Four Letter Nerd

Westworld Season 1, Episode 3: The Stray

For the first time (but unlikely to be the last), I want to talk about what might be the central dilemma a viewer must mull over when watching Westworld: should we feel sorry for the hosts?

The answer seems so obvious with the horrible way many guests use the hosts to fulfill their most sadistic fantasies. And the pattern is repeated for them everyday. Everyday, someone will kill Teddy either while he’s trying to apprehend a criminal or defending Dolores. And Dolores will end everyday raped by someone whose just killed her father and/or the love of her life (because as we learned this week, that is the actual story written for the two cursed lovers).

But as Dr. Ford reminded us so harshly this week, these robots aren’t real. They only feel what’s programmed in them. Even all these memories flooding back into their minds are put there because someone else (with the “who” being a major dilemma for season 1) is telling them to.

So should we feel sorry for these artificial hosts whose every thought, even the rebellious ones, are put their by humans? Or do we focus more on the various motivations of the humans who use them as their pawns?

Let’s start with one of those humans (Bernard Lowe) as we learned more about his backstory and motivations this episode.

Bernard Lowe

We started this week’s episode the same way we’ve started every other episode: a conversation between Bernard Lowe and Delores. Talk to an attractive, sensitive host for two weeks and maybe it’s just a part of your job. But three weeks in a row? It’s clear Lowe is not just talking to Dolores every week because his position calls for it.

The first piece of evidence of this is Lowe making sure Dolores still “hasn’t told anyone about our conversations.” The second is the copy of “Alice in Wonderland” Lowe gives to her. And this is not the first book he’s given to the host.

Now why would Lowe feel the need to talk with Dolores, the park’s oldest host, secretly on a regular basis? It turns out the man had a son die at a young age. The boy’s name was Charlie and Lowe later talks with the boy’s mother over webcam (though we’re never told whether Lowe is still with her).

So as Lowe continues to struggle with the loss of his son, he continues to meet with Dolores and share his thoughts and feelings with her. Lowe is clearly conflicted: does he envy the hosts who have their memories erased every day or does he want to hold onto the pain so he’ll never forget his son?

Arnold

Another significantly important conversation was another between Bernard Lowe and Dr. Robert Ford. And once again, the concern was the cause of the bizarre behavior with the hosts.

Lowe is concerned the “disease” could still be out there. He also has information from Elsie “best damn robot scientist in the world” Hughes that all these hosts are speaking to the same voice: the voice of Arnold.

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Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) discussing Arnold, the other founder of Westworld.

Ford says Arnold was the man who opened the park with him many years ago. But unlike Ford, who just wanted an experience for customers, Arnold wanted to create a consciousness within the robots. He vaguely mentions how Arnold would only interact with the hosts and that it is likely he died in the park. That’s right Dr. Ford. I’m sure there’s nothing more to see here, so we should all just move along (wink wink).

The Stray

Back at headquarters, a “stray” (a host whose escaped its storyline and is now on its own) is discovered. Elsie (mighty convenient she got sent on a mission right after a major discovery I’ll discuss later) and Stubbs (the other Hemsworth) are sent out into the park to track it down and neutralize it.

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Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) out with Stubbs searching for the stray host.

First, they find the party the stray left. Turns out, the host was doing some carving of constellations on the back of a turtle he carved. Then, Stubbs and Hughes follow the trail he left and find he is under that very constellation in the sky, hiding between two rocks and bleeding heavily.

But just as Stubbs is doing work on the host (I bet he was in sleep mode as well), the host wakes up and attacks them. He picks up a rock and is ready to strike Hughes down with it when Stubbs, somehow, gets control of the host and forces it to pound its own head in with the rock. We’ll see next week how Ford and Lowe excuse this behavior from another run amuck host.

Teddy and Dolores

We also got a lot more information on all the gory details of the twisted storyline involving Teddy and Dolores. The pieces we gathered in the first episode were enough to sadden us, knowing these two have love programmed in them that will never come to fruition.

But we learned tonight from Dr. Ford himself that Dolores is meant for the sick bastard who wants to take her after having killed Teddy, her family, or both. So the Man in Black’s “adventure” in the first episode was not just the MIB acting on his own. That was an actual storyline programmed into the park.

