As if ‘Westworld’ didn’t already have enough other unanswered questions and mysteries, this week I’m left wondering just how large this theme park is. We’ve already seen a massive construction project so far away that none of the guests know about it. Now we visit a whole new town, with suggestions of an even more expansive world beyond. Does the company own the entire state of Nevada or something?
For a change, this episode doesn’t open with Bernard interrogating Dolores. Instead, Dr. Ford has another conversation with Old Bill (Michael Wincott), the dilapidated robot in storage. Ford tells Bill a sad story about a greyhound dog that’s very heavy with metaphors.
Dolores is still with William and Logan. The outlaw named Slim promised them that his boss, El Lazo, would pay them a big reward for freeing him from the marshal. He leads them to a border town called Pariah, a lawless place bustling with all manner of bandits and scum, where dirty men screw whores right out on the street in broad daylight. Logan explains that the further out they travel from the central town of Sweetwater, the more wild and unruly the world becomes. He also mentions that the company they work for, which has a stake in the park, is considering buying the whole thing. The most dangerous men in Pariah are the “Confederados,” a gang of former Confederate soldiers planning another war with the U.S. Government. Logan is very eager to get involved in that storyline.
Elsewhere, the Man in Black and Lawrence tow a half-dead Teddy along on their quest to seek out the mysterious Wyatt, whom the Man in Black believes is key to the maze. In the middle of nowhere, they run into a young boy (the same one Dr. Ford encountered earlier, if I’m not mistaken) who asks if they’re lost. The Man in Black sends the kid to fetch them some water, even though he already has a satchel full of water, which he dumps out. He then tells Lawrence that his role in their adventure is concluded, slits his throat, and hangs him upside down from a tree so that his blood will drain into the satchel. He then uses the blood to refill Teddy, which brings him back around again. Teddy isn’t too eager to go anywhere with the Man in Black until the latter tells him that Dolores was kidnapped by Wyatt’s men (an embellishment of what really happened).
Behind the scenes of the park, the two surgeons (one of them disdainfully says that they’re really “butchers”) who were startled earlier when Maeve woke up in their care, are working on her body again. When they take a break, the younger of the two, a man named Felix, opens his locker to reveal a small dead bird lying on a tray inside it.
As William talks to her, Dolores picks up on his mention of the “real world,” which the robots in the park are supposed to be programmed to ignore. Still suffering from flashback memories and hallucinations, she sees a duplicate of herself in the middle of a crowd during a Dia de los Muertos parade. She chases after it, only for a voice in the crowd to whisper the passphrase that causes her to fall unconscious.
Dolores wakes up in the control center talking to Dr. Ford this time. He says that she’s been a naughty girl, trying to break out of her narrative loop. He knows that Bernard has been breaking company rules by fostering her advancement. He asks if she’s heard the voice of Arnold, his former partner, calling to her. She lies and denies it. Even when put into Analysis mode, she insists that he last contact with Arnold was three decades earlier, just before he died in the park. Ford tells her that Arnold wanted to destroy the park.
Back in the surgery suite, Felix works on the dead bird (clearly a robot), trying to bring it back to life. His obnoxious partner catches him and chastises him for stealing company property. He tells Felix that he’ll never be a programmer and argues with him until Felix puts the bird away. Felix is then startled when another worker wheels in Maeve’s body, which suggests that this scene takes place before the earlier one with these characters. If that’s the case, I’m confused as to what the point of jumbling the chronology of these scenes would be.
William and Logan meet El Lazo, who turns out to be Lawrence. Has his body been recycled so quickly? Something fishy is going on here. Slim talked about El Lazo before the Man in Black killed Lawrence. Either that character was replaced mid-story, there are multiple Lawrence bodies in use, or the Man in Black storyline takes place in a completely different timeline than the rest of the narratives on the show.
As reward for freeing Slim, Logan wants El Lazo to introduce him to the Confederados, so he can get in on whatever dangerous misadventures they’re planning. El Lazo says that they’re going to hijack a Union convoy carrying a shipment of nitroglycerine. Logan volunteers himself, William and Dolores to pull off the theft. Even though Dolores isn’t supposed to be able to use a gun, they dress her up like a cowgirl and tell her to look menacing. William insists that even if they rob the convoy, he doesn’t want them to kill anyone. He refuses to give up his morality even if this world is a fantasy.
