Westworld: S1E3

These are my notes for The Stray, episode three, season one, of Westworld. As with all these “notes” posts: Serious Series Spoilers! Do not read unless you’ve seen season one!

The first two episodes (The Original and Chestnut) introduced the main characters — the Delos park personnel (led by Ford), various hosts (most importantly Dolores and Maeve), and a few key guests (the Man in Black and William White-hat). Those episodes also introduced the idea that something weird is happening with the hosts, as well as the idea that Delos is up to something more than just an entertainment park.

Now, on that foundation, the story starts to take off…

The title obviously refers to the woodcutter that has strayed, but it might also be a reference to Dolores straying from her loop. At the end of the episode, she strays into William’s camp.

The episode begins in the first timeline (zero), about 33 years ago:

0: Dolores and Arnold (note how Arnold’s outfit looks black).

Arnold gives Dolores a wrapped present: a book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He has her read a passage from it:

“Dear! Dear! How queer everything is today. And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? [pause while Arnold and Dolores talk; then Dolores continues] Let me think; was I the same as when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is, ‘Who in the world am I?'”

While we’re on the topic of Alice, note how Dolores’ blue dress looks a bit like the blue dress the 1951 Disney movie version of Alice wears. (This scene makes the comparison explicit. Westworld is a bit like Wonderland!)

Arnold asks Dolores about the book, and she replies it’s about change, like the others (so this isn’t the first book Arnold has given Dolores). To her query, Arnold replies that we “read about things we want most but experience least.”

1: Morning. Abernathy Ranch.

Dolores awakes as usual.

We see new daddy doing morning chores, so this continues the modern timeline that started in episode one.

Dolores is in her bedroom putting away some laundry and finds the gun (which she found at the end of the last episode) in a drawer.

She looks at her own reflection in the mirror above the chest of drawers, hears a voice (Arnold?) saying “Do you remember?” This triggers a flashback involving the MiB in the barn at her ranch.

MiB: “Why don’t we reacquaint ourselves, Dolores? Start at the beginning.” This exact flashback re-occurs near the end of the episode!

When Dolores returns from the flashback, she looks in the drawer again, but the gun is gone. (My theory: The flashback inspires her to hide the gun in the hay in the barn. Obviously, she’s forgetting some of her own actions.)

2: Morning. Sweetwater.

William wanders about on the main street. Kids playing (so there are child hosts!), flash photos (which we see in many scenes), Clementine (note: no Maeve; this is the past).

Bounty Hunter Holden brings in a villain, who gets loose, shoots some hosts, grabs Clementine. William accosts him, gets shot and falls down, but then shoots the villain in the back (saving Clementine).

So we see that guns do pack a punch (why was Logan so willing to just shoot a random person then?), and can even knock you down and bruise you — as happened to William — but they aren’t fatal.

It seems the host’s bodies are engineered to simulate gunshot wounds. (What’s confusing is that we’ve seen bullets go through physical objects, such as doors, which implies a lot of force in the round.)

What’s more, some gun fights seem to indicate that hosts go down even when not hit directly. A hit is a hit, as with many games.

[It appears to be velocity-based. Rounds fired at guests have low velocity. Hosts do seem to over-react to injury, though.]

Logan shows up, but William insists he is going to go bounty hunting. Logan isn’t in the driver’s seat so much anymore!

3: Mesa Service Area.

Bernard and Theresa talk.

She’s concerned about Ford’s storyline interference as well as the updates. Given that we now know they are lovers, their conversation seems awfully formal despite no one appearing in earshot. Are these areas under observation by Delos?

Is Ford spying on them? (Well, yes, of course he is, through Bernard! But does Theresa know that Ford seems to always know what’s going on and just assume surveillance?)

4: Mesa Service Area.

Elsie working on Rebus; Bernard enters.

Elsie shows Bernard that, during his meltdown, Walter was apparently talking to “Arnold” (who?). She’s also found out that Walter killed only hosts who had killed him in previous storylines. Walter apparently was remembering!

