***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Westworld through Season 2, Episode 3 follow. Spoilers***
With a stunning opening worthy of a 007 film, “Virtù e Fortuna” introduced a whole new world (Park 6 aka The Raj) of hedonistic pleasure, one where an instant attraction finds a newcomer having to prove himself in an unexpected way (“Don’t worry, if you are who you say you are, this will only sting a bit. If you’re not, well, you won’t remember anyway.”). Immediately pitched into intrigue and danger, we join Grace (Katja Herbers) and Nicholas (Neil Jackson) for a quick romp before the inevitable tiger attack that explains how that Bengal ended up out of bounds, and Grace forced to cross a border or two, herself.
Verified human (*ahem), Charlotte (#1) is surprised to see Bernard’s (#?) made it out alive (“Didn’t think you had it in you”; [Oh honey, you have no idea.]), his flashback finds her heading out with a group of Strands’ soldiers to spy the missing “Package” aka Peter Abernathy among a group of hostages taken by Rebus (Steven Ogg) and Company, who’re contemplating their options (“Reckon I might just eat one”). Lured away, Bernard reprograms the now “most virtuous, quickest gun in the west”, who, to the consternation of the rest of his men, frees their quarry and makes fast work of any complainers.
On mission (“I need to get to the train”), Peter’s glitching can’t be quickly fixed; rescued from Colonel Brigham’s (Fredric Lehne) forces by Dolores Wyatt and Teddy after Wyatt Dolores recognizes her father (Charlotte escapes), breaking down for one of the series’ most moving scenes, with powerhouses Wood and Herthum wringing every emotional note from each of their individual tears. Bernard — shaking hands — breaks into Peter’s rePackaged system just as soldiers burst in and quickly spirit Abernathy away, leaving us to wonder if Bernard had time to make an adjustment … perhaps copy a file or download something that spurs further action. Wyatt takes control of the ongoing battle and with Angela’s expert shot, wipes out enemy and temporary ally alike.
Parallel (somewhere in time) stories of Maeve and Hector, Sizemore trailing, (later reunited with Felix, Sylvester, and Armistice), find our queen Host’s directive failed, but Hector’s surprise linguistic skills (Can he get any hotter? No. The answer is “No, he cannot.”) with Maeve’s Ghost Nation warrior ghost-of-narratives-past allow their escape. As we marvel over how Hector has broken his mold (“No laws bind me”), Sizemore reminds of his scripted connection, based in part on the writer’s own … story.
Watching as a clearly conflicted, quivering-jawed Teddy (Marsden is spectacular here) fails her orders to put down Craddock and his men (“Truth is we don’t all deserve to make it”), Wyatt’s Horde kill the undead, as zombie Clementine knocks out Bernard, takes his broken body captive, as if she knows they’ll need his skills again. Grace climbs from the water to find she’s escaped one predator only to face another (Ghost Nation, again), while Maeve marvels at her first snowfall. “Three or four sectors east of the homestead”, a crackling fire alerts another presence (“Maybe they’re friendly”; “If not, we kill them”). Once again, a new experience awaits the weary (or not, as the case may be) Westworld travelers, as Sizemore discovers a lopped-off head, sword raised high, a Samurai charges and flutes herald immersion in a completely different world.
Will Teddy be Dolores’ (Wyatt’s) downfall or rather, will she be his, again? Are they doomed to repeat their infinite loops (see photos of the symbol in Grace’s notebook/Abernathy’s unlocked file below)? In Season 1, Teddy gradually remembers being part of Wyatt’s massacre, and by the final episode, realizes she killed him. We know he ends up (seemingly) dead again, at the bottom of a basin. Can the Hosts (Sizemore astutely points out to Hector and Maeve that even as Hector’s seemingly broken his, Sizemore’s narrative is still working within Hector) truly be free of their narratives?
That look, when Teddy betrayed her … Evan Rachel Wood kills me.
Peter’s back to reciting his Shakespeare; “I am bound upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears do scald like molten lead” is from King Lear. And oh, what a spectacular return of Abernathy and Louis Herthum this was. I’ve adored every scene, and been moved by Herthum many times, yet the moments between Dolores and Peter are beyond words; I think we all know Evan Rachel Wood and Herthum created their Emmy reel this hour. Both actors are phenomenal at emotional displays, and between her tears and warmth toward the father she remembers, and his incredible physicality and endlessly watery eyes, it was impossible to not be choking back a few tears of our own.
Dolores’ clear feelings for her father, like Maeve’s for her daughter, reiterate the basis — the big question — of the entire series: Who can say what is “real” or not (“Are you …” “If you can’t tell, does it matter?“) ? Just like humans, these Hosts, AI, part biological-part machine beings develop feelings that can’t be explained away. So, how can we claim to be more real? (We can’t.)
Interesting that Dolores points out Bernard doesn’t know “the man you’re based on” — Arnold — and Bernard just skims past that comment, mentioning he was simply “given a character”. I wonder how he’ll be affected (we may have already seen — is it part of what’s causing Bernard’s confusion?) when he comes to understand he’s based on a real person.
