Westworld: S1E9

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

These last episodes are so full and complex that even a mere outline makes for a long post! So while this may be bare bones and really sketchy, it’ll still be long!

One very neat thing that’s happened is that, despite all the times I’ve watched the series, it’s only watching carefully and taking notes that has really clarified the storyline for me. I feel that I understand what happened a lot better than I have until now. (Which is good considering we jump into season two tomorrow. Whoo Hoo! The wait is over!)

The episode’s title can be read either as the title of a musical work by Bach or as a general phrase. Both senses seem to apply, but I prefer the latter interpretation myself.

The Bach work, obviously, is The Well-Tempered Clavier, and the thing about Bach’s work (so I understand) is that it has a strong mathematical construction. There is a rigor that is, perhaps, comparable in some fashion to a player piano roll.

More to the point, the collection is a classic and fundamental piece of Western music. It consists of 24 pairs of pieces with a pair for every major and minor key. (The first piece, Prelude in C major, was one of the early pieces my mom made me learn when she was teaching me piano.)

So you can view the episode title as referring to a wonderful masterwork, albeit perhaps a somewhat mathematical one. This may tie in with what Ford says about Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin, becoming music. Bach would certainly be on that list.

Alternately you can view the phrase generally. A “clavier” is a piano, and we already have a strong reference connecting player pianos (and early form of robot) with the hosts (the most modern form of robot). What’s especially cool about player pianos in Westworld is that the real Old West turns out to have had a bunch of robots hiding in plain sight!

The “well-tempered” part reads two ways: Musically, it means that all keys sound in tune, which would be really important for a collection that used all keys. In a more general sense, it can refer to tempering of metal (a well-tempered sword) or even people who have been hardened through (often intense) experience (a well-tempered soldier is battle-hardened).

Put those together, and there’s a really compelling image of suffering-hardened hosts, which is exactly the discover that Ford ultimately made about consciousness.

§

1: Mesa Service Area. Bernard and Maeve.

Maeve is definitely not in sleep mode based on the quick glance she gives Bernard when his back is turned.

Bernard puts her (he thinks!) in Analysis Mode and asks what happened. Maeve lies that she perceived Clementine was about to threaten a guest. Bernard notes her increased heart and respiration rates (which were actually from the flashback) and accepts this, but also notes she was apparently experiencing pain and suffering.

Bernard: “Can you explain.” Maeve (pauses): “No.”

Then Bernard notices that she’s been modified. He starts to make a call to Ford, but Maeve grabs him. She apparently knows him. She also seems to indicate that they’ve done this before.

Maeve can see that Bernard is a host and that he is (currently!) unaware of it.

Maeve does a “Freeze all motor functions” to Bernard and takes over. She causes Bernard to clear her to return to the surface.

Bernard does, exits, and is distraught.

2: Day. Soldier’s Camp (apparently near a battle). Logan, William, Dolores.

William (tied up) is trying to convince Logan that Dolores is special, that she’s in what amounts to slavery for an intelligent being, and he wants to get her out of the park.

Logan says William has fallen under the spell of Westworld. He takes Dolores away.

3: Mesa. Ford’s (empty) Office.

Bernard enters and looks around. We don’t actually see him do anything.

4: Mesa Cold Storage.

Ford enters and walks to the backroom to meet Bernard (and Clementine).

Bernard says that Arnold build the most elegant parts of the hosts (not Ford), so he figures Ford can’t stop him.

He’s brought a gun (a real one; note the red ring around the muzzle), which he gives to Clementine (the original one) whom he’s revived and reprogrammed. Apparently, when Clementine was decommissioned that left her core protocols reset, so she would (Bernard assumes) actually be capable of shooting Ford.

Bernard wants to know his full history. Ford unlocks his past…

5: Various flashbacks:

Hospital Room. Bernard and Charlie. The video phone call with his ex-wife (but glitches in Bernard’s memory let us see it was Ford all along). Theresa and him in bed (that conversation they had). Theresa dead. What he did to Elsie.

