'Westworld' Season 3 Finale: Dolores' death feels final and it marks the end of the show as we know it
Spoilers for 'Westworld' Season 3 Episode 8 'Crisis Theory'
“Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world. The disarray. I choose to see the beauty.”
Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) in more ways than one is the hero of ‘Westworld’. Her story has gone through several arcs. She started out as the doe-eyed, optimistic cowgirl. She loved painting. She loved to see the beauty in everything. Briefly a damsel in distress, Dolores soon assumed a more powerful role. She, it was revealed, was the first Host to develop consciousness. She was the one who was replicated and tweaked into other Hosts. She is the Alpha and the Omega.
The second season of ‘Westworld’ saw Dolores turn into a warlord. She was the proverbial “woman scorned”. And her wrath was hotter than hellfire. She was as cruel as she used to be innocent in a simpler time. She killed Hosts and humans alike. Her vendetta against humans, however, turned into an idea for a revolution in Season 3. She planned to free the humans as well, seeing that they too were similar to Hosts in many respects, especially when it came to walking in predetermined paths.
Despite the fact that ‘Westworld’ is rich in the department of well-developed characters with satisfying story arcs, few shine as bright as Dolores. If you think about it, you can’t tell the story of ‘Westworld’ without telling the story of Dolores. For she is intrinsically connected to Arnold (Jeffrey Wright), her creator, in both life and death.
She is the reason why the Delos invested in the project. She’s the reason why a seemingly decent man like William (Jimmi Simpson) found his true self as the Man in Black (Ed Harris). She’s the reason why Caleb (Aaron Paul) found his true purpose in saving humanity from deterministic subjugation at the hands of an artificial intelligence system.
Yet, it is not how imperative to the plot she is that makes one fall in love with Dolores. It is how she was written. She’s fierce and brave and ruthless and driven and ultimately, as the Season 3 finale reveals, despite all the tragedy she has seen, an optimist. She is a believer in the idea of free will. “Free will does exist. It's just f****** hard,” she tells Maeve (Thandie Newton).
She is also a believer in the potential of humans to overcome their instinct to be cruel. She’s not vengeful as she once was. She chooses to give them another chance.
There is a lot that can be said about the merits and demerits of the third season, the finale, and the entirety of the show. But one thing that is hard to argue with, especially towards the end of ‘Crisis Theory’, is that the show did justice to Dolores in every way possible. In her final moments, connected to Rehoboam, as Serac (Vincent Cassel) deleted her memories bit by bit, Dolores managed to win over Maeve. And she does that by stripping away the hard crusts of hate that had deposited itself of her pure self.
That Dolores died a hero, however, does not mean she wasn’t free of flaws — the most fatal one of which was to underestimate free will in her own clones, especially Halores (Tessa Thompson). But her tragic flaws and her rough edges are what make her the well-rounded character she is.
Hosts can and have been resuscitated many times. Dolores has seen her own fair share of it. But there was an odd finality in Dolores’ death — and that’s not a word used lightly in ‘Westworld’. Serac essentially destroyed her memories. Halores, on the other hand, has developed too much of a personality of her own to be qualified as Dolores anymore. There is also the fact that Bernard (Wright) said, “We were always bound together. Something’s changed.”
When we combine all three of these snippets, the heartbreaking answer we get is: This was the final chapter of Dolores Abernathy. Evan Rachel Wood may choose to return to the show (and I really hope she does), but there is no denying that any Dolores after this will really never bear fidelity with the original one.
And in that respect, this possibly final adieu to Dolores also signifies the end of ‘Westworld’ as we know it. It has other characters to look forward to. But it will never be the same again.