**One Watch. Everyone knows the rules.** After the first paragraph expect SPOILERS. These are my thoughts and takeaways after one watch of WESTWORLD season one, episode eight.
"Bring yourself back online." Westworld has become one of the most detailed and intricate shows in recent memory. There's been more than a few comparisons to LOST but the biggest difference is, Westworld shrouds almost everything in mystery. Even WHEN these stories are actually taking place. We don't even know if we're seeing one, two, or three time periods in action. Episode eight wasn't a big plot mover but it certainly was packed with details and possible clues to previous theories. Only two episodes remain this season and the weight of the series is sort of hanging on the wrap up and the season finale. How smoothly can they tie all of these stories together? Is Westworld the Unicorn I want it to be?! Or, just a donkey in a party hat??
Recap, questions and theories. This might not be the easiest write up to follow, but LETS GET IT!!!
The title of episode eight is "Trace Decay". And just like almost all episode titles thus far, it sets the stage for the overarching theme of the episode.
"In simple terms trace decay in regards to psychology is forgetting. Trace decay is the theory that memory leaves some type of trace, a physical or chemical change, within the brain that begins to decay over time."
There was certainly a lot of remembering going on in episode eight. Felix even describes the theory to Maeve and explains the difference between the human and Host memory. Something like, human memory fades and Hosts remember things exactly as they happened. Wouldn't that be a cool skill to have when studying for a test? Or, you know, arguing with anyone about anything. Ever.
How fantastic has the music been on this show?! We've been getting sweet piano or orchestral versions of pop and rock songs. They don't over use the technique though. So when you hear it happening it really has an impact. This week was 'House of the Rising Sun'.
Dr. Ford and Bernie the Bot
- Ford tells Bernard to bring himself back online and the episode opens right where it left off. When Bernard starts freaking out about killing Theresa I expected Ford to tell him to "limit emotional affect". The exchange between Ford and Bernard is pure poetry of plot development and writing. It's just as I said before, Bernard is truly Ford's greatest creation. A host that not only can emit and experience an entire range of emotions, but can even create these emotions in other Hosts. This is the PEAK of Artificial Intelligence. Skynet would be proud.
- When Bernard asks about killing Theresa Ford quotes Dr. Frankenstein. "One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire". Ford loves quoting writers and philosophers. I knew this was from something but I couldn't pinpoint it and had to look it up. Westworld has never been shy about literary parallels. They don't even hide it. In fact, they usually just pull out the actual book and have the character representation read from it. AKA Dolores (Alice) reading Alice in Wonderland. In this case Ford is Dr. Frankenstein and Bernard is the monster.
- Ford explains he created Bernard because human engineers were either unwilling or unable to give the Hosts the emotions, range, or ability he wanted. They could emulate happiness, anger, and other black and white representations of emotion. But, they couldn't hit the full range of human experience. So Ford created Bernard and designed him for what he wanted. And apparently, what Arnold wanted.
- I really want to see how Ford created Bernard then got him hired to Delos. Did he send him in on a job interview with a bunch of people? Was there a phone screen first? His resume would all be a lie since he didn't have a job before then. Pretty interesting stuff. Bernard, creating fraudulent employment history since the day he was born.
- So...Ford gets Bernard to successfully cover up the murder before he erases his memory of the event and his entire relationship with Theresa. But, right before he does that we see a flash of Bernard putting Elsie Hughes in a sleeper hold. I personally hope she isn't dead. Her character is unique on this show. There is no one else like her and she brings an enjoyable point of view that I think the show needs.
- Last bit about the Theresa cover-up...Ashley Stubbs (short Thor) is very suspicious. Suspicious about Elsie's whereabouts and suspicious about Bernard's reaction to his condolences over Theresa. I think the Head of Westworld Security still might be a Host but he certainly has great human intuition.
- Also, Sizemore and Charlotte are determined to get the Westworld IP out of there and to the Delos board. They're going to use Daddy Abernathy to do this.
Maeve and the Cartoon Cat Duo
- So Maeve wants to build an Army and now she has the administrative privileges to do so.
- We find out she cannot get out of the actual Delos building on Westworld because of an explosive in her spine that all Hosts have implanted. Could be important moving forward.
- We don't know exactly HOW Maeve is going to build an Army or what exactly it's for. But, we do know that it involves Hector the Outlaw and Maeve's ability to control the Hosts. I love the way they have her doing this. As if she's narrating a story. "The Marshall's decide to practice their quick draw on each other". Then they turn and BOOM! Savage move, Maeve.
- Felix seems petty smart but he is getting absolutely PLAYED by a robot hooker. Why does he feel like he needs to keep helping her with this stuff? I guess at this point it's fear for his life but can't he figure out how to shut her down?
