Westworld Review: Trace Decay

With series like Westworld there are always a lot of fan theories. Secrets, mysteries. Reading into things that are there or not. Every minor details is examined, read into and speculated about. Fans come up with the wildest theories. Sometimes they are right and more often they are not. With Game of Thrones I found reading fan theories quite entertaining. Especially by non book readers because I know what they were right about and what they were completely wrong about. At least until season 6 came. Now a non book reader’s theory is as good as one from a book reader. So now I have stopped reading the theories for the same reason I do not read them of Westworld. I like to be surprised and shocked. And while the vast majority of theories you read online are wrong. There are always a few that make sense and then while watching an episode you are constantly thinking about what someone said on a fan site.

One theory that had apparently been discussed a lot is the one that Bernard is a host. I didn’t see that coming and I am glad that I didn’t. Only during the fateful episode where it was revealed that I start to suspect. I thought the reveal was expertly handled and I am happy I didn’t read up on that before. But now that the cat is out of the bag we all wonder, are there more we don’t know about. I’m pretty sure there are but I don’t really see another big reveal coming like that in season 1. I think the next big reveal will be regarding Arnold. I can’t wait to find out what it is.

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What happened

Bernard struggles greatly with the fact that he killed Theresa and that he is a host. Ford takes him out of his existential crisis by wiping his memory but not before Bernard asks Ford if he ever asked him to kill someone before. Ford denies this but in a flashback we see that Bernard killed Elsie. After wiping Bernard’s memory, Ford has him cover his tracks to make and make it appear that Theresa’s death was an accident. Ford then explains to Charlotte that the entire demonstration was clearly a ruse and that Theresa was trying to hide her actions to smuggle data out of the park and has Bernard reinstated. After this Charlotte recruits Lee and tells him to smuggle data out of the park via a host.

Dolores and William reach their destination. Dolores realizes that Arnold wanted to come to that place to tell her something. But she is disturbed by violent visions and William decides to take her back to Sweetwater. On their way back they are captured by the Confederados led by Logan. Maeve has Felix and Sylvester take her to Behavior so they can make changes to her core code. Sylvester wants to reset her when she is knocked out but when the time comes Felix does not and makes the changes anyway. When Maeve reawakens she cuts Sylvester’s throat and then tells Felix to heal the wound. Back in the park she now has the power to control other hosts. But her disturbing visions causes her to kill the new Clementine and that alerts the techs to her strange behavior. She ends up being picked up by them.

The Man in Black and Teddy find a group of slaughtered hosts but one women is alive. It is one of the hosts who great’s the new guests. When Teddy sees a flashback of TMIB taking Dolores he knocks him out. He tries to kill him later but his programming won’t let him. Then the survivor stabs Teddy and it’s revealed that she is a follower of Wyatt. Wyatt’s cultist take Teddy and TMIB presumably to Wyatt himself.

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What I liked

The opening scene was spectacular. Again Jeffrey Wright delivers one of the best performances of the season. His emotions, his despair, and even as his memory is wiped his performance is pitch perfect. It was sad that Ford had him also kill Elsie. The scenes with Maeve, Felix and Sylvester were great again as well. It was very interesting to see her use her new powers and her flashback were disturbing, but told us a lot as well. Does feeling real pain make the hosts real and was she therefore able to slice at TMIB?

Speaking of which. It was good to finally get his backstory. So his wife committed suicide and he came to the park to find purpose. And he found it after he killed Maeve and her child, felt nothing but got fixated about the existence and meaning of the maze. Great storytelling. The confrontation between Ford and Charlotte was great too. Charlotte and the board have greatly underestimated him. He is much more dangerous than they realize or are willing to admit. The way he orchestrated everything and cleaned everything up was masterful. I love ford as a villain. Because, is he truly a villain? When he talks about the differences between hosts and humans he acts as though they are the same. But, he can treat hosts with so much disregards it’s chilling. However he also host family he seems to care for a lot. The one resembling his own. What does Ford really want?

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What I didn’t like

Which shows like this there is often some stalling. Stalling before we get to the big reveal. That’s normal but that can only work if what we get until that moment is worth watching in and of itself. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. Dolores and William and their story is a good example of when it’s not. I found myself checking how long the episode had to go multiple times when they were on screen and that the are now in the hands of Logan makes it seem even more like a waste of time.

What I’m looking forward to

Finding out what Ford truly wants. What is Maeve going to do? She won’t be able to fulfill her plan if she keeps ending up back with the techs. Will Charlotte’s plan work?

4/5

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Observations

Why did Ford have Elsie killed. It’s obviously not because she found out about the data smuggling. So then it has to be because she found out that someone called Arnold has been making updates to the hosts. But, the updates that were made go against what Ford wants. Or so it seems. So why have her killed?

It’s a shame that Elsie got killed off screen. Not that she was a great character but somehow her story seems unfinished. Maybe it is.

I know that Dolores is supposed to be a main protagonist but to make me really care about her they need to give me more. Her love story with William and Teddy’s lover for her is not enough for me. And her connection to Arnold has now been teased for too long. Give us more!

I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to see Arnold before the season is over. Flashback or in the present. We might even have seen him already.

This episode was written by showrunner Lisa Joy and Charles Yu. Charles is the author of the aptly titled novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Putting that on my to read list.

The next two episodes promise to be humdingers of episode. Yes, I am still in love with the word. Episode 9 is directed by Michelle McClaren (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones) and the season finally is written by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan and directed by Nolan as well. Can’t wait!

Speaking of humdingers. That was a humdinger of an opening scene! (okay, I’ll stop now)

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