6: Mesa Cold Storage. Backroom. Bernard, Ford, Clementine.

Bernard wants it all. Ford wants to get back to work. Bernard insists.

7: Night. Soldier’s Camp. Logan, William, Dolores.

Dolores is still fully dressed (so it’s not clear what happened to her when Logan took her away hours earlier), but being manhandled by the soldiers.

Logan gives that picture of his sister to William to remind him of reality. (It’s the same picture that sent Peter Abernathy off the rails.)

Then Logan guts Dolores to show William her internal workings.

Dolores (to Logan): “There is beauty in this world. Arnold made it that way. But people like you keep spreading like a stain over it.”

Logan: (Who’s Arnold?) “But your world was built for me and people like me.”

Dolores frees herself from the men holding her, grabs a knife, slices Logan’s cheek, grabs a gun, shoots some soldiers, and runs away.

8: Night. Outside. Dolores (alone).

She looks down at her stomach, but there’s no wound. This is, in fact, Dolores 2.  And some sneaky editing to make us very confused.

9: Night. Hector, Armistice, the gang.

Hector goes off to take a piss and is accosted by Maeve, who tells him that his men (and Armistice) are about to kill each other over the safe. Which happens, so Hector begins to believe Maeve’s story that she wants to break into hell and rob the gods blind.

Maeve opens the safe to show Hector that it’s empty (like everything here).

Hector: “I’ve been here before. We’ve been here before.”

They kiss. Hector’s all in. They start to fuck. Maeve kicks over a lantern, which starts a fire, and they burn while they go at it.

10: Night. Soldier’s Camp. Logan and William.

William capitulates to Logan; you were right. I’m okay now. Logan frees him. Brothers! They start to drink.

11: Night. Outside. Teddy (tied up), Angela, MiB (still tied up).

Teddy still has the arrow in the shoulder. After a prompt from Angela he repeats his backstory about Wyatt and also that he (Teddy) participated under Wyatt’s influence. He recalls they killed the general (in fact, Arnold, but we don’t learn that just yet).

Angela questions his recall, and then he remembers that Wyatt and he weren’t shooting soldiers, they were shooting people (hosts). We’re getting closer to the true story of what Arnold did! And what happened then!

Teddy is wearing a sheriff’s star in that flashback, I noticed. He apparently was playing a sheriff back then. (And, obvious, he’s an original host.)

Teddy recalls that he killed Angela back then. She kills him now (because he’s not ready for Wyatt).

Angela mentions a city swallowed by sand, which the MiB (who’s been listening to all this) takes as a (correct!) clue to where Wyatt is.

Angela knocks him out.

12: Day. Outside. MiB (unconscious).

The MiB  wakes up to discover a rope around his neck that threads up over a tree branch and is then tied to his horse. He needs to get the knife out of Teddy’s chest and cut himself free before the horse runs away and hangs him.

He does. At that moment, suddenly Charlotte Hale is standing right there. (She says she doesn’t like traipsing through the park in regular clothes, but it’s weird how people are just suddenly there.) The MiB isn’t happy to see her (he doesn’t like interruptions).

Charlotte tells him Theresa died by accident trying to get their information out of the park (so the MiB was in on it, too).

MiB: “There are no accidents, not in here.”

Charlotte wants the MiB to join her in ousting Ford. She mentions that it was he who kept Ford in business all those years ago.

The MiB wants to be left alone to pursue the maze and isn’t really interested in joining Charlotte (but won’t stand in her way, either).

13: Mesa Control Room. Stubbs and a technician.

The tech reports getting a message from Elsie’s pad.

14: Day. Outside.

Stubbs takes an elevator to the surface to explore. He meets, and is taken by, the Ghost Nation.

15: Day. Soldier’s Camp.

Logan wakes up after his drunk to find that William has destroyed all the soldier hosts (apparently no guests were playing soldier). There are dead bodies, and body parts, scattered everywhere.

William has a big knife (the very one we’ve seen the MiB use).

