Westworld: S1E7

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

Still trying to get these posts done before the season two premiere on Sunday, but it’s not looking good. At least not for a careful look as I’d planned. On the other hand, it’s becoming apparent to me that one could spend a lot more time analyzing each episode and writing about it. These notes posts are longer than my usual limit (about 1500 or so words), and even the longer ones only seem to scratch the surface. Part of what’s working against me here is a bit of despair over doing this series real justice.

But whatever. Even these bare bones notes have been helpful in getting to me really think about the series, so on we go!

This episode’s title, Trompe L’Oeil, refers to “an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions.” In popular art, there are chalk sidewalk drawings (and some tattoos I’ve seen) that appear almost hyper-3D.

I’m not sure specifically what the title refers to in the episode, but it may be a reference to how the host’s backstories make them seem more life-like, more three-dimensional.

This is the episode that confirmed one of the bigger fan theories about Bernard, so it might be a reference to Bernard being a ‘fake 3D’ version of Arnold.


0: Hospital Room. Arnold and son Charlie.

Arnold is reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Charlie. (Except he isn’t. The passage he reads is from (as I understand it) the Disney movie, not the book. Still, it fits in nicely with Westworld:

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.”

And then Charlie dies.

1: Mesa. Bernard’s apartment.

Bernard wakes up in bed at home (having dreamed, we guess, of Charlie).

2: Mesa Service Area. Bernard and Hector.

Bernard, back at work, is checking Hector because he had a “blacklisted” conversation with a guest (the guest used real-world terms, like “car”). As a final test, Bernard shows Hector some pictures of the modern world.

Hector (of course): “They don’t look like anything to me.”

A tech sticks his head in the door to say that management has a priority request for Hector as soon as you’re done with him (because Charlotte Hale is horny). Bernard asks the tech if he’s seen Elsie (nope).

3: Day. Train. William, Lawrence, Dolores.

Dolores watches William and Lawrence play cards.

Lawrence puts up the window shields; they’re about to go through Ghost Nation territory!

I think the train goes to Escalante from Pariah. If Dolores 2 (or any previous version) is following the maze, and assuming its path leads her through Las Mudas to Pariah and onto the train, then this fits with her ultimate destination of Escalante.

And, if so, then the ambush by the Confederados usually happens, because Lawrence usually betrays them on the nitro (which is usually stolen)?

Which means Lawrence is usually on the train? We do see Dolores (2?) alone, which makes sense, since the Confederados narrative is retired by then. (Replaced, I believe, by the outlaw Hector narrative.)

Point is, if Dolores solved the maze in the early days, she would have had to join Lawrence on the train and make it safely past the ambush. Presumably Ghost Nation usually shows up, so she usually has a chance to make it to the river.

Which puts her drawing on the train in better context, since the scene she’s drawing is the very river she discovers next. That lets her know she’s on the right path.

4: Mesa Service Area. Bernard.

He tries to call Elsie. She doesn’t answer. He tries to locate her in the park, but that fails, too. It occurs to me that Bernard “misplaced” Elsie somewhat like Dolores “misplaced” the gun in the hay in the barn (or so I believe she did). Then they both forgot what they did.

5: Mesa Service Area. Bernard and Theresa.

She says, “You left abruptly last night,” and asks if he meant to tell her something. Bernard says no.

Heh. From his perspective, Elsie phoned him with the urgent news that Theresa seems implicated in the data theft, and now Elsie seems to have vanished! Yikes!

6: Day. The Mesa (it has windows). Charlotte Hale’s apartment.

Theresa comes to Charlotte’s for a scheduled meeting only to find a naked Charlotte having fun with Hector. (Charlotte’s got some kink; Hector is handcuffed to the bed.)

Also, Charlotte bums a smoke from Theresa (who’s a big smoker), so apparently people still do that, let’s call it fifty years, in the future.

Charlotte knows about the efforts to upload data via the woodcutter. (As it turns out: No kidding!) Clearly it was a corporate-sponsored activity. (No kidding!! Even the MiB was in on it.)

Charlotte: “Our interest in this place is entirely in the intellectual property.”

Also: “I don’t give a rat’s ass about the hosts. It’s our little research project that Delos cares about.”

Charlotte says the board wants Ford to retire and end his tight grip on the park’s data. She also says they need a blood sacrifice; someone important.

Scene ends on Theresa’s pensive face. She knows who that means.

Also, another confirmation of the park’s 35-year history.

7: Day. Sweetwater. Maeve wakes in bed. Piano Roll.

She walks to work. Note (again) the gun battle behind her. It’s nearly identical until she gets to work. Where she slams shut the player piano!

She’s talking to Clementine (and experiencing deja vu) when everyone in the place freezes. She sees Shades (cleanup crew) on the street outside. They come in the Mariposa. Maeve freezes thinking they’re coming for her.

Instead they take Clementine. But Maeve saw it go down!

8. Day. Train. Dolores and William.

They talk. Dolores: “I don’t want to be in a story.”

William tells her about Juliet. Dolores walks away, leaves the train car. William follows. He expresses himself to her. They kiss and start to go at it.

An aspect of this is that Dolores can be seduced (which makes sense). She’s no coy virginal rancher’s daughter who’s waiting for marriage.

I don’t get much sense of chemistry between William and Dolores, or a real explanation for their love. They’re pretty into each other for entities who just met a couple of days ago. And she’s a machine! I can see it over a longer period of time, like in the movie Her, but William is into her after one day and very into her in the few days that follow. Seems almost out-of-character for the person he really is.

