Friends, Pajibans, Countrypersons, lend me your er….eyes, I guess. Because Westworld Recaps are back! Let’s get cooking.
Over the last two weeks we’ve seen a tremendous amount of plot and character development, but do you feel like you know more? I’m not sure I do. I still don’t know how Maeve is awake and why Dolores is pulling shit out of her arm. Do you? I mean, I guess it’s all buried code from Arnold, but honestly: buried code from Arnold is the “TECH SUPPORT” of Vanilla Sky-ism of this show. No idea why something is? Must be Arnold!
Oh Arnold! You catch-all explanation, you!
Let’s do a quick catch up of what we missed.
— The best part about this episode was the divorce between Logan and William. I was excited to see that. Feels like now Logan can actually be himself and so can ‘Billy.’ I’d like to see them shooting at each other with real ordinance. I didn’t love when Logan said ‘yeah, buddy…that’s what I thought.’ It just highlighted what a pansy William is.
— I thought it was interesting that The Man in Black liked Lawrence because no one in the world takes the tone with him that Lawrence does. That’s kind of awful.
— Didn’t love seeing The Man in Black slit Lawrence’s throat and borrow his blood for Teddy. How the F do these things work, anyway? Why do they even need blood? If Maeve proves anything, there’s like zero connection between their living mind and their body, anyway.
— I didn’t like the day of the dead parade. Goddamn I’m sick of them. How many times have you seen a Day of the Dead anything in film & TV. It feels so tired and heavy handed to me.
— I liked that Dolores successfully evaded or lied to Ford during his Q&A. Still don’t really know why, except that Arnold is in her head? She just talks to him. But isn’t Ford in her head for the Q&A as well? Isn’t that a virtual meeting, rather than an actual, physical one?
— My favorite scene of the past couple weeks in absentia was probably when Ford sat down with The Man in Black. I really enjoyed Ed Harris’ reaction to that.
Well, isn’t this a rare honor?
That line, and The Man in Black’s eyes are just infused with resentment. He’s top shelf, that Ed Harris. “So How am I doing, Robert?” Just a tour-de-force of probing on both sides. Great stuff.
Lots of people have complained about the orgy scene. Like “OH HBO, IS THIS REALLY NECESSARY?”
Um, no. But it’s FUN, gang. It’s fun. Jesus H. Christ. I love seeing dongs and boobs and perfect undulating asses and people grinding and nudity and kissing and painted bodies and big honking schlongs everywhere. I am ALL. FOR. IT. That scene wasn’t rapey. It wasn’t gross. It was careful and artistic and kind of exciting. Maybe it’s because I’ve never done the group sex. Always kind of wanted to, but never seemed to be at the right parties.
And if you’re going to tell me you have a problem with red velvet? We will THROW DOWN.
Yes, some people can be a little squeamish around nudity. But there were lots of fun & subtle things in these shots. I mean, I could go through and basically just rate the number of dudes with rock-hard gilded asses and just stand back and applaud. But there were other beats, like I love how this girl was on her tiptoes on chair arms.
And maybe the thing that stuck with me the most was the ready availability of THIS DUDE.
That actor killed it. He stuck with me. Because it’s like, his job as a host is to be available for anyone who comes along and his look displays that PERFECTLY. I’m sure a big part of this was being raised in a stern family with some burned-in Christian values, but man! I was just kind of floored that Dolores could have just grabbed this dude and gone to town.
Now I’m open to the fact that I may be missing some big warning sign about objectifying people and reducing them to a lowest-common-denominator of sexual availability. Obviously, I’m assuming it’s all consensual. If there’s even a whiff of indenture or coercion, the whole thing goes out the window, but I didn’t see that. (As much as you can’t see that in a world where hosts are programmed to do your bidding.)
I may very well not be evolved enough to grasp all of the possible negative ramifications of an orgy scene, and please use the comments to enlighten me if I’m missing something obvious, but coming from the point of view of a red-blooded human male with the faint musk of dishsoap and pencil erasers on my hands? Is it okay to just kick back and be titillated a little bit? Helllllllllll yes. Beautiful human forms willingly giving and receiving the pleasure? Sign me up.
— I didn’t love the scene where Dolores shoots the Confederados because the sound of the gun felt wrong to me, like it was partially silenced, and then I felt like her accent strayed a bit once she done did it.
— As far as the untethered hosts that Arnold built? Okay. I mean, whatevs. Did it throw up any red flags that the photo that Ford showed Bernard of him and Arnold was actually a photo of him and Robert’s fake father host that Arnold built for him? Was Arnold Ford’s father?
— When Ford talks to the young host version of himself and says:
Well, Robert, tell me all about your day.
