Ok, True Believers, Let’s roll this boulder down the hill!
HBO hyped ‘Divorce’ this week, a show written by Sharon Horgan that feels like it would work much better if it also starred Sharon Horgan. I saw the pilot.
We open with scenes all about Ford and Wyatt and the Deeper Game. Mentions of Arnold. Teddy’s backstory and for the second straight week, we see Maeve in the Body Shop. We see Dolores’ self-defensive killing of Rebus, accompanied by the Voice: KILL HIM. We see Dolores collapse into the waiting arms of William.
Not much to pull from those choices.
Man, they show that flat-top mountain a lot. The one where The Man in Black scalped Kissy. It’s inside every eyeball they show in the title sequence.
It’s a good theme. I don’t fast forward it. I listen to it every time. Part of it, at the end, feels almost like it’s an old school theme. Like how a TV jingle should sound, somehow. It has some M*A*S*H or Downton Abbey to it. Something.
Secret Meeting Room
We open again with Dolores and Bernard. She thinks she’s in a dray-am, supposedly. She’s experiencing the death of her parents and exhibiting a lot of emotion when Bernard instructs her to mitigate that. She does, instantly. He offers to take away her pain, and she declines. Pain is all she has left, she says, much the way Bernard mentioned that all he has left of his dead son is the pain. Dolores does some pretty kick-ass improvisation, adapting old scripts to fill new ideas. It’s impressive.
Bernard is visibly torn. What should he do?
He asks her what she wants and she doesn’t know. She says that there’s something hiding underneath this world. There’s either something wrong with the world or with her. She worries that she’s losing her mind.
Bernard then asks her to try something. It’s a game.
It’s called The Maze.
The goal is to find the center of it. If she can do that, then ‘maybe’ she can be free.
She says “I think….I think I want to be free.”
WHEW! WHEN DID WE START GALLOPING? I THOUGHT THIS WAS A TROTTING RIDE!
But no, we’re at episode four and The Maze has been identified as a game. This has been a widely postulated theory around the interwebs, that the maze is the final Turing test. If a bot can adapt and grow enough to exit, then they can win their freedom.
That’s what it seems like right now, but we’ll see.
William & Logan’s Bounty Hunter Campsite
Dolores opens up her eyes and she’s at the campsite.
Okay so HOW THE F DID SHE GET THERE? I’m clearly missing something. There’s no way she walked to a secret room in the Mesa Gold level and then popped back up to pretend to wake up before William’s crew did. There’s a big void of understanding here.
I mean, is she actually travelling anywhere? Is the fact that she’s clothed in these sessions indicative of the fact that it’s happening from her perspective? Maybe these visits are in her head? Maybe she closes her eyes and that’s where she meets Bernard…somehow? I seriously don’t know. But the way this episode opened feels like it ruled out the actual physical travel possibility.
And if this is occurring in her mind, is that actually Bernard, or just her mental manifestation of Bernard? Could it be Ford? Could it be Arnold? Lots to consider.
Realizing where she is — specifically not in her bed in her loop — she looks down to see she’s still holding a revolver. Nice. What’s that thing in the old testament about the soldiers who never laid down their weapons, even when drinking from the river? Her natural instinct is to be ready.
She turns, and a smiling William is there. Ready to greet her. He’s cute as a button, but I’m hoping he’s going to do something in this episode.
He offers her a tin mug of something and she thanks him. Isn’t that about the best any ol’ bot can hope for? A friendly smile in the morning and a warm mug of something?
In the saloon we open on the player piano, reminding us that all narratives are pre-planned. Then we’re on Maeve’s face. She’s lost in thought. We get a quick conversation with Clementine, probably the worst writing of the show to date, about how one dude knew how to sling his lasso, (I’m guessing it’s the Podrick Payne of this show), and then, Clementine’s voice starts to get tinny and come through in mono. And then, Clementine is dead.
It’s a memory.
Maeve is remembering another scene of carnage, where a drunken, bloodthirsty guest had gunned down everyone in the saloon. Including her. Maeve is aware, somehow, of the cleanup crew, as they drag Clementine away.
