We’re coming up on the season finale of ‘Westworld’ soon, and the show has decidedly ramped up its efforts to explain (or at least provide insight into) some of its mysteries. In many of its scenes, this week’s episode feels like a huge info-dump of exposition. For a series like this, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The show opens this week with Bernard and Dr. Ford. Bernard now knows that he’s a robot and remembers killing Theresa. He’s anguished over both things, especially the latter. He believes he loved her. Ford appreciates his creation’s emotional development but doesn’t have time for it right now, so he orders Bernard to dial down his reaction. He explains that, in building the park, he was unsatisfied with the progress his human engineers were making, so he built Bernard to be better than human. Now he needs him to cover his tracks and hide their involvement before Theresa’s death is discovered. In exchange, when Bernard is done, Ford will wipe his memories of killing Theresa and of their romantic relationship, which will relieve him of the pain he’s feeling.
When Theresa’s body is found, security chief Stubbs calls it a slip-and-fall accident. He found transmitter devices on her, which connects her with the data smuggling plot. He believes that, after the robot she was using was destroyed, she went to the park alone to transmit the data herself and fell down a ravine. Charlotte hears this story but is suspicious of it. The pieces fit together a little too conveniently, and she knew Theresa to be a very careful person.
Ford manages to spin this situation into a power play. He blames Theresa for faking the Clementine demonstration (while knowing full well that Charlotte was behind it as well), demotes the QA department, and puts Bernard in charge of all robot support and development.
Charlotte, who can’t prove that Ford has done anything wrong yet, has no choice but to agree to his terms. In the meantime, however, she pays the writer Lee a visit. He’s disgruntled about being sidelined with busywork while Ford unwrites all of his storylines. Charlotte recruits him for what she calls a real job. She brings him to the cold storage facility and picks a robot into which she can load all the data she wants to smuggle out of the park. Lee’s job is to write a very simple narrative that will explain his presence and actions in the park without drawing attention, and provide an excuse for him to get on the train out of the park. Unbeknownst to either of them, the robot Charlotte randomly picks was Dolores’ original father, who was decommissioned due to Arnold’s programming bug.
As reward for cleaning up their mess, Dr. Ford follows through on his promise to wipe Bernard’s memories. Before he does, Bernard asks if Ford ever made him kill anyone before. Ford says no, but Bernard suddenly recovers a memory of exactly that.
Bernard returns to work, where Stubbs offers his condolences about Theresa. He says that, even though they tried to be very discrete, he was aware of their relationship. Bernard has no idea what he’s talking about, which Stubbs finds strange.
Back at her dreary job at the brothel, Maeve is a little shocked when the role of Clementine is replaced with a new, blonde robot. Even though she understands that her entire life is a lie, actually witnessing it this way is still jarring. She continues to have flashback memories to a previous life with a daughter, and is determined to get out of the park as soon as possible.
At Maeve’s next meeting with the engineers, Sylvester is clearly agitated. He’s nervous that what they’re doing will be found out, and wants his involvement with her to be done. Unfortunately, even if she could manage to get to an exit from the park, all robots are built with an explosive device in their spines that will detonate if they cross the threshold. Maeve needs them to disable that. Acknowledging that she won’t be able to do this alone, she says that she needs allies, and demands to be given admin privileges to control other robots.
The updates Maeve wants require a full software shut-down and reboot, during which she’ll be inactive. Sylvester wants to use this opportunity to double-cross and destroy her so that nothing she’s done can come back to them. Felix feels uneasy about this.
Before she shuts down, Maeve looks at Sylvester and wishes him luck. She knows what he’s up to, but she lies on the table anyway and seemingly falls unconscious. Sylvester wants to move quickly to kill her, but of course it turns out that Felix didn’t actually shut her off, and Maeve knew he wouldn’t. She sits up, announces that her core code has been altered, then grabs a scalpel and slashes Sylvester across the throat. He falls to the floor, clutching his neck. The wound must not have been too deep, though, because if she’d hit an artery blood would spray everywhere and he’d die quickly. Instead, he writhes and gasps. Saying that they might need him later, Maeve hands Felix a small blowtorch and tells him to cauterize the wound. Ouch!
Back in Sweetwater soon after, Maeve tests her new ability to rewrite the narrative around her, which amounts to controlling robots in her vicinity to do what she wants. She has a great deal of fun playing with this during bandit Hector’s scheduled raid on the town, which plays out a lot differently than usual this time.
