Warning: Spoilers for the Westworld season 2 premiere ahead.
As any true Westworld fan would know, the high-stakes theme park filled with anatomical “human” hosts, violence, and puzzles is also ripe with references and symbolism. Throughout season 1, viewers were quick to unpack imagery and easter eggs that helped predict where the story would take them.
So when the wolf from season 1 appeared in the season 2 premiere, roaming the aftermath of yet another massacre, that seemed to point to some kind of greater meaning. Here are some of the theories about what it represents.
Throughout season 1, the wolf appeared in Teddy (James Marsden) and Dolores’ (Evan Rachel Wood) flashbacks to the original host massacre. One popular Reddit theory explained the wolf as a symbol for self-awareness, or even sentience:
The show draws heavily on Native American symbolism and mythology. Operating from that perspective, Wolf symbolizes strength, truth, loyalty, intelligence, leadership, and awareness of self. Does that last sound familiar? Sentience?
Wolves also mate for life, so there is a possible link to the Teddy/Dolores connection—I have a running theory that those two are linked on more than a romantic level; that they share an operational duality as a function of their existence.
Sentience is, of course, the core theme of the series so far—its cornerstone, if you will. In fact, that specific massacre is the result of Dolores being on the path to discovering her own self-awareness, thanks to her merge with the Wyatt character. She’s not fully her own person yet—she’s still acting under Arnold’s programming—but she’s getting there.
That being said, following Dolores’ massacre at the beginning of season 2, we see that this wolf is not solely tied to the rancher’s daughter. The animal and the Man in Black had a long moment of connection in the premiere, and while Dolores and the Man in Black have a lot of history, this could indicate that there’s something else going on here.
This makes a second Reddit theory, focused on the maze etched into a host’s skull, even more plausible. According to the theory, the maze is based on the “man in the maze” emblem of the Tohono O’odham Nation of Southern Arizona, which depicts a figure—I’toi, a deity—entering a labyrinth.
The wolf may not be a wolf at all, but a coyote:
I’itoi and Earth-maker shaped and peopled the new world, and they were followed everywhere by Coyote, who came to life uncreated and began immediately to poke his nose into everything. In this new world there was a flood, and the three agreed before they took refuge that the one of them who should emerge first after the subsidence of the waters should be their leader…It was Earth-maker, the creator, who came forth first, and I’itoi next, but I’itoi insisted on the title and took it. I’itoi “brought the people up like children” and taught them their arts, but in the end he became unkind and they killed him…. But I’itoi, though killed, had so much power that he came to life again. Then he invented war.
The Redditor goes on to theorize that in Westworld, the “Earth-maker” is Ford, and The Man in Black is I’itoi. However, as was repeatedly stated throughout season 1 and reiterated in the season 2 premiere, the maze was not meant for William. It seems much more likely that I’itoi is Delores, ready to raise the other hosts as her army.
That would make William the coyote: He came to life uncreated by Ford or Arnold, poking his nose into everything. In fact, he spent the entirety of this series following the path of Dolores and Ford’s destruction. That bit of symbolism is pretty hard to argue with.
Whether or not you believe the wolf/coyote holds any deeper meaning, it consistently arrives in times of great death and destruction. Its appearance following Dolores’ rampage in held the most significance, but then a wolf/coyote figure appeared again in a scene between Maeve (Thandie Newton) and Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) as they navigated the lab in search of Maeve’s daughter.
Violence had clearly already happened here, but it seemed like another fight was to come. And sure enough:
So, as season 2 progresses, it could be important to keep an eye out for any K9 creatures. At the very least, wherever they roam, death is sure to follow.