The Season 1 finale of Westworld aired in December 2016 on HBO so, in advance of the show’s Season 2 premiere next Sunday, old fans are catching up. It’s not only entertaining to revisit the multilayered sci-fi universe that has soared beyond the original 1970s film and Michael Crichton novel — it’s almost a necessity, due to the complexity of the Season 1 plot and the cast of characters.
There’s going to be a major development for Evan Rachel Wood’s central character, Dolores, whom the Season 1 finale revealed to be actually merged with the rarely-seen but oft-discussed bad guy host, Wyatt. As Wood told The Independent, Dolores has moved far beyond her damsel-in-distress programming, but that doesn’t mean she will emerge as the Season 2 hero that sets things right in defense of the enslaved hosts.
“We now know she has Dolores and Wyatt in her, and Dolores only sees the good and Wyatt only sees the bad. How they coexist, how she’s multifaceted and how she can go kind of in and out of each one at a whim is going to be really fun to see this season I think.”
Wood revealed that Westworld executive producers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan told her of Dolores’ dual nature when they were prepping for Season 2, saying they were making the park’s oldest host unlike any other character they’d seen. For Wood, it was exciting to delve deeper into a role that has much significance for her, not only personally but professionally.
In an interview with W, Wood revealed that she carried a bit of Dolores with her during her testimony before Congress in February. She was speaking in support of the Sexual Assaults Survivors’ Bill of Rights. As People reported at the time, her testimony included details of prior rapes by men in her life. She told W that playing Dolores, in particular at the end of Season 1 where she takes control after a history of sexual and physical abuse, had a huge impact on her as an actor.
“[S]he gets knocked down but always gets back up and fights harder. I’ve definitely taken that with me. When I testified before Congress I wore a locket with a picture of Dolores in it.”
[Warning: Minor spoilers for Season 2 of Westworld ahead!]
In Season 2, Dolores uses her power to her advantage. As Esquire revealed in its review of the first few episodes of the new season, she and the show’s other host that’s tired of living at the mercy of the guests, Maeve, are leading distinct plotlines. If the violence of Season 1 was too much for viewers, they can expect even worse with the introduction of Shogun World in Season 2, which Esquire describes as based on feudal Japan and is a more intense experience for park guests than the Wild West-themed original park.
When asked about the #MeToo movement and its occurrence as the show was completing its second season, Wood told W that Season 2’s themes of reckoning are particularly relevant. However, she asserts that the issue has always existed, even in late 2016 when Season 1 of Westworld first aired.
“People are listening in a different way now, and that might be the difference between this season and last. It’s not new—but the way we are looking at it is different.”
Season 2 of Westworld debuts next Sunday, April 22, 2018, on HBO.