When I noticed that my recording of ‘Westworld’ ran for over 75 minutes this week, I knew it would be a big episode. Sure enough, it’s jam-packed with enough incident and revelations to fill three or four hours of a normal TV series.
We open in what at first appears to be a very modern, fashionable apartment furnished mostly in the color white. It doesn’t take long to notice that the place feels like a fish bowl, sealed off from the outside world. Inside resides James Delos. He seems fit and healthy (he was sickly and dying the last time we saw him), but his hand experiences a tremor when pouring cream into his coffee. A video message from a female assistant informs him that he has a visitor, and William (the younger version, played by Jimmi Simpson) walks in.
Delos is relieved to see him and very anxious to leave. William makes him sit for what he describes as a baseline interview for “fidelity” and asks a series of simple questions. Delos indicates that he’s in some sort of health clinic in Carlsbad, CA. He isn’t sure exactly how long he’s been there, except that it’s too long for his liking and he’s sick of being poked and prodded by doctors. When he gets fed up of answering what he sees as pointless questions and demands to know what their purpose is, William slides a piece of paper across the table to him.
The episode jumps around interweaving storylines at this point, but I’ll organize them separately for this recap.
A condensed version of the same scene occurs later, repeating most of what we saw with minor variances. Williams slides the paper again. The page contains a transcript of their interview, word for word. They’ve had this conversation before. Delos quickly realizes what this means. He is not his original self, but a robot replica programmed with his consciousness. He’s actually dead. William tells him that seven years have passed and they’re not in California.
Delos is excited. He says that he feels great and is excited to resume his life. Unfortunately, William informs him that his wife died of a stroke, and they need to keep him for observation a little longer. As Delos starts to get angry about this, he develops speech problems and can’t articulate clearly. With a sad look on his face, William leaves the apartment. From outside, we see that all the walls are one-way windows and the entire apartment sits inside a larger laboratory. The assistant from the video message is a technician. William orders her to terminate the unit. When she presses a button, Delos freezes and the interior of the apartment bursts into flames, incinerating him.
Try, Try Again…
Another James Delos is in a rebuilt apartment. A different technician/assistant (this one male) notifies him that he has a visitor. In walks William, much older (played by Ed Harris). When Delos realizes who he is, he very quickly pieces together what’s happening. Unfortunately, he’s still having speech errors. William explains that he is the 149th attempt, each one eventually hitting a “cognitive plateau” where their mind rejects reality. He lasted 35 days this time, which is the best result yet but still clearly insufficient.
William tells Delos that they might crack this problem in another year or two. However, he has lost faith in the project and questions whether the whole thing was a mistake. “People aren’t meant to live forever,” he says. When the furious Delos calls out for his son Logan, William says that he overdosed years ago. There’s nobody left to come help him. “Some men are better off dead.”
William leaves with Delos raging through the apartment, smashing all the furniture. When the technician asks if he should terminate the unit, William tells him to just leave it going, saying that perhaps observing the way he degrades will prove useful somehow. It’s clear, though, that the cold and cruel William just wants his former mentor to suffer.
The Man in Black
Older William, with Lawrence in tow, rides through a railroad camp where they witness the disturbing sight of the Chinese laborers murdering people and laying their bodies as the slats under the tracks. They travel on until they return to the border town that Lawrence is from. The place is strangely empty aside from one very nervous barkeep at the cantina. Within moments, the scene is revealed to be an ambush as Maj. Craddock and a group of Confederados who survived the massacre at Fort Forlorn Hope come out of hiding. The Man in Black is neither surprised nor worried.
Craddock brings them to a church filled with all the other townsfolk (including Lawrence’s wife and daughter) cowering in fear. He demands that they tell him where their armory of weapons is hidden and shoots a village elder to make his point that he means business. Lawrence tells the Man in Black that all the guns are buried in an unmarked grace, and the Man in Black promptly gives Craddock this information. He also says that he knows where they’re trying to go and can lead them to “Glory” (the same place Dolores is heading). He wants them to be his army.
Psychotic Craddock tortures the barkeep for kicks by filling a shot glass with nitroglycerine, making him walk twelves paces, and shooting the glass to blow off the man’s hand. (This is called foreshadowing.)
Later, Craddock has his men beat up Lawrence, and then makes his wife carry another glass full of nitro out to him. This triggers the Man in Black to remember his wife’s suicide. Having enough of Craddock’s sadism, the Man in Black smashes a bottle, slashes his face, grabs a gun, shoots all the other Confederados, and saves Lawrence. He then forces Craddock to drink the glass of nitro and hands a gun to Lawrence, who takes the shot and blows him to hell.
