Spoilers, and why are we even still doing this?
Critics have taken issue with the pervasiveness of fan theories surrounding Westworld, a prestige puzzle show that is practically begging for them, because I suppose that’s what the job entails—ascribing moral value to things that are fun. Kidding! Some of my best friends are TV critics.
But on Sunday evening’s episode, “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” directed by the excellent Michelle MacLaren, the tables turned, decidedly placing the power in the hands of the incomprehensibly prescient Redditors of r/Westworld, by proving basically every major fan theory absolutely right. When has that ever happened before except for in the 2016 presidential election???
Bernard spends the episode attempting to find out who he is (a host) and what he’s done (so much bad shit). After Maeve reminds Bernard for the 100th time that he is a host (Reddit theory!), Bernard holes himself up in cold storage and demands Robert Ford give him access to his earliest memories. Through a series of flashbacks, we are reminded that he killed Theresa and Elsie, and that he was made in Arnold’s image after Arnold (still mysteriously) met his end. Now we know that Bernard is Arnold is Bernard (Reddit theory!), and we must question which of Dolores’s meetings with Jeffrey Wright were with Arnold and which were with Bernard. By the end of the episode, Bernard is unable to best Ford—he’s bound to be obedient in his deepest code—and shoots himself in the head at Ford’s request. Judging from the scenes from next week, Bernard will be awakened by Maeve to join her army of rebel bots. Nice!
Maeve is in the process of building an army of rebel hosts who will presumably stage an uprising in next week’s finale (or, conceivably, next season). Her first charge is Hector Escaton, the very appealing bandit who has robbed her several times before. They have open-mouthed sex in a burning tent, which I am down with.
Head of security Ashley gets kidnapped by Ghost Faction after he is unable to freeze them, introducing the question: is the third Hemsworth also a host? Or are outer-park hosts so powerful they don’t respond to normal staff? Are all Hemsworth brothers hosts? (Probably.)
Teddy gets killed by Angela, another super-old host who has been a townsperson, hospitality worker, and now a Wyatt crew member, who says his time to rejoin Wyatt’s crew is nigh and induces a memory of the original Wyatt slaughter in Teddy. The Man in Black witnesses this and then gets promptly knocked out by Angela.
Dolores and William are kidnapped by Logan and his Union buddies. When William asks for Logan to help free Dolores from the park, Logan freaks out and asks William if he remembers his wife, and then shoves her picture in his chest.
Attentive viewers will recognize that this is the same picture that started the whole freaking series. In the pilot, Dolores’s father finds a significantly more faded version of the same picture on his farm the day after the Man in Black drags Dolores into a shed, which prompts his glitching. Did the Man in Black (possibly older William) plant the photo to trigger something?
Logan also, in an attempt to get William to remember that Westworld is populated by hosts, cuts open Dolores, revealing old metal mechanisms no longer used in hosts. This, for me, coupled with the photograph, solidly situates the Dolores-William storyline in the past, and is further proof (among the plenty of proof we already have) that Dolores-related storylines (William, the maze/Arnold, the Man in Black) are all taking place in different times (Reddit theory!).
After Dolores is cut open, she snaps, killing two soldiers and slashing Logan in the face. William also snaps, killing every Union soldier and threatening Logan.
We see Dolores run to the church in the town covered in sand (currently not covered in sand), and we watch as she toggles between various memories of being in the church—once when it’s filled with glitching hosts (perhaps those who have had consciousness boot-strapped by Arnold)—and then in the basement lab after it’s been massacred, and further back when it is still operational and Ford and Arnold are working together. Dolores makes her way to her meeting spot with Arnold, where she learns—dun dun dun—he can’t help her anymore because he is dead and she killed him.
When she leaves the church basement, she hears someone opening the door and says, “William,” only to see that the man behind the door is the Man in Black. It is unclear which timeframe we’re in now, though it certainly seems to me like we’ve shot into present day, and the Man in Black is older William who has located Dolores at the heart of the park. (And note, when the Man in Black finds Dolores in the church, she isn’t gutted as she would have been if she ran there straight from the Logan incident. There is lost time, and a lost piece of the story here, that I’m sure we’ll see next week.)
There are some questions that remain—namely, who is Wyatt and why is his story so important? My current working theory is that a newly-awakened Dolores is Wyatt, going on a rampage through the town and enlisting Teddy. (This would also work with the concept of the Judas steer, introduced in the pilot episode. “The rest’ll follow wherever you make [the Judas steer] go,” Dolores explains to Teddy. Though Maeve is also behaving very Judas steer-ish.)
And why is Ford trying to get Teddy to find Wyatt? Does it have to do with his new, mysterious narrative? Have we all been played this whole time?
Of course, this has all happened before. Hosts have become aware of their own situation and been told to forget; violent delights have led to violent ends, but all threats to the Westworld equilibrium have been repeatedly squashed by Ford. Will this be the time the attempted revolts succeed?
But if we are disappointed, at least we’ve made a lot of internet guys happy.