10:15am PT by Josh Wigler
'Westworld': Evan Rachel Wood Explains That "Horrible" Twist
[This story contains spoilers through season two, episode five of HBO's Westworld, "Akane No Mai."]
"To grow, we all need to suffer."
Such is the command of veritable general Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) as she orders the complete and utter transformation of her soft-hearted lover, Teddy Flood (James Marsden). It's a turn that many fans saw coming over the course of the first five episodes of Westworld season two, as the divide between Dolores and Teddy's points of view became clearer. By the time Dolores spied on Teddy refusing to follow orders and execute prisoners, the writing was very much on the wall.
In "Akane No Mai," Dolores and Teddy embark on one last stroll down memory lane, returning to the town of Sweetwater, where they looked back with nostalgia on notions of "someday," and even made love for the first time since the revolution began. But in a dark turn, Dolores wakes Teddy in the middle of the night and leads him into a barn, where her minions forcefully grab him. Dolores reveals she doesn't believe Teddy will survive the war ahead in his current condition, and as such, she has imprisoned lab tech Phil (Patrick Cage) do an on-the-fly remodeling of Teddy's core characteristics.
Exactly how has Teddy changed? The details will reveal themselves on the show soon enough, though one Reddit user captured some of the changes already — and they're not pretty. If you're one of the fans furious with Dolores over this latest decision, you're not alone. Indeed, even Wood struggled with the twist, certainly in terms of the shoot.
"It was horrible," the actress tells THR about shooting the scene. "I'm not even kidding. I think because we've been doing the show for four years now — if you go back to the pilot, which was shot in 2014 — we're all so attached to these characters. The experience is so immersive, so there's a huge part of you that feels like you're real. There's a space you all occupy with each other between action and cut that is real. When something bad happens to one of the characters, it genuinely upsets us, because we're so in it."
Reflecting on the day of the shoot, Wood remembers that she "literally couldn't stop crying. After every take, I had to walk away and start weeping, because I love Teddy. Being with these characters for so long, and then feeling like you're saying goodbye to them in a way? It's devastating for us. Even though he's still there, it's different."
For fans holding out hope that Teddy's alterations aren't permanent, Wood offers some reassurance, at least in terms of Dolores' present ambitions: "I don't think her plan is to change him forever. She genuinely believes he's just not going to survive otherwise. But we'll see where this takes him, and who he's going to become — because now, we don't know."
One thing we do know: at some point in the future, Teddy's corpse will wash ashore among an army of other drowned hosts. Exactly how, when and why Teddy died remains unclear; indeed, it's unclear (and frankly unlikely) if he'll stay dead. Furthermore, Dolores' dark decision will put something to the test: whether she's a liberator and revolutionary, or a jailer and a dictator. In terms even closer to the show's thematic ideas: How are Dolores' actions different from the way humans have treated the hosts?
"I think that's exactly the question she's going to have to start asking herself," says Wood. "I think it's what Maeve was trying to tell her as well: 'Everyone can't be free to be under your command.' She's longing for a choice. Anybody with that kind of responsibility and power tries to do the best that they can, but in that moment, she's not giving [Teddy] a choice. She's going to have to examine that, certainly."
For what it's worth, the actress sees this moment as a real turning point for Dolores, one that reveals the rancher's daughter persona fans came to know and love in season one is lurking inside.
"Because she's taking a measure like that, you can see she is still vulnerable," she says. "She's starting to crack a bit. Obviously, she's still that same Dolores we knew from the first season, otherwise I don't think she would care enough to change him in the first place. She would just leave him behind. But she loves him. I think [the twist] shows you that her love goes beyond programming. That's why she's not willing to let him go. She thinks she knows what's best and she's trying to help him, because he can't help himself in the moment. But is it right? It's definitely dark."
What's your reaction to Dolores' decision to forcibly change Teddy? Sound off in the comments below and keep checking THR.com/Westworld for more.