Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Westworld.”
The INSIDER Summary:
• “Westworld” has tons of characters, but for some reason we’ve never seen Dolores’ mother.
• INSIDER talked to the creators of the show about why she’s a non-character.
• Turns out they might explore her down the line.
“Westworld” is still early in its first season, but fans are already noticing the complex layers of mysterious storylines being mapped out by showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. But there’s one character the show seems intent on not exploring: Dolores’ mother, Mrs. Abernathy.
During a phone interview, we asked “Westworld” creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy what was up with Dolores’ mother, and why we haven’t seen her face. To our slight surprise, they both started laughing at the trivial question.
“In truth, we wanted to keep the emphasis in the pilot on her father,” Nolan tells INSIDER. “And the mother aspect of it is something we’re hoping to explore down the line.”
The arc in the pilot focused on Dolores’ father, Peter Abernathy, as he experienced an existential malfunction which led to a permanent recall of the host. Earlier in the episode, we saw Dolores’ home was attacked by bandits. Mrs. Abernathy was already dead when Teddy arrived, but we only saw her lying face down.
By the time the third episode aired, fans were beginning to question the importance (or lack thereof) Mrs. Abernathy had in the show.
“[Her absence] also speaks to the fact that their emotional lives are kind [of] disposable or interchangeable,” Nolan continues. “So the fact that the mother is sort of a non-character works for us with what we’re trying to say, which is these people think they have relationships but they don’t actually have relationships.”
The hosts are programmed to believe they have families, or love interests, but really it’s just a line of coding. At least, that’s all it’s supposed to be. The first host we saw “playing” Peter Abernathy seemed triggered by his desire to protect Dolores at all costs.
“For us too, that was a big part of the emotional component of the pilot,” Joy adds. “That the father is trying to save his daughter and rebelling against his coding and his own constraints because beneath the programmed love and the artificial love there’s something there for him. He wants to save her and when he’s replaced and she seemingly doesn’t even notice at the time, it’s incredibly heartbreaking.”
Mrs. Abernathy’s secretive appearance is also another way for Nolan and Joy to make a meta-commentary on the nature of writing for movies or television.
“As we said in the third episode — when Ford is talking to Teddy about his formless guilt — it’s like ‘Yeah we never bothered to give you a backstory and certain blanks haven’t been filled in,'” Nolan says.
Mrs. Abernathy is like a host without a backstory narrative uploaded yet but, as Nolan implied, they might decide to give her one later, much like Dr. Ford providing Teddy with a new past. For now, it seems clear that we’re following Dolores away from the ranch home she’s come to know as a place of terror. Her grand “escape” in episode three proved she has bigger fish to fry than worrying about her parents, for now.
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