I think we’re supposed to just kind of shudder at Ford’s very clear emotional issues. But in reality, I think young Robbie is Ford’s #1 spy. He always just seems to turn up places. I still say that all of the best clues about the show are buried in Ford’s platitudes and seemingly throwaway lines.
— Theresa? My least favorite character. Feels like I’ve been waiting for something with her performance that’s never going to come. A difficult role to begin with, but it could have possibly been tackled with a bit more dynamism.
— I love the face and hair of Felix, played by Leonardo Nam. Just a great performance for him so far and he does a ton of expressive shit with his face.
— Similarly good performance from Ptolemy Slocum, who plays Sylvester. That character is undoubtedly a bit grating, but cowards usually are. I see him in commercials all the time and it kind of fucks with me.
In ‘The Adversary’
— Maeve has a big-ass cowpoke strangle her to death so she can wake up in the Body Shop? As much as I understood what she was doing, it was hard to watch. And how is it that she’s always with Sylvester and Felix? Wouldn’t the company try to avoid the same techs growing attached to certain hosts?
— Felix says Maeve’s processor is way more powerful than a human’s. But if Maeve has blinked past the usual awareness protocols, what’s to say she can’t (or hasn’t) also ‘evolved’ past the ones which might confine her to Westworld?
— Whenever Bernard and Elsie leave the area to take a random elevator to another random location, my interest level drops a little bit. Because it’s hard enough to sort of generally hold all the pieces without new locales being added at all times. In some ways, that’s a strength of the show, because they just keep adding locations to suit the situation. But in some ways that feels like a cop out. This could be me being a fuddy-duddy, or it could be my general propensity to want to understand a place before moving on to the next place (i.e. I was irritated that The Man in Black is searching for the deeper game in the pilot when we don’t even know what the regular game is), but it can feel mentally taxing. Also, I’m not s-m-r-t.
— Ford making models and then getting to make them a reality is basically every kid’s wildest childhood fantasy come true. How many battle scenes did I set up as a kid? How many Lincoln Log houses or play doh creations or lego structures? Ford then gets to breathe actual life into them. Kind of wondrous.
— I like how Maeve shut down when she was watching her own programming on the touchpad. I wondered if that didn’t help her level up, somehow.
— When Felix takes Maeve upstairs, I couldn’t hide the fact that my family business growing up was an industrial supply warehouse. It jumped right out at me how shitty the water pressure is. What is that like 9 PSI coming out of that hose? If my job is dousing stiffs with water, you better believe I’m going to have more than the speed of old man piss coming out of there. And we’re going with the 2” junior varsity fire hose nozzles that far in the future, huh? No pistol grips as far as the eye can see. Jesus, water department! HELP ME HELP YOU.
— This right here may have been the most exhausting moment of the past few weeks because even trying to BEGIN to wrap your head around what’s going on on all of those levels is just impossible.
— Bernard scans through all the “first generation hosts” who are still in rotation. Does that mean these ones are still like T3 on the inside like boy Robert? Or have they had their parts so updated like Bro Stubbs said, that they have a human-esque physiology now?
— Charlotte Hale, played by Tessa Thompson, is either captivating or nauseating. I can’t figure out which. Maybe it’s because Tessa Thompson is lovely. But the performance is subtle and kind of amazing. Charlotte Hale’s version of modernist, apres-feminism power dynamics are what neoclassical ballet is to ballet. She hits all the marks, and you know she was classically trained, but her control is somehow less languid and more asymmetrical. I believe it. I don’t know yet if I’m crazy about Charlotte Hale or disgusted by her, but she’s making me feel something for sure. Side note: Tessa Thompson is 5’4”. She plays taller on the show, I think.
— About Arnold’s voice instructing Young Rob to euthanize Jock: Jesus. I don’t know. Do you? The one thing I liked about this about how it’s fucking with Ford.
— The propensity of people like Elsie to not recognize when they’re in danger? Irritating. And who grabbed Elsie, anyway? (I’ll bet you it was Bro Stubbs.) Jesus, Elsie.
KNOW DANGER. FEEL DANGER. UNDERSTAND DANGER.
Let’s jump into this week’s episode.
Trompe L’Oeil. Try saying that without sounding pretentious. Go ‘head. I’ll wait.
Right. It’s impossible. I can’t believe you even tried. So pretentious.
And what is a Trompe L’Oeil, anyway?
So, something like this:
But what, praytell, might the Trompe L’Oeil refer to in \W/estworld? Everything is as it seems. Right? Ahhhh, Westworld. The last two weeks of my Westworld vacation have been blissful in that the density of this show is kind of staggering. Remember when people were trying to figure it all out by episode three? Idiots.
