The chips are down in this week’s Westworld. Time for the players to show their hands. Major spoilers ahead.
By this point, there’s no question that Ford is a monster. Whatever the initial reason he had Arnold killed — polar opposite ideologies concerning the hosts, how to run the park, etc — the fact that Ford was later compelled to bring back his old partner is even more interesting. The one major difference with this is now he has a like-minded partner whom he can control.
If you haven’t guessed about which host I am talking about, Bernard is Arnold. Or rather Ford built Bernard to look and think and behave just like his deceased partner, Arnold.
It’s messed up if you think about it. In the three years holed up developing and perfecting the main attractions for Westworld, one developed a god complex while the other felt more and more guilty once he realized the hosts were becoming sentient. The latter didn’t want to continue on with their plans, the former did. Conflict, then death, and Ford is suddenly alone with no one smart enough to share his vision. But decades have passed between Arnold’s death and Bernard’s awakening. Ford’s complex is firmly integrated into his personality, and he can’t afford another potential coup from his old friend. Hence a backdoor code that will let Ford control any host in the park even when others can’t. At least…that’s what I’ve come to understand. There’s definitely a complicated history between Ford and Arnold, and by extension Bernard. One that I hope we’ll come to understand more as the series continues.
For Bernard to learn the truth about Arnold, however, he himself had to dig deep within his memories. Since the first we met Bernard, he’s been reliving the pain caused by the death of his young son. We know now this is just a backstory meant to drive Bernard’s narrative and his personality. Once he is able to face the pain of his son’s death, however, he is able to step farther than he ever has and unlock the truth to his origin. Alas, this is when we discover that Ford is still in control and orders Bernard to shoot himself in the head once he leaves the room.
Whether Bernard is truly dead remains to be seen. It would be a shame if we lost Jeffrey Wright as an amazing performer; he brought so much to the role. Maybe there’s a backup somewhere we don’t know about.
Another bomb-dropping revelation happened with Dolores’ storyline. Maybe it’s the time in which I watch these episodes (way too early in the morning), but I felt like I was stuck in Inception without a totem to tell me which world was real and which one was a memory. I am almost sure now that Dolores has been stuck in a dream world since we met her.
The Alice in Wonderland symbolism is strong this week as Dolores literally goes down a hole to enter a world that is totally strange (yet familiar) to her. She’s still stuck in a loop, but she’s close to finding her way out of the maze, and maybe MiB will help lead the way. Yes, their paths diverge once again since that dreadful night in the barn. But more on that a little later.
After she escapes Logan’s clutches (and leaving William to fend for himself at his request), Dolores returns to Escalante. Once she enters the church, she’s suddenly in her old blue dress and surrounded by hosts who all look like mental patients suffering from schizophrenia because of the clear-as-a-bell voice they hear inside their heads that is supposed to replicate a conscience. Dolores enters the confessional and slowly descends into a basement, the abandoned HQ of the park’s staff/science team. It’s here that we discover the same room in which she had the secret meetings with Bernard/Arnold. This is where we also get confirmation that she indeed killed Arnold.
There are a few other important things to note as this whole scene transpires. We definitely know that as soon as Dolores steps into Escalante, she jumps in and out of old memories which she thinks are vivid waking dreams. She transitions from one to the other with little to no warning at all. Our only indication that she’s stepped into a different world are the physical changes that happen, from the open wound in her gut disappearing to her clothes changing to an empty town suddenly full of hosts (alive or dead). Last week, we saw her gunning down the entire population. This week, we see the same massacre through the eyes of Teddy, who is also killing the townsfolk.
Here’s where it gets screwy. Teddy remembers Escalante as the starting point in which Wyatt goes nuts. As he is recalling the events from way back when, he at first remembers the both of them killing their entire regiment. However, when prompted to revisit that memory again, he sees himself as the sheriff of Escalante killing innocent people including the woman who now has him tied up. Before we can learn just what the hell is going on with this scene, the woman fatally stabs Teddy. Could Ford be leading his new narrative into something that has already happened in the park? Did Teddy and Dolores wig out and massacre the entire town, including humans? Was Arnold present at the time, and that’s how he got himself killed? Where does MiB fit in?
After Teddy gets stabbed, the woman knocks out MiB. But before that, she tells him to go to the “city swallowed by sand.” Considering he ends up in the same church as Dolores just as she exits the rabbit hole, I assume this sandy city is the same place “where mountains meet the sea.”
So a man in search for his soul and a woman in need of a purpose both walk into a church. The two of them are search for answers to their respective questions, but the only man with any answers died, was resurrected, and then killed by a man who’s ego is greater than any god. (This would have killed if the Comedian from The Watchmen told it.)
Elsewhere, Maeve’s plan to build an army continues. Her’s is the straightest narrative in the show, but it doesn’t make the madame of the Mariposa any less intriguing. She and Bernard meet for the first time since her awakening. She figures out right away that Bernard is a host and demonstrates her powers of persuasion on him. As a result, he releases her back into the park and then sneaks into Ford’s office to find out more about himself.
Back inside the park, Maeve recruits Hector (and only Hector) by freeing him from his loop — his and his gang’s stories always end in them killing each other before discovering that the safe has always been empty. When you think about it, that ending sucks! if they had succeeded taking the safe with a guest in their party. I digress. For Hector to be as “woke” as Maeve is, he has to wake up in the real world. But first, one more creative death: having sex while the tent goes up in flames with the both of them inside.
I wonder if any of our hosts will make it to the outside world before the end of this season. Or at all. I’d hate to see Maeve’s little rebellion snuffed out so quickly by Ford’s machinations.
- It’s getting harder and harder to argue against the theory that William might by MiB in the past. First he sees Dolores’ insides, which are all mechanical. This is the first indicator that we are most likely somewhere in the past after Arnold was killed. MiB makes a comment in an earlier episode that the hosts used to be made up of intricate moving gears and parts before changing their builds to something more “fleshy” and cost effective. The dismembered hosts in the camp are the same way. Yeah, William goes kill crazy on the entire soldier camp Kill Bill style. Unfortunately, we only see the aftermath in which Logan wakes up from a drunken stupor with William sitting at the center of his rage dump holding onto just a knife. We figured out last week that MiB basically used the park as a place in which he took all of his anger and frustrations out on the hosts. Assuming William is MiB, this may have been his awakening.
- Another indicator that we’re in the past with William is that we see the same photograph of the woman that broke the original Peter Abernathy early in the season. It’s Logan’s sister and William’s fiancé, Juliet. So…that really does mean Dolores goes back to her loops in Sweetwater before the next screwy event. Right? Oh man. My head.
- Stubbs sees that Elsie’s GPS is going off in the park. Elsie is supposed to be on leave, and therefore should not be in the park. He goes to investigate the signal on his own, but is ambushed by the Ghost Nation who don’t listen to his commands. From where he exited, it looks like he was in the same sector as the secret cottage. Ford must have upped the security since Angela’s visit. Like with Elsie, we don’t actually see him die. For all we know he (and maybe even Elsie) could still be alive somewhere in the park. But it doesn’t look good.