Jesus, it’s awful.
Maeve sees the dudes from the Body Shop…
Maeve is also dragged off, and there’s this foggy montage of Maeve hearing various medical jargon and being in different rooms, and then whoooooooooosh! She’s back to the present. Not dead. Not bleeding. Clementine is still alive, next to her.
The director of this episode shared the storyboards. Kind of fun to see.
Vincenzo Natali, director of episode four of Westworld, shared the storyboard of Maeve's memory sequence
So Maeve has a memory-based premonition kind of thing, just like the warning memory that Dolores got last week before the bandit dude shot her in the abdomen.
Maeve is shaken. She rushes out of the saloon as stiffly as she can to avoid catching anyone’s eye, and then heads to what I’m presuming is home.
There, she sketches a picture of the Body Shop Technician, and when she goes to hide it in her floorboards, (where, incidentally, every character from every show ever hides anything, somehow. People have some loose-ass flooring), she sees that there are already many sketches there. She’s felt this before. She’s seen this before. She’s drawn this before.
Elsie is trying to explain what happened with the Stray to the formidable woman who runs QA as Bro Stubbs licks his chops in the BG.
The Formidable Woman smells a rat in Behavior, and decides that her team will take over the investigation. Elsie slags off the tech from QA, to his face, and then Bernard quells the issue to keep his girlfriend ducky.
Bernard asks for a copy of QA’s findings as he ushers Elsie out and she starts laying into him.
It’s like everybody around here has some fuckin’ agenda except for me.
Yes, Elsie! You speak truth to power, girl! You’re right where we are, sister. LOST.
Then Bernard breaks her shit off by saying “that’s not Orion. Orion has three stars in his belt, not four.”
So if it’s not Orion, what is it? Maybe it’s the woodcutter’s version of Maeve’s sketches? A map? Points on a trail? Hmmm.
We cut in to a shot of Dolores’ eyes, looking more troubled than usual. What should she do this far off her loop?
William breaks her concentration to offer her his coat. He thinks she must be cold.
And now my programming kicks in, as Ford’s voice shouts IT DOESN’T GET COLD. IT DOESN’T FEEL SHAME. IT DOESN’T DO A SINGLE SOLITARY THING WE DON’T TELL IT TO DO.
But hey. Maybe that’s just me.
Now we get another scene where Logan is agonizing over what a Newb William is. He can’t even. William wants to ride Dolores back to where she’ll be safe. Logan is like “NO. FUCKING. WAY.”
Even the bot bounty hunter guide weighs in.
“You leave now and that no-good outlaw Slim Miller is likely to evade our grasp.”
Really love how well the writers write this canned bullshit NPC dialogue. (Note: I use the term NPC a lot: it stands for Non-Player Character in a game. So, a character that has a part to play and dialogue and so forth, but isn’t controlled by a human player.).
Anyway, it’s spot on.
But Logan isn’t having any of William’s sappy bullshit. “If you’re so concerned about her well-being I’ll just blow her brains out and then the park will come get her,” Logan says, pulling out his revolver.
“Will you please stop trying to just kill or fuck everything?” Says William. For what it’s worth, this should be the keynote speech subheader at the next round of Republican internal meetings.
Then it occurs to Logan that this is all part of the Park’s genius. That they saw the only thing that caught William’s eye in Sweetwater and sent her out here.
“This is why the Company needs to bump our stake in this place.” Muses Logan.
“You said this trip was about welcoming me to the family.” Says William. “This is business?”
“With our family, William, everything is business.”
Ohohohokay then! Rightey-O!
Blood Arroyo Place
Now we’re with The Man in Black, who’s lopping heads off rattlers as he looks for clues. The best part of this is how he keeps the noose on Lawrence and makes him carry the extra rope.
Man, if that’s not insult to injury…
But in this scene, and all through the episode, we finally get peak Ed Harris. Less stilted and formulaic than in the earlier episodes, we see some real range and charm from The Man in Black. He’s not this poopypants sad-sack one note character. He’s having fun.
“This whole word is a story. I’ve read every page except the last one. I need find out how it ends. I want to know what this all means.”