We open in Bernard’s apartment. He’s having a dream about his son. Now usually, I’d just view this from the point of seeing it for the first time, but having watched Trompe L’oeil, we know that this scene is bupkis. It’s hogwash. It’s a programmed fantasy. Let’s just say that watching any scene where a child is in danger absolutely makes me want to vomit blood and leave it at that.
Bernard is going over a “blacklisted” conversation that Hector had. We see that certain words have been flagged. Hector shows no recognition of them. Bernard double-checks by showing him pictures of modern things. Nada.
Before she was pinched, Elsie said that the altered code in the bots could allow them to outright lie to the techs, and we’ve seen Hector knife a slug out of an awakened Maeve. Did she whisper the violent delights line to him and provoke his beta response? We don’t know. He just sits there like a…bot.
Methinks he’s a-lyin’.
Another tech pops his head in and says that when Bernard is done being fooled by an insanely hot piece of man meat, there’s a priority request for him - Hector - up in management.
Bernard asks if the dude has seen Elsie and the dude is like “no, according to the system, she started her leave today.”
Oh well, back to bidness! Hope Elsie isn’t bleeding out in an abandoned theater somewhere!
Train to the front
I kind of wish Lawrence wasn’t El Lazo, but okay. They’re on the train to the front. There was this beat, in the last episode, where Dolores noticed the Maze logo on Slim’s coffin and was like
And then there was this super confusing shot of her, somehow alone in that room with the coffin, as if we were seeing a completely different instance of her in that same train car, headed to the front.
In this iteration, we’ve moved forward to a much nicer train car and boys will be boys as William and Lawrence are now sharing booze and playing cards. Ahhhh. Being a boy is so blithely uncomplicated. Are you about to kill me right now? No? Okay, then. Wanna play cards or something? You poor ladies with your multitasking and your quantum awareness. If you knew how simple your man was on the inside you’d fall over. And he’d laugh.
So there’s some banter. Lawrence says he didn’t mean to fuck them over but he’d do it again if he had to because the Confederados are slaughtering farmers armed with rocks. He says that Dolores is holding a grudge but she should knock it off because they came to him in the first place. They’re not innocent.
William says it’s because his ‘friend’ wanted to see how it ends.
Maybe you got more of an appetite for this than you realize.
As William is pondering this, Dolores alerts him that the train is now passing hundreds of sticks with human skulls on the top of them.
“Oh that?” Lawrence says, eating a chicken salad sandwich and scratching his balls, “We’re in Ghost Nation territory. Most savage tribe there is.”
OH YEAH? MOST SAVAGE TRIBE THERE IS, HUH? Maybe you should then say that without YAWNING. Jesus!
Okay so scariest environment imaginable. That’s all you had to say, Clifton Collins, Jr. Scariest environment imaginable
Lawrence drops some armored shutters over the windows, like you do, and says that they’ll continue on foot once they’re out of Ghost Nation territory. “You can come with me. Nothing here on out but slaughter.” Ohohohohohkay then! Slaughter it is, I guess! Thanks, Logan!
Bernard can’t locate Elsie on his flat tricorder. He heads to see Theresa Cullen, the formidable woman in charge of QA.
They have a little conversation that attempts to bridge the growing gap between professional colleagues and people who have swapped bodily fluids. Bernard noticeably softens his tone as Theresa snips at him a little for having his people second guessing her people. He assures her that that phase of the project is done and she looks visibly relieved.
Mesa Gold Level
We open with an interesting shot of what I’m guessing is the Mesa Gold level, with a hotel facade that is the rock face of the mountain. Theresa Cullen approaches us in the hallway and already I kind of feel like I’ve had enough Theresa Cullen in this episode, but we’re going to get more.
Sounds of fornication fill the hallway and then Theresa Cullen, the formidable woman in charge of QA, knocks anyway. Jesus, Theresa! Maybe she’s a bot after all.
The sounds stop and Charlotte Hale swings the door open, standing there, completely naked. Now this reeks of power to me. Yeah, I’m fully naked. Yeah I was having sex four seconds ago. What about it?
Theresa just wrings her hands and hums and haws about a meeting, and Charlotte invites her in. Hector Escaton is tied to the bed. Now we know what that priority request was all about.
Sooooooo bots get to come up to the Mesa Gold level? On the reg?
I’m so confused by this show.
Now we get a deeply condescending conversation where Charlotte continuously belittles Theresa. It’s all exposition. Here’s what we’re meant to take away: thirty five years of data exists in Westworld and “The Board” wants it. I re-submit yet another vote of who-gives-a-fuck-ness about “The Board” and if Charlotte is their executive director? Double it. They want the information. The code. They don’t care about the park or the hosts or any of that. And they want to get rid of Ford, so they need to make sure the information is secure.
