Westworld Episode 9: Fewer Violent Delights, But Plenty of Violent Ends

By  · Published on November 28th, 2016

“A little trauma can be illuminating.”

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

Past episodes of Westworld have been content delivering one jaw-dropper per hour, but the latest installment dropped more than a few killer beats on its way to confirming at least one big fan theory. Turns out Bernard Lowe isn’t an accidental anagram for Arnold Weber.

We’ll start with that big reveal – Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), who we learned a few episodes back is a host, is actually modeled after Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) ex-partner, Arnold. It seems the maniacal Ford missed his old friend and years after his passing recreated his likeness in the form of a new associate. It’s perhaps Ford’s singular human trait that falls on the softer, emotional side. This confirms that Dolores’ chats have been with Arnold which in turn leads to the discovery that his death was apparently at her hands. Perhaps as part of her murder spree that would later be fictionalized as the work of a certain Wyatt?

Bernard once again takes the top spot as the show’s most tragic figure as we watch him recall all of the memories that Ford’s concealed from him including Elsie’s murder and the realization that his wife and dead son are planted memories. We’re teased a brief triumph when he seems to get the drop on Ford with the help of a lobotomized Clementine (Angela Sarafyan), but Ford once again comes out on top. (As great as Hopkins is in the role, I can’t be the only one growing bored of Ford’s omnipotent supremacy.) It’s unclear why he has Bernard shoot himself in the head instead of simply wipe him clean again – won’t another high-profile death be a bit suspicious? (And does this mean we’re saying goodbye to Wright like we did Shannon Woodward and Sidse Babett Knudsen?)

As has been the case on more than one occasion with the show, the reveal comes at the expense of logic. It’s impossible even now to erase all record of yourself from the internet – so it’s difficult to believe that the co-creator of a world-changing technology, presumably a man who had a life with friends and family and public accomplishments, could be deleted from the world’s memory. And no corporation would make a major acquisition like Delos did in buying Westworld without confirming information about a past partner who could cause them financial trouble down the road.

It’s a minor thing maybe in the grand scheme, but it’s the kind of lack in logic that feels bigger in the face of the show’s incredibly detailed intricacies elsewhere. It’s arguably worth it though for a long stretch of spectacular acting from Wright – and I do mean a long stretch as the reveal is drawn out well past the point where it already feels confirmed. Wright’s performance makes it mesmerizing all the same.

The other big fan theory – that William and the Man in Black are one in the same – gets some support here too, but if it does come to fruition it’s a narrative thread that threatens to underwhelm.

William (Jimmi Simpson) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) have been captured by Logan (Ben Barnes) and his Confederate pals – as I mentioned last week it’s unclear why the pair would let this happen seeing as he can’t be killed by hosts and she’s proven herself a sharpshooter, but whatever – and William wants his future brother-in-law to help get Dolores out of the park. Logan has other plans and is intent on snapping William out of his unreasonable affection for the artificial woman. Both men seem uninterested in her thoughts on the issue – “You both keep assuming I want out. If it’s such a wonderful place out there why are you all clamoring to get in here?”

Logan opens up her stomach with a knife showing William the gears and pistons within, but she finally decides to fight back and runs off with William’s encouragement and promise of reunion. So far so good, but after the two friends bond and share a drink Logan awakes the next morning to a grim discovery – William has slaughtered all of the Confederate hosts, tearing them apart limb from limb having finally realized “how to play the game” – and now he wants to go find Dolores.

So if William is the Man in Black (Ed Harris) then this is the moment we’ve been waiting for meant to explain his turn from good guy to walking nightmare right?

Essentially this means that William goes from having strong feelings for Dolores, someone he knows damn well is a robot as evidenced by the way he talks to and about her, to being actively hostile. We’re supposed to believe that after a lifetime of being a nice guy and after a week or so in Westworld he becomes a callous, sadistic prick who spends the next thirty years channeling his darker urges into the park… and then out of the blue he has an awakening when he witnesses another host acting “human” and suddenly remembers Arnold and the maze?

Thankfully, and has been the case previously, the best and purest narrative in the episode belongs to Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) ongoing effort towards rebellion.

Maeve’s opening check-up with Bernard – the result of her slashing Clementine last week – is a thrilling sequence powered by her control of the situation and Newton’s subtly compelling performance. From recognizing that he’s a host to the small glances she throws his way during his exam, Newton is an absolute delight. It’s a minor jaw-drop all its own when she stops him with a voice command, and once she gets back into the park she makes strides towards building the army she mentioned previously. “I want you to break into hell with me and rob the gods blind,” she tells Hector, and it’s a mission he readily accepts.

Entering hell via a fiery blaze may be a bit on the nose – not to mention a real possibility of damaging their hardware and making it more difficult to repair – but it works visually and in the service of the show’s singular clear-cut story line. Maeve’s journey has been dramatically thrilling and fulfilling, but it exists as the only outward-facing, A to B narrative currently in progress. The other lead characters – Dolores, William, the Man in Black, Teddy, Ford – are all looking inward toward memories real or imagined in pursuit of their own consciousness.

Maeve just wants to get the hell out of Dodge or bring the place down trying. I’m hoping she succeeds on either.

But, and, what…?

Follow our ongoing Westworld coverage.

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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.