And why is she so responsive to him? Is that part of her natural programming, to be a love object for guests? That seems reasonable. Which makes his discovery of her, reset, back in her loop, quite poignant.

A question is whether Dolores solved the maze, achieved consciousness, with William. Given it’s only a few years after she failed (I’m assuming) with Arnold, it’s likely she’s still just following her code here with William. Who truly is deceived.

9: Mesa Service Area. Charlotte, Theresa, Ford, Bernard, Stubbs. Clementine.

Clementine has become violent? Yeah, right.

Theresa points out that the tech testing Clementine is also a host, which suggests other workers are not hosts? Still an open question to me. Things seem to make so much more sense if the workers are hosts. Like why they ignore everything — don’t even glance — except their tasks.

Charlotte fires Bernard. Ford is silent for most of the scene. (Bernard seems to be looking at Ford for a clue on what to say, but he gets none. All Ford’s creatures watch him carefully for clues as to how to behave. A lot of it is specific commands, like “that’s enough,” but they also watch him for any suggestion or hints. Lacking clues from Ford, Bernard does nothing.)

10: Day. Train. Dolores and William.

Dolores is drawing a scene she believes is from her imagination. (A place where the mountains meet the sea.)

The train brakes suddenly because of boulders on the track. They are ambushed by the Confederados. El Lazo sends (dead and full of nitro) Slim out on horseback with a white flag. Which lets him get close to the Confederados so when El Lazo shoots him he blows up good.

Horseback chase scene. Ghost Nation shows up and takes out many of the chasing Confederados, which gives William, Dolores, and El Lazo, a chance to escape.

They end up at the place Dolores imagined and drew (how convenient; how scripted). They part ways with El Lazo.

11: Mesa Service Area. Maeve and Felix (and some random tech).

Maeve wants to find Clementine. She insists Felix take her there.

12: Mesa Service Area. Theresa, Sylvester, Clementine.

Sylvester “lobotomizes” Clementine (just what does that really do?) while Maeve watches in sorrow and horror from outside the room.

Bernard shows up and wants a word with Theresa. He says he could see what a sham the Clementine thing was, and so could Ford. He also tells her he knows it was her behind the woodcutter.

Bernard: “We don’t know how the hosts work.” (After saying that Arnold wrote half the code this place is built on.) This really makes me think of neural nets and how there’s no way to “read out” their “code” because that’s not where the “intelligence” is.

Bernard says he’s concerned about Ford and wants to show Theresa the unregistered hosts Ford has hidden.

13: Mesa Service Area. Sylvester, Felix, Maeve.

Maeve has decided she’s getting out of this place!

Sylvester protests that “everything in this place is designed to keep you in.”

Maeve says she thought they were gods at first, but she sees now that they’re just men. And she knows men.

14: Elevator. Bernard and Theresa.

They apparently take a train to some location beneath the park, because the elevator goes up and up and up (never sideways) and finally lets them out on the surface. If they took an elevator in the Mesa, the only place it could go up to is the Mesa Bar.

Which raises the question of how deep does Westworld go?

15: Night. Sector 17. House for Ford’s host family.

The hosts are gone. A key moment: Theresa asks about a door. Bernard says, “What door?” Fans following closely knew at that moment!

They go down to Ford’s secret lab and poke around. Theresa finds plans for… Bernard. Who says, “They don’t look like anything to me.”

Ford shows up. He compares intellect to a peacock’s feathers: A feature evolved only as a mating trait. He points out that peacocks don’t fly, they scratch bugs out of the muck (all while being proud of their feathers).

When Theresa calls him a monster, Ford protests that he just wanted to tell his stories. “It was you people who wanted to play God with your little undertaking.”

Ford goes on to say that the situation requires a blood sacrifice (exactly what Charlotte said — of course Ford was listening via Hector).

And then Bernard calmly kills Theresa.

Big question: What host is Ford making in that lab?

Camera ends with a shot of the floor beneath Theresa. Is that a spot of white fluid? Is it from Bernard? Or Theresa? (Or just my imagination?)

In season two, we see Bernard leaking a pale clear liquid from his ear. This turns out to be from the brain case containing the “pill” (?) that’s the actual host brain. If that really is a spot of liquid, might it be the same host cortical fluid we saw leaking from Bernard?

In which case, was Theresa a host?

Consider their own pillow conversation where Bernard tells her how hosts talk to each other even when no humans are around. Or consider her constant smoking, which might be more a programmed behavior than a real thing.

Also, she and Bernard are both department heads (she of QA, he of Programming), and if one department head can be a host, certainly another can be.

Arguing against is her appearance in the morgue and that Stubbs mentions notifying her brother. The counter-argument is that Ford needed her body as leverage against Charlotte, although this assumes her body would pass as human (or that they wouldn’t look too closely).

Of course, maybe Charlotte and Stubbs are hosts, too…

D’Oh! This show can really make you crazy!

So timelines…

[0] Arnold reading to Charlie. Charlie dies.

[1] William and Dolores escaped Pariah on the train. Now they ride the train. And each other.

Then the train is ambushed and they flee. They part ways with El Lazo and strike off on their own.

[2] Threads…

Ford is up to something. Bernard is fired. Theresa is killed.

Maeve is going to escape.

Elsie is missing.

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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