Last week’s episode of ‘Westworld’ felt like a real turning point where some of the show’s storylines finally kicked into gear. The latest entry builds on that by dropping one hell of a bombshell plot twist at the end.
For the first time, Bernard opens an episode – not by interviewing a robot, but all on his own, dreaming about his dead son. I didn’t think anything of this during the initial watch, but it probably should have struck me as suspicious. He reads the boy (in a hospital bed, clearly dying of something) a passage from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.” That’s called foreshadowing, folks.
Bernard wakes up and returns to his daily routine, interrogating robots looking for signs of programming glitches. He grows worried when he isn’t able to contact Elsie and his attempts to track her using the park’s computer network fail. When he asks about her, the official story is that she’s on leave. He doesn’t buy it.
Park administrator Theresa walks in on visiting board representative Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) unashamedly using the bandit Hector as a sex toy. The robots are company property and she can do with them whatever she wants. Charlotte tells her that the Delos Corporation board is very concerned about Dr. Ford. They have no interest in Westworld as a theme park. They only care about protecting their IP (the programming code), and have important plans for it that Ford wouldn’t approve of (possibly military applications?). Unfortunately, Ford’s contract stipulates that he has total control over the code, and he’s been very secretive about it. In this scene, we learn that the data Theresa smuggled out of the park went to the board. Charlotte says that the board wants to push Dr. Ford into retirement, but they’re worried that he’ll erase and destroy all of his work if that happens. As such, they have a contingency plan that involves demonstrating that his code is dangerously unstable and a threat to human life. For this, they need a “blood sacrifice,” and it has to be someone unexpected.
Oh My Darling, Clementine
Stuck in her fake life in the brothel, Maeve has a talk with the whore named Clementine, possibly hoping to determine if she can be liberated like she was. Suddenly, the entire scene freezes and a group of technicians in hazmat suits enter the saloon, discussing their emergency orders to retrieve one of the robots. Maeve assumes they’re coming for her. She pretends to be frozen but grips a knife and prepares to strike. However, the technicians grab Clementine instead and haul her out.
Charlotte and Theresa call a meeting with Bernard and Dr. Ford. They’ve set up a little presentation with Clementine and another robot in a glass room. Clementine has been programmed to believe that the man is human. He hits her in the face and strangles her. Theresa freezes and resets the scene, then deletes Clementine’s memory. She should not be able to remember what just happened to her, yet she immediately attacks and kills the man, smashing his head repeatedly into the glass. Ashley, the head of security (Luke Hemsworth), enters the room. When Clementine won’t respond to his voice commands and charges at him, he has to shoot her dead.
Charlotte claims that Ford’s recent software update to add the “reveries” that make robots act more human has overridden their security safeguards. The robots can harm human guests in the park now, and what’s more, they hold grudges even after their memories are wiped. Reverting to older software doesn’t fix the problem. They have to be rebuilt from the ground-up, clearing out all programming entirely. Bernard is aghast at the suggestion that he’ll have to essentially lobotomize the robots – to which Theresa responds that he won’t be doing anything. She fires him on the spot for negligence in allowing this faulty code to go live. Dr. Ford stands silently, even though everyone in the room knows that Bernard is being made to take the fall for something Ford did. Bernard is apparently the blood sacrifice.
Inside the park, William, Dolores and Lawrence ride a train into dangerous territory ruled by the Ghost Nation tribe. As they look out the window, they see countless human heads (well, presumably robot heads) on pikes. Lawrence pulls down a metal curtain and explains that the train car is armored.
Just as things between William and Dolores look to turn romantic, he tells her that he has a fiancée and a life back home that he has to return to. He can’t stay with her. Dolores walks away upset. William chases after her and decides that he can’t deny his feelings any longer. They kiss and tear each other’s clothes off.
In the afterglow of their lovemaking, William tells Dolores that he has no regrets. The park has brought out feelings in him that he didn’t know he had. He then watches her paint a landscape scene of a canyon onto a sheet. Dolores says that it’s something she saw in a dream.
