Westworld: “Trompe L’Oeil”

In last week’s episode, Maeve (Thandie Newton) tests the boundaries of her ability to see beyond her world while Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) finds clues that lead her deeper into the maze. Elsie (Shannon Woodward) finds an anomaly and as she delves into explaining it, danger finds her. Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) perception and experiences within the park start to point out something nefarious beneath the surface. How much influence did Arnold have before he killed himself? And how will it affect the Hosts?

In this episode ,” even more beneath the surface is revealed. Named after the French art style, trompe-l’oeil means to deceive the eye. The type of painting that means to create an illusion that the subject of the painting is real.  And how apt that title is for this episode.

We begin the episode by delving more into Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) past with his son who died of some illness. Bernard is dealing with this pain, as well as realizing that his coworker Elsie (Woodard) is still missing. Or as the system says, on leave. Bernard knows Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is the one smuggling data, but not why. And after their conversation, you have to wonder if she’s onto him knowing something.  Meanwhile, the Board liaison Charlotte Hale, played by Tessa Thompson, is clearly enjoying her visit to the park but lets Theresa know ASAP that if she’s not on board with the plan then she’s out. Everybody has to be a team player. However, overthrowing Ford will be interesting. Hale assists Theresa with a Host manipulation to prove that ultimately the Hosts are dangerous due to Ford’s latest update and Westworld_BernardandTheresa-300x150past data issues. I wondered what Bernard would do about the situation because his keen observations are always brilliant.

In the park, Dolores is still on the path of the maze and bringing William (Jimmi Simpson) along for the journey. Both are on a path of self-discovery. Will is tested by his friend and future brother-in-law Logan (Ben Barnes).  After ditching him, Will is more than willing to follow Dolores because she does something in the park that nothing outside can: she makes him happy. He is able to be himself with her and he acknowledges that the park helps reveal your deepest self. For Dolores this is slightly different, but ultimately what she is trying to find and understand. How aware of her situation will she become? And how will William help her get there?

Westworld_TrompeLOeil-300x200Coming between worlds is Maeve who seems to have mastered her ability to bounce between. After threatening two workers and have her stats changed, being able to control her is shot. That mental acuity is damn sharp. Maeve is the best example of what happens when you tamper too much. She was already smart and starting to put pieces together. Now she’s determined to leave it all behind. Her comment to the worker threatening her about dying was so predictable but absolutely hilarious regardless.

With his coworker still missing and being onto the scheme of Theresa’s, Bernard chooses to show her Ford’s hidden cabin with original unregistered Hosts. The moment Bernard said “programmed to ignore,” I had a pit in my stomach. “What door?” The plot twist comes slamming you in the gut. Massive props to Knudsen for playing out that scene in her eyes. You can see the suspicion turn to fear, and it is brilliant.  The actors that portray Hosts in this show all deserve amazing praise. Their ability to portray their characters in the park and then to become emotionally detached at a word is utterly breathtaking. I can imagine the cast of this show sweeping some categories in award shows soon. But the question coming up is what is real? How much of what we are seeing is all being manipulated? The intellectual and philosophical perspective is intriguing and reminds me of the film Inception. The dream within the dream and the eventual question of what we are seeing as viewers either being the character’s true story or the character’s dream. In this case, who is real? And who are Hosts?  How will we know? And for the human characters, who can they trust? I suspect Ford has even more up his sleeve in terms of his extent of control of the park.

Next week’s preview leaves me with some burning questions. How will Ford cover up his actions from the board, and is it possible he’s done this before? Will Maeve get the freedom she desires? Will Teddy remember his past with the Man in Black and take some vengeance? How far into the maze is Dolores going and for the love of God are we ever going to know more about Arnold???  I’ll be waiting as patiently as I can for next week, and the answers I probably won’t get.

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