The Horror of Dolores Roach has been very faithful to The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Sweeney Todd in terms of its storyline and necessary adjustments. This is a fast-paced and well-written show, and it has been a while since we came across something that justified every minute of its runtime. Here is how it does that, as presented in the recap of The Horror of Dolores Roach.
Why Does Dolores Start Killing People?
We know Dolores’ story as she tells it to an actress who is portraying her on stage. Dolores catches her backstage and says that she wants to set the record straight by telling her what really happened and that she was not actually a cannibal. Almost 20 years ago, Dolores used to date Dominic, who sold marijuana and was some sort of an “undisputed king” of the area. One day, Dolores was arrested by the police for possession of drugs and because she tried to hit a police officer while being taken away. She ended up serving 16 years in prison, and during this time, she stayed loyal to Dominic and never gave his name to the police. She ended up moving on in her own way by developing a relationship with Tabitha, who was her roommate in the cell.
Tabitha used to be a masseuse before her hand was cut off, yet she managed to teach Dolores plenty of her tricks of the trade. When Dolores is released, she goes straight to meet Dominic but finds that he is not living in their old flat anymore, and even the money that she had kept hidden is gone. The entire area has changed except for a Mexican place whose empanadas Dolores used to love back in the day. The restaurant is empty on most days, but Dolores finds a ray of sunshine for herself when she meets the owner of the place, Luis Batista, who offers to let her move into the room in the basement. Luis used to have a crush on Dolores back in the day, and he still carries a torch for her. Dolores is finding his intensity a little odd, but she doesn’t have any options right now.
The next day, a woman who ran a laundromat next door, Joy, tries to get her a job as a masseuse, but it goes wrong when Marcie, someone Dolores used to know 16 years ago, reveals that she was in prison this whole time. Marcie’s intention was not malicious, but she wanted to recruit Dolores for herself as a marijuana saleswoman. It is Marcie who has taken over Dominic’s business ever since he disappeared, but Dolores refuses the offer since she wants to keep her hands clean so that she doesn’t have to go back to jail.
Lucky for her, Luis and Nellie encourage her to set up a massage parlor in the basement, and this venture actually kicks off, with Dolores earning a decent dime for herself. She even gets a massage table for her business, which means that she wants to take it seriously, but when Gideon Pearlman, the landlord, shows up at the restaurant’s door, things take a turn for the worse. Luis has not paid him in a while, and the rent has really raked up. Dolores steps in and offers to contribute to the amount, even though it isn’t much. But to soothe his temper, she also offers to give him a massage. When Gideon gets on the table, something snaps inside Dolores. She had always lost everything she cared about in her life, and here was a man threatening to take away a place where she had found some semblance of stability. As this realization dawns on her, pure anger overcomes her, and she ends up killing him. As Dolores panics at the realization of what she has done, she finds a note from Luis saying that he has taken care of the matter. The way he has done that is by making his empanadas from Gideon’s flesh, and this “new recipe” has made the place wildly popular. Dolores is extremely uncomfortable with the whole thing, especially when Gideon’s son, Jonah, comes looking for his dad, and Luis ends up feeding him one of the empanadas. But when it dawns on Dolores that this is probably the only way to erase evidence, she calms down despite her discomfort. It was only a matter of time before she discovered how wrong she was.
Marcie comes to the restaurant, claiming that Dolores is duping her by dealing marijuana in the place. Dolores tries to convince her that she is simply giving massages and offers to demonstrate it. Marcie follows along, but it is only to check whether her suspicions are correct. She says some very hurtful things to Dolores, especially about Dominic cheating on her while they were dating and the fact that he was the one who sent her to jail to escape it himself. A devastated Dolores makes her second kill, and Luis’ restaurant has more meat for the business.
