This review contains spoilers.
Episode three of Westworld, helmed by British director Neil Marshall, focuses on the thin veil of separation that prevents the hosts from harming the guests. As it turns out, the only protection is “One line of code”; the danger suddenly begins to feel very close, and very real. It adds a new layer of tension in the background of every scene as we anticipate the moment when the line is crossed.
Most storylines in this episode reflect that idea. We see William in the opening shot by a host for the first time as he’s caught up in a mini-narrative. The bullet actually appears to hurt him, or at least bruise slightly. It’s interesting how the level of pain can be controlled, up until this point I believed the guests were simply invulnerable, but the fact that the level of danger has been programmed in adds to the fragile nature of the park. We also learn for the first time about weapon privileges. If a host needs to use an axe, a knife, or a gun, it has to be programmed into them first. We see this with Dolores when Teddy attempts to teach her how to shoot. She physically can’t pull the trigger as her programming won’t allow her. However, as the episode develops she manages to override her programming in order to stop an attacker. The key to all this seems to be memory. She has a flashback to when the Man in Black raped her; it appears as if the perfect storm of emotions enabled her to break free for the first time.
Dolores shares another scene with Bernard, where they take part in second conversation. In it she reads a passage from Alice in Wonderland: “…But if I’m not the same, the next question is, ‘Who in the world am I?'” his perhaps sheds some light on the underlying mystery of Westworld, what are the hosts and what happens to them when they die? This hints at the idea that the hosts are constantly reprogrammed into new bodies after the old one dies – it’s a new body with the same program, which perhaps accounts for the memories. So is this mass murder on an unprecedented scale? The way bodies were dumped into a chamber reminiscent of mass graves in the last episode certainly implies as much.
The other major revelation of the episode was Dr. Ford’s backstory of the creation of the park. He had a partner, a man named Arnold, who he co-founded the park with. Arnold eventually met his end in the park many years later and was scrubbed from the records. This sets the first precedent for a fatality in the park even if the details are left vague. Arnold will undoubtedly be important to the overall story in the weeks to come. His quest to discover consciousness in the host already begins to resemble Bernard’s own narrative.
Episode three stopped and took a breath, after the mass amount of information dumped in the first two this felt necessary. Everything is beginning to link together well; the show has begun to find a consistent footing in style and pace, and is certainly in that respect an improvement on last week. More of the laws of the world are developed and the mystery keeps on growing Westworld is proving that it has the foundations to be a great TV show