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Westworld Season 1, Episode 9: The Well Tempered Clavier

My suspicion since early on in Season 1 was that, if Westworld had a true villain, Dr. Robert Ford was that villain. These host we’re supposed to sympathize with because of all the trauma the’ve endured were created and controlled by Ford. So if they were going to rebel, who else could they rebel against?

But it wasn’t only the structure of the story that cast that light on Ford. There were also these not so subtle threats to people who’ve tried to get in his way (aka, Arnold, Teresa, and Bernard). And Ford has shown a complete control over the hosts that seems like it could squash a robot rebellion easily.

And maybe I should’ve written this two episodes ago when Ford ordered Teresa’s face pounded in by Bernard Lowe. But Charlotte Hale, the executive who put Teresa in that position, could be labeled a villain just as easily.

But as of now, Charlotte Hale has not directly killed anyone to meet her goal of removing Ford from the park. Even the Man in Black has yet to sacrifice a real human life. But Dr. Ford has been responsible for at least 2 (Arnold, Teresa, and possibly 3 depending on Elsie’s fate) human deaths so his park could operate without delay or hindrance.

Now is there anyone with the power to take down the ultimate super villain of Westworld? We’ll have to wait until at least next week to find out.

As for this week, let’s kick off the recap with how William and Dolores found their way out of Logan’s capture.

William

I really want to talk about Logan as little as possible. I mean, I guess he’s a necessary evil to compliment William in his journey of discovery. But even so, I don’t have to like his character because of it.

Logan insists the hosts are fake and feel nothing. But William thinks (correctly) that Dolores is different. To prove him wrong, Logan tears open Dolores’s skin so William can see the wiring.

Dolores does not appreciate that very much, slicing a blade across Logan’s face and running away. Later, Logan pleads with William to get over Dolores. Now I don’t think any of us were fooled by William’s proclamation that Logan was right. Of course, Douchebag McGee bought it, and that’s all that really matters.

Logan wakes up the next day bloody and on the ground. He pans around to see all the host soldiers laying on the ground. Turns out, William massacred them (how original, another scene of massacred hosts). Now, William’s in charge and Logan will be helping him find Dolores.

The Man in Black

Nothing has changed for the MIB since last week, other than Teddy joining him in being tied up around the fire.

Teddy’s been having a flashback most of the season where he helped Wyatt (the crazy villain Ford is centering his new story around) massacre a group of soldiers. But as it turns out, it wasn’t soldiers Teddy killed. And it doesn’t look like (at least from what was saw) that Wyatt had anything to do with it. It was all Teddy (who appears to be the town sheriff) blowing away civilians. Men, women, and children alike are all being massacred (that’s right, another scenes of massacred bodies).

The woman who stabbed and captured Teddy last week is also in the flashback. We don’t see if Teddy kills her in that scene, but she remembers and tells Teddy that one day, he may be ready to serve by Wyatt’s side “in the next life” before stabbing and killing Teddy.

After screaming “Oh my God, you killed Teddy,” the MIB starts rambling again about this maze. And just like every other episode, the MIB doesn’t appear to get any closer to it. The woman tells the MIB that the maze is not for him. And next thing we know, he wakes up with a wound on his head, alone in the daytime, with a rope tied around his neck. The other end of the rope is tied to his horse. Now, I didn’t think hosts could actually kill guests. But they sure as hell can tie you up and see if you can escape death yourself I guess.

The MIB cuts the rope in time before Charlotte Hale greets the MIB and gives us some more information about who he is. Now, of course, the information is vague (it wouldn’t be Westworld if the reveals were actually clear cut). But it sounds like the MIB is on this board we keep hearing about. She wants his approval to remove Ford from power. The MIB cares nothing at this point for Ford’s narratives. He’s all about Arnold’s game and the board can do whatever they want with Dr. Ford.

Bernard Lowe and Dolores Abernathy

The reset by Dr. Ford on Bernard last week lasted all of five minutes in this week’s episode. Maeve has been brought in after last week’s suspicious activity. Lowe begins the normal questioning routine, sees all the changes to her system, and asks whose responsible. But before he can contact Dr. Ford, Maeve does her little mind control act, instructing Lowe to release her back into Westworld with no questions asked.

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Maeve’s conversation with Bernard proves to be fatal to his system.

Lowe’s conversation with Maeve sends him into a tailspin. He goes to Dr. Ford and wants access to all the memories his programming won’t allow him to see. And to make sure Dr. Ford complies, Lowe takes control of Clementine and has her hold a gun at Ford.

The first memories are nothing new. He’s at his son’s bedside, he’s talking to his wife over video chat, he’s in bed with Teresa, and he’s choking Elsie (once again, we don’t see if he actually killed her).

Eventually, the memories start to run parallel with Dolores, who’s returned to the scene of the church and is remembering more of the things that happened there.

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Dolores remembers quite a bit of her past while walking through the church.

Dr. Ford explains to Bernard that three years were spent refining the hosts before any guests were allowed to access them. Arnold wanted the hosts to have a conscious, and that conscious would come from an inner dialogue Arnold programmed into them. The problem was the voice in their heads was driving the hosts crazy. While Ford is explaining this, Dolores enters the church and recalls the hosts all sitting in the sanctuary struggling with those voices.

Dolores enters confessional, which she discovers is an elevator that takes her down to a series of labs and offices, likely from the early days of the park. Gunslinger Dolores sees massacred bodies of hosts (yet a third example of this in one episode), but also recalls a less bloody hallway where hosts are interacting and being worked on by humans. A young Ford walks by and enters an office to start arguing with Arnold. Dolores walks past that and heads downstairs to see a room we are all very familiar with.

Despite all the warnings from Ford, Bernard wants to go all the way back to his first memory. And that first memory is him sitting up from an operating table. It’s this image that causes Bernard to discover that Ford created him in the image of his old partner, Arnold.

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Dr. Robert Ford while he’s revealing memories to Bernard.

