Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Westworld.”
The INSIDER Summary:
• HBO’s marketing website has been releasing helpful materials that explain how “Westworld” works.
• The latest is a GIF of a flowchart showing Dolores Abernathy’s scripted loop.
“Westworld” partially takes place in a gigantic theme park where guests can interact with hosts (robots), all of which are operating on a scripted narrative. Entering the park is almost like working one’s way through a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, but with hyper-realistic robot humans who are also trapped in a looped script.
HBO created a website — “Delos Incorporated” — which is designed to look like the official Westworld employee site. They have already released a handy map of the corporate offices through the site, and now there’s a useful GIF that shows how Dolores’ narrative loop works.
Take a look:
We’ll walk through each step one-by-one.
Dolores wakes up at Abernathy Ranch
This happens every day, which means the control room at Delos Incorporated must have a way of verifying that Dolores is back in her bed before each morning. If she’s not, they will intervene.
Each morning Dolores is supposed to walk outside, have a conversation with her father on the porch, then head into town and go to the General Store. She buys groceries, including a can of milk.
Dolores drops the can of milk
Again, Dolores is scripted to drop the milk every day. What happens next all depends on whether or not someone picks it up for her.
Here the loop splits into three choices. Either a guest picks up the can for Dolores, Teddy picks it up, or Dolores grabs it herself.
Guest picks up the can
If a guest happens upon Dolores, the narrative assumes they will want one of two things: to “woo” her or to “menace” her. If the guest successfully woos her, then they will be invited home to the ranch for dinner, and it’s up to the guest how the evening ends.
If the guest menaces Dolores, then Teddy might intervene and “rescue” her. But if the menacing guest kills Teddy, or Teddy never shows up at all, the guest can have their way with Dolores.
Dolores picks it up herself
If Dolores is left to grab the can herself, she’ll then pack up and ride out to the riverbank. There, she will paint the pretty horse scene, and serves as a more “family friendly” narrative for the afternoon. If someone stumbles upon her, they will have a pleasant conversation about horses or the like, before Dolores heads home.
Teddy picks up the can
This is the scenario we watched play out in the very first scene of the pilot. Teddy picks up the can, and he and Dolores ride off into the countryside for some good ol’ fashioned flirting. Then they go back to the ranch before it gets too dark outside.
After Dolores heads home
If Dolores goes home alone after painting there are two possibilities. Either “all is quiet,” she eats dinner, goes to sleep, and the narrative resets, or there’s an attack at the ranch.
If Dolores goes home with Teddy, there are similar outcomes. Either Peter Abernathy (Dolores’ father) will make Teddy leave, and then Dolores goes to sleep and resets the narrative, or there’s an attack at the ranch.
Attack at the ranch
So far in the show, the ranch has been under attack almost every time Dolores comes home. The attack is always coordinated by other hosts, but sometimes a guest is with them. According to the flowchart, if it’s a “skilled guest” then the narrative ends with Dolores’ parents killed and Dolores herself is left to the mercy of whatever the guest wants.
The guest might play “good guy,” saving Dolores from the bandits and comforting her. Or the guest might be one of the more menacing types.
But if an “amateur” guest is with the bandits, then the flowchart breaks into two more options. Either Teddy is with Dolores, in which case he might save Dolores by killing the hosts attacking and scaring off the guest.
If Teddy is absent, the attack plays out and the narrative is reset.
What this means for Dolores
After seeing her narrative mapped out, the purpose of Dolores’ presence the park is very clear. She’s the sweet “girl next door” combined with a “damsel in distress.” A guest can, depending on the point in her narrative, either pick her up and go home for a sweet dinner, or perhaps rescue her from a bandit attack and be her hero.
Any guests looking to torment and exercise power can also use Dolores’ loop against her. They might help the bandits attack and then have their way with her, perhaps after fighting Teddy and killing him.
Based on what we’ve seen in the show, Dolores rarely has a peaceful afternoon painting and then goes home for a quiet dinner and good night’s sleep. More often than not, someone takes advantage of the “attack” narrative. It’s no wonder she’s beginning to rail against her programming.
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