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Teddy and Dolores talking about their “future” together before he goes off to catch another wanted man.

We also see another part of Teddy’s storyline as he joins a search party seeking out criminals. But this time, the wanted man is rooted in a backstory (that has Teddy once being a soldier) added into Teddy’s programming by Dr. Ford.

But while Teddy is seeking this man (named Wyatt), his party is ambushed. The only members of the party left are Teddy and the female guests who’d been riding with him. As she is getting away, Teddy is surrounded by men in hoods holding axes. Now in an earlier scene, there was a group out in the wild that Hughes and Stubbs found the stray had left. That group had axes, and so do these men. But when Teddy tries to shoot them, his gun has no effect just like it did when he tried to shoot the Man in Black in the first episode. Were these men hosts or guests?

As for Dolores, the love of her life not making it out of the wild still doesn’t keep her from the end of her story. She shows back up at the house. The cattle are out (which “father would never do after dark”), her father is dead, and outlaws are waiting for her when she walks up to the house. At least one of this crew is a guest (we saw him scared of Teddy earlier). But the guy who takes Dolores to the barn appears to be a host. He offers her to the guest, but he refuses, as Westworld has yet to turn him into an unfeeling evil douchebag.

But was it really a host who took her in that barn? Dolores gets thrown down on the hay only to find the gun hiding there waiting for her. We saw the gun earlier in the episode, but it was in her bedroom drawer. How the hell did it get here? And when she shoots it, it actually kills her attacker. Now, that would make us think it’s a host because host aren’t supposed to be able to kill guests. But was that gun she used one that’s been programmed to do that? She did just kind of find it laying in the dirt. Damn you Westworld and all your “Is he a host or is he not” tomfoolery.

William

As for our first time guest from last week, William is starting to gain confidence navigating his way through the world. First, he gets shot (which only leaves a bruise), but gets up and kills a wanted criminal who was escaping arrest. Then, he tells Logan what’s up as he decides to go out on his own adventure, following the directions of a wanted sign.

The final scene has the two men out camping by a fire and Logan pissed off he’s not banging another prostitute when Dolores walks up and faints in William’s arms. William took a liking to her last week when he picked up the can. Is this the continuation of another storyline where Dolores is swooned and won over by an honorable cowboy? Or has she gone off the grid with her escape from the barn?

Of Note

-Elsie Hughes made the big discovery to Lowe this week that in week one, when Walter (the guy who drank the milk) was shooting up the saloon, he was targeting people who had killed him in previous storylines. Lowe’s response: go out and find a random stray we need to track down. Right now, I can’t chalk that up to coincidence.

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Hughes showing more odd host behavior to Lowe.

-It was clear this week my initial thoughts on Dr. Ford and his respect for the hosts of Westworld were completely false. When a scientist covers up a naked host, Ford harshly criticizes him, saying “they don’t feel anything.” And the whole story with Arnold made Ford sound like the complete opposite of what I thought he was. Unless, maybe Arnold is not a different person, but actually represents what Ford used to be? I know that’s a wild theory, but I thought I might throw that out there.

-Cullen made a brief appearance tonight.  She was concerned that Ford’s new project he told us about last week is disrupting the park.

-We also see that Maeve, despite her near escape at headquarters last week, was returned to the park. My guess is the two surgeons didn’t tell anyone what happened so they wouldn’t get in trouble for nearly losing her.

-It’s been mentioned before, but Logan confirmed that Westworld cost guests $40,000 a day. No wonder headquarters let’s them do whatever they want in the park.

Questions

-Who is Arnold, and when (not if) is he going to come up again?

-What is the adventure of William and Dolores going to be like? And will Teddy involve himself in anyway?

-Who were those people/hosts who attacked Teddy in his final scene this week?

-What will the fall out be when Lowe’s conversations with Dolores are discovered?

-Will anybody be concerned at all when Stubbs and Hughes return with a host who tried to attack them?

Expect more about the Maze and Dr. Ford’s new project next week. See you then.

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Jeff Merrick

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