Westworld S01E09 “The Well-Tempered Clavier” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Maeve is in the lab with Bernard, getting an examination after accidentally killing Clementine. However, when Bernard finds her settings have been fiddled with, she can’t keep quiet any longer and reveals herself as sentient.
- She realises that Bernard is a host straight off – and that he doesn’t know. She tells him. And then she gets him to release her back into the park.
- Bernard is left stunned.
- Logan has Will and Dolores tied up and is drunk on power (“I’m a major now! Or a general, or f**king something…”). Will begs him to release Dolores, but Logan is having none of it.
- Bernard breaks into Ford’s office, steals his files and goes to meet with him in the room full of decommissioned hosts. He asks Ford (well, tells him) to send him back into his memories so he can meet Arnold and learn about his creation.
- Bernard uses Clementine – whose settings still allow her to hurt humans – to hold a gun to Ford so he lets Bernard get his way. Ford seems unperturbed, as usual, so we know he isn’t worried. (What would it take to make him worried, we wonder? A nuclear bomb dropping on his lap?)
- Ford warns Bernard he won’t like what he sees in his mind, and it’s true: as he bounces around his memories, we see him kill poor Elsie.
- Logan is trying to convince Will that he’s an idiot for caring about Dolores, and in doing so, he stabs Dolores in the stomach – showing her internal robot workings. Will looks horrified.
- She manages to grab a gun and runs away.
- Maeve joins Hector at his camp and, by predicting what happens next to his gang, convinces him he’s trapped in someone else’s storyline and that he should help her.
- They have sex while the tent around them burns down, knowing they’ll wake up again.
- Will finally cracks and tells Logan he can’t believe he got so caught up in Dolores. Logan is delighted: “This has been some real bonding shit! We’re gonna be brothers, Billy! I’m glad, really I am.” And they hug.
- Teddy wakes up, has a flashback to when he slaughtered all the soldiers in the town under Wyatt’s orders, and then realises he actually killed a load of townsfolk instead. He’s really confused. Then the woman who double-crossed him stabs him, and Teddy’s dead again. We’re confused too.
- The woman also seems to know he’ll come back – what the hell?
- She leaves the Man In Black to hang after tying a noose around his neck and attaching it, via a branch, to his horse.
- He just about manages to free himself and then Charlotte Hale turns up, reminding us all this isn’t actually real.
- He’s not happy to see her. She wants him to vote against Ford and get him off the board – which means the MIB actually does run the park!
- He effectively says “Whatever” and wanders off. He’s not interested in Ford’s storylines anyway, he’s got bigger fish to fry.
- In a storyline that seems to have been shoehorned in from another episode’s deleted scenes, Ashley goes to investigate a signal from Elsie in an unused part of the park, and is attacked by Ghost Nation men.
- Logan wakes up, with what looks like a banging hangover, to absolute carnage. Will has gone on a kill spree while Logan slept.
- In fact, he seems to have gone totally Dark Side, holding a knife to Logan’s throat. “Don’t call me Billy!” he demands, before dragging Logan off to find Dolores.
- She’s now wandering through the deserted town. She finds a church. She sits in the confessional. It goes down… and she’s in one of the underground labs.
- Bernard continues to remember, working through the “death” of his son, to waking up for the first time with Ford giving him his glasses and mannerisms… mannerisms that belong to someone else…
- In the lab, Dolores talks to Bernard and wants his help. “There’s nowhere that’s safe,” she weeps.
- He can’t help her, for the very good reason that (dun dun DUHHH) he’s dead – and she killed him!
- Bernard is Arnold!
- She goes back upstairs, only to back away, terrified, when the Man In Black enters the church.
- Bernard wants to wake up the hosts; Ford won’t allow it. Bernard asks Clementine to pull the trigger and kill Ford.
- “The piano doesn’t murder the player if it doesn’t like the music,” says Ford, as she doesn’t do it.
- Then Ford tells Bernard to kill himself.
