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Westworld recap: Season 1, Episode 8

Did Episode 8 just confirm a major fan theory?

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John P. Johnson/HBO

Westworld

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
1
run date:
09/25/16
Producer:
Jonathan Nolan, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk
broadcaster:
HBO
genre:
Sci-fi

For the final three episodes HBO is no longer sending out screeners, so the recap is being posted a bit later (and shorter) than usual.

Maeve is taking control. Bernard and Dolores are losing their minds. Elsie might really be dead. And the Man in Black might have just confirmed a major fan theory in tonight’s Westworld.

We open with poor suffering Bernard, whose major malfunction is that he killed his own lover. Dr. Ford messes with him further, saying he should feel proud of all these horrible guilty emotions because he — Bernard — helped design them in the first place. Ford reveals that he created Bernard early on to help him design the hosts. But under Ford, the hosts can have nothing of their own, not even their feelings.

Next Ford orders Bernard to clean up all traces of Theresa’s murder, so he goes into CSI mode, getting rid of every stray hair, including erasing all signs of their relationship. It’s the ultimate ghosting for doomed Theresa. Guess they’re not going to print out a Theresa host replacement to cover up their tracks after all.

So after last week’s episode where Theresa and Charlotte delivered a bogus demonstration, now it’s Ford and Bernard’s turn to put on a show — only this time instead of Clementine being killed by way of example, it’s a very human Theresa. They tell the Delos board member that Theresa fell off a cliff while trying to smuggle out data, and that they discovered the Clementine demo was faked — pinning it all on Theresa, of course, not Charlotte. This turns the tables on Charlotte while also giving her a way out. 

Charlotte isn’t buying this. I would think she’d be running for the exit train to escape robot murder park. But instead she enlists writer Lee Sizemore for help. She drops a couple hints about Ford’s mysterious narrative (digging up the white church town of Dolores’ visions and having arch-villian Wyatt come with his masked men to proselytize and bring about the end of the world). Then they go down into the cold storage vault to restart her data smuggling operation using a new host. Charlotte picks at random, oh, let’s see … how about the host who was the first one to start glitching and creeping us out in the series premiere spouting Shakespeare? Yeah, Dolores’ dad Abernathy. How can that go wrong?

Once their crime is complete, Ford gets ready to erase Bernard’s most recent memories, as we suspect he’s done many times before. Bernard gets off some quality questions first, like what’s the real difference between a host and a human? Ford’s opinion is that there isn’t much different as you might think (or at least, not as much difference as you might think that he thinks): “There is no threshold, no inflection point … we live in loops as tight and closed as the hosts do. You’re not missing anything at all.”

At the risk of agreeing with Ford, we’ve made a similar point in previous weeks, that the notion of hosts going about their unexamined loops is a rather effective metaphor for how we live our own lives. But it’s interesting that Ford — contrary to some of his statements to his staff — doesn’t really see the hosts as lesser or lacking compared to humans. This also makes his tyranny all the more villianous. Ford knows the hosts are capable of a very similar level of personhood, yet wants to dominate and control them anyway. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising since he treats real people the same way. 

Bernard’s final question is whether Ford has ever made him hurt anybody else. Ford says he hasn’t, but Bernard flashes on a memory of him choking Elsie, who’s still missing. I’ve been holding out hope she’s coming back, and given that Westworld is playing coy with the details still has me somewhat hopeful. Later, when Bernard chats with Stubbs, the secruity chief is perplexed when Bernard totally denies his relationship with Theresa and seems unbothered by her death. Is Stubbs’ host-sense tingling? 

NEXT: Did the Man in Black give us a big clue? 

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