Emmy episode analysis: Evan Rachel Wood (‘Westworld’) starts a revolution in ‘The Bicameral Mind’

Evan Rachel Wood competes for the Best Drama Actress Emmy as one of 22 nominations for HBO’s “Westworld.” Her role as a robot named Dolores who slowly achieves consciousness, has already garnered the actress a Critics’ Choice win and nominations from SAG and the Golden Globes. With last year’s Emmy champ Tatiana Maslany omitted from this year’s nominees, there is room for a new winner in the category. Wood, a past Emmy nominee for “Mildred Pierce,” is trying to fend off stiff competition from the likes of Claire Foy and Elizabeth Moss by submitting the season finale “The Bicameral Mind.”

In the episode, Dolores is sitting with the Man in Black (Ed Harris) as her mind shifts between past and present. A vision of Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) leads her to the chapel. The vision sparks a memory where she found Arnold’s “maze,” so she hurries to the graveyard beside the chapel and digs. The Man in Black, having long sought the center of the maze, is enraged when Dolores presents him with a child’s toy. It turns out the maze was meant for Dolores and the other hosts, and finding the toy represented finding her consciousness.

In a flashback, Arnold didn’t want the park to open after realizing Dolores was a fully conscious being. So he secretly instructed Dolores to destroy the project by killing all the hosts, Arnold, and herself. This awful memory floods Dolores’ mind and she realizes with horror that the mysterious villain Wyatt has been her all along. When the Man in Black reveals he is her former lover William, her tears turn to rage. She tells him that his kind will die out and allow the robots to inherit the Earth, before tossing him around the chapel like a rag-doll. She hesitates to kill William and is fatally stabbed.

Ford (Emmy nominee Anthony Hopkins) sits with Dolores after she is revived in a secret lab, and reveals that Arnold has died and been replaced by the Bernard host. Dolores sits with this information and concludes that the voices and visions she has had all season long are of herself, not Arnold. Finally at the center of her own “maze” and fully conscious, she storms Ford’s retirement ceremony. “This world wasn’t meant for them,” she says. And as Ford lifts his champagne toast to his lips, Dolores shoots him in the head before firing into the crowd. The robot uprising has begun.

PROS

Thanks to multiple timelines and the robotic nature of Wood’s character, few actors get the chance to show as wide a range in one episode. Dolores is horrified in one moment as the dark deeds of her past come to light, and shifts skillfully in the next moment to a triumphant badass.

This is a feature length season finale, clocking in at one hour and 30 minutes. Edie Falco submitted the 75-minute long “Whitecaps,” which brought the actress her final Drama Actress win for “The Sopranos.”

Being nominated for the debut season of a show can provide great buzz and help a performer win. It helped Patricia Arquette (“Medium”) take this very category in 2005. Ditto Sally Field (“Brothers and Sisters”), Claire Danes (“Homeland”) and Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”).

SEE 2017 Emmy nominations list: All the nominees

CONS

“Westworld” is a show that demands close attention, and some voters may be too confused trying to piece together the timelines and “maze” mystery to realize the nuances of Wood’s work.

With such a large ensemble, Wood’s submission could boost her co-star’s chances more than help her own. Especially considering the story-lines for Ford and Maeve (Thandie Newton) are easier to follow by comparison.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on September 17. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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