Aaaaaand then he finds his snake after all.
As they’re admiring the bathing, homicidal beauty, her gang rolls up on them. Silent, like. Quieter than the wind. Ruffians must move like ballerinas in teflon slippers in this world.
There’s some playful banter with Armistice as she towels herself dry and the Man in Black laughs. “How in hell have we never met? Clearly a terrible oversight on my part!”
She says she might keep his hat and feed his body to her horses. He asks where they’re headed.
“To retrieve something of great value.” She says.
So the Man in Black offers his services. Since, y’know, they’re…shorthanded. We aren’t! …according to one of the ruffians, so The Man in Black kills two of them to make room.
Armistice welcomes him to the band of merry thieves.
Bro Stubbs is alerted that one of the Hosts is taking “a pretty big deviation from her loop.”
The Rancher’s daughter.
“Dolores.” Says Bro Subbs.
Oh Bro Stubbs, you charmer. I’ll bet you know all the girl bots by name.
He says they should flag her for review by Behavior and moves on with his day.
I think that’s the town we’re in. Logan and William are nowhere to be seen. Dolores sees the Blood Arroyo Girl (Lawrence’s daughter) sitting on a fountain and using a stick to make shapes in the sand. Dolores chats her up.
“Lovely town.” Says Dolores. “Is this your home?”
The Blood Arroyo girl shakes her head.
“Well, where are you from?” Dolores asks.
“Same as you.” Says the girl. “Don’t you remember?”
Then we hear THE VOICE again.
Now we get a montage of quick images. A little chapel. The girl. A tap of the stick on the ground.
Dolores looks down and there’s an image of THE MAZE.
Well, that’s certainly a more appealing way to see it than Kissy’s way.
Then we hear a country fuckload of whispering.
“Ma’am?” Says a voice.
Dolores looks up and there’s a sheriff there. The girl is gone.
Whoa whoa whoa! Has Dolores been here before? How could she access a memory about the girl from this location unless she’s either been here before or is mixing memory iterations?
The sheriff addresses Dolores. “Got word that a girl went missing from Abernathy Ranch. Is that where you belong?”
Ahhhh. Interesting. So there’s law bots who redirect wayward strays back onto their loops. Huh.
“I’m sure your daddy’s worried about you.” He says. Then Dolores gets hit with another series of images. The chapel again. The little Blood Arroyo girl again. Opening the doors of the chapel. Kneeling in a graveyard of some kind…in front of…wait- whose grave marker is that? What’s the name on that cross?
Aaaaaand….it says Dolores Abernathy. Thaaaaaaat’s not cool.
Dolores isn’t sure what she should do. She looks up at the sheriff who is now giving her more of a jailer’s stink-eye than the smile of a friendly constable.
“My father’s dead.” Dolores says. “I’m not going back.”
AWWWWWW YEAH DOL! That look she has at the end of the GIF is the passion I’ve been waiting for. The determination. That’s the Dolores I can git behind!
Before the scene descends into violence, William walks out and settles everything down. The Host sheriff leaves with a pleasant word and a tip of the hat. I don’t know how Hosts know who’s a Guest, but I guess they do. Maybe their eyes look like human eyes but have sick infrared capability or something. Who knows?
Who knows anything at this point?
That fierce look from Dolores is matched by the absolute most pleasantly angelic smile of appreciation she flashes at William when he comes to her rescue. It’s nice.
William informs her that they have a line on the bandito they’re huntin’ and offers for her to stay there until they’re done, after which he’ll be back directly to pick her up. She declines. She’d rather keep moving.
One note: The buried steeple that Ford visited in the desert sure is reminiscent of the chapel in these flashbacks.
The gang sits mounted on top of a ridge as Armistice (the best name on the show) rides down to meet two random contacts. How do we know? Lawrence narrates for us under the pretense of informing the Man in Black. Like he would have missed ANYTHING on his lifelong journey to find Carmen Sandiego. PUH-LEASE. It’s painfully clunky exposition, but we graciously allow it on a show that has already brought us so much ‘joy.’