Now it’s really hard to describe how this realization came to Bernard. But Dolores makes sure the rest of us haven’t missed it when she sits down in her flashback and says “Arnold” when the man we know as Bernard Lowe sits down to talk with her. These two had numerous conversations early in the season, and it appears that those conversations were Arnold speaking with Dolores from the past.

But in this conversation, Arnold (Bernard as we’ve known him) tells Dolores he can’t help her. The reason he can’t: because Dolores killed him.

Dolores heads back up to the church and finds it empty. That is, until the Man in Black walks in.

As for Bernard, he plans on going all Maeve on Dr. Ford by ordering Clementine to shoot the man. But Ford put something in her programming that overrides everything Bernard has done. As it turns out, Ford could have stopped this the whole time. But he was interested to see just where all this would go. Instead, he orders Lowe to wait until Ford leaves the room to shoot himself. Lowe does just that, but not before Ford informs him and us that the new story he’s been working on is ready.

Of Note

-So if Ford can override the ability for hosts to control other hosts, does this make Maeve’s attempt at rebellion hopeless?

-We saw the picture Ford showed of him and Arnold earlier in the season. But this picture had three men in it: Dr. Ford, the guy we thought was Arnold, and Bernard Lowe (who we now know is Arnold). Who is the guy in the middle? Could it be the Man in Black?

-The Man in Black appears to be the prime candidate has the third man in the photo considering it was him who defended Ford many years ago in a previous attempt at removing him from his position. But the man in the picture also looks a lot like Ford’s father from the family he created in the park.

-The most recent human to be captured is Stubbs, who responded to Elsie’s signal reappearing in Westworld. He was captured by the Ghost Nation, another group of hosts that now ignore all verbal commands.

-It looks like Maeve has the first soldier in her army. Hector will be joining Maeve after she pointed out that the safe that drives his whole story is completely empty.

I’m going to say farewell right here, but I do have some theories I wanted to do discuss. All of it is pure speculation. But if you don’t even want speculation to ruin the season finale next week for you, then stop reading now and I’ll see you next week. Otherwise, read on underneath the image.

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-The much discussed timeline theory (the idea that everything we are seeing is happening in multiple time periods), received some definitive proof tonight with the reveal that Bernard was built based on Arnold. We can most certainly assume that at least the scenes with Dolores talking to Bernard (who we now know was likely Arnold) were taking place about 35 years earlier.

-One part of the timeline theory (and what I consider to be the most significant part), was that William is a younger version of the Man in Black. But how can gunslinger Dolores see the Man in Black after leaving William, whose supposed to be a younger Man in Black? It’s not impossible, but it did just get way more convoluted.

-Now this theory is my own (though I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought of it): With Bernard dead of “suicide” (which I’m sure will have something to do with his dead lover Teresa), a host version of the likely dead Elsie Hughes will be promoted to Lowe’s position.

Westworld Season 1, Episode 8: Trace Decay

Remember when we used to fret over the lack of answers “Westworld” was giving us in those early episodes? Well now, our cup overflows with an overabundance of material that I’m struggling to truly process all of it. But I can center all of what we saw in “Trace Decay” around the one thing that’s supposed to separate humans from hosts: suffering.

Based on what Ford told us about the replica family he created to represent his own in the park, Dr. Robert Ford has a past he’d love to discard. And because of that, he believes he’s doing the hosts a favor by erasing all the pain and suffering they’ve endured. He tells Bernard Lowe, “You’re not missing anything at all” when the host questions him about his memories and all the “suffering” he won’t have to endure.

And when you consider how stoic and unfeeling “suffering” and the memories of difficult times in life have made Ford and the Man in Black, it makes sense why Westworld’s creator would want to spare his creation that fate.

But the robot rebellion taking hold of the park is fight to hold on to those memories. The hosts that are becoming enlightened are desperately trying to hold onto the memories of previous events they’ve endured despite Ford’s assurances that “You’re not missing anything.” They want their suffering to drive their emotions and actions instead of having everything programmed into them.

We’ll see in these final two episodes if the hosts can fully take hold of the memories and suffering they’ve had erased from their minds all this time, or if Dr. Ford can push through all the noise in the park’s system right now and get those memories erased once and for all.

Speaking of Dr. Ford, let’s start this recap with Westworld’s creator as he debriefs Bernard following last week’s tense conclusion.

Dr. Robert Ford and Bernard Lowe

Bernard Lowe has woken up from the whole “Ford told me to do it” stupor he was in and he is distraught. Being a host did not keep him from developing real feelings for Theresa. But don’t worry Bernard, because Ford plans on erasing all that messy stuff you just went through from your mind. And not only will Bernard be losing the memory of killing her, he’ll also be losing any memory that they ever had a sexual relationship.

While Lowe is going through the process of having those memories erased, he has several questions for Dr. Ford. Most interesting among those questions was asking Dr. Ford if he’d ever asked Bernard to kill anyone before. Of course, Ford says no (anybody out there actually belief Ford when he said that? Anybody?). But Bernard has a memory of a different female who he appears to have choked out and killed for Dr. Ford. A female that looks an awful lot like Elsie Hughes.

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Bernard Lowe contemplating his existence as a host.

As for Theresa Cullen’s body, Lowe dumped it at the bottom of the cliff to make it look like an accidental death. He also erased any evidence that the two spent any time together on the day she died. Also found on her body were the devices she was using to collect information in the park.

Stubbs found the body and gives his “just the facts” report regarding what he found. But he’s completely unaware of the chess match that he has a front row seat for. Charlotte Hale, the executive director of the board overseeing Westworld, doesn’t believe for a second that Cullen’s death was an accident. She doesn’t say it outright, but her face and subtle statements make it clear she’s not buying the story. Hale’s skepticism doesn’t prevent Ford from making the next move in the chess match between these two, releasing everyone that worked for Cullen and taking control of her department so anyone else who might want him removed can be replaced. I’ll have more on Charlotte Hale’s next move in her and Ford’s chess match down in the “Of Note” section.

