What Westworld's First Major Twist Actually Means
There's a lot going on here. This is what we know.
BY Matt Miller | Nov 15, 2016 | Film & TV
There's absolutely no way for me to prove it, but my first note while watching Westworld this week was, "Bernard has to be a damn robot." That was the only explanation for his unnecessary loyalty to Dr Robert Ford. The only explanation for the stupid dialogue where Ford told Bernard his backstory ("Your son's death still haunts you, Bernard"). The only explanation for Bernard to show zero emotion when breaking up with and having sex with his co-worker—and then when another co-worker mysteriously vanished. Honestly, I'm thankful of the big reveal at the end of the tonight's episode—that Bernard is actually just Ford's mechanical lap dog, means the clunky writing was actually deliberate. They flipped the script on us in more ways than one. Clever, Westworld!
So there it is: the first big reveal in Westworld. They M Night Shyamalaned it. Bernard is just a robot, a animatronic pawn placed in his own company to do his dirty work and spy on his employees. Every boss's dream! But to really explain what happens between Bernard and Theresa and Ford at the end, we must start at the beginning of all this corporate BS.
"The Board"—some ambiguous name for what I imagine are the suits running this shit—is trying to get rid of Dr Robert Ford. That's why they've sent in Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) to do their dirty work. The Board doesn't care about a theme park where rich people go to play cowboy (for which I don't entirely blame them ). And they don't care about the hosts that inhabit this world (which is unfortunate, but whatever). They care about the intellectual property of the park—what's inside the hosts. But to get that, they need what they call a blood sacrifice—AKA they need a host to go apeshit and prove it can kill someone.
So, they reprogram poor Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) to beat the shit out of a host that's programmed to be human. This scene is another conflicting one for Westworld. First the man is shown physically, and violently, assaulting Clementine. It's also yet another scene (along with one later in the episode) that depicts violence against women, which I talked at length about last week. This scene does briefly provide some justice for Clementine when she bashes the dude's head against the glass in retaliation, and it also proves the sheer power within these hosts: they have the ability to totally mess someone up. Sadly, Clementine gets decommissioned, which pisses off Maeve but at least leads to this line:
At first i thought you and the others were gods, then I realised you're just men. And I know men. You think I'm scared of death. I've done it a million times. I'm fucking great at it. How many times have you died?
Having exposed how dangerous the hosts can be by using Clementine, Theresa fires her ex-boyfriend and secret robot lover Bernard because she's cold. And he doesn't care, because he also has a cold, mechanical heart. Presumably, because he'd lost his job or has nothing to lose, Bernard takes Theresa to Ford's creepy playhouse. In the basement they find where Ford has been building his personal 'bots, one of which is poor, clueless Bernard. Then, Ford steps forward to reveal that he knows everything. He knows what Theresa has been doing—her spying, her corporate espionage, her finagling with Bernard—and he's one step ahead of her. This is because, you see, the Board is always trying to push Ford out, and Ford always has the upper hand. And he kills her, which seems excessive, but I guess that's the biz!
As a story, this twist changes quite a bit. Now we know that anyone could be a robot. Ford could be a robot. Maybe Theresa was a robot. Maybe we're all robots! And this introduces another layer to the storytelling—another device to throw us off, to twist the narrative. This is very similar to how Battlestar Galactica was structured (and I know it sounds lame, but Battlestar Galactica was a brilliant show; I urge you to put preconceptions aside and try it out, because Lisa Joy, who co-created Westworld, is working on a film version of the show, too). This also means that Ford is far more dangerous than we thought. He's not the sad, old man whose only friends are robots. He's the sad, old man whose only friends are robots and uses them to kill actual humans. (Note: Theresa is the first human to die in this show.)
Maybe all of this—the maze, the host's existential awakening, the Man in Black's quest—all boils down to corporate greed. And if everything we're watching and investing in is only the result of coding created by Arnold and Ford to protect the intellectual property of their hosts, I'm going to be seriously disappointed. But it does seem like a shift in the narrative, one that makes sense. Last year, the showrunners halted production before this episode to re-tool the last four scripts, which may explain this major twist and hint at the specific direction this first season is taking.
From: Esquire US