Sun
Oct 23 2016 10:00pm

Westworld 1.04: “Dissonance Theory” Episode Review

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) are having another sit down, talking more about feelings—specifically the loss of her parents. When Bernard offers to take away her pain, she asks why she would want that, using the same words Bernard had used when talking with his ex-wife about the death of their son—basically, it’s the only thing she has left of them. Is Bernard programming her with dialog based on his own life, and if so, to what purpose? To make her more real? 

In any event, Bernard offers Dolores another way to search for her soul: a game called The Maze, where the goal is to find the center. He tells her if she can do that, then maybe she can be free. She replies, “I think … I think I want to be free.” Could it be that both Ford and Bernard are using pawns to find the center of this mythical maze, first one there wins a prize? 

Dolores wakes up outside on the ground with the gun, and William (Jimmi Simpson) is there. But wait a minute—if she is at the camp, when did her talk with Bernard happen? In a different timeline? Or, could it be that there are extra copies of some robots that have access to each other’s data sets?

Back at the saloon, Maeve's (Thandie Newton) circuitry is breaking down. She hears static intermingled with bits of technical conversation and sees disturbing visions of dead bodies of people she knows, including herself. Why is a robot getting all distressed and emotional? Someone had to put the code in them. Are we seeing the handy work of Ford (Anthony Hopkins) or Arnold? Or, perhaps, Bernard? Maybe the hosts are becoming sentient on their own terms. 

A spot of blood on Maeve's corset leads to a flash image of a technician in full biohazard suit, prompting her to draw a picture of what looks like a spaceman. She opens the floorboard to hide it and finds a whole batch of drawings. How long has she been doing this? As far as we know, she’d just recently been through the bungle where the technician may not have put her in sleep mode during a checkup. How is it that the overseers don't know about her secret stash?

Elsie (Shannon Woodward) lets Bernard know she’s not happy with him bending over to Theresa, who accuses the behavioral experts of covering up a problem and informs them that her QA team will handle events like the woodcutter incident from now on. There’s something bigger going on than a glitch, and Elsie clearly wants to be in on the investigation. She claims everyone seems to have an agenda, “except for me.”

Bernard warns her that it’s easy to read into the hosts’ behaviors, but she quickly snaps, “Don't patronize me.” Of course, who is he to talk after all his dealings with Dolores, but it’s obvious he’s deliberately trying to throw Elsie off a track he’s going down but shouldn’t. More intriguing is when he calmly points out that the constellation pattern she found among the woodcutter’s belongings isn't Orion … there’s an extra star in the belt. Where is this thread heading?

The man in black (Ed Harris) is searching for the snake in the clue from Lawrence’s (Clifton Collins, Jr.) daughter and thinks he’s found it when he sees a tattooed blonde, Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), bathing in the river. All of a sudden, the man in black and Lawrence are surrounded by her gang. When he proposes working with them, she declines—until he shoots two men and calmly points out that a couple of positions just opened up. She allows them, reluctantly. 

Her mission is to break Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) out of prison, something the man in black pulls off with precise calculations … and the help of headquarters—at the amphitheater, a tech announces that a pyrotechnic effect has been requested, which Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) approves. How did that request get through to them? 

New, intriguing information is revealed about the man in black when a rookie member of the gang approaches to tell him he’s a big fan of the man in black’s foundation, gushing that it “literally saved” his sister. The man in black cuts him off, telling him he’s on vacation. Vacation?! And, during a talk with Armistice about the legend of Arnold, “the original settler of these parts,” he shows her the scalp (which turns out to be a maze, not circuitry as I originally thought) and claims to want to honor Arnold’s legacy. He says her snake tattoo is the next piece of the puzzle. I’m still not sure if the man in black is a host or a human, but one thing’s clear—he’s digging deep for answers about Arnold.

Lawrence's daughter must be some kind of prophet because in this episode she helps Dolores with a revelation. When Dolores asks the girl where she is from, the girl replies, “Same as you, don't you remember?” Those words and a maze scrawled in the dirt set off a series of visions in Dolores’s mind. The girl disappears, and a man comes forward saying the Abernathy family is worried about her. Dolores replies her father is dead … that’s a first. Is this man sent by HQ a host or a human? Either way, William steps up and lets the man know that Dolores is with him. Since the man can't take her away from a guest, he leaves.

With Hector free, the man in black wants his answer from Armistice. She reveals that masked men with devil horns killed everyone in town when she was seven and that she had painted her mother’s warm blood over herself so they would think she was dead too. Now, when she kills one of them, she uses their blood to make her tattoo. There’s just one man left: Wyatt. The man in black smiles, knowing this is his next clue.

Just as I was beginning to wonder what happened to Teddy (James Marsden)—because last we saw of him, he had been jumped by those creatures—the man in black and Lawrence ride up on him, beaten to a pulp and tied to tree where a buzzard is perched, waiting for him to die. “Please put me out of my misery,” he begs. But the man in black refuses—he needs Teddy to get to Wyatt. 

Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) meets with Ford to discuss the board’s anxiety. Ford lets her know in no uncertain terms that he’s a man who knows everything and gets what he wants: “I will ask you nicely, please don't get in my way.” Quite a threat. In one fell swoop, he’s undermined her and knocked her off guard. He is going ahead with his plans regardless of her or the board’s concerns. He tells her he doesn’t give a hoot about a retrospective; he's “not the sentimental type.”

After a shootout at a remote cabin, Logan (Ben Barnes), wanting more adventure, wastes the bounty hunter, cuts their captive loose, and starts a showdown between him and William when they disagree about how to proceed. When Logan threatens to shoot Dolores, William pushes back by aiming a gun at Logan’s “ticket” to adventure. Last we see, Logan is with the bad guy heading down the trail to what will no doubt turn out to be a piece of hell.

Maeve intercepts Hector, offering the combination to the safe for some answers, and shows him her drawing. Hector calls it sacred native lore—the man who walks between worlds to oversee their world. Maeve tells Hector to slice her open where she had been shot. From the fresh wound, she pulls out a bullet slug, proving to her that she's not crazy and nothing matters. She plants a deep kiss on him as bullets begin riddling the door to kill them yet again.

See also: Westworld 1.03: ”The Stray" Episode Review

 


David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.
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