A big plot twist just hit us with Episode 07 of WESTWORLD. The episode entitled “Trompe L’Oeil” will certainly cause us to look at a certain character in quite a different light in Episode 08, “Trace Decay,” and onward. It might even cause fans to re-watch certain scenes a second time and perhaps adjust their theories accordingly.
Let’s get right to it. And, remember SPOILERS are ahead. In other words, you shouldn’t be reading if you haven’t been watching. Okay, the major WTF, only hinted in our review, is that Bernard Lowe, Programming Director, is a Host under Ford’s bidding. The reveal happened in the retro lab in the old cabin Ford occupies. Bernard brought Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) from Operations there and ultimately killed her upon Ford’s command! WOW.
There have been theories out there that there was more to Bernard, but I think the way his reveal played out wasn’t expected. Entertainment Weekly went further into the reveal in two separate interviews. They Q & A’ed with both Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy and also with Jeffrey Wright. Excerpts are below:
Entertainment Weekly: At what point did you know that Bernard was a host? Was that from the very beginning or evolve along the way?
Jonathan Nolan: Bernard has been a host from the beginning. But we were careful with Jeffrey.
Lisa Joy: We were careful with Jeffrey because we wanted him to be fully lovable and human and believable, but also to understand that underneath he’s playing something else. We let him in pretty early on. He’s such a skilled actor he was able to play a robot thinking he’s a human very well, he’s playing it on a couple different levels at the same time, and absolutely brilliant about it. We didn’t want him to feel like we pulled the rug out from under him. I’m going to be so excited when this episode airs because it’s so tricky for me when doing press to not give away spoilers about Jeffrey’s character.
EW: How did Jeffrey react when you told him?
Joy: He’s such a wonderful, talented man, and we sat him down and we were going through it, “This is all going to happen, and, by the way, you’re a robot.” He just sat there for a second like: “Oh. Ohhh. All right then.” I’ve been such a fan of Jeffrey for so many years and always dreamt of working with him. And when he first came on board I told him, “Jeffrey, I know what you’re capable of, and goddamnit, I’m going to use all of it.” And that’s our plan.
EW: It’s this double punch reveal because you learn about him and at the same time lose Theresa Cullen in the same scene – and Ford has him commit this act Bernard would never consciously do. You compound the reveal of his nature by having him do something that horrifies us.
Joy: It horrifies us, and it horrifies him. It’s a betrayal of everything that he — as a man he thought he was — believed in. He had real feelings for Theresa. It’s meant to make the sadness and the horror of his manipulation all the more real because it has such costs.
EW also asked them about Clementine Pennyfeather’s (Angela Sarafyan) brutal but awesome scene in the cubicle.
Here are some quotes from Jeffrey Wright:
EW: Ah, so they signed you up for a full season, got you all committed, and then told you you’re playing a ‘bot.
Jeffrey Wright: Yeah, but prior to that she’d been hinting at the complexities of Bernard and was cryptic about what that meant. But it became necessary so that I could be aware of some of the nuances in the direction, in the story – not so much so that it informed my performance, but that it shined light on moments in which its’ relevant, and when clues are left, for the audience.
EW: Yes, I want to get into that in a moment. But what was your reaction as an actor learning this about Bernard?
Wright: I glitched for a few moments, then I said to Lisa, “Cool.” It just provided meaty additional layers onto Bernard. She also described Bernard very early on as understated. He’s very quiet, he’s earnest, he’s flying under the radar, and he’s an everyman. The foil of him being a host is starker because we initially perceive him to be unvarnished and straightforward. To that extent it informed the tonality of my performance — he’s steady Bernard, he’s somebody not to be second guessed.
EW: Let’s get into that amazing reveal scene then with Bernard, Ford and Theresa. He’s not only a host but also has to kill his lover.
Wright: That was a heavy read when we got that script. There were a lot of text messages flying around between a lot of cast members. I did not know Theresa was going to be meet her end. We all have certain secrets and I did not know [what Bernard was going to do] and Sidse held onto the fact that’s she’s only on [the show] for seven episodes very close to her vest. But it’s obviously a fulcrum scene in the first season so we were pretty focused but at the same time it all made logical sense. The aim was, from my perspective, to see all the synthetic blood rush from Bernard’s being and see him as a machine and tool.
EW: I wanted Bernard to really seem impacted by what was going on but Ford shuts him down pretty quick. My hope is that perhaps that’s still to come.
Wright: Let’s see where we go. What clearly is also revealed is the extent of Ford’s power — his creativity and his malevolence. What we’ll further explore is his intent.
Lastly, Nolan gives us a tidbit into what is ahead for Season Two coming in 2018.
EW: Finally, a couple of host-mechanics questions I’ve wondering about, that seem like they might be increasingly relevant: Can you say how are the hosts powered? Like do they need to recharge? Do they eat?
Nolan: Their construction and their power source is something we’re really going to get into during season 2. So we’d like to keep that mysterious. They’re closer to biological than they are too mechanical, but they don’t suffer brain death the same way we do. They’re largely indistinguishable from human beings, but their brains don’t require oxygen — which opens up interesting possibilities. Their brains are not as fragile as ours. On one hand, their cognition is controllable and malleable, but on a structural level they can’t be killed in the same way you and I can. There are advantages and disadvantages to being a host. Season 2 we’ll be exploring more the nuts and bolts of what they are— as the hosts themselves are trying to understand.
We are sure you have let all that soak in. WESTWORLD has only three episodes to go and HBOWatch is watching.