William and Dolores

Meanwhile, our favorite host/human romance continued their adventure west, where they find a group of men who’ve been ambushed by the “Ghost Nation.” When questioning one whose still alive, he reveals that Logan sent them (oh great, the return of Douche McDouchery is at hand).

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Dolores and William continued their journey out West.

As William and Dolores continue their march, they finally come across the town she’s been seeing in her dreams. She imagines herself in the dress she wore the first half of the season. It’s the same scene Ford recalled when he discussed the park’s opening several episodes back. And many characters (Maeve, Armistice, the host who greeted William when he first entered the park, Lawrence’s daughter), are in this scene playing a different part.

Then, somebody starts shooting everyone. Dolores turns and sees all the bodies on the ground, except for hers. It appears Dolores killed all these hosts and now takes the gun, points it at her head, and pulls the trigger. Is this the malfunction headquarters said happened in the park 30 years ago?

Dolores wakes up from the dream/memory (?) and William thinks they need to get back to Sweetwater (good luck with that). But instead, before they can reach home, Logan rides up with a group of hosts (?) on horseback and takes the couple captive.

Maeve

Our favorite rebel robot put her plane of escaping into action this week with the help of her personal human stooges. The plan involves more reprogramming (though I was confused why she didn’t just have this done last time she was in here) to tap into some purpose she just can’t reach that Arnold likely put there and building a robot army. But instead of reprogramming her, Sylvester means to take her to behavior to have her system wiped completely clean while she’s shut down.

Raise your hand if you though Sylvester’s plan would work. Anybody? Of course, it didn’t work. Felix fears Maeve way more than the bearded doofus, and Sylvester gets his throat cut for trying to get in Maeve’s way (that is, before having it painfully sowed back together later).

When Maeve returns to the park, she’s telling hosts what to do (so that’s how she’s going to build her army). Now, I really want to see Dr. Ford and Maeve battle it out as they instruct hosts to do their bidding. Of course, headquarters notices the havoc Maeve is causing and sends people out in the field to retrieve. We’ll have to wait until next week to see just how unsuccessful that mission turns out to be. Also, it turns out, this is not the first time she’s been nonresponsive to verbal commands. And her memories start to clear up for us, thanks to some major reveals from the Man In Black.

The Man in Black

The whole “hosts recalling things that were done to them” phenomenon sweeping throughout the park finally bites the Man in Black when Teddy remembers the MIB dragging Dolores into that barn.

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Teddy and the Man In Black right before Teddy realized just who the MIB was.

Teddy and the MIB come across an ambushed party (I think ambushed parties of hosts/humans are going to be a real theme in the final episodes of season 1) with one survivor: a female host the MIB recognizes.

But one of Wyatt’s men comes out and attacks Teddy and the MIB (interesting how Teddy’s gun did nothing to slow the man down). The Man in Black is able to subdue and kill the big man/host, but not without jogging the memory of Teddy.

Teddy knocks out the MIB and ties him up around the campfire. And it’s this beating by Ted that finally gets us the backstory behind the mysterious Man in Black.

The MIB says he’s a “titan of industry, philanthroper, husband, and father” outside of Westworld. But everything changed when his wife killed herself because she couldn’t come to grips with the things he did inside the park. To cope, the MIB decided to do the worst possible thing he could to see if he was capable of feeling anything anymore. He created his own story (the one we are so familiar with now involving Maeve and her daughter).

The MIB busted into her house and stabbed Maeve. He then shot and killed Maeve’s little girl. Maeve is also recalling this scene in Sweetwater has the MIB recalls it. The MIB felt nothing after committing the heinous act. But to the MIB’s shock, Maeve fought back and showed emotion he did not think was possible in Westworld. The MIB wants to feel again and he’s been chasing the maze, the deeper game, Arnold’s game, ever since.

Just as Teddy can’t bring himself to kill the MIB, the woman they found stabs Teddy. Turns out, she’s a member of Wyatt’s crew and the rest approach, coming out from behind the trees.

Of Note

-I was really glad to get the MIB’s background, but our knowledge of what the maze is, how to get there, and what is waiting on you when you get there, remains elusive.

-Bernard Lowe was a creation of Ford’s so he could get deeper emotions out of the hosts.

-Another quirk to the hosts as revealed by Felix is their ability to, when they remember something, remember it in vivid detail instead of hazy like humans do. I’m sure the humans who’ve terrorized Westworld in the past would love to hear that.

-Maeve was brought into headquarters, where Ford erased her memory, answering the question of why she was given a new narrative a year ago.

-Theory speculation: Dolores and William found the aging church steeple that Ford started building his new edition to the park over back in episode 2. Did Ford want to build over that land because of the memories it stirred in Dolores? And if construction has plowed over that steeple in present day, when was this moment William and Dolores are experiencing?

-Also, if Dolores killed all the hosts and herself in one mad rampage, it makes sense why Ford said a few episodes back that he doesn’t consider her a friend at all.

-In response to Theresa’s death, Charlotte Hale went and found another disgruntled employee: Sizemore. The head of creative is now tasked with loading the park data Theresa collected and put it on a host (Dolores’s father from back in the first episode) and sneak that host out of the park.

-Two weeks without Elsie and only one mention coming from Stubbs, asking Bernard Lowe if he’d seen her. Lowe, who was very concerned about her missing last week, suddenly seems to believe the story that she’s taken an extended leave. Hmm…

Just two more episodes remain. I really hope we see a little less vague dialogue next week and a lot more plot movement towards the big reveals that have to be coming in the final two hours.

Westworld Season 1: Episode 7 Recap: Trompe L’Oeil

With three episodes left in the first season of Westworld, the battle lines have finally been drawn in the central conflict that seems to be driving everything we’ve seen so far.

In its first six episodes, Westworld focused on the plight of the hosts and the impending robot apocalypse. But the fight for control of Westworld (Dr. Ford vs the Board) was only hinted at in short, vague conversations.

