We know from these nine episodes that the hosts run on a loop: Teddy always dies, Hector’s crew kill each other before they can crack the empty safe, and whoever Clementine is she will ask about your rind, the whole point is breaking these loops. Well Westworld has done one better by making me: the reviewer, the fan, an actual human being that has nothing to do with making the show, go on a loop.
That’s because it was Bernard again, he was the twist, again, and this review is going to be mostly about how the revelation that Bernard is actually the robot replacement for Arnold and what it could mean for the show’s future, and how it changes how we will see season one from now on, again.
Again, it was staring us right in the face, kudos to those of you who already guessed it, but even if the twist was predictable to some, it was elegantly executed, pun intended. Hopefully this isn’t really the end for Bernard, but if it is, Jeffrey Wright acted the hell out of his final confrontation with Dr Ford. Much like last week’s cover-up, the scenes between Ford and Bernard were electric (these puns must be part of my backstory), except this time it was Bernard who was in control. Or he thought he was. Westworld has a vein of dramatic irony a mile long: just as Theresa’s unplanned fling with Bernard factored into her demise, so too does Bernard’s talent for building the hosts factor into his. The idea for back door code was his idea, which Ford utilised to gain control.
Westworld has a lot of thematic elements in common with Ronald D Moore’s Battlestar Galacttica reboot. One of that show’s conceits was that life is a loop, which was frequently stated by the robotic cylons. Sure, it was a cheeky nod to the show’s remake status, just like Westworld, but it was used to highlight the patterns and circular nature of life. Westworld does the same but on a smaller scale. The loop is life for the hosts, even Ford and Bernard have had this same conversation many times before.
The reveal was always there on the surface, it’s just that the show used narrative gaps in order to disorientate the audience. We don’t know how badly we’ve been fooled until we see it through Dolores’ eyes. After escaping Logan (the black-eyed tool), Dolores goes back to the church from last week, the church where the voice of Arnold said they would meet. And meet they do, and they’ve met before. All of the scenes where Bernard had his private talks with Dolores happened in Arnold’s bunker, not in Ford’s workshop as I previously thought. We have seen these talks take place in earlier episodes but they were always somewhat out of context to what was going on at the time. This was another shrewd move from the writers: putting these scenes in and letting the viewer create the context for their inclusion in the episode. After all, Dolores could have been called back while William (don’t call him Billy) and Logan were sleeping, as Dolores was going off her usual loop at the time. So what were these scenes really: Dolores’ memories? Where they Bernard’s? It’s ambiguous, but the money’s on them being part of Dolores visions.
As it has become known for in its debut season, Westworld gives us the answers we crave while also using them to pose more questions. Bernard is a robotic replacement of Arnold; a curiously sympathetic action on Ford’s part bringing back his friend even if it’s only an echo, and that it was Dolores, not Ford, who killed Arnold, and then Ford orders Bernard to shoot himself. We have the answers to season long questions but it leaves us with no idea what that will mean for next week’s finale.
What we do know is how each of the show’s other plots are being set up for episode ten. William (seriously don’t call him Billy, he doesn’t even have the white hat anymore), and Logan are working together to find Dolores, that is after William killed every host in a mile radius to show Logan he wasn’t messing around. Maeve has finally convinced Hector to join her cause, with their deaths meaning they can cause all manner of chaos when they wake up behind the scenes. Poor Teddy dies yet again, as he’s apparently not ready to re-join Wyatt, and the Man in Black is back where he started with Dolores. All of the characters in the park are converging on Dolores. Which brings up another question: is Teddy’s murderous memories really his backstory? Is he Ford’s ace in the hole concerning the business of Arnold’s maze? Let’s not forget that if The Man in Black dies his vote to remove Ford will be worthless, and if Dolores gets killed in the crossfire, or from the ultimate betrayal by Teddy, she could be wiped clean once Ford gets his hands on her.
All of this has happened before with Ford. His conversation with Bernard, Theresa confronting him as a representative of the board, the necessary blood sacrifice. Ford is the God of this world but he’s also the devil. He’s the kind of un-showy trickster that won’t let you know that he’s beaten you until the last second, and that you were never in control in the first place.
9/10 – An episode nine worthy of its stablemate Game of Thrones, Westworld has just showed it’s hand but we’re still waiting for the ace up its sleeve.