Previously on Westworld: Sex. Violence. Droids.
OK, fine, here’s what actually happened: Dolores was trying to find her place; there was a maze inside a dude’s scalp; there was a dude named Arnold who died in the park and believed the hosts could be conscious; a host smashed his own skull in in front of Elsie; a small-time crook promised Goofus and Gallant that they could get lots of money if they brought him back to his boss, El Lazo; Ed (the Man in Black) cut Teddy down from a tree instead of shooting him on sight, for once; and Maeve realized that she could get wounded and her body would magically repair itself, so she decided to make out with Hector, because, well, look at him. (Although she said it was because “none of this matters.”)
Ford’s hanging out with his best friend, the totally inadequate excuse for a human who hangs out in cold storage on sub-level 83. Unconvincing Cowboy says to Ford, “Got a story for me, friend?” There’s no particular reason or trigger for him to say this, other than that the writers want to flex their Obvious Metaphor muscles early on in the episode. Ford tells this story: when he was a kid, his father adopted an old greyhound to make him happy. Racing dogs, like greyhounds, run in circles chasing fake rabbits. (You know, like hosts, which run in circles in their fake storylines.) So Ford and his brother took the dog out without a leash, and it spotted a cat, broke away from the boys, caught the cat, and killed it. But it was confused because it’s spent his whole life not catching things, and didn’t know what to do when it succeeded. DO YOU GET IT THOUGH? DO YOU? THE DOG IS LIKE THE HOSTS.
Just in case you didn’t like the story, the Unconvincing Cowboy is here to tell you it’s great: “That is one humdinger of a story, partner,” he says. Don’t you love when TV shows insist that their own stories are incredibly clever and moving? They toast to the lady with the white shoes.
Dolores is standing in a giant graveyard, having a reverie. She can hear a man’s voice telling her to find him, and sees visions of the white church. But she’s interrupted by Goofus waxing poetic about Pariah, the city full of thieves and murderers. They couldn’t come up with a SLIGHTLY less on-the-nose name for this place? Even “Sodom” would probably have been subtler. Meanwhile, Gallant asks if Dolores is OK, and Dolores says she wasn’t talking to herself, it was just the wind.
In Pariah, the crowds are ornery, and Dolores can see people totally having sex inside their open carriages. Awkward. But she says the city is beautiful, because she’s Dolores and that’s her job. Goofus agrees, because he likes boobs, presumably. He goes into a little useful exposition, telling Gallant that right before the park opened, one of the founders committed suicide and sent the park into a tailspin. “I don’t even know his name,” Goofus says. Oh my God, Goofus. It’s ARNOLD. Jeez, even the month-old vase of flowers on my windowsill knows that name by now. It’s weird how they say “Arnold” like every five damn seconds, but no one has actually said Clementine’s name this entire fucking time. Actually it’s not that weird. Dead male scientists are obviously going to get to have names before living prostitutes. Anyway, Goofus couldn’t even find a picture of Arnold. I suppose that becomes significant later. It’s probably Bernard. (I threw this out there as a joke, but it apparently matches with several fan theories out there. They are similarly dweeby names, at least.)
A band of, well, deplorables marches through town. They’re called the “Confederadoes”—Dolores has heard of them. They refused to surrender after the South lost the Civil War, and now work as mercenaries. (See? Totally deplorable!) Goofus realizes excitedly that they’re the key to the war, which he thinks is the best part of the game because he’s not one of the cool kids who’s heard about the Maze.
Ed has Lawrence, his hands tied up, walking behind him, because they have Teddy’s inert body strapped to the second horse’s back. Teddy starts moaning and groaning, so they stop under a tree. Lawrence can’t figure out why Ed didn’t just let Teddy die, but Ed is clearly coming up with a plan, and it’s never good when Ed has a plan. Lawrence calls Ed a sadistic fuck, but even so he’s clearly unprepared for what comes next, which is that Ed slits his throat and drains his blood out into an empty saddlebag (after sending Ford’s little British friend, who randomly stops by because, Reasons, to fill the other saddlebag with water, because he’s “too small” for Ed’s purposes).