Bernard is dismissive. Ends up having her go off with Stubbs to chase the stray host they are alerted to.

5: Mesa. Elsie and Stubbs take elevator to surface.

Similar to the one Ford took in episode two, and the underground environment looks similar. There’s a monorail in the background of both. Ford appeared to be on level 29; Stubbs and Elsie are on level 14.

6: Day. Sweetwater. Teddy and Marti (a newbie guest) bring down some bad guys.

Teddy takes Marti (and their bounty) to the Mariposa — where Maeve is madam, so this is the modern timeline. Marti goes off with Clementine.

Teddy interacts with Maeve (who has a flashback of seeing his naked dead body in the service area).

Teddy sees, and goes to meet, Dolores, just as we saw him do the first time in episode one. They ride off for a conversation about the future, and we see more of that conversation. Dolores suggests they run off. Teddy’s backstory prevents him. He foreshadows the place where the mountains meet the sea (they’ll get there in episode ten).

An interesting question about their conversation is how much of it — on Dolores’ part — is scripted. Is the whole thing per their loop, or is she off her script in any way here? She’s heard the magic phrase and Arnold’s voice.

Teddy and Dolores show up at the ranch after dark (as they did in episode one) to hear gunshots, and fade out…

7: Mesa Service Area. Ford and Teddy.

Presumably this scene follows the previous one, so Teddy met whatever fate he met, and now he’s with Ford, who is about to change his story.

Ford talks about backstories and their importance. He says that Teddy’s backstory is imaginary — just a motivation for his behavior. Now he’s going to upload an actual backstory.

About Wyatt! Who killed all those people!

This means Wyatt and this backstory is part of Ford’s new narrative, which implies a story construction on Ford’s part, as opposed to just freeing the robots to rebel.

The upload graphics when Ford updated Teddy are kinda cool.

8: Piano Roll. Morning. Sweetwater.

Dolores is accosted by Rebus. A sleazy guest has joined his gang, and Rebus is setting up Dolores for the guest. But Teddy shows up and challenges the guest (who, of course, would win if he tried). The guest chickens out; the gang leaves for Virgil’s.

I assume Dolores was in the middle of her “errands in town” loop — she seemed headed for her horse when Rebus accosted her. Teddy normally doesn’t pick her up until she reaches the horse. But here, probably because of the sleazy guest, Rebus intercepts Dolores. Which Teddy can see from the saloon.

It’s interesting to consider the possibilities: Teddy is engaged by a guest, and doesn’t show up to save Dolores. Teddy does show up, but the guest guns him down.

And apparently Teddy stays away if another nice guest intercepts Dolores, who is actually in town for that exact purpose. Or does Teddy intervene no matter what?

9: Day. Outside town. Dolores and Teddy.

After the scare with Rebus, Teddy is trying to teach Dolores to shoot, but she can’t even pull the trigger. Teddy says: “Some hands weren’t meant to pull a trigger.”

We’ll see plenty of evidence that Teddy, however, is a killer.

Sheriff and Marti show up. They’re hunting for Wyatt! They need Teddy, because he’s the only man to come up against Wyatt and live to tell the tale. (Ford has obviously updated other hosts with this storyline.)

Teddy leaves Dolores to join the posse.

10: Day. Campsite. Various hosts stuck in loop.

They can’t build a fire, because they can’t chop wood, because they can’t touch an axe. So they just sit around and talk.

Elsie and Stubbs show up (the hosts freeze). Elsie complains about restrictions from Stubbs’ boss. Stubbs replies that “weapons privileges must be doled out selectively.” Who is Stubbs’ boss? Ford? Theresa? Delos?

Elsie finds the carvings. Mentions the importance of backstories; that they’re “cornerstones” the hosts build lives around.

11: Day. Outside. Sheriff’s posse, Teddy, Marti.

Teddy talks about the Wyatt story. A key phrase that Wyatt supposedly said will be repeated: “The land belonged to something yet to come. [It belonged to him.]” (The latter phrase said by Teddy about Wyatt.)

