Westworld: 3 Key Moments to Contemplate from Episode 7


Are you still reeling from that game-changing twist in Westworld? We try to process that and other moments from Sunday’s episode.

Note: If you missed this week’s episode of Westworld, you should really check out our recap before continuing. Trust me.

A well-executed plot twist isn’t necessarily one that no one predicts; sometimes, it’s one that a whole bunch of people see coming, but it still manages to surprise. Westworld achieved that in its most recent episode, “Trompe L’Oeil”, which confirmed that Bernard, the programmer played by Jeffrey Wright, is an android. And, as if we needed more shock, the reveal was followed by the show’s first (permanent) major character death.

Even aside from the closing scene, this week’s Westworld had plenty of substance for viewers to chew on. Here are three moments in particular that stood out to us:

Theresa’s hands are tied

The aforementioned events are set in motion by a seemingly innocuous meeting. Charlotte Hale, an executive on the Delos board of directors, has come to Westworld to restore order to the park and shake up the staff. When Theresa arrives at her suite, however, Charlotte is engaged in a less professional activity: she’s having vigorous sex with Hector. So, when the women sit down to talk, we see a naked man tied in the background, tied to the bed.

Rodrigo Santoro, Sidse Babett Knudsen, and Tessa Thompson in Westworld season 1, screenshot courtesy of HBO

This shot encapsulates Theresa’s current position at Delos. In theory, she is in control, occupying the center of the frame. As the head of Quality Assurance, Theresa runs a crucial department and serves as the main liaison between the board and the park. She comes to the meeting in a formal dress, her posture arrow-straight, while Charlotte wears a bathrobe and lounges on the couch, off to the side of the frame.

In reality, though, Theresa is utterly at Charlotte’s mercy. The younger woman makes it clear that 1) she knows more about Delos’s plans (the park, including its employees and host residents, matters less than the raw information it contains), and 2) she could fire Theresa at any time. “I like you,” she says nonchalantly. “Not personally, but for this job.”

The image also provides a bit of foreshadowing. In order to get Ford out of the picture, Charlotte explains, the gods “require a blood sacrifice”, a demonstration of how dangerous the hosts can be. Theresa glances back at Hector, as though anticipating a sneak attack, but Charlotte dismisses that as too obvious. Hector does, however, wind up leading to Theresa’s demise. Before ordering Bernard to dispatch her, Ford echoes Charlotte’s “blood sacrifice” line. If we can trust creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, this doesn’t mean that Charlotte is conspiring with Ford or that she is a robot. Rather, Ford was using Hector, whose data he can access, to eavesdrop on the meeting.

William has an epiphany

After a passionate make-out session with Dolores, William wakes up to find her drawing on a canvas. He puts to rest her question about whether he regrets the previous night, what with his fiancée and all, by kissing her. The outside world, he admits, now feels “unreal” compared to the theme park. At last, he understands the appeal of Westworld. “It doesn’t cater to your lowest self,” he says. “It reveals your deepest self. It shows who you really are.”

Jimmi Simpson and Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld season 1, screenshot courtesy of HBO

William speaks as though this is a profound revelation. But in fact, it’s basically the same as the way Logan described the park when they first arrived. The main difference is that Logan believes a person’s lowest self and their deepest self are synonymous. What William believes his deepest self to be isn’t so obvious.

“You’ve unlocked something in me,” he tells Dolores. What, exactly? Sure, he’s gotten slightly more assertive, having finally stood up to Logan, but otherwise, he is still the good-natured guy with a savior complex we met in episode two. Maybe it isn’t his personality that’s changed so much as his role. In real life, according to Logan, he’s unremarkable, a midlevel employee who works hard but has minimal growth potential; he’s an extra. In Westworld, however, he can be the hero, the guy who defeats the villain and gets the girl – and he can just be himself.

Dolores refutes William, asserting that “I’m not a key. I’m just me.” It’s a beautifully succinct statement of empowerment, reflecting her growing dissatisfaction with the love interest role that Westworld assigned her, as well as her increased consciousness in general. Still, William’s key analogy makes for an interesting parallel to Dolores’s own description of herself as a house with rooms she hasn’t explored. In her case, who is the key?

Ford goes straight evil

With the Bernard twist, Westworld opened up a whole new world of theories. But since Matt Singer at ScreenCrush lays out the most credible ones in comprehensive detail, we won’t get into them too much here. (For the record, the Arnold theory seems fairly compelling. As James Hibberd points out in his episode recap, “Bernard Lowe” is an anagram for “Arnold Weber”. I’m also fixated on the brother Ford mentioned in his greyhound anecdote. It’s unclear how he would connect to Bernard, but there has to be a reason we don’t know his name, right?)

Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Hopkins, and Sidse Babett Knudsen in Westworld season 1, screenshot courtesy of HBO

The scene has major implications for Ford as well as Bernard and Theresa. First of all, it clarifies his relationship with the hosts. He claims that the hosts’ lack of consciousness is a gift, a kind of freedom, since it spares them negative emotions such as anxiety and guilt. Yet, we know that the hosts can feel those emotions, since many of them are programmed to have tragic pasts; Bernard still mourns the death of his son, and Teddy is driven by a sense of guilt that, until recently, had no real basis. In addition, Ford is the person responsible for the reveries, which link host gestures to memories to make them seem more lifelike – in other words, more conscious.

Most likely, the crucial part of Ford’s monologue is the end: “The hosts are the ones who are free. Free here, under my control.” We’ve seen elsewhere – in particular, his conversation with Theresa at the Agave Plantation – that Ford relishes the power he has, both over the hosts and other people. Perhaps his efforts to make the hosts more realistic are a sort of personal challenge; as many Westworld guests would attest, it’s much more satisfying to subjugate something that at least has the illusion of agency, of being able to fight back.

Regardless, if Anthony Hopkins’s performance didn’t make it clear already, this scene firmly establishes Ford as Westworld’s chief villain. He’s a pretty intimidating one too – one the Man in Black might appreciate. Who knows how many android spies he has other than Bernard? This doesn’t bode well for Dolores, whose talks with Bernard weren’t as clandestine as either of them thought. Should we be bracing ourselves for a Snowpiercer situation?

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Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.