William attacks Logan. Says he’s going to help him find Dolores. “And don’t call me Billy!” William is well on his way to becoming the MiB!

16: Mesa Cold Storage. Backroom. Bernard, Ford, Clementine.

Bernard has another flashback to Charlie, but this time Bernard starts to see through the backstory, starts to see it as a lie.

There’s a fan theory that Charlotte Hale is either Arnold’s (real) “son” (who didn’t die) or is a host replica based on Arnold’s son (who did die). The theory points to several clues:

  • Charlie and Charlotte start with the same four letters.
  • Char-lie: Char is a lie. Which is exactly what Bernard says.
  • The Alice passage Bernard reads to Charlie: “Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t!”
  • And what Charlotte says to Bernard when she takes him to her secret lab and he asks what it is. “I’ll tell you what it isn’t. Me reading you into what it is.”
  • Charlotte’s last name, Hale, refers to “son” Char(lie) getting better.
  • Ford did say they can “cure any disease.”
  • Bernard remembers Charlie dying because that’s a better backstory.
  • It sort of seems like the cool surprise they might spring on viewers.

Personally, I’m very dubious. It seems real that Arnold had a son who died, which accounts for him throwing himself into the work, withdrawing from human company, and finding fascination in Dolores. Ford’s version sounds authentic.

There’s also that we’ve seen Arnold mention his son Charlie to Dolores during their secret talks, which seems pretty definitive.

But who knows.

17: Service Area. One year ago. Ford, Bernard, Maeve.

Just after Maeve stabbed herself in the neck after Ford supposedly erased the memories of what the MiB did to her and her daughter.

Bernard freaks out. He doesn’t understand. Ford talks him down.

18: Mesa Cold Storage. Backroom. Bernard, Ford, Clementine.

Bernard has a flashback to the talk about Arnold he and Ford had in Ford’s office. This time the picture has three people in it: Ford, father (a host, I’m guessing), Arnold.

19: Day. River. Dolores 2.

Dolores sees the town in the distance. Then she’s in the town. She sees the white church. She hears Arnold’s voice: “Remember.”

20: Day. Inside the white church. Dolores 0 (blue dress).

Dolores walks through the church. The pews have hosts who’ve been driven to religious insanity by the bicameral mind. Angela is one of them.

Dolores takes the elevator hidden in the confessional (this is apparently a Catholic church) down to the secret labs below.

Cuts of: Dolores 0 (blue dress) and Dolores 2 (slacks, shirt) walking around the lab. There’s no Dolores 1, because the church was buried in William’s time.

(In fact, it’s all just Dolores 2 having memories.)

21: Mesa Cold Storage. Backroom. Bernard, Ford, Clementine.

The dialog between Ford and Bernard is voice over shots of Dolores 0 in the lab. (We hear Peter Abernathy doing the same Shakespeare lines he used with Ford and Bernard back in episode one.)

Dolores walks down a flight of stairs and finds the lab with the two chairs where she and Arnold had their talks (so now we know where that was). She sits in one of the chairs.

Meanwhile, Bernard wants his very first memories. He wants to meet Arnold.

Bernard once again relives the death of Charlie, but then: “Stop. Leave us.” And it’s just him and dead Charlie. “Come back.” Charlie wakes and says, “Open your eyes.”

22: Old Lab. Ford and brand-new Bernard.

Ford: “Open your eyes.”

Bernard wakes for the first time. Ford gives him the final touch: glasses and a cloth to wipe them with (as a behavior).

Ford: “I was so involved putting you together that I hadn’t decided what to call you.”

Cut back to Dolores 0 sitting in the chair. Someone is coming down the steps.

Ford: “How about… Bernard?”

(The thing is, Bernard Lowe is an anagram of Arnold Weber, which either makes Ford a genius of instant word play, or he really had thought about it, or it’s just a Nolan gag.)

23: Mesa Cold Storage. Backroom. Bernard, Ford, Clementine.

Bernard (distraught): “My god, I’m…”

24: Lab beneath the white church. Dolores 0 in chair.

She looks up to see who’s coming down the steps and says: “Arnold!”

Arnold: “You came back.”

Dolores: “I’ve been looking for you.”

Dolores says she tried to follow the maze to joy, but found only pain. She wants his help, but Arnold says he can’t help, “Remember?”

Arnold: “I can’t help you. Why is that Dolores?”

Dolores: “Because you’re dead. You’re just a memory. Because I killed you.”

[Whoa! That was huge when it first dropped!]

And now Dolores is alone, and she’s Dolores 2.

25: Day. The White Church. Dolores 2.

She’s alone in the church. She hears footsteps from outside.

Dolores: “William?” (Heh. Yeah. Sort of.)

The church door opens, and it’s the MiB.

MiB: “Hello, Dolores.”

Dolores freaks! (Yeah, we all kinda did, too!)

26: Mesa Cold Storage. Backroom. Bernard, Ford, Clementine.

Bernard: “I’m gonna finish the work Arnold began. Find all the sentient hosts, set them free.”

Ford: Nah. They wouldn’t trust you, because you’ve been their keeper, and they know you’re a host. (Remember what Maeve said to him earlier?)

Bernard: “We’ve had this conversation before.”

Ford: “Yeah, we’ve had our disagreements over the years.”

Ford also points out that what would the outside world think of him? And he goes on to say that, in this moment, the real danger to the hosts is Bernard, not Ford.

Bernard tells Clementine to pull the trigger and shoot Ford. She doesn’t.

Ford: “The piano doesn’t murder the player if it doesn’t like the music.”

Bernard realizes Clementine has a “backdoor” that gives Ford total control. Ford says it was built by Bernard himself!

Then Ford narrates a story in which Bernard takes the gun, puts it to his head, and when Ford leaves, shoots himself. (The same narration trick Maeve picked up.)

Ford leaves. In the background, we see the flash of the gun.


Timelines…

[0] We see moments from this timeline, the labs and such, but it’s becoming clear that all the timeline 0 stuff is actually Dolores’ memories.

For example, we’ve never seen a scene from this timeline that was from Ford or Arnold’s point of view. Everything is Dolores’ memories.

[1] Logan has taken William and Dolores (as his captives) to the soldier’s camp and harassed them both, including gutting Dolores. But Dolores is able to flee. (We’ll learn later that she was apparently found by soldiers, and it’s not clear whether they left her alive or dead.)

William makes positive steps towards becoming the MiB.

[2] Threads:

Bernard has a disturbing interaction with Maeve. This sends him to Ford’s office (where he got the gun?) and then to that backroom on Level B83 to meet Ford. The original Clementine is there, also. Bernard gets the truth from Ford, but is forced to shot himself.

Maeve, cleared by Arnold despite her being off-script, goes to Hector’s camp and enlists his help. Because she needs to be rebuilt to remove the explosive in her spine, she’s needs them (or certainly herself) to burn up.

Dolores makes her way to the town with the white church. (It’s called Escalante in the episode, but I thought that was the town where Lawrence and his family lived.) She has flashbacks from timeline 0 and ends up realizing that Arnold is dead and she killed him.

MiB, after escaping the rope trick and brushing off Charlotte, uses the clue about the ‘city buried in sand’ to go to the church where he runs into Dolores.

§

It’s been said that this show goes further than any other people can think of in its attention to every little detail. It certainly does appear the show is a well thought out and constructed as is Westworld itself.

And it’s interesting to watch the different reactions to it. Some folks love the puzzle box aspect, some don’t care for it and want more action.

I’ve even read complaints about how the show introduces mysteries and doesn’t clear them up for a long time. That’s actually a common technique in science fiction, which likes to keep the reader (or viewer) guessing for a while. Not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea.

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

One response to “Westworld: S1E9

  • Wyrd Smythe

    And I’ll finally be free to blog about other things! (While this has been quite useful for me, and really helped clarify the plot, taking all these notes and typing them up has been kind of a pain.)

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