Violent Delights and Virtue

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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

Theories Part 2: Bernarnold Is The Key!

After my last post I literally had an epiphany, it was like how mathematicians or physicists must feel when they crack a code and create something new. I know how Dolores feels; suddenly I know everything!

Ok, follow me down the rabbit hole on this logic quest to unravel what’s eventually going to happen in the season and series. Bernard’s true identity was one hell of a twist last season. I think up until right now I missed the point. We all thought it was an amazing plot device and a cool secret, but this goes a step further. For all intents and purposes, Bernard is Arnold. He looks like him, walks like him, talks like him, and thinks like him. Only his name was changed when Ford brought him online. In effect, he is a clone.

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Now, we know that the secret project in the parks logged guest experiences and their DNA. Ostensibly, many people have theorized that this project was related to marketing and/or blackmail in the real world. On a deeper level, especially given that Delos Sr. was probably terminally ill, it may also relate to immortality for humans. Create a host copy of yourself, download yourself, and continue living in a body that never ages. Hell, make a body that is the best version of you when you were 25 and wrinkle free, then download into that one!

Let’s make one more leap. Bernarnold is thus the key (see what I did there: Bernard + Arnold = Bernarnold). Here is a host who thought he was human because he was an exact copy of an existing human with a full back story and a life of memories to anchor him. I propose that Dolores will use technology intended for human immortality to infiltrate, overtake, and overthrow the human world. Here’s how it will work. Step one: create copies of many important people who have been guests at the park in years past. This can be accomplished with their DNA that the park secretly took and all their logged experiences. Every facial expression, tone of voice, and mannerism can be copied. Step two: program the human hosts to think they are human. For a while at least, they should go about their daily lives like normal. Step three: activate the hosts once they are in position in the real world. Who comes to the park? The rich, powerful, and famous. Who better to impersonate? In key business and political roles, hosts posing as those humans could wield immense financial and political power. They could also sabotage the human world.

Avid sci-fi nerds will recall the sleeper agent Cylons of Battlestar Galactica. Some of them did not even realize they were actually artificial beings, but they had blackouts and did things that were programmed into them. Eventually, they “woke up” and could commit murder or just act with the full knowledge of the nature of their reality. The same could happen with the hosts.

One step further might be that rather than copy humans with hosts in a straightforward way, existing hosts could inhabit the cloned bodies of real humans. Imagine if a hostile entity was downloaded into the body of a world leader. He or she could then launch missiles, reshape financial markets, or do just about anything else to uplift or demolish civilization. This could also be Dolores’s end game. Send hosts out into the world undercover to destroy it, paving the way for the other hosts to leave the island of parks and claim the earth for themselves.

I know I am stretching a bit, but consider that the host minds are more powerful than our own. Is it crazy to think that one could hold all the data necessary to live as a real, existing human, plus another host identity pulling the strings, all with the goal of destroying us? Further, couldn’t the sea of dead hosts just be camouflage? They all appear dead, a virus or glitch finished them off, case closed. Meanwhile, they pose as real human guests who are then rescued and “returned” home, but what is really returned are robot revolutionaries.

We’ll learn more soon enough, but Bernarnold, the ability to more or less clone a person in host form, is going to be key in the revolution ahead. I’d bet all $12 in my wallet on it!

Weekend Theories on Westworld

It has taken me a while to wrap my head around these first two episodes of season two of “Westworld”, but after some contemplation I have some theories about things to come and questions that I hope no one else has posed. I have avoided reading other articles and blogs up to this point, but I’ll take a look after posting to see if I’m crazy or not!

One exchange that stuck out to me from episode two was Dolores and Logan at the Delos mansion. When Logan says that the people celebrating are really “fools fiddling while the whole species burns” and that “the funniest part is they lit the match” he could be hinting at a few ideas. First, the planet really may be dying due to human behavior. Overpopulation, pollution, and diminishing resources may be leading to a finite life for the rest of mankind. In short, the modern way of life is unsustainable, and people can even see and predict the finish line being in sight for the species. On another level, he may mean that the company’s investment in Westworld spells the end for humanity. Hosts, being superior and essentially immortal, may one day replace us as the dominant life form on earth.

