I decided that I wasn’t going to complain about the timeline confusion on ‘Westworld’ anymore (at least for now). However, the latest episode really confounds me.
The last episode ended with Dolores wandering through the desert until she stumbled upon guests William and Logan at a campfire. Episode 4 opens with Dolores back in the operations center being questioned by Bernard again. He asks her about the painful memories she has about her parents dying, and she says that she doesn’t want them wiped. She’d rather hold onto the pain because it’s all she has. Bernard also tells her about a secret game involving a maze (the same one the Man in Black is searching for, clearly). If she can find the center of it, she’ll be free. The next we see her, Dolores wakes up in the desert again with William sitting over her.
How is this possible? Even if we presume that Dolores is capable of breaking her usual daily repeat cycle and playing out an extended storyline while interacting with guests, how did Bernard get her out of the park and back again while she was with William? If William had woken up in the middle of the night and noticed her missing, wouldn’t that disrupt the narrative he’s playing? Is perhaps the interrogation scene supposed to be a flashback or flash-forward? Could it be a dream? I feel like opening the episode with this scene serves little purpose except to add more confusion where there doesn’t need to be any. The episode should have opened with Dolores waking up next to William.
William’s buddy (or whatever you want to call him; they’re not really friends) Logan wants to get on with their bounty hunting adventure. He sees Dolores as an inconvenience and would prefer to let her walk back to town alone. When William protests that she won’t make it on her own, Logan suggests shooting her. He refuses to treat the robots like real people. This is all a game to him, and he’s happy to set any sense of morality aside. If he kills the girl, the park will clean up the body and put her back in service the next day. William, however, is fascinated by Dolores and insists on bringing her with them. Logan then theorizes that the park sent her specifically for William. In their conversation, it’s revealed that the company William and Logan work for owns a stake in the park. This might explain why Logan has made so many trips there.
Dolores tags along with their posse on the hunt for an outlaw known as Slim. Eventually, the marshal leads them to a cabin where Slim and his gang are holed up. William tells Dolores to stay outside while he, Logan and the marshal go in. This leads to a big shootout. Logan revels in the chance to kill a bunch of people (well, robots) and ignores it when they shoot him harmlessly. Even William admits to having fun.
They capture Slim, truss him up, and sling him over a horse. As they start back to town, Slim offers to pay them double the bounty reward. Logan immediately shoots the marshal. William is horrified, but Logan keeps explaining to him that this is just a game, the robots aren’t people, and it doesn’t matter what they do. He encourages William to, “Go Black Hat with me.” He says it’s way more fun to play bad, and it won’t matter one whit to Dolores. Her programming will make her play along with whatever they do. William hesitates for a moment but then agrees to give it a shot. What the hell, right?
In the control center, Elsie is removed from the investigation into the stray that bashed its own head in. She tries to fight this, but Bernard tells her to let it go. Elsie asks him about the sketch of the constellation Orion she found, and he points out that it has too many stars to be Orion.
The Man in Black
The Man in Black continues to drag Lawrence through the desert in search of the maze. They stop when they spot a woman bathing in a stream. She has a large snake tattoo that wraps all around her body. As they watch her, a group of men ambush and surround them. The woman puts some clothes on and introduces herself. (I don’t recall hearing her name mentioned in the episode, but she’s credited as Armistice.) She seems to be in charge of this gang, at least for now. The Man in Black is very interested. For as many times as he’s been to the park he’s never seen her before. He wants to hear her story, which he believes will be another piece in the puzzle he’s working on, but she’s not interested in telling it. The Man in Black shoots a couple members of her gang and then, pointing out the openings, suggests that he and Lawrence should join. The woman likes him.
A couple other members of the snake gang turn out to be park guests. They recognize the Man in Black, who’s apparently a wealthy and/or powerful person in the real world. (They mention something about a foundation he runs.) When they try to introduce themselves, he tells them to fuck off and is very upset that they’re ruining his vacation.
The Man in Black tells Lawrence a little about Arnold, one of the original founders of the park. (We heard about him from Dr. Ford last week.) Arnold’s story is somehow connected to the maze.
