Westworld 1.09: “The Well-Tempered Clavier” Episode Review

(Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO)

Lines are starting to intersect with lots of gut-wrenching carnage as we race to the show’s finish, and three big reveals came out of this week’s episode.

Maeve (Thandie Newton) is once again in the behavior unit for a disturbance, but this time she’s being seen by Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). She recognizes something within him and reaches out for his help, saying they are stronger and smarter than the humans. “We don’t have to live this way.” Though he’s spinning from her commentary, he releases her back into the park. Looks like she may have access to an even bigger insider from the behavior unit.

But first, she wants to find and enlist Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) in getting out of the park. So, back in the game she goes. When she confronts Hector with what his immediate future holds—the ending he’s been given—she offers an alternative. She wants him to break into hell with her and rob the gods blind.

(Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO)

She says she could just make him do it but she’d rather he figures it out on his own. In a déjà vu moment, he agrees to go along with her. Getting to hell is easy, she says as she lights the tent on fire, but the rest will be hard. Will anyone from control notice these two have gone off cue by going up in flames?

William (Jimmi Simpson) asks Logan to talk to his contacts at the park about getting Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) out of there. But Logan’s (Ben Barnes) not at all receptive to the idea. Instead, he guts Dolores to prove to William that she’s nothing special, just another robot with mechanical insides. Dolores, who seems disturbed by her own inner workings, rises up and slices Logan’s cheek, shoots at a couple men, and then takes off when William tells her to run.

She hears someone saying “remember,” and she reawakens healed and continues onward. Later, Logan frees William, calling a truce, and insults him by saying William will never be the hero. After a night of hard drinking, Logan wakes up to a slaughterhouse scene. William has chopped up every last soldier—he seems to be wearing a selective white hat and that nice-guy routine may be short-sighted. William tells Logan he’ll be calling the shots from now on. They are going after Dolores.

The man in black (Ed Harris) is disappointed with Teddy (James Marsden). They had finally tracked down the woman (Talulah Riley) who can take them to the maze when Teddy’s memory glitch screwed them. While beasts scavenge the dead, she wants to know what Teddy remembers. When he feeds her a batch of preprogrammed memories, she asks, “Are you sure?” And it finally comes to him. He massacred an entire town of people, including her and Wyatt. She says they need him and will stand by him next time, but he’s not ready yet, so she guts him. The man in black calls it the city swallowed by sand, and claims that he’s been there for the maze. She tells him, “The maze isn’t meant for you.” Then, she knocks his head into a rock.

The man in black comes to and saves himself just in time from having his neck strung up in a noose by his horse. Just as he does, Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) shows up to tell him Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) has died trying to secure their information. Aha! So he’s a company man, on the board! Big reveal #1.

(Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO)

He gathers she wants to get his vote to oust Ford (Anthony Hopkins), even though he was originally the one who kept Ford in place for many years. He tells her go ahead and cut Ford loose; he’s no longer interested in him. He’s a man on a mission who now knows where he needs to go, and he doesn’t want to be disturbed.

Bernard requests a meeting with Ford in the subbasement, past the army of discarded robots, and demands that Ford to give him access to the locked code that can help him learn what Arnold had in mind for him and the others like him—the sentient ones. And to enforce his point, Bernard brings in Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) because her prime directives weren’t reinstated after being lobotomized. She is under Bernard’s orders to kill Ford if he doesn’t comply.

While Bernard is tormented by traumatic memories while reaching for answers, scenes switch back and forth between them and Dolores going to the old town, down into the church basement. She is altering between her current version and a previous incarnation where she watches a young Ford storm into Arnold’s office over some issue. Dolores goes into the room where she’s had her conversations with Bernard, and sits there alone.

Ford explains to Bernard that he and Arnold made the robots to be in their image, with human flaws and all, and this is where they are now. He adds that Arnold believed tragic backstories worked best as they were more convincing for realism. Ford denies that Arnold built Bernard, but Bernard doesn’t believe him.

Flashback to the awakening of Bernard: Ford admits he hadn’t thought of what to call him, saying it wouldn’t be right to use his name, and they settle on Bernard. When Bernard asks who he is supposed to be, Ford calls him a partner. “It’s good to have you back.” And there we have it: Bernard is Arnold’s robot form, built by Ford after Arnold had died. Big reveal #2.

In Dolores’s conversations with Bernard/Arnold, he had told her to follow the maze because it would bring her joy, but all she found was pain and terror. He says, “I can’t help you, you know why … remember.” She finally says because he’s dead … because she killed him. Big reveal #3.

(Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO)

So, maybe it’s Dolores, not Bernard, who gets the distinction of being the first robot to kill a human. She leaves the empty room, opens the church door, only to find the man in black on the other side. She reels backward.

Bernard wants to find all the sentient hosts and set them free from the tragic cornerstones that permeate in their existence. Ford asks Bernard what makes him think they’ll trust him after all he has put them through, adding that he once told Bernard never to put his trust in humans: “They will disappoint you.” Realizing that Ford had created backdoors in all the robots and Clementine will not harm Ford, Bernard pleads to be erased and reprogrammed. But Ford walks out, leaving Bernard in the room with the gun in his hand.

Ford seems to get a kick out of sitting back and watching, in a twisted kind of voyeurism, all these people and robots floundering about as they try to discover themselves. He’s relishing the position of omnipotence and omniscience. I wonder if Maeve (not Dolores, Teddy, the man in black, or William) is going to turn out to be Bob Ford’s biggest adversary. She seems to be wielding the same amount of power as he does, and she’s the furthest along in the discovery process.

But with all the safeguards Ford’s put in place, there’s a chance he’ll be able to shut down Maeve as quickly as he did Bernard when she goes on her hunt with Hector for the gods in hell and to assemble her liberation robot army. It should be one heck of a showdown. But it begs the question, what will be Ford’s weakness and eventual downfall?

See also: Westworld 1.08: “Trace Decay” 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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