The three of them plus Slim ambush the wagon. Although the nitro is guarded by four Union soldiers, they threaten to shoot the nitro and blow them all to Hell. The soldiers surrender, but Logan gets cocky and picks a fight with one. The situation quickly escalates and shooting breaks out. Slim and one of the soldiers are killed, and William is forced to gun down the other three. Logan is psyched that William finally shed some blood. William feels sick about it.
The Confederados buy the nitro and El Lazo suggests a celebration with free booze and whores painted gold. That’s the kind of place Pariah is.
Elsie is working on a bartender robot with a minor calibration malfunction when she sees the stray with the bashed-in head being wheeled out of the lab to be incinerated. She blackmails the tech in charge of it into giving her a few minutes alone with the robot before it’s destroyed. She finds a tube of fiber optic lights running up its arm, and pulls it out to discover a transmitter. She immediately brings this to Bernard and informs him that it’s a laser satellite uplink. Someone has been smuggling data out of the park.
While Logan indulges in a hedonistic orgy, William decides that he’s had enough. He wants no part in this and doesn’t want to play war with the Confederados. He and Logan argue. Although their fight gets heated, William wusses out and can’t punch Logan.
Dolores has another hallucination about seeing herself, and imagines pulling a wire out of her arm. She wanders away from William and stumbles upon El Lazo filling Slim’s corpse with nitroglycerine, then refilling the empty nitro bottles with booze. She runs back to William, who’s currently drowning his sorrows in drink. She warns him that they need to get out of there, and kisses him.
Some of the dipshit Confederados play a game of catch with the nitro bottles. When one drops a bottle and it doesn’t explode, they realize they’ve been conned. Furious, they grab Logan. Logan begs William to save him, but William leaves him to be beaten and hightails it out of there with Dolores.
As they run, William and Dolores are cornered by a group of Confederados, and Dolores kills them to save William. She’s not supposed to be able to do that. When William asks how she did it, Dolores says, “I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.” As Dr. Ford implied, she’s actively rewriting her own narrative.
William and Dolores hop on a train as it pulls away from town. El Lazo is on board, standing over Slim’s nitro-filled body. Dolores aims her pistol at the casket and threatens to blow it up. El Lazo holsters his own weapon and says that they can call him Lawrence. Dolores looks at the casket and sees a maze logo etched onto the lid.
The Man in Black and Teddy make a rest stop at a saloon, where Dr. Ford intrudes on their conversation and sits with them. He and the Man in Black have known each other for a long time. The Man in Black dares Ford to stop him from finding the center of the maze. He says that he believes there’s a deeper meaning to the park than just leisure entertainment, and he intends to find it.
Back in the surgery suite, Felix gets a free minute to work on his bird again. This time, he finally gets it working and it flies around the room. As he follows its flight, he turns around and is shocked to see it land on the finger of a fully awake Maeve, who calmly looks at him and says that it’s time they had a little chat. Obviously, she engineered her own death in order to arrange this moment.
A popular fan theory posits that the Man in Black storyline, which has been disconnected from most the others, takes place 30 years later, and that we’ll eventually learn that William is in fact the Man in Black. The storyline that William is in now will be the inciting incident that sends the Man in Black on his quest to discover the true meaning of the park. While this might actually explain a lot about the narrative confusion on the show, I’m not sure that it quite jibes with everything we’ve seen.
If true, this would have to mean that Dr. Ford’s storyline takes place in the same timeline as the Man in Black’s. Which in turn means that so do Bernard’s and Elsie’s. Bernard’s interrogation sessions with Dolores (and Dr. Ford’s interrogation of her in this episode) would also be decades removed from her storyline in the park. Yet Dolores’ burgeoning self-awareness is happening while she’s with William. Does that mean she won’t progress much with that in the next 30 years?
It’s an interesting theory, but I’m not certain that I buy it. However, it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if it turns out to be true and the pieces of this puzzle simply don’t all fit together like they should.
Whatever the case, this is a pretty good episode. I’m curious to learn more about what Maeve is up to.