As sort-of promised last week, I’m going to start doing recaps of Westworld, hopefully every Monday. I feel like this goes without saying, but here there be spoilers. Also, I’ve literally never done a recap of anything before, so be kind to a gentle Gnome who is just trying her best.
We open with Bernard doing one of his creepy interviews with Dolores. I say creepy because it is super unsettling any time one of the androids is just sitting there staring. At least he’s stopped having her be naked. He shows her a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (a little too on the nose?), which was his son’s favorite book, and asks her to read a specific passage. It’s the one about feeling strange, and she interprets this by saying that everyone feels strange sometimes. Then she wakes up in the farmhouse, finds a gun in her drawer, and has a flashback to the Gunslinger torturing her in the barn. Fun stuff!
Meanwhile, the McPoyle who got to Westworld last week saves one of the ladies from the saloon from being killed by an outlaw brought in for bounty. The sheriff invites him to join the posse, which of course his friend objects to cause NO MOAR THREESOMES, but McPoyle is pretty insistent on going. He is clearly too good for this world and I assume he is going to die somehow.
Back at the lab, Boss Lady (who I LOVE, btw) is annoyed at Bernard for telling her all the androids were okay after last week’s fix-up when in fact, they were not and Ford has had to scrap several story lines due to their “malfunctioning.” Super polite way of saying that everything is cuckoo bananas. He promises to keep her in the loop and then he and Elsie watch video from the murders at the saloon the week before, when the host malfunctioned. They determine that he appears to be talking to himself, which is a freaky addition to a situation that was already pretty freaky to begin with. Then Elsie and Ashley (the extra Hemsworth brother) go out into the park to search for a stray who’s wandered off.
Teddy shows up at the saloon with a lady partner, gets into a shootout with a super creep and his friends, and handcuffs the guy he was tracking to the saloon before going inside to have a drink. He pays off Maeve for the inconvenience, who has a flashback. He then sees Dolores outside and they have the same conversation they always have, before riding out to the desert and discussing their future. Dolores wants to leave right away, but Teddy tells he he’s got bounty-huntin’ and reckonin’ and man-in’ to do before they can do that. She meets the same end as always, off-screen this time.
THIS IS WHERE IT GETS REAL INTERESTING. Ford is interviewing Teddy (naked James Marsden, yassssss), and quoting Shakespeare like he does. Teddy says he wants to be with Dolores, and Ford tells him he never can be, because his job as a host is to keep Dolores in town waiting for him as a way to stall the Gunslinger. Ford tells Teddy that the thing he feels guilty for doesn’t exist-he was merely given the feeling of guilt as part of his backstory in order to maintain the Dolores loop. He reminds Teddy of a host named Wyatt, who was his sergeant in the army. One day Wyatt wandered off and returned with what Teddy calls “strange ideas.” The hosts aren’t supposed to get ideas. DUN DUN DUN.
After Dolores is set upon by some street toughs, Teddy scares them off and then takes her out to show her how to shoot guns all manly-like. Except she can’t pull the trigger, even when she’s aiming at a rock. GET IT TOGETHER, D, YOU’RE GONNA NEED TO LEARN THIS. His bounty hunter posse shows up and says a whole settlement has been murdered and they say it’s probably Wyatt’s fault. Dolores of course asks who Wyatt is, and the posse guy says that he’s crazy and dangerous and no one has ever gone up against him and won. Dolores makes Teddy promise to come back to her (FATE SEALED, BUCKO). As Teddy’s posse is traveling through the desert looking for Wyatt, his men relate rumors about him-that Wyatt’s followers wear masks made of human skin, can’t feel pain, and believe they’re already dead. EEP. Teddy tells them all that when Wyatt returned he stated that the land belonged not to the Americans, nor to the Indians, but to a force previously unknown. Teddy appears to believe Wyatt thought he was that force. They find a bunch of men tied to a tree, assume they are dead (THEY ARE NOT ALL THE WAY DEAD), hear a weird sound, and then there’s a shootout.
