We’ve hit the point in the season where we need a wall-sized chart to make sense out of all of Bernard’s various non-linear timelines, because trying to unpack the when’s and what’s of this season is inducing major viewer headaches. That being said, this week we did get some exposition heavy moments with Ford explaining to the very confused Bernard (join the club!) what all of this violence and Host revolting is really about.
Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Westworld episode “Les Écorchés” written by Jordan Goldberg and Ron Fitzgerald, directed by Nicole Kassell.
Bernard – without glasses – wakes with a photograph of his wife and departed son in his hand. Stubbs (Hemsworth) tells him that Coughlin (Timothy V. Murphy) and his Delos sent strike teams are not there to rescue anyone, but to secure their ‘project’ which is nestled in Abernathy’s control stem. Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård) then arrives and takes Stubbs and Bernard to the basement lab where, back in the day, Bernard killed Theresa (remember her?). Strand thinks Stubbs has the key they need and roughs him up to provide intel. However, the discovery of a secret room reveals to the Delos team that Bernard is actually a Host, one of many created with his visage, and that creates the spine of the episode.
A dumfounded Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) then engages Bernard in an old-fashioned tech/Host interrogation where she asks Bernard to tell her what happened to Dolores, and where Abernathy’s control module is. He says he can’t remember so she proposes that they share memories of what’s gone down to date to get to the truth.
From there, the timeline goes all over the place again as we see Abernathy bolted into the lab chair as Dolores’ attack team enters operations post train bomb. Charlotte tells a tech to download Abernathy’s vast files in case their attack is successful. Meanwhile last episode's Bernard is still plugged into The Cradle with Elsie (Shannon Woodward) on watch as he’s having a vision quest with Ford (Anthony Hopkins) in the Sweetwater storyline.
In the park, Maeve (Newton) has escaped with her daughter to hide from the Ghost Nation Warriors and Older William/Man in Black (Harris). She promises her daughter she will save her, no matter what, and then MiB enters. He’s bummed this end game might actually be a Host he’s already raped and pillaged for years. However, he doesn’t know that she’s actually Maeve 2.0 until she blasts a few live rounds into him. She enables her nifty new trick on the men in the MiB's party as they turn on him and load him up with a good amount of lead. Lawrence then pulls a gun on her, ready to protect his 'master' to the death, until Maeve’s prompting pushes him to remember all the bad the MiB did to him in his narrative. Lawrence then adds some bullets to the MiB which surely must finally kill that guy... except, of course it doesn’t. Somehow William can take a lot of live ammunition and not die, so that’s super convenient. Sadly, Maeve also gets lit up by Delos gunfire when they arrive like the cavalry to save Lee, who decides to bring her back to main operations for saving.
In the lab, Dolores, Teddy, Clementine and Angela go to war with the Delos security teams. One soldier super creep named Engels (Ronnie Gene Blevins) goes through the halls like a testosterone-filled first-person shooter thus ensuring we hate these Delos goon even more. Luckily, he meets his end via two clichés: Angela seducing him into passivity and her awful line reading of, “Welcome to Westworld,” as she pulls the grenade pin on his belt.
Finally, some answers about what the hell Ford has been doing with his park and all his science tinkering. As Bernard stands on his personal Cradle rack of pain, his control unit is having a walk and talk with Ford in Sweetwater. The pair watch the classic narrative of Sweetwater play on around them, which prompts Ford to ask Bernard why the Hosts and their narratives have barely changed in 30 years. Bernard has his ‘eureka’ moment realizing that the park is an experiment chamber and the Hosts have always been the control subjects, and the guests are the variables. Delos has been observing all of it to copy them and back them up for the real ‘project’ that Mr. Delos invested in: immortality. The free will part many of the Hosts are now experiencing was a mistake, but not to Ford, who loves that his creations have messed up humanity’s propensity to take something beautiful (his life’s work) and bastardize it with greed and violence.
Ford tells Bernard that the ‘project’ isn’t ready yet, so he ensured that his consciousness remained inside his control module (and the park) to help the Hosts have a fighting chance. Bernard then asks what’s in the mysterious valley beyond, and Ford gets circular again saying, "You need to find out the end to the story on your own." Ford has obviously never skipped ahead while reading a book in his entire life. So, it’s back to frustrating Fortune Cookie Ford again, which is not unexpected as we know that the Nolan/Joys also want us to make it to hour ten, and be patient for their answers.
