WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 7, of Westworld, “Passed Pawn,” which aired Sunday on HBO.
Westworld, like Game of Thrones before it, is a series that’s an ensemble piece. From Maeve to Bernard to The Man In Black, everyone has their own story and path that they follow that gets equal screen time. But even so, there is a “first among equals” caste that happens in shows like these, and it is universally agreed that however much time we might spend with other characters, this is, ultimately, Dolores’ story.
Dolores is a minor character in the park’s narrative, but she’s the focal point from the Season 1 premiere. It’s her awakening the show follows in the first season, her revolution in Season 2, and her entry into the real world in Season 3. She is the enemy both Rehoboam and Serac are focused on, and her endless copies bedevil him. At this point, the coming war between hosts and humans is unthinkable without Dolores as the leader.
Or is it? The closing moments of Westworld Season 3’s penultimate episode suggest perhaps the revolution will not be Dolores-ized.
Ever since Season 2, fans have been hotly anticipating the inevitable Maeve versus Dolores showdown. Though the two rarely crossed paths in Season 1, by the end of the second set of episodes, the two had become the principal characters of the story, with two very different philosophies of how leadership should look. Dolores believed in self-reliance and manipulating people into doing what she wants. Maeve believed in strong allies who followed her out of loyalty.
This philosophical difference now extends to the war on humanity. Maeve believes her daughter and friends are safe within the Sublime from all humans and wants to keep them protected in there. Dolores believes nowhere is safe unless it’s carved from blood. But even so, fans couldn’t believe that Dolores or Maeve would be taken out by one another. Injured, sure. But there had to be something that stopped them short.
What fans didn’t anticipate is the Caleb factor. Dolores and Maeve were equally matched in the fight to the death out in the courtyard of Serac’s facility in Mexico. They each had weapons, and they each had mechanized backup, Dolores with her drone controlled gun and Maeve with her Serac supplied helicopter. Dolores misstepped first when Maeve slipped a knife between her ribs. She stumbled backward into the helicopter’s view and got her arm blown off for it.
But it wasn’t the lack of arm that stopped Dolores. She’s a host, arms are cheap. She raced inside the facility again to buy time as Caleb and Solomon, Rehoboam’s predecessor, continued to update the scenario that would destroy Serac and take humanity off its loop once and for all.
It wasn’t until she saw Solomon shutdown and restart that she knew the plan was executing. Then, instead of fighting Maeve, she reached out and hit a button on the server she was leaning against.
When Dolores pushed the button, something completely unexpected happened. She and Maeve just… melted. Not like their bodies had become liquid, but both collapsed like ragdolls to the floor. It was very reminiscent of last week’s moment with Hector as Charlotte crushed his marble, and the virtual version inside Serac’s recreation of the park just collapsed. Caleb froze when he saw Dolores lying on the floor as he came down the stairs. It looked for all the world as if she was dead.
But is that possible? Both Dolores and Maeve dead? One possibility is that Dolores set off an EMP, an electromagnetic pulse that stops everything mechanical around it. That would shut down Solomon so Serac can’t see what it did, or the plan Caleb now has. But in doing so, she took out everything, including herself and Maeve.
One assumes Dolores and Maeve will both eventually be restarted, with one more episode to go. But their collapse could be proof that Bernard was right. Dolores has no intention of destroying humanity herself. She’s leaving that to Caleb to do for her, while she removes herself from the game.
KEEP READING: Westworld Finally Releases Maeve into the Real World
The Dolores-Maeve showdown fans have been waiting for finally happened. But did either of them survive? What happens to the revolution without Dolores