Westworld Season 1, Episode 9: “The Well-Tempered Clavier”

Does it sound like bragging to say “I knew it!” when another well-publicized internet theory is proven correct on Westworld? I think we’re all viewing the show quite a few clicks ahead of the characters.

But other characters are made interesting by the tantalizing little we know about them. Does it make sense that we don’t even know the Man in Black’s name by now? Observant viewers guessed it about three episodes ago.

But I can’t blame showrunners for doubting the ability of their audiences to piece facts together or to do a little extra digging to get their info. Certainly not in this new “post-truth” world, anyway. But for the core audience that does go the extra, immersive mile, getting to say “I told you so,” seems a bit unfulfilling. Give me characters over conspiracies.

This is why Maeve is my favorite part of the show. It’s just damn fun to watch her use her mind, her new upgrades, to every possible advantage.

But the real centerpiece of the night was the reveal that, yes, eagle-eyed viewers, Bernard is indeed Arnold in host-form. Bernard is Ford’s ideal business partner: all of the original’s intelligence, but easy to control. How much of a hand do we think Ford had in Arnold’s death? Can Dolores be truly responsible if she can be a puppet for Ford?

jeffrey-wright-as-bernard-credit-john-p-johnson-hbo

Interesting also to confirm that every time we saw Dolores with “Bernard” it was actually her with the human Arnold. Will we see exactly how he died next week? And as smart as Ford is, it’s clear that Arnold built in his own back-ups and had an eye for the long game, so it might not matter that Ford built Bernard, not Arnold as previously assumed. See: the maze. How much of Bernard’s rebellious nature (i.e. hacking Clementine) is Bernard’s own, or remnants of Arnold?

How I wish Ford didn’t press the reset button on Bernard. I do not think Bernard is dead-dead. I imagine, like Maeve, Bernard, now free of his engineered trauma, will find ways to retain his memories and even recover more. Hell, he has new traumas to hold onto; the murders of Theresa Cullen and (maybe? maybe not?) Elsie will weigh heavily on him.

Just look at poor, confused Dolores. She’s come unstuck in time, it seems, whether it’s by directorial sleight-of-hand or a more literal collision of past and present builds. Our peek into the church shows Dolores stumbling into Delos. And not being stabbed by Logan. It’s a head-scratcher, for sure. When is Dolores?

We need some of these answers to know what is Dolores. And what did Arnold do to her?

tessa-thompson-as-charlotte-and-ed-harris-as-man-in-black-credit-john-p-johnson-hbo

And what did William do to Dolores, to make her fear him? Because there are far too many clues that William is the Man in Black. William, who recognizes that Dolores is different from other hosts and not just because he’s blinded by a kind of warped love. How does that William evolve into the Man in Black, who knows there’s more to the park and the hosts than it appears? What we saw tonight was William getting closer to becoming the badass Man in Black, who has no qualms about mowing down every host who is keeping him away from his goal.

The Man in Black is, in the present day, revealed to be another Delos board member, someone who was in communication with Cullen and Charlotte Hale — Charlotte, who is smart yet still refuses sensible shoes on a hiking trail. The Man in Black is only interested in what he’s interested in, which I respect, because I, too, don’t really care about Delos’ corporate espionage until we get a bigger picture. He’s on “his fucking vacation,” okay? From what I can guess, very little of that power struggle will get resolved in the finale.

But perhaps we will get to the maze.

There were some interesting little asides about the maze “It’s not for you,” says the lady-host with Teddy and the Man in Black. Dolores, too, seems more concerned with her world than what may or may not be outside, “out” being a concept she does not understand. What has Arnold built for the hosts?

What will Maeve build, if not a robot army? If she can command even Bernold (Can we call him that now?) will she be able to help him figure out a way to keep Ford from commanding any host, the better for them to rise up and kill their jailers? I sure hope so, because I came to see a robot army, dammit.

thandie-newton-as-maeve-and-jeffrey-wright-as-bernard-credit-john-p-johnson-hboFinal Reveries:

  • “The Well-Tempered Clavier” is a series of Bach fugues and preludes, if you’re into knowing that kind of thing. The root of the word clavier is also French and means “key-bearer.” So, you can chew on who holds a key.
  • Is Logan the Hand of the King now? While he enjoys drinking and fucking like Tyrion, he’s distinctly lacking in the wit, charm, and shrewdness that the job requires. But Logan might be a better Hand than poor Ned.
  • I love Hector. I love Hector and Maeve’s cheesy burning-down-the-house love scene. Maeve’s picked a good lieutenant in him, I think.
  • Lesser Hemsworth misses Discount Ellen Page. Awwww. That’s nice, but do we think he’ll get very far into his investigation? I think he would if he was Thor-Hemsworth or even Gale-Hemsworth. This Hemsworth is screaming redshirt to me. Sorry, bro!
  • Tonight’s episode was directed by the stellar Michelle MacLaren, who famously directed one of Breaking Bad‘s most harrowing hours “To’hajiilee,” Game of Thrones‘ “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” and that really freaky episode of The Walking Dead where Rick Grimes bit a man’s throat out, “A.” Good times, all.
  • Next week: “The Bicameral Mind.” Ford’s narrative is revealed, along with Maeve’s next move. Also, it’s the season finale and 90 minutes long!

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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