I like you. Well, not personally, but I like you for this job.
UGH. YOU ARE GROSS, CHARLOTTE HALE. GROSS.
Is this what the future world looks like? A stratified class system where people are pre-screened in the womb for the level they’re intended to rise? Where ‘butchers’ like Felix are on the low end and Charlotte and The Man in Black are at the top? Remember what he said to Lawrence? That no man in the world would dare take that tone with him?
But, okay. That’s the world, I guess.
To finish, Charlotte says that they require a “blood sacrifice’ to prove just how unstable the hosts are.
Theresa looks over her shoulder at the powered-down pleasure model at her six.
No, no. Charlotte assures her. We need someone thoroughly unexpected.
We wake up with Maeve. She’s headed to work. The music kicks in.
BUM BUM BUM.
This may be my favorite thing about the show so far. I really love that jingle. I remember way back in episode two when the train rolled into sweetwater and that music kicked in and everything felt fresh and new. Now we have fucking escalators. Escalators as far as the eye can see…
Maeve doesn’t agree with me about the music. She’s sick of it. When she gets inside Mariposa she slams down the fall board over the keys and heads to the bar.
Maeve starts to talk to Clementine. She pauses as she reacts to the words coming out of her own mouth. She remembers the why. The programming.
And just like that, Clementine and everyone else shuts down. Techs come in. Maeve is still aware. They mention that they have to grab a host and she must have done something really bad to warrant a snatch ‘n grab in the middle of the day.
Maeve grabs a knife. She makes ready to put up the fight of her life.
The techs grab Clem and head off.
Train to the front
We appear to be out of Ghost Nation Skull Pike territory. That’s probably a good thing.
William and Dolores are hanging out in a dark car. There’s time for some honest conversation, as Lawrence and everyone else are nowhere to be seen. They talk about goals. Dolores says she doesn’t know if the place she’d looking for exists. She observes that William could have turned around at any point, but he’s there, with her.
William says all he had were books growing up. He wished he could be in those stories. Dolores is the opposite. She doesn’t like the idea of being in a ‘story.’
She doesn’t want to look forward or back.
She just wants to be in the moment she’s in.
And then she leans forward to William. Kiss me.
GODDAMNIT, KISS HER YOU FOOL!
But William is a white hat, and not yet wise in the ways of the force, and so he totally ruins everything by invoking the name of another woman (Juliet?!) who is Logan’s sister and who he’ll wed when he leaves Six Flags Great Western Adventure.
And so Dolores skedaddles because rejection.
But William IMMEDIATELY follows her and we see him jump across unsecured train cars and I’m like WHY AREN’T THOSE DOORS LOCKED, YO? GHOST NATION UP IN HYAH!
That’s so scary. You think Ghost Nation can’t pick off someone casually in transit between two train cars? Because THEY CAN.
You can’t fuck with these guys, William! They’ll shoot the tip of your pee pee off if they damn well please. You have to get with the program, son!
So William is like Dolores…
And she’s crying…
And William does a little monologuing about how he’s pretending his whole life, and then SMOOOOOSH. They bone down. Lovingly-like.
It made me sad to think about a park guest who might actually fall in love with a bot and then have to leave and think…I’ll go back to Westworld. And they go back a year later after pining away and the bot doesn’t recognize them. Good god, humans are so damn frail.
Mesa Somewhere? QA?
I have no idea where this is. This is the establishing shot.
Ford greets Charlotte (who is looking at herself in the glass wall) with a snipe:
Miss Hale. I wasn’t aware that those with your level of insight needed any more reflection.
We then jump to a highly bullshit presentation where QA, as directed by Charlotte Hale, pretends that Clem is dangerous. This is followed immediately by Charlotte firing Bernard. It’s Ford’s code, but Bernard won’t rat Ford out. Even so, he’s surprised that Ford doesn’t come to his defense, either.
Bernard walks quietly from the room.
Ford just watches Theresa and Charlotte. He doesn’t say a word.
Train to the front
A night has passed, because Dolores says “Morning, William.”
She’s about to give him an out when he plants a kiss on her and seems somehow reinvigorated. A proverbial spring in his step…
Dolores is sketching a valley on a tarp of some kind. It’s hard to see and I’ve never seen someone sketch on a tarp like that, but that’s what it was. Dolores’ imaginary valley.
“A place where the mountains meet the sea.”
YEAH EXCEPT THAT’S A FUCKING RIVER! A RIVAH!
“Bots don’t know from rivers.” — Jon Polito, R.I.P. (he never said this, but picture it)
Kind of fucked that Teddy is on a quest to find her and she’s banging some random white hat. You’re turning into a reeeeeeeeallll Charlotte Hale, Dolores!
