Westworld Season 1, Episode 3 “The Stray”

Now we’re getting to the meat of it.

The first two episodes of HBO’s new series Westworld established the park and the characters well, but this was the first episode where I actually remembered all of the characters’ names and had a clearer picture of who they were. While some of my initial excitement has tempered, Westworld is a lot of fun to think about.

I just wish the characters were a little more fun to watch this week. But that seems a bit unfair when most of the characters are soulless navel-gazers navigating the limitations of their world and the rest are robots.

Lastly, Westword’s fly problem extends to Logan because he’s always walking into scenes zipping his up. Dude is gross.

So I seriously want to know what other literature abounds in Westworld’s reality. Why is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland such a go-to for so many stories? I get that it’s a classic. But it’d just be cool to see something more unique used for fictional metaphors; we have reached peak Alice, I think. Sometimes I feel showrunners keep using Carroll’s story simply because it’s in the public domain and they’re too busy to try and get other rights. Yet the passage Dolores read fit her situation; her burgeoning change is the center of Westworld.

What is Bernard getting out of his conversations with Dolores? A companion? A student? A curiosity to train? I loved that moment when Bernard asked Dolores why she asked about his son and she said it was just “an ingratiating scheme.” She is definitely learning and changing and by episode’s end, her day—and Rebus’—ends very differently indeed. I think lying for self-preservation is a huge sign of consciousness. See: Ex Machina.

Shannon Woodward as Elsie Hughes and Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe- credit John P.Johnson HBOI was surprised to see that Bernard has a wife—a beautiful Gina Torres, in fact, who would be awesome to see in a Western setting again!—since he’s obviously enjoying his time with Cullen. But I’m not sure if they’re still technically married or what. What kind of world exists beyond Delos? What kind of future makes Westworld, a hyper-realistic video game of America’s very particular and highly romanticized manifest destiny, so popular an attraction? There’s something a little quaint about the Western setting. This isn’t a Blood Meridian post-Western; it’s very un-ironic white hat vs. black hat. I guess I imagine the very rich as not needing an amusement park to buy their fantasy experiences—even if it includes murder because I’m kind of jaded and the Hostel franchise didn’t seem so far-fetched to me in a world where human trafficking exists. The very rich can just use their resources in the real world to exploit regular old poor people. Why go through all the window-dressing and expense with android cowboys?

So I’m hoping we get a bigger pull-back from Delos to reveal how Westworld stays in business.

At least we have a clearer picture of why William and Logan are at the park together. I thought it was odd when Logan mentioned that his sister “rode a few cowboys in her time here” last week, but without any further mention, it just seemed an odd aside. But, no, Logan is going to be William’s brother-in-law, which makes him an even bigger asshole than I thought. Now, Logan’s sister might be cool with some robot-lovin’, but maybe not while she’s in a committed relationship. Maybe she doesn’t consider robo-sex cheating at all because they’re machines (as far as any guests knows). But, for me, Logan is that creepy best man who takes a groom out for a really debauched bachelor party that’s more for the best man’s enjoyment than the groom’s. And then tries to get the groom to cheat with a stripper. (And then gun that stripper down because you can.) It just… doesn’t seem like a nice way to welcome someone to your family.

So I’m happy for William getting a chance to leave a brothel and go out and enjoy some of that gorgeous scenery by playing a hero. William really doesn’t seem like the type to slide into his own heart of darkness, but I wonder if Dolores will get him to cross a line Logan can’t.

Bojana Novakovic as Marti and James Marsden as Teddy Flood- credit John P. Johnson HBOI’m relieved that Dolores is going off-script in ways that confound Teddy and will maybe stop us from seeing their dimestore romance loop. Kudos to Wood for selling me Dolores’ “‘Someday’ sounds a lot like the thing people say when they mean ‘never.'” It sounded very similar to her analytical voice. And Teddy getting an origin story to fill in his vague guilt will make him a lot more interesting to watch, too. He needs to do something more than get killed, Kenny-like, each week. You bastards!

Ford’s idea of a nemesis for Teddy is a man named Wyatt, who sounds a bit like Dolores’ Dad V.1.0, the cult leader. After a mysterious disappearance, Wyatt became a killer with unusual ideas—and a love of corpse totems—believing that the land didn’t belong to natives or settlers, but to “something yet to come.” How old is this story Ford’s building on and how might Wyatt tie into the abandoned church from last week? Combine these narratives with glitchy robots with grudges and constellations in their heads and how many guests will get caught in the hosts’ wars?

I’m starting to think Ford might actually be something of a nemesis himself.

Final reveries:

  • This episode was directed by Neil Marshall, who helmed “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall” episodes of Game of Thrones. But he also directed The Descent and there were lots of creeptastic moments, like Wyatt’s howling henchmen ambush and, of course, the grisly self-inflicted head-bashing stray woodcutter.
  • I liked the cowgirl traveling with Teddy. Let’s see more of Marti!
  • How beautiful was that shot of the eye getting built? The level of detail in Ford’s creation really is impressive.
  • The mystery of Westworld deepens with Arnold, one of the park’s original creators who apparently went a bit batty in his pursuit of artificial intelligence creation and ended up killing himself in the park.
  • Next week: The Man in Black gets his next puzzle piece and the bandit Hector returns to liven things up a bit.

Westworld airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing, Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast and Den of Geek. Reach her via pony express or on Twitter.

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