Back in the lab, the two doofuses who messed up Maeve’s surgery before are doing their thing, insulting each other over nothing while delicately repairing Maeve’s body against. They apparently have a bet going as to who finishes faster: the redhead dude with the cheekbone and ear, or the brown-haired dude (whose name is Lutz, and I can’t figure out Obnoxious Redhead’s name even from IMDB) with her knife wound. He touches her, musing that it looks like she was looking for something inside her. Just then the redhead nudges her so she moves, which terrifies Lutz, and which Obnoxious Redhead thinks is hilarious. (I feel like some writer on this show must have had some really mean guy friends as a child, because their view of male friendship is fucked up.) Then it’s break time, and Obnoxious Redhead announces happily that he has a ham sandwich ready, along with a hot girl loaded up in the VR tank. Everything about Obnoxious Redhead is so gross. The minute his buddy is gone Lutz sneaks over to his locker, doing a TERRIBLE job of acting stealth, and takes out what looks like a bird corpse from the top shelf. Clearly this will turn out great.
Teddy, who’s leaning against a tree trunk and looks like holy hell (red blood caked on his lips, red eyes, skin like a corpse) wakes up to a rude kick from Ed. Ed thinks that a couple gallons of Lawrence in Teddy is doing him good. (I guess the hosts would only have one blood type; why would they complicate things unnecessarily?) Ed tells Teddy that it was cheaper to make hosts with blood and guts instead of the original way, which was “a million little perfect pieces.” Unclear what that means. Or which one comes from that weird white milk stuff we keep seeing. Teddy isn’t particularly interested in this, because the hosts aren’t allowed to react to any discussion of how they are robots. He says he isn’t in shape to help Ed, but Ed casually drops that Wyatt recently killed a settler family and kidnapped a girl by the name of Dolores. Unsurprisingly, Teddy livens up when he hears Dolores’s name and gets up to follow Ed. Just then the little British boy arrives with the saddlebag, and stares curiously at Lawrence’s gory, upside-down corpse.
Standing in the middle of town that evening, Dolores has more hallucinations: people in coffins, gunshots. Gallant wants to know if she’s all right again. He really doesn’t seem to buy into this whole “she’s a robot” thing. Dolores has essentially come up with the many-universe theory to explain her hallucinations: she thinks that there are a thousand other “paths,” based on different choices, hanging in the air like ghosts. Gallant is still not quite willing to tell Dolores, hey, you’re a robot, actually; but he does ask if she wants to change her life. He tells her people come here to change their lives, and not be judged like they are in the real world. She asks what he means by the real world, and he says he thought she wasn’t supposed to notice remarks like that. Dolores is breaking rules all over the place! Then he grabs her hand, and they share a romantic moment, until a raucous parade comes by.
And here’s Goofus, Certified Moment-Ruiner. He thinks they should go to a nearby brothel that has a contortionist. Yes, plain old boobs have become mundane to Goofus; bring on the boobs in weird positions! Gallant, who seems to have absolutely no sense of self-preservation, says, “I don’t think Dolores would find that very interesting.” It is kind of amusing that he would put it that way. Goofus, incredulously, is like, “Who the fuck cares what Dolores wants? She’s a goddamn doll!” I have to admit I laughed. I mean, it’s kind of true, at least as far as Goofus knows. Gallant pleads that he feels she might actually understand when Goofus says that stuff. “Of… course you do,” Goofus says hilariously, dripping with contempt.
Dolores stares at the parade—and sees an exact replica of herself, prairie dress and all, staring at her with a serious face. She tries to follow the other Dolores, but gets pressed in the crowd amongst some people dressed as skeletons, and faints.
Cut to the lab, where she’s sitting naked on a stool, telling Ford obediently that she’s in a dream. Ford insists she’s in his dream. And that dreams are stories brains tell themselves, and they mean everything. Oh, well, I hope her dream is as fascinating as your dumb dog story, Ford. While examining her hands, he tells some more boring stories, like one about his dad that I won’t bother to recap here. (All the best cowboys have daddy issues, don’tcha know.) He asks Dolores if she remembers who he used to be. She demurs. Then he asks about Arnold. She innocently says she recalls no one by that name. Ford insists that under all those updates, she has Arnold preserved. “Your mind is a walled garden,” he says.
That sounds like it could be a quote, but as far as I can tell from half-assedly googling it, it isn’t. Yet it could describe what goes on in all of our minds, with their faulty and suggestible (and erasable) memories. Westworld is at its most interesting in moments like this, when the most sci-fi aspects of its androids’ consciousnesses turn out to be the most human as well.
