Westworld Review: The Stray

One of the bigger challenges of the showrunners is to have the audience feel for the hosts. It might sound like an easy thing but it really isn’t. It’s very easy to just think of the hosts as simple playthings because in many ways they are. Even as they slowly start becoming sentient, they are (still) not real in the traditional sense. Every time they got raped, tortured and killed we are reminded that they are subsequently cleaned up and their memories are erased. But the show asks interesting questions. Is there any wrong in the way the hosts are treated? And will it be wrong to keep doing so when they are in fact sentient? What kind of responsibility do the newcomers have towards the hosts? And what about the creators?

In Disney/Pixar’s best film, Wall-E, we get to feel for the two Robots despite them being Robots and without any real dialogue. This was no small feat of the people behind this modern classic and all the praise the film received was more than deserved. In Westworld we already start to feel for Dolores a bit. She is one of the few hosts who is remembering things and therefore the rape and pillaging she has to endure is starting to feel quite uneasy. Especially her encounter with the man in black. I’m sure we will start feeling more and more for the hosts even before they become sentient and I imagine the audience will be on their side when shit goes down. And we all know it will.

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What happened

Bernard continues his talks with Dolores. He considers stopping them but in the end he decides not to. Dolores tries to convince Teddy to run off with her but he says that he can’t, as he was programmed to say. Later, Ford uses Teddy in a new narrative where his former army buddy called Wyatt, turns rogue and terrorizes the country side wide a group of fellow fanatics.

Bernard presses Ford on what’s really wrong with some of the hosts. Ford tells him about Arnold, the co-founder of Westworld. Arnold was trying to get the hosts conscious by giving them an internal voice. Ford tells Bernard to not press the matter further and to not end up like Arnold. Teddy joins the sheriff and a few others to track down Wyatt. Teddy’s group is overwhelmed and when Teddy fires upon Wyatt and his men the bullets don’t do them any harm.

Dolores is attacked by one newcomer and a group of bandits. Previously, she had been unable to pull the trigger of a gun because of her programming but when she is pulled into a barn to be raped she sees a memory of the man in black and she does manage to pull the trigger and kill the bandit. She runs off and collapses in the arms of William.

Elsie and Stubbs go out into the park to track a stray host. When they locate him he attacks Stubbs and then kills himself.

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What I liked

The conversations between Bernard and Ford were again very interesting. Getting to know about Arnold and his demise but not getting the full picture was nicely done. It provided us with enough information to not be annoyed with lack of information but they still left enough out for us to want to know more. And it was also interesting to see that despite the updates Ford has given the hosts, he doesn’t seem to want to make them conscious. At least not now.

Teddy was also interesting for once. I found his character super boring and I don’t like James Marsden that much so this was a refreshing episode for that character. And even though other hosts haven’t shown overtly strange behavior yet, the fact that they seem to be settling scores means that there is something wrong with more of them. I like how they are handing this so far.

And again Dolores’ arc was most compelling. Her talks with Bernard, her trying to run away with Teddy and her final encounter with the bandits. It was all very well done.

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What I didn’t like

There wasn’t much to dislike about this episode.

What I’m looking forward to

The two things I want to see most is where Bernard is going with his research and discoveries and what is going to happen with Dolores. I think Bernard really wants to have the hosts become conscious, even though he knows the risks full well. And Dolores, what will become of her? How long will it take for her to take things further? I can’t wait to find out.

4.5/5

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Observations

I might as well already start calling this the praising Jeffrey Wright section. He is amazing and he is bringing the goods.

The scenes with Dolores not being able to pull the trigger and later being able to do it weren’t very subtle. But it was effective.

“The only thing stopping the hosts from hacking us to pieces is one line of your code.” Yup!

If I would ever enter a park like Westworld I would stay in the center of it. Man, I feel sorry for the host that ended up in the middle of the new narrative. That shit is scary.

So, what happened to Arnold exactly? And what does Ford truly want?

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