Westworld Episode 3 Review: “The Stray”
“Some hands weren’t meant to pull the trigger.”
Catch up with our coverage of last week’s episode.
Now we’re talking.
It’s most likely a coincidence, but Neil Marshall’s place in the director’s chair for Westworld’s third episode feels pretty fitting as we finally get to see women capable of the violence necessary to defend themselves. His film The Descent is a modern horror classic focused on empowered female characters, and both Doomsday and Centurion feature equally capable ladies. It’s early in the season, but the need for similarly strong women here already feels long overdue given the constant horrors visited upon them.
The rifle-toting woman above – nameless, unless I missed it?— joins Teddy (James Marsden) on his newly-created narrative involving a legendary villain named Wyatt. She’s referred to only as his “dickless associate,” but it’s great seeing a female guest interested in role-playing as more than just the ubiquitous “townswoman in a frilly dress.” She shows more bravery than the male guest riding with them, and I’m hoping we see more of her.
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) has obviously been growing in this regard with her increasing memories and the discovery last week of the buried gun, and after a brief adjustment period she finally gets to fight back. It’s a change worthy of her earlier conversation with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) after he gifted her a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Teddy’s attempt to teach her how to shoot, along with earlier dialogue detailing how hosts need programmed permission to handle weapons, eventually leads her into a confrontation where she flips the script. The park’s oldest host is well on her way to becoming its most dangerous.
The love story between Dolores and Teddy is growing too, and we’re probably well-advised to heed Dr. Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) reminder that “The hosts are not real.” We want them to be, and we want these two to succeed in their increasing desire to just ride off into the sunset together.
Ford’s talks with Teddy and Bernard included a lot of exposition, but while one focused on a new fictional narrative and the other detailed the history of the park’s mysterious co-founder the two seem inextricably tied together.
The story line he gives to Teddy casts Wyatt (Sorin Brouwers) as a figure out of a nightmare – something Teddy’s eventual face-off with Wyatt’s followers seems to confirm – who began as a simple man overwhelmed by the world around him. He claimed he could hear “the voice of god” which turned him into a merciless killer. Ford introduces the narrative calling it “a fiction that like all great stories is rooted in truth.”
The truth in question bears similarities to the story he shares with Bernard regarding the long-forgotten co-founder, Arnold. The man’s been “scrubbed” from the park’s official history after apparently losing both his sanity and life inside the park. Arnold was intent on creating consciousness in the hosts before butting up against the theory of the bicameral mind – the hosts went crazy believing their thoughts were actually the voice of god instructing them what to do.
So is Ford simply building his new narrative around what happened with Arnold and making Wyatt a dramatized version of where Arnold went wrong? Ford’s interest in that steeple he found is starting to become clearer and suggests his own curiosity in tying these artificial beings to the beginning of religious beliefs.
The long shot argument here… could Arnold be the Man in Black? Ford says Arnold began wandering the park and speaking only to the hosts, and while he says he died there no details are offered. The age seems right, he seems to know most of the park’s ins and outs, and his comment about being born there fits the idea of someone who found renewed purpose in Westworld.
A far less mysterious turn of events sees William (Jimmi Simpson) finally making confident strides towards his chosen role of “good guy.” He catches the bounty hunter bug after killing a thug – and the impact of the shot he takes goes a long way toward answering my question from last week regarding the guns and their functionality – and sets off on a mission to catch another. It’s no accident that he crosses paths with someone else who just managed their very first kill in Dolores.
Our heroes are growing in number, and I expect the villains to soon become equally clear.
But, and, what…?
- The little weaselly guest who tries to grab Dolores with the help of the hosts is wearing a white hat. Did he not understand that decision?
- Why weren’t Teddy’s bullets working on Wyatt’s men? I can’t imagine they’re actually guests, but the earlier suggestion that they don’t react to pain seems equally odd and unsatisfying.
- Ford tells Bernard that only some voice commands remain from Arnold’s tenure. We’re pretty sure that’s not true, but could that triggering quote from Romeo & Juliet be one of those leftover commands?
- I often have action-oriented dreams, and one occasionally recurring element is an inability to squeeze the trigger of a gun – as in I physically can’t pull it. Am I alone in that? I don’t give credence to dream interpretations, but it felt like an interesting correlation to Dolores’ own dream-like situation.
- For those of you keeping track, three episodes in and we’ve seen three implied girl on girl interactions.
- Dolores hears a voice say “Kill him,” but I can’t quite place who it belongs to. Any guesses?
- So now we know how much a day pass to the park costs – $40k!
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Related Topics: HBO