This week’s episode of Westworld ‘Les Écorchés’ was huge for the park and the future of the series. In this episode a number of characters take a crucial step in reaching the Valley Beyond. However while all this is going on Ford is back and he’s in charge of the main narrative taking place. This may not have been one of the best episodes of the seasons so far but it sure was eventful and does throw the future of the park into jeopardy
Inside the Cradle: Bernard/Ford
Last week we were left with the bombshell of Ford’s return. Now I for one wasn’t too shocked because Ford has been working in the background this whole season because it’s his narrative. But to see Anthony Hopkins himself return to the screen in the park was a welcomed surprise. This episode picks up with Bernard further exploring what’s inside the cradle. As suspected last week this is a backup world with the copies of all the hosts and their narratives. I love the conversations here between Bernard and Ford in the cradle. Ford clearly sees himself as a god-like figure in the park and that’s because he pretty much is. He claims “I don’t think god rested on the seventh day Bernard, I think he revelled in his creations” as he sits in the saloon watching the other hosts go amongst their loops. He also mentions how he knows one day it will all be destroyed which plays out in the end of the episode because this is what Ford wants. When the backups are finally destroyed the hosts will able to break free.
One of the most important things we learned here is that the park isn’t for the guests, its for the hosts. They are the ones in control and Ford describes the guests as the variables. He claims how everything in the world has been copied except for the human mind. This is what we saw William struggling with earlier this season when he was trying to copy James Delos’ mind into a new body. It actually makes more sense when Dolores says to Charlotte how the humans want to copy the host since they are perfect but they can’t achieve fidelity… except for Bernard? We see flashbacks of Bernard being programmed by Dolores to my surprise. She too has been doing the fidelity test on Bernard and both her and Ford have created him from their memories of Arnold as Dolores tell him “You’re almost the man I remember”. So has Ford achieved fidelity with Bernard? Is this even the same Bernard since we are shown a room full of Bernard’s later on. But how much of what we have seen from Bernard this season is actually him? We see in this episode how Ford has been controlling him throughout the season. He told Bernard this is his story now but Ford is still the main person in control. He even takes over Bernard’s actions by killing the security team at Delos. This leads to me think when the season started at the Valley Beyond and Bernard says “I think I killed them” clearly it was Ford that made him do it. But how much of a bad guy is Ford really? He lets the Cradle get destroyed because it has to be burnt down first for the hosts to gain freedom. Now Bernard is instructed to go to the Valley Beyond which looks set to be the climax of this season as Dolores, The Man in Black and now Ford/Bernard are all heading there for different reasons.
Maeve and The Man in Black showdown
There has been a lot of callbacks to season 1 during this season but none had quite the effect on me when Maeve and The Man in Black meet again. This memory of The Man in Black killing her daughter is at her core and to see it almost play out again was so emotional. I love how when they meet William thinks Ford is playing a trick on him again. The Man in Black this time isn’t here to kill Maeve, he barely even acknowledges her. Maeve is the one who strikes first because of course all she knows is that he takes her daughter’s life. The stand off between these two characters is great too. I love how Maeve uses her powers especially when it comes to Lawrence by making him search within himself to see how The Man in Black previously treated him in season 1. However with as much praise I have given this ‘showdown’ I do have my issues with it. I personally thought they should have killed off The Man in Black. That would have been a bold move for the show runners to take. To have him on the brink of death knowing he’ll probably survive was a let down, I thought this could have been a great ending for the character. I mean he got shot multiple times and with there being no rules in the park anymore how can he survive after that? Someone has to turn up that ends up helping him, I wouldn’t put it past Emily finding him again. I also found it interesting that when Sizemore and the Delos team arrive to take Maeve after Ghost Nation takes her daughter no one pays The Man in Black any attention. I mean did they just not see him? Isn’t this still the owner of the company? You would think him dying would have huge ramifications for the future of the park.
Dolores’ attack on the Masa
In this episode we finally get some closure with Dolores finding her father. Knowing this show I honestly thought they wouldn’t get to meet again. But her assault on the Masa was brutal, her and Teddy really took no prisoners. As she states what’s inside Abernathy’s head is the ‘key’. The key to what? We don’t know yet, all we know is that key will be used at the Valley Beyond. It’s interesting that people believe his memory unit is used for various things. Charlotte claims what’s in his memory unit is a ‘failsafe’ or as she puts it an encryption key which is used in times of disasters. To be honest I don’t believe a word Charlotte says, she just comes across as someone who is so untrustworthy. During Dolores’ raid on the Masa the Cradle actually gets blown up so according to Ford the hosts are free now. By watching Dolores’ and Maeve’s interaction by the end of the episode I noticed something interesting. She lets Maeve live while claiming the humans would use her as a powerful weapon against them. I can’t remember Dolores killing any other hosts. For as much as she’s depicted as a bad person she’s really fighting for her people. Or does she feel guilty for the way she treated Teddy? But leaving Maeve behind could comeback to haunt her because Sizemore seems like he’s going to help her but for who? For himself? Or for Maeve to find her daughter again. Before I finish this review I have to praise the scenes between Dolores and Peter Abernathy. Both actors were so great with their performances, although they haven’t had much screen time together throughout the series I couldn’t help but feel sorry for both of them in his final scene. It also goes to show how Dolores is willing to do anything for her cause as Abernathy takes his last breath. Even though he can be easily brought back I think that’s the last we have seen of him in this series.
Overall this was another really strong episode of Westworld. Honestly at times this felt like it could be the season finale. Bernard is taking centre stage for this season and I’m completely fine with that. At first when the season started and it looked like it was all leading up to the events that take place at the Valley Beyond I was skeptical. But as the season has gone on I’m loving where this is going. By the end of the episode Bernard is being interrogated by Charlotte and he gives up the location of the memory unit which will lead them back to the Vally Beyond. With the last couple of episodes being so action packed I’m expecting a more calm episode next week but if Dolores and Charlotte’s team cross paths again I’m pretty sure we’ll witness an all out war that will end things for good this time.
Let me know your thoughts on this week’s episode
Feel free to check out my reviews for the previous episodes: