After last week’s highly consequential and hotly awaited revelations, perhaps it was a good idea that Westworld took a week to cool off, even if it was really more of a slow burn. The twists weren’t as sharp with “Trace Decay”, although the knives certainly were, but the series took time out this week to add depth the various storylines and start sewing the various desperate arcs together. Was Maeve already on her way to consciousness before she started tinkering with herself? Are there really two timelines going at once? Has Ford now picked up where Arnold had left off? And can a secret ever really stay buried?
The ever mysterious Man in Black, who we now know will be back in someway for season two, was given a bit of depth this week, but not a replacement name for “Man in Black.” For those positing the whole MiB is the Old William theory, you might have been given a couple of juicy clues. For instance, when MiB sees the “sole survivor” of one of Wyatt’s raids, he recognizes her and says, “Ford never likes to waste a pretty face.” The audience, of course, recognizes her as the host that first showed William the ropes of the park.
Eureka, right? But then we’re told just how MiB first learned about the Maze, and it has to do with the supposedly erased memory of Maeve and her other life as a homesteader. The Maze revealed itself to MiB when, despite all logic and reason, Maeve fought back and actually injured him when he walked into her house and killed her daughter, just to see if he could feel anything. MiB didn’t feel a thing, but he did learn about the Maze, which is weird because Williams knows all about the Maze since he’s been traveling around with Delores in the supposed past. Let’s float this possibility instead, what if MiB is actually old man Logan? They both have certain proclivities that, as William noted, only come out in the park…
In his short share with Teddy, MiB explains how his wife died in an “accident” where she took the wrong pills and went for a bath, but MiB’s daughter told him that her mother actually committed suicide. Though MiB never laid a hand on or threatened his wife and daughter in any way, she could see the man that he was when we went to Westworld, the man who kills, robs, and rapes indiscriminately, the kind of man that might betray his future brother-in-law to a pack of vengeful Confederate soldiers and be really pleased about it. (Granted William betrayed him first, but even Logan’s got to know deep down that he had it coming.)
I am becoming less convinced though that there are two timelines at play, at least so far as the Man in Black is concerned. However, we did get a peek at an earlier timeline through Delores’ vision, what looks like an earlier, more idyllic version of the park where a technician was teaching the hosts how to dance. Delores experiences the vision in a stretch of park where there’s nothing but desert and the old burnt out church steeple sticking out of the ground, which means, unless the park is older than previously indicated, the William/Delores storyline is taking place at the same time as everything else. I wouldn’t put anything past this show though as they had me pretty convinced Bernard was human.
Speaking of which, the recent revealed host had a lot to deal with this week, like getting rid of the evidence. But more than that were the emotional implications, which Ford promised Bernard he would erase even as he told Bernard to be proud of them. The horror, anguish, and pain that Bernard was feeling was a thing of beauty, Ford said, the first hosts could only “paint in primary colours” in terms of their emotional pallet, but it was Bernard-bot that helped create more fleshed out (pardon the pun) hosts. How? We don’t know. Yet.
There were a couple of other interesting nuggets though in Ford’s line about how Bernard is was not the first to threaten him, and in Bernard’s flash of killing another woman when he asks Ford if his creator ever asked him to eliminate anyone before Teresa. Is it possible that Arnold’s accident in the park wasn’t an “accident”, but another host doing a bad thing at the order of its creator? It was kind of implied in Delores’ flashback that she’s done bad things in the past, a possible massacre in the old town, and Teresa found her design plans along with Bernard’s, which presumably means that they were made at the same time. Perhaps that also explains Bernard’s own affinity for Delores, perhaps they have the same assassination subroutine or something.
This week though, it was Maeve stirring the pot and giving out orders, first to Felix and Sylvester to give her a final upgrade, and then to the other hosts in Sweetwater who now accept her “re-writes” as if she were a regular park technician. It wasn’t hard to tell that Maeve was pleased with her new abilities, and took some enjoyment in erasing her bar tab and ordering the new Clementine to initiate some group sex upstairs to clear the room for Hector’s arrival. But like any person with new found abilities, she quickly starts to abuse them, which gets her noticed by the park techs. The episode ends with Maeve being collected by them, which means her fate will go one of two ways, either they shut her down, or Maeve’s sudden liberty is part of some grander design…
It makes you wonder about that latter point because surely someone would have noticed in the carefully surveilled Westworld operation that Maeve was spending a lot of time with the same two workers, being taken all over the complex, and getting almost constant upgrades to her system. One would think that there also might have been some sort of alarm if a tech started fiddling with a hosts program to the point that said host could start re-writing the other hosts. Perhaps that’s the hubris of the park’s operators, perhaps it just never occurred to them that a host could get that powerful. Or maybe it did.
As we saw in the Man in Black’s flashback, Maeve has a predisposition of sorts to acting outside her accepted program. Her grief over the death of her daughter overrode all sense and reason, and that overrode all controls that the park workers might have used to control her. Only Arnold’s “deep game,” a musical cue, seemed to calm Maeve down enough for her to be dealt with. Perhaps though that was Arnold’s deep game, to plant a trigger in the hosts that if they experienced something so evil and traumatic that it sparks an evolution in their programming, one that spreads as now Delores, Teddy, and even Bernard are getting access to memories they ought not have. Only two more episodes this season to see where this all is going to take us…