We also discover via Dolores' angry interrogation of Charlotte that the failsafe inside Abernathy is only to be used when there is a catastrophic incident, which Stubbs wisely observes is where they are right now. Dolores then threatens to cut a bitch (Ms. Hale) but is distracted b one of Abernathy’s rare lucid moments. They certainly are a distracted bunch this week, with ADD winning the day for so many. That digression of attention gives Stubbs and Charlotte a window to escape. Dolores then has a ‘heartfelt’ moment of goodbye with her Host daddy because she’s going to cut that failsafe out of his noggin and do some damage with it herself.
Listen, I am no fan of Teddy (Marsden) as the remorseless killer Dolores reprogrammed him into being, but I’ll admit, I’m here for him in that Delos black ops outfit.
There was another mildly interesting crossing of paths with a mortally wounded Maeve and Dolores who, as it turns out, doesn’t like her fellow Hosts judging her actions. Maeve throws shade at how Teddy has been changed and says Dolores is “lost in the dark.” The feedback isn't taken well as Dolores implies she’s going to put Maeve down to save them all from what she knows, but then gives her the ultimate choice and leaves her to expire alone. However, Lee watches it all in the shadows and rescues Maeve to one of the last repairs techs who agrees to prioritize her wounds.
The fire fight set to classical music in the map room was abjectly silly, only to be topped by the ridiculous honey pot scene where the dumb Engels who, may I remind you, has watched his people get mowed down by the Hosts, suddenly lowers his guard for the hot Host (Angela) standing alone in The Cradle. Both scenes were low points in crafting overly ridiculous scenarios that are neither smart, nor well-executed.
And I've got to admit, I didn’t feel a thing when Dolores and her dad said farewell to one another. It’s hard to find any emotion for her when we’ve gotten to watch Dolores essentially morph into a Terminator this season. In this episode alone, the legacy Hosts of Clementine, Angela and Peter all get wiped out for her greater purpose pursuit. Is it worth it? It doesn’t feel like it. And while it helps to know that she knows that Delos has been doing all this to allow humans to become immortal as Hosts, essentially snuffing out the Host’s evolution and sentience, surely they could have made Dolores more likeable along the way? Her ‘fight fire, with fire’ ethos makes her just as represhensible as the majority of the humans in this story.
Speaking of implausible, how many times has the Man in Black eaten lead this season and yet he’s still going? How is that possible? There are no stakes with this guy which means every time he gets shot, my immediate reaction is, “Well, that won’t stick.” And it never does.
Things to Ponder ...
Les Écorchés is a French term for paintings or sculptures of human skin flayed to show musculature, much like the Vitruvian Man we see in the show’s main titles. But in Bernard’s flashbacks, we also get a glimpse again of Dolores in her metallic framing which is certainly a call back to the episode title. And last but not least, we find out that Dolores was the test for Bernard as Ford was trying to build an everlasting Arnold in Host form. It was only when she was convinced that all of the layers of Bernard were authentic that Ford considered his creation a success.
Maeve’s daughter seems to believe her new savior will come back for her, so we have some bonding going on there before she’s taken away by the Ghost Warriors. Makes one wonder if she’s getting her memories back as well.
With Maeve getting actual lab tech attention, we’re going to have to assume that she’s going to re-enter the park to go after her daughter once more. The question is will Lee let her return as she is, or will he demand her system get downgraded, even if it’s just to save his ass?
If there are no more backups with the destruction of The Cradle, and Abernathy’s control module in Dolores’ possession, can that one backup save everything Delos has created in the last three decades? It certainly was a massive file so it must be exhaustive in terms of what it holds. The face-off for that tech looks like our endgame with the valley beyond playing center stage for Delos, Dolores, Bernard and a very hole-filled Man in Black.
As for where Bernard is in the story and his timelines, better minds than mine can spend hours on that ball of twine. For me, it’s just interesting to know that since he pow-wowed with Ford, the two now seem to be linked in their conciousness. Ford even forced the timid Bernard to pick up the gun for self-preservation against the Delos ops. It’s likely that Ford will now continue to show up so that Bernard can live to see the end of the story in the valley beyond.
What was your favorite revelation this week?