Title: Westworld: “Trompe L’Oeil” Review
Air Date: November 13, 2016
Check out our reviews of previous episodes of Westworld:
- Episode 1: The Original
- Episode 2: Chestnut
- Episode 3: The Stray
- Episode 4: Dissonance Theory
- Episode 5: Contrapasso
- Episode 6: The Adversary
Every time I feel like Westworld had topped itself, it goes ahead and does it again. “Trompe L’Oeil” even told us what it was with the episode name: it is a from of visual art that tricks the eye into thinking something is three dimensional. Essentially fooling us into believing something is what it is not. In other words: of course Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is just a trick!
Westworld somewhat makes its bed with internet fan theories, but the “Bernard is a host” theory has been exceedingly popular. It was the way the show built its dread and made the reveal that worked in such an effective way. You had to know there was something fishy about Bernard and Theresa (Sidse Babbett Knudson) going to the cabin of the fake family that Ford (Anthony Hopkins) was hiding. The eerie emptiness, the way Bernard explained hosts completely missing the cabin when they surveyed, and then he himself missing the door that Theresa asked him about. It was perfectly shot and acted, and it let Anthony Hopkins flex his villainous muscles with a chilling supervillain speech.
The reveal of Bernard as a host, and the level of control which Ford exercises over him, raises a slew of new questions. How many other park workers are hosts? Are they just a way for Ford to demonstrate his power, or are they all sleeper agents/spies for him. Is Theresa just going to disappear now, or was Ford perhaps creating a host replacement for her? If Ford can do that, was Bernard a replacement of someone, like the mysterious Arnold?
That idea would seemingly hold up the other big fan theory: the show is taking place over multiple timelines. If Bernard was a host replacement for Arnold, that would mean some of the times we’ve seen him (like when he was speaking to Dolores in person) could have actually been Bernard. That would also help explain why he is implanted with the memories he has – maybe they were Arnold’s true life.
One more thing about all these wild theories: some of the aspects of the “multiple timeline” theory seem improbable now. One popular idea is that William (Jimmi Simpson) is actually a younger Man in Black (Ed Harris). However, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) seems like she has broken out of her timeline at this point, but she has encountered the Man in Black while in her previous version. So, while Westworld gives us lots to speculate about, we simply do not have enough information yet to truly piece together what is happening. But it sure is fun, isn’t it?
Dolores and William had quite an interesting week, cheating on their respective beloveds with one another and blowing up a corpse filled with nitroglycerin. The battle with the Confederales and, later, the Ghost Nation, made for exciting spectacle. It also definitely called to mind the epic new storyline that Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) pitched a few weeks ago which ultimately was rejected by Ford. Maybe loops are not just for hosts. Maybe all these events have happened before, which might help explain the ruined, dilapidated headquarters directly underneath the main headquarters?
We got a few chilling scenes this week with Charlotte (Tessa Thompson). Her nonchalant nudity and use of Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) in front of other park higher-ups, as well as her brutal (staged) scene with Clementine’s (Angela Serafyan) ability to hold grudges and fight back showed her as a ruthless, sadistic character who lacks any empathy whatsoever. Whether she knows as much as she thinks she does is yet to be seen. Ford really showed the audience his hand this week: he is a true villain, and it seems unlikely that anyone on the show truly knows how much of a threat he is. The board seems like they think of him as some brilliant but detached, past his prime, eccentric genius. In reality, Ford seems to be playing a game of chess that no one else realizes they are playing – as of right now, he seems to be three steps ahead of everyone.
Finally, Maeve (Thandie Newton) got to continue her excellent journey of self discovery that started getting great last week. The two technicians are obviously way over their heads in dealing with her because, as far as we know, she still cannot actually hurt a human. Her threats of violence certainly scare the two men she is dealing with, however, and now she wants to escape from Westworld. Maeve, along with many other characters, are on journeys that seem very different, but ultimately end in the same place: voyages of self discovery and a meaningful answer. Dolores claimed to William in this episode that she was not a key. But it seems like many different characters are indeed keys to the mysteries of Westworld.
Overall, this felt like the most powerful episode yet of Westworld. It managed to shine some light on some early theories, while opening the door to many other ideas and questions. Just how many people are hosts? Admit it, you have the feeling that everyone is. There’s only three episodes left for season one, so strap yourself in. The show has not really misstepped yet. It seems unlikely to do so in the coming weeks.
- Chilling end scene with Bernard, Theresa, and Ford
- Anthony Hopkins going full supervillain
- Exploding corpse and subsequent horse chase
- Maeve's exciting journey continues