Westworld Review: The Well-Tempered Clavier

Something I wish I had done from the beginning of this show was do an episode-by-episode review similar to my Game of Thrones reviews. Alas, I didn’t really know just how much of a rabbit hole, a good rabbit hole, Westworld has become. With only one episode yet to air this is a little late in the game but I figured I’d go ahead and start because last night’s episode had some major revelations. First, lets recap each storyline:

Bernard

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We’ve known that Bernard was a host for quite a while, and a lot of us have suspected that Bernard was Arnold, or at least modelled after him. After tonight’s episode we have finally confirmed that Bernard is Arnold, or rather, a simulacrum of him. When Bernard begins analyzing Maeve’s behavior she takes control of him with her newfound powers. Instead of wiping his memory she tells him to find the truth from Ford.

This he does at gunpoint, with the help of our friend Clementine who, thanks to Theresa’s alterations is capable of harming humans. He demands answers from Ford who gives them without the slightest hint of fear or apprehension. The fact that the man has never been surprised or scared during the many times he has been cornered is revealing, considering that he’s always had the upper hand. Always.

We learn what we already knew, that Bernard’s memories were false and that he was built by Ford. What we didn’t know (but suspected) is that Bernard is Ford’s attempt to resurrect his old partner Arnold. Bernard remarks that some of his code is more elegant than what Ford is capable of creating and assumes that Arnold had helped build him. But the truth is much more interesting: Bernard created the code for the hosts and Ford utilized Bernard’s own code on himself.

Bernard is angered by all of these revelations and tells Clementine to shoot Ford. She does not, as is to be expected when dealing with Ford. The rule in Westworld is this: Ford always has the upper hand. Instead of Ford dying at the hands of one of his creations he instead tells Bernard to turn the gun on himself.

It would seem that we have seen the last of Bernard but keep in mind that, as a host, he can be rebuilt and reformatted. Ford reveals that they’ve had this discussion many times over the years so we may not have seen the last of Jeffrey Wright. At the very least we can expect him to return in the form of flashbacks involving Ford and Arnold.

Maeve

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After sending Bernard to meet his maker in the most literal sense Maeve returns to the park and begins to enact her plan. This involves Enlisting the help of Hector. She shows him what’s in the safe (nothing) and tells him that she plans to invade hell, or rather, the inner workings of the park. He agrees and asks how to get there. She tells him that getting there is easy, but what comes next is the hard part. They make love amid flames, presumably to die so that they can be sent in for repairs.

The Man in Black

We see The Man in Black and Teddy waiting to meet Wyatt. Angela is there and she explains to Teddy that Wyatt is waiting for him. It seems that what we’ve been shown of Teddy’s past with Wyatt has previously been somewhat muffled. Instead of Teddy and Wyatt shooting up a regiment of soldiers, we now see Teddy dressed as a lawman murdering civilians. As the flashback ends Teddy walks up to Angela, the same version of Angela who has been seen in Dolores’ visions of the past, and shoots her in the head.

Teddy is confused by this but he has little time to process it as Angela kills him using The Man in Black’s knife. Before she does so she tells him that Wyatt is waiting for him in a town covered in sand. The Man in Black remarks that he’s been there before. Angela then knocks him out. The next time we see him he escapes from his bonds only to be confronted by Charlotte Hale. We can confirm by this conversation that The Man in Black is a member of the board (at the very least) of Delos. She tells him that she plans to remove Ford from his position, which The Man in Black doesn’t seem to care about. His interest in the park, he remarks, were in the storylines, and the ones he likes weren’t written by Ford. He gives tacit support to Charlotte before telling her not to interrupt him again. He’s on his vacation, after all.

William

William is bound to a chair as Logan berates him about his actions. William tries to explain to Logan that Dolores is different, that she’s beginning to become self aware. Logan will hear none of it. He tries to remind William about his past, about his relationship to his sister, and even shows him a picture of her. The same picture that we’ve seen in episode 1, the one that made Dolores’ father go mad.

This is an important clue and may seem to cement the two-timeline theory a bit more. As I’ve written before, I was of the opinion that William was not The Man in Black. Now… well I’m not so sure. If this is the first time, chronologically speaking) that picture has entered the park then it would seem to confirm at the very least two timelines. A few things to keep in mind, however. First, Dolores doesn’t seem to be affected at all by the picture in episode 1; rather it is her father that reacts. Second, photo paper doesn’t really survive after being buried in the dirt for 30 years. That last bit may have escaped the writers’ minds. I find it rather unlikely that Logan and his sister (who we know have visited the park before) just happened to have that same picture and dropped it near Dolores’ ranch on their previous visit. It’s more believable that this is intentional and that the picture will find it’s way into Dolores’ hands somehow, only to be dropped on the ground and resurface 30 years later. From a storytelling standpoint, mind you.