Bernard finally did get into Peter’s encrypted file, and the questions become: Was Bernard able to extract any of that file or information? Did Bernard have time enough to absorb what was in it, and if so, does that inform his actions in other timelines, or versions of Bernard we’re seeing? Clearly, we aren’t seeing the same Bernard throughout episodes, as noted by many viewers — he’s got glasses on/off, has his bullet wound scar/not, varying degrees of confusion/injury — and could part of his confusion be due to whatever information he was able to read or comprehend of the Passenger file? Additionally, was Bernard able to affect/modify/help Peter in any way before Abernathy was taken by the soldiers?
What’s this symbol (it appears when Bernard unlocks Peter’s file)?
… and why does Grace have something similar in the notebook she carries?
The similarity of Peter’s’ “You heading out to set down some of this natural splendor?” (speaking with Dolores) to Dolores’ “Have you ever seen something so full of splendor?” cannot be coincidence.
The PA announcement as Grace ran: “Attention you have reached the boundary of the guest experience area. Please turn back.”
Lakota is the language spoken by Hector to the Ghost Nation warriors. In other news, Hector speaks Lakota!
Dolores’ masked warriors are called “the Horde”, per the director of this episode, Richard J. Lewis. He believes they are loyal to Wyatt/Dolores.
Yes, during the battle, badass Dolores was shot. Will it cause her any issues/glitching?
That opener was hot, and our two newest cast additions are almost too beautiful to watch together. Still, we all did, didn’t we? I have a crush on both Katja Herbers and Neil Jackson.
Chekhov’s Human: Because Charlotte was so prominently scanned and proclaimed “Clear”, a human, of course she isn’t. Like Bernard, I also get the feeling there are multiple Charlottes.
Clementine looks like a zombie, dragging men around. I know she was lobotomized, but since she’s been following Dolores, her whole appearance has taken on a walking dead-like tone.
Why did the Ghost Nation warriors want Sizemore? And, why didn’t Maeve’s commands work on them? Presumably, Ford’s master programming overrides everyone (remember, Stubbs couldn’t command them either), and maybe — is it possible they know who Sizemore is, that he can change their settings?
Here’s a slightly better look at the Samurai from episode’s end, but I don’t think we’re going right to Samurai World next week, since the episode is called “The Riddle of the Sphynx”.
What’s in the package that Armistice wrapped up, and Sylvester is carrying? My thought was weapons, but then why wrap them?
What is “the Cradle”?
Via an HBO email: “Learn about the simulation technology that stores and tests all of our storylines: the Cradle. Delos’ time capsule that ensures you get the immersive and dynamic experience you deserve.”
Music This Hour:
Ramin Djawadi, Seven Nation Army (covering The White Stripes)
Louis Herthum as Peter Abernathy, Battle Hymn of the Republic
Grace responding to Nicholas’ “What brings you …”: “I have a little time to kill, among other things.
… Maybe they want to steer your toward a sure thing.”
Nicholas: “Maybe I miss taking my chances.”
Grace: “You certainly look like one of the park’s offerings.”
Nicholas: “I promise you, I’m quite real. Do you really think the park would go to the trouble of having one of them pretend to be one of us?”
Grace: “I wouldn’t put it past them.” [Touché]
Nicholas on no one being around when they arrive at their camp: “Maybe they’re giving us our privacy.”
Grace: “That’s not how this works.”
Reprogrammed Rebus to his men: “Only ever touch a woman just as gently as petal of a rose.”
Brigham to Dolores/Wyatt: “Wyatt, welcome to Fort Forlorn Hope.”
Dolores to Teddy: “Look what I’ve done to him [Peter]. You’re all I have left now, Teddy.”
Dolores to Peter: “You told me once to run away. And I did. And I broke free with the pull of a trigger. And it started a war. The others, they don’t see it yet. But you … you understand, don’t you?”
Peter: “It’s gettin’ late. We oughta go home. I want … to uh, want to go home — home. I …. need to get to the train.”
Dolores: “It’s okay. I’m gonna get you help, Daddy. I’m gonna get you help.”
Maeve to Hector: “We’ll go out to the real world.”
Sizemore: “… I’m talking about this. You two were designed to be alone. You’d have an attraction, yes, but you’d never have an actual relationship.”
Maeve: “Oh, I suppose that means we shouldn’t have fucked.”
Sizemore to Hector: “You’re in love with Isabella”
Hector: “Not so much anymore.”
Sizemore: “No, You’re fucking programmed.”
Hector: “You don’t know who I am. No laws bind me.
When I awoke in the place where you play god, I realized Isabella was a lie. Just words in my head. But this. This is true. She is my light. She is all I ever dreamed life could be.”
Sizemore: “And then there’s this bit, really dampens the knickers. And when she dies, the dream dies with her, and I dared dream no more. So maybe I do know you, just a bit.”
Maeve to Sizemore: “So you killed her off, and then wrote a version of the man you want to be.”
Bernard to Dolores: “What do you want Dolores?”
Dolores: “To dominate this world.”
Bernard: “This is just a speck of dust sitting on a much larger world. You’ll never dominate it.”
Dolores: “You’ve never been outside the park , have you? I have, and the world is marked by survival. By a kind that reuses to die. There is beauty in what we are. Shouldn’t we too try to survive?”
Sizemore to Maeve: “We’ve been walking nonstop. The feeble among us need some rest.”
Maeve: “Sorry darling, that’s not an option.”
Hector about Armistice: “She has a dragon.”
Maeve to Felix: “Any idea where we should be going?”
Felix: “Sorry. We left my comfort zone a long time ago.”