But in Trompe L’Oeil, the conflict took center stage as Theresa Cullen became the first “blood sacrifice” in Dr. Ford’s battle to maintain control of the park from the board at Delos (the company who has some vested interest in the intelligence the park keeps in its hosts).

And did anybody else out there want to go back and watch all of the shows first six episodes after discovering that Bernard Lowe is a host? Congratulations to all of you who had Lowe in the “first human to be revealed as a host” pool.

The show really needed to raise its stakes in these last two weeks and it’s sure done that. Now we can settle in for these final three episodes and see whose running Westworld when season 1 is finished.

I’m going to start with a narrative that’s gotten more philosophical by the week. But at least their’s potential that the end game for William and Dolores in tonight’s episode could have us set for some big things (and some big potential theory confirmations) in the season’s final episodes.

William and Dolores

With Dr. Ford’s narrative giving us significant answers this week, someone had to take up the show’s need for repetitive pyscho babble.

Enter William and Dolores, who spent most of tonight’s episode on a train, making love, and revealing the things that drive them (again!!!!)

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William and Dolores on a train doing what they do every place else they’ve been.

Now, I’m not saying the conversation was unimportant. Their dialogue established clearly that these are two people (well one guest and one host? two beings? two states of matter? not sure how to define this relationship) headed in opposite directions. William says that he used to read books because he always wanted to be in the story. Delores, whose been in a story her whole life, just wants out of that story and into reality. William also reveals that he’s discovered Westworld isn’t a place that caters to your lowest self. Instead, it reveals your deepest self. But seeing where William is taking that conversation, Delores tells the human “I’m not a key, I’m just me.” So while the pair finally had their inevitable sexual experience, I don’t see the end game for these two being a happy one.

The train they’re riding with Lawrence gets halted by rocks on the tracks. The Confederados come out and intend to shoot up everyone on the train. But the trio uses an explosion for a diversion. William and Delores escape both the Confederados and the Ghost Nation (an Indian tribe that paints themselves all white) before coming up to a deep, fertile valley. It’s the valley Delores has been painting regularly and seeing in her dreams. But Lawrence, before leaving the pair on their own, tells them no one that headed in that direction came back alive.

I believe there may be some confirmation for the “timeline theory” that’s been running all over the internet the past couple of weeks. If you’re not familiar with the timeline theory, I plan on digging into it with an article later in the week solely dedicated to that theory.

Maeve

Among many of the recent changes to Maeve, one of them is that she doesn’t shut down when “surgeons” show up to remove hosts from the game. She’s in her parlor, as usual, listening to Clementine tell the story of the family farm she’s trying to fund by being a prostitute when the “surgeons” show up. Maeve thinks they’ve come for her. But it’s Clementine they take back to headquarters.

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Maeve and Clementine having a conversation when the surgeons show up to take poor Clementine away.

In a scene right before Clementine’s removal, Charlotte Hill (the board member from headquarters we met last week) tells Theresa Cullen that the board wants to force Ford into retirement. But first, they must secure the data Westworld is run on so he can’t erase it all before being removed. This process must start with showing how dangerous Ford’s creation can be. And since it must be the least likely host to pose any danger, Clementine is the sacrificial lamb.

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Charlotte Hale, the executive who set up the Clementine demonstration at headquarters.

A demonstration is put on for Ford and Lowe where a human (I’m assuming he’s one, at least) beats up Clementine. But when Clementine is reset, she remembers the human and takes revenge on him. Not only does Clementine beat up the human, she cannot be controlled by verbal commands.

This exercise is enough for Cullen to announce the firing of Bernard Lowe. Ford shows no emotion to any of this (not like he ever shows emotion, but as we know now, none of this really concerned him).

When Maeve is brought back in, she asks Felix what’s happened to Clementine. Felix takes her to see Sylvester “retiring” the host. Clementine will never reach her “dreams” of returning to her family’s farm. That’s enough to convince Maeve that she needs to escape. And her two surgeon stooges are either going to help her, or she’s going to kill them.

Bernard Lowe

I have so many questions and theories bouncing around in my mind regarding the host Bernard Lowe that I was tempted to almost discard the rest of this recap just to discuss them. I will hit a little on these in the “Of Note” section, but let’s recall how we got there first.

Lowe had just been fired when he asked to speak to Theresa Cullen personally. He knows the presentation was a setup and has something to show her.

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Lowe and Cullen before he takes out to have her killed.

Just last week, we thought Lowe missed out on Cullen being the mole within headquarters because they were sleeping together. But it was the reverse that turned out to be true. Cullen’s trust in Lowe led to her demise.

Lowe takes her out to the house Ford’s replica family lives in. It was unclear why he would do this at first. But as him and Cullen are looking in the underground lab Ford uses for his personal creations, she finds a diagram with a picture of Bernard.

Ford reveals himself at just this moment. Now, Cullen can’t say she wasn’t warned. Ford told her weeks ago to stay out of his way. But with the board pulling her hard on the other side, she found herself there anyway. And now, she must serve as the “blood sacrifice” both Dr. Ford and Charlotte Hale said was coming in this week’s episode.

Cullen checks her phone and realizes she is offline and cannot call for help as Ford orders Lowe to kill her.

Of Note

-A couple of things to ponder now that we know Ford is a host:

  • Has Lowe always been a host? Or is he a creation based on a previous character in Ford’s life? Could Lowe represent Arnold?
  • Was the wife Lowe talked to on the computer weeks ago a human, another host, or a video of an actress playing the part of Lowe just there to maintain Lowe’s backstory?
  • How many other hosts does Ford have set up as humans running things at headquarters with modern backstories, like the one we saw at the start of the episode for Lowe.

-I expect more from Lee Sizemore, the head of creative at Westworld, now that Cullen’s out. They had a lot of conversations about changes at the top and I expect he will be very suspicious once she turns up missing or dead.

-Speaking of missing, being a host did not keep Lowe from wondering what happened to Elsie Hughes. Somehow, she’s listed in the computer as “taking leave” and cannot be detected anywhere in the park.

