***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Westworld through Episode 6 follow. Spoilers***
Of the glorious developments over the course of Westworld‘s first season, what stands out above all else is its feminist spirit. When the show first began with violence and disregard for their characters, both Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton quickly took to the media, asking viewers to see the journey through, “… wait for the context”. Reassurances aside, it was clear from the beginning that these women — and their characters — would never accept perceived victimhood, wouldn’t allow themselves to remain in a world driven by others’ desires. Even in this twisted fantasy, ostensibly under someone else’s direction, Maeve and Dolores will spend every waking moment finding the way to take back their power, control. No matter how upside down her life is turned, neither will allow herself to be made a victim, nor will either accept her designated role … her fate. Finding oneself in the middle of a complicated, male slanted dream world, each of these evolved women would rather die time and again to rouse herself from an assigned nightmare, to course correct her own narrative and write the new history she wants for herself.
With Radiohead in our ears and her creator in hers — must be one of Arnold’s original 47 Hosts — Maeve is escorted by a now subservient Felix through several levels of operations. Easily one of the season’s most moving sequences, this slowed time trip through Host creation, modification, refinement, testing, destruction and rebuilding is alternately beautiful and horrifying. Thandie Newton’s expressive face is a marvel as Maeve’s level 14 intelligence struggles to comprehend the life she’s been programmed to live is one she thought her own choosing. Felix thinks he knows the difference between his humanity (“I was born”) and Maeve’s creation (“You were made”), but her easy manipulation of Felix and Sylvester (at different moments, either could easily have shut her down) certainly leaves the question of who is which … hanging.
Digging below the surface for clues to espionage, corporate and otherwise, Bernard and Elsie each make startling discoveries. Bernard stumbles past the shadow of a haunting past (the original Gunslinger!),
and onto Dr. Ford’s dangerous family ghosts.
Bernard has finally reaches his Ford-protective threshold, and narrowly escapes revealing too much to his former lover and perpetrator. Presumably, Theresa is merely smuggling out proprietary data to a board member(s) in order to have Ford removed, or perhaps to a competitor, but as Elsie may have realized a little too late, Arnold’s actions are far more nefarious.
Ford’s new narrative for Teddy provides him a rich and dark backstory that takes even the Man in Black by surprise. Likewise, this history gives James Marsden the opportunity to show off his oh-so-underrated acting prowess. In the hour’s second emotional, slow motion gut punch, Teddy makes peace with past discretions, realizes his true (programmed) black hat nature and mows down an entire unit of Union soldiers, though we still get the feeling that inside, it killed him. As Felix mentioned, it’s too time consuming to start from scratch with every narrative so as audience, we don’t know which parts of Teddy’s soldier background (he’s had flashes before) was already there.
From the mysteries of mazes and different timelines, to original Hosts passing along a delightful virus sure to culminate in appropriately violent ends, the story of Westworld‘s reversal of fortune has cleverly been extended beyond simple fable. A sign of our own experiential times, could it be that the man in the maze will turn out not a man at all? ” … vanquished all his oppressors in a tireless fury” may be the story as Teddy heard it — as Ford wrote it — but with Theresa, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), Elsie, Dolores and Maeve taking control and moving in their own directions, when the Man in Black reaches the middle he may be surprised by who he finds.
Speaking of Elsie, my first thought from the moment she went digging in darkness alone was, “You in danger, girl”; my first assumption, that she is dead. But, the more I think about this show’s female empowerment themes, the less that makes sense. So, I’m holding onto the thought that she’s been captured and just at the moment we’ve forgotten her, Elsie will have her triumphant return.
“A great artist always hides themselves in their work.” Ford’s entendred (Arnold is clearly hidden in the Hosts, their programming and their ear, so to speak) explanation of Arnold’s gift — Ford’s family made up of amazing first versions of Hosts only leads to more questions. Why did Arnold create Ford’s father in his own image? Was Arnold not only his partner, but also, a relative? Does Arnold look old enough (not really) in this photo to be Ford’s father?
I’d be more inclined to believe Arnold was Robert’s brother who, as an adult, could look just like HostDaddy.
