Sun
Nov 13 2016 11:00pm

Westworld 1.07: “Trompe L’Oeil” Episode Review

There’s a big reveal in this episode, and some solid direction is taking form. First, let’s catch up with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and William (Jimmi Simpson), who didn’t appear in last week’s show. 

William is certainly discovering himself. He’s learned that maybe he truly enjoys the high-adventure lifestyle and the mayhem that goes along with it—Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) points out that William has made it further than his friend Logan (Ben Barnes), who’d been the one to edge him into it. He’s also found—after many conversations with Dolores—that his “real” life is based on a pile of lies veiled as comfort and happiness, but he’s not all that happy and tired of pretending. He’s determined to help Dolores in her search for something more meaningful and fulfilling, willing to take on the Confederales or anyone else who gets in their way.

As they’re passing along a canyon ridge with a river flowing far below, Dolores asks William to stop. It’s the same place she had drawn for him, unlike the one sketch she’s done repeatedly. Here, the pair splits ways with Lawrence, who gives them a parting warning: no one has ever come back from where they’re planning to go. I sense a maze just around the riverbend.

The newly enhanced Maeve (Thandie Newton) is back in the park and on the move. Her first order of business is to shut the lid on that damned player piano, like she’s been wanting to do it for years but didn’t know it until now. When some techs arrive to remove Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) for aberrant behavior, commenting it must be bad for them to come in broad daylight (but haven’t they come in the daytime before?), Maeve realizes she has to get out of there. 

The sentient Maeve is becoming fully aware of the difference between her and the men in the suits. They are not gods as she once thought; they are just men, which makes them vulnerable, unlike her. She tells Lutz (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) that they are going to help her escape before she ends up like her “friend” Clementine who’d been lobotomized—by Sylvester—for dangerous anomalies. (Anyone else find the idea of a robot lobotomy ridiculous? Why not put her in cold storage like the rest of that growing army in the subbasement?) Sylvester calls it a suicide mission, and she responds by saying she’s done death a million times and is great at it. “How many times have you died? Because if you don’t help me, I’ll kill you.”

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) continue to have an awkward tension in balancing work complications with unresolved relationship issues. Outwardly, they play nice, but each knows they are being lied to as they navigate through their verbal jujitsu, saying everything will be in place when the board arrives and nothing is being held back from the other. Of course, we know none of that is true. Theresa has been stealing information and relaying it to the board, and Bernard hasn’t come clean about a number of things that would have the board up in arms. 

Theresa is put in her place by the unabashed Charlotte (Tessa Thompson), who makes it clear that the board isn’t concerned with the employees, the park, the guests, or the hosts. Their only interest is the intellectual property … the code. They are, however, concerned that Ford is using half the park’s resources to build a new narrative. But they can’t just get rid of him since he’s the only one with access to and knowledge of the code, and it’s Theresa’s job to ensure that by the time the board arrives, they are on track to cut Ford loose. Their insurance policy is to set up his creations as dangerous. Enter the patsy: Clementine, pre-lobotomized and tweaked. 

So, the fix is in, and Clementine is used to demonstrate grudge behavior to Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Bernard, getting her revenge after being beaten by a random host (in a scene of excessive violence). When confronted with “freeze all function” orders, she fails to stop, and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) is forced to shoot her.

With all the other possibilities floating around, it’s funny how the security team can’t seem to uncover any of these true sources of aberrant behavior and manipulations, and instead have to make one up for Theresa and Charlotte. Bernard is blamed and subsequently fired. Ford gives a knowing look of the game they are playing, hinting that he has a few cards up his sleeve. 

Bernard confronts Theresa, calling the earlier tests a sham, citing glaring markers of human intervention in the code. And likely, Ford saw them too. He then reveals he knows about her involvement with the satellite transmissions.

He has a hunch there may be a connection between the updates and improvisation and they are on the verge of some kind of change. He takes her to the house in sector 17 where Ford’s robot family resides. In the basement, they find a mini-lab where Ford has been secretly making his own hosts. She looks at some schematics, asking Bernard, “Have you seen these?” She shows him a picture of himself, but he says he doesn’t see anything—and there’s the big ah-ha moment, folks! We all knew the likelihood that one of the humans would turn out to be a robot, but I should have placed my bet on Bernard when I had first thought it.

Ford steps in, and Theresa calls him a monster. Bernard was programmed to do all of Ford’s bidding—a most loyal assistant, right down to the tryst with Theresa, right down to bringing her to the hidden lab, right down to killing her off in a “blood sacrifice” to “restore” things. Ford would never allow her to take away all that he and Arnold had built, adding that the board will do nothing to stop him. Theresa had hinted to Bernard that the board’s interests aren’t the guests playing cowboy. What is it they plan to do with that code then … are we talking war-mongering and world domination? 

How the story wheels turn! I’ll be looking forward the next few episodes heading into the finale, hopeful for a whole host of answers to wrap up this season while tempting us into new territories with the promise of fresh arcs for a second round of this sci-fi Western carousel.

See also: Westworld 1.06: “The Adversary” 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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