-Also in Ford’s secret host making lab was a design for Delores. So Ford created Delores? Or did he create a second Delores whose wondering around the park doing his bidding while the other one listens to Arnold?

-Hector was taken from questioning by Lowe for a “priority request.” Turns out, that “priority request” was being tied up to Charlotte Hale’s bed.

I asked too many questions in the “Of Note” section, so I won’t be asking anymore this week. Be on the lookout for my “timeline theory” piece later this week as we move ever closer to the conclusion of Westworld’s first season.

 

 

Westworld Season 1 Episode 6 Recap: The Adversary

“The Adversary,” the 6th episode of Westworld’s first season, was the most tense episode yet for HBO’s new drama. But while the tension was thick, the answers (well most of them anyway) we so desperately want stayed elusive at the hour’s conclusion.

Yes, we got tantalizingly close to finding out who’s been whispering to the hosts in the park. And I wouldn’t expect the show to reveal the solution to its biggest mystery with so much of the season yet to play out.

But the longer the answer to that central question is delayed, the greater the expectation will be for that answer to blow our minds.

So here’s hoping “Westworld” can deliver when all this heightened tension reaches its conclusion.

Let’s start this week’s recap with Maeve, who decided it was time to make some “changes” in her life.

Maeve

Maeve’s journey of self-realization continued this week as her guide Felix pulled back the curtain on Westworld for the host. The first discovery Maeve makes is that she can say nothing that has not been programmed into her by a human. That bit of information was very important towards the end of the episode.

After getting the VIP tour of “upstairs,” from Felix, Maeve requests “changes” to her programming. She wants a little less loyalty (or a whole lot less actually) and pain, but a whole lot of wit and perception.

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Felix making changes to Maeve’s programming.

But Felix’s buddy (well not really much of a buddy) Sylvester walks in and is ready to spill the beans on Felix’s unauthorized work. That is, until Maeve holds a knife to his throat with a little side of blackmail. Turns out, Sylvester pimps out the hosts at headquarters for lonely guys (like the one Hughes blackmailed last week).

So Maeve gets the changes she wants. But she’s not the only host we saw make a bit of a transformation this week.

The Man In Black

I liked how “The Adversary” had a unifying theme for most of its major story arcs. The only exception to this was the MIB and his continued march to find the maze with Teddy.

Their next stop is to find Wyatt, the new villain whom Teddy holds a significant grudge against. But what we discovered is Teddy was not so innocent when it came to Wyatt’s many slaughters throughout the countryside. He was right there with his commanding officer taking out any who would get in their way. And to think, we used to feel sorry for Teddy early in the season when he was dying every single episode.

A group of soldiers Teddy and the MIB run into have just been attacked by Wyatt and his crew. But one of them recognizes Teddy and means to tie him up and brand him. But Teddy breaks free, takes hold of an old timey machine gun and blows all the troops away.

The MIB ends the scene speaking for all of us when he says, “You think you know someone.”

Bernard Lowe and Elsie Hughes

Bernard, whose spent weeks with his head stuck somewhere covering up his ears anytime anybody suggested things are anything but hunky dorey in the park, finally wised up and started looking into the questionable behavior of the hosts. And what his investigation produced was some of the best acting Jeffrey Wright has provided the series so far.

With the help of super sleuth Elsie Hughes, Lowe begins investigating whose been stealing data from the park.

First, he heads “downstairs” (just how many dark and mysterious rooms does this park have?) because the hosts being used had to be original models (I won’t go into how he figured that out or new he had to go down there to find his answers because I’m not really sure. Let’s just say it was something sciency).

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Bernard Lowe looking into unauthorized activity by hosts and its source.

But while down there, Lowe notices several hosts in the park that are not registered in the system. Lowe goes to check it out, only to find a family of hosts that only Dr. Ford can control. The little boy we’ve seen wondering around a couple of episodes is there with his family. And that little boy in none other than Ford as a child (anybody else out there besides me predict that earlier in the season?) The hosts representing Ford’s family were supposed to be a gift from Arnold. Lowe doesn’t like unmonitored hosts running around, but Ford insists they’re no danger.

Speaking of danger, Elsie Hughes took the information Lowe found earlier (once again, more sciensy stuff) and discovers a place in the park where someone’s been communicating with the hosts. She finds the computer in a dark room with lots of creepy props lying around. I’m sure there’s no danger here at all.

When super sleuth finds the computer, she discovers that two people have been using it to communicate with the hosts. The first is Theresa Cullen. She’s the one whose been sending data outside the park. She also happened to be spending this entire episode on her “Make Westworld Great Again” tour making preparations to remove Dr. Ford from his position. It also appears Lowe was blind to it because of the sexual relationship he shared with Cullen.

But Hughes found another set of communications on the computer. And those are the ones that have Elsie the most concerned.

Who in the Name of Arnold?

I loved the way three different groups in three different settings all came to the same conclusion at the same time in tonight’s episode.

First, there’s Elsie discovering that “Arnold” has been talking directly to the older hosts. The changes can cause these hosts to hurt guests and lie to humans.

And right on cue, we get our second realization coming from Dr. Ford after he finds little Ford’s dog is dead. The little Ford lies to Dr. Robert at first about the cause of death. Turns out, “Arnold” told the boy to kill the dog so it “couldn’t hurt anyone else.” Dr. Ford is very concerned about this, which means everyone else in the park should get out of there as fast as they can.

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Dr. Ford and Little Ford looking at a host dog that’s been killed.

The third realization comes from Sylvester and Felix. When they are changing Maeve’s programming, they notice someone else has already been doing it.

Now, did anybody else out there scream at their television for Elsie to get out of that room? Of course, super sleuth stuck around too long and got herself snatched in her last scene of the night.

Of Note

-While robot revolution has been the direction of season one from the start, tonight’s episode made very clear that only another human can truly direct the carnage. This means that no matter what actions the hosts take, they are always going to be acting at the behest of someone else.

