Monday, October 24, 2016

Westworld, Season One, Episode Four: Dissonance Theory

It's now episode four and it seems as though Westworld is beginning to journey into the rabbit hole now that we have some sense of who the players are.  We begin once gain with Bernard having a sit down with Dolores.  It's almost comforting at this point to see the same opening each week.  This week, they talk about the fact that Dolores has just seen her parents die and the grief she feels.  It's a direct parallel to the grief Bernard feels at the loss of his son.  Bernard offers to take the pain away from Dolores but she refuses because pain is all she has left of her parents. Unfortunately, after questioning, Dolores reveals that this is a scripted response.  Bernard however does offer Dolores a carrot - find the center of the maze and maybe you can be free. Yes, the same maze that the MIB (man in black) is looking for. 

When Dolores awakes back in the park she is with William and his soon to be Dudebro brother in-law Logan. Okay, this is a big one because it means Dolores's little conversation with Bernard was a flashback.  Does that mean that all of their chats so far have been flashbacks, handed out piecemeal each week? Considering that her parents are murdered nightly, we don't even know to which murder this conversation referred to. This however does come in line with one of my pet theories, William is the MIB thirty years ago.  This doesn't bode well for Dolores because his fascination with her moves from wanting to protect her to raping her repeatedly.  Hmmmm?  Possible? Yeah, I'm not sure yet. 

Like many of the fans watching this show, I have my own theories about what is going on and they all hedge on whether or not Westworld is telling a linear story or not.  Could it possibly be that William is the MIB?  He starts off wanting to play the hero and be the good guy but dudebro (read: Logan) having been forced on an adventure away from his robotic prostitutes wants fun in the form of violence and suggests that they go the black hat route.  William isn't down with this until dudebro threatens Dolores.  For some reason, even though he only saw her once in town, William is absolutely fascinated with her. 

For dudebro, Westworld is just one big game whereas for William, it's all still exciting and new (and not in a Love Boat type way either). It's why Dudebro has no problem with simply killing with expedience, leaving the staff to clean up his mess. It's why Dudebro believes that Dolores's sudden appearance in their camp is because the staff noticed William's fascination with her. It's why Dudebro was able to convince William to go black, by suggesting they had just discovered an Easter egg in the game - a chance for them to experience something few people do. If William is indeed the MIB, this could be the start of his craving to discover new things in Westworld.

When they end up in the same town the MIB visited a few episodes ago, Dolores has her meeting with the little girl.  The child is obviously a necessary part of finding the maze. Dolores has a flashback to some previous incarnation inside a church, as the little girl draws the maze in the dirt. We also get to see the moon and it looks like earth's moon. I just know Westworld is dropping another crumb to make me pull out my damn hair. A sheriff grabs Dolores's arm after recognizing her and wants to return her to her father. Dolores however informs him that her parents are dead.  The sheriff's response to Dolores could be a simple case of grabbing a robot who is out of its loop, or a level of protection stopping robots from learning about the maze.  Dolores finds reprieve however when William shows up and says that she is with him. 

The MIB is causing his own little havoc in the park trying to get to the maze himself. It's revealed that he knows who Arnold was. This btw shot down any possibility that the MIB is Arnold because otherwise, he wouldn't want to discover Arnold's world.  It's yet another reminder that MIB has been coming to the park for thirty years. The MIB is approached this week by another guest, who wants to thank him for the work his foundation did in saving his sister's life.  This does not make the MIB happy and he threatens to slit the man's throat, upset because he's on vacation damn it. This means just as implied earlier, not only is the MIB powerful in Westworld, he is powerful in the real world. I do however find it interesting that the MIB threatened death. We know that a gunshot won't kill anyone but there are knives and axes in Westworld.  How do they stop the guests from murdering each other?  No one is supposed to die in the park but we know that at the very least, Arnold did.  

The MIB and Dolores aren't the only two on a journey to find out just what the hell is going on.  Maeve continues to have flashbacks to her time in the lab.  It makes her distracted from the script she's meant to be playing out.  She rushes back to her room and draws a picture of a lab tech on paper and hides it under a loose floorboard, only to discover dozens of similar drawings.  This horrifies Maeve because this means that she's had an interaction with the strange creature several times. From her perspective it would be the equivalent of being abducted by aliens.

