Last week on Westworld, things started to go all wrong with a quote from Romeo and Juliet, “These violent delights have violent ends,” but this week’s episode took one from Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark …” A state of panic may soon be the reality though as it seems that the robotic citizens of Sweetwater and its immediate area are going way beyond their set programming, and seemingly because one of their overlords has chased the human element down a rabbit hole from which there’s no escape. In this week’s show, it’s not Alice that goes through the looking glass, but Delores, and maybe others.
It was perhaps too easy and immediate to suggest that Ford was the one forcing evolution in the hosts of his park; he is cooking up something, but making his creations more human does not seem to be one of them, and to prove it, in a very effective scene, Ford chastises a tech for protecting the modesty of a host that doesn’t exist. It’s the first time we see Ford’s dark side, and it shouldn’t surprise us that he has one given the Walt Disney-like overtones to the character. We learn that he’s taken over land in the park, and that’s he’s working on something mysterious in it, but it also seems clear that he’s not toying with the evolution of his machines.
We get the back story to the creation of Westworld this week when Ford reveals to Bernard that he once had a partner in the creation of the hosts, Arnold. Arnold lost himself to the challenge of trying to make the hosts more human, to make them sentient in other words if we’re going to take this to its logical conclusion. There’s a lot of philosophical technobabble as Ford explained how this might be achieved, but Ford gets fairly dodging in explaining Arnold’s fate. His robot quest was driven by family tragedy until he was spending all his time with the hosts and had an “accident” while alone in the park. But what kind of “accident” did he have?
So here’s another Man in Black theory: what if he’s Arnold? What if Arnold downloaded himself into the MiB? That would explain his familiarity with the park, his subtle allusions to being born there, his mysterious quest for the maze, and maybe how he could possibly be a robot while the robot bullets don’t affect him. The Man in Black stood largely on the sidelines this week, but his proverbial spectre hovered over at least one storyline, and it was hard not to think about him during Ford’s still largely ambiguous tale of Arnold. On a side note, that de-aging effect on Anthony Hopkins in the flashback was pretty sweet.
The obsession of Arnold with human-like perfection in the hosts, spurned by personal tragedy, is a story being mirrored now in Bernard, who seems to be the root of the things going wrong in the park, all stemming from his private talks with Delores. Bernard gives her a book, Alice in Wonderland, which is a little on the nose given Delores present troubles, but as Bernard explains, it’s a book about all the things we want the most, but experience the least. Is Bernard trying to encourage Delores into escaping from her life into a strange new land?
In a way Delores starts the process this week. First, in her usual day out with Teddy Flood, she suggests that they both runaway together and head south. Of course, Teddy can’t do that because not only is there no south to go to, but Teddy has some mysterious thing or incident to atone for. So Delores will be forever stuck to be rescued or ravaged by any and every bad guy that comes to her father’s ranch, which is, of course, her function. Or is it? By episode’s end, Delores stops playing the victim when she’s able to get the gun of one of her attackers and shoots him dead. She then gets away, only to run into Logan and William camping outside of town. What will happen once Delores wakes up in a whole day for the first time in a long time?
As for Teddy Flood, he finally gets a reason to not runaway with Delores, or at least not a vague one. Ford gives him a backstory that involves a former superior in the Union army who went mad and slaughtered an entire settlement. Wyatt, as Teddy “remembers” him, heard voices in his head, which probably not-coincidentally is the exact same thing that went wrong with Arnold’s sentience experiments. Once again the eye is cast to Ford and his mysterious doings, and maybe how much he’s aware of Bernard’s work and is playing off it. For Teddy, the dangerous road into the desert to chase Wyatt ends with an ambush, and a bunch of Wyatt’s henchmen who also seem unable to be slayed by the robot bullets.
Perhaps the most disturbing new development is saved for Stubbs and Elsie, who chase a stray host into the outer recesses of the park only to find him trapped in a crevasse. Leaving his compatriots in a “loop,” arguing over which one of them is going to cut firewood (because only the missing guy is programmed to handle the axe for “safety reasons”), our wanderer looked like a lone zombie from the Walking Dead, cornered and unable to comprehend the situation he found himself stuck in. Again, a little on the nose.
When the stray is able to override his sleep command, get past Stubbs, and climb the rope up to Elsie, it seemed like she was as good as doomed. Fortunately (if that’s the word), he only wanted to hurt himself and he bashed his own head in with a big rock in all the grisly detail. Why this host offed himself in such a brutal and gory fashion will have to wait until next week, but one has to wonder if maybe he started remembering something he didn’t like about himself. Maeve now remembers seeing “dead” Teddy during her jaunt “behind the scenes,” Delores remembers having multiple fathers and her last encounter with the Man in Black, and the host Morgan killed all the people that killed him in previous storylines. Yes, something is very rotten in the town of Sweetwater indeed.