Westworld, S1 Ep7 – Trompe L’Oeil

So we have our first big Westworld twist: Bernard is a bot.

This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise; fans have been including it in their theories pretty much since the show started. But it’s still a pretty big revelation and one that was carefully built up until the end of the episode. But the title itself should have been a clue, because a trompe l’oeil is an artistic technique that makes use of visual illusions.

And the whole time we’ve been under the illusion that Bernard was not one of the hosts, that he was trying to work against Ford by studying consciousness. This development calls everything we’ve seen so far into question. Have the hosts really been rebelling against the system or has Ford been involved in their budding uprising? How much does Ford really know? And what is the storyline he’s been building?

Westworld, S1 Ep7 – Trompe L’OeilIn an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy discuss more about the Bernard twist and Ford’s plans. Nolan said:

I think there’s a suggestion here that Ford has been up to something, that he’s slipped the leash of corporate control, and that his secrets permeate the park, in addition to Arnold’s. We thought that gave things a creepy sense. We’ll return to that much later down the road.

Joy said:

He’s making this great narrative. He’s terraforming the park for parts of it. He’s creating characters for it. It speaks to the idea that there’s not a lot of oversight if he’s creating some of these characters literally off the grid. There are not a lot of people who know exactly what he’s planning for the park.”

Westworld, S1 Ep7 – Trompe L’OeilThe Bernard reveal is easily the most significant part of the episode, but a lot of things were going on as well. Maeve is now no longer subject to any of the voice commands of the technician, a fact she will soon use to her advantage. But she also witnesses a traumatic event in the form of her colleague Clementine being “retired.”

Earlier in the episode, we had to witness the brutal beating of Clementine, as she was being used as a ploy to prove Ford’s creations were unpredictable (and to discredit Bernard and get him fired.) And there was also the tragic death of Theresa, at the hands of Bernard, her erstwhile lover. It was devastating enough for her to discover he was a host but for him to be the one to kill her (and the way he did it, so coldly and mechanically) was truly chilling. Of course, Ford could never allow his secret to get out, but it makes you wonder why he made Bernard show Theresa all this in the first place. The level of violence towards women in Westworld is beginning to rival Game of Thrones and this is a disturbing trend that needs to stop. Surely, there are better ways to tell a story and female characters don’t need to suffer more than they already do in most narratives.

Westworld, S1 Ep7 – Trompe L’OeilDolores and William finally got together, the latter giving into the game, finding it more real than his own life. This was pretty much a given since their first meeting, but I’m more curious about how Dolores is going to deal with the discovery of that beautiful valley she had always been dreaming of. Is she approaching the mysterious maze? And are Teddy and the Man in Black headed in that direction as well?

We’re in the final stretch of the first season of Westworld and the mysteries have only deepened. How many questions will even be answered by the end of the season? For now, we can only enjoy this wild ride.

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