“Trace Decay” picks up moments after Ford orders Bernard to kill Theresa. What’s interesting about this scene is that Ford is allowing Bernard to deal with the fallout of what he’s just done, if only for a short time. It’s truly heartbreaking to see Bernard suffer this way because we can actually see his pain and anguish caused by being forced to kill his lover. Meanwhile, Ford is marveling at the depths of emotion the host displaying.
The discussion that follows is probably the most compelling conversation we heard all season. Thanks in small part to Jeffrey Wright’s performance, we see a whole range from heartbreak and anger to distance and despair. When Ford takes away some of Bernard’s mental pressure — it looked like he was about to throttle Ford out of anger — you can see all of those intense emotions leave Wright’s face.
Ford decides not to make Bernard forget everything that’s happened. At least, not yet. In true manipulative form, Ford uses Bernard’s despair as a motivator. Theresa’s body still needs to be dealt with without drawing suspicion to either of them. So in exchange for wiping away Bernard’s memory of the murder as well as his affair, Bernard must stage Theresa’s cause of death and erase all romantic connection with Theresa that has ever been documented by surveillance.
I’m not sure if Ford is aware that Bernard’s affair with Theresa has not gone completely unnoticed. Stubbs, head of security, definitely knew about their relationship and is alerted to Bernard’s strange response when he offers his condolences.
The scene between Ford and Bernard really blurs the line between what is real and what isn’t. Is Bernard experiencing his feelings naturally, or is his program making him think this is the correct response to have? Is Bernard truly having an existential crisis? These are the questions brought forward on which to chew. Can the hosts be “real” if they can feel emotions exactly as humans do?
Speaking of human emotion, Ford also takes this time to explain why he created Bernard in the first place. The human engineers “weren’t up to the task” of making lifelike hosts. He explains that the techs weren’t able to identify nor program the abstract idea of “heart” — that place in between conflicting emotions. Bernard is in a unique spot in where he can understand the full spectrum of human emotion, feel it, and then translate it into a code.
What truly only sets humans and hosts apart is the humans’ ability to manipulate the hosts’ emotions and memories. To a point, as we’re finding out. Bernard asks Ford about the specificity of his memories — were his wife and kid even real? In a very Ford way, he explains that Bernard’s memories mere stories that make him seem lifelike. “We can’t define consciousness because consciousness does not exist,” Ford says. He then assures the host that he never hurt anyone else other than Theresa. Seconds before Ford alters Bernard’s relationship with Theresa — from intimate to strictly professional — Bernard briefly remembers choking Elsie in the abandoned theater.
The rest of the episode feels like they’re stalling before finally answering some questions in the final two episodes.
Dolores and William finally reach the town that has been showing up in Dolores’ dreams only to find it completely empty. Her mind begins playing tricks on her again as she remembers the town in a previous memory, which draws up a familiar past we’ve seen in an earlier episode. We’re transported to an earlier time at the park where the hosts are learning how to dance. Then gunfire erupts and Dolores finds herself standing among dead bodies. The only other person left standing is another version of herself, making us assume that she was the one who did the killing. She unconsciously raises the gun to her own head. She’s copying the movements of the other Dolores, but William intervenes and “wakes” the host out of her dream. She then says, “This is what Arnold wants.” For her to comes back? To finish what she started? What did Arnold want her to do???
William ushers Dolores away from the town, which has that mysterious black steeple, by the way. As they’re leaving, they’re discovered by a calvary of Union soldiers; Logan among them.
Elsewhere, Teddy’s past stirs a little bit the more he talks with MiB. After a confrontation with Wyatt’s men, he remembers a the time when MiB dragged Dolores away to the barn. As a result, he knocks MiB out and ties him up. When MiB wakes up, Teddy starts asking who he really is. It’s here that we learn of MiB’s tragic backstory: His wife took the wrong pills and fell asleep in the bath. Believing her accidental death was a suicide, MiB’s daughter blamed him for the death. In a quest to find himself, he returned to the park and brutally killed a homesteader and her daughter. The homesteader? Maeve.