You can’t look away for a moment this week, as the plot rattles along like the steam train that brings guests to the park. It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s… a little confusing at times (we’re sure a whole thesis could be written on each time Dolores’s outfit changes; what’s real and what isn’t?). But it’s also utterly compelling, as answers we’ve been dying to know for weeks finally arrive.
The biggest, no doubt, is that Bernard is actually a host replica of Arnold. But how on Earth did Ford get away with that? He mentions that it took a while for him to build him after Arnold’s death, but did nobody recognise his old partner? Really? Then again, if Ford is effectively God of Westworld, he probably engineered it so that no staff ever returned who’d met Arnold. Plus it also explains Bernard’s genius with programming the hosts – although quite how Ford got a real human’s thought processes into a robot shell is a mystery, as of yet.
Then there’s the fact that Dolores was the one who killed Arnold in the first place: which makes sense, as it sounds as though Arnold was very fond of her, as she was the first host he built. It sounds just like something our backstabbing Ford would do – reprogramming a trusted host to kill its master. Poor Bernard, though, given memories based around the real-life death of Arnold’s son (or so it seems), and then realising he killed Elsie as well as Theresa. No wonder he asks Clementine to pull that trigger. Jeffrey Wright really is crushing his scenes – if this is the last we see of him, that will be sad.
The other big reveal is the origin of that photograph found by Dolores’s father in the first episode. If the Will/Dolores/Logan timeline is, as we theorised last week, taking place in the past, then it stands to reason that Will loses the picture and it’s found again in the future. The seeds are sown and we’re now about 98% convinced the “past/present” Westworld storylines are, indeed, the case. Seeing Will turn into some murderous avenging angel this week also lends credence to the fact that he’s the Man In Black in the future. Sneaky writers are sneaky!
We’re still a bit confused about Dolores, though: when she’s with Will she might be in the past, but what about when she’s at the church? Argh, our brains hurt…
As far as Maeve is concerned, she’s as marvellous as ever (barring one stupid decision – see below), and there’s an enticing new thread thrown up by the woman who kills Teddy, who seems to be another host who’s aware of her situation (or at least, she knows they come back – does she know she’s an android?). If Wyatt is finally, properly revealed next week, it’s going to be interesting to find out who he is and what the hell he’s up to.
And finally – we’ve already lost Theresa, Elsie and several hosts; now we seem to have lost Bernard. Is Westworld the new Game Of Thrones when it comes to unexpected deaths?
- “We’re stronger than them,” Maeve tells Bernard. “Smarter. We don’t have to live this way.” Them’s fightin’ words! Will she follow through and cause some kind of host uprising, as we’re all expecting?
- The Man In Black in the noose is strangely compelling – it’s like he’s in a Saw movie. Can he reach the knife and cut the rope before the horse hears the coyote howl and runs away, thus strangling him? Place your bets! Even knowing that the park can’t hurt him, however, it’s a bit curious that his life was quite so threatened here.
- And then Charlotte appears: “Have you ever considered golf? It might be easier on your back.” If that’s not a bucket of cold water on his gaming, we don’t know what is.
- Ben Barnes as Logan appears – much like his character – to be having the time of his life. Not only has Logan gleefully taken up the mantle for swearing now Elsie is gone, he’s also hilarious. It’s like he’s Gaston from Beauty And The Beast, so full of himself he’s forgotten that he’s a fool. Brilliant!
- Alright, so Maeve knows she won’t die in the fire, but why does she want to die in a raging inferno anyway? Surely that would REALLY BLOODY HURT? And despite being convinced by an empty safe, Hector would surely run a bloody mile. Come on.
- Anthony Hopkins’ anti-ageing makeup/CGI is only mildly distracting, thankfully – it’s always worrying when you see an older actor being made to look younger. Although the glimpse of him as a younger man in episode three was also rather good (see here).
And The Random:
- If Clementine was decommissioned and left in the room with all the other hosts, why is she wearing a lab coat as she holds the gun on Ford? Perhaps Bernard felt the need to cover her nudity because he’s starting to identify with the hosts. Oooh, psychology.
- Best Quote: Maeve, eyeing Hector’s undone trousers: “It’s chilly out here.”
Reviewed by Jayne Nelson