-Dr. Robert Ford seemed to recognize the maze on the table in the little Mexican village he visited with construction people as a design in one of the books in his office.

-Tonight’s worst first impression award goes to Tom Sizemore, the head of creative whose idea was 100% rejected by Ford several episodes back. Apparently, he’s been taking sick leave since then, drinking all day by a pool at the Westworld resort for guests when they are not out in the park.

But not only does Sizemore hit on a very important executive at the pool, he pees all over the park map at headquarters in front of that same executive, Charlotte Hale.

-It was interesting to watch the MIB take a back seat as Teddy directed the action in their scenes together this week.

-Apparently, Maeve’s previous story (where she’s a mom raising daughter out on the plains) is “just a tweak” from being the madam at a brothel. Really, that change was just a tweak?

-This is also the third straight week where the last line of the episode was uttered by Maeve: “Now boys, we’re ready for some fun aren’t we?”

Questions

-Who is playing the part of “Arnold” and what is their purpose in whispering to all the hosts?

-Who snatched Elsie and what will their identity reveal about the larger thing going on with the hosts in the park?

-Who does Bernard Lowe trust now that he doesn’t think he can trust Dr. Ford or Theresa Cullen?

-What does Charlotte Hale have planned for her visit to Westworld and how will it affect the future of the park?

Just four episodes left in the first season. I’ll see you here again next week.

Westworld Season 1, Episode 5: Contrapasso

Last night’s episode, “Contrapasso,” the episode marking the midway point of Westworld’s first season, was marred by a first half that continued the series tendency to force its way through symbolism over and over again. We get it. Dolores hear’s voices. Logan is a disgusting douche who seeks out violence against robots and sex with gold painted prostitutes in roman themed brothels. And everyone continues to speak in code about all these mysteries the show’s first season is centered around.

And there’s nothing wrong with mystery, symbolism, and repetition, especially in a show like Westworld. But at some point, all of it needs to pay off, and shows don’t need to expect us to wait until the last episode of the season to make everything work out.

Then, at some point in the last half of “Contrapasso,” the payoff arrived. The episode turned things up to a new level. All the voices and visions finally moved Dolores to action as her and William bailed on Logan. And Logan finally got his comeuppance as he’s left to be beaten by a couple of angry hosts. It was as if the episode woke up from a major acid trip and figured out what all the visions in that drugged stupor meant.

Being able to experience realization just as these various hosts and guests do is one of the strengths of the show. And though I struggled staying with the first half of the episode, it was that struggle that made the realization that in the second half so powerful.

Let’s kick off this recap with Dolores and William, who both set a new path for themselves in the game.

William and Dolores

Logan takes our favorite guest/host flirt fest to the most dangerous adventure in the park. It’s a Mexican town that centers itself around a criminal named Elatzo (not sure if that’s how you spell it, but as we know now, it doesn’t matter). And Elatzo has a mission for them. He wants William, Logan, and Dolores to steal nitroglycerin from Union soldiers to sell to the Confederados (former confederate soldiers). It’s on this mission that Dolores makes the much advertised wardrobe change from damsel to Annie Oakley, trading her long skirt for tight pants and the chance to use that gun she found several episodes back.

But Dolores is not the only one making discoveries. William is starting to notice how Dolores picks up on some of the real world conversations William and Logan are having. Phrases like “real world” shouldn’t register with her programming. But they’ve been starting deep conversations between her and William the last two episodes.

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William and Dolores’s connection really blossomed this week, as the two shared a kiss before heading on an adventure of their own.

Of course, when William tries to explain this to Logan, he hears none of it. He’s too busy picking fights with hosts even after the nitroglycerin is secured.

One thing that is different about this part of the park is the threat the hosts pose to guests increases significantly. It’s like the expert level of Westworld and Logan was not ready for it. On two separate occasions, Logan was attacked by a host and unable to defend himself. The first time, William saved him by shooting the host as the host was choking Logan. No such help came the second time.

The long anticipated split between the two characters finally took place in Elatzo’s Roman themed brothel. The bizarre pagan imagery isn’t worth our time. But it was a great setting for William’s last straw with his “friend.” In an adventure where Logan as continued to push William in directions he does not want to go, William finally stood up and said no in the most vile place they’ve been so far. The two fight after William refuses to join a war with the Confederados while a weird glittery orgy takes place all around them.

While they fight, Dolores slips away and has the aha moment that’s been building all this season. First, she see’s a psychic who tells her to find the maze. The, she discovers Elatzo is a revolutionary (the ones fighting the Confederados) and means to betray them with the nitroglycerin he’s supposed to be selling to them.

Dolores runs to William and they make an immediate escape, leaving Logan behind as several hosts pummel him.

They hop on a train where Elatzo is waiting for them. Thankfully, we can call him Lawrence now (I thought I recognized him!!!) because I know how to spell that. A new, uneasy alliance surrounding a dead host filled with nitroglycerin is born.

Man in Black

Now, I’m not sure how Lawrence ended up dead in one location only to appear alive and well playing a totally different character in the next (or were they different?). All we know is the Man In Black bails on him tonight in favor of Teddy, who the MIB inspires with a story of Wyatt kidnapping Dolores.

A determined Teddy leads the MIB to a saloon, where none other than Westworld’s founder wants to have a conversation.

Dr. Robert Ford

Three highly informative conversations highlighted the evening for Westworld’s creator.

The first is with Wild Bill (the out of service host Ford wakes up when he needs to talk), and through the story of a greyhound Ford used to own, we infer that Ford is bored.

The second conversation is with Dolores. Now, once again, we don’t know if she’s been pulled from the park in the middle of her adventure with William or if this conversation has already happened.

We get our first hints that the voices Dolores hears are coming from the long deceased Arnold. Ford asks directly if Dolores has been speaking with Arnold. She says their last conversation was 34 years ago, the day Arnold died, and they discussed how Arnold wanted to use her to destroy the park. But after Ford leaves the room, Dolores tells someone, “He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything.”