In the middle of their conversation, the train screeches to a halt. A big pile of rocks has been strewn onto the tracks in their path. A group of the Confederado rebels ride up and shoot up the train with their hand-cranked machine gun. After a minute of this, they stop the shooting, unaware that the car was armored and confident that they’ve killed everyone inside. They’re confused for a moment when a train door opens and a rider on a horse, with a white flag on his back, approaches them. As the horse gets closer, they see that the man is dead. It’s Lawrence’s former partner Slim, whose corpse Lawrence loaded with nitroglycerine. Lawrence shoots the body with his rifle, causing a huge explosion.
In the chaos, Lawrence, William and Dolores make their escape. The Confederados chase after them, until they’re sideswiped by a raiding party from the Ghost Nation tribe, who scalp and kill the rebels. The trio of William, Dolores and Lawrence get away. They ride until they come upon the same canyon Dolores saw in her dream and painted earlier. At this point, William and Dolores part ways with Lawrence, saying that they don’t want to play his game of war. They’re heading off to unclaimed territory instead.
Born to Run
Maeve wakes up back on the table in the surgery suite. Felix cautions that if she keeps doing this, someone will notice. She doesn’t care. She demands that he bring her to Clementine.
Felix walks a naked Maeve through the compound, once again pretending to be controlling her. They walk to another surgery suite, and Maeve watches through the glass as Sylvester (with Theresa standing intently over him) shoves a drill up Clementine’s nose to lobotomize her. Maeve silently sheds a tear.
Later, Sylvester apologizes to Maeve for what he did to her friend, but says he had no choice. If he’d refused, it would have looked suspicious and would have brought attention to the three of them. Maeve tells Felix and Sylvester that they’re going to help her escape the park. Sylvester calls this a suicide mission. Maeve threatens to kill them if they don’t do what she says.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
He may have been fired, but Bernard hasn’t left the facility yet. He goes to Theresa and tells her that he knows she staged that ridiculous scene with Clementine. He could see sloppy mistakes in the programming, and if he noticed it, so surely did Dr. Ford. He also reveals that he knows she’s the data smuggler, but tells her he doesn’t care about any of that. He’s concerned about Ford and needs to show her something.
Bernard brings Theresa to the house in Sector 17 and tells her about Ford’s family of unregistered robots. The house is empty when they get there. Bernard assumes that Ford must have moved the robots out.
While searching the house, Theresa asks Bernard what’s on the other side of a door. Bernard asks what door she’s talking about, even though it’s right in front of him. RED FLAG!!
The door leads to a basement with a secret laboratory. Inside is equipment that Ford has clearly been using to make new robots without anyone at Delos knowing. Rifling through a pile of paperwork, Theresa finds something very troubling – a sheet with design specs for a robot that looks like Bernard himself. Bernard takes the sheet and says, verbatim, “It doesn’t look like anything to me” – the same thing the robots are programmed to say when confronted by evidence of a world beyond their routines.
Theresa’s face goes pale as she realizes what this means. Dr. Ford steps into the room and confirms that, yes, Bernard has been a robot all along. Completely oblivious of the fact, he was Ford’s mole inside Delos operations. Ford knows about and orchestrated everything that Bernard did, including his sexual relationship with Theresa. She calls him “a fucking monster.”
Bernard can’t reconcile what he’s hearing and refuses to believe it. He freaks out about his wife and son – all backstory that Ford planted in him. Ford freezes him.
Theresa says that Ford doesn’t totally control Bernard. After all, he brought her to find this secret lab. Ford reveals that he in fact made Bernard bring her here, because “The situation demands a blood sacrifice.” Theresa fumbles for her phone, but it can’t get a signal. Ford controls everything in the park. He unfreezes Bernard and orders him to take care of Theresa. She begs Bernard to stop, but he grabs her and bashes her head into the wall again and again (in a violent echo of the way Clementine killed the other robot in the lab). Then, as her dead body slumps to the ground, Bernard turns and follows Dr. Ford out of the lab like an obedient dog.
I genuinely did not suspect Bernard as a robot until he failed to notice the door to the lab. I like this turn, but it’s the kind of plot twist a show like this can only get away with once. It would feel like a huge cheat if future episodes revealed that other main characters were also robots (aside from the ones we already know are robots, of course). That said, I still have my doubts about the Man in Black.
Reportedly, production of ‘Westworld’ halted for two months earlier this year so that the creators could rework and rewrite the back half of the season before it was filmed. If these past two episodes are a sign to judge by, that may have worked out for the best. They’ve been decidedly more compelling and intriguing than the first batch of episodes.