Westworld: Looping Dolores

The Australians have Waltzing Matilda; Westworld has Looping Dolores… and a whole host of looping hosts. (Is there a collective noun for robots, yet? A mechanation of robots? A clank of robots? An Asimov of robots? How about an uprising of robots?)

Halfway through season one, it’s possible to get a sense of the script Dolores follows. We can also get a sense of the path Teddy follows, although we haven’t seen as much of it.

Obviously, and as always in this series of posts: Serious Season Spoilers! Do not read unless you’ve seen all of season one.

Let’s start with Dolores’ basic loop — the script she follows unless something else happens.

Because at least two other loops are designed to intersect with hers (Teddy and Rebus+Walter), normally something else does happen, but it’s possible something else happened in those other loops and then Dolores follows her default path.

Dolores’ (Default) Loop

  1. Wake up in bed.
  2. Morning tasks. Converse with daddy.
  3. Ride to Sweetwater.
  4. Sweetwater tasks (shopping).
  5. Drop milk can. (Pick it up if no one else does.)
  6. Ride to river.
  7. Paint.
  8. Ride to ranch; arrive before dark.
  9. Evening tasks.
  10. Sleep.

We’ve seen a number of these things (or at least hints of them) and can infer the rest. Dolores finding the gun in her drawer hints at her morning chores, for example.

This path requires that Teddy, as well as Rebus and Walter, be otherwise occupied so they don’t encounter Dolores. It also requires that no guest pull her off her loop.

And that is a key aspect of these loops: That any guest can pull a host off their loop. At that point, the host improvises according to its backstory, drives, and itinerary.

For instance, a guest could show up at the Abernathy ranch in the morning or intercept Dolores during her ride. Not to mention at any point while she’s in Sweetwater (which is the real point of her ride into town).

Likewise, painting at the river is an opportunity for a guest to show up, not to mention the ranch that evening (where, under normal circumstances, Rebus and Walter will show up).

Another key aspect here is that guests who join storylines can do so as white hats or black hats. One can woo Dolores or treat her like prey. (Which is true for all the hosts, but it affects us a bit more with Dolores.)

But let’s assume no guests intervene and consider what happens when Teddy and Rebus follow their loops.

Teddy’s (Default) Loop

  1. Ride train into Sweetwater.
  2. Arrive in Sweetwater; walk to saloon.
  3. Hang out in saloon…
  4. Unless see Dolores. Go meet!

Now things get interesting. Teddy has options, depending (as it turns out) what the guests are doing.

5A: Dolores is alone at her horse; she drops the milk can; Teddy is free to pick it up (“Just trying to appear chivalrous.”). They go off together.

5B: A (white hat) guest meets Dolores (e.g. the first time William meets her). We don’t know, but we can guess that Teddy backs off. Maybe stands there with a dumb/sad look on his face… and then goes back into the saloon.

5C: A (black hat) guest meets Dolores (she is clearly alarmed). Teddy to the rescue! The outcome depends on the guest.

5D: Rebus and Walter and a guest intercept Dolores. Teddy to the rescue! Again, the outcome depends on the guest.

In the first branch, Dolores and Teddy go off together and have a dialog out on the range before heading to the Abernathy ranch. They arrive there after dark when (normally) Rebus and Walter are already there.

In the last two branches, Teddy and a guest face off. If the guest backs down (if you can’t get killed, why would you?), Teddy and Dolores still go off together, but this time Teddy tries to teach Dolores to shoot (and fails). Again, they reach the ranch after dark when Rebus and Walter are there.

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Which brings us to Rebus and Walter.

With a guest in tow, we’ve seen them accost Dolores in Sweetwater as she walks to her horse. At that point, Teddy has seen her from the saloon and is walking her way.

Since we’ve seen Teddy pick up the dropped milk can, we know Rebus and Walter aren’t always in Sweetwater. We can guess that having a guest in tow gives them the idea of introducing the guest to Dolores.

The face-off with Teddy in town almost seems scripted to happen to give the bandit crew, and their guest(s), a revenge motive for invading the Abernathy ranch that evening.

Perhaps Rebus and Walter don’t bother Dolores in Sweetwater unless a guest has joined them? Yet they still invade the ranch (it seems) on their own.

So Dolores isn’t necessarily bothered in town, but she can generally expect to be bothered by them at home as part of the normal loop. Hell of a life.

One question is: How often does she survive, abused or not, and flee?

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On a far more pleasant note, consider a much nicer path: When Rebus and Walter, for whatever reason, don’t show up at the ranch.

If Dolores is alone, she just has a good evening.

If Teddy met her in town… hmmm, they’d be together out at the ranch under daddy’s watchful eye. I suppose Teddy would end up riding back into town. (Of course, we don’t know what they did during their dialog before they got to the ranch!)

Likewise, if a (white hat) guest met her in town, she might bring him back to meet daddy (who almost certainly won’t approve). Maybe the guest succeeds in talking her into a night on the town or something.

There’s also a path in which Teddy arrives with Dolores at the ranch after dark when Rebus and Walter are there, but in which Teddy wins. We actually saw that happen the first time (in episode one), but the MiB showed up and killed Teddy.

It could also be a guest who kills Rebus and Walter and wins Dolores (that’s actually an intended outcome), but the point is there are paths where Dolores and Teddy (or Dolores and a guest) end up together to, so to speak, ride off into the sunset.

Interestingly, if no guests intervene, it looks like Dolores and Teddy do end up together in the combined default loop:

Looping Dolores

  1. Wake up in bed.
  2. Morning tasks. Converse with daddy.
  3. Ride to Sweetwater.
  4. Sweetwater tasks (shopping).
  5. Drop milk can. Teddy picks it up!
  6. Ride to nice spot on the range.
  7. Dialog with Teddy.
  8. Ride to ranch; arrive after dark.
  9. Rebus and Walter. Killed mom and dad.
  10. Teddy kills Rebus and Walter.
  11. Dolores and Teddy are left!
  12. Now what?

Now what, indeed. (There definitely is scripted host-on-host action!)

We saw Teddy kill Rebus and Walter in episode one, but that doesn’t require that he always wins. There could be an element of chance when hosts fight hosts (you’d kinda hope so). But, still, Teddy wins sometimes!

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One question I have is how Dolores came to William at his camp. Logan says she was sent because of William’s interest in her in town. That suggests she was re-purposed from her normal path — how often can William’s situation arise?

It raises the question as to how often Dolores flees from the ranch killings. Was her fleeing after killing Rebus a new thing? And, if so, is it scripted (and if so by whom)?

Or did she sometimes just manage to run away? Did she ever flee the ranch when Teddy or a (white hat) guest won — flee out of shock and grief?

Still a lot of puzzles, but we can at least see the outline of her loop.

One she’s been following for over 30 years!

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Update: The Delos Destinations website has a graphic that seems to confirm the analysis above!

Dolores’ official script.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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