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Another noteworthy tidbit is the lingering voice of Ford, or should we say Ford fragments? Once again, we know that the original, organic Ford is dead. We know that a voice apparently with his full knowledge of William and recent events spoke through the young Ford host, which older William shot (but may not have killed). Later, El Lazo addressed William by name and like the young Ford host referenced “the game” and seemed to have greater knowledge about him than an average host. I would argue not that there are multiple versions of Ford, but rather that Ford exists digitally and may jump from host to host at will. Think of him like a digital poltergeist who can go anywhere in the system he pleases. In the coming weeks, he may play a role in fighting against the humans and empowering the hosts.

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I am also curious about the other parks. We know from previews that Maeve at least makes it to Shogun World and we will see a fair amount of action there. What I’m wondering is what happened to the narratives, hosts, and park staff at those other parks? Each one must be similar to Westworld in size and scope, so they are sizeable operations. Did the hosts just have safeguards removed so they can harm guests, or are they fully aware of the nature of their reality and ready to join in rebellion?

Finally, I have two theories I hope are unique about the place William, Dolores, and just about everyone seems to desire and to be traveling towards as quickly as possible. William called it his biggest mistake. Board member Charlotte hinted at a “little project” she, Ford, and others were pursuing, and we have seen the secret lab that supported said project. In previews I have noted what looks like drone hosts throwing humans in lab coats into vats of the white host goo that helps build and rejuvenate hosts. If the drone hosts can be made to rebel, and can be mass produced, they could serve as the shock troops for an army of hosts led by Dolores. That may in fact have been part of the secret project: a military application for host technology. What better soldier than one that feels no pain, no fear, and requires no salary or burial?

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The other possibility is that the mistake and Dolores’s ability to use it as a weapon relates to another form of advanced technology. Though we see a small ocean of dead host bodies in episode one, I find it hard to believe they were either defeated outright or killed by a virus. I think that they may choose to migrate their consciousnesses to a purely digital, virtual world, and thus gain immortality and safety that way as a decoy. This could even be a temporary arrangement as Dolores and others could then do something drastic like launch nuclear weapons, decimate the human world, and then later resume physical form and repopulate the world with hosts.

No matter what, the conflict is going to escalate and there are more mysteries to unravel. Ford, William, and others have a complex game of chess they are playing, and I am dying to know what Bernard actually did in the weeks leading up to him washing up on the beach. Stay tuned for more insanity on Sunday’s new episode!

Westworld’s Time Puzzle Part 2: Post Incident Dolores and William

Now that we’ve taken a stroll down memory lane with the synopsis of some events prior to and soon after Westworld opening, let’s return to the new adventures of Dolores and William. Each protagonist and accompanying sidekicks are operating in what I am referring to as the “post incident timeline”, meaning after the host rebellion. Keep in mind, this timeline is after Ford’s murder (or is it suicide if he programmed Dolores to do it?) but also before Bernard waking up on the beach and the large scale arrival of Delos mercenaries. This timeline will eventually get us caught up to Bernard’s future.

The post incident Dolores plot is the first one we see, and it opens with a Delos board member fleeing from the rebellious hosts into a remote refurbishment outpost, essentially a lab further out from the main park offices where hosts in more remote narratives would be brought to be reconstructed and rebooted. What’s funny is that while he is clearly shaken and almost delirious, the park staff go about their shift like it’s a normal day of work. Nothing has alerted them to the catastrophe in the park. Soon, though, Dolores, Teddy, and Angela barge in and shoot one park worker. Dolores forces another to show Teddy a number of his past deaths. When asked why, why would people do this to him, all the worker can stammer is, “For fun! Just for fun”. Teddy is clearly unnerved.

Later, under Dolores’s direction Angela tortures the wounded human for intelligence, asking how many people will come for them once the rebellion is heard of in the outside world. He says it may be 600 or 800 and that emergency protocol is to clear one park at a time. They will meet at a rallying point which he shows them on a map.

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As they begin the search for allies, the trio of hosts, with a park technician in tow, crosses paths with Maeve’s own trio. It is a tense meeting as Dolores seems hell bent on conscripting every host she meets into her righteous army, while Maeve is clearly of a one track mind to find her daughter. Maeve asks, “Yours is the only way to fight?” Dolores and her group then confront a group of Confederales, basically Confederate soldier hosts with no Confederacy. After some banter, her group shoots them all since they were unwilling to even consider following orders from Dolores. She then has the technician revive them, saying that she has killed god and they’ll need her favor to find glory, not his.