The snake woman will only tell the Man in Black her own story if he helps her gang break someone out of prison. Her plan for this will take a few days to complete, but the Man in Black doesn’t have the patience to play out this side quest as it was scripted. He agrees to do it, but will take care of it his own way. He then arranges for himself and Lawrence to get arrested for horse thievery. As a marshal brings them to jail by stagecoach, the Man in Black offers him a cigar, which the marshal pockets. We learn here that Lawrence is the most wanted man in three territories and will be hanged when they get to the prison.
The Man in Black is thrown into a cell with Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), the notorious bandit who shot up the town in the show’s premiere episode. The Man in Black pulls another cigar from his pocket and shoves it into the cell door’s keyhole, then lights a match. Obviously, the cigar is filled with gunpowder. Off in the Westworld control center, security chief Stubbs approves a request for two small incendiary events, which goes to show just how controlled things in the park are supposed to be. The cigar blows, unlocking the cell. The Man in Black and Hector make their escape. The marshal tries to stop them, but the cigar he’s smoking explodes in his mouth and blows his face off.
The Man in Black then saves Lawrence from a firing squad and drags him and Hector back to the gang’s camp, where he insists on hearing the snake lady’s story. She tells him a revenge tale, and claims that she’s hunting for a man named Wyatt. This would tie her story to Teddy’s. Later, the Man in Black brings Lawrence along as he begins the search for Wyatt. They come across a tortured and half-dead Teddy lashed to a tree.
Administrator Theresa visits Dr. Ford in a remote section of the park, where he’s overseeing a massive construction project. She expresses the Board of Directors’ concerns about the cost and disruption of the secretive new storyline he’s building, and asks if he might postpone it until after a scheduled Board visit. Ford gives her a lecture about how many people in her position have come and gone during his time, and demonstrates his absolute power over the environment by causing all of the robots in the vicinity to freeze in place without his uttering a word or even making a gesture. In a threatening tone, he flat-out tells her not to get in his way. A gigantic digging machine tears up the ground near them. Ford says that he’ll deal with the Board when they come. Theresa mentions that a representative is already in the park. (I’m guessing it’s William.)
Maeve suffers more flashbacks, both to traumas from old storylines and to the time she woke up in the surgery suite with the masked technician (we’ll call him a “doctor” for lack of a better description) standing over her. She draws a sketch of the doctor, and then, afraid it will be taken away from her, opens a hiding place to stash it beneath a floorboard in her room. Inside, she finds a pile of similar sketches that she doesn’t remember drawing.
When a tribe of Indians march through town, a child drops a small totem toy that bears some resemblance to Maeve’s sketch of the doctor. Maeve picks it up and begs any of the Indians to tell her what it is, but they won’t talk.
The episode ends with Hector’s gang arriving in town. A sheriff spots them and asks Hector what his intentions are. He responds, “Mayhem,” and shoots the sheriff. Then, in a reprise of the saloon robbery storyline from the show’s pilot episode, his gang shoots up the town and Hector enters the saloon looking for the safe. This time, Maeve pulls a gun on him and says she wants to talk.
Maeve brings Hector to her room and offers to give him the combination to the safe if he tells her about the figure in the sketch she drew. He says that it resembles an Indian myth about “Shades” – spirits that travel between this world and the next.
In the park’s control center, Stubbs orders the bandit raid storyline to be cut short because a guest family with young children is heading back to town. To make this happen, all the gang’s guns suddenly jam and the cavalry arrives to mop up the scene.
As the cavalry kills the rest of Hector’s gang, including the snake lady, Maeve hands him a knife and asks him to cut her in the stomach where she remembers being shot. He thinks she’s crazy because she has no visible wound or scar there, but she grabs his hand and makes him do it. After cutting her open, Hector pulls out something (a bullet, maybe?). This confirms to Maeve that she was right and her memories are real. She kisses Hector and tells him “None of this matters” as a rain of bullets tear through the room to kill them both.
The show’s mythology is steadily building and becoming more intricate. I’m certainly intrigued, but I also wish the writers would put more effort into clearing up some fundamental details of how this world works.
Beyond that, this is a pretty good episode. I’m glad to see the Man in Black return, because his storyline is the most interesting in the series at the moment. Maeve, who was hardly even in the pilot episode, is also becoming a dominant figure. It’s a shame Teddy had to get sidelined this week, but that’s a consequence of the show having so many (perhaps too many?) important characters.