Throughout its first season, Westworld has never shied away from religious allusions. Ford constantly refers to himself as the “god of this world,” and Maeve and Hector discuss gods who pull their strings. Even as far back as the pilot episode, when Dolores’s first father had his breakdown, one of his repeated lines was from The Tempest, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” With all this talk of gods and devils swirling around the show’s melting pot of mysteries and conspiracies, it can be hard to parse out what Dolores’s ultimate role in the narrative might be. But the ninth episode, “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” offered a suggestion: If Westworld is its own world complete with gods, Dolores is the original sinner.
The ninth episode revealed that — spoiler alert — Dolores is responsible for Arnold’s death. When Dolores finally confronts Arnold in her memory and he explains that he can’t help her, she says, “Because you’re dead. Because you’re just a memory. Because I killed you.”
We still have yet to learn the circumstances of this death, but as the original and oldest host in the park, Dolores already has parallels with the biblical Eve. And curiously, she accesses this place in her mind through a confession booth in a church.
Conventional wisdom would then say it’s easy to predict the rest of Dolores’s story: her meeting with the Man in Black will be her version of biting the apple. But Westworld is more complex than a simple religious parable, and Dolores has always been more self-aware than Eve. Even in “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” she acknowledges the dangers of leaving her world. “You both keep presuming I want out,” Dolores tells Logan and William. “If it’s such a wonderful place out there, why are you all clamoring to get in here?”
Therein lies the intelligence of Westworld. As a creation story in which the characters are aware of the hands that pull their strings, it nods at religious and sci-fi tropes, and yet its end product is a hybrid of the two that is entirely its own. As hard as the show pushes its biblical allusions, it nods at the fourth wall of of storytelling just as fervently. Earlier in the episode, Maeve tells Bernard, “It’s a difficult thing … realizing your entire life is some hideous fiction.”
Maeve takes control of her narrative in a forceful and satisfying way. Dolores’s journey is more complicated, because it’s increasingly likely that neither Dolores nor the viewer will like what they find. One episode away from the end of Season 1, Westworld still keeps its cards close to its chest. But if hell is empty and all the devils are in Westworld, it stands to reason that some of these devils come with shiny hair and honeyed accents.Photos via HBO