This still doesn’t explain my major objection to the William = MiB theory. At the end of episode 2 Dolores clearly sees a memory of The Man in Black which causes her to break her look, kill her attacker and run into William’s arms. Unless of course this is just a trick of editing which, as I’ve written before, would be bad storytelling.

Logan eventually has had enough and decides to show William how different they are from the hosts. He guts Dolores, revealing a patchwork of metal and gears rather than flesh and bone. This is important: The Man in Black states that he once opened up one of the hosts and described them as mechanical before they were replaced with synthetic bones. This would seem to prove that William’s and Logan’s storylines do in fact take place in the past. However… there is one last defense against this. Dolores is in fact one of the original hosts, the oldest host still operating in the park. She’s been repaired so many times she’s practically brand new, as we learned at the end of episode 1. Now, this could mean that they’ve repaired her mechanical parts or she has, over the years, slowly been replaced with blood and guts like the rest of the hosts. There’s really no way of telling.

Dolores escapes to follow her own adventure. William is left to brood and later tells Logan that he was wrong, he had gotten too drawn into the park. Logan releases him and the two embrace. The next morning Logan awakes to find all of the confederados have been killed. Not just killed, but dismembered. Blood covers the ground and a clearly unhinged William tells Logan that he is going to help him find Dolores.

Keep in mind that all of the dead hosts in this scene are covered in blood and bone, not gears and oil. This would seem to lend credence to the single timeline theory and Dolores still having mechanical parts because she’s an original host but, then again, I’m probably reading too much into things.

Dolores

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Dolores makes her way to the abandoned church. In a flashback we see a blue dress wearing Dolores walking amid a group of confused hosts who are clearly hearing their programs as an inner monologue, something that Arnold implemented but had gone awry. Blue dress Dolores descends to the lower levels of the park, sits at a chair and has a conversation with Arnold. However, Arnold can’t help her because he’s dead, as Dolores knows somehow. Did Dolores kill Arnold?

Dolores ascends back up to find the church abandoned and she has returned to her pants and shirt outfit. She hears someone entering the church and thinks it’s William only to be brought face-to-face with her tormenter, The Man in Black.

This clearly cements Pants and Shirt dolores in the present and presumably Blue Dress Dolores in the past. Unless of course Present Dolores got herself another pair of pants and shirt… the exact same pair, alone without the help of William as she seemingly retraced her previous experience of coming to the church with William.

So maybe there is just one timeline… but that photo and her gut… If The Man in Black tears open her shirt in the next episode and we see she still has that gaping wound revealing gears I’ll be so much happier…

Theories

First off, I’m pretty sure either Teddy is Wyatt, or Dolores is. The town that Teddy was seen shooting up was very similar to the town from Dolores’ vision. Despite Ford’s protestation that he’s not the sentimental type it seems that Ford is, rather than writing a new narrative, using something from the park’s past. Otherwise, why would the key to the maze be found in Wyatt’s hands who is seemingly a creation of Ford’s. More likely the maze is Arnold’s creation, one that Ford was either unaware of, or did not seem significant enough to erase all mention of it. Certain hosts still hold the memory of The Maze and are guiding The Man in Black to Arnold’s maze even after his death (if he is dead).

I think the more likely answer is that Ford is altering a narrative written by Arnold which was never implemented. He’s repurposing old hosts to their original storylines rather than a new one, which would explain why Teddy and Angela are beginning to remember the past. My guess is that Wyatt is an old build of Teddy’s that Ford is repurposing into the villain of the story, perhaps as a reward for all the years Teddy has had to endure as the luckless hero who can’t save the girl. Either Wyatt/Teddy killed the town as part of his previous narrative, or Wyatt/Teddy killed those hosts as part of the event that killed Arnold decades before. Or, and this is less likely but would be far more interesting, Dolores is “Wyatt” who ordered Teddy to kill all the hosts and Arnold after a mental breakdown. If this last one is true it would explain why Dolores has been condemned to be raped by the guests as Teddy watches helplessly time and time again by Ford, as punishment perhaps. We shall have to wait to see.

I’m still clinging on to hope that William is not The Man in Black, but the chances of that are slim, I’ll admit. Why am I clinging on to hope? Because otherwise it would mean that the showrunners are presenting things like Dolores’ memory of The Man in Black not as plot devices but rather as pure misdirection. To put it plainly, if we assume that there are two timelines then the only reason to show here remembering The Man in Black in the scene that causes Dolores to run away from the farm and into William’s hands is to make us think the events with Dolores and William are happening in the present. It’s not in there for story reasons, it’s in there to trick the audience. That’s not good writing. It’s clever writing, I’ll admit, but it doesn’t develop the story.

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Christopher James

Christopher James

The Founder of TPK Media.

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