10:01pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Westworld': 10 Key Moments From "Dissonance Theory"
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the fourth episode of HBO's Westworld.]
"All this has happened before, and all this will happen again."
This sacred Battlestar Galactica philosophy isn't overtly referenced in the latest episode of Westworld, but it's certainly fitting given recent revelations. The hosts of the high-tech wild west park live their "lives," such as they are, on endless loops of violence. They have lived and died through countless identities, enduring endless horrors. Now, some of the hosts are figuring out the secret, and not a moment too soon. So say we all.
Here are the 10 biggest takeaways from the latest episode of Westworld, called "Dissonance Theory."
1. Vacation Time
After a week away from the action, Ed Harris returns this week as the Man in Black, resuming his quest to find the "deeper level" of the Westworld game. We learn more about the man, mostly through action (more on that coming right up) but also through dialogue. A fellow guest approaches the Man beside a campfire and, with stars in his eyes, begins to thank him. "I'm such an admirer of yours," he says. "Your foundation literally saved my sister's..." The Man cuts him off there, almost literally: "One more word and I'll cut your throat, understand? This is my f—king vacation." Sounds like the MiB isn't just a star player in Westworld, but a star outside the park as well… and he would like to keep those two powerful identities far away from each other, thank you very much.
2. The Pyro Man in Black
Another great note about the Man: he's a badass, no two ways about it, but not without some help. The Man promises to break Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) out of prison, in exchange for a few private words with Armistice (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), who he believes can help his pursuit of "the maze." He does as promised, but not without using "cheat codes," in gaming parlance. The Man sends out a signal for pyrotechnics, and in the control room, security higher-up Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) obliges. As a result, the Man's cigars become explosives, allowing him to kill a host and bail Hector out of jail. It's a cool trick, one that demonstrates the Man's extensive reach — but also a sign of his limitations, if he's relying on external forces to get his jobs done.
3. The Man With Many Names
The Man in Black brings Hector back to Armistice, and as promised, she delivers information that will help his cause. She talks about the origin of the massive red snake tattoo crawling up her neck and onto her face, tracing it back to a childhood trauma instigated by a bunch of men she's since tracked and killed… all but one man, the head of the snake: "He has many names. I once knew him as Wyatt." The Man in Black smiles at that, and so should we, since Wyatt is a new name as far as the viewer is concerned — but clearly a name with some resonance for the gunslinger.
4. Ford's Way Forward
Turning toward another man with a connection to Wyatt, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) reveals the extent of his power, much like the Man, in a chilling scene opposite operations head Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen). They meet at a restaurant overlooking some of the park's beautiful scenery, and the conversation takes a swift turn when Ford shows that all of the waiters, landscapers and assorted servants are all hosts under his control. "There have been many of you over the years, and we've almost always found a way to make it work," he says. "So I will ask you nicely: please, don't get in my way." From there, a massive construction vehicle approaches the restaurant, razing everything in its path. Ford tells Theresa to reassure the board that the new narrative he has in mind won't be a retrospective, "as I'm sure you all feared. I'm not the sentimental type."
5. Dolores Enters the Maze
After riding into the night following her family's murder and her own actions taking the life of a fellow host, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) reemerges at the start of the episode, once again in private conversation with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). She's gutted at the loss of her parents, but when Bernard offers to take away the pain, she refuses: "Why would I want that? The pain, their loss, is all I have left of them. You think the grief will make you smaller inside, like your heart will collapse in on itself, but it doesn't. I feel spaces opening up inside me like a building with rooms I never explored." Bernard appreciates the poetry of her position (which, she explains, is adapted from a scripted dialogue about love), and then offers an alternate way to help her: "It's called 'the maze.' It's a very special kind of game. The goal is to find the center of it. If you can do that, then maybe you can be free." What does Bernard know about the maze? Is it the same maze that the Man in Black is searching for — and if so, does that link Bernard and the Man to each other? With Dolores now on the hunt for the maze, expect another wrinkle to what's already one of the show's most twisting-and-turning storylines.
6. The Family Business
Back in the park (and, potentially, back in the past, depending on your theory of choice), Logan (Ben Barnes) and William (Jimmi Simpson) debate what to do about Dolores, their newest companion. Unsurprisingly, Logan wants to shoot her and let the park staff handle the remains. William protests, igniting an argument with his soon-to-be brother-in-law. Logan tells William that this trip is all about welcoming him to the family, and William is even more aggravated that this trip is about business after all. "With our family, everything is about business," Logan sneers back. (Not for nothing, but wasn't a certain Man connected with a business — a "foundation," more accurately — elsewhere in this episode? Hm.)
7. Somewhere Out There
Dolores might not be human, but she's all too real, as William comes to know her more and more. During one poignant scene beneath the stars, Dolores explains her outlook on life. "Sometimes I feel like something's calling me, telling me there's a place for me, somewhere beyond all of this," she says. William says he can relate. The two share An American Tail moment, all but singing into each other's eyes, before Dolores passes out and sees visions of her life behind-the-scenes — yet another indication that she's moving ever closer to an awakening.
8. Slim Shady
Through his encounters with Dolores and even an expedition to track down a bandit, William finally seems to be getting into the swing of things… until Logan goes full black hat, kills the sheriff host they're riding with, and decides instead to follow Slim, the bandit they've successfully apprehended. Slim promises that his boss can reward Logan and William with great riches, and Logan seems to know the boss by reputation, referring to Slim as "our ticket to the best ride in the park." Once again, William fumes at Logan's dark-hearted actions, helpless but to go along in their new black hat direction.
9. Draw, Pilgrim
Through all of this, the most moving journey toward self-discovery belongs to Maeve (Thandie Newton). She's still seeing inexplicable visions of past and future existences — glimpses of Westworld's technicians cleaning up the carnage after she and others are shot up at the Sweetwater brothel — before snapping back into reality. This time, however, she carries the visions forward. She goes to her room and draws a rough sketch of the technicians in their suits… but when she goes to store the illustration in her hiding spot, she sees countless drawings just like it. This is not Maeve's first rodeo, as they say, a sign that she's been close to this reveal for some time now.
10. Bullet Time
There's reason to think that Maeve's transformation will take hold moving forward. At the end of the episode, she gathers together with Hector, in the middle of his gang's fruitless shoot-'em-up narrative to steal the brothel's safe. She learns about "the Shade," the name that the tribes outside of Sweetwater have assigned to the technicians — "the man who walks between worlds," Hector tells her. From there, Maeve confirms that she lives in worlds, plural, when she and Hector dig a bullet out of her abdomen — a bullet that exists inside her, despite there being no wound to show for it. It confirms something critical for Maeve: "That I'm not crazy after all, and that none of this matters." With that, she brings Hector in for a passionate kiss, as lawmen shoot through the door and into the room, presumably putting both hosts down… for now, at least. When Maeve wakes up, though? That's going to matter.
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