Westworld - Dissonance Theory - Review: “Past wounds” + POLL By Bradley Adams (October 24, 2016, 3:01 am)
In the real world, when someone makes a mistake at their job, it can go several ways, depending on the extremity of the mistake. Sometimes it might go unnoticed, sometimes the individual may be reprimanded, sometimes they may be fired for it. In Westworld, when somebody makes a mistake at their job, it can send robots into a state of confusion and enlightenment, and push them down the path of self-awareness and, with it, complete and utter chaos.
Because by the end of “Dissonance Theory”, Maeve was well on her way to uncovering the truth about the nature of her reality, and it’s all thanks to the technicians in the facility failing to do their job properly (*) and leaving a bullet inside of her abdomen.
(*) While the show didn’t make it clear whether Maeve waking up from sleep mode was a result of sloppiness or the hosts becoming more sentient, the two technicians’ failure to remove the bullet after recovering her has led to this. That’s on them.
I noted in my review last week that both Maeve and Dolores were on their way to realising that all is not as it seems, and that part of how that would happen was through the flashes and the tendency of the administrators to repeat storylines - the “loops”. As Maeve had more flashes and made more connections between things she’d remembered and things she’s seeing, she realised that Hector was coming. But he’d come before, and this time, she was prepared.
Though the climactic reveal of the bullet is, arguably, the smoking gun, the more important and fascinating part of the whole ordeal was her preparedness. That she was able to not only remember Hector’s man in the saloon but recall enough information about his previous assault to know when he was coming, where in the bar he’d walk, and what exactly he was looking for all says far more about the situation than the bullet does. She now has conclusive proof of her otherwise crazy beliefs, but knowing Hector was coming? That’s a problem for Bernard and co. Because it’s all well and good Maeve finding a bullet inside herself that she clearly was not shot with - not in this loop, at least - but she needs the understanding of how it might have got there. And while I’m not certain that she knows exactly everything going on (or even the significance of most of her flashes), she almost certainly knows enough to be a considerable problem.
Which will almost certainly make for stunning television.
After his absence last week, The Man in Black returned to continue his quest for the maze (*), this time with the help of the woman with the dragon tattoo (whose name I either missed or wasn’t mentioned), though not after he helped her out a little by breaking out Hector. But we learned considerable amounts about his journey, the destination and why he’s doing it. Unsurprisingly, it’s related to Arnold.
(*) In the opening scene, Bernard suggested to Dolores that she try playing the maze in order to understand that she isn’t losing her mind, and to be free. The way Man in Black describes his journey later in the episode, it seems odd that a host would be able to experience that in the same way as a guest would.
Ultimately, Man in Black’s assertion is mostly correct - guests can’t die by the hand of another host or guest, or where a host can prevent their death; the show hasn’t answered the question of whether falling off a cliff, for example, would kill a guest - if you can’t die, then this is still just a game. And after playing the game for over thirty years, it’s understandable that he’d want something more. A challenge, for once. So the story of Arnold’s death inside the park naturally fascinates Man in Black, and me, because while Lee Sizemore argued in the premiere that the park works only because the guests know the hosts aren’t real, in actuality, the park works because the guests cannot die. The very idea of the park, the very reason for the park existing, is to afford rich people the opportunity to enter a simulated world where they can do anything with no consequences. Death is the gravest of consequence, and while Man in Black may want that, unlocking it for himself may unlock it for others, which destroys the park.
That’s very speculative, though. What isn’t speculative is what Man in Black told Lawrence: “You have always been a prisoner. What if I told you, I’m here to set you free?”
We’ve now seen Maeve get closer to the truth of Westworld, and it’s easy to see where that will eventually lead. But the idea that, after thirty plus years of visiting the park, Man in Black intends to end his latest vacation by setting the hosts free from their captivity? Damn. That’s unexpected, and a strange move to make. Then again, if he’s done everything there is to do in the park - “read every page except the last one,” as he puts it - then getting to that final stage is the end of the story, and once he’s finished the story, there’s nothing left for him. And if there’s nothing left for him, maybe he ends the game for everyone else. Again, speculative. It’s clear, though, that exactly whatever it is he’s up to is destined to end badly for pretty much everyone.
As for Ford, who came into proceedings late this week, well… While he may not be crazy, he’s certainly got power and control. The speech he gave to Theresa was quite something, confusing and seemingly aimless at first but intimidating and intriguing by the end. Reminding her that he and Arnold built the park and were effectively gods to their guests felt like a warning of sorts, that, despite his old age and the board’s belief that he may have gone insane, Ford is still very much in control. According to him, he’s seeing things very clearly. For a god, that’s a scary thought.
Finally, some words on William and Logan, whose friendship is rapidly falling apart within the park. Logan’s continued insistence that William should be more like him (even daring to tell him to “Go black hat with me”) contrasted with William’s belief that there’s more to the park than drinking, having sex and killing meant that the two were never going to avoid falling out at some point. Fitting that it came in relation to two of those hot topics. By the end, Logan is called “evil”. It’s an interesting comment, and one that deserves more psychological analysis than I can or am prepared to give it. But the distinction between good and evil becomes very blurred in a place like Westworld, where there are no rules. Can a man truly be good if there are no laws to uphold; can he truly be evil if there are none to break?
We’re through four of these things now, and I’m not only happy to suggest that it’s lived up to the hype, but confident in having enough of an idea of the show’s trajectory that I’m satisfied that Nolan and Joy have it all mapped out.
Notes: • Surprising I liked this episode, since Teddy didn’t die in it. Hell, he was barely even in it, showing up towards the end having been strung up by the cult from last week - still alive. To be fair, I’d forgotten all about him until he appeared. • Intrigued to see where Elsie’s story is going. Theresa took the stray host from her and Bernard tried to prevent her investigating further too. There’s way more to that than Westworld is letting on. • “Can you please stop trying to kill or f--k everything?” • If Dolores is out of her loop, is her father as well? Or is he still dead while she’s out of the loop? • Wyatt led a group of men that attacked the snake-tattooed woman’s town, and he’s the last one she has to kill. For someone who was only introduced last week, he’s had a real impact. • This is the last of my initial screeners. Hopefully HBO will send more, but if not, my reviews will be up a couple of days later from now on.
What did everyone think of “Dissonance Theory”? Let me know in the comments and be sure to vote in the poll below.
About the Author - Bradley Adams
18 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, co-host on the SpoilerTV Podcast. Created and is in charge of the yearly Favourite Episode Competition and currently runs the Favourite Series Competition. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, while some of his all-time favourite shows include 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Banshee, Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and many more. He also runs an Arrow fans site, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email firstname.lastname@example.org