, Dahlia believed that Nadia Sinh and Mason Kane had died in the attack that Manticore had carried out, but with time, she got to know that a few agents had survived and were hiding in different parts of the world. For the longest time, Dahlia was operating undercover, and very few people knew about her ties to the Manticore as she was using her job as a front for carrying out all her illicit activities. Nobody could have ever imagined that the diplomat from the U.K. was, in reality, a Manticore agent. Quite often, people saw her giving public interviews, and there seemed nothing off about her that could make people doubt her intentions. 

In the last episode of Citadel season 1, we got to know the real reason for her hatred and why she adopted such extreme measures. Dahlia’s husband was killed in a missile attack along with 150 other people, and her life was turned upside down after that incident. Those people hadn’t committed any crime, but they had become collateral damage in the fight between Citadel and Serbia’s extremist right-wing terrorist organization. She did believe in the lie that the leader of that Serbian terrorist group had planted two bombs in the cars parked in the basement of the building, but soon the truth came out in the open, and it filled her with a feeling of vengeance. Dahlia kept searching for the truth for more than 3 decades, and finally, she found out that the people hadn’t died from the car bombs, but a sophisticated missile attack had been carried out to demolish the building. The reason why she so firmly believed that the Serbian leaders didn’t have any role to play in those attacks was that they didn’t have the kind of resources to carry out an attack of such magnitude. That is why she didn’t stop looking for the truth until she got to know what really happened back then.

Citadel wanted to eliminate that Serbian terrorist group, and they had mentioned that in an unofficial communication made to NATO, they had planned to hit them when they least expected it. The plan was to blow up the entire building and eliminate the top-tier officials of the terrorist group. Everything was going as per the plans, but there was some confusion pertaining to the location of the target building, and Citadel agents ended up bombing the building where Dahlia and her husband were present. Another shocking secret that came out in the open in Citadel episode 6 was that Mason Kane was Dahlia’s son, and after the bomb blast, she had left him and never met him until the day Mason went to her to ask for a favor. Mason had gone to ask for Dahlia’s help because he wanted to find out where Nadia was. He was just fed up with asking Grace and his other bosses at Citadel, who were misleading him and had no intention of revealing the truth.

Dahlia told Mason that she would help him, but she also expected him to understand that the organization he was working for was not as noble as he felt it was. She told him how Citadel was responsible for his father’s death and asked him to help her seek justice. Dahlia wanted an eye for an eye, but little did she know that the hatred inside her would make her even worse than who she believed were the perpetrators. She told him to divulge the secrets of the organization so that she could file a case against them in court and expose their reality in front of the world. Mason gave her the secret intel that Manticore used to find and kill each and every Citadel agent hiding in different parts of the world. We are very sure that if Mason had known that his mother was going to resort to such extreme measures, he wouldn’t have provided her with the information.

We can say that though Dahlia wasn’t an evil person from the beginning, the hate inside her had converted her into a monster. We saw her killing Anders in cold blood, then pinning it on Bernard and telling Davik a complete set of lies. She had no remorse for what she was doing, and we think that till the very end, she didn’t have any kind of affection left for Mason either. In the kind of perilous situations, she put Mason in, it didn’t seem like she was his mother but just another enemy who didn’t care if he lived or died. Dahlia was ready to sink the submarine if it came down to that, even after knowing that her son was on it. Dahlia also kidnapped Asha, Nadia, and Mason’s daughter, and she would have definitely hurt the little kid had the Citadel agents not taken charge of things at the right time. Dahlia wasn’t able to get the nuclear missile codes till the end of Citadel season 1, and considering the kind of woman she was, we don’t think she is going to give up her quest or understand the implications of her actions. We will see Dahlia return in the subsequent seasons of Citadel and try to control the narrative and take revenge on the spy agency. It would be interesting to see what she does when she crosses paths with Mason in the future. Dahlia had become hollow from within, and hate gave her the purpose she otherwise lacked. She had severed all the ties she had with the world, and we think that if she was ready to sacrifice her own blood, then there was nothing in this world that could cause a change of heart or make her understand that what she was doing was not right.


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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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