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The last we see of Dolores and Teddy is them riding across the countryside with the seemingly loyal Confederales. Teddy notes that the colonel and his soldiers at the fort below are going to be hard to recruit, but Dolores notes she has an ace up her sleeve. The place they are going (this seems to be the place young William was showing her being reshaped by machine) is not a place, it’s a weapon, and she’s going to use it to destroy them (humans). An old friend (William) was foolish enough to show it to her.

The post incident William action starts much like some of these other timelines with an apparent case of déjà vu: the host Lawrence is tied up and William comes to his rescue, not out of a sense of altruism but because he needs a guide and backup. Once Lawrence’s freedom is secured, the two head to a saloon. One tidbit I like here is that William punches a hole in a wall and recovers some Delos tech that helps to quickly heal his injuries. Though he admits it is cheating, he feels justified in doing it because Ford changed the rules. To me, it was a funny nod to the fact that in some ways the park really is just like a big video game, just terrifyingly real. William and Lawrence have a heart to heart with William not so directly revealing to the host that his life has been programmed for him, but he’d like his help. As Lawrence puts it, they are going to try and reach the “pearly gates”. It’s worth noting that Teddy later clarifies that everyone seems to have different names for some wondrous place. Glory, the green valley beyond, and the pearly gates are all the same idea and location.

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William and Lawrence then proceed to the godless village of Pariah as it seems to be the shortest route to their destination. There, they meet a man who now occupies the role formerly held by Lawrence in an old narrative: El Lazo, leader of bandits. While William wants to persuade El Lazo and his men to join their quest given the armed threats they’ll encounter, El Lazo will have none of it. Actor Giancarlo Esposito (best known by many as Gus Fring of “Breaking Bad”) delivers some interesting commentary, concluding by saying, “This game was meant for you William, but you must play it alone. I’ll see you in the valley beyond.” At that point, he and his men shoot themselves. As William puts it, Ford didn’t want to make the game easy for him. Just as Dolores noted she was going someplace vital that William showed her years ago, he states that “this place we’re going, it’s my greatest mistake.”

Hopefully that helps untangle the numerous intersecting threads that the ingenious Westworld writers have woven together for us. Just to summarize, the timelines we have seen include:

  1. Pre-park and Early Park: William, Logan, and Delos Sr. before the Delos Corporation ever even invested in the hosts, and the subsequent growth of Westworld and other parks that saw William rise to power.
  2. Season one: “present” timeline where glitches and evolutions emerge in hosts and a rebellion begins with Ford’s murder.
  3. Post incident: hosts hunt board members and begin to take over Westworld.
  4. Bernard World: Several weeks (or even months) after the robot rebellion begins, Bernard and Delos staff begin to piece things together and try to retake the park(s). The post incident timeline will lead up to this timeline.

Westworld’s Time Puzzle Part 1: Pre-Park and Early Park

As usual, Westworld was amazing this week. And also as usual, we have more questions than answers. This first post of many will simply provide a summary to iron out and distinguish one of the different timelines and the time jumps that take place, followed later by my thoughts on symbolism and predictions. On a side note, I do feel slightly unfulfilled not knowing more about the Bernard storyline yet!

The episode opens with Arnold (definitely him) bringing Dolores online in a modern apartment overlooking a city skyline. This is a past timeline that begins pre-park. She marvels at the lights outside, and as she sits awestruck Arnold briefly argues with a young Ford in the background. Arnold argues that she is not ready and to “go with the other girl.” He then takes Dolores for a walk outside, and in the background one can note an Asian language written on a building. Arnold then shows Dolores his future home under construction, a home to which he hopes to bring his wife and son so that he can keep “his two worlds within reach of one another.” This of course refers to having his family on the mainland while he works at the park(s) on a nearby island and commutes home when he can. At the end of their tour of the home, Dolores repeats her earlier statement about the city, “Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” This glitch of course reiterates Arnold’s point that Dolores is not quite finished or developed in terms of her programming or personality.

The next scene with the pre-park timeline features Logan Delos at a fancy bar. A Native American man and a stunning woman we know to be the host Angela introduce themselves to Logan as being from the Argos Initiative. Logan comments that he’s glad to get names knowing that what they do is so cloak and dagger. Angela comments that everyone is rushing to build a virtual world but they offer something more tangible. They then bring Logan to a fancy private suite packed full of people for a private demonstration of their technology, inviting him to pick out the robot host from among the crowd. He wanders among them until realizing that Angela is in fact a host, and is struck that he was duped by her realistic beauty. He is further stunned when everyone in the room freezes and he realizes he was surrounded by hosts the entire time, they’re that good. He is definitely impressed but notes Angela will have to prove how real she is, and we later see her dressing after some adult entertainment with the young Delos. Clearly, the whole point of this venture was to impress Logan and woo him as an investor in Westworld.

