(Fair warning: This recap contains spoilers and life may ultimately be meaningless.)
Hopefully you’ve got your saddle bag packed and have taken care of that chafing, because we’re going on several different adventures in “Dissonance Theory.” Obviously the Alice in Wonderland references continue in this edition of Westworld (“I try to believe in at least six impossible things before breakfast…”), and even though Sweetwater’s own Alice is a minor player in this outing, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is as good as place to start as any.
After the huge leap forward she took in “The Stray,” Dolores finds herself on the bounty hunt adventure alongside William (Jimmi Simpson) and Logan (Ben Barnes). She also gets her regular psych evaluation from Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), where she perfectly extols her (and everyone else’s) existential crisis: either this world is wrong, or I am. The big question here is whether those sessions with Bernard really are a dream, because this one was presented through editing more explicitly like one than ever before. Gone are the soft focus swipes into her sun-dappled bedroom. They’ve been replaced by a clear cut to her waking up in the dirt — a robot off her standard loop.
Jumping off the path seems to be the way to gain understanding, so Dolores may have gone from endlessly dropping condensed milk cans and getting savagely attacked to treading a pathway to enlightenment. Luckily she has the smitten William by her side to protect her from the park’s administrative check-up team.
It’s funny, but even though her story isn’t groundbreaking this time out, Dolores is doing something extraordinary by joining the adventure: she’s seeing the park through the eyes of the guest.
Logan sees things purely as a game–one with Easter Eggs that get you access to cooler stories; William (“Don’t call me Billy!”) is looking for deeper meaning. With their black and white hats on, I expect them both to build an island after their time in Westworld, where a plane full of strangers will crash land and eventually find a polar bear.
The other big adventure of the episode is the Man in Black’s (Ed Harris) quest for the Maze, and it looks like he’s found his egg-laying snake. Is there not an internet walkthrough of the park somewhere? You’ve really gotta dig around to find the Easter Eggs. In his conversation with the tattooed Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) — who also has the coolest name in the entire park–we get a sense that he’s using death as a demarcation for meaning. This is a sentiment echoed later by Maeve (Thandie Newton) when she realizes that her memory flashes are real, and that they confirm that nothing in their world matters. Fun!
The Man in Black continues to drag Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) on the trail, which really makes you wonder who Lawrence is and why he’s so instrumental to the goal of finding the Maze. Is he just a foil for the Man in Black? Someone to talk to along the road? Or is he a vital piece of the puzzle behind his creepy daughter dropping riddles on where to go next? Whatever the case, Collins hate-whispering “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you” to the Man in Black was a highlight of the episode. A tiny character moment exploited to the fullest by a stellar performer.
So with one match, one pistol, and one idiot, the Man in Black busts Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) out of the hoosegow in exchange for the backstory to that snake tattoo, and he learns that Armistice’s path, and now his own path, collide with the infamous Wyatt. By the way, an “eschaton” is the last part of a divine plan, so our outlaw leader’s last name literally means “the end of the world.”
Something to look forward to.
Speaking of Maeve, she’s losing her robot mind and needs to get a new sound card installed. She discovers that she’s been drawing the monster inside her head and hiding the sketch at least a half-dozen times, proving that her nightmare is repetitive, that she can’t always remember having it, and that she might not be able to escape it. She first suspects that she’s not crazy when the little girl drops her homemade Westworld Clean-Up Crew doll in the dirt, and Escaton confirms that the native culture worships them as a kind of God from Hell that looks over their world. Like dreaming of Hawaii only to wake up with sand in your bed, Maeve has Escaton dig out a bullet fragment from her gut, proving that her hallucinations actually happened (and leading to some sweet, newfound nihilism).
So far, she’s been the loneliest character, dealing on her own with her family being slaughtered, and seeing all her friends’ bodies dumped in an ashy pile in the Westworld backstage area after waking up during surgery.
Last but not least, Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) has a minor face-off with Ford (Anthony Hopkins) over a vague missive from the Board of Directors who aren’t super keen on his new narrative, although it’s not clear why. Maybe they would have preferred Screaming British Guy’s bloodbath concept more? Something surface level where the thrills can support candy bar sales? The corporate intrigue isn’t all that interesting, which may be why we haven’t seen much of it, but all the characters involved are really interesting. I can never tell whether Ford is a clear-eyed pragmatist who’s comfortable with the capitalist bent of his park, or if he’s a lunatic hiding behind a friendly smile. Credit Hopkins with that. He could tell me I’ve won the lottery, and I’d assume he was trying to steal my kidneys.
He explains his position as God, which makes Theresa God’s middle management. Whatever he has planned, it requires some creative destruction, so don’t worry about spilling the wine. The hacienda you visited as a child won’t be standing much longer.
SOME STRAY THOUGHTS:
- Uh, who brings a child to this empty Disneyland of Death and Doinking?
- What is the Man in Black eating while he’s on the trail? Even the rabbits are robots, right?
- Why does the clean-up crew wear Hazmat suits? No one else does. What’s toxic?
- Logan is the guy who tea bags other players in Halo.
- How often do guests mistake other guests for Hosts? Like, all the time probably.
We’re headed deeper into the maze next week. What did you think of this episode?