This review contains spoilers.
Westworld is beginning to unravel and the results are spectacular. Episode 7 starts with a slow burn but ends with the most unexpected twist of series so far. It’s a fantastic moment not just for the shock factor, but for the way the everything was constructed and the implications that it has for the series going forward.
The final act of the episode dealt with Bernard discovering that he is not human, rather he is a host created in secret by Dr. Ford. Everything we took as for granted in the series so far has suddenly become uncertain. While it was easy to predict that at some point a character we thought to be human would in fact turn out to be a machine, the way that Bernard’s revelation was constructed means that things aren’t quite as simple as that. Ford created Bernard in secret using a leftover facility. It isn’t quite as fast as the cutting edge technology they currently use in the park, but it gets the job done. Bernard leads Theresa down into this facility – he isn’t even able to see the door, which is a nice touch. As they descend into the lair Theresa finds schematics that detail Bernard’s assembly. Ford enters and we discover that he orchestrated everything. He made Bernard take her down into the room, and has been controlling things for quite awhile. Ford is more cunning and calculating than I ever expected.
The scene culminates with Ford directing Bernard to kill Theresa, who responds and carries out his orders coldly and methodically. We then see that a new host is already under construction. Could it be a host to replace Theresa in her image, quite possibly? Is it also possible that this isn’t the first time Ford has had to murder a park director. It’s possible that a whole number of employees have been given the same treatment as Theresa. This is interesting because they aren’t just hosts, they are all machines under the control of Ford, ready to unconditionally support him at any moment.
The most amazing thing about this episode was the way it tied up so many little story details: the sentimental back-story about Bernard’s sick child finally makes sense, all programmed by Ford, just as we have seen done to other hosts like Freddy. It’s also a neat red herring to the audience, making Bernard seem like he was the only character with a life outside the park meant that he was the last one anyone would suspect to be a host.
This is the first episode that has demonstrated how the show could have the potential to last multiple seasons, the sense of scale for the story just skyrocketed. Ford has always been an antagonistic force but now he feels like a real villain.
The rest of the episode, dealt with Dolores and William and some with Maeve. Most of the scenes were serviceable but felt like they were just there to push the plot along. I’m conflicted as to how to feel about the romance between Dolores and William. It isn’t that believable, and there’s also the weirdness of William’s strong feelings for something that isn’t quite human. But the way the show makes you feel conflicted about what you see is its greatest asset. Be it in violence against Clementine and her very uncomfortable lobotomy, to the relationship between William and Dolores it all gives you the feeling that something just isn’t quite right. This is what stops it from treading over generic or clichéd territory and elevates it into an interesting and enthralling show.