In a sense, MiB seems to be our human connect to the purpose of Westworld. We’ve often heard that the park allows guests the freedom to show just what kind of persons they are. MiB’s daughter said that he had a cold rage/darkness inside him that frightened his wife and eventually drove her to suicide. He never laid a hand on his family. Instead, we’re led to believe that he took out all of his fury out on the hosts. He may be an upstanding entrepreneur in the real world, but he’s possibly his true self in the park. Ed Harris’ beautifully delivered monologue made me think that MiB suffers from sociopathy equivalent to that of serial killers. But instead of killing real people, killing hosts seems to be enough. His murdering Maeve and her daughter — who I assume MiB used as representations of his wife and daughter — might have proved something he was only partially aware of.
Speaking of Maeve, her plan on how to leave Westworld begins to take shape.
Maeve knows about the explosive failsafe hidden in her spine and demands administrative privileges from Sylvester. The poor guy has been in a panic through this whole process, and an investigation on Theresa’s death doesn’t make it any easier on his nerves. He pleads with Maeve to return to the park. Maeve isn’t listening to him at all. She’s more curious about the layers and layers of information hidden just out of reach inside her brain. Then she asks who Arnold is. Clearly there’s a hidden objective that hasn’t been unlocked yet. (Yeah…that’s definitely something we humans love hearing from an artificial intelligence.) As she is now, Maeve is still too limited if she wants to make her escape happen. She requests a trip to Behavior for even more modification. Sylvester sidebars with Lutz outside their room and talks of a plan to betray Maeve and shut her down completely.
The techs wheel Maeve to Behavior during a shift change where she tells them how to change her code. Thinking Lutz shut her down, Sylvester berates Lutz for making such a mess. Maeve suddenly wakes up and demonstrates her new abilities on Sylvester. Lutz altered her core code, specifically the line that prevents her from fatally harming a human. Now she is able to slit Sylvester’s throat unhindered. With Maeve’s permission, Lutz stops the bleeding. “Now,” she states, “it’s time to recruit my army.”
That’s not all she can do. She can now make any host do her bidding by narrating at them their next move. With this, she totally changes the outcome of the safe heist makes other hosts cover her escape from Sweetwater’s law enforcement when she accidentally slits the new Clementine’s throat — she was reliving another memory where she remembered fighting back against MiB. Of course, the latter action alerted Stubbs. So now Maeve will have to deal with security chasing after.
I sort of glossed over the hosts’ ability to remember certain events in their respective pasts. Unlike humans who can’t recall perfect memories, hosts can remember them vividly. So much so, that they feel like they’re living that memory. Only Maeve is privy to this fact, but she’s not immune. Dolores, on the other hand, actually thinks she’s losing grip with reality. Standing in the abandoned town caused her to relive old memories, ultimately confusing her own timeline. Don’t worry, Dolores. We don’t know when you are either.
Getting back to Teddy and MiB, the woman they found left for dead among Wyatt’s victims turns out to be a plant from his gang. She injures Teddy and says “You’ve been gone a long while, Theodore. It’s time you came back to the fold.” That’s when Wyatt’s men surround the camp.
The theory about William actually being MiB from the past seems to gaining some ground. Wyatt’s plant is the same host who welcomed William to Westworld in the second episode. MiB recognized the host right away and makes a comment on how the park hates wasting a pretty face despite how old they actually are.
- “It’s all a story created by you to keep me here. But that’s not going to work any longer. I’m getting out.”
- “You never understand, the game is rigged. You’re here to be the loser. You see, the house always wins.”
- “This pain is all I have left of her.”
- We often attribute emotional and physical pain to what ultimately makes us alive. It’s a trope often explored when dealing with A.I.s. MiB saw Maeve more alive than he was when he watched the dying woman carry her daughter away. We see it in Bernard when he becomes angry at Ford for making him kill Theresa.
- Ford obviously doesn’t believe in the concept of a soul, which I guess he refers to as “consciousness.” Arnold did, however, which seems to have started the huge rift between the partners. Because Arnold believed that the hosts were now alive, he became consumed with guilt.
- It also sounds like Ford had Arnold killed. Since Dolores’ concept drawing was found with Bernard’s, I’m guessing Ford told her to kill him.
- Charlotte brings Lee into her plans of smuggling code out for Westworld. Why she chose the previous Peter Abernathy is beyond me.
- Clementine’s freak out last week may have been fabricated, but now we know that it’s totally possible. In one of Maeve’s flashbacks, she wouldn’t respond to Behavior techs’ commands. She was inconsolable (because she still believes that her daughter is dead) until Ford himself had to step in and use a different method to calm her down.
- Thinking on MiB’s backstory again, he’s basically a gamer blowing off steam inside a game. Does that make me a monster???