New HBO series Westworld explores a Wild West-themed park where visitors get to act out narratives that range from kid-friendly educational fun to violent adult horrors. The park is populated by hyper-realistic androids and watched over by a team of experts and technicians who analyze the goings-on at the park like it's an arena in The Hunger Games. All of the robots are trapped in a loop, reliving their days over and over with only minor variations. This begins to change when an update allows them to access memories that were supposedly wiped, sending more than one robot (called "hosts" in the show) into a tailspin. It looks like the entire venture is poised to fall apart, particularly for one host in particular: Dolores, the oldest android in the park. But who plays Dolores on Westworld?
As played by Evan Rachel Wood, Dolores is a radiant, hopeful, and happy young woman who is one host the technicians never have to worry about. She's been functioning just like she's supposed to for thirty years or more, repeatedly experiencing the same horrors but awakening with her knowledge of it wiped every day. She never remembers what happens to her, so she greets each morning with a sense of wonder. However, by the end of the premiere she seems to be on the precipice of a huge change: Dolores is gaining sentience.
One major theme of the show is what makes a character "real." Dolores is technically not real; she's a robot created to serve a very specific purpose. But she's not aware of that: in her own mind, she's a woman with feelings and interests, living in a world she loves with her family by her side. She spends her days on the ranch with her father, or running errands, painting, and flirting with the man she loves. At night, she's often made to suffer through the murder of her family and her own rape over and over. Is the fact that she's not real mean that her emotions don't count? That what people do to her doesn't matter? These are obviously questions the show intends to raise, particularly because it seems to empathize with the hosts so much.
Wood has described Dolores as her favorite out of all the characters she's played because of the layers and depth to her story. "So, in character, she's this very innocent prairie girl, this princess/damsel in distress, but underneath that, she's actually a very advanced, intelligent being, with kind of unlimited power," Wood told MovieFone. "The question is: What would happen if she realized she had that power?"
Throughout the first episode, numerous hosts are pulled from the park as they become aware of their own existence and begin to behave in non-scripted ways. Dolores is not initially one of these hosts; she behaves just like she's supposed to from beginning until the very end. The hosts aren't able to hurt any living thing, not even a fly, but right before the credits role on the first episode, Dolores kills a fly that lands on her neck. It may be a small gesture, but it's a big hint about the changes that are sure to come.