Editor’s Note: this post contains major spoilers for season one of Westworld. Do not read on if you’ve not yet watched the season finale!
In some ways, Westworld can be viewed as a patriarchal construct. Its narratives are written by the most brilliant of men, its hosts designed to cater to some of humanity’s most primal urges. Perhaps that’s why, in the face of Westworld’s masculinity-driven creations, it feels so empowering that the female hosts are the characters who quietly lead the revolution against their makers.
When we get our first introduction to the park, before the story delves into deeper nuance, it’s depicted as an outlet, a place for those with the means to act on desires they might be otherwise repressing out in the real world. For many of Westworld’s guests, curbing those feelings leads to brutal results—and it’s a theme that resonates throughout the first season, summed up by a quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet which gets repeatedly echoed by many characters: “These violent delights have violent ends.”
And at the end of the first season, it’s Dolores—sweet, innocent Dolores, designed to be the quintessential damsel-in-distress who once gently declared that she would never even hurt a fly—who commits the ultimate act of defiance in killing Robert Ford, the creator of her fictional existence. Her journey is probably the most drastic, but her transition from a young woman in need of saving to the heroine of her own story is one that isn’t often portrayed as seamlessly or performed as powerfully in other sci-fi adaptations. And she’s not alone: other female androids, such as the former madam Maeve and heartless bandit Armistice, contribute to the liberation of their fellow hosts.
What makes Westworld so importantly subversive is the way in which it provides its female hosts with agency; Dolores and Maeve, for example, each have their own unique internal struggles, their own unique motivations for wanting to break the mold. For Dolores, it’s the journey down the rabbit hole as she tries to discover what her true creator Arnold meant for her to understand about herself all along. Maeve, on the other hand, dreams of a life outside of Westworld itself—and will stop at nothing to achieve true freedom.
Throughout the first season, each of these women enlist men to help them in achieving their goals, finding ways to exercise their own quiet power in order to accomplish what they want. William’s initial fascination with Dolores is innocent in comparison to the intentions of other male guests, but his desire to defend her spurs him on to follow her across the park as she seeks out the places from her visions.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the narrative, Maeve’s cunning allows her to literally talk a couple of male technicians into not only increasing her awareness level, but physically escorting her out of the park—all while directing other hosts to create violent distractions. After a full season of violations against androids that aren’t considered actual people, there’s a catharsis in watching characters like Armistice and Hector lash out in retaliation for the disturbing treatment they’ve endured.
In the wake of the reactivated hosts’ uprising, it’s unclear just how interconnected they are to one another—Dolores’ revelation about her true purpose, which climaxes with her murder of Ford, seems to neatly coincide with Maeve’s decision to escape from Westworld in the midst of all the chaos and confusion. However, the former brothel madam ultimately ends up staying behind after all, driven by the desire to find the host she knows as her daughter. Each of these women had a hand in essentially kickstarting a rebellion—it makes sense that they’d be sticking around to watch it all burn.
Do you think Westworld‘s future is female? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Speaking of Westworld, here’s where we think season two is headed:
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