‘Westworld’ Recap 1×04: Talk Into My Bullet Hole, Tell Me I’m Fine

Rodrigo Santoro and Thandie Newton.

Rodrigo Santoro and Thandie Newton. John P. Johnson/HBO

Drew: We open on another par-the-course dream convo with sentient Host Dolores and her programmer, Bernard. Like about life, existence, whether or not she’s crazy, the fact that her whole family is dead, etc. I’m assuming we’re still in this timeline where she ran to William’s camp, but that would be weird, right? Do they just slip in during the night and remove the host’s body while she’s still “alive” in her loop?

Vinnie: Holy Nolan, I’m so confused about the timeline, Drew! Are we supposed to believe Bernard snooped into Westworld, carried Dolores away from William’s campfire, had his sad-dad chat and, I assume, read her the Complete Illustrated Winnie the Pooh because he misses his dead son, and then brought her back to Westworld before William and Logan woke up? That presents…a number of issues! First of all, how did Bernard sneak past William, who I guarantee lays awake at night and counts the ways he was virtuous that day?  How’d he get past Logan, who I guarantee was awake and not-quietly masturbating in his sleeping bag to the images of all the robot barkeeps he shot that day? Can you picture Jeffrey Wright sneaking around at all? Can you picture Jeffrey Wright sneaking around in a cowboy costume? (I know the workers don’t have to wear the cowboy costume when they go into Westworld, but Bernard at least wears spurs).

There’s fuckery afoot here. I don’t know what, but I can hear Jonathan Nolan plucking his Interstellar 4th dimension strings, and that only ever leads to fuckery.

Drew: Anywhoozle, Bernard offers to remove the memory horror of her parent’s death, which I guess would mean she would reset and begin her daily “wake-dad chat-peach drop-Teddy visit-parental murder-rape” loop once more. Of course, Dolores only knows that somehow, this would mean forgetting the death of her parents. Then she gives Bernard a speech that cuts straight to his dead-son-plagued heart:

“Why would I want that? Pain, the loss, that’s all I have left of them. You think the grief would make you smaller inside, like your heart will collapse in on itself. But it doesn’t. I feel spaces opening up inside of me. Filled with rooms I’ve never explored.”

Vinnie: “I feel spaces opening up inside me, filled with rooms I’ve ever never explored” is what I said out loud, verbatim, when Ben Affleck released that footage of Joe Manganiello in that Deathstroke costume. So, really, in a way, I know what it is to have my entire reality shifted, as Dolores’ currently is.

Evan Rachel Wood and Jimmi Simpson.

Evan Rachel Wood and Jimmi Simpson. John P. Johnson/HBO

Drew: When Bernard analyzes Dolores for how she came up with such New Yorker-quality rhetoric, she replies that she adapted it from a speech about love. She’s improv-ing! That’s MUCH better than her answer last week, and when she asks for help, Bernard offers her a fun “game” she can play. Okay, so like imagine a maze. And then solve it in two minutes. JK, no, just find the center of it. And then you can be free!

Which sounds a lot like what the Man in Black is searching for; but as he’s human (as far we know), maybe this is leading up to some singularity switcheroo, whereby a robot can become human and a human can get uploaded into a cloud consciousness? I dunno, just spitballing!

Vinnie: I hope that whoever gets to the center of “The Maze” first just finds a trophy, and when they touch it the trophy is a Portkey and it takes them to the Man in Black, who was Voldemort the whole time. “Kill the spare,” he says, and totally murders Teddy. 

Drew: When Dolores wakes up, she’s back in William’s camp. See, as much as I LOVE the theory that William is the Man in Black and half this show is just a flashback, I think this kind of confirms that’s wrong. Because Dolores’s got that gun; the gun with which she imagined shooting the Man in Black. And she’s with William. Q.E.D: William doesn’t turn out to be the Man in Black in the future.

Vinnie: Dude, I don’t even know with the Man in Black anymore. At first I thought the “William is the Man in Black” theory was too obvious to be true, and now I think they’re making it so obvious that we think it’s not true, making it…true? I mean, he hasn’t interacted with anyone who wasn’t a host, and hosts don’t age. That bullet that William took in the last episode messed his shit up, which was a marked difference from Teddy’s bullets against The Man in Black in the pilot. Plus, it’s established in this episode that The Man in Black is the head of some “foundation,” and William is apparently marrying into some big corporate family. Mixed this up in a big robot-slaughtering stew and you get…pretty much nothing! Westworld!

So far, my top theories for The Man in Black’s true identity are 1) Old William 2) Voldemort 3) A drunk Ed Harris that wandered on to set and started firing wildly at the first Native Americans he saw, so HBO just worked him into the script to avoid legal trouble.

Drew: Can robots get drunk? We see Maeve seems like she glitched out with some PTSD. She’s having flashbacks to a death of Clementine. The “that’s what I call a vacation!” guy. She’s remembering the men taking her away; her waking up during surgery.

Vinnie: Robots CAN get drunk, I saw Taylor Lautner drink champagne at a party once.

Drew: Also, I love that we’re seeing that when a host glitches out, other hosts get stuck on a conversation loop. Clementine’s still talking about that guy who had a great tongue, or whatever sexy brothel conversation Lee Sizemore took all of five seconds to shit out.

Vinnie: Honestly, say what you will about Westworld but the entire cast is SO talented at subtly conveying they are machines. There’s a moment where William says some dumb thing to Dolores like “I thought they’d keep you on paths or something,” and Evan Rachel Wood goes through about five whole seconds with a “does not compute” look on her face before re-routing to some Westworld-approved improv about finding her own path.

Drew: So: Maeve is now kinda sorta remembering that she died, some spacemen came, and they did surgery on her, just like Scully in the X-Files. Also, she got some blood on her corset. She draws a picture of her spaceman, only to put it in a special hiding spot…that’s FILLED UP with pictures of spacemen! Oh man, so Maeve has always had a good memory?

Vinnie: I think it’s super intriguing that the “natives” of the park worship the image of the spacemen as part of a religion, because isn’t that what whoever-the-heck Arnold wanted his commands to eventually become? The voice of God? Before he went bonker-bananas and coded some of his horse robots to eat him? (That’s my canon). Which, wait, does that mean there’s just androids in the park carving statues of spacemen and none of the management notices? That’s like if an entire monkey exhibit at a zoo was building shotguns out of bamboo shoots but the zookeepers were like “yupp, alls normal in the bear cages. All is fine. Everything is fine.”

Drew: In the opposite of what happens in most workplaces, there is an argument over who gets the pleasure of dealing with the current biggest fuck-up at the park: the guy who bashed his own head in. Elsie from the Behavioral Team wants it! But she’s getting docked for not doing a good enough job at…giving robots emotions…?…so Cullens gives the ball to her team at Quality Assurance, which is where robots go to get decommissioned and/or glared at by Ashlee Stubbs. (He has a real gun you guys! He knows how to use it! Sort of! I mean, as much as anyone knows how guns work in this show, which, at this point, please send me your bullet theories!)

“It’s like everybody around here has an agenda, except for ME!” Elsie hi-LARiously whines to Bernard. Wow, read the room, Elsie! Then Bernard schools her into not understanding how astronomy works. “The hosts don’t imagine things, you do.”

Vinnie: That was such a good science burn. You know Bernard breaks that out like, four times weekly. “Hey, Luke Hemsworth’s thinly drawn security character, the hosts don’t pee all over the toilet seats, you do.” It…well it makes more sense in some situations that it does in others.

Drew: Meanwhile, William is having SUCH a fun time playing white hat. He gives Dolores his coat! He wants to take her home, but Logan wants to keep going with this stupid bounty hunt he didn’t even want to go in the first place, GAWD. His solution? “If you’re so concerned about her, let’s just blow her fucking brains out and the park will come get her.” Yep, totally normal reaction. Usually, when someone shows empathy or interest in something, the best solution is to blow it up with a gun. Not only is Logan a sociopath; he’s literally the embodiment of Nick Kroll’s Rich Dicks character. Thank you so much, Consuela!

“Can you stop trying to kill or fuck everything?” William asks, rhetorically. We also find out–no d’uh–that Logan’s family has a big stake in Westworld, and William is all shocked that his new brother-in-law didn’t just take him to a weird suck-and-fuck stag “Welcome to the family” party.

Vinnie: Okay, so…..straight talk. I’m blaming Westworld and it’s stupid confusing rules for this, but when Logan said “if you’re so concerned about her, let’s just blow her fucking brains out” and whatever, my honest first reaction was, “not a terrible idea, actually.” I don’t know! Maybe I’m the sociopath of this duo; I’m the Ben Barnes minus the rugged handsomeness but with even more of a love for wearing chaps. Like, I get it. I do! But, man, I don’t know, do you know how long it would take to play, like, Resident Evil if you stopped to have an existential crisis every time a zombie had an alarmingly pretty face?

Clifton Collins, Jr. and Ed Harris.

Clifton Collins, Jr. and Ed Harris. John P. Johnson/HBO

Drew: Elsewhere, Lawrence has pretty quickly gotten over the Man in Black shooting his wife, as they search for some more fun clues for their treasure hunt. They come upon the head of the snake that Lawrence’s daughter told them about, except it’s not an ACTUAL snake, it’s Hector the Bandit’s female sidekick, Charlize Theron in Monster, aka Armistice. She’s got that big ole snake tattoo running up her face, which I’m probably going to get one day, TBH.

She promises to tell the Man in Black the story behind her tattoo in exchange for breaking Hector out of prison. It’s been 48 hours since anyone in Sweetwater heard “Paint It Black,” after all. We’re then treated to a daring escape of Hector, by the Man in Black, working on kind of the good team for once. Well, not “good,” but like “pro-host.” Sure, he almost lets Lawrence die (why not let Lawrence die, at this point?), but instead pulls of the prison break of a lifetime with only ONE MATCH! And now Hector is free! And Ed Harris hasn’t done anything despicable ALL EPISODE!

Vinnie: One thing I was really into was the fact The Man in Black wasn’t just randomly blowing shit up with his wacky exploding cigars; he had to call in a “request for a pyrotechnic effect”, which kind of explains how guests can’t kill each other with explosives. So, phew, that is one out of roughly one billion ways for the guests to kill each other that is not a gun explained away. In the coming weeks I fully expect a guest to request the “choking a hooker with a leather belt and then throwing her out a window package.”

Drew: In fact, we get the first hint that maybe the Man in Black isn’t the monster that he seems to be. While with Armistice’s bandito crew, we see a young newcomer come up and try to thank MiB for his foundation, which “saved (his) sister’s life.” MiB tells him to fuck off, in pretty violent and vivid terms, because he’s on vacation, goddamnit, but turns out Mr. Murdering, Rapist Cranky Pants might have a soft spot in him after all. Awww!

Vinnie: Exactly! The fact that he called in his things-go-kablooie effect while playing up his rough outlaw image to Hector really highlighted the fact that, for all his spooky talk of mazes and penchant for knife assault, he’s still essentially just an old man in a cowboy costume playing a video game. This episode pretty much took The Man in Black from the show’s Big Bad to The Divorced Dad Who Takes Lazer Tag Too Seriously.

Drew: Oh, another way to dispel the William=MiB theory is that Dolores and William cross into the town where Lawrence’s daughter lives. Previously, MiB said he’d never found that part of the park before. So. Q.E.D. AGAIN, bitches! But Dolores might have lived there once, as part of some other storyline.

Vinnie: See, yes, you’re right, but I’m also convinced–and fully prepared–that this show is going to pull some mental and narrative gymnastics that would make M. Night Shymalan be like “ehhhh that’s a stretch” to justify whatever the big reveal is. Like, Dolores is going to be the Man in Black, but only in one timeline. In the other timeline she’s Arnold and The Man in Black is Robert Ford. Give me twenty minutes and a reasonable amount of pot and I bet I find at least ten clues to make that scenario plausible. At least.

Drew: How much did you love Hector and Maude’s chemistry during the sexiest “stick your hands into my sliced-open gut and pull out this bullet before plowing me while I smoke this cigar on top of a safe” scene in TV history?

Vinnie: Totally. I bet all those admins at Pornhub who wrote back saying that was “TOO SPECIFIC” of a category feel pretty silly now.

Drew: Just from that weird veranda lunch scene alone, I am 100 percent sure Cullens is going to turn out to be a host. I mean, give me one good reason that’s not this season’s big reveal.

Vinnie: I’m not sure that makes sense. Why would Ford have to threaten her instead of just, like, flicking her ON/OFF button? No, the real reveal this season is that the waiter who was overpouring Cullen’s wine is NOT a host, he’s just a really, really shitty waiter who doesn’t know the rest of the staff is robots. Like, he went back to the kitchen and was just yelling “you guys were just standing there letting me pour that wine all over the table??”

And also William is the Man in Black. I’m sticking with it, Drew! All aboard the W = MiB Train, which was slightly nicer and a had a different logo when William came to town than it was in the pilot.  

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