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How 'Westworld' Is Bringing Female Empowerment to a Worldwide Audience in Unexpected Ways

by Maggie Stancu 5 years ago in tv
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One of the most exciting things about HBO's 'Westworld' is its undeniably powerful female characters.

There's no question that #HBO'>#HBO's #Westworld is one of the biggest shows on television right now, and it deserves to be. Each week surprises the audience with new revelations and thrills. From the mysterious Arnold to the now infamous orgy scene, #HBO'>#HBO is pulling out all the stops with this sci-fi hit. However, arguably the most exciting thing about Westworld is not its unanswered questions or controversial choices, but its undeniably powerful female characters. When the pilot first aired, Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Dolores, spoke to Entertainment Weekly and said that the show is "revolutionary for women." With each episode that passes, the truth of that statement becomes more and more clear as we are exposed to the strength and resilience of the ladies both within and without of the park. Four in particular come to mind.

4. Dolores will no longer be a damsel.

Dolores is not only the first host that we meet, but the first character. She's one of the protagonists and she's certainly a girl next door archetype. She is sweet and brave, but vulnerable, seemingly unable to protect or defend herself at first. But this changes. As the episodes progress we see Dolores coming into her own. She starts to discover the lies she's been fed, starting to overcome her code. When a man attempts to rape her, she shoots and kills him, something that is very much against her programming. In the fifth episode she completely breaks free. She not only goes after her current romantic interest, William, but she saves his life by killing four men in the span of only a few seconds.

"I imagined a story where I didn't have to be the damsel." — Dolores.

She still has her kind and curious nature, but she's no longer a victim. She takes a stand and proves that anyone can fight back. No one can define you but yourself.

3. Elsie will do whatever it takes for the truth.

Elsie is probably one of the best and most under-appreciated characters on the show. Most people working behind the scenes of Westworld seem to be fairly corrupt and definitely have some questionable morals. It's difficult to know who to trust, but as Elsie points out in Episode 4, everyone but her seems to have some kind of secret agenda. She's not greedy like the others, and is incredibly brave, willing to do whatever it takes to discover what's really going on with the hosts. She is the one that finds that laser-based satellite uplink hidden in one of the hosts. And while it may not have been the best decision, she showed immense bravery by tracking the signal on her own. She is able to warn Bernard that Theresa Cullen is the one smuggling data out of the park. Elsie's determination is absolute, and she is willing to do whatever it takes to find and destroy corruption. Things aren't looking good for her right now, as Episode 6 ended with her being grabbed from behind by an unknown figure, but there's a good chance she's still alive. We can hope, right?

2. Armistice is one of the most dangerous people in Westworld.

We got a glimpse of Armistice in the pilot episode when she rode in with Hector and caused mayhem in Sweetwater. It was really exciting; she was one of the best gunmen there. It's rare to see a woman in a powerful position in films and television that are set in the Wild West, so this was really wonderful to see. So when we formally meet her in Episode 4, I was over the moon. She leads Hector's group while he is trapped in prison. Everyone respects her, and has a healthy level of fear towards her. She's without a doubt one of the most dangerous characters we've met. She has a bit of a ruthless streak, and it's understandable why.

When she was a little girl, men rode into her town and killed every man, woman, and child. She was forced to cover her skin with her mother's blood, still warm, so that the men would think she was dead too. She was able to overcome that and is now on a mission for justice/revenge. In what is very much a man's world, she is one of the toughest, most dangerous characters. Many are definitely rooting for her return.

1. Maeve refuses to be an ignorant pawn.

Maeve runs the whorehouse in Sweetwater, and her intelligence has always been clear. She is designed to be able to read people's innermost desires, and since the start she has done just that. Her intelligence is high, but the programmers never realized just how high it was. She remembers things that she was supposed to forget, and she is able to wake herself on command. She even awakens when she's being operated on. Most would want to forget that experience, but Maeve would rather know the horrible truth than sweet ignorance. She showed her tolerance for pain when she dug a knife into her own stomach to search for a bullet that she wasn't even sure was there! And in Episode 6, she shows more than ever just how intelligent she is and how much she wants to know.

She actually tries to get herself killed, convincing a guest to choke her to death, because she is so determined to find out what's happening to and around her. There's this beautiful sequence where Felix leads her through the upstairs level, and she sees how the hosts are made and programmed. She even sees previous versions of herself in a promotional video for the park. It's confusing, it's clearly painful, but she refuses to remain in the dark any longer. She blackmails Felix and Sylvester into making changes to certain traits (which apparently someone has already done in secret). They bump her intelligence all the way up. This previous episode, we see that she is now so intelligent that she cannot be frozen like the other hosts. She can now completely hold her own, and is a mere step away from being free. All she needs now is to escape from the park. Needless to say, Maeve has quickly gone from just a woman who runs a whorehouse to one of the most important, most intelligent, quick-witted and dangerous characters in the park. She has the potential to change the entire nature of the park and knowing Maeve, that's exactly what she plans to do.

Westworld isn't the first HBO show to put women in powerful positions. Just look at #GameOfThrones. From Daenerys Targaryen to Sansa Stark, the entire world is filled with inspiring and strong female characters. It looks like Westworld is following suit. We are only in the first season and already seeing so many incredible women taking what is theirs and refusing to be victims. There's so much diversity in Westworld, and though we did just lose a big female character, The Mary Sue makes an important point:

The show gives as much as it takes away, and again, I think it’s all in service to a greater point about oppression, which needs to be depicted in order to be discussed and dissected.

I can't wait to see what happens next, and what new and empowering characters we can expect to see in the upcoming episodes and seasons.


About the author

Maggie Stancu

(she/they/he) writer of sad, spooky, and supernatural things.

Twitter: maggiestancu

Instagram: maggiestancu

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