Armistice slashes one dude and blows away the other. Okey doke! She seems sweet.
With that we get a wide tracking shot of the Armistice gang rising through a gorgeous valley to parts unknown and we head back to William and Dolores. It’s night time where they are.
Lots of fairly yawn-worthy locations for these two so far, but they’re nice together, so.
They have a little chat where he sort of doesn’t know how to talk to bots. He’s like “I figgered they kept you in a zone or something.”
Dolores adapts to his wall-breaking with finely honed improvisation skills rivaled only by the Dowager Countess. She redirects the conversation and by now we know enough of her boilerplate speeches that we can recognize her improvising, like she did with Bernard. That’s some damn fine worldbuilding if you ask me. That’s next-level stuff for a TV show.
Anyway, Dolores talks about bringing the herd down from the mountain, and how she never realized that the strays they guided home were just strays she was guiding to the slaughter. No allegories there at all. Nope.
One other thing: I’m glad Jimmi Simpson got this role. You can often see the quality of an actor by how well they play the person NOT talking. It’s a confidence thing and a subtlety thing. How well can you convey emotion with your eyes, or a tilt of your head or how you regard your fellow performer? Simpson’s reactions in this scene were kiss-your-fingers perfect. He’s got talent to spare. It’s nice to see that.
So she says some shit be calling out to her, and William says some shit be calling out to him and as he’s talking she looks up at the moon and all of a sudden she’s lit by Close Encounters style abduction lighting and we’re in another memory geyser.
Just like Maeve, she recalls seeing the Body Shop Techs after a shootout at Abernathy Ranch where she and her family ended up on the dirtnap end of things. As she has this vision, her balance waivers and William is there to stop her from falling. Again. No allegories there, either.
We pinball from one campfire to another! OH MAN THIS SHOW GIVES GREAT CAMPFIRE!
Two guests get up the nerve to approach The Man in Black. They’re people. Real-like. One dude is like “sorry to interrupt but I wanted to say I’m a fan, your foundation saved my sister’s life-“
And Ed Harris is like “one more word and I’ll cut your throat. This is my fucking vacation.”
Ah. Okay then. The first dude looks back at his buddy. The buddy’s job is to just give this look:
Nice job, Bearded Steve Carell Guy. You nailed that look.
Okay, so what did we learn? Ed Harris is on vacay. Got it. He has a foundation that saves people. Roger. Aaaaaand when he’s on vacation from the misery of being a philanthropist he…cuts people’s throats. Like real people. That didn’t seem like an idle threat, did it? It wasn’t a figure of speech, like “don’t make me open up this can of whoop-ass.” I got the sense that he would really have killed those dudes.
El hombre de negro sits down next to Lawrence and gets more exposition. Lawrence, by the way, has been allowed to remove his noose by this point. He tells The Man in Black that what Armistice wants is in a prison.
Ed Harris sighs.
I don’t have time for this color by numbers bullshit.
He strikes a deal with Armistice: He’ll ride at dawn and retrieve whatever in exchange for her answering a few innocuous questions about her snake tat. He then does a little Syndrome-esque monologuing.
He mentions Arnold, who you could say was the original settler of these parts. He designed this world with one rule: You can’t die. Which means it’s all just a game.
Except old Arnold DID DIE.
But he left something behind. A game within the game. And The Man in Black is here to honor his legacy. This speech has the feel of a Ready, Player One Gunter Quest written all over it, but we’ll see.
“So, so we have a wager?” He asks Armistice. All he needs is Lawrence and a match.
“One match, one pistol, and one…idiot?” She says, glancing at Lawrence. “I’ll take those odds.”
We cut to The Man in Black inside an armored stagecoach. How he got there we don’t know at this point. Later we find out that they basically committed a horse thievin’ crime right in front of these marshalls in order to get pinched.
Inside the coach, The Man in Black is cooler than the other side of the pillow. Everything is going to plan. He wants to light up a stogie, but it’s against the rules, according to the joyless marshall inside who looks like Jason Bateman if he was raised dumb. The Man in Black isn’t so easily dissuaded. He lauds the quality of the cigars and offers one to the marshall, who snatches them from his hand. Then we get a little more monologuing at the expense of Lawrence, who the Man in Black says has never made a choice in his life.
