Westworld Rewind: Episode 8, “Trace Decay”

Dolores Abernathy on Westworld

Episode 7, “Trompe L’Oeil,” ends with the shocking reveal that Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) is a host and the brutal murder of Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) at his hands. Episode 8, “Trace Decay,” shows us Bernard’s reaction and the aftermath, as he and Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) cover their tracks.

This episode also shows Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) returning “home,” Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton) becoming even more powerful, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) seeking to undermine Ford, and Teddy Flood (James Marsden) and the Man in Black (Ed Harris) facing more obstacles in pursuit of the Maze.

Ford and Bernard on Westworld

In the immediate aftermath of Theresa’s death, Bernard is shocked and confused about what he’s done. Ford tells him he should be proud of his emotions; Bernard was responsible for programming most of them. Bernard wants to know why Ford made him kill and is told that Delos would have destroyed everything. Bernard tries to defy Ford but can’t break free of his control. Ford tells him to cover up everything – “clean up your mess” – and Ford will erase his memories of his love for her and what he did. After Bernard has erased all traces of his relationship with Theresa, Ford and Charlotte have a meeting with Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who break the news of Theresa’s death.

Stubbs reveals that her body was lying in the same ravine where the stray host was found; a transmitter with proprietary data was nearby. Ford lays all the blame for the security breach on Theresa, saying she was the one smuggling data out of the park, and claims she also tampered with Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) to stage a fake demonstration of the hosts’ violent tendencies. Charlotte seems suspicious but unable to do anything as Ford limits QA’s access, automates security process while they are shorthanded, and reinstates Bernard as head of Behavior. We now see Ford’s master plan beginning to take shape – he has increased his control over the park and made it easier for Maeve to proceed with her escape plan.

Later, Ford thanks Bernard for his service and says they can resume their work. Bernard tries to understand his nature, saying he understands how he is coded but not what he feels. Ford reveals Bernard’s wife and son were programmed memories to give him a backstory, as suffering makes the hosts more “lifelike.” Ford tells him his pain is in his mind, but Bernard doesn’t see how that makes him any different than humans. Ford agrees, believing that consciousness doesn’t exist. Humans live in loops just like the hosts, content in their routine lives and being told what to do. This give a new insight into Ford’s plan. If humans are no more conscious than hosts, but far inferior in intelligence and more prone to violence, then why shouldn’t they be replaced?

Bernard then asks if Ford ever made him hurt anyone else. Ford says no, but Bernard has a brief memory of strangling Elsie (Shannon Woodward) in the abandoned theater. Since we don’t see her die, could she have stopped him somehow? Only time will tell. As Ford proceed to erase Bernard’s memories, he tells him it’s better this way. Otherwise, Bernard might lose himself in them as his fellow hosts have…and the scene cuts to Dolores.

Dolores and William

William and Dolores in Westworld

As Dolores gets closer to the place she calls home, she and William (Jimmi Simpson) find a group of dead soldiers. One young man is still alive, and he admits the soldiers were there to ambush William and Dolores (a “new recruit” was behind it). Dolores wants to get the man some water; William tells her he will be dead soon and there is no time to waste, but she insists. After she leaves, William looks like he is contemplating finishing the soldier off. Dolores has another flashback as she gets water – her dead body in the stream – and panics when she turns around to find William gone. Then she sees him again and heads back, just as the man dies. I wonder if William had anything to do with it?

They finally arrive in Escalante. Dolores has conflicting memories as she walks into town – first it’s completely empty (current time), then it’s full of people (early days of the park), and Dolores is wearing her dress again. As she walks the streets, we hear Debussy’s “Reverie.” Techs are teaching hosts to dance, and we see Maeve and a distracted Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) among them. Lawrence’s daughter appears and asks if Dolores found what she was looking for as gunshots ring out. The townspeople are being shot one by one, and Dolores sees herself with a gun, pointing it at her head.

William rushes up to her and takes the gun away. Dolores is back in her other clothes; the town is gone with only the steeple remaining. This is a major clue that we are viewing the past, since in the current story, Ford’s new narrative is almost complete. Dolores is distraught and confused – she doesn’t know where or when she is, or if William is even real (No. No he is not). William tells her she is trapped in bad memories and that this place is bad for her. It’s time to head back. As they begin to make their way back to Sweetwater, they run into Logan (Ben Barnes) who says he’s been looking for them for days. “Man are you two fucked!” Logan exclaims…but instead, this is the beginning of the end for him.

Maeve

Maeve and New Clementine on Westworld

There is a new Clementine (Lili Simmons) in town, and Maeve clearly isn’t happy about it. Maeve continues to remember her old life and asks Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) what’s happening to her – she can’t tell what’s real. Felix explains that hosts’ memories areunlike humans – our memories decay and become fuzzy over time, but hosts relive them like they are currently happening (hint, hint Dolores). Maeve asks Felix to find her daughter but then changes her mind – after all, that was only a story they programmed for her.