Anyway, Ford puts Dolores into analysis mode, and she still insists that her last contact with Arnold was 34 years, 42 days, 7 hours. Which was, apparently, the day he died. He asks what the last thing Arnold said to her was, and Dolores says he told her that she was going to help him destroy this place. Ford says, rather over-emphatically, that she’s been content in her “little loop.” (You know, like the greyhound. I hope you realize that the greyhound was not just a greyhound. It was a METAPHOR.) Then he wonders if she would be the hero or the villain, if she’d taken on a bigger role. Dolores, serenely in analysis mode, doesn’t answer. He brings her back with a “That’s enough,” and remarks that no one else is left who remembers or understands. “Are we very old friends?” Dolores asks with a smile. Oh, poor Dolores. Ford corrects her that they are not friends at all. Um, RUDE.
He walks away, and the camera zooms out for a nice superfluous shot of Dolores’s bare butt. Then, left alone in the dark, Dolores says to the ether, “He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything.” That’s a whole new twist: she can lie even in analysis mode.
Back in his own lab, Lutz is messing around with the bird, which starts to wiggle, and then chirp. He looks at it like he’s worried, even though it’s not clear to me what’s wrong with it, it’s just kinda hopping around. Then it takes off—just as Obnoxious Redhead gets back. The bird totally pecks him on the hand. You know what they say, animals can always sense a human’s true nature! Obnoxious Redhead yells at Lutz for stealing a bird, although Lutz says he was just borrowing it. He says Lutz is never going to be a coder, and to get rid of the bird.
They wheel in their next body, and Lutz freaks out that it’s Maeve again. Obnoxious Redhead can’t believe Lutz made it through the personality tests as an embryo, which is a throwaway line that makes it sound like their whole society is a eugenicist nightmare. I don’t buy it, though. No way does an inbred creep like Goofus make it through any kind of fetus personality test.
Speaking of whom, he’s in Pariah, leading Gallant and Dolores towards El Lazo. Who turns out to be Lawrence, wearing a badass black hat. Yay! I was gonna miss Lawrence. Goofus brags about saving Slim, and asks for an introduction to the Confederadoes. El Lazo doesn’t think so, but he offers a night with some “very amenable women.” Goofus is like, been there, done that. He pulls out his gun, only to get punched in the jaw by one of El Lazo’s men. El Lazo offers, instead, to kill Goofus quickly as a favor. But Dolores, after another little Reverie, comes to the rescue with some psychobabble born of her fledgling consciousness: she says they’re all seeking something, and can seek together. El Lazo makes fun of her, but for whatever reason decides he can maybe introduce them to the Confederadoes—whom he also doesn’t like. After Dolores changes clothes into something more appropriate, of course. He hands her a cowboy hat.
Yay! Cowgirl Dolores! She looks fabulous, out in the desert with Goofus and Gallant and a few others. And she’s carrying a gun. “I don’t aim to use this,” she tells Goofus. She says she won’t shoot Union soldiers, because Daddy was a Union soldier. I get the feeling if Daddy was a Confederate soldier, Dolores would say the exact same thing. Who cares about racial justice, compared with blind loyalty to whichever host is cast as your creepy Daddy today?
They all run towards a covered wagon and demand that the drivers surrender their nitro. The drivers insist there’s nothing valuable in there, and Dolores begs them to surrender because they don’t want to hurt them. The men reluctantly hop down and raise their hands. Gallant, while waving a gun in their face, manages to also say “please” and “much obliged” to them. Worst bandit ever. Goofus finds a stash of liquor in the back of the wagon and starts kicking the shit out of one of them for lying, despite Dolores’s protests.
The whole thing, inevitably, devolves into a big fight. Gallant decides to shoot everyone when they threaten Dolores, and then shoots the man who’s trying to choke Goofus. I didn’t know the hosts could get that rough with people! But Goofus isn’t worried. He just cheers loudly at the notion that Gallant has finally killed someone. Dolores is upset that they had to kill some people. Even Gallant is like, OK, get over it.
Back in Pariah, El Lazo is not super upset to see Slim’s corpse laid out on top of a horse. He checks out the stolen nitro, then whistles to his men to come out. The Confederadoes march out and growl at him, exchanging some cash for the nitro. El Lazo tries to stall them, saying that they must be weary and should have a celebration before they bring the booty back wherever they were going. Apparently this celebration could involve three women who just happen to be walking naked, arm-in-arm, down the street at this very moment, clad in only head-to-toe bronze paint. You know, just like in the real American West.