The Man in Black may not have been able to recruit the untrustworthy Confederados to his cause, but Lawrence and all his cousins agree to join him on his journey to Glory. Before they leave town, the Man in Black is confronted by Lawrence’s daughter, who speaks as Robert Ford to him and tells him that he still doesn’t understand the game he’s playing.
Clementine drags Bernard to a cave and deposits him outside within reach of a rifle, then walks away. Bernard picks up the rifle and, hearing something inside the cave, enters to investigate. He finds Elsie (Shannon Woodward), still alive and chained to the ground. She’s furious with him because she remembers him as the one who attacked her and presumably put her there. Nevertheless, he shoots off the lock on her chain.
As she yells at him, Bernard has a seizure and collapses. Elsie takes a tablet out of his pocket and sees a diagnosis that he’s having something called “Cognitive Lock.” Elsie is shocked to learn that Bernard is a robot, until it dawns on her that everything she knows about his family and past was scripted backstory. She powers Bernard off and reboots him with some systems turned off to delay the next seizure, but claims it’s not a permanent fix.
Elsie says that Bernard is in desperate need of cortical fluid, which they have no hope of finding in the middle of nowhere. Bernard has a memory flashback and leads her deeper into the cave, where he uncovers a secret entrance to an off-the-books facility. Inside is another lab with dead scientists on the floor. Elsie is frightened by a drone robot and shoots it down with the rifle. Bernard informs her that Dr. Ford is dead. She finds some cortical fluid and injects it into him.
When Bernard wakes up again, he has trouble telling past from present. He experiences his memories as if they’re happening for the first time. He remembers that this lab was used for building host bodies with an entirely different code than any of the others. Elsie discovers an encrypted file similar to the one Bernard found hidden inside Peter Abernathy. She also finds a locked door that she wants to get into. As Bernard tries to warn her that perhaps some answers are better left unknown, he realizes that everything he’s experiencing with Elsie is another memory and these events have already happened.
Elsie breaks through the door and discovers the lab with the Delos apartment. She unlocks that door and goes inside. The male technician we saw earlier is dead on the floor, indicating that not much time has passed since that. The apartment is a total wreck. Delos is still alive and crazed, his face bloodied from self-inflicted cuts. He attacks Elsie and gets the rifle away from her, but Bernard steps in and knocks him down. He and Elsie exit and lock the apartment, then run the termination protocol to incinerate it.
Elsie believes she understands the life extension conspiracy. Bernard remembers printing a control unit for another human to be implanted into a host body, but isn’t sure whose it was. He also believes that he has free will now and is no longer under Ford’s control. He convinces the skeptical Elsie of this, promising not to lie to her or harm her again. However, he breaks this promise within minutes when he recovers a memory that he controlled all the drones in this lab and made them kill the workers, but does not tell Elsie.
Grace, the woman from the Raj we were introduced to last week, is taken captive by the Ghost Nation Tribe and brought to a camp with a number of other white prisoners, including Ashley Stubbs. (That would place these events sometime after he was kidnapped but before he and the Delos militia found Bernard.) He tells her that their captors are only killing other robots and haven’t harmed any live humans. When he assures her that help will come to rescue them and get them out of the park eventually, she says that she’s not looking to escape.
Grace can speak the Ghost Nation’s native language and translates when all of the prisoners are brought to “the first of us.” She runs off at the first opportunity and no one chases her. A Ghost Nation warrior whispers into Stubbs’ ear (in English), “You live only as long as the last person who remembers you.”
Grace is seen again at episode’s end when she encounters the Man in Black and his new army. He was exactly what she was looking for. She greets him saying, “Hello, daddy.”
This is a hell of an episode that doles out a ton of important answers to the show’s mysteries (but not all of them, obviously). A number of fan theories were proven correct – about the secret life extension project, about Elsie still being alive, and about the Ghost Nation not harming humans, among others.
Still unclear is what Ford’s game is. The Man in Black continues to talk about needing to find the true purpose of the park, and since he was in charge of the life extension project, that clearly wasn’t it.
We also don’t know whose consciousness Bernard printed onto the control unit. Best guesses are either Robert Ford’s or Arnold’s.
From the preview, the next episode appears to focus on Maeve’s visit to Shogun World. It looks really epic!