Reviews · TV

Westworld Episode 4 Review: Violence Begets Violence and Puzzle Pieces

By  · Published on October 24th, 2016

Westworld: Violence Begets Violence and Puzzle Pieces

“I think there may be something wrong with this world.”

Catch up with our coverage of last week’s episode.

So much for my long-shot theory about the Man in Black (Ed Harris) being Arnold. The idea that he’s something more than just a wealthy, high-profile guest is seemingly debunked in the fourth episode by a single crack in the game’s facade as another guest breaks character to introduce himself. It is interesting that a man set up as a ruthless villain of sorts is known beyond Westworld for a foundation that saves lives, but it wouldn’t be unheard of for someone to come to the park with the intention of role-playing as far from the real world as possible.

His interest here remains more focused than just playing a black hat though. The MIB says he’s searching for the game’s final level, one that promises not only to explain what it all means but that also offers “real stakes, real violence.” It seems likely that Arnold lost his life to that very same violence, but this threat of an ending for human guests seems to come with the promise of “freedom” for the hosts. He tells Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) that the maze holds the key to his freedom, and it’s a sentiment echoed elsewhere as an unexpected player enters the race for the maze.

Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) continues her slow awakening as memories (and reveries) reveal a past filled with violence and oppressive repetition. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) invites her to find the maze saying “if you can do that then maybe you can be free.” Is it a freedom that comes through knowledge, or is the maze actually some manner of Truman Show exit into the real world?

There’s a theory that Dolores’ time with William (Jimmi Simpson) is occurring on a different timeline from the MIB’s – and that William and the MIB are the same person. There’s ample circumstantial evidence to suggest it, but I not only don’t believe it but I also don’t want to believe it. It seems unlikely that the park has seen no visible upgrades in the four decades or more that separate William and the MIB – no advances in hosts, all of the same models present, the same minor narratives in play – but it would also serve to minimize Dolores’ own journey. Her interaction with the MIB in the very first episode was a violent and traumatic one, and it would imply that she accomplishes nothing with her awakening with William.

Besides, it’s more exciting story-wise to think she and the MIB are now competing for the same prize. The playing field grows even more though with the realization that the maze, whether it’s a physical destination or simply a final reveal, is also now tied into the legend of Wyatt. He’s still the target of poor, miserable Teddy’s (James Marsten) quest, and the end of this episode delivers an unexpected (and implied) team-up between the MIB and Teddy. That seems destined to complicate his budding romance with Dolores.

The maze is the main thrust of the ep, but the characters searching for it aren’t the only ones making progress. Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) continuing to have memories of shootings and cleanup, and the sequence where she decides to hide her drawing of the nightmarish figure only to discover she’s already done so multiple times before is terrifically chilling. While Dolores’ revelations are leading toward a goal of some sort, Maeve’s see her heading towards either breakdown or a break-out.

The figures in her memories – “shades” to the local Indian tribes – are rumored to walk between worlds and to be sent from hell, and that magical explanation obviously fits perfectly with park workers who come to the surface from the tunnels beneath the surface reserved for employees only. It’s an interesting look at how myths come to be, but Maeve looks to be on the brink of debunking the fantasy, and I wouldn’t want to be the first guest/staff member she comes across once she succeeds.

As great as the scene with Maeve’s stash of drawings is though he ep’s best sequence comes at a simple sit-down in what looks to be one of the park’s fine dining establishments. Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) meets Ford (Anthony Hopkins) to suggest he pull back on his grand plans for a new narrative, but her confidence crumbles as the kindly, white-haired genius freezes the air around them. Not literally of course, but you sense she feels a chill as the hundreds of hosts around them come to a complete standstill as he makes it very clear that he is in total control.

His new narrative looks to involve massive physical construction which to her represents a massive cost, but it’s clear he won’t be dissuaded from its completion. No new details are given as to the story line, but we can assume it will all tie in with the maze, Wyatt, and the hosts’ increased awareness of themselves and religion. They already use terminology like heaven and hell, but could this introduce the idea of – and the need for – hope into their lexicon?

Dissonance theory suggests we have an inner desire to make even conflicting ideas fit together for our own ease of mind. It encourages people to make contradictions acceptable, and in some cases, to justify actions that contradict those ideas. It’s unclear at this point if Ford’s efforts will ultimately help the hosts or hurt them. More likely, and in the spirit of the original Westworld film, the hosts’ ongoing mental awakenings will end up hurting the humans… and what would it take to convince yourself that that’s simply a necessary evolutionary step?

But, and, what…?

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.