It seems that the more we see of Westworld the less we know, as unpacking it has become more difficult than traveling cross-country to mom’s the day before Thanksgiving. Wish me luck, by the way.
So far we’ve learned (we think) that we’re dealing with at least two different timelines here, and maybe three. William (Jimmi Simpson) apparently is a 30-years-younger Man in Black (Ed Harris). Bernard is, we now know, a robot (host), and has killed Theresa on Dr. Ford’s orders. Bernard may also have killed Elsie, although we only saw a glimpse of that hit.
But in Sunday’s episode, Trace Decay, things may have become a bit clearer. Unless they haven’t. Here’s what I think is going on.
Yes, Bernard is a host. But he was created by Ford to take the place of his partner, Arnold, when Arnold died (or was murdered). In doing so, Ford created Bernard a little too much in Arnold’s image. This is why Bernard asks questions and is sympathetic to the hosts. This piece of Arnold became a bit too real. (Arnold, by the way, can be spelled with the letters from Bernard Lowe. It’s almost a complete anagram).
The town with the White Church, which William and Dolores reached in the latest episode, was the place where Arnold was teaching hosts to become sentient. When Arnold discovered that Ford was on to him and planned to kill him, he installed bits of his consciousness into Dolores. Those thoughts are now leaking out, which is why she “thinks differently than the other hosts”, as Bernard told her in one of their secret meanings.
In an effort to destroy the park and end Ford’s mad quest for power, Arnold tells Dolores to kill all the residents of the town. She does (most of them, anyway) — so she is the real Wyatt. Won’t Teddy be bummed.
But the park survives the “incident” (barely), which happened 30 years ago. The Devos Corp. buys them out, and things move on to present day.
And so does Dolores — who by this theory is both Wyatt, and Arnold (or his implanted thoughts, anyway). It’s why she hears his voice. It’s why she is sure there is “something more” out there for her. Other hosts are also having flashbacks, perhaps prompted by their time in Arnold’s church town.
Meanwhile, Ford’s new guest adventure is an effort to dig out the town, which he had buried 30 years prior, and … do what? Bring religion to Westworld? I’m not quite clear on his end game. Maybe a bed & breakfast?
Click below to see William transform into the Man in Black:
The Power Rankings
1. Dolores. If you know me then you know I’ve made it my policy to avoid girls with multiple personalities who have access to firearms. Plus she hears voices. PLUS she enters a church with a loaded pistol (see preview for episode 9). She may be both Arnold and Wyatt, and she knows the story of the Judas steer. Do not fuck with her is all I’m saying.
2. Maeve. It’s beyond me why techs Felix and Sylvester continue to keep an array of scalpels out in plain sight whenever Maeve is brought in for repairs — it just seems irresponsible. Maybe keep the sharp implements locked up?
3. Bernard. So yes, I’d be pissed if I found out that I was a robot, and my creator made me kill my lover. But even worse: why did he have to give me such a severely receding hairline? That’s just evil and fucked up.
4. Dr. Ford. Unless he wants to make Westworld start resembling Cabot Cove from Murder She Wrote, he’s going to have to find other ways to resolve problems other than offing people. The real bodies are piling up and Elsie’s parents are going to start wondering why she’s so late for Thanksgiving.
5. Peter Abernathy. He’s out of storage and ready to deliver his signature line: “These violent delights have violent ends.” That’s this show’s “Hasta la vista, baby!” And BTW, no one is buying that Charlotte Hale just picked him at random out of all those retired hosts.
6. Man In Black/William. At this point we’ll just merge the two until something happens to disprove the two-timeline theory. Because each new development seems to support it. When The MiB and Teddy come upon Armistice injured in the woods, we see that she was also the host who first greeted William in episode 2 (allegedly 30 years before). The MiB says: “I thought they’d have retired you by now. I guess Ford doesn’t want to waste a pretty face.” Pretty solid evidence that MiB is an older William. Either that, or he’s remembering when he was the male lead in the movie Milk Money (1994).
7. Teddy Flood. The Man in Black keeps telling Teddy that he’s “programmed to be the loser.” And indeed he’s been killed more often than Kenny from South Park. But what if, in the end, Teddy is the winner, and finally gets the girl? Despite its SciFi trappings this is still a western at heart, and I’ve seen enough of those on MeTV to know that’s how this is all going to end.
8. Angela. So Angela shows up as Clementine’s replacement, and on the first day Maeve gives her the entire operation? Score.
9. Lee Sizemore. Why not? No one reminds me more of Paul Reiser’s character in Aliens than this guy. By the way, did you catch that one photo in Sizemore’s office that looks like a viking, with the horns? It resembled one of the wild men who are lurking in the woods, did it not?
10. Sylvester. I’m still unclear as to why the bearded tech doesn’t just run screaming out of the room yelling “Rogue robot! Help! Sound the alarm!” But Maeve has some strange hold over him, and in this episode she even slit his throat. That scar’s gonna be hard to hide, and indeed, Internet Movie Database only lists him in the credits for 6 episodes. So let’s put him in the rankings just once before he inevitably buys it.
Westworld has been compared to everything from Blade Runner to Jurassic Park, but somehow we’ve missed the obvious choice. In Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke gave us a telling imagining of artificial intelligence: what it may be like if a machine approached sentience. HAL 9000 indeed seemed, at times, more in touch with human emotions than the astronauts themselves, and in the end, as it was being dismantled, delivered one of the most thought-provoking lines in movie history: “Dave, I’m afraid.”
In one classic scene, the two astronauts lock themselves in the soundproof pod vehicle and discuss what to do about HAL, who is beginning to act strangely. They decide to shut him off — but HAL, as it turns out, is reading their lips from inside the ship, and learns of the plot.
In Sunday’s episode of Westworld we have a very similar scene. You may recall that near the beginning of the episode, Maeve tells Felix and Sylvester that she needs them to take her to another level of the building to be rebuilt, taking an explosive out of her spine so she can escape. The two techs adjourn outside the room to discuss it. But Maeve is seen reading their lips through the glass doors.
She indeed learns of their plot to deactivate her, and cuts Sylvester’s throat. In 2001, HAL kills one of the astronauts and leaves the other stranded outside the ship. Of course it ends badly for HAL. Will a similar fate befall Maeve? If this is all an ode to 2001, and not a coincidence, she’s in trouble.