No one should have expected Westworld to be completely linear, not with Jonathan Nolan at its helm. Nolan penned the short story that became Memento and wrote the screenplays for Interstellar and The Prestige. Nolan likes to use the unreliable structure of visual narratives as a tool in his work. In Westworld, the hosts’ ability to “live” their memories seamlessly joined together gives Nolan even more narrative timeline hijinks to use. While some of the show’s many mysteries are leaving viewers scratching their heads, this week’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” at least gave us a few more pieces of the puzzle. Next week’s finale will probably answer a few more questions and create some new ones. Then again, that’s part of what makes Westworld so compelling.
For an in-depth recap of last night’s Westworld episode, “The Well-Tempered Clavier”, check out the wiki here. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Dr. Ford has been using Bernard for a lot of awful things lately. He had Bernard kill Elsie and then Theresa, plus he had the poor host cover up their deaths. He then erased all of Bernard’s memories attached to those events and thought there would be no more issues. Ford hadn’t counted on Maeve having a little chat with poor Bernard after her “malfunction” in killing the new Clementine.
Maeve not only awakened Bernard to the fact that he was a host, she also invited him to join her in revolting against their maker. She tells him that she wouldn’t ever force him to do what she wants, because “that’s what they do to us”. Maeve has a sense of morality, and while it is invariably skewed due to her circumstances, she believes in free will. Free will is a very important thing to anyone who’s had it taken away from them. Maeve reveals more of her true personality in her interaction with Bernard. She wants to be better than those who created her, to be an improvement. So far, she’s doing a fine job.
Bernard corners Dr. Ford and has a hacked Clementine hold him at gunpoint. He wants all of his memories back, all the way to the start. He wants to “meet” Arnold in his memories because he believes Arnold programmed the more nuanced parts of his personality. Turns out that he’s (sort of) right, because he is Arnold in host form, a replacement Ford made after Arnold died. This explains “Bernard’s” chats with Dolores a bit better — she wasn’t speaking to the host Bernard at all but rather the human Arnold at some point in the past. When Dolores finds herself back in the basement with Arnold, she remembers that she killed him. Arnold didn’t kill himself, it seems, but died instead at the hand of his favorite creation.
Speaking of Arnold’s favorite creation, Dolores went through a number of memories and timelines this week. She started things off with Logan and William, then had her guts displayed to Logan before running off and stumbling into a series of memories. The town she went to is the same one that Teddy was seen slaughtering everyone in, and the church is the one central to Ford’s new narrative. While Dolores is tripping the light fantastic through her past, Teddy goes through his own set of revelations while speaking with Angela. It turns out Teddy actually gunned down a bunch of women and children with Wyatt. Angela knows she’s a host (or is awakened in some way) and tells Teddy he’s not ready yet, then kills him. The Man in Black wakes up and has a little chat with Charlotte Hale that reveals even more about his history.
After finding out last week that the Man in Black was a titan of industry, this week we learn that he is the only reason Westworld stayed afloat for years. It lends even more credence to the theory that William is actually the Man in Black. So does the photo Logan shows William of the latter’s fiancee. It’s the same picture that sent Peter Abernathy off into an existential crisis. This tells us that Dolores has realized the nature of her own existence more than once and that one of those times was likely in the past.
William also decides that he’s going to “play the game” of the park, and while Logan is passed out from drinking, he brutally dismembers all of the Confederados. If that’s not step one toward becoming the ‘ole blue-eyed, black-hatted murder master, I don’t know what is.
Dolores also expects William to find her at the church, and instead, the Man in Black opens the door. This is one fan theory that has almost as much going for it as that old R+L=J thing for Game of Thrones. It makes a world of sense, especially since the Man in Black returned to Westworld after his wife killed herself because he ignored her. William ignoring his wife to the point of her committing suicide seems pretty on-point given what we know so far. The question now isn’t if William becomes the Man in Black, but rather how that journey progresses.
Another character whose journey has been fascinating this season is Maeve. After breaking open Bernard’s brain early in the episode, she goes on to recruit Hector in the sexiest robot-on-robot scene this side of Blade Runner. She convinces him that his world is a lie and she has the answers. She then asks him to go to Hell with her. When he asks how, she kicks over a lantern and sets their tent ablaze. “Getting to Hell is easy,” she tells him. “The rest is where it gets hard.”
The flames rise around them in a brilliant representation of infernal damnation. Maeve knows that on the other side is the true hell — the Mesa facility.
This week, Westworld revealed that Bernard is actually a simulacrum of Arnold, Dolores doesn’t know when she is, Maeve is a kickass robot goddess intent on freeing the oppressed hosts, and William is (most likely) the Man in Black. Next week’s the finale, which means there’s plenty more surprises in store.
- Charlotte Hale’s fashionable shoe appearing in frame as the Man in Black gasps for air after nearly being hanged is a great little shot. Her first line to him, “have you ever considered golf?” is equally brilliant. It cements the Man in Black’s timeline as the show’s “present”. It also gives viewers an idea as to how much power the Man in Black has with regards to the park.
- Jeffrey Wright was great this week playing both Bernard and Arnold. As Arnold, he looks more lively, and it will make going back to past episodes to watch the “Bernard”/Dolores interactions that much more interesting.
- The show’s writing is incredible, but it’s the actors that are really bringing Westworld to life. Nuanced performances from Thandie Newton, Wright, Ed Harris, Jimmi Simpson, Evan Rachel Wood, and Anthony Hopkins take Westworld from good to great. This week everyone really showed off the full range of their talent.