Spoilers, get with the program!!!
Sunday evening’s episode of Westworld was entitled “Trompe L’oeil” and I gotta admit my oeils felt tromped and I loved every second of it.
Some plot-advancing stuff happened: Lawrence blew up a dead man filled with explosives; Charlotte clarified Delos’s goal (to push Ford into retirement and steal his intellectual property) and showed she could keep a Hector as her personal sexbot; Maeve is officially planning her park escape and now operates Felix like an iPhone; Dolores and William had meaningful sex and I was there! for! it!
But the biggest reveal was obviously the one-two Bernard-Theresa punch. Let’s recap for those of us who like to be reminded of things they just watched:
Bernard leads Theresa to the house in the woods where he once found Arnold’s ghost hosts—ghosts, if you will. Bernard says that hosts are programmed not to see the house, and other things they aren’t supposed to see. Then, inside the house, Theresa says, “What’s behind this door?” Bernard says, “What door?” We all scream and fall onto the floor.
Then, they walk downstairs into a basement with a machine busy building a new host. Theresa sees host prototype plans, and shows Bernard’s to Bernard. Ford approaches them quietly from behind, like a creep. Bernard learns he is a host. I cry, but am not surprised. Ford triggers Bernard, who gently takes off his tie and jacket and folds them on a stool, then smashes Theresa’s head against a concrete wall. She dead now, and maybe will be rebuilt as a host.
This is all shocking and fun, but what it really teaches us, other than that Bernard is a host and his dead son is sad fiction, is that we can’t trust anything that’s on screen either, because the direction isn’t going to reveal things that a host wouldn’t be able to see, until it’s time for the audience to see it.
For example, here’s a photo of the house before the door is revealed to Bernard:
And here’s a photo of it after:
Okay, that’s a terrible screenshot, but you can tell that the set has been rebuilt! (Also, if you remember in the first scene, Ford seemingly appears out of nowhere—it’d seem he just walked through the door.)
And it looks like we’ve seen the cabin basement before too.
When Bernard was meeting with Dolores:
Also, look how they’re inside the unit where hosts are being made. Not to read too much into that, but they are both hosts being made in one way or another.
This does remind me kind of loosely of a phenomenon of consciousness I learned about in college called “inattentional blindness,” which suggests that if a person isn’t paying attention or expecting to see something, it’s possible to be completely blind to it, and “filling in,” which is a theory of what our brains automatically do, even when we aren’t looking at what’s in front of us, to present a cohesive picture of the world. Basically, our brains avoid letting us know just how much we aren’t seeing. So the hosts’ blindness could at least be drawing from a human phenomenon.
But back to the show. The development begs the question: what else haven’t we seen? Namely, is this why that Ford-Arnold portrait looks so weird? Because there are elements in it that Bernard couldn’t see? Like... I don’t know... His own face?
I feel jazzed with the energy of being confused!