“What if I told you I’m here to set you free?” He smiles.
They disembark and out of the prison comes basically the coolest person on the show. I love this dude. Awesome Sheriff, you are the best! And you’ll be dead in a couple of minutes. Sigh.
He tells his men that they have the most wanted man in the kingdom. We think it’s L’homme en Noir but nah! It’s Lorenzo.
“I heard you slipped the rope.” Says the Sheriff, almost licking his chops.
“The way he tells it, he’s more partial to a firing squad.” Says the Man in Black with a HUGE SMILE on his face.
“We’ll be happy to oblige.” Says the Sheriff.
As they walk Lawrence off, he says to Ed Harris: “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you.”
And Ed Harris shrugs. “Maybe someday.”
Los Diablos Prison
The The Man in Black is locked into a cell by the Marshall who took his cigars. “Enjoy the cigars.” He says.
“Go fuck yourself.” Replies dumb Jason Bateman.
The Man in Black laughs. He looks around the cell where a reclining caballero in a patent leather hat is stirring from his midday siesta.
“Just who are you supposed to be?” Says the outlaw, revealing the face of Hector Escaton.
“Your salvation.” The Man in Black smiles. Then we get a fantastic series of dialogue between two characters that we’re naturally drawn to, specifically all-in-black antiheroes. Ed Harris kind of talks aloud about why he never really gave ‘Hector Escaton’ the character much credence. Hector says he doesn’t believe they’ve met before. The Man in Black agrees.
No. No we haven’t. You always seemed like a…a…’market tested’ kind of thing. Big gun. Tasteful scar. Locked in your little cycle like a prized poodle after its own tail.
How does Hector respond to that?
“You sound like a man who has grown tired of wearing his guts on the inside.”
“There’s no need to get testy.” Says The Man in Black. Then he inquires about Hector’s worldview, which, as he finds out is fairly similar to his own, in that the assumption is that it’s all going to end badly.
Then Hector asks about the MIB, but he says his story is a long one and they don’t have the time. Hector replies that they have more time than Lawrence, who has been tied to the pole in the firing squad area. Sadly, though, they’ll be there a while as his men are a few days out yet.
“Three days.” Agrees The Man in Black. Hector is surprised. How did he know that?
Ed Harris just says that he doesn’t have the luxury of the three day lead time for Hector’s posse to blow him out, so they’re leaving NOW.
Now we get a scenario I have trouble recapping because I don’t really understand the how of it.
The Man in Black strikes a match.
That seems to trigger a pyrotechnic request in the Control Room.
“I’ve got a request for a pyrotechnic effect, Los Diablos, low-yield, two charges.” Says a tech.
Bro Stubbs checks his tricorder.
“Approved.” He says. That gentleman gets whatever he wants.
And then BOOM!
The Man in Black uses a cigar to blow open the gate to their cell. When dumb Jason Bateman turns the corner, gun drawn, a stogie in his maw?
It blows his face off.
Ahhhh. That’s John ‘Hannibal’ Smith good. I love it when a plan comes together!
Outside, the Awesome Sheriff is asking Lawrence if he has any last words. Nope. Just get it over with. Hard-boiled as a Hemingway egg to the very last.
Strangely, none of the men on firing squad duty seem to have heard the breaching charge or the face bomb. You’d think that’d be at least like an M80 loudness, but nada. They’re all just getting ready to blow Lawrence to Kingdom Come. He’s just blindfolded. Bracing for the bullets to hit him.
The Awesome Sheriff raises his arm aaaaaaaaaand…
What’s happening? Lawrence hears shots fired but he hasn’t been hit yet…his blindfold is TORN OFF to reveal…
And we notice that Hector eliminates the Awesome Sheriff in the background. Alas. All good things must come to an end. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust and all that.
The Man in Black, y’all.
In the words of our British friends: he’s not fucking about.
As they ride up into Armistice’s camp, she smiles. She’s impressed. “One match.”
