Westworld: season 1 episode 4 review – Dissonance Theory
HBO’s Westworld delivers another strong episode as it becomes ever more engaging by revealing details and further exploring it’s characters. Dolores and remains off her loop and continues to develop past their programing, Maeve continues to recall impressions of past events, more particulars about the maze are hinted at, clues about Ford’s former partner are disclosed, and we learn new information about the elusive Man in Black. Below is our spoiler-heavy review.
The episode opens with yet another interview between Dolores and Bernard, in which she expresses that she feels there’s something wrong with this world, afterwhich Bernard suggests that she take part in the maze, indicating that maybe then she could be free. A concept that she views favorably. This is a compelling scene that raises a whole lot of questions. Knowing very little about the maze, we’re left only to speculate. We learned previously that it’s the deepest level of the park that can only be accessed by following a specific scavenger hunt, but who created it and why remains a mystery. The Man in Black expects achieving it to be a transformative experience that has all the answers. “This whole world is a story. I’ve read every page except the last one. I need to find out how it ends. I want to know what this all means.” he tells his reluctant companion. It’s worth noting that he also mentions Arnold in this episode, though how he knows of him has yet to be explained. It’s possible that Arnold, having been Ford’s former partner and co creator of the park, may have been the one to create the maze. Having wanted his creations to achieve consciousness, it could be that he designed the maze for this reason. “The Maze isn’t meant for you.” was spoken to the Man in Black in a previous episode, which seems to insinuate that this secret level of the park is intended solely for its hosts. Perhaps if they are to complete the maze, it’s a means for them to fully attain sentience and be allowed to enter the real world.
Furthermore, we’re left to wonder how Bernard knows about it. It’s possible that all higher ups have knowledge of the maze, but Bernard’s clandestine meetings with Dolores seem to suggest otherwise. In fact when he asks Dolores if she knows where she is during their conversation, she states that she’s in a dream and later awakens where we last saw her in the park. Which indicates that he has the ability to communicate with her without them being in one another’s presence and seemingly without anyone’s knowledge. For a park run so meticulously, this notion is suspect and begs for an explanation. Especially since Bernard is compassionate toward the hosts and evidently wants the same for them that Arnold did, a man he just learned about recently.
Speaking of Arnold, we learn in an unnerving meeting between ford and Therese that his former partner had been creating “hopeful” stories that the guests weren’t interested in engaging in, and that he ultimately went insane. What’s interesting about this is that he’s telling it as a means of insisting that he himself is not crazy. All the while he’s disrupting so many storylines with his new narrative that he’s causing chaos within the park. Therese cautiously warns that she’ll take his actions up with the board to put a stop to them, but he makes veiled threats about her being replaceable and discloses that he knows intimate details about her life as well as other employees. It’s very clear that the eccentric park owner is untouchable and he knows it, but after this revealing moment we’re left wondering just how much else he knows. His new disruptive narrative seems to be introducing religious icons, which are present in Maeve’s story this episode and indicates that he has incredibly detailed knowledge of everything happening within the park and is using that knowledge to contribute to the park’s mythology.
Maeve continues to remember impressions of past events. She draws an image a park employee in a hazmat suit standing above her, though she doesn’t recall specifics or know it’s meaning. Fearful of being found out, she attempts to hide the image under a floorboard only to discover that this isn’t the first time she’s drawn it. Later in the episode, she sees a young native girl carrying a doll in the likeness of her drawing, and asks Hector what it means. He reveals to her that they’re called “shades” and are sacred figures sent from hell to oversee their world, and adds that seeing them is considered a blessing. She’s not convinced, and in the stand out scene of the episode she divulges to him that she recalls being shot. He’s skeptical considering she has no scar, and she manipulates him into stabbing her in the same place she was injured, removing a bullet that had carelessly been left behind. This is a game changing moment for both characters, and it’s fascinating to see the hosts get closer to achieving true awareness. Thandie Newton and Rodrigo Santoro are both superb in this scene, and the pair have great chemistry.
Meanwhile, Dolores continues to remain off her programmed loop. And while it’s not certain if she’ll seek out the maze, she makes it very clear that she doesn’t wish to return home and chooses instead to remain with Will and Logan. Behind the scenes, Stubbs is informed that she’s not following her narrative and he instructs to have her placed back on track. She is approached by a man who offers to get her home, stating that her father must be worried. She declares that her father is dead, and Will comes to her rescue saying she’s with him and their friendship grows rapidly. Will and Logan remain at odds as the latter continues to partake in the darker delights that the park offers, making it clear time and again that he views the park and it’s inhabitants as nothing more than a game that he plays carelessly.
While the Man in Black seems to share this sentiment, he remains on his mission to find the maze. During his endeavors he finds himself at gunpoint by a group of outlaws, and after killing two of their men he manages to secure a position in their faction for himself and his companion. The leader of the crew is a young woman bearing a snake tattoo over her body, and he helps them free Logan from being held in a jail cell in order to learn the story behind her tattoo, believing it to be a clue that will bring him closer to the maze. During his time with the group, we learn through the admiration of another guest that in the real world, his foundation helps to save people. This is in stark contrast to the Man in Black we’ve seen so far, and one has to wonder if he’s really the villain he’s been portrayed as.
This may lend credit to a theory that’s been circulating which suggests Will and the Man in Black may be the same character from different timelines. It’s possible that Will’s affection for Dolores grows and keeps him endlessly returning to the park in hopes of one day freeing her. If the maze is a means of doing so, it would make sense that he’s relentlessly seeking it out (I should add here that the worst parts of the violence he inflicted upon her earlier in the season mostly happened off screen, and may not be entirely what was assumed, and was possibly a means of getting her to deflect from her programming). If this is at all possible, we have to question everything we’re being presented with, as we may unknowingly be witnessing two separate timelines, or even two timelines converging. Another moment from this episode seems to support this, when Dolores is shown in a flashback at her own gravesite. Food for thought.
As ever, there is far more happening than I’m able expound upon in a single review. However, with each passing episode, I’m delighted with what’s unfolding and I absolutely believe we are in for some fascinating revelations in the weeks to come. For those interested in delving further into Westworld, HBO have recently launched a website called discoverwestworld where fans are able to have an immersive experience and learn more about the park and its inhabitants.
Image credits: HBO