Incredible, incredible, incredible episode. I loved the acting from everyone (minus Eliza Dushku) and especially loved the directing. Huge props to Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon for writing the episode and last but not least Jonathan Frakes for the directing.
The backstory on Sierra was sad and chilling. She was an artist from Los Angeles when possibly the worst person in the world, Nolan Kinnard (Vincent Ventresca), takes an interest into her. We discover that he drugged her and made her psychotic, so the Dollhouse would make her into a doll. Topher immediately has problems with what Nolandid as well as Adelle. It is essentially rape, as Nolan manipulated the Dollhouse into letting him have sex with an unwilling participant.
Adelle confronts Nolan who threatens retribution unless he gets Sierra permanently. Reluctantly, Adelle tells Topher to do it. This is where everything goes all wrong. Instead of doing as Adelle asks, Topher puts in Priya (the real Sierra) who kills Nolan. Topher arrives sees the mess. He and Boyd clean it up, leaving no evidence of wrongdoing.
This was the first time we got to see Topher in a role other than comedic relief. For the first time, he grasped the issue of morality and acted to preserve whatever Sierra had left. Great acting from Fran Kranz.
Dichen Lachman was simply amazing throughout the episode, portraying an artist, a psychotic, a terribly damaged active, and a blissfully unaware doll.
The connection between Sierra and Victor transcends everything. We see the attraction between them when Victor was an active and Sierra was not, even though Victor was not programmed to do so. The episode ends with Sierra and Victor happy and totally oblivious to the calamity that elapsed.
There was a minor story with Boyd discovering Echo's plotting. He discovers her journal, but doesn't take any drastic action. Unless he perceives Echo as a real threat, I doubt he will really care what she does. Ballard was conspicuously absent during the entire episode and I kept wondering where he was while all these events were going on.
Once again, an amazing episode and the ratings simply sucked. There is no chance for renewal, but Joss said the season finale would have some resolution. Maybe the Dollhouse will be brought down by then.