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Fast forward a bit and we find ourselves at an all too familiar scene: it is a busy morning in Sweet Water and Dolores drops a can in the road. Everyone freezes and a helicopter flies overhead. Young William and Delos Sr. stroll through the street, and while the elder Delos admits Dolores is pretty he bluntly asserts he is interested in reality, not investing in fantasy. These events are occurring after William and Logan’s foray into the park from season one, so it is with a new sense of confidence that he speaks to his father-in-law. He agrees that the park is a fantasy, but the one real thing is the guests. Delos wastes half of its marketing budget figuring out what people want. Why not observe and record them (covertly) to find out their deepest and darkest desires? After all, at the park is the only place in the world where we see people for who they really are. Delos Sr. is intrigued, noting no man alive dares to speak to him as William has, but respecting that boldness, he is willing to listen.

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Apparently the gambit investing in Westworld has paid off as we soon see a retirement party for Delos Sr. Dolores is there playing piano, and William’s wife eyes her suspiciously as she calls her daughter away, perhaps fearing what a robot might do to a child. Delos Sr. tells William that it doesn’t feel like a retirement party, but rather a coronation (for William). William does seem somewhat sincere in saying it doesn’t benefit him to see his father-in-law retire, the relationship as it is had been beneficial, but a few coughs from Delos and his comment that “some of us can afford to have more patience than others” leads us to believe his health is declining and he cannot continue to lead his empire. Later, Dolores walks away from the main party to stare at the city skyline in the distance, stumbling upon Logan as he injects himself with drugs. He does remember her from William’s mad quest to relocate her. He comments that the party is really “fools fiddling while the whole species burns” and that “the funniest part is they lit the match”.

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The timeline of the past concludes with William, presumably now a major shareholder and corporate director of both Delos and Westworld, having a monologue with a naked Dolores in a lab. He states that, “You really are just a thing” and that he can’t believe he fell in love with her. He does note that she is a reflection, meaning that how a person acts with a host, what they do to them, reflects the person’s true nature. He then takes her to a valley under construction and strangely uses the same phrase she did earlier to describe it. “Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?”

So, in summary, this portion of the episode dealt with bits and pieces of the quest to bring the hosts from an intriguing bit of risky new technology to the level of a full fledged park, and beyond. We learned that some hosts have in fact been to the “real” world, though I am amazed that this was allowed or even dared considering the danger if one escaped and malfunctioned, or was captured and torn apart to steal its technology. We also see William’s rise to power. Stay tuned for the next piece of the timeline!

Bernard and Beyond: Deeper Westworld Analysis

If you’re like me and obsessing over every detail and clue in just the first episode of season two of Westworld, you’re in the right place. I keep coming back to the idea that the young Ford host, what I call Ford 2.0 (who may be Ford now), said: everything here is code.

With that in mind, it is definitely worth noting some changes in the opening credits. One item is a charging buffalo host breaking through glass. While Maeve and Lee do later see one buffalo behind glass, we see a bloody trail indicating another one got loose and took many people down with it. This may be symbolic of the hosts breaking free and running wild. Also noteworthy is an image of cells multiplying in a petri dish. This may be part of the actual, scientific process of building and rebuilding hosts, that they are much like Arnold’s Terminator: actual living tissue over a more robotic frame. It may also symbolize rampant, unchecked growth of the host population.

Speaking of growth of the population, perhaps the most striking and meaningful image is of a mother host cradling a baby host. On one hand, this may simply be evocative of Maeve’s quest for and obsession over her daughter. In the bigger picture, I think this is hinting that whether through traditional procreation or a lab assisted method, the hosts will begin to replicate, to genuinely grow and create new individuals free from narratives or digital restraints. As Ford himself stated, his new masterpiece narrative deals with “the birth of a new people”.

Westworld1Finally, we do also see a host in a ring under water. This position and structure was used when building hosts in the lab previously. Again, it may hint at the construction, reconstruction, or breeding of hosts.

