The Horror of Dolores Roach Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – why was Dolores in prison?

By Adam Lock
Published: July 7, 2023 (Last updated: July 10, 2023)
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Prime Video series The Horror of Dolores Roach Season 1 Episode 1 -They Called Me Magic Hands - Recap


“They Called Me Magic Hands” is an inventive opener, introducing viewers to Dolores and her sad backstory. By focusing on her tricky past instead of jumping in with the murders, viewers are given a chance to empathize with the titular character, which already brings an exciting angle to the horror narrative.

We recap the Prime Video series The Horror of Dolores Roach Season 1 Episode 1, “They Called Me Magic Hands,” which contains spoilers.

Prime Video’s horror series takes a different approach to the serial killer narrative by introducing viewers to a murderer that we actually empathize with.

This nifty approach is perfectly executed in the show’s opener, “They Called Me Magic Hands,” as we see the tough circumstances surrounding Dolores’ (Justina Machado) life as she is released from prison.

The Horror of Dolores Roach Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Before we’re introduced to Dolores or her sad backstory, viewers spend a little time in the present day. Dolores’ life has been turned into a successful Broadway thriller.

Actress Flora Frias delivers her closing soliloquy, playing Dolores. She is then greeted by a standing ovation.

Backstage, Flora discusses this tricky role, inhabiting the body of a real-life serial killer and cannibal. A newspaper headline fills in the rest of the information for us.

Dolores was described as a real-life Sweeney Todd; her story started as a true-crime podcast and then was adapted into this stage show.

Why does Dolores confront Flora?

Flora says goodbye to her colleagues, who are full of praise for the actress, and then she is met by Dolores in the flesh. The killer confronts the actress portraying her, angered by this sudden turn of events. Dolores is unhappy that she isn’t profiting from this venture and wants to tell Flora the real story, to finally set the record straight.

We then revert back to the early 2000s, Washington Heights. Dolores is the happiest she’s ever been in her life, living with her drug dealer boyfriend Dominic. Their business is booming, and they’re saving up a small fortune for their future escape plan.

Why was Dolores in prison?

Unfortunately, this dream doesn’t last too long, and a drug raid ends in Dolores’ arrest. Dominic disappears, leaving Dolores to serve sixteen years in prison on charges of possession with intent and assaulting a cop.

Fast forward to 2019, and Dolores is finally released from prison. She exits the train to find herself in a New York City that has changed beyond recognition.

READ: Is The Horror of Dolores Roach based on a true story?

Dolores is utterly out of her depth, out of time, and out of place. She doesn’t recognize her old neighborhood, which has become gentrified since her arrest.

She goes to her old flat, but a young couple is now renting the place. Dolores lies her way into the flat and checks her secret hiding spot in the toilet, but the hidey-hole is empty. Dominic has taken all their cash and ran. Dolores is furious; that was her one chance at surviving on the outside.

Dolores wanders the streets, completely lost. The only place she recognizes is a fast-food restaurant called Empanada Loca.

She races into the place, nearly getting run over as she crosses the road. Inside, the restaurant is unchanged. Dolores feels comfort in this and orders her favorite meal.

Who is Luis Batista?

The government has given her a little money to live off, but the cashier won’t accept a $50 note for the food. Dejected, Dolores leaves the shop. As she exits, an old friend notices her. It’s Luis Batista, who now runs the restaurant.

Luis is over the moon to see a familiar face and offers her free food and even a joint to smoke. They head downstairs into Luis’ make-shift apartment below the restaurant.

Dolores asks about Dominic and his whereabouts. Luis admits that he never saw him again after the drug raid. There are rumors that he died or he’s moved away.

Dolores confesses to Luis; she has no friends or family, no money, and no place to stay. Luis offers her his dead father’s old room in the basement.

Dolores is elated to have a room for the night. Luis offers her the room rent-free for as long as she needs. It’s a real dream come true for Dolores.

The Horror of Dolores Roach Season 1 Episode 1 Ending Explained

While chatting and smoking, Luis has a panic attack. Dolores calms Luis with her ‘magic hands,’ giving him an impromptu back massage. Dolores admits that she was the prison masseuse.

It’s a talent she may be able to turn into a job if she is lucky enough. Later, Dolores settles into her new room. She showers and thinks about her old cellmate Tabitha, who she misses greatly.

The episode ends back in the present day. Dolores has begun telling Flora her entire life story, but there is plenty more of her tale still to be told.

What did you think of The Horror of Dolores Roach Season 1 Episode 1? Comment below.

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