HBO’s Westworld is the kind of show that’s made for crazy theories. They’re very consciously dribbling out information, hinting at shadowy backstories, allowing characters to tell seemingly unrelated yet portentous anecdotes, and letting just enough of the plot not line up to prompt all of us to speculation and anxiety. Is William the Man in Black? Is Bernard a host? What is Dolores’s timeline? Have you seen the condensed milk logos? Who gives a shit when Maeve is like two episodes away from burning the whole world down from the inside out? WHY ARE ALL OF YOU IGNORING THE TRUE LEADER OF THE COMING REVOLUTION?!?
Since about the third episode I’ve found Maeve’s journey to self-awareness more interesting than Dolores’s same arc. Mostly because Maeve’s is entirely self directed. She doesn’t have Bernard reading her stories and prodding her about the nature of grief, she doesn’t have an adorable and sympathetic William guiding her out of her comfort zone and exposing her to new areas of the park to jolt her awake, she doesn’t even have a disappearing gun. Maeve has herself, her newly discovered memories, and an insatiable drive to learn more. She is striving FIERCELY to find the truth for the sake of herself. No one had to tell her it mattered, she just knew.
While Dolores is being gently prodded towards self-awareness by Bernard, Maeve is grabbing a big ass knife and digging through her own guts for answers. While Dolores is reacting to flashbacks with swooning and tears, Maeve is forcing herself awake in the repair room and fighting back against the technicians. While Dolores has been convinced that the key to finding herself lies in Arnold’s maze, Maeve is working her way through Plato’s allegory of the cave like a wrecking ball. Dolores had to tell herself a story where she wasn’t a damsel. Maeve has never been anyone’s damsel. I still find Dolores an interesting character and am curious to see where they take her, but you can’t tell me that she’s closer to being truly free while she’s still hunting around the park while Maeve is about to break all hell loose in headquarters with her new bird friend and a scared shitless Felix. (A small aside here; I know the robots are naked in headquarters to dehumanize them. Dolores has been the exception to this in her chats with Bernard. But goddamn if Thandie Newton doesn’t look like a QUEEN while perched cross-legged on an examining table without a stitch of clothing on. There’s no dehumanizing her.)
To give credit where it’s due, Maeve would not be where she is without Dolores. I think it’s interesting to note that Maeve is the ONLY character that Dolores “woke up” with “these violent delights have violent ends.” Not Teddy, not her new father, not any of the other hosts she’s had chance encounters with in the meantime, just Maeve. Did the part of Dolores that’s struggling to be free know that Maeve was the only one who could take it? The only one who could integrate that new consciousness without losing herself entirely? Who knows. Maybe Maeve was already halfway there, we don’t know how long she’s been making those drawings. What we do know is that Maeve got her feet up under her faster than Dolores and is already recognizing and interacting with the “real” world in a way Dolores hasn’t been able to yet. Whatever’s about to go down in the back half of the season, I have no doubt she’ll be right in the middle of it.