Four episodes in and Westworld has its hooks in me but good. What could’ve been a straight-forward “robots go on a murderous rampage” horror story is instead a deep psychological look at what makes us human and how a consequence-free world changes the way we interact with the world around us. On top of that is a dollop of growing unease about the never-ending nightmare that his the Hosts’ reality, and the unshakable feeling that there is more to the Delos corporation than a hedonistic Disney World and you get lore so thick you cut it with a knife.
But considering how flawlessly each piece of the Westworld puzzle interconnects with the next, there is one thing that feels completely disjointed: Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) secret meetings with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) deep in the bowels of the corporate offices. This is a place where everyone — or at least Ford (Anthony Hopkins) knows your every move. It seems impossible that Bernard could be whisking Dolores away on a regular basis for extended conversations about the nature of self-awareness without anyone noticing. Yet, based on Dolores’ statement that she and Bernard have read several books together, this is exactly what’s been happening. Or is it?
I posit a different solution. Dolores has two bodies.
In the first episode, we are introduced to Ford as he stares wistfully, or perhaps with a Machiavellian glint, at Bill, the decommissioned Host in cold storage. The audience quickly learns Bill was the second Host the park ever built, with Dolores being the first. So why is Bill in the robot morgue (with special “fully dressed” privileges, no less) while Dolores is still stuck in a never-ending loop of sexual assault? Hopefully, that’s something the show delves into at some point, but from where I’m standing it looks like a matter of software degradation and not obsolete hardware. If Bill’s software (brain) were beyond salvaging with new technology for whatever reason, it would make sense to retire him. After all, Dr. Abernathy (Louis Herthum) was also regulated to cold storage for a software malfunction. Dolores, on the contrary, has clearly been upgraded many times over the years, both physically and mentally. But as anyone who has dabbled in DIY computer builds knows, eventually, the hardware just can’t keep up and has to be replaced entirely.
So I suggest that is just what happened. Dolores’ brain was uploaded into a new, shinier Host body and sent back out to the Abernathy farm. But since either Ford or the Delos board of directors are hoarders, they put her decommissioned body in cold storage.This is where we start getting into some “technology is magic” tropes here, but we’re dealing with biological robots that may or may not be sentient, so bear with me. Bernard obviously has an interest in Dolores, or he wouldn’t be risking his career by trying to wake her up to her reality. But giving her books to read that could be noticed by the QA staff — not to mention magicking her away in the dark of night — is a risky move. Less risky would be to take Dolores 1.0 out of the robot morgue and “flip the switch” to transfer her consciousness while Dolores 2.0 is sleeping.
This theory would explain so much. Why Dolores is always in her blue dress instead of her nightgown during these talks. Why Bernard has to tell her to bring herself back online. How Dolores was able to get away from William (Jimmi Simpson) and Logan (Ben Barnes) after fleeing the farm. And why Dolores keeps referring to these meetings as a dream. Technically, they are. Her body is still in the theme park while her consciousness is with Bernard. But what of Bernard ending each conversation with basically “We need to get you back before someone notices I’m doing something bad”? That could be two-fold. He needs to get the body back to cold storage and also get Dolores’ personality back inside her updated hardware before morning.
There is little doubt the illusion that is Westworld will eventually come crashing down. If this theory pans out, it could lead a disturbing discovery for Dolores. Imagine the horror of Dolores discovering the cold storage unit. Surrounded by the dead-eyed bodies of friends and family, nakedly lined up in the dark. Drawn to the closed-off area where the original Hosts are kept — perhaps by the sound of Bill repeating “let’s drink to the lady with the white shoes” over and over again — Dolores peels back the morgue zipper to discover her own face staring up at her. Now that would be one hell of a twist.