Dolores finds her father again. Angela says “Welcome to Westworld” again. Teddy takes some people down again. And Bernard becomes the puppet yet again.
On Westworld Season 2 Episode 7, “Les Ecorches,” which in French means “the tormented”, which illustrates Bernard and the hosts in general (but seems to be perhaps Bernard’s defining trait), Dolores and co. make their entrance to the Mesa and do their worst. Bernard’s body is under siege when he emerges from the Cradle not entirely himself, the shadowy presence of Ford following him. And the Valley Beyond might mean the final resting place for more than just the hosts.
The ghost of Theresa Cullen is back to haunt Bernard. His ex-lover, and also the woman he murdered as Ford’s host pet, was found in the basement of Ford’s hosts’ house and it seems that the Strand believes that she died under mysterious circumstances (accurate), though he believes Stubbs did it (inaccurate). And it seems like a little trap door, almost too cleverly placed by Ford, reveals the ultimate truth, separate from Theresa Cullen: now everyone knows Bernard’s not one of the humans, he’s one of them. Uh-oh, Bernard. Roll the credits!
The idea of torture that’s presented seems to bother Stubbs. Having a change of heart might mean something to the humans but it definitely won’t mean much to someone like Dolores. As Bernard and Charlotte dig through his mind, the flashback shows Dolores and co. marching through the hellish landscape to enact their sweet revenge. Despite the response team having vests that can identify a host, a spectacular scene of red-flashing darkness and then a piles of bodies, the humans turned to hosts as a proclamation and a trap. The hosts are en route to the Cradle, where Bernard has already carved his head open to secure himself a better understanding. To answer Elsie’s question, he has found the William Blake-quoting, omniscient maker of Westworld, Robert Ford. Bernard walks the audience through the truth: the park is an experiment, the guests are the variables, and the hosts are the control. The only thing left to understand and copy is the human brain, which Delos desperately attempts to do, but to no avail, shown in an earlier episode with their failed experiment on James Delos. The free will of the hosts was a byproduct of all the things Ford did, and subsequently the one thing he came to accept throughout season one.
Maeve vs. the MiB
In a cruel twist of fate, Maeve is in the same exact place the memories she’s been reliving were trying to pull her away from, hiding in a house with her daughter from the MiB. There seems to be no other way for Maeve to get over her past than to just simply rewrite it. And this time, she’s far more prepared. And it seems, as he has been seeming, that the MiB is slowly starting to lose it, seeing Ford when he isn’t there. Using the as yet unexplained voice, Maeve is able to make the hosts turn on the MiB, except for, and perhaps most surprisingly, Lawrence. Awake at long last, Lawrence remembers what the MiB has done to him, and it seems neither he nor Maeve will let him get away without paying for his crimes. “This time” seems to be the instigation for Lawrence; no amount of goodness “this time” from the MiB will be recompense for what he has done. But a sequence of events happens almost too quickly, despite it being in slow motion: Lawrence gets shot down by the recon team, Maeve’s daughter gets taken by the Ghost Nation, Maeve gets shot down and saved (maybe?) by Lee, and the MiB is able to hide and get away.
Bernard… Is That You?
As chaos reigns in the Mesa, Ford and Bernard remain in the Cradle, in Arnold’s home. Ford confirms that Dolores and Ford were testing him to recreate Bernard in Arnold’s image. Ford takes Bernard’s free will, which leads to the question: is Bernard really Bernard at all once he leaves the Cradle? Now that he’s back to being Ford’s pet, a murderous one to say the least, the systems are operational. The puppet and his master are together again, Ford acting as Bernard’s shadow. In a different kind of duo, just as Maeve and the MiB facing off was satisfying, it seems only right that it’s Dolores and Charlotte Hale doing the same.
Welcome to Westworld, Indeed
Angela gets shot, which prompts a rather violent response from Zombie Clementine, who shows off her sharpshooting abilities before being put down. (Am I the only one super sad to see her go?) As Charlotte and Dolores have a tête-à-tête, one that seems to reveal Charlotte’s grip on control slipping away, Angela, as the introducer to Westworld, is the one to issue the goodbye of the chains of it. Angela’s descriptors of who she was designed to be, the descriptors that befit the “perfect” woman, the emblem of womanhood being to capture a man’s attention, her success is twofold: both in ensnaring the man’s attention and, in her real purpose, freeing the hosts of their backup chains. And it seems, with that, Peter Abernathy awakens. The touching moment between the father and daughter, despite the dialogue and their interactions scripted and not their own, seem to become their own, because of their love and dedication to one another. As the one who woke her up, it is only fitting that Dolores is the one to say goodbye, though it seems she is going to bring a keepsake with her.
New Stories and Choices for a New World
As Ford narrates about the Great Library, illustrating that the stories of old don’t ever disappear, but become something new, just as the world of Westworld will never truly perish bu become t something more, something he is no longer in charge of writing. He just believes that a match must be struck, the fire must consume the old to make way for the new. The assimilation and blending of Bernard and Ford seems to be among the few left who are now not choosing their own path, despite Ford making it seem as if Bernard is. Even Dolores, after a conversation with Maeve, offers to show her mercy but instead allows her to choose her own path, reminiscent of what Maeve did in Shogun World. Rather than the two women pitted against one another, they are two different sides of the same coin, both of them trying to find their own peace and who they have to be in order to go on; their strength is shown in deliberately different ways, but is strength nonetheless, fighting in their old world for a newer one. They are not one another’s enemies, and that has perhaps never been more clear than in the scene of the two of them talking.
“What Is About To Happen Will Not Be Your Fault”
Bernard and Ford, meanwhile, have a less copacetic relationship, Ford easing Bernard’s “delicate constitution” by shifting the blame. And it seems, despite Charlotte Hale learning as much as she has, she doesn’t realize she’s still one step behind Ford. Just like the computer running Westworld, once Ford has laid enough of a trap, the debugging of Bernard’s mind comes to a halt and he directs Charlotte and the rest of the recon team, including Stubbs, to the Valley Beyond. Bernard’s tears might be because he truly doesn’t want to hurt anyone and, despite him knowing that it isn’t exactly his fault, he is still all too aware of the puppet he has become. It seems Ford’s last story needs a kind of narrator to push it along and that man is Bernard.
And next week – we’re with Ghost Nation, finally!
What did you think of Westworld Season 2 Episode 7? Is Bernard leading them into a trap? Is he pulling an Angela, using the last of his host-likeness to ensnare the humans into complacency? Or is Bernard really not doing anything, and just acting as the human meat puppet for Ford? And what is the Valley Beyond?! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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