Just as Maeve prepares her big escape from the park, she’s startled by the sound of gunshots in town. The park controllers have detected anomalies in her behavior and sent in characters to kill her so that she can be retrieved and reprogrammed. Maeve tries to counter them by commanding other robots to fight them off, causing a big shootout. This is just a stalling tactic, though. She’s eventually found. Her plan appears foiled – at least for now.
William & Dolores
The further William and Dolores ride into unclaimed territory, the stronger Dolores feels that she’s going home. At a beach, they come across a bunch of dead bodies, the victims of an Indian attack. One young man has survived, but just barely. He’s half dead. He explains that his party was hired to kill William and Dolores by a new player at Pariah who wants revenge against them (William quickly figures out that he’s talking about Logan), but they were slaughtered by the Ghost Nation tribe first. When Dolores goes to fetch some water, she’s shaken by a vision of herself floating face-down in the river. By the time she gets back to them, the boy is dead. We’re left with the impression that William may have killed him, either to put him out of his misery or as a turn to the dark side.
Eventually, Dolores and William come across a small town that Dolores calls home. The place is abandoned. As her memories of it become clearer, we learn that it was an early testing site for first-generation robots. Much as Teddy had earlier, Dolores remembers herself going on a kill spree there. William wakes her up from her flashback when he sees her pointing a gun at her own head as if to kill herself. Dolores snaps out of it, confused about where and when she is. She says that she feels all mixed up, like she’s trapped in a dream.
William believes that Dolores’ deteriorating condition is related to traveling too far from Sweetwater. He suggests that they head back the way they came. Unfortunately, that night they’re accosted by men on horses. It’s Logan and a bunch of thugs. He gloats, “Man, are you two fucked!”
Teddy and the Man in Black
Still following the trail of the mysterious villain named Wyatt, the Man in Black and Teddy come upon more dead bodies. Teddy says that they look like Wyatt’s handiwork. The Man in Black believes that Wyatt is the final piece of the puzzle that will lead him to the maze. Among the victims is one survivor, a woman whom the Man in Black recognizes as a robot he’d encountered in some previous storyline.
The three of them are attacked by what looks like a minotaur monster, or a man dressed up as one. (This is consistent with what we saw previously of Wyatt’s forces.) He doesn’t react to bullets (body armor in the costume?), so the Man in Black and Teddy have to fight him off and kill him with knives. During the altercation, Teddy suddenly has a flashback memory of the Man in Black kidnapping Dolores, not Wyatt. He immediately punches and knocks him out.
The Man in Black awakens tied up. Teddy beats him a little and threatens to kill him, but the Man in Black knows that he won’t be able to do any serious harm. Nonetheless, he tells him about himself – his real self. In the real world, he’s a powerful titan of industry and a noted philanthropist, but his personal life was in shambles. His wife committed suicide and his daughter blamed him for being a lousy husband and father, and generally a terrible human being. After many years of visiting Westworld, he came to the realization that the purpose of the park is to reveal a person’s true self. As such, he decided to take on a villain role in order to see if he was truly an evil man. The way to test that was to do something unquestionably evil. He chose to murder an innocent homesteader family – Maeve and her daughter. He says that he felt nothing when he killed the little girl. However, when the mother didn’t die right away, he felt moved by the genuine love she exhibited for her daughter. It was then that he realized that the park has a deeper level and the robots weren’t mere simulacrums.
The unfolding of the Man in Black’s story is interwoven with Maeve’s flashbacks. After being killed by the Man in Black, she was brought to the control center for resetting, but was completely out of control with grief and didn’t respond to commands. Dr. Ford decided to wipe her entire memory and reassign her to a new role that would be less upsetting – that of brothel madam.
As the Man in Black declared, Teddy can’t bring himself to kill him. However, the other woman in their company betrays them both and stabs Teddy. She’s been one of Wyatt’s people all along. The episode ends with the Man in Black feeling legitimately scared when a group of Wyatt’s monstrous-looking men reveal themselves and surround him. He knew what Teddy is and is not capable of, but he has no idea what these new strangers can do to him.
This episode provides quite a lot of information to take in, but the greater picture is finally starting to form. Dr. Ford’s creations are evolving beyond his control. I’m sure that Bernard’s memory wipe will be no more permanent than Dolores’ or Maeve’s. Once these characters all band together, there may be no stopping them.
What isn’t clear yet is what Ford’s ultimate goal or plan is. I don’t think he’s trying to create consciousness. That seems to have been Arnold’s game (whoever Arnold may have really been). What is Ford really up to? Something makes me suspect that we won’t get an answer to that mystery this season.