Westworld Power Rankings, Ep. 9: What Is Dead May Never Die
My favorite moment from Sunday's Westworld, episode 9, The Well-Tempered Clavier:
"Do you expect me to talk?"
"No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!"
No, sorry: that's from Goldfinger. But it's relevant here because genius super villains all seem to make the same mistake -- you don't set the trap to kill your main adversary and then leave the room.
Dr. Ford is too smart for his own good. After ordering Bernard (Arnold) to shoot himself in episode 9, he confidentially strides from the room, secure in his knowledge that he's pulling all the strings and this robot is as good as dead. Viewers hear a gunshot and see a flash, but we do not see Bernard die -- and this is a show that has no problem entertaining us with all manner of violent delights.
It's the same principle I have always assigned to Game of Thrones, and it stands here as well -- good writers do not invest enormous amounts of time and effort to build a character (sorry), only to kill them off-screen. Remember how The Hound died after his fight with Briene in GOT? Exactly. Sooner or later, Al Swearengen comes along and patches you up.
Other off-screen deaths I don't believe:
* Elsie Hughes. Bernard snapped Theresa's neck, but we don't really see what he did to Elsie. Perhaps she knows how to turn him off (robot-fu?). Perhaps he let her go (Arnold would have). I think she's alive, in the park, rigging a Speak and Spell to transmit data to Devos. Hey, E.T. did it.
* Stubbs. Want us to think the security chief has really been killed by the Shadow Warriors who live in the woods? You'll have to do better than this. Teddy dies on screen three times an episode, but you can't show Stubbs getting scalped? BTW, Internet Movie Database has Stubbs appearing in episode 10, and I see no reason to feature him in a flashback, or to make him a host.
So whatever mind-blowing mayhem Westworld has in store in Sunday's season finale, you can bet Bernard (and/or Arnold), Stubbs and Elsie will be involved. Other good bets: Sylvester will have a sore throat; Maeve will order Felix to get her an Uber app; Logan (a flat, unsympathetic character) will appear in the Sweetwater Times obituary section; Peter Abernathy will finally get some clothes; and Dr. Ford will reveal that the faces on the wall in his office are those of all the people he's killed. Call it the House of Black and White.
1. Bernarnold. If you think you've seen the end of Bernard (Arnold), it's my guess that you're wrong, and I've been correct with every prediction so far. As outlined above, good writers don't invest so much time and effort into a character only to let him kill himself off-screen in the penultimate episode. Fiction is driven by conflict, and the core conflict here is between Ford and Arnold. Besides, Internet Movie Database has Jefferey Wright as a cast member in all 10 episodes, and although it could just be flashback duty, my guess is Bernard is back and there's gonna be trouble.
2. Dr. Robert Ford. He's pulling all the strings -- and seems to be one step ahead of every host and human. But again, engaging fiction does not include an invulnerable protagonist. He must have a weakness. On Sunday we'll find out what it is.
3. William In Black. Yep, we have confirmation. Not only does Dolores address the Man In Black as "William" when he enters the church, but William kills all the Confederdoes with the same knife that the Man In Black always uses.
4. Dolores. When she entered the confessional in the white church and dropped into the basement, Get Smart style, it's unclear how long she was down there. Perhaps it was 30 years. The way this show plays with timelines (hello, exec. producer J.J. Abrams!) it's hard to tell. And is she first generation Terminator or second generation? Check her vital organs.
5. Maeve. Saw a note today on Twitter that Maeve's storyline is ridiculous. To me it's the most compelling. Now, Felix and Sylvester, they're ridiculous. But they're believable. Even in real life you have Home Alone burglars.
6. Elsie. I'll stick with the first rule of Facebook here -- photo, or it didn't happen. We never saw Elsie die, so to me she's hiding in the park controlling all of the animals -- squirrels, deer, birds -- like Snow White.
7. Logan. Somehow between episodes someone made him Hand of the King (see photo above).
8. Stubbs. He fell for the same thing as Muldoon in Jurassic Park -- distracted by hunters in front of him, while another sneaks in from the side. Clever girl!
9. Teddy Flood. You've killed Teddy! You bastards! But somehow I know he'll come out of all of this OK.
10. The Player Piano. Robots have greatly populated these rankings since the beginning, so why not a piano that plays itself? Those tunes are stuck in my head, as are the metaphors the piano represents.
Friend sent this to me and it was too important not to share: Westworld vs. Arrested Development. pic.twitter.com/BtM24FlT6f
— Burnt Orange Nation (@BON_SBNation) November 29, 2016
Whenever I've shown Trump Supporters concrete proof of Trump behaving badly they react like Westworld hosts looking at a picture of a car
— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) November 29, 2016
Do we actually ever hear Bernard refer to Charlie as his son? Could the child be his daughter? Is "Charlie" short for (wait for it) Charlotte (Hale)?
Trailer for Sunday's 90-minute season finale:
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