Hector tries to enlist The Man in Black, but he’s not having it. Hector says they owe him a debt, but the MIB says that a few words from Armistice will cover it. And so she begins. A story about how, when she was seven years old, masked men in devil’s horns rode into her town and killed everyone. They “gutted [her] mother from her jaw to her sex.” Armistice had to actually use her mother’s blood on herself to concoct the appearance of death, just to escape the murderers.
Every one of them, she hunted down, and used their blood to paint a part of the snake tattoo on her body. There’s only one part left. The head of the snake.
“What’s his name?” Asks the Man in Black.
“He has many names.” Says Armistice. “Most know him as Wyatt.”
Ed Harris smiles, ever so slightly, as he descends further into the maze.
Now we’re back in Sweetwater as a procession of gloomy native people shuffles through the main street. They’re being watched by the townsfolk like some kind of silent parade of what…warning? Oddity? I don’t know. They’re being watched. Is it a Trail of Tears relocation thing? I’m not sure. Anyway, among the onlookers is Maeve, who sees a native child drop a figurine.
It’s a Body Shop Dude.
Maeve picks it up and runs it back to the girl who dropped it. She tries to ask about it but the girl just keeps walking.
A Union soldier tells Maeve not to waste her breath. “It’s part of their so-called ‘religion.’” He says.
Ah, the unvarnished portrayal of a soldier with nary a second grade education in the nineteenth century. So charming.
Maeve gets a drink, and as she does so, she comments to Clementine that she’s seen one of the prostitution customers before, “hanging in the post office” — a wanted man. She thinks he rides with Hector.
“The one that lives with the savages?” Clementine asks.
“That’s the one.” Maeve says, with a quick flashback to the dropped body shop worker toy from the little native girl. You can see the gears turning. Maybe Hector can answer some things for me.
Sex Apartment - Living Quarters
Bernard is in bed, having just finished a love-in with the Formidable Woman. There’s a bunch of banter, some notes about how she has tells and Bernard is a student of behavior. She says that she has to go see Ford tomorrow. That he’s creating ‘chaos’ in the park. That ‘the board’ will be descending at any moment.
Bernard just cautions her not to be defensive.
Ford’s Guest Hacienda / Ranch?
And then, yoost like that, we’re tomorrow. The QA woman rolls up on Ford as a giant crane is demolishing a mountainside. She is open and confident. Ford chuckles and invites her to a meal.
There, she begins to espouse the corporate particulars. It becomes very clear, very quickly, that Ford has no intention to hear or care about anything she has to say any more than Zeus would heed the protestations of a canary.
He is God.
To prove this, he shuts everything down. Just, with his finger, apparently, extended forward from his left hand. All the bots just stop. The waiter bot, in the middle of pouring her wine, just keeps pouring.
He is all-powerful, and he asks nicely for her not to get in his way. Or he’ll kill her.
She, apparently, is one of many people over the years who the company has sent to keep an eye on ‘their investment.’ We find out that some of them liked the park and some didn’t. We also find out that Ford knows the table she sat at during her visit to the park as a child. He knows all.
She lights a cigarette. Trying to play it cool.
We also learn a good deal about Ford’s history and about Arnold. Ford always thought this place would be perfectly in balance. He bet Arnold that would be the case, and Arnold won in a landslide. Arnold, Ford relays, had a ‘dim’ view of people. He preferred the hosts. He begged Ford not to let the “moneymen” in. But they did, and Arnold eventually” lost his perspective” and “went mad.”
But Ford assures her that he hasn’t. He sees things…”very clearly.”
“We know everything about our guests, don’t we, just as we know everything about our employees.”
And then he drops his bombshell.
“I do hope you’ll be careful with Bernard. He has a…sensitive disposition.”
Faced with her secret, which as it’s framed, feels like it could cost her her job, and the imminent threat of death, the formidable woman from QA stands up and tries to gather her composure.
“I will ask you…nicely.” Says Ford, as if trying to be a human. Trying to speak at a level that her tiny, insignificant intellect could understand. “Please. Don’t get in my way.”
She looks at him. This is a business meeting after all, and he’s supposed to work for them.
