In this week’s episode (“Les Écorchés”) we finally get to understand a little bit more about what’s going on with Bernard. This episode is a little more focused than last week but we still get to check in with most of our favourites. Dolores is still on her rampage and the Man in Black is getting a bit more than he bargained for when he reconnects with Maeve.
With “Les Écorchés” it finally feels like things might be coming together in Westworld. After seven weeks of seemingly disparate storylines, things might actually be starting to converge. I still have very little idea of what’s actually happening or when it is actually happening; time is very much a fluid concept in the current series of Westworld. Although even that might be starting to become more apparent as things progress.
We do get to touch in with all of the main characters in “Les Écorchés” but this felt like a very Bernard-centric episode as we finally get to find out more about his true nature and what’s going on in the park. “Les Écorchés” opens with Bernard’s true identity as a host being discovered by Hale and her gang and subjecting him to virtual torture (including some e-waterboarding). This leads us into a flashback that fills in some of the details of what happened after Dolores crashed the train into Delos HQ.
When we last saw Bernard he had just had his head cut open and he’d been inserted into the Cradle to find out what was going wrong with the park. This week we get to see what actually happened in there, with Ford. Perhaps the biggest surprise of “Les Écorchés” for me was that Ford appeared to be genuinely played by Anthony Hopkins. I was sure there was going to be some CGI trickery or Ford only glanced in mirrors or from behind.
It turns out that Ford had an inkling that Dolores was going to kill him, so he had Bernard create a copy of consciousness (a la Jim Delos) and upload it into the Cradle. It seems that Ford just hangs out in there like some software-ghost haunting the streets of Westworld. It seems that the technology works fine if you live inside the machine but if you try to transplant it in a physical host body, like the late Mr. Delos, you just go crazy. Why hasn’t Bernard gone crazy then? It seems that Bernard is not an exact recreation of Arnold’s consciousness, instead, he’s devised from Ford’s own memories. Interestingly (and as I predicted) it seems that most of the conversations that we’ve seen between Dolores and Bernard are for her to test him, rather than vice-versa.
The revelations don’t stop there though, and my predictions just keep coming true. The park in Westworld isn’t really the real purpose of the Delos Corporation; the hosts are there to observe the guests recording their innermost desire and behaviors. The valley everyone is talking about seems to be a place where Delos is storing all of these harvested personalities. It really puts things into perspective and suggests that maybe Facebook’s data collection policy isn’t too bad. Or, in fact, a worrying trend for where we’re headed.
After Bernard steps out of the Cradle and back into the “real-world” it seems that he’s not alone. Ford’s personality has attached itself to Bernard so he’s no longer flying solo. Instead, Bernard now has a co-pilot who is prepared to do the things that he won’t, for example gunning down Delos security personnel.
Some other storylines start to join up as Maeve, while on the run from the Ghost Nation with her “daughter” in tow has a reunion with MiB. The last time they saw each other he gunned her down and killed her daughter, so as you can imagine it’s not the happiest of catch-ups. This time Maeve has some tricks up her sleeves and manages to convince MiB’s boys to turn on him, including Lawrence. I was genuinely concerned that MiB was going to meet his end in a very muted way but as luck would have it (and thanks to a call from Lee last week) the Delos cavalry show up and gun down Lawrence and Maeve. I thought this was going to be an episode of utter shocks, with MiB and Maeve seemingly dying – while we’re getting a lot of revelations in this episode the show isn’t quite ready to kill off two major characters.
Westworld might not be prepared to kill off two major characters but it is prepared to give us another interesting reveal. As Dolores arrives at Delos HQ to free her father, we finally find out what’s inside his head. Hale says it’s a key, but what does it unlock? I’m going to place my bet now on it being linked to all of the guest data they’ve collected so far; you never know, it might end up with Westworld being a prequel to San Junipero (the Black Mirror episode). Also, Hale threatens Dolores with the destruction of the hosts backups if she doesn’t fall into line. It turns out that’s what Dolores has been after all along. Without the backups they’re not beholden to Delos anymore, they can’t be recreated and repurposed, they become human.
Oh, the scene with Dolores at Delos HQ had my favourite moment of “Les Écorchés”. New, evil Teddy comes face to face with the leader of the Delos security force; I’m not sure of his actual name but I’ve been calling him Captain Moustache. Well, this week Teddy punched that moustache clean off his face and it was glorious.
“Les Écorchés” felt like more pieces being put into place as everyone seems to be headed towards the Valley Beyond, so it’s a fair assumption that something big is going to happen there.