In the lab, a naked male host is pouring water. We’re at crotch level with him and very close up, but any genitalia are hidden by the table and the cup. Jeez, HBO, you’re not even TRYING to make it seem like the graphic female nudity is actually inherent to the plot. Meanwhile, Elsie is upset that the man is miscalibrating when he pours. She also compliments his “talents,” so I guess the show recognizes the female gaze but prefers not to cater to it.
She gets distracted when she sees the guy with the smashed head being wheeled by on a stretcher. They’re taking him to “Livestock” and then the incinerator. Next thing you know, he’s on the operating table and Elsie is walking in. She finds a random dude working on the corpse of the guy with the smashed head, and shows him a video which is apparently of him having sex with a dead host under his care. He swears to himself. Elsie just laughs and waves at Lutz and Obnoxious Redhead, who are in the next operating room over, and can see everything. She asks him if he wants to have to tell people he’s a creepy necroperve. He understandably doesn’t, so he lets her see the smashed-head dude, but warns her she only has five minutes. She rolls him over, puts her phone up to his spinal cord, and downloads what looks like a bunch of logs. Then she notices something weird on the host’s hands, which turns out to be weird glowing wires, stretching from his fingertips up his arm.
She finds Bernard working elsewhere, and explains to him (and us) what the glowing wires are: a “laser-based satellite uplink.” Which means the drawing of Orion wasn’t Orion, but a target. (Unclear how she got there, but I didn’t care enough about the Orion thing to pay much attention.) The point is, someone is smuggling data out of the park using this guy.
Back in Pariah, there’s a dumb orgy going on with all the gold-painted prostitutes, male and female. Goofus is enjoying himself just watching, and Dolores and Gallant are primly sitting on a couch across from one of the Confederadoes. “My flesh has tasted a greater pleasure than any offered in here. Wa-r-r-r-,” he growls, like, cool story, old man. The Confederado would also like to inform El Lazo that “There’s a place in glory for a brown man who knows his rank.” Well isn’t this guy a treat! Gallant pulls Goofus aside and says he doesn’t want to hang out with the gross Confederates. Goofus says they can just use the guys to find the war, shoot them, and join the revolutionaries. When Gallant isn’t having it, he explodes that this whole thing is just a circle jerk anyway. And that’s the smartest thing Goofus has ever said.
Goofus gets angry and says that he only brought Gallant on the trip because he’s not a threat to anyone. After a lifetime of working hard, he’s peaked at executive vice president, and also, he wears cheap suits. This oh-so-harsh burn makes Gallant SUPER mad, and he throws Goofus against the wall, panting all dramatically. (I’m making this fight sound slightly sillier and less justified than it is, but not by much, I swear.)
Dolores, left alone while the boys fight, wanders by room after room where naked people are having their not-particularly-exciting orgies, until she comes upon a fortune-teller. When she sits down at the table and draws a card, she sees the maze again. Then, suddenly, the fortune teller is Head-Dolores again, in the old blue dress. Head-Dolores says that Dolores needs to follow the maze, and suggests that she’s unraveling. Dolores sees a thread coming out of her wrist and pulls at it, only to see her very flesh opening up. She screams in horror, then comes out of the hallucination to find herself alone in the room. Crying, she runs out. You can hear screaming somewhere in the distance.
She rounds a corner to find Slim in a coffin, his blood being drained out of his neck, or something, into a tequila bottle? My my, there’s a lot of blood-draining in this episode. And El Lazo is overseeing this whole thing. Dolores runs away again and finds Gallant to tell him that Lazo was never going to give the nitro to the Confederados. She wants to run. Gallant is not interested in running: he just wants to interpret the show for us, in case we haven’t, you know, actually been watching it: he says it’s a false sense of urgency because this whole world is a game meant to strip them to something raw and animalistic, and he doesn’t want to be a part of it. Dolores, who unlike him doesn’t have the pleasant security of knowing that she’s guaranteed to walk out of this place alive, pleads that it’s not a game and that they can find a way out together. She says there’s a voice inside her telling her what to do, and that she needs him. Then she kisses him passionately, which he totally goes for. My tender little heart would enjoy a romance between these two, but I think the main significance of this moment is that Dolores has realized what the currency of this place is: female bodies and sex. And she’s using it to get Gallant to help her on her quest.
Then one of the bottles breaks, and presumably the Confederado realizes that it’s not nitro, whatever that is. They start beating the crap out of Goofus, which is reasonably enjoyable. Dolores and Gallant are running away, and Gallant stops long enough to refuse Goofus’s plea to help him. “No more pretending,” he says, and grabs Dolores’s hand. Goofus smiles proudly just before getting clocked on the chin again.