“The board will agree with me,” she says. “They’ll be sending a representative-“
“But they already have.” He says, pleasant as can be. He controls every door, every portal, every atom. His words, flowing effortlessly from his elderly mouth, cut like a hot knife through butter. “I thought they would have told you.”
And then rumbling. Is that an earthquake?
The waiter goes to clear her plate, but Ford waves him off. It won’t be necessary anymore. Because this whole thing is ‘bout to get terraformed. He’s clearing this historical place and redoing it. He tells her that she can inform the board that the new narrative will be completed on time, and that it won’t be a ‘retrospective.’
The woman from QA is shocked. Ford shrugs as the excavator approaches. “I’m not the sentimental type.”
Logan and William are about to bumrush the baddies. William asks Dolores to just stay put so she doesn’t get hurt, and then joins Logan.
“Awww! Did you get a good-bye kiss?” Logan asks.
“Shut up.” Says William.
“Seriously, if you don’t bang her by tomorrow, I’m calling dibs.”
Before William can come at him like a fucking puma, Bounty Hunter NPC starts laying out the plan. It’s fucking tedious as hell. Logan brushes him off. “Yeah yeah. Risk, reward, we got it.”
I seriously cannot overstate how perfect of a gaming beat this is. For non-gamers, usually before you do a mission or a quest, there’s a “quest-giver” who will outline the stakes, goals, etc for you, usually in a text based bubble or a life-and-time-draining cutscene. Veteran gamers just click through this shit. Yeah yeah, we get it. We’ve done this a BILLION times before. We know the drill.
Logan does it perfectly.
“Let’s go fuck these fuckers uuuuuup!” Says Logan, Leroy Jenkins’ing into the hideout.
Then we FINALLY get a little action as Logan kicks the door open and yells “slap leather, cocksuckers!” before BLOWING PEOPLE AWAY.
Logan is casually unloading his revolver into people. Bounty Hunter Bot is firing away. I couldn’t tell if William was actually firing at first. He just seemed to be wincing a lot. More baddies rush in and the good guys take cover. The ‘father’ in the scenario has his head blown open right next to William, who is freaked and loading and shooting like a nine-year-old. He SUUUUUCKS AT THIS.
Logan, meanwhile, pulls down a bottle of something and takes a swig as bullets are exploding around him. He’s a goddamn pro.
With William still hiding, Logan stands up and dispatches two baddies before getting shot by a third. The bullets do nothing. The baddy looks at his gun. He doesn’t know he’s an it. He doesn’t know that he was built to lose.
Logan strolls up casually to him, execution style, and pulls the trigger.
Logan sighs and flips his gun around and MELEES the baddy, pistol-whip style. Then Logan kicks him and says “Ooooh!”
He leans down and takes the Baddy’s gun, comparing it with his own. The Baddy’s is better.
“Upgrade!” Says Logan. “Nice.”
He tosses his old gun onto the ground and takes the better one.
My god, it’s so well done I could almost take up smoking again just to nicotine toast it. My god.
Lawrence and The Man in Black are riding over to old Wyatt’s place. Lawrence is bellyaching about how dumb this plan is, and about how Wyatt’s men annihilated the last group that came through.
“Keep talking and I’m gonna take the horse back, Lawrence”
Then they roll up on a body, tied to a tree like the ones from last week. Some horribly poor soul, who looks broken and burned and beaten within an inch of his life. Flies swarming and vultures sitting on the very tree above him, waiting for him to die.
“Teddy.” Says the Man in Black. “I should’ve guessed.”
“Please, put me out of my misery,” whispers Teddy.
“I’m sorry Teddy. It looks like misery’s all you got.” Says the Man in Black, cutting him loose.
Bounty Hunter Mission
William has gotten his man, Slim, and Slim is a loud-ass jerk. Logan asks if the reward was “dead or alive” and the Bounty Hunter Bot recites “always better to bring ‘em in alive.”
Logan asks the Bounty Hunter to at least gag him, and as he does, Slim starts trying to talk his way out of it. “I know you ain’t no real lawmen!” Slim pleads. “My boss, El Lazo, he’ll pay double what the marshalls will if you just cut me down and get me to Pariah…”
Logan’s ears perk up.
