To say that episode 7 of Westworld‘s second season, “Les Écorchés,” is an action-packed roller coaster…well, I think that would be an understatement. From start to finish, we are given a non-stop (and surprisingly linear) human versus android war sequence, with bullets flying, knives piercing, and even a hand grenade blowing up The Cradle and all the host backups it contains (RIP Angela [Talulah Riley], at least for now).
As we continue to settle our racing hearts after such a violent episode, we once again have pursed through the interwebs and uncovered some cast and crew interviews and videos about the episode. Let’s get started!
We begin this week’s post mortem with one of the minds behind the episode, writer Jordan Goldberg, who spoke with HBO.com about what it was like to pen the war-filled episode, especially given the fact that it’s the first episode he’s written for the show.
According to Goldberg, the inspiration for the episode title comes from a French artistic term, and definitely captures the underlying theme. “‘Écorchés’ is [the French term for] a figure artists study to paint the human form — and they say you have to learn to paint the skeleton and muscles underneath,” says the writer. “It’s an interesting concept because, in this episode, so much physical stuff happens, but all the decisions made by the hosts reveal who these characters are underneath.”
The idea of free will and its accompanying power is another theme that’s further explored in the episode. Up to this point, hosts like Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) have viewed free will as their vehicle to help them escape the chains that have kept them locked down for so many years. While this is certainly true, Goldberg explains the dangers that also surround it, and why he chose to highlight the darker side of it in the episode:
“The free will questions gets an addendum in Episode 7. If you have free will, what’s your responsibility with that free will? There’s a reckoning. Characters make rash decisions and get hurt. Free will is not a pleasant thing; it’s not easy or black and white. It can be dangerous. Episode 7 puts a microscope on this idea and the consequences. Making the choice to sacrifice yourself, as many hosts do, is free will.”
Check out Goldberg’s entire interview here.
Dr. Robert Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) return was teased at the very end of episode 6, “Phase Space,” and during the last episode we begin to understand how he plans to continue influencing the events that unfold through the chaos of the host uprising. For the time being, it seems his plan is to implant himself in the mind of Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) as a way to manipulate the actions of the host.
The Hollywood Reporter recently spoke with Wright about the reintroduction of the iconic actor to the show, and how he felt when he learned the news of Hopkin’s return. “My first reaction was: ‘Yeah, of course! Let’s get at it!’ It was such great news,” admits the actor. “Tony is the type of actor that every actor wants to work with. For me, I not only enjoyed working with him in front of the camera last season and this season, but equally I enjoyed the time we spent when the camera was not rolling. He’s great company.”
Even though Ford’s return isn’t confirmed until the end of episode 6, Wright says that he knew very early on during filming that the park’s co-creator would be gracing our screens once again this season:
“We filmed all of Tony’s scenes right out of the gate. The first four or five weeks of filming, I had shot scenes from all over the season. I was able to fill in a few voids of information, and at least cross-pollinate information from one scene into another, to clue me in a bit more than probably was intended. I have to thank him for that.”
Wright certainly considers himself lucky to have been clued in to Ford’s return so early on in filming, but I have to think it must have been difficult at times to keep that huge secret for so long, especially given the fact that Ford’s return was one of the biggest questions us fans wanted answered as soon as the season one finale aired.
Chcek out the rest of Wright’s interview with THR here.
As we reported a couple weeks ago, Jeffrey Wright signed on to be a featured speaker at this year’s Split Screens Festival. The actor’s talk took place this past Friday, and HBO.com was there to capture the highlights!
A question that continues to come up for Wright as the season progresses is how he’s able to discern between the physical performances of human Arnold and host Bernard. When asked about this during his talk, Wright made the interesting point that he relies on the season one performances of fellow actors Evan Rachel Wood and Louis Herthum (Peter Abernathy) to help him perfect his own android performance as Bernard, noting, “[they] set parameters for language and gesture.”
Along with mimicking his colleagues, Wright says he also works off the idea that, as a robot, Bernard should be much more efficient and direct than Arnold. For example, before shooting a scene involving action or violence from Bernard, the actor asks himself, “What’s the most amount of force I can exert with the least amount of physical energy?”
Wright also spoke to the fact that the show tends to hold a mirror up to the real world, especially when it comes to technologies that have the capability of exposing one’s private life to the wrong people, and how this fact has impacted him. “Phones freak me out more than they did prior to Westworld,” admits the actor. “Going into the second season, I was attuned to the social implications of technology.” As we’ve seen over the course of the season, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and her Delos colleagues have been collecting and disseminating information on the park’s human guests without their direct consent, a plot that is eerily similar to what certain social media platforms in the real world seem to be doing…
Check out the rest of the highlights from Wright’s talk here.
We end our interview portion this week with a look back at the heart-wrenching farewell scene between Dolores and her father Peter. Though we don’t ultimately know the fate of Peter’s now-removed control unit and accompanying android body shell, at this present moment, it seems like he and his daughter could have spoken for the very last time.
Louis Herthum spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the emotional scene between his character and Dolores while chaos erupts around them in the Mesa. As emotional as it was for us to witness Peter’s own “awakening” of sorts, as he snaps out of his incoherent mumbling in time to recognize and connect with his daughter, Herthum notes that it was just as emotional for he and Wood, even before the cameras rolled:
“It was very emotional, obviously, for the reasons that the script required. I won’t speak for Evan, but for me, I was thinking, ‘This might be the last time I get to work with this extraordinary actress.’ It was sad. That’s what goes on, leading up to it. But once the cameras are rolling and you’re doing the scene, then it’s all about Peter and Dolores. She’s very easy to connect with. Ridiculously easy. It was pretty emotional.”
Although we see the result of Dolores’s surgery on her father, as she holds Peter’s bloody control unit in her hand later in the episode, we don’t see her perform the actual procedure. Herthum explains that the original script called for the control unit removal to happen on screen, but it was ultimately cut before filming began. “It was a lot more brutal [in the script],” says the actor. “They lessened the brutality. Originally, I think you were going to see it. I’m glad that didn’t happen. At first, I was disappointed, because it was going to be so crazy and cool [to film], but the scene was really sweet and powerful. If you gotta go? It’s a lovely way to go.”
Could this scene have been the last time we see Herthum’s Peter on the show? Says the actor: “The way I look at is that you can be dead, but that doesn’t mean you’re gone — so you never know.” Given Dr. Ford’s reemergence on the show, he has a point…
You can read through Herthum’s entire interview here.
We begin the video portion of our post mortem with a behind-the-scenes look at the last episode, and particularly the big battle waged in the Mesa:
Next up, Elle is back with another round of Westworld actors responding to fan theories, this time with none other than Shannon Woodward (Elsie Hughes):
And finally, in case you missed it, here’s a preview for this upcoming Sunday’s episode, “Kiksuya”: