‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’, the ninth and penultimate episode of Westworld’s debut run was one of the strongest episodes of television I’ve ever seen. Powerful performances, confirmation of long-believed theories, and a stunning climax… this episode had it all and then some! I can’t fault a single thread – not even Dolores, this week.
Okay, so maybe Ashley’s story, in which he went on the hunt for Elsie’s signal and was ambushed by a group of Ghost Nation natives, wasn’t strictly needed, but it was obviously included as a prelude to Ford’s grand unveiling of his new narrative in next week’s super-sized finale. It’ll be 90 minutes in length, and will REPORTEDLY answer most of the hanging questions. Colour me intrigued!
Maeve continues to excel. It was startling to see her exert her new powers over Bernard, but I was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t try to make Bernard, and later Hector, do what she wanted – rather she wanted them to make the choice for themselves, suggesting that she doesn’t want to be an oppressor like the controllers at Westworld. In this new world that is surely imminent, Maeve may make a brilliant leader… that’s if she survives next week. I still have a feeling she’ll perish, unfortunately. I’m quite interested in why she’s adamant on recruiting Hector to her cause. Is it because she knows something about him that we, the viewers, don’t? Or is it simply because she fancies him? Either way, that parting shot of them fucking as flames flared around will surely become iconic for Westworld.
I guess we really should’ve seen the Man in Black and Charlotte Hale connection coming, and yet I didn’t. It makes sense that he’s a member of the board – suddenly his earlier conversation with Ford makes so much more sense – and yet I’m not sure what to think of it. If he really is a member, surely he’d be able to get whatever information he wanted about the park and the so-called maze? Whenever he referred to Charlotte by her name, I was willing her to call him by his first name. I was willing her to call him ‘Billy’, because the theory that the Man in Black is William from the present looks all the more likely after ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’.
Dolores appears to be flitting through time; or, rather, twin storylines have been interspersed as such. She repeatedly changes clothes – in the theorised present timeline (in which she wears a dress and hasn’t been hacked to pieces) she is aware that her clothes have changed. In the theorised past timeline she isn’t aware that her clothes are changing, which suggests that all is not as it seems. And the present timeline finally confirmed what many have long thought – that Bernard is Arnold!
Or, rather, Bernard was modelled on Arnold. This reveal was literally one of those edge-of-your-seat moments. But what was even more shocking was that Dolores remembered killing him, even though we’ve been told several times previously that Arnold committed suicide. Maybe he did – maybe he had Dolores kill him. But I think not. I think (and hope) that this was the first example of one of the Hosts breaking from their programmed confines and going against what they theoretically can do.
But why did Dolores kill Arnold? I’m hoping that’ll be one of those questions that will be answered next week. After all, it can’t be cheap to make Anthony Hopkins look digitally younger, so there has to be some payoff from that flashback, right? Next week looks set to be stunning.
And speaking of stunning – how amazing were Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright?! Again, I have a feeling that this scene in which Bernard confronted and threatened Ford was taking place in multiple timelines. Just look at the set dressing – it changes constantly, and Clementine (oh, my beautiful Clementine sob) mysteriously vanishes at one point. This, to me, suggests that this is a conversation and confrontation that Bernard and Ford have had several times previously, and we were simply being shown a condensed version of all of these conversations. Simply put: Westworld insists on mindfucking the viewer. This is a show that you HAVE to pay attention to, but ultimately it’ll all be worthwhile.
So is Bernard dead? Or, rather, as dead as a robot that was never really alive can be? I hope not. There’s so much more that can be done with this character, and there’s so much more to find out. Either way, Wright will be in next week’s episode, right? I hope he’ll be playing Arnold in the aforementioned flashback.
So, there’s a lot to be answered next week. Dolores was visibly petrified when being confronted by the Man in Black – is this because she knows that he’s William? What will Ford’s new narrative be, and what will it mean for the future of the park? Will Ford be ousted? Will Maeve manage to escape the park? Will Dolores finally gain consciousness? Will Ashley finally get a decent storyline? So many questions. Expect them all to be answered – or none at all.