“Now listen to me you lowdown piece of dirt,” says the Bounty Hunter NPC, grabbing Slim by the hair. “These men won’t-“
Logan blows a hole in Bounty Hunter NPC’s head.
“WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUCK?” William yells.
It turns out that Slim works for El Lazo, and El Lazo is the key to “the best ride in the park.”
Logan is giddy. “Your bullshit mission led us right to an easter egg.”
He cuts Slim down.
Dolores isn’t having it. She has a moral center. She rushes to Logan. “You’re not going to let him go.”
Logan pulls a gun on her. William quickly pulls his gun and trains it on Slim.
Logan laughs. This is so much fun. “See? Now we’re both gonna have one. I won’t fuck mine either!”
Logan holsters his weapon. “Come on! Go black hat with me! You got to save the girl, now give me a little something…”
“What is your problem?” William asks. “The second we get away from the real world, you turn into an evil prick.”
“Evil? It’s a fucking GAME, Billy!”
“Don’t call me Billy!”
“Are you still trying to…impress her? Because I guarantee she doesn’t give a shit how you play this game. Do you, Dolores?”
“What’s he talking about, William?” Dolores asks frantically.
“She will be just fine with a trip down the dark side. And so will you.”
Logan, who I’m guessing now is The Board’s emissary, (or might it be The Man in Black?) convinces William to at least ride along as he enters the Heart of Darkness.
We end with Slim riding next to Logan and taking a drink of something. Beer, maybe? He says he’ll lead them to Pariah.
Bro Stubbs is pacing the command center as the “floor show” begins in Sweetwater. We’ve seen this before. Hector and his men ride in, this time with a couple of Guests in tow, and the next thing will be the big safe theft and a whole lot of carnage. Carmen Suite No 2 plays over the top of it all, highlighting the fact that we’ve seen this before and replacing the dire, murderous mood with more whimsy and a wink to the audience.
It all goes to plan except that Maeve REMEMBERS.
So she knows what’s coming.
And when Hector walks into Mariposa without a care in the world, as his programming dictates, Maeve puts her Derringer to his head.
She needs answers, and he lives among the savages.
“Hello there. I want to talk.” Maeve says.
They head upstairs to the safe room, and then look at this:
They do so much right on this show. Look at that posture of Hector as he does the standard silhouette cowboy lean. Knee up and everything. We’ve all seen it a hundred times, but they tip their hat to us and actually MAKE HECTOR DO IT.
This show kicks ass.
So Maeve says that he wants the contents of the safe and she has the combination. She’ll trade him for information and help.
First, he tells her about the “shades.” Men who walk between two worlds. Sent from Hell to oversee the world.
He gets two combination codes for that 60 and 47.
Then she asks him to cut her open, right next to her hip. “I was shot.” Maeve says. “And that thing was standing over me and it was as if it never happened.”
She wants Hector to cut her and root around for a bullet.
He puts the point of his blade on her and man, I cringed. That’s terrifying. GODDAMN THAT’S TOO SOFT A PLACE TO BE PUTTING HARD, POINTY METAL AND SHIT!
But he can’t do it. Maybe it’s programming. Maybe it’s connected to his drives. Who knows. He can’t.
Time’s running out. There’s gunfire from the street as the cavalry rushes in, taking out fan fav Armistice.
“Some big, bad outlaw.” Maeve says and CUTS HERSELF OPEN, Thack-style.
Then she implores Hector to help her. To find the bullet. He pulls her close to hold her as he roots around. Maeve screams in pain as the posse led by the Sheriff with the idiot face heads in.
As they pound on the door, Hector pulls out a SLUG.
(Let’s not analyze the bullets too much or this whole house of cards’ll come a-tumblin’ down.)
“What’s it mean?” Hector asks.
“That I’m not crazy.” Says Maeve. “And that none of this matters.”
The door is shot to pieces, and we can assume, so are Hector and Maeve.
And with that, everything old is new again.
Until next week, Pardners.
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