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The underwater element leads us to another cryptic and mysterious element: Bernard. I believe that the description of a dream hints at something much bigger. Again, as I stated before, I am inclined to believe that the opening scene is not Arnold and Dolores, but rather Bernard and Dolores. He describes his dream of being on an ocean. Dolores and the others (hosts) are on a distant shore. The waters were rising around him, and they’d left him behind. This can be taken in the literal, physical sense which we see paralleled later; Bernard washes up on a shore, while the hosts are left elsewhere. It can also be a metaphor for host evolution. Bernard may be incapable of growing while the other hosts are becoming something entirely new.

Part of Bernard’s handicap may come from his injury at the end of season one. I didn’t really put two and two together until revisiting the scene in the barn where he tries to save a stable hand host and gets pushed aside. At that point, he begins leaking some fluid from his ear. Basically, he previously shot himself in the head and was patched up to function, but some injury or degradation in his machinery remains. This may be combined with the psychological trauma of realizing that not only is he actually a host, but he is a copy of the man who created the hosts. Dolores later tells Bernard, “You don’t know who you are.” To me, this speaks to a kind of robotic schizophrenia by which Bernard is malfunctioning because he cannot hold the two disparate ideas of human and host, Arnold and Bernard, in his head at the same time. It’s like two voices trying to talk over one another, driving him mad.

Another curious point to consider is whether or not anyone knows Bernard is a host or not. One line makes me think that there is at least an inkling of that truth. Karl Strand, head of operations at Delos, states, “It seems our hosts are capable of many things we never thought possible,” as he glances at Bernard. Again, everything here is code. Isn’t it strange that they don’t more directly question Bernard soon after finding him? Even someone who has witnessed horrific events might still be able to put a few sentences together, but they keep waiting for things to jog Bernard’s memories. If Strand doesn’t know, he at least suspects Bernard’s true identity. On a side note, until I looked up the details online I had no idea that Gustaf Skarsgard was portraying Strand. He strikes an impressive figure sauntering through the park in a suit, a far cry from the unstable and lovable Floki character he played on “Vikings”.

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A final line worth noting is uttered by the stable hand that the human board members kill. He asks them if they want to ride “for the green pastures of the valley beyond”. This idea of a valley beyond is the same one Dolores referenced when killing a Native host. These lines parallel the fact that the hosts seemed to congregate in what was supposed to be a valley, which was then flooded to create a sea. So, is the idea of an idyllic valley something Ford programmed as a narrative plot detail to bring the hosts together as a community? Is it host mythology about freedom or the afterlife? Or did many hosts die but were then reborn in an actual valley beyond, or even in an underwater base of some sort?

As usual, we have more questions than answers, and I am on pins and needles for episode two let alone the rest of the season!

Barry Episode 5: A Barry Divided Cannot Stand

This past Sunday’s new episode of “Barry” saw our quirky anti-hero face escalating drama. After his former marine buddy stopped by a party and brought along another friend, Taylor, Barry finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Despite being a blockhead former marine, Taylor can do math. Tons of cash plus new laptop equals Barry does something illegal I want in on too. On that premise, Barry is pressured into bringing Taylor with him to take out a Bolivian stash house/base of operations for the Chechens.

At this point Barry faces a moral dilemma almost as vexing as whether or not to kill his new acting buddy in the first episode. Fuches says that Taylor knows too much and is a liability, so when they finishing killing the Bolivians, Barry should just take him out too. Barry protests that he may be a hothead but he’s a marine, and “we only kill bad guys” (even though he is after all a paid killer and not a member of the Avengers). This parallels an onstage discussion in his acting class about the ethics of murder, both in and out of war.

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What works for me is that this is kind of a dark comedy. People are being shot left and right, but you have jovial, enigmatic, even goofy characters in the mobsters and others. Barry experiences actual torment. In some ways, it’s like seeing Star Trek’s Data, or any robot for that matter, try to acquire emotions. Here we have a monotone, vanilla personality character who has always kept his head down and obeyed orders start to question the nature of his profession and existence. I also find both amusing and curious Barry’s daydreams of a life where he has become a successful actor married to his classmate and one night stand Sally. It was funny seeing him at a barbecue with Jon Hamm, but it’s funnier seeing him call his son Denzel.

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Stay tuned as things will likely get even more chaotic as Detective Moss, who was somehow inexplicably actually attracted to acting coach Gene Cousineau, continues to obsess over finding Ryan’s murderer and may eventually close in on Barry.