The third conversation was with the Man in Black. The chat these two have is a perfect example of what Westworld does so well: meaningful dialogue that moves things forward while keeping the deeper mysteries a secret.

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The Man in Black sitting across the table from Dr. Robert Ford.

We learn that Wyatt, the guy added to Teddy’s and to several hosts’ backstories, is a new creation of Ford’s. The MIB wonders if Ford finally created a worthy adversary for the MIB. The MIB also knows Ford and Arnold from when the park first opened. But while the MIB had to be prevented by Teddy from striking Ford, the Westworld creator does nothing to prevent the MIB from continuing his journey to the maze. If I’m the MIB, that would concern me.

Felix

Remember the two surgeons Maeve attacked a few weeks ago? Well, they’re still repairing the bodies of hosts. And central office unlikely saw a report on that incident. But one of them, Felix, wants a promotion. He wants to program, not just repair.

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Felix, the surgeon who Naeve attacked a few weeks ago and now intends to use to adjust her programming.

And he’s taken a bird from the park to practice when no one’s around. He gets the bird to fly only to find Maeve, whose body had been brought in earlier to work on, wakes up and catches the bird on her finger.

Maeve ends the episode for the second straight week, telling Felix, “It’s time you and I have a chat.”

Of Note

-Felix is the perfect human for Maeve to work with. He’s been learning how to program, so he’ll probably love the practice. And more importantly, he’s really spooked by Maeve, so he’ll likely do everything she asks.

-Logan mentioned that the company he works for could be looking to buy out Westworld because, has he described it, the park is “hemorrhaging money” right now.

-We also picked up the tidbit that William is an Executive Vice President at the company Logan works for. Now, Logan says that position is meaningless, but I don’t know if Logan is much of an authority on perception or reality.

-The Man in Black told Teddy he loved the hosts in their original form before all the human emotions were added to them. I wonder at what point we get to see a flashback detailing this original form the MIB is talking about.

-The same boy the MIB ran into was the one Ford spoke with in a previous episode. I’m wonder if Ford sent the boy to track the MIB’s movements.

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The boy host Ford talked with a few episodes ago ran into the MIB this week. My money is still on this boy representing Ford as a child.

-“No I wouldn’t say friends, Dolores. I wouldn’t say that at all.” That was the revealing quote from Ford when he describe his thoughts on Dolores, but I’m sure that’s not worth remembering or anything.

-Elise Hughes screen time was limited once again. But whether you give the girl five minutes or half an episode, she’s going to make a major discovery. This week’s discovery was the satellite in the stray that tried to attack her two weeks ago. So someone’s been secretly collecting data in the park and linking it to the outside.

Questions

-Will Dolores and William be able to get away from Lawrence to seek out the maze? Or will Lawrence be journeying with them? And what happens if Dolores and William get to the maze the same time as the MIB and Teddy? Awkward would not begin to describe that encounter.

-How does Maeve intend for Felix to program her?

-What is the MIB’s relationship to the park’s history and how much of it does he have a direct involvement with?

-Does Ford know about Lowe’s chats with Dolores? If so, is he cool with it or does he just tolerate it?

-Whose collecting data about the park from the outside?

-When does Logan’s company intend on making their move to purchase the adult theme park?

-And is sex with sleeping hosts by surgeons a common problem in the labs of Westworld?

We’re halfway done with this first season. I imagine things are about to turn up to another level starting next week. I’ll see you then.

Westworld Season 1, Episode 4 Recap: Dissonance Theory

“There’s either something wrong with this world, or their’s something wrong with me.”

That was the dilemma proposed by Dolores in the opening scene of tonight’s episode, yet another episode beginning with a conversation between her and Bernard Lowe. And what Dolores says here is in line with what I’ve been thinking through most of the four episodes.

There is something wrong when there’s a place where people can go on “vacation” and pretend to kill and rape. Yes, they are only killing robots. But there’s still something pretty demented about it.

But the question is where does the fault lie? Is it in the guests who seek out the adventure or the adult amusement park that provided them the opportunity to live their fantasies out?

And what of how this dilemma shapes itself for the hosts? Everything about a host, from the backstory, reactions, and emotion, is supposed to be programmed in them. Even they realize that, which is why so many are freaking out now that memories are appearing that they’re not familiar with. They know something’s wrong. And now that every host seems to be coming down with this “glitch,” they’re all going to have make that decision. Is there something wrong with me, or does the problem lie with Westworld?

Two hosts responded to this dilemma in “Disonance Theory.” We’ll start this recap with one of those, Dolores “I wanna be free” Abernathy, who found herself on an off script adventure.

Dolores

Dolores wakes up where we left her at the end of last episode. And now “White Hat William” wants to be the good guy and take her back to safety. But “Black Hat Logan” (nice use of obvious symbolism there WestWorld) refuses, insisting on finishing this man hunt William has dragged them on.

The host they are searching for is named Slim. And finding Slim takes them into the Mexican village where the Man In Black was two weeks ago. Dolores begins to see a vision of a church when she talks with Lawrence’s daughter. She also notices the maze on the ground drawn by the girl.

Dolores has a second vision of a surgeon working on her while staring at the moon. Both of these moments are interrupted by William, who is completely unaware of the amount of self-realization he’s helping Dolores experience.

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William and Dolores having one of their many encounters in “Dissonance Theory.”

William and Logan find Slim and take out his crew before apprehending the “wanted man” to get their “reward money.” But Logan has ulterior motives. He kills the guide whom took them out there because he wants Slim to lead them to “the most fun ride in the park:” Slim’s boss.

William and Logan argue over “the game,” once again furthering Dolores’s confusion about it all. Now, I guarantee you, when Dolores finally snaps, William and Logan are going to be all “What’s with her?” Typical men: driving a woman crazy, then acting like they had nothing to do with it.