Maeve makes plans to escape. She knows about the explosive in her spine and says she can arrange for a full rebuild. She also need allies, so she needs administrative privileges: “Time to write my own fucking story.” As Maeve looks into her code, she tells the Felix and Sylvester that parts of her quite old, and her programming is like two minds arguing with each other (Arnold’s bicameral system?). There are things she was designed to do, but they are dormant and out of her reach. Could she be talking about becoming self-aware?

Any further changes require a trip to Behavior, so Maeve forces them to take her there. Sylvester plots with Felix to wipe her once they shut her down for the modification, but Felix protests that she is “alive.” Sylvester isn’t having it, and once Maeve is out he believes he has convinced Felix to proceed as planned. When Maeve awakes, Sylvester quickly learns this isn’t the case – Maeve’s core code has been altered and she slashes his throat to prove it. She tells Felix to save Sylvester – they might still need him – then says it’s “time to recruit my army.”

Back in Sweetwater, Maeve practices her new talent of controlling hosts with her voice. She uses this skill to ensure Hector’s (Rodrigo Santoro) gang escapes with the safe when they arrive in town to rob the Mariposa. She has another flashback of the Man in Black stabbing her (more on that below). At the end of her storyline for this episode – as security is dispatched to retrieve her – Maeve remembers having breakdown in the lab after the Man in Black’s attack, crying for her daughter. Her cognition is fragmented and she doesn’t respond to commands. Ford calms her with some music (“Reverie” again) and says she need not suffer – he’ll take it from her. She replies that “this pain, it’s all I have left of her,” but Ford erases her memory anyway, promising a fresh start and a new role. Despite this, Maeve gets up and stabs herself in the neck – a shocking defiance of Ford’s control.

Charlotte

Charlotte and Sizemore on Westworld

After losing her accomplice – Theresa – and being outwitted earlier in the episode, Charlotte decides to enlist another ally in her mission to wrest control of the park from Dr. Ford. She interrupts Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) programming a cannibal host. He tells her Ford tasked him to create new villain for his narrative, implying the cannibal is Wyatt. Charlotte replies, “That isn’t Wyatt, that’s busywork.” She has a more important job in mind.

They head down to cold storage, where Sizemore is clearly unnerved by the rows of creepy, naked, deprogrammed hosts. Charlotte reminds him that “even the dead fulfill a purpose.” Funny you should say that, Charlotte – just wait until the finale. She stops in front of the retired Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) and proceeds to upload 35 years of data to his brain. She tells Sizemore to give Peter a “semblance of a personality” so he can be put on the train out of the park. I wonder what they were planning to do about the explosive in his spine, or do they not know about it?

Teddy and the Man in Black

Man in Black and Teddy on Westworld

The buddy road trip continues as Teddy assures the Man in Black that they are in Wyatt’s territory. The Man in Black is worried they are wasting time, believing there must be a shortcut somewhere but that Teddy only remembers what Ford allows him to remember. The game is rigged against the hosts and Teddy is destined to be the loser; this causes Teddy to briefly flash back to his confrontation with the Man in Black in episode one. They then stumble upon a group of dead men and women, but one has been left alive. The Man in Black recognizes her as Angela (Talulah Riley), and tells her he thought she had been retired. Since she is the host who greeted William upon his arrival to Westworld, this serves as another huge clue about the multiple time periods.

Angela tells the pair that Wyatt’s men killed everyone. They hear a noise and a horned man jumps out (possibly symbolizing the Minotaur in the Greek myth about a maze?). The man is unusually strong and impervious to pain, but the Man in Black grabs him and drags him across the ground, causing Teddy to recall the Man in Black’s attack on Dolores. Teddy finally kills the horned man with an ax, then knocks out the Man in Black. When he comes to, Teddy remember what he did to Dolores and punches him to get him to talk. The Man in Black insults Teddy, saying the rules hold the hosts back, but that he’s trying to change them.

We finally get some backstory on the Man in Black, who is a powerful man and philanthropist – a “good guy.” His wife of 30 years recently killed herself, and his daughter blamed him for it. Although his family never saw how he was in the park, they knew deep down that the Man in Black’s good deeds were a facade to hide his true nature. He reveals he came to the park a year ago to prove them wrong; to test whether he could do something truly evil. He describes his encounter with Maeve and her daughter, and as he talks we see Maeve in the present flashing back to the attack. The Man in Black stabs her, then shoots her daughter, but instead of dying Maeve pulls out the knife and attacks; this memory causes her to slash Clementine’s throat in the present.

The Man in Black felt nothing as he killed them, but then something miraculous happened. As he watched Maeve carry her dead daughter, he saw she was truly alive, and then the Maze revealed itself to him – drawn in the dirt outside Maeve’s home as she collapsed in the center. Did she create the symbol on her own? Was she programmed by Ford perhaps? The Maze is all that matters to the Man in Black now, as he believes it will unlock a deeper game where the hosts aren’t limited by rules (he’s not completely wrong). Angela interrupts and tells Teddy to kill him – he’s worse than Wyatt’s men. Teddy is unable to pull the trigger, so Angela offers to help. She stabs Teddy in the chest, saying Wyatt will need him soon, as more of Wyatt’s men emerge from the trees.

Did you notice anything new this time around? Let us know in the comments!

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