But with this new revelation, Dolores wants to find Dominic so that she can kill him herself. She seeks out Tabitha, who sets her up with a private detective named Ruthie. She is good at her job, but she also tells Dolores that Dominic passed away some years ago. This means that Dolores’ anger has no target and can turn anyone into its victim now that she knows what she is capable of. When Ruthie runs into Jonah and offers to investigate his father’s disappearance, Dolores is extremely on edge. As expected, Ruthie figures things out soon enough when she traces Gideon’s pacemaker to the restaurant. Of course, Dolores had a dead body in the room, which was extremely incriminating. It did not matter that it was an accidental death because Dolores did not realize that coconut was a nut and not a fruit, triggering the man’s allergies. Needless to say, Dolores kills Ruthie and the man, and now her kill count has come to four.
Though Luis is completely on Dolores’ side, things start spilling out, literally, from the drainpipes, and an elderly lady (Dominic’s relative and Nellie’s abuela) is injured in the bathroom. She is taken to the hospital, where she tells Dolores that Dominic once brought home an Australian girl. The only person Dolores can think of is Georgina Bellyard, her best friend from college, who was also the one to introduce her to Dominic. Dolores goes to meet Georgina, and though she denies ever meeting Dominic after that night, she tells Dolores off for being self-centered and mean. That really affects Dolores, maybe because, after the life she has had, she doesn’t want to wrong anyone. So far, Dolores still thinks that the murders are not her fault. She tells Luis that she wants to start a new relationship with him somewhere and that they should sell the restaurant and get rid of the entire mess. Luis agrees and is ready to do anything for Dolores, but it all comes to a halt.
Ending Explained: Does Dolores Find Dominic?
Dolores’ biggest fear is that she doesn’t want to go back to prison. All of her anger stems from her unfair incarceration, and she is ready to go to any extent to prevent a repeat of that. The fact is that Dolores has grown fond of Jonah and Nellie, and that is why she just wants a clean break. But that is rendered impossible when Jonah accidentally discovers the severed head of his father in the freezer. Having no choice, Dolores ends up killing him as well. Since the sale of the restaurant cannot go through anymore, it means that Dolores and Luis cannot escape with their new identities. Dolores is heartbroken at this, but she is still willing to run, even without the money. But Luis wants to stay back since he is attached to the place and wants to remain there till the very end. It absolutely doesn’t matter that they end up killing Jeremiah in another accident when he tells them that he knows what they are up to.
Dolores also kills Joy when she stubbornly refuses to leave until she gets a massage from Dolores. As if this wasn’t enough, Luis frames Nellie for the murders, and she is taken away by the police. Dolores is truly heartbroken at this, as she had considered Nellie akin to her family. As Luis tries to calm down an agitated Dolores, she dips his face in hot oil while some splashes on her hand. Luis breathes his last due to the shock and the injuries, and Dolores leaves as she watches the restaurant go up in flames.
At the end of The Horror of Dolores Roach, four years have passed since the disaster, and Dolores has just finished telling her story to the actress, who believes that Dolores was simply a victim of circumstances. However, Dolores admits that she was more in control than that and was far from the victim. She is here not only to set the record straight but also because this rendition of her story has annoyed her. Though it is not shown, we believe that Dolores kills the actress. Her next target is the podcast boy, who was the one to spread the narrative of her being the cannibal. She is about to choke the life out of him when he tells her that he knows where Dominic is. He drives her there, and Dolores is waiting for the door to open. However, when it does, what she sees makes her burst out laughing. It is the laughter of incredulousness, so maybe there are two things that could have happened. It is indeed Dominic, and Dolores is elated at finally having found him. Maybe he has gotten some plastic surgery to escape notice, but that makes him look particularly bad, hence Dolores’ laugh. A second scenario would be that someone else has opened the door. Our guess would be that it is someone that Dolores knows, maybe Georgina Bellyard, implying that she was indeed involved with Dominic. Or it could be someone else entirely, someone Dolores knows but is yet to be introduced to in The Horror of Dolores Roach Season 2.
We enjoyed the story of Dolores Roach from start to finish. While the humor was more about the circumstances than the actual dialogue, we felt that the series remained an easy watch despite the blood, gore and guts. We are positive that Season 2 of The Horror of Dolores Roach will far surpass Season 1 since, by then, our protagonist will be completely in her element. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we are right, and until then, this is a must-watch.