Television Westworld

Westworld: Les Ecorches, Review

***SPOILER WARNING***

If you have not seen the seventh episode of season 2 Les Ecorches and don’t want the show spoiled then please turn away. If spoilers don’t bother you or you have seen the episode then welcome.

Last season episode 7 ended with the Bernard reveal and the death of Theresa. So it’s fitting that the beginning of this, the 7th episode of season gives us a call back to that moment. Not only did we get cool callbacks like this one but a lot of other things happened as hell finally broke loose.

Lets break it down quickly: The Cradle is destroyed, Ford has returned, Bernard has been caught and a lot of the cast is riddled with bullet holes.

Bernard is Caught

In the 2 weeks post timeline Bernard and Stubbs are arrested by Strand. He takes them to Ford’s home where Theresa was killed and suspects that one of the two did it. He immediately rules out Bernard and blames Stubbs. While investigating they locate a secret door and find wrapped in plastic bags various Bernard clones in various states. Charlotte’s response to this information is to start torturing Bernard for information via an iPad and simulated waterboarding. (A clever, creepy touch.) the episode then proceeds to recall both their memories of what happened the day The Mesa was attacked.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

At the end of the episode when they return to this scene Bernard reveals where Abernathy is. He says something to Hale, but we only see his lips move, not hear his words. She smiles confidently, and motions the other three into the room. She once again commands Bernard back in to Analysis Mode, and gets him to say that Abernathy’s control unit is in Sector 16, Zone 4 (the valley beyond).

The Man in Black vs Maeve

A showdown I was hoping would happen finally did. Maeve narrowly escapes capture by the ghost nation and ends up in an area with some abandoned houses. The MIB makes it here as well with Laurence’s men and they go around looking for whatever they can find. What follows is almost a recreation of Maeve’s final scene when she was the home steader only this time she fights back. She shoots The MIB and gets Laurence’s men to shoot on him as well. He fights back but she gets him down to gun point. Then just as she’s about to kill him Laurence steps in and points a gun at Maeve.

Her commands don’t initially work but she persuades him to remember and Laurence’s mind is unlocked. He finally remembers all the time’s the MIB killed him and his family which naturally sends him into a rage. As they begin to pepper him with bullets the two are also gunned down by Delos personnel. Lee quickly tells them to not kill Maeve and she’s taken away. We also see the MIB hide, just barely alive.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

In an episode that had  a lot thrills this was one of the most thrilling. When the MIB was shot and then Maeve shortly after it truly provided a scare. That neither fate turned out to be permanent reminds me of how rarely the show escapes its middle zone of entertainment: We get twists but few true shocks, and speeches about emotion but little of the actual thing, though we came close to both sorts of payoff with this crackling episode.

Attack on the Mesa

Team Dolores storm the Mesa and make quick work of the Delos security though not without taking some casualties. Clementine gets some gory kills before she’s taken out  and Angela sacrifices herself to destroy the Cradle.

Dolores and Teddy reach Abernathy and get the jump on Charlotte and Stubbs. In this moment we see both sides of Dolores, the sweet ranchers daughter and the vengeful Wyatt. Her prolonged rampage now has added poignancy, as she’s forced to say goodbye to her father forever, as she must remove the precious control unit from his brain. Dolores always does what she needs to, no matter how unsavory the task, but it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get torn up about it. She clearly cares for her father and would rather not cut him open but she does to further her plan. Also, the fact that she’d rather turn Teddy into a war machine than dispose of him shows she still has a soft side, even if it’s buried deep within Wyatt.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

Speaking of which Teddy’s new skill set was on full display and he did not hold back. Not only did he take out a lot of Delos men with lethal precision but he also literally beat that commander to a bloody pulp.

On their way out Dolores meets with Maeve who has just been brought back but left bloodied on a table. Their two opposing perspectives clash but peacefully. Maeve condemns Dolores for what she’s done to Teddy chastising her for being no different than Delos. Meanwhile Dolores respects Maeve’s determination to find her child even if she sees it as another narrative falsehood.

Th two part ways and team Dolores ride for the valley beyond on horseback.

Bernard/Ford

While all of this is happening Bernard and Ford pick up where we left off last week. Bernard clues in to what’s going on. Delos is collecting data because they want humans to be copied and turned into life like hosts: to essentially become immortal. Ford also reveals that he too is a copy inside the network. However, much like James Delos it’s just a crude copy. Ford says that if his control unit were to be put in a real body it would not work. It does however work when it stays in the system.

Ford then takes Bernard to a copy of Arnold’s home and explains how he was conceived there. The Godlike Ford claims that he intends to shape the hosts into a finer version of mankind, humanity without the genocidal tendencies. But to do that, he needed to … send them on a violent rampage. Is Ford a genius, or a twisted villain?

Ford also explains how Bernard came to be. It explains the scenes we’ve had of Bernard and Dolores speaking. The technology used on James Delos didn’t exist when Arnold died and so Ford had to rebuild him based on memory. But he also used Dolores as Arnold and her spent the most time together and her memory was perfect. So she kept doing the fidelity test until she could no longer be fooled.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

Then Ford explains that Bernard like the other hosts are not exactly strong enough to survive and if they are they need to find ‘the door’. Bernard then wakes up and he and Elsie try to make their way out of the Mesa.

Along the way Ford appears as a vision inside Bernard’s skull. Then in one of Ford’s most chillingly brilliant moments, he enters Bernard’s head space and openly manipulates him and kills guards that are in his way. Poor Bernard is forced to comply, knowing full well that this isn’t his story – it’s always been Ford’s. There’s something unbearably sad about seeing Bernard muddle through yet another situation, able to almost grasp what’s going on, but helpless to take any action that might prevent it.

How any of the above will somehow tie together in the last few episodes is beyond me. Much like Bernard I want to know what lies in the valley beyond but Ford, the master wordsmith he is, answered quite perfectly: “Isn’t the pleasure of a story in discovering the ending yourself, Bernard?”

Diagnostics:

  • So much for my guess that Strand and everyone else already knew about Bernard.
  • So what exactly is the door? When Ford mentioned it to the MIB early on it seemed like just another part of the game. Here, its tied to the valley beyond, where everyone is seemingly headed
  • Maeve’s ‘daughter’ was captured by Ghost Nation. I had guessed a few episodes ago that they might be a fail-safe in case of an emergency to round up humans. Now I’m not so sure
  • If you look closely in the interrogation scene, waterboarding is only one of many tactics that can be used against the hosts: scalping, kneecapping, feet-whipping and solitary confinement.

 

Make sure to catch new episodes of Westworld every Sunday on HBO and keep it locked on TGON for all your news, reviews and analysis.

 

 

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