The train slams to a stop. Someone done put boulders on the track. I mean, I’m not saying barrell through them but I bet at low speeds that cowcatcher could knock a few of those puppies out of the way…
But no. Picard commands FULL STOP!
I instinctively massage my head. Nice scalp. Stay with me, fellah.
“Is it the Ghost Nation?” Dolores asks, breathing a little faster than usual.
But it’s not Ghost Nation. It’s drunken hillbillies.
“Worse.” Says Lawrence. “The Confetherathos.”
Errrrr…um….point of order here. Excuse me! Pardon me! But, um…we’ve been promised a world where scalping natives in ghostpaint are the worst case scenario. Like, you’d be dead in an hour. Like, they scalp you. Like, they put your head on a pike and shit.
How again, are the Confetherathos WORSE?
Maybe they have the right to vote.
Aaaaaaaanyway, them Confederate types got theyselves a top-load, hand crankin’ gatling gun. I don’t know what the rumpus is but I look at the greys and I tell you: I am not a’feared. The dummy in charge is not into monologuing. He just kind of nods to the gatling gun guy and they just rip into the train.
Do you have any idea how much a good TRAIN costs? How much did your train cost? OH YOU DON’T HAVE ONE? Well maybe if you did you’d have a bit more RESPECT. How about maybe a chat and a surrender before you shoot up ma dang train?
That’s exactly what happens. The shoot up the train. Then a door opens and Suicide Horse rides out with Nitro-filled Slim atop it. Oh, Suicide Horse! I sure am glad we brung ye! Honestly, no character gets less IMDB love than Suicide Horse.
HUH? Think the hayseeds.
KABOOM goes Suicide Horse! You da reel MVP.
Looking back — when El Lazo was filling Slim’s body with Nitro back at Pariah? I was sure he had an actual plan for it, not just like, to make him a human M80 that he could pop off for shits and grins. Did Slim actually GET anyone? I counted several people thrown back and one staying down, but really what are we talking about? Just concussion, right? I think if you’re not getting a gasoline/charring/burning effect, and you’re not packing Slim with ball bearings and nails and shit, we’re just kind of hoping for bone shards, right?
In the end, what was Slim’s contribution? A distraction. A distraction so the gang could ride away. I wonder how that went down in the planning phase on the train.
Lawrence: Okay if we bump into the Conwfhefefefeetherathos, Suicide Horse: we’ll strap Nitro Slim to your back and send you out there. You cool with that?
Suicide Horse: Indeed. For even as a foal, I knew that I would achieve greatness by vanquishing a vast number of mine enemies and winning a noble-
Lawrence: Well, it ain’t likely to be that. More just you head on out and Slim’ll go pop and they’ll all go HUH? WHAT? And then the rest of us will shag ass outta here.
Suicide Horse: Murmur Murmur…
Lawrence: What’s that? Speak up a bit?
Suicide Horse: I mean, far be it from me to tell you your business, El Lazo, but Suicide Horses don’t exactly grow on trees. Maybe if it’s just a distraction you’re looking for — and I’m just spitballing here obviously — but maybe we strap Slim to saaaaay…Dolores. And they pretend to sort of be dancing. Like la de da de da, spinning and whatnot, and then I’ll carry you to safety where my death can actually have, y’know, a bit more resonance in the world.
Lawrence: Nah, I think we’ll just put him on you and do it that way.
Suicide Horse: What about this other gentleman? Do we know that his face mole isn’t malignant? Maybe we’d be doing him a fav-
Lawrence: He’s a human.
Suicide Horse: Oh Human. Excuse me. Royalty.
Lawrence: So…we good?
Suicide Horse: Yes, yes. Of course. I regret that I have only one life to -ahem- give to this er…’noble’ cause.
So Larry and Dol and Will spirit themselves away on live horses and the Confederados give chase. Because they’re all still alive. Doggone It, that Nitro really WAS worth murdering four Union Soldiers for!
The chase moves on at full canter. The one faceless red shirt on the away team gets picked off. Now it’s Dol in the rear. She gets knocked off her horse! And…
The confederados are riding at her at full tilt and…
William just stops his horse and she climbs on and somehow her speed of running forward isn’t matched by the charge of the light brigade behind her. It’s just kind of an unfortunately timed chase.
But now the Gatling Wagon has caught up, painted with the fearsome blood of Suicide Horse! Gatling guns can cut trees in half but apparently can’t hit the broad side of a barn. Lead is tearing through the air all around them, and just as it looks like all hope is lost…
And then another and another and GHOOOOOOOST NATION!
Suddenly the forest is crawling with the noble, indigenous people of um…Westworld.