- Maeve cuts Sylvester's jugular but apparently you can just weld that thing back together with the repair tools in Westworld. I actually thought this was great to see. Shows how they are always patching up bullet holes and stab wounds without any scars. Sylvester needs to go to management about Maeve, right? The blackmail factor doesn't outweigh getting your throat cut.
- Maeve apparently LOVES cutting throats. New Clementine's, Sylvester's, the MIB, her own.
- The MIB and Maeve stories get connected a little in this ep. We see that MIB killed Maeve and her daughter about a year ago after his wife killed herself and before Maeve was reassigned. He says he saw Maeve become human, just for a split second but it was there. This obviously begs the question, what's so special about Maeve? Is it the same thing that's in Dolores?
- Maeve loses her shit and accidentally cuts the new Clementine's throat as all hell breaks loose in Sweetwater. The Westworld operations finally take notice and move in to take Maeve back after her odd behavior. What's her next move? Is she going to influence Bernard somehow in the next episode?
William and Dolores
- To be completely honest, I'm not all that into the Willam and Dolores storyline. William is sort of a nerd and Dolores is just having a panic attack every time we see her.
- William and Dolores continue their quest for....well I don't really know if they ever say. I assume Dolores is looking for the Maze but what does William think they're looking for exactly?
- They stumble upon some dead Hosts that were meant to be part of the ambush from last episode. William is obviously hesitant to give his water to a dying Host. I don't know if this is because he knows it's a waste of water since it's a Host or since the kid is going to die anyway. Either way, he's becoming hardened by the Park.
- The big reveal from Dolores in this episode is her whacky flashback at the buried town with the white church. She sees the early days of the Park before it was opened, while the engineers were perfecting the hosts. The flashback reveals Dolores as the cause of some sort of massacre that looks an awful lot like the one Teddy's sees Wyatt cause in his flashback. Curiouser and curiouser.
- Dolores is sort of losing it as they get closer to the old buried town. Not sure what the plan is from here but it seems like William plans to take her back toward Sweetwater before Logan finally finds them.
Teddy and the Man In Black
- There was a lot happening for our unlikely duo in this episode. Teddy and the MIB get ambushed by a Wyatt follower that doesn't die like other Hosts. During this interaction Teddy remembers him taking Dolores. No Trace Decay for Teddy, he sees it crystal clear.
- The most interesting part of their journey is a YUGE clue to the MIB=William theory. One of the Hosts that was 'attacked' by Wyatt's followers is the same woman that greets William before he enters the park. MIB recognizes her and is surprised she hasn't been retired. This feels like a blatant give away for MIB being William.
- They tie MIB up and Teddy refuses to kill him because he's super honorable.
- The older host, I think her name is Angela, stabs Teddy in the shoulder with an arrow and reveals herself to be with Wyatt. She says Teddy has been away for far too long and it's time for them to bring him back in. This is when we see a BUNCH of shadows moving in the distance descending on the camp.
- MIB gives us a lot of clues to who he really is. The good guy, a titan of industry, philanthropist, husband, father, god.
What the hell is actually happening?
- I'm going to try to lay it out as simple as possible. We are seeing stories play out in two or three timelines. Two primary timelines with brief jumps to a third.
- The 'Present': The Man In Black is the same person as William. His story is playing out in the 'present' in the Park. This is the same timeline as Maeve, Felix, Theresa, Charlotte, Ford, Bernard. It is the primary timeline of our story. The show has dropped about a dozen clues to this throughout the last four or five episodes.
- 30 Years Ago: William's (the MIB) first time in the park. William is essentially 'born' to become his true self. He joins Dolores on her journey to the old town wit the white church. This is the secondary time period that we, as viewers, are spending time in. This is when the MIB falls in love with the park and truly finds himself. Again, we've seen a bunch of clues to this.
- 35-40 Years Ago: This became more clear in the most recent episode when Dolores has the flashback to the massacre in the town with the white church. It's during the Park's beta testing. I also think this when we see Arnold speaking with Dolores in the cabin basement. Something happens here to lead to Arnold's death.
- Dolores has been suffering quick flashes or glitches where she sees herself dead or William is no longer there. I believe she has been on this journey to the town multiple times but it doesn't always end well for her. Perhaps she's on the journey again in the Present Timeline without William. We see her mind jump in and out of these memories.
- Wyatt: I assume we're going to get a lot more Wyatt related info in the next episode. I wonder if Wyatt is actually the man we see in Teddy's backstory flashback or if it is just an idea or someone we've seen before. Wyatt could be Dolores. Wyatt could be Teddy. Wyatt could be Arnold. We are all Wyatt.
- What if it isn't more than one timeline? What if this is all just overblown and over analyzed? That's still possible. If that's the case I hope the show runners make it work.
Till next week, may you rest in a deep and dreamless slumber.....