Westworld: What Happened to Dolores in "The Stray"?

This week's episode of Westworld marked an important step in the continued evolution of Dolores, the "girl next door" host and the show's central character. Dolores was previously "infected" with what appears to be a programming glitch that causes her to remember her past experiences, but only in hallucinatory flashbacks. This has caused subtle changes in her personality and programming, which hasn't gone unnoticed by Bernard, the head of Westworld's programming department.

In tonight's episode, we see Teddy try to teach Dolores how to shoot a gun, so she can protect herself from the bandits and unsavories that prowl around Sweetwater. However, Dolores can't bring herself to pull the trigger on the gun, to which Teddy replies that some people just aren't meant to shoot a gun.

However, in the following scene, Elsie mentions that "Quality Assurance" has added a failsafe to the hosts, a new piece of programming that prevents most hosts from using weapons. Unless a host has "weapon privileges", they're totally unable to use weapons...which has caused more than a few issues within the hosts.

dolores the stray

Obviously, a sweet, innocent woman like Dolores wouldn't have "permission" to use a weapon, even if her story loop causes her to get attacked on a nightly basis. And yet, that's exactly what happened at the end of this episode. When a bandit kills her father and drags her into a nearby barn to rape her, Dolores steals the gun out of his belt and shoots him through the neck...but only after she experiences flashbacks of seeing the Man in Black and hears a voice telling her to kill her attacker.

We learned this episode that "the voice" belonged to Arnold, the mysterious co-founder of the Westworld. In an attempt to give the hosts true consciousness, Arnold created a program that caused the hosts to hear disembodied voices in the hopes that they would spontaneously accept those voices as their own thoughts. Ford quickly scrapped that part of the host's programming, but his recent update has caused some of the hosts to start hearing those voices once again.


Obviously, tonight's episode leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Did Arnold's programming somehow override the weapons lock in Dolores's code? Or was it the memory of the Man in Black and the other trauma she's experienced throughout the years? Or did Dolores's seemingly evolving personality somehow override the limitations placed on her by Westworld's staff? I'm sure we'll learn the answer later this season.

There's another, more dangerous implication to consider. If Dolores can overcome a weapon restrictions placed into her coding, is it possible that she could also override other fundamental restrictions? We know that hosts are forbidden to harm guests, but could Dolores override that restriction to protect herself from someone like Logan, who we know has no problem killing hosts for the slightest provocation? Now that Dolores is in the company of two guests, we could see her possibly break an even more fundamental rule in the near future.