It’s a bloodbath. And I’m not seeing how the Confderados were worse, Larry. Not seeing it at all. The Albino Maguas mop the fucking floor with them.
Larry and Dol and Will are basically sitting around drinking tea until one of them has the brilliant idea to not be scalped. So they ride off.
And after what must be like 300 feet, they finally make it. MY GOD!
My god. Her drayms were real!
The place where the mountains meet the…’sea’.
You know it was ONE HELL OF A RIDE, BOY, because both Dol and Larry are now both without their respective chapeaus. Insert whistling sound. A man and a woman alone in Injun country is bad, but to do so without sun cover? Darling, that’s just uncivilized.
Larry is like, we better vamoose and Dolores is like I’m done with WAR.
How bout you? Asks Larry to Billy. “You got a knack for killin’.”
Uh, pretty sure it was the dame there, Larry, but way to be a fucking stereotype. Someone got killed? Must have been the man. No. No.
Dolores is Quick Draw Mcgraw, not Billy.
William is a bit more diplomatic, saying that this is where we part ways. It must be that time. Time for Larry to go get his throat slit by John Glenn in The Right Stuff, I guess.
Larry gives them some parting wisdom.
“Careful. If you’re heading West across that river..” (see? river!) “…you may be leaving the fighting behind but you’re gonna be in unclaimed territories.”
Somewhere, the descendants of Francisco Pizarro just got a half-chub.
Unclaimed territories, you say?
“What’s out that way?” William asks.
“You’re gonna have to ask the dust.” Says Larry somberly. “Ain’t nothin’ ever come back from there.”
Larry turns and rides off. Leaving them one horse and taking three with him. Thanks, prick.
Dol and Billy look out toward the ‘sea.’
Ask the dust. What a funny turn of phrase. I’m not familiar with it.
Maeve is lying supine on the butcher table. Felix is there, but the other tech isn’t Sylvester. It’s a woman.
When the woman butcher, the wutcher if you will, turns her back to the table, Maeve grabs Felix’s arm.
He mumbles something to get the wutcher to leave and she does with nary a line. Drat, thinks the wutcher, no speaking lines today = no SAG card today.
Maeve wakes up and is immediately in search of Clem. Where is she? Felix whips out his future iPad and HANDS IT TO MAEVE. Man, that was interesting. A host with her BULK APPERCEPTION pinned, with a tool like that under her control. Sick.
Maeve quickly locates Clem and despite Felix’s protests that the “brass” will be there, they head to her location. The brass is there, the formidable woman from QA herself, overseeing the lobotomy of Clem by Sylvester.
It’s over in a second. Maeve stands there, watching her friend be ‘retired’
A tear rolls down Maeve’s cheek. She can’t do anything. She just has to watch.
It’s going to be sad next week when we see another bot saying that “rind on you” line. Oh Clem. You were taken from us too young.
Bernard pops his head in and asks Theresa if he can have a word. What’s he doing here? Theresa might think. Hasn’t he just been sacked? But she graciously acquiesces.
As they walk away she kind of makes a shitty comment about his “employment status” and he starts to LIGHT HER THE FUCK UP.
He’s like: you think I’m a fucking idiot?
That test was a sham. Completely transparent from a technical perspective and clumsy to the point of making me embarrassed for you…there were glaringly obvious markers of human intervention in the code. If your programmers were any good, they’d be working for ME.
Then, while still on the high ground, Bernie claims to doubt Ford, and the fact that something is indeed awry with the hosts. He thinks there’s a connection between memory and improvisation. Out of repetition comes variation, and after countless cycles, the hosts were varying to the point where they were on the verge of some kind of change.
Theresa rubs his arm, assuring him -mere seconds after kind of shitting on him and his ‘employment status’- that her main concern has always been the safety of the guests.
He nods. He knows.
They move off together, hatchets buried.
As the doors to the elevator close, we cut back to Maeve in the body shop, sitting, covered, with Sylvester and Felix.
Y’all best hope Ford doesn’t saunter by and see a host covered or he just might take a scalpel to her to prove a point. They can’t FEEL ANYTHING that we don’t TELL THEM TO FEEL.
And yet Maeve is clearly in pain. And she’s been crying.
Crying over the ‘death’ of her ‘friend.’ And now she’s had enough. She tells Sylvester and Felix that she’s going to escape and that they’re going to help her.
Sylvester panics a little bit, and begins to enumerate the number of ways that this undertaking will become a ‘suicide mission.’ Maeve just smiles. She remembers how she used to think that them and the others were gods, but now she sees that they’re just….men.
And she knows men.
She looks up at a stunned Sylvester:
You think I’m afraid of death? I’ve done it a million times. I’m fucking great at it. How many times have you died?