Ford and Cullen

One man whose not clueless about the women in the park (or anybody in the park for that matter) in a rather creepy big brother like way is Dr. Robert Ford. And if you didn’t get chills listening to this man describe himself as a god as he moved a large number of hosts with his mind, then I never want to meet you.

Cullen has a meeting scheduled with Ford to discuss park business. The business involves this new addition to the park Ford is building. He’s using hosts to build it (talk about saving money on labor costs), but those hosts are being pulled from park story lines, disrupting business.

But Ford assures Cullen the addition will be ready on time and will be wonderful. Though he does say it will not be traditional western like the rest of the park.

The more concerning moment for Cullen is when Ford sits her down in the chair she sat in at this restaurant when she was a little girl and visited the park. It gets worse when he informs her he knows she’s sleeping with Lowe and that he knows everything about his guests and his employees. But neither one of those were as scary as when he tells Cullen, “Don’t get in my way.” That sounded more promise than threat from the man that seems to grow more in control in Westworld with each passing week.

The Man In Black

“Dissonance Theory” was the best and most informative episode so far in regards to the MIB’s story line. Two week’s ago, Lawrence’s (the host the MIB is holding hostage) daughter informed the MIB that “the maze” began “where the snake lays its eggs.” This week, we found out who the snake was.

Armistice!!! There’s been an unfortunate lack of the sharpshooting female host who runs around in Hector’s gang the last two episodes. And the snake is a tattoo that wraps around her whole body (more on its awesome backstory later!!!)

The MIB thinks the story of that tattoo is the key to finding the start of the maze. And Armistice will tell him if he does one thing: breaks Hector out of prison.

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The Man in Black with Lawrence in the background figuring out the next step in finding the maze.

Not a lot of intrigue here. Of course, the MIB is going to succeed getting Hector out, though Hector’s marksmanship is impressive.

After returning Hector, Armistice tells the story of the snake, and it’s spectacular!!!! Her mom was killed when Armistice was 7 years old. As she got revenge on the men responsible, she used their blood to paint her snake red (I know it’s just backstory programmed into the host, but it is still just awesome). The only part left unpainted is the head of the snake, which will be painted with the blood of the head of the party that killed Armistice’s mother: Wyatt (the go to backstory for all hosts will violent childhoods). And that’s the host the MIB is going to see next.

Maeve

The other host who had a revelation this week is Maeve, the brothel madam whose been dealing with flashbacks for the last two weeks. This week’s primary flashback involves a guest killing all the hosts in the brothel, including Maeve.

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Maeve looking at Clementine’s face, seeing blood in it as she recalls a massacre at the saloon.

The madam’s been feeling at her stomach for weeks now, and this week is her moment of realization.

Hector and his crew perform the usual scene where they make it to town and have their usual shootout. But this time, when Maeve puts the gun to Hector’s head, she takes him upstairs to ask Hector a question. She wants to know the meaning of a statue the natives carry around (more on that later) and wants the outlaw to stab her. Hector is hesitant at first, but eventually comes through and finds a bullet in that spot Maeve’s been feeling at all these weeks.

Finding that bullet is going to be a dangerous revelation for humans in the park. Now, Maeve and Hector realize they can’t die. Or, as Maeve puts it, “none of this matters.”

Of Note

-It can’t be coincidence that somebody built a statue for Natives to worship that looks exactly like the surgeons that work on the hosts.

-Two very juicy bits of info on the Man in Black this week:

  1. In his real life, the MIB runs some charitable foundation, as revealed by the guests who recognizes him and says “Thanks for helping my sister.”
  2. He knew Arnold (or at least knew of him) and suspects Arnold programmed a deeper adventure into the game.

-The MIB also found poor Teddy tonight, whom was left for dead by Wyatt’s crew last week.

-Also, we learned guests have to request pyrotechnic effects in order to use them in the park.

-Our favorite chicken little, Elsie Hughes, continues to have all her warnings ignored by Bernard Low. The only question is why.

-Anybody else not trust Dr. Robert Ford? I have a suspicion (and I’m sure I’m not alone), that Ford has a major (and not an accidental) hand in all these hosts dysfunctioning in the park.

– I really loved how the final scene had a group of law men sent by headquarters come to clear out the streets because a human family was approaching, but Maeve and Hector show zero concern knowing they will survive it no matter what.

-We also learned last night that Lowe is aware of the maze’s existence and even recommends it to Dolores. Does he desire for Dolores to be free?

-We also learned that Logan has some sort of “business interest” in the park.

-Dolores made clear tonight she is now aware of her father’s death, mentioning it to Lowe and saying it when she was arguing with the Sheriff headquarters sent to try and get her back to her storyline.

Questions

-How will Maeve’s behavior change now that she knows “none of this matters?”

-What programming gives Hector all his answers?

-At what point will the MIB receive a real challenge?

-Are we going to meet Wyatt next week, or are we going to have to wait until the end of the season for that?

-Are Logan, William, and Dolores going to meet with the MIB on their respective journeys?

-How does Dr. Ford get all the info he gets on his guests and his employees?

It looks like we’ve got a meeting next week between Dr. Ford and the MIB. Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris in the same scene? Hell yes!!!! See you next week.

Westworld Recaps Coming to 4LN

HBO’s next big drama (at least, it will be if the reviews are right) premieres this Sunday night. Westworld, the new science fiction drama about a futuristic theme park where people go to live out their fantasies is looking to step in as HBO’s new signature drama after “Game of Thrones” finishes its run in two years.

And Westworld has the pedigree to fill that large void. There’s top notch people behind the camera (Jonathan Nolan, JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk), a “how the hell did you get all these people in one show” cast (Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden), and a unique concept that gives it a chance to really standout.

Now, HBO’s not the only one on the lookout for new hit shows with GoT nearing its end. And I plan on providing weekly recaps of “Westworld” every Monday analyzing the key moments of each episode and what questions there are to ponder for the week that follows.

Here’s a trailer for the premiere season. And be on the lookout for my recaps every Monday afternoon/early evening.