Back outside, a family of Native people walk through town and a child drops a doll which just happens to look exactly like a lab tech from Westworld.  Maeve picks up the doll and returns it. When she asks questions about the doll, she learns that it's a representation of part of their religion. Okay, last week, Ford explained that Arnold wanted to introduce sentience by introducing God and thus the question of the universe and their place in it. Look, I get it. I really do get the concept behind it but erasing the religious beliefs of Native peoples just isn't cool, especially considering how historically they were punished for practicing their own beliefs. We cannot just say that these are all just robots and decide to do away with a significant part of a cultural belief of characters of colour. Nope. Nope. Nope. Calling the deity the Shade, or the one who walks between worlds simply will not do. 

Outside of the game, the glitches of the robots continue to be a concern. Last week, Elsie watched as a robot brained itself with a rock and this week, she's trying to figure out exactly what the hell is going on.  Elise wonders if Stubbs brained himself because the "Samaritan Complex" ( a hosts sacrificing himself for a guest) somehow got twisted. Elise doesn't get to investigate long because she is pulled from the case by Theresa, who seems to be enjoying the power she is capable of wielding. This leaves Elise even more frustrated because she wants to know why exactly Stubbs carved Orion onto some stone. Elise is never more on point than when she comments that everyone has an agenda except for her.  It's Bernard, who points out that Stubbs didn't actually carve Orion and that the problem is that humans are ascribing meanings to the things which hosts do. Uh Huh...You better believe this is a pot calling the kettle black moment for Bernard.

Theresa may be able to throw her weight around with the other employees and even use Bernard as her own personal breathing sex toy but she's no match for Ford.  Let's look at her interactions with Bernard first.  After being sexually satisfied,  Theresa is quick to hop out of bed to prepare to confront Ford about the changes he is making to the park.  Bernard warns her not to cross her arms because to Ford, it will relay her anxiety.  It's a subtle reminder of just how aware Ford really is.  His robots are so life like because he has spent so long examining human behaviour after all. 

Theresa enters the park and meets Ford at a restaurant. In the distance, we can see workers in a field. It very much has an antebellum slavery feel to it and I'm quite certain that this is not an accident. Ford is quick to reveal that he knows that Theresa doesn't like her time in Westworld but asserts that he is certain they can walk together, having worked with people who have shared her feelings in the past. This is a clear threat meant to convey that he's dealt with so many people like her over the years. Theresa talks about visiting when she was a kid and having dinner with her family in this same restaurant year ago and then admits that Ford is right, she doesn't really like the park. 

Theresa has been talking for awhile about the board members not being happy with the changes that Ford is making to the park. With the wave of one finger, Ford stops the movement of the workers and makes it clear that he is entirely sane.  For Ford, this isn't just some theme park for fun, he's the creator of a new world and he has always been aware of exactly what he is doing. This scene right here is why the give Hopkins the big money. This is when Theresa realises that she's not only in the same restaurant she visited as a child but is sitting in the exact same seat she did as a child. This time, Ford is clearly a stand-in for her father. Ford explains that he knows about all of their guests and he knows about all of his employees, before imploring on Theresa to go easy on Bernard. Theresa tries to reassert her power by claiming that the board will agree with her and adds that they will be sending a representative.  Ford however counters by telling her they already have sent someone.  If Theresa had so much power, she would already have known that. This is when the earth plowers come over the field and dramatically change the landscape making room for Ford's big plans. This is game, set, match on that little power play.

Ford is well and truly the puppet master.  If he knows about Theresa and Bernard sleeping together, it makes me wonder if he knows about Bernard's little chats with Dolores?  How does he feel about Bernard telling Dolores to find the center of the maze and how will that effect the new storyline he's crafting? What exactly is this new plot line that he is working on and where does his desire to play God come from?  It seems as though everyone else has the illusion of power but Ford, Ford holds all of the cards. Before this scene, I sort of saw him as a wistful old man but there's clearly so much more going on with Ford and we haven't even begun to scratch the surface.