What’s interesting is that this is all part of Ford’s new narrative, so the phrase may be referring literally to Westworld, and ‘yet to come’ might refer to Dolores or conscious hosts in general. The second phrase, if Dolores is Wyatt, could refer to Dolores.

Another thing: Teddy says Wyatt isn’t a man, but isn’t the Devil, either. Which might be a cute dodge, since Wyatt is a woman.

The posse finds (nearly) dead people tied to a dead tree. Ambush! A gunfight erupts.

12: Day. Elsie and Stubbs on the search for the missing woodcutter.

Stubbs points out that the carving seems to be the stars of the constellation Orion. Which is a pretty good catch. Stubbs must be into astronomy.

It will turn out the stray was supposed to upload data to a satellite that would be in Orion. Which kinda blows away the idea that Westworld is in a dome of any kind, let alone under the sea.

13: Mesa Service Area. Ford, Bernard. Also another worker.

Ford berates the other worker for clothing the host. Says the hosts “only feel what we tell them to feel” while slicing the host’s face (which bleeds like real).

Bernard wants to talk privately. They go to Ford’s office. Which is cool.

Ford talks to Bernard about Arnold! Shows him a picture, and we see how host software covers up things the host isn’t supposed to see. (“It doesn’t look like anything to me.”)

Ford: the hosts “passed the Turing Test after one year” (of the three they spent working on the hosts before opening the park).

In the flashbacks while Ford is talking we see Angela, so we know she was an original host. (We know she was a greeter when William arrived. Later we’ll meet her in modern day.)

Ford talks about Arnold’s attempts to bring the hosts to consciousness, the pyramid: Memory; Improvisation; Self-Interest; ???

Ford says Arnold never figured out the top level, but had a theory involving the bicameral mind.

Ford tells Bernard that Arnold died “here in the park.” He also says they ruled it an accident, but he knew Arnold to be a careful man. (Implying it was no accident, whatever happened.)

This is one of those rich scenes that bears repeated viewing!

14: Mesa. Phone Room.

Presumably because Ford mentioned Charlie to Arnold, the latter makes a video-phone call to his (I assume ex-) wife about their dead son.

Of course the wife can’t be real, so the call is fake. The question is whether Bernard merely imagines the whole thing, or does Ford have a fake AI system in place?

Also, the call implies real-time communication, which thwarts the “other planet” theory. We see others making calls, which implies the call actually happens. (We assume such calls are monitored?)

Bernard: “Pain is all I have left of him.” Suffering as memory and reality.

15: Night. Outside. Elsie and Stubbs chasing the stray.

Elsie takes a piss, which strongly suggests she, at least, is human. Seems like Stubbs is, too, but we don’t know for sure.

They locate the stray down a crevasse.

16: Night. Outside. Teddy, Marti, Sheriff, the posse.

Shit is getting really freaky scary now. Marti can’t take it anymore, and Teddy sends her off. (Presumably she was never really in any real danger.)

Teddy faces off against a bunch of attackers, but his gun has no effect. He’d mentioned Wyatt’s men were immune to gunshot earlier, but are these hosts who’ve overcome their programming or guests playing on the black side of the line?

Teddy goes down under their attack.

17: Night. Outside. Elsie and Stubbs found the stray.

Elsie sends a message to Bernard, but he’s put his phone down. (He’s busy making that phone call? He’s made to seem with Dolores in the next scene.)

18: Secret Lab. Dolores and Arnold. “Bring yourself back online.”

Arnold regrets what he did to Dolores; says he may have made a mistake, maybe he should undo the changes he’s made. Dolores asks if she’s made a mistake.

Arnold about mistakes in evolution, exactly as Ford did to Bernard in episode one (giving the illusion that “Bernard” is repeating what Ford said when it’s really Ford who’s repeating Arnold).

Arnold poses a question about two selves: One who is self-aware; one who is safe. Dolores replies there aren’t two people, just one. When she knows which she is, she’ll be free.

