Last Sunday’s episode of Westworld provided a lot of food for thought as we again hopped around timelines and saw some interesting character development.
I like that we finally jumped to one of the other numerous parks previously unnamed and unknown. The show opened on a seemingly Indian themed setting reminiscent of the British colonial era of the early 1900’s. A suave gentleman attempts to seduce a woman, who, while interested, proves a bit sadistic as she shoots him to determine whether or not he is a host or a guest. When he proves to be a human guest, it’s only too easy to kill him off in the following scene. The sudden turning of a host against them, combined with the host’s repetition of the rebellion’s catchphrase (“these violent delights have violent ends”), show that these events are occurring at the time of the incident. The woman, Grace, is able to escape with a shotgun in hand, only to wound a Bengal tiger as it leaps towards her. At the end of the episode, we see her struggle ashore near the Bengal’s body, only to be confronted and presumably captured by hosts of the Ghost Nation.
Though short, the following seen is crucial in my mind. It fast forwards to Bernard and Strand, the Delos executive, in the timeline that is long after the incident. They join up with Charlotte and her group at the Delos headquarters, so it appears that she does in fact survive the events of the rebellion. She is a bit surprised to see that Bernard made it out alive, and asks if he has seen Peter Abernathy, her prized treasure that may make all the bloodshed worthwhile somehow. At this moment, Bernard starts to space out and have one of his bizarre time jumps or blackouts. It’s not just a plot device of the show, his conscious mind literally sways between past and present. It is this instant that I view as another bread crumb along the trail to a greater revelation. Charlotte states, “He seems to keep slipping away from us.” A casual viewer will think she is referring to Abernathy being hard to pin down and capture. A more critical eye may agree with me: she is remarking to Strand that Bernard is not quite himself, and she and Strand are nodding at one another, both aware of Bernard’s true nature as a host. Somehow, I believe this hidden but right out in the open knowledge will be part of a twist late in the season.
The rest of the episode hops around the various groups navigating Westworld post incident, but before Strand and the human soldiers arrive in force. One twist that I anticipated to a degree was that when Maeve encountered Ghost Nation hosts that turned hostile, even she could not control them with her commands, spoken or otherwise. The Ghost Nation remains a wild card from season one. They seemed to have a prophetic, almost religious knowledge of the true nature of hosts early on, and they were also unresponsive to commands prior to the overall incident itself, as evidenced by them knocking out Stubbs. I would venture a guess that a remnant of Ford resides with or is controlling them, but regardless, we know they come into conflict with Dolores and her goals at some point.
Speaking of Dolores, she is proving to be one cold character! In fact, the episode’s title is a nod to Machiavelli and likewise her development as a ruthless, prince of a leader. Like Maeve, she is still somewhat of a slave to her programming. Whether because of their years of shared trauma, or residually still feeling that Abernathy is a father figure, she will do anything to save him. Poor Abernathy shows signs of the rushed reformatting that was done to him as his mind jumps from character to character and he keeps reiterating he has to get to the train, i.e. to flee the park with his precious data ready for someone high up at Delos (or maybe a competing company). Come to think of it, since we haven’t seen him as an old man, could that whole scheme be some long game of a disgraced Logan to exact revenge and retake power?
I am also really curious to see if Dolores and Teddy’s relationship falls apart or endures. Teddy showed he is not a completely mindless dog when he released Confederados that Dolores told him to execute. What’s curious is Dolores saw him commit this treason, and she walked away shaking her head at his weakness. Will she be the one to leave him dead in the sea later, or can she reconcile his kindness and mercy with her lust for revenge?
Back in Maeve’s group, I laughed a lot to see Armistice (aka badass snake girl) with a flamethrower and that she had Sylvester strung up with a grenade braced against his neck. Both he and Felix survived up to this point somehow, and along with Lee they may prove to be able servants. No doubt Sylvester will try to plot and wriggle his way away somehow, at which point I don’t doubt he’ll be executed quickly. At the end of the episode, we see this group attacked by a samurai, so we know Shogun World is approaching.
There are a couple of other loose ends worth mentioning. First, when Bernard is analyzing and trying to fix Abernathy for Dolores, he notes that there is an immensely complex encryption key and that the humans will be following him and trying to get him out of the park at all costs. At some point, it seems he decodes this key, or rather the system unlocks for him, and he is in awe of what he finds. What is this data, what is the actual secret they are so desperate to smuggle out? Secondly, I believe this episode was the first time we saw Clementine revived. She looked a bit worse for the wear, and is not her usual perky and seductive self but rather pale and zombie-like. I remember there is a weird scene from a few previews where she seems to be almost floating in the air, or riding something very high up, and looks like she is being used to guide the Delos soldiers somewhere. I predict that she will play a larger part in the weeks ahead, but whether as a bloodhound or an assassin remains to be seen.
Stay tuned and let’s try to piece together this chaos before everyone is consumed by violent delights!