Considering this, the penultimate episode of the first season of Westworld, calling it “The Well-Tempered Clavier” is a title loaded with meaning. It refers to two series of preludes and fugues composed by Johann Sebastian Bach for the piano, which is a very prominent instrument in the series, and was referred to directly in an analogy made by Ford in the episode’s final moments. The idea that this was both a prelude and a fugue is interesting though. A prelude is a first movement, an introduction to the opera or symphony, which implies that everything that’s happened in Westworld so far has been set-up for the real story that’s about to occur.
As to the fugue, there’s a double meaning in that. Where musically it’s an element or subject that is repeated or imitated in different voices throughout the composition, in psychological terms a fugue can also refer to an act that one commits with full-awareness but cannot recall later. There’s been a lot of fugue going around Westworld, a lot of hosts forgetting the things that they’ve done and are only now remembering. Some big revelations laid buried under the convenient forgetfulness of those fugues, but what has this been all a prelude to, and who’s been writing the music (so to speak)?
First, a toast to all of you who deduced that Bernard was Arnold. The revelation that Bernard was a host was a red herring because it turned out that Bernard was a host, based on Arnold. It would be incorrect, I think, to say that Bernard was/is Arnold, Ford himself said Bernard was an “homage,” which is to say a very close approximation, a fugue of the original Arnold. Maeve was right about it taking a thief to catch a thief, only Arnold, transformed into a host with all his knowledge and experience, could take the hosts to the next level.
Of course, they were already on their way, weren’t they? Delores overcame her fugue and remembered that is was she that killed Arnold, which answers the question as to whether or not Arnold’s death was an accident. Of course Delores was the one that killed Arnold. She is the alpha after all, the oldest host in the park still operating. There’s still the pressing issue of what level she’s operating on though, a question of timelines. Is this Delores envisioning her past self, or is she seeing a vision of what she can be? Or, to put it another way, was her Wild West adventure in the back country of the park with Logan and William something she was remembering, or something that is presently happening?
The question of what is the real Delores, and what is the remembered Delores is one I was struggling with. We see Logan cut her to expose her robotic insides to William, but when she gets away, she’s not injured anymore. To me, it implies that she’s been roaming the desert since the last attack on her family ranch, and that she’s been reliving another awakening, the one in which she stumbled across William and Logan. Perhaps those moments where Delores was having a vision or a fantasy, is actually reality and everything else is a memory that she’s living through like a repeat. On top of that, all those conversations we saw between Delores and Bernard in earlier episodes, were those talks with Bernard, or were those talks with Arnold?
But the hosts weren’t the only ones experiencing some self-discovery this week. William seemingly went to the dark side after Logan pushed him for getting sucked into the fantasy of the park. There’s a lot of truth in that dinner scene, whether it’s Logan expressing his true feelings and opinions of William, or Delores defiantly pointing out how everyone thinks they know what’s best for her, whether that’s Teddy wanting to take her away to the coast, or William wanting to take her out of the park. If it’s so great out there, why is everyone so eager to get to Westworld, Delores asks. Neither Logan nor William had a good answer to that, but it’s long been inferred that Westworld is the last place on Earth where you can chose to be what you are, even if that turns out to be a predator.
Certainly William’s inner predator seems to have come out, again, lending credence to those “William is the young Man in Black” theories. After killing all the Confederados in their sleep, William lays down the law with Logan, and it certainly sounded like it was MiB’s voice he was speaking with. And was it just me, or did that picture of William’s fiancée Elizabeth look like that picture Peter Abernathy discovered leading to his eventual breakdown? But if all that isn’t persuasive enough, there was that moment in the end, where Delores “mistakes” the Man in Black for William. Now is that because she just had William on her mind, or because there’s a resemblance?
As many struggled with recovering lost memories, Maeve is already ahead of the game planning her escape, and she once again approaches Hector with a proposition that involves sex and death. It’s still kind of surprising that Maeve is running around with all the the control that she has, especially considering it took Bernard two minutes to discover those “updates” once he was looking at her diagnostics. It was a great cat and mouse game to open the episode as you waited for Bernard to discover the changes to Maeve and you waited for Maeve to discover Bernard’s true nature. Thandie Newton is clearly relishing being the presumptive robot rebellion leader, and there’s such a tartness to her delivery, like when she tells Bernard to find the whole truth because “It’s like a good f**k, half is worse than none at all.”
Anthony Hopkins is also having a good time, and why shouldn’t he? Despite the revelations of the last two or three episodes, Ford is still kind of a mystery. Is all this happening because of his design? It was obvious that that situation with Clementine and pistol was never out of his control, and there was clearly some kind of enjoyment in watching Bernard fumble for the truth. But I wonder if that was because Ford has been down this road before with Bernard, or because Bernard was finally acting out, finally overcoming his docility and taking on some animus of his own outside his established programming. And all of this does nothing to answer the mystery the question of what happened between Ford and Arnold, and whether or not Delores might have received a directive from Ford to do it.
Ford should be careful too because Hale is still working against him even as the director plans his “celebration.” Hale disrupted MiB’s own mission, looking for support for Ford’s ouster and revealing that MiB was the man behind Cullen’s corporate espionage acting with others on the board. The thing is though that he doesn’t really care about any of that. The only thing that MiB cares about now are the answers to his own questions, and now it looks like he might actually get them. The big questions, in other words, might soon be answered, but there’s still Sizemore’s narrative for Hale to consider, and what the Ghost Nation natives want with Stubbs. Good thing next week’s season finale is 90 minutes long…