'Westworld' Episode 3: The Stray

October 18, 2016

 

Let's start with the title of the episode, "The Stray." The third of the season was a bit dialogue heavy, but I'll take it instead of watching The Man in Black massacre another family if it means we get more answers. So, the "stray" most directly refers to the rogue host that we watched crush his own skull at the end of the episode. This weirdo who had his head half-sawed off before violating Asimov's first law of robotics and punching cowboy engineer in the balls (Stubbs, you really let us down in your first showdown) is more than a glitch in the programming. And my guess: from Elsie's genuine fear that he might actually crush her with the rock is that she knows these hosts are capable of violent delights on real humans. (By the way, if "All Men Must Die" is the unofficial slogan for Game of Thrones then "These violent delights have violent ends" is the frontrunner for Westworld).

 

So we see one big question answered in this scene as well as in an earlier moment when the hacker from House of Cards is winged in the chest -- the hosts can hurt the guests -- but even more questions asked: who is this rogue, why was he just chillin in that hole like Franco in 127 Hours, and where was he really headed (pun intended). Tbh though, I'd be more worried about getting killed by another psychotic guest than these hosts, and how there aren't massive lawsuits stacked up against the park at this point is beyond me, but it is essentially sci-fi, so I guess we need to suspend some belief.

 

Right, on to the second stray: Delores. Ever since she had that seed of doubt planted by her father, Evan Rachel Wood's character has been destined to go off the grid. She's killed a fly, found a special gun, killed an attacker in the barn, and begun to go off her loop: her conversation with Bernard where he's leading her down the rabbit hole of her own mind is just the beginning of her search for meaning and consciousness in the Park.

 

Last, there's Bernard himself, who is consciously choosing to let Delores stay in the park and discover herself rather than decommission her like they did her father. Straying from the norm, it looks like Bernard is doing a nice job letting the plot move, even if that means he gets fired. My guess, however, is that Dr Ford is leading Bernard down a rabbit hole of his own--beginning with that story about the mysterious Dr Arnold, who is obviously still alive and holed up in the park somewhere whispering sweet nothings into all those rogue hosts heads. By the way, that Ford/Bernard exchange has been my favorite scene yet, not just for the great CGI flashback that Benjamin-Buttoned Hopkins back to his Hannibal days, but for the little lecture he gave Bernard about A.I. and consciousness. Bernard should play out as a big character here, and that Skype scene between him and his wife did well to get us empathizing with a potential protagonist.

 

Westworld is geared up to be a horseride into the human pysche, asking big questions about evolution and origins, with each small answer begging bigger questions at every turn. My hunch is that Episode 4: Dissonance Theory will keep building in this way. So what'd yall think? Is there another stray that I missed? Is Teddy's new backstory awesome or cliche? Who do you think Elsie was texting before Rogue threatened to crush her face? Will she and Stubbs get it on? If Arnold is God then is Dr Ford the Devil, and the Man in Black his apprentice? Where even is this park, and how do you get there? (Filmed in So Cal btw). And is this all just a Grand Theft Auto 5 ripoff? If so, it's only a matter of time before hackers use the tank-cheat and ruin everything.

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