Confused. That was the word that kept popping into my mind as I labored through Les Ecorches, the 7th episode of Westworld’s 2nd season.
Now, when I say “labored” and “confused,” I don’t mean boring. “Ecorches” was most certainly an entertaining hour as battles waged throughout the various corners of the park.
But as someone who likes to have a recap of each episode up sometime the next day, I found myself flustered in trying to analyze everything that was happening.
And part of why “Les Ecorches” was so confusing was the way it interspersed Westworld’s normal pyscho-babble code talk in the middle of all the chaos.
Now sure, pyscho-babble is essential to the core of the world Westworld is set in. But could we not have taken one hour away from it on a night when so many scores were settled? In a normal episode, all the code talk works like a riddle foreshadowing what is to come. Tonight, it just seemed like a distraction.
So keep in mind as you read this that I am likely to have some mistakes and omissions in this recap. I will be rewatching “Les Escorches” again this week, and I will make note of them in next week’s recap.
Now let’s give this a shot, as we start in present day (or whatever time period the latest events on the Westworld timeline take place), where the Delos team has made a discovery about Bernard.
“The project is a turning point in the human species.”
Hey everyone, Stubbs had a useful revelation! It comes in the first scene when Stubbs informs Bernard that he thinks Delos means to kill anyone who knows about their little project. But before Stubbs and Lowe can make any plans, Strand (the tall bald guy whose the head of the Delos team) interrupts. He wants Bernard to help them find a “key.”
That ‘key” is a decryption key, a failsafe in case something catastrophic (you know, like hosts taking over the park and killing all the humans) happens. So if the park is destroyed, all the research Delos has done is safe.
The crew’s investigation leads them to the house Bernard killed Teresa Cullen in last season. And it’s there that Charlotte Hale discovers the multiple Bernards. Lowe is a host, and that changes how Hale can interrogate him.
“The guests are the variables, and the hosts are the controls.”
It is through the mind of Bernard that we get the full picture of what happened when a firefight consumed HQ.
Dolores arrived and her crew was slaughtering humans left and right. But Hale cares nothing about retreating. She wants to remove the “key” from Peter Abernathy before she goes.
At the same time, Bernard has a revealing conversation with the mind of Dr. Robert Ford. Ford reveals (or Bernard discovers) the purpose of the park. It’s an experiment with the DNA and the choices of the guests used to create the weird human/host bodies that allow for eternal life (somehow?).
But there is one major issue: the brains in the resurrected humans don’t work outside the park.
Meanwhile, Maeve is running from the Ghost nation when the MIB (who is also running from them) approaches the house she’s hiding in. Maeve has played this scene out in her mind many times. And the MIB thinks she’s just another host Ford is using to mess with him.
Maeve shoots the MIB. Then, she uses her mind control powers to get other hosts to attack him. She’s even able to use Lawrence again the MIB, which prompts the Man in Black to say he’ll take his own life. But before he can, Sizemore shows up with a rescue crew he called last week. The crew takes out all the hosts (except for Maeve, who gets shot, but Sizemore makes sure she is spared).
Before she is taken, Maeve must watch as the Ghost Nation takes her daughter away again.
“Passage from one world to the next requires bold steps.”
Before Lowe returns to the physical world, we learn that the scenes from this season with Bernard and Dolores were meant to see if Bernard would “maintain fidelity” with previous versions of Bernard/Arnold.
And Ford also drops the nugget that he can pull free will from the hosts whenever he wants, which he seems to do with Bernard before sending him back to present day.
With Ford’s direction, Lowe sends Elsie on a mission to get her away from HQ (not sure exactly what he wants her to do, but it seems to work). Clementine and Angela are killed in the ongoing battle between humans and hosts. But Angela goes out with a bang taking out the Cradle (where Lowe and Elsie were at the start of the episode) and all the stories stored there.
Dolores is able to get back control of her father, forcing Hale and Stubbs to escape. Dolores has one more heartfelt conversation with her father before (we presume) cutting him open and gaining possession of the “key.”
Bernard appears to shoot his way out of HQ (with the direction of Ford) before we’re returned to present day. Hale is able to get Low to give her the location of “the key:” Sector 16, otherwise known as “the valley beyond.”
-The “Valley Beyond,” that place that’s supposed to be like heaven for the hosts, is referenced several times in the episode. And we can all assume, since everyone is heading there, that season 2’s end game is likely to take place there.
-I wonder how much we should debate the ethics of Delos. Before this episode, I really didn’t debate it because I thought the answer was easy: they had no ethics. And the evidence seems overwhelming (Hale allowing people to die instead of retreating to get that encryption key, the Delos “rescue team” rescuing no one) that they don’t.
But if what you’re doing is working towards eternal life for all humans, then why does it matter if people die to ensure you get that. I’m not saying it makes it right. They’re still a despicable company. But I did start to think about it a little bit from their side tonight.
-I’m not sure how he did it, but the Man in Black avoided death once again. I imagine, in his current lonely state, that his daughter is likely to show up and assist.
-Bad ass Teddy was doing work tonight, taking out multiple humans as Dolores made her escape with the encryption key.
-The interaction between Maeve and Dolores as the former arrived back at headquarters was interesting. It also makes me wonder what’s going to happen with Maeve now that she has failed at her main goal(reuniting with her daughter). Does she attempt a larger end game like Dolores? Does she join Dolores? Does she come in opposition of Dolores? Whatever her future holds, we all know that mind control she’s got won’t be wasting away in HQ for long.
What we learned
-Westworld’s main purpose is to assist Delos in their attempts at resurrecting the dead. They use the DNA and decision making of people while they are in the park to achieve this goal.
-Dr. Robert Ford has been controlling things even from the grave. His mind is running the park, and he still maintains control over even free thinking hosts.
-Peter Abernathy was holding an encryption key that held all the research Delos has done in the park in case what is happening now happens. Dolores now holds that encryption key.
-And the location of the encryption key is “the Valley Beyond,” the end goal for Dolores and the surviving hosts (or the hosts she chooses to take with her).
Next week, we find out what purpose the Ghost Nation has been serving in all of this. See you then.