As soon as they exit the building they’re trapped by the Confederados. Gallant says that Lazo set them up. The Confederado thinks Gallant should join him in hell. Good trash talk, dudes. Gallant shoots one or two of them, then yells at Dolores to run as he’s getting dragged away. Instead, she totally shoots every single one of them. NICE.
Shocked, Gallant edges close to her and asks how she did that. “You said people come here to change the story of their lives,” she says. “I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.” What a great moment. Now if we could get a story where all the rest of the women didn’t have to be actual prostitutes, that would also be cool.
Anyway, they run off again through a misty cemetery, to hop on a departing train for a little action-sequence excitement. As soon as they get on, Lazo draws a gun on them and calls them motherfuckers. There’s a brief standoff; then Dolores points her gun at a nearby coffin, which contains the nitro. What a badass! Also, I wonder what happens to humans when hosts cause explosions. Lazo raises his hands in surrender. Then Gallant puts away his gun. Dolores tells him she doesn’t trust Lazo, and Lazo quips, “Which is the first step to truly knowing me.” He tells them they can call him Lawrence. Interesting. They settle in for a ride up to the front, and Lawrence even shares his booze. Dolores stares at the box and sees that it has the maze drawn on top. She says she’s coming.
Ed and Teddy stop in at a bar and order whiskey. Teddy does not look good, and considering he’s James Marsden, that is quite a feat on the part of a makeup artists. Suddenly Ford himself appears and insists on sitting with them. Ed isn’t particularly thrilled about this, but introduces Ford to Teddy as the reason for everything that’s ever happened to him. They cheers. Ed asks if he’s any closer to finding what he’s looking for. Ford, intending to be deep, asks what that is exactly. Poor, literal-minded Teddy answers that they’re looking for Wyatt, who killed a rancher in Sweetwater. Ed tries not to laugh as his eyes meet Ford’s. “Figured your stories could use a little embellishment,” he explains. Poor Teddy. He still doesn’t even seem to have caught on that this is a lie.
Back to the real question: What does Ed want? He thinks this place needs a real villain. Ford says he could never conceive of someone like Ed, but that Ed clearly is too anxious to be a proper villain. Ed changes the subject to ask if the new character Wyatt’s actually a worthy adversary. Ford doesn’t answer, except to ask another dumb, faux-analytic question. So Ed blathers to Teddy about how the world has every need fulfilled except that people don’t have a purpose, and that’s why Teddy exists. Except Ed thinks there’s a deeper meaning beneath all this. (Another tic this show has is that people will make long speeches full of poetic bullshit, then immediately contradict everything they just said, and because it’s all in this sort of pretentious Very Meaningful philosophybabble, we’re supposed to not notice that none of the speeches make actual sense for one person to say.) Ford says he could just ask, but Ed says that the person he’d need to ask is dead. Man, Arnold better be REALLY good, for all this buildup. Ed also says that it’s thanks to himself (Ed) that Arnold didn’t manage to destroy this place. That’s a backstory I’d like to see. Ed suddenly draws a knife on Ford—but Teddy grabs the knife by the blade to stop him, and bleeds all over the table. I read one recap that thought Ford sent a signal to Teddy to do this with his eyes, but I saw it as just a sort of Asimovian thing. Anyway, Ford says he didn’t come here to talk Ed out of his mission of self-discovery, takes the knife out of the table, hands it back to Ed, and leaves. “Mr. Flood, we must look back and smile at peril’s past,” he says on his way out, which must be one of those code words they use to control the hosts, because Teddy immediately drains his whiskey and announces sharply that they should get back on the road.
Back in the lab, poor Thandie Newton is AGAIN lying naked on a stretcher. When Lutz comes in, alone, he takes out the bird again and starts fussing with it. Maeve’s stretcher makes a noise, but he doesn’t see her moving. Then the bird takes off, and he smiles to himself like he just created life or something. Then, suddenly, the bird alights on Maeve’s hand. She’s sitting up on her stretcher. “Hello, Felix,” she says. “It’s time you and I had a chat.” Well, this is going to be awkward for Felix.
Well, I don’t know about all y’all, but I’m loving Cowgirl Dolores and her quest for her path; a really captivating protagonist can cover up for a multitude of sins. If the faux-intellectual dialogue could be dialed back about seven notches, this show could easily become a truly top-tier drama.
See you next week!