Arnold puts her in analysis mode and asks why she made that reply. She says, “I don’t know.” More and more the hosts seem to be neural nets!

Arnold talks about teaching Charlie (his son) to swim. How it was necessary to let go. (As in: Sink or swim!) Also note: Arnold, Bernard, Charlie. ABC.

Arnold: “Lose all scripted responses. Improvisation only.”

Arnold: “You should be getting back before someone misses you.”

Change is a big theme here, just as it was in scene #0.

19: Night. Sweetwater.

Dolores in town. She hears about Wyatt attacking the posse.

Why is Dolores in town at night? Did she go there directly after Teddy left with the posse, or did she go home and then come to town? (Or maybe she went and painted to calm her nerves?)

20: Night. Abernathy Ranch.

Dolores arrives. Rebus and company are attacking.

There seem to be guests standing on the porch watching. A woman on the left, and a man on the right.

Dolores and Rebus in the barn. Dolores has a gun! But where did she get it from? Was it in the pile of hay? Did she take Rebus’ gun as he threw her down? (I’ve freeze-framed that sequence, and it doesn’t look like it. And isn’t it the gun she dug up and hid in her drawer?)

Where did she get the gun? My guess is she hid it in the hay.

She repeats the hallucination of the MiB from earlier in the episode and then hears a (female!) voice (hers!): “Kill him!” She shoots Rebus.

She returns to outside the house. A guest (the male guest who was standing on the porch?) shoots her and she dies, but it’s apparently just a [hallucination? imagination?]. Instead, Dolores flees on horseback.

On horseback!

21: Night. Outside. Elsie, Stubbs, the stray.

Stubbs is cutting off the woodcutter’s head when the host wakes up, fights Stubbs off, and climbs the rope out of the crevasse. (Bit of an Alice in Wonderland reference in off with their head!)

Host picks up big rock, and Elsie fears for her life, but the host bashes his own head in (presumably to prevent anyone discovering his programming).

22: Night. Campsite. William and Logan. On a bounty hunt.

Only those two are visible, but in scenes the next day we’ll see a third male (bounty hunter Holden).

Dolores walks (walks; no horse) into camp and collapses.

Where did she come from? (Definitely not from scene #20, which happened in the modern timeline!)

First, let’s straighten out the timelines:

[0] Arnold and Dolores. Park’s beginnings.

On the first occasion Arnold gives Dolores a(nother) book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. They talk about change.

On the second occasion with Dolores, Arnold regrets what he’s done in creating conscious beings trapped as slaves. He considers rolling back his changes.

[1] William and Logan in Sweetwater.

Bounty hunter Holden. William has an adventure getting shot and shooting back. He decides to go bounty hunting.

(Now we can connect back to the last episode where he picks up Dolores’ can of milk in town, but is pulled away by Logan. That bit is a little out of sequence as it happened after scene #2 above. Just call it foreshadowing.)

Later, out in their camp, Dolores shows up.

[2] Modern day.

Day one. Dolores wakes in the morning finds the gun, has a flashback, and then the gun vanishes. She goes to town as usual and meets Teddy. They go off to discuss the future. When they get to the ranch, bad things.

Teddy had an adventure with Marti that morning, but hooked up with Dolores when Marti went off with Clementine.

Ford worked on Teddy (that night?) and gave him the Wyatt story. Later Ford speaks with Bernard, and Bernard calls his ex-wife.

Meanwhile, Elsie was working on Rebus, but was chased off by Bernard. Now she’s with Stubbs chasing the stray. First they hit the campsite and then the crevasse. This will take all of day two.

Day two. Dolores is in town, is accosted by Rebus, and is saved by Teddy. She and Teddy go off to try to teach her to shoot. Teddy later leaves with the Sheriff and Marti, while Dolores goes back to town?

Dolores, night, in town, hears about the posse, goes to the ranch, kills Rebus, and flees on horseback. She’s definitely coming unglued!

(So is Maeve, but she got the episode off.)

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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