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‘Westworld’ Recap and Reaction: “Tromp L’Oeil”

Westworld has largely been a show with lots of questions and no concrete answers. Last week’s episode, “The Adversary“, was more straightforward than any of the other episodes. This week’s “Trompe L’Oeil” gave answers, just not for the questions fans were asking. With a fun twist (that our own Eric Fuchs predicted last week) and loads of action, “Trompe L’Oeil” may be the best episode of Westworld yet. For a more in-depth play-by-play recap, check out the Westworld wiki page on the episode here.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

dolores-william-kiss-westworld
Dude! He kisses his sister!! Wait... wrong show.

After being completely absent last week, Dolores and William are back and still on the train with Lawrence. The two finally move past their reluctance to have hot human-on-host train lovin’. William has a nice monologue about what Westworld is to him. He tells Dolores that she’s the key, which is a recurring theme with the original host. She’s the one who awoke Maeve, and she’s certainly awakening something in William. He’s gone from goody-two-shoes to nearly roguish. Jimmi Simpson is doing a spectacular job with the character, and his devotion to Dolores seems understandable, even if slightly misguided. William is the hero of the story, as far as there can be any heroes in this tale. It’s nice to see he got the girl before it all inevitably goes haywire.

The train gets stopped by the Confederados, leading to a spectacular horse chase. The sequence is Westworld‘s best action scene yet, a welcome departure from the show’s usually leisurely pace. Halfway through the chase, the Ghost Nation natives show up and start fighting the Confederados. Bloodshed ensues, as is always the case on HBO shows. After getting to safety, Dolores and William go separate ways from Lawrence, and Dolores finds the place she drew earlier. She believed that she was making up the place in her drawing, but it appears to be a memory. It’s a nice moment that reminds viewers that no matter how “human” Dolores seems, her thoughts are still somewhat programmed.

clementine-westworld-blood
Even in its most brutal moments, Westworld is shot beautifully.

Programming can always go wrong, and that’s what Theresa and Charlotte Hale are banking on. Hale, introduced last week as a member of the board, appears this week having rough sex with bad boy host Hector. She and Theresa meet, and Charlotte tells Theresa that they need to get rid of Ford, whatever it takes. There must be a blood sacrifice, she says, and they manipulate Clementine‘s coding. During a demonstration, Clementine goes mad after being punched and destroys her attacker. Theresa blames it on the “reveries” and Charlotte fires Bernard. (We’ll get back to him in a second.)

Maeve is conscious during Clementine’s removal from the park, and she sees everything freeze and the men take her friend away. She is past the point of the controllers’ commands anymore, but she is learning to play along. She’s doing what she can not to reveal her awareness, though she takes a risk and dies to end up on the operating table and find Clementine. She sees Clementine get lobotomized and decides she’s had enough. Maeve is probably going to kill a lot of humans in the coming weeks, and it’s hard not to root for her.

Maeve tells Felix and Sylvester that they’re going to help her escape or she’s going to kill them. It won’t be that simple, but it’s going to be fun to see her take on the evil corporation behind the park. Charlotte and her ilk clearly aren’t afraid to play dirty, and they have some (currently unrevealed) ulterior motive. The park is some kind of experiment, and there’s much more at stake than the host’s code.

bernard-westworld
Bruce Willis Bernard was a ghost robot the whole time!

The episode featured a pretty big character twist, though the opening sequence might have given it away for some. After all, the only characters whose dreams we see are those of the hosts, whose dreams are memories of their past lives. Bernard dreams of his son. When he’s fired, he barely reacts. He just takes Theresa to the cabin to show her the non-sanctioned hosts… and reveals that he too is a host under the orders of Dr. Ford. It explains why many of his reactions have seemed muted, and also why his behavior hasn’t seemed totally normal. His loyalty to Ford makes even more sense than it did before.

Ford forces Bernard to kill Theresa. This could be a big plot point later on if Bernard becomes able to retrieve his memories like the other hosts. If there’s such thing as poetic justice, it would be Bernard killing Ford. There is also the possibility that Arnold, or part of Arnold, is within Bernard. He could be the ghost in the machine, both literally and metaphorically.

The episode’s title refers to a method in painting or other physical art that makes the flat surface appear three-dimensional. It is likely a reference to Bernard’s fooling everyone in posing as a human (even himself, ala Rachael in Blade Runner). It could also be in reference to the tricks up Ford’s sleeve that haven’t even been revealed yet. Whatever the case, Westworld keeps viewers guessing and is one of the boldest shows on TV.

Best Moments

  • Maeve is always a blast to watch, but she’s even better now that she’s tweaked her personality and intellect. She’s a sassy Borg Queen, smarter than we can comprehend and mad as hell. Her line to Felix and Sylvester when they tell her trying to escape is a suicide mission is gold: “You think I’m scared of death? I’ve done it a million times. I’m f**king great at it.”
  • Ford echoes what Charlotte told Theresa: “There must be a blood sacrifice”. Either Ford and Charlotte are in cahoots, or he has eyes and ears everywhere and heard the entire conversation. Both prospects are equally frightening.
  • The episode gave several tiny clues to Bernard’s true identity. He didn’t notice the door that he wasn’t supposed to see, and even when it was pointed out to him, he didn’t understand. Poor Bernard.
  • The show killed off two major characters, probably permanently, this week. That seems to be expected on most shows these days, but neither Clementine nor Theresa’s death felt like cheap thrills.

Can ‘Westworld’ Get Over Its Mysteries?


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