You want to know what helps sell a moment like this? Kick-ass face acting from Ptolemy Slocum, that’s what. He looks absolutely astounded. It’s perfect.
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU DIED, SYLVESTER?
And she just holds him in her gaze. She is powerful. She is remorseless. He can’t believe what she’s suggesting, but she adds a little incentive at the end.
Because if you don’t help me, I’ll kill you.
Then she chuckles.
Now we’re in the elevator with Theresa and Bernard. She’s like…uh…if there’s a problemo in the park, shouldn’t we call Bro Stubbs or something?
And Bernard is like: who would we trust?
For example, he says, I thought I could trust you!
And she’s like: I’m not going to explain myself to you, Bernard. Her job, she articulates, is to protect the IP.
And he’s like FROM WHO? YOU WERE THE ONLY ONE STEALING IT!
And she’s like Delos owns the IP. And we’re gonna 86 Ford, so…
Bernard scoffs. Seriously? You think I’d let Ford do that?
Theresa is above it. She borrows Charlotte Hale’s aloof tone:
Do you really think the corporation’s interest here are tourists playing cowboy?
Subtext: you dummy.
The longer I work here, the more I understand the hosts. It’s human beings that confuse me.
Now they arrive topside in the park, in Ford’s unregistered hosts area. Bernard lights a lantern (I thought lighting a match on park property initiated a pyro request in the control room, but I guess not…) and he leads Theresa into the stone cottage.
“This building isn’t on any survey of the park.” She says.
“That’s because we use hosts to do most of the surveys. They’re programmed to ignore this place. They literally couldn’t see it if they were staring right at it.”
As Bernard says this, he walks past a wall with only wallpaper on it. Interesting choice here as we’re initially lumped in with Bernard. It’s just a wall.
“What’s behind this door?” Theresa asks.
“WHAT DOOR?” Says Bernard.
And yoost like that: there’s a door there. A door that wasn’t there seconds ago.
This moment, written with great care and skill, was set to be a HUGE watershed moment for Westworld. When they pitched this bad boy in the room, this very moment was what help sell the franchise.
The thing is: this moment is the worst kept secret of the show. We all knew it. Bernard is a host.
We knew it when we saw the son backstory. That’s when we really knew it, but I remember, right after the pilot aired, talking to a friend of mine who’s a working director in Los Angeles, and I asked him: what’s the HOLY SHIT moment at the end of season one?
“I mean, that Bernard is a host, right? It’s gotta be.” He said.
And I said “OF COURSE BERNARD IS A HOST.” That was after the pilot. “That’s not a big enough cliffhanger. That’s not a big enough bombshell. I’m assuming Bernard is a host. What else you got?”
“I got zilch.” Said my friend. “This show is awesome but it gives me a headache.”
So when we experience that Bernard cannot see the door, we immediately understand that his speech about hosts doing surveys pertains to him. We immediately also know that Ford has seen Theresa naked.
And that Ford knows everything that Bernard knows.
Which means he knows that the board thinks he’s ‘done.’
Remote Diagnostic Facility
As they descend the steps we now know another thing. It was Ford questioning Dolores in those ‘secret’ sessions, and they happened in this room. I still have no FUCKING idea how Dolores got here from like a campfire in the middle of nowhere without waking Logan or Billy, but ohohohokay!
So Ford, through Bernard, has been probing Dolores. Trying to figure her out.
Dustin has a great theory that he posted on Uproxx about this. That Arnold buried a secret (the secret to the maze?) in Dolores and Ford is trying every possible way to trick or coerce or coax it out of her.
We don’t completely know, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, the rest of the story, but we’re a good deal farther down the road than we were a few minutes ago.
Theresa is like “what is this place?”
I mean, look at it! It’s like a mini dippery in here!
The machines! The glass walls! It’s all a dead giveaway!
“So Ford’s been making his own hosts out here and telling no one?” Theresa says with a sigh. Like Ford, you bratty little shit. You’re in a heap of trouble.
Then she picks up some papers. Man you don’t see a lot of paper in this show, do you? On these papers she sees…diagrams. Drawings. Prototype sketches of hosts.
The name on the bottom of one of them?
As Theresa silently flips pages, her look of concern grows. “Have you seen these, Bernard?”
She hands him the pages and he puts on his spectacles to see…
A prototype host sketch. Of him.
“Doesn’t look like anything to me.” He says.
And suddenly, the voice of Hannibal Lecter is behind them.
“They cannot see the things that would hurt them.” Ford says, matter-of-factly. “I’ve spared them that. In a way their lives are purer than ours, freed of the burden of self doubt.”
“I…I don’t understand.” Says Bernard.