Extra Hemsworth and Elsie are tracking the stray when they come upon a group of hosts trapped in the same conversation, seemingly for days. Elsie searches their tent and finds a bunch of wood carvings, including a bear and a turtle (getting some Dark Tower vibes there). The turtle has what appears to be a constellation carved into it, which Extra Hemsworth later identifies as Orion. Elsie is confused by this, saying that the hosts aren’t programmed to care about constellations. They eventually find the stray stuck in a rock crevice, doing that weird twitchy thing they do when they malfunction. Its fingers are bloody from trying to climb out. Extra Hemsworth insists on getting him out even though Elsie wants to send a team in the morning, since it’s dark. She eventually relents, puts the host into sleep mode, and EH starts cutting off its head?!? Apparently that’s all they need (gross). The host wakes up, knocks him out, climbs out of the crevice, and picks up a boulder to smash Elsie to death...until it starts smashing its own head in.
Back at the lab, Bernard finds Ford berating a tech for covering one of the hosts while he’s working on it, pretty emphatically stating that it’s not human and can’t feel anything, demonstrating this by cutting into its face. Way harsh, Science Grandpa. Bernard tells him that as the hosts malfunction, they are all talking to the same person-someone named Arnold. Turns out Arnold was Ford’s partner when Westworld was new. He wanted to create consciousness in the hosts by building a version of their cognition in which they heard their programming as an inner monologue, hoping that eventually the host brains would take over. This was the last thing Ford wanted, because anything that believes the voices in its head are God is obviously going to be batshit. Ford talks about how Arnold spent more and more time with the hosts and less time with people, until eventually he died. Ford refers to this as an accident, but I think we all know that’s some bullshit. He also reminds Bernard that the hosts aren’t real and asks him to let him know of any unusual host behavior.
Teddy’s posse is still out looking for Wyatt when his lady posse member trips over a wire in the desert, setting off more of that weird noise (J.J. Abrams sure likes his weird noises). A bunch of cloaked, masked figures who I’ve basically decided are Sand People overtake them and start murdering everyone. Teddy tells everyone to run if they can, faces off with six of these crazy motherfuckers, and is eventually beaten.
Bernard is interviewing Dolores again, and asks her what he should do with her. He wants to wipe her and return her to who she was before, and asks her to imagine that their are two versions of herself. One version is “safe” and the other “asks questions.” She doesn’t get it (way to be vague AF, B) but she does say that once she figures out who she is, she’ll be “free.” Bernard ultimately decides not to wipe her because of Charlie Feels, and asks her not to tell anyone about their conversations and to stay on her loop.
The next day, one of Teddy’s guys makes it back to town and tells everyone that the posse is probably dead. She returns home to the same horrible scene she always does...except for the flashbacks. Instead of New Dad, she sees Abernathy’s face. The assailants are the men from town who bothered her before, and one of them drags her into the barn. She sees him as the Gunslinger. Inexplicably, there is a gun in the haystack, and she shoots him (YAY DOLORES) before he changes back into Hat Guy from earlier. She then leaves the barn, thinks she gets shot by his associate, but in reality is able to get on her horse and ride back to town. The episode ends with her finding McPoyle and his sex-crazed friend at their campfire waiting to catch up with the other posse, and she collapses.
We finally heard the staff acknowledge that the Gunslinger seems to have some higher purpose. I’m still not sure I believe he’s a host though, because if he were, there would be no need to “stall” him, like Ford was saying. Unless he’s one of those hosts with Strange Ideas and can no longer be turned off. Time will tell on that, I suppose.
I’m still consistently surprised by how much I care about robots and their feelings. It seems Bernard is empathizing a little too much with Dolores and is in danger of pulling an Arnold in the future?
What does everyone think? I’m sorry this was so long, but SO MUCH HAPPENED.