Dahlia: Citadel character explained

In Citadel, Dahlia Archer represents Manticore, an organization that killed Citadel spies, even though her own son was one of them. Lesley Manville plays the role of Dahlia.

Dahlia Archer is UK’s ambassador to the United States. However, behind the scenes, she is also the broker for families that founded Manticore. Her loyalty lies with the founding families and no one else. 

Dahlia believes that Citadel is the most dangerous weapon. She desires disarmament, as she does not want innocent people to lose their loved ones. For that, she is ready to kill thousands of people every day as long as the ends justify the means.

The ruthless antagonist

Throughout the first season, Dahlia is ready to do anything to get access to Citadel technology like the X Case and the A.I. System. From the moment she is introduced, Dahlia is portrayed as a ruthless figure who would go to any lengths to fulfill the wishes of the founding families.

Years after getting thousands of Citadel spies killed, she shows no mercy to Carter or Bernard when they get captured. She employs different torture techniques to get them to give her what she wants. 

Davik and Anders serve her loyally, and yet she does not think twice before killing Anders when he tries to help Bernard escape. She then casually gives the news to Davik and pins the blame on Bernard without showing remorse.

Citadel Dahlia
Dahlia kills Anders

However, Davik finds out the truth and holds her responsible for killing his brother. He blackmails her to get her to give him a better position in the organization, but she refuses. In fact, she launches the missiles in the submarine.

Furthermore, when she got Citadel spies killed, she knew that Mason was her son, but she still did not stop. She even gets her granddaughter, Asha, kidnapped to force Mason into going on a mission for her.

When Nadia and Mason go to get Asha from Manticore’s agents, she does not hesitate in giving them the order to kill Asha if needed, and Asha would have been killed if it was not for Mason.

The past that still haunts her

Dahlia and Bernard have known each other since they worked at the UN. Dahlia is still trying to fulfill the dream of her husband, Thomas. 

When Dahlia and Thomas were in Serbia, Thomas was killed in a blast, and Dahlia had to watch him burn to death. She tried to put out the fire, and she still has scars on her arm from that time. 

Citadel Dahlia
Dahlia’s scars

Dahlia then found out that it was not a car bomb that killed Thomas, but air missiles. Citadel tried to launch air strikes on a Serbian terror cell, but they had the wrong coordinates. 

Instead of terrorists, it was innocent UN workers and their families that were killed, including Thomas. Citadel covered this up and was never punished for their actions. His death still haunts her. It is the reason why she decided to take Citadel down by working for Manticore.

Abandonment and betrayal

After her husband’s death, Dahlia did not return home, as she believed that it was no longer her house or life. She abandoned her son, who is none other than Mason, and traveled the world.

Years later, when Mason meets her, she tells him everything that she knows about his father’s death. She finds Nadia’s whereabouts for him and takes advantage of his distressed state. She convinces him to join her in making Citadel pay for their actions.

He gives her the real identities and other information about all of Citadel’s spies when she tells him that she will take them to the High Court in the UK to open an investigation, but that is a lie. Instead of seeking justice through legal means, she gets them all killed.

In the end, when she fails to carry out the tasks given to her, she knows that she will be punished by the five families, so she prepares in advance. She leaves her house and creates an explosion that destroys the whole building, faking her death.

Also Read: Citadel season 1 finale recap, review & ending explained

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