And now, the full breadth of Ford’s mania is understood by Theresa. The chickens have come home to roost and any delusion she had about her own power or the power of Delos is gone. She gets it. That Ford has his hosts everywhere. That Ford knows everything. That Ford, through Bernard, had actually invaded her corporal body. Whew. This is clearly why they cast Sidse Babett Knudsen, and in this moment (that I thought I wasn’t going to get because I wasn’t thrilled by her choices as an actor) we finally see the skill of the performer. I enjoyed how she handled the realization and how she delivered her next line, like a defeated animal at bay.
You’re a fucking monster.
I thought she could have chosen anything, and many actors would have gone over the top with it, but she nailed it.
YOU’RE A FUCKING MONSTER.
“Am I?” Ford asks.
Then the ominous music kicks in. Theresa accuses Ford of sending Bernard to seduce her and Ford reminds her that she was the one who initiated intimacy.
Because he knows.
Ford talks about Bernard like he’s a host and Bernard starts to get it, and then to hyperventilate.
“I’m not. I can’t be. My wife. My son. My poor boy.”
“That’s enough, Bernard.” Says Ford. And Bernard just SHUTS DOWN. Like POWERS THE FUCK OFF.
Theresa has made a life being a cool customer. As Ford monologues about base instincts and the passage of time, and the relative freedom of the hosts, she tries to poke a hole in his bubble.
“The hosts are the ones who are free,” Ford says. “Free. Here. Under my control.”
“But he isn’t under your control.” Says Sidse. “He brought me here to show me this.”
“No,” Ford replies calmly. “He brought you here because I asked him to.”
She goes back again to puffing up, something that has served her well in the past. Putting on a show. Indignation. If the 7 iron always gets you out of trouble, that’s the club you tend to reach for.
“Do you really think the board will stand for this?”
The Board. The highest evolution of power that a middle manager like Theresa Cullen can conceive of. The Board. But she fails to recognize the power right in front of her, who views her precious Board like a meddlesome gnat.
Ford laughs. He LAUGHS.
The board will do nothing. Our arrangement is too valuable to them. They test me every now and then, I think they enjoy the sport of it. This time they sent you. Sadly…in order to restore things…this situation demands a blood sacrifice. See Arnold and I designed every inch of this place. It was our dream. Did you really think I would let you take it from me?
Jesus christ! How did Ford know about the ‘Blood Sacrifice’ line?
OH YEAH, BECAUSE THE HECTOR ESCATON HOST WAS IN THE ROOM WHEN SHE WAS TALKING TO CHARLOTTE. FORD HEARD THE WHOLE THING.
Theresa backs away, trying to hold it together. God it’s terrifying. It must be terrifying to be in that situation, physically at a disadvantage, in a cold cellar.
“Is this what happened to Arnold?” She asks, her voice wavering. “Did you have Bernard take him out to the woods?”
Ford is so laid back. So casual. He’s done this before. He enjoys it. He’s a goddamn predator. This episode should have been called Blood Sacrifice.
“No he wasn’t here in those days. Were you Bernard?”
Bernard says nothing. He’s in sort of a trance.
Theresa goes for her tricorder but it’s no use. No signal. Ford has thought of everything. She’s isolated.
Ford walks up to her and whispers “like I said, I built all of this.”
He then commands Bernard to help Theresa out because she’s grown weary.
“No.” She says.
In that sleep, what dreams may come.
If Theresa knew her Shakespeare, that line would have made her panic even more. Because it’s from Hamlet’s soliloquy, and the line is “In that sleep of death, what dreams may come.”
Bernard removes his blazer and tie and spectacles and walks toward her…with purpose..
No! Bernard! Please!
She yells and then in a flash, the facade, the coolness is gone. She’s lost. Crying and backing away as Bernard grabs her and smashes her head into the wall. It knocks her unconscious or dazes her, and she’s making no noise when he ushers the bone-breaking coup de grâce.
It’s just awful, honestly.
And I didn’t even like Theresa Cullen. But murder is murder is murder.
Then we get what I thought was a very interesting shot choice. As Theresa’s lifeless body drops to the floor, we shoot it through the machine where a new body is being knitted.
A new Theresa, perhaps? A replacement Theresa?
We don’t know.
Bernard stares down at the corpse below him and without betraying any emotion toward his old lover — and there may not be any — he walks back and begins to put his shit back on.
“We should be getting back, Bernard.” Says Ford. “We have a great deal of work to do on the new storylines.”
They leave Theresa’s corpse sitting on the floor, her blood — human, real blood — dripping down the wall where Bernard bashed her head.
And then they turn out the lights.
What happens next? I don’t know.
I guess we’ll just have to ask the dust.
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