At least we found out for certain who … what the Little Boy is — not Ford’s child — he’s a HostChild Ford. And, an amazing one, at that.
When Ford later meets the Little Boy outside and extracts the truth about poor Jock (the dog), the Little Boy tells Ford what the voice he heard (Arnold) say to him:
“He told me it was a killer. It wasn’t its fault. It was made that way and I could help it. [Ford: “Help it”] He told me if it was dead, it couldn’t hurt anything anymore”. Er, I suppose this will be the Hosts’ philosophy when they kill all the humans.
There used to be a broadcasting system in the park, by which the staff could “speak” to Hosts. “We abandoned that system decades ago”. Oh, but Arnold didn’t.
There also used to be different areas of the resort, some kind of costumed Venetian masquerade or perhaps an abandoned Roman world, another nod to the movie. Maybe that’s where the incident 30 years ago took place.
Lee Sizemore is useless, except as a vehicle for an excellent introduction of Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte Hale (Westworld’s board’s executive director), and Simon Quarterman’s perfect line delivery: “Creatively speaking, I’m flaccid now. I can’t get it up.“
Ford was visibly surprised by the maze design on the table he saw walking through town. After that he retrieved what I’d guess is Arnold’s old notebook, full of drawings. We’d seen the maze drawing in previews; this time there’s a peek at drawings of Dolores, who I still believe was a replica of either Arnold’s or Ford’s dead wife. I’ve been back and forth over the weeks about which one might have been her husband (Arnold’s personal life was “marked by tragedy“); this week we find out Ford was once married:
We had a scene in episode 4 that we weren’t able to include for reasons of length. But in the beginning of the scene when Ford sits down with Theresa, and introduces the facility they’re in — it’s where the agave comes from, it’s where they make the house tequila. And he explains a little more about his personal life. He had been married but his wife expected to have children. But he already had children — the park was the world he wanted to build, and it was incompatible with the intimacy of a marriage and his own relationship. So he’s built company for himself here.” [Jonathan Nolan]
What I find interesting about that statement is “… he’s built company for himself … ” Is that Nolan misspeaking about which person created the Ghost Hosts, or did he slip up? Because, Ford said Arnold made/gifted him the Host family.
And so, was Dolores to be the final of Arnold’s gifts, Ford’s wife given true consciousness? Was it when Ford rejected the idea, spurned his gift, did Arnold become despondent? That’s the first time I’ve come up with a non-murderous explanation for Arnold’s supposed suicide. In my heart of hearts, though, I still think Ford (directly or not) is responsible for Arnold’s death.
Of 82 original Hosts, Arnold created 47, and according to Bernard’s device, three of them are Dolores, Abel “Rowdy” Lester and, if I’m reading correctly, Goldie Baird:
It’s difficult to see much more than a hand (more nods to Original Westworld with this and Maeve holding and studying Felix’s hand) near her shoulder; it looks like a male’s to me (Peter, is that you?).
Very curious about the “Final burial at Salvation” scenario that Sizemore thought would be Charlotte’s favorite.
Ford tells the Little Boy to “Turn the other cheek”; that’s the command to open up his full Host nature and show his insides. I have a feeling though, the Hosts won’t be turning the other cheek much longer. Rather, they’ll stop taking their mistreatment and instead, have vengeance.
Maeve to Sylvester: “I could help you, or I could gut you like a trout”.
Sylvester to Maeve: “You got an 18 for charm”.
Maeve to Sylvester: “Don’t act so surprised”.
Maeve to Sylvester: “It’s all right darling. I’m an entrepreneur myself … and if you’re getting fucked anyway, go with the lucrative version, sweetheart”.
Maeve to Felix and Sylvester: “Dear boys, we’re going to have some fun, aren’t we”? Um, Felix and Sylvester are both cartoon cats. What does that mean?
Bartender relaying Theresa’s words to Sizemore: “Tortured artist only works for artists”.
The logo Maeve passes is of the (presumed) new variety;
the messages she sees urge her to live out her own dreams.
Warning: Improvisation Error. Error.
Finally, for you William is the Man in Black theorists, what’s the deal with Jimmi Simpson’s mole? Ed Harris has none. How is that reconciled; did Dolores hack it off?