Westworld: 4 Things We Learned in “Trace Decay”

Well, following up the spectacular seventh episode of Westworld was bound to be tough. While there weren’t as many jarring revelations in “Trace Decay,” we are now seeing a clearer picture of some of the most important, and enigmatic characters.

With four storylines in play, the scenes were shorter, but the insights and intrigue were aplenty.

Here’s what we learned in yet another solid hour in Westworld.


Ford and Bernard

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Picking up right where we lost saw them, Bernard, with Ford’s direction, covered their tracks to not only make Theresa’s death look like an accident, but to get Charlotte off her game. By planting the transmitter by Theresa’s body, Ford is able to disqualify Theresa’s judgement on Bernard, and place him back in his role as head of behavior. Ford expunged Theresa from Bernard’s memory, propelling Bernard to question the differences between human life and his life. Most importantly, in this existential discussion, we learned that park engineers, including Arnold, refused to give “heart” to the hosts. So Ford, unable to take no for an answer, completed the task in private, starting with Bernard. The mysterious Arnold cropped up indirectly when Bernard showed signs of remembering Ford’s deceitful tactics. Last week, we were led to believe that Bernard is Ford’s special secret, but it appears that maybe Arnold did know of Ford’s creation. Snippets of contradictory memories materialized in Bernard’s supposedly reset, impenetrable mind.

We are led to believe that covering up Theresa’s death doesn’t necessarily mean that Ford and Bernard are in the clear. Charlotte was certainly suspicious, commenting on how Theresa’s death was completely out of character. And when Ashley Stubbs, the head of security, offered his condolences to Bernard, he was visibly confused to see Bernard shrug it off, and say that the two of them weren’t close. Regardless of Ford’s calculated moves, suspicion is rising, and his bubble of God-like power may likely burst, in large part due to his late cofounder. It is Arnold, not Ford, who more closely resembles a higher entity. And while Ford may have sent a threatening message to Charlotte, she still recruited Lee, the narrative director, to smuggle a host filled with an enormous amount of revealing data out of the park. The selected host just so happened to be the man we once knew to be Dolores’s father.


Dolores and William

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The adventures of Dolores and William continued, but surprisingly, given that Dolores started out as our main protagonist, this narrative arc is easily the weakest of the bunch. However, we did pick up some vital info. Logan sent the bandits to the train ambush. William’s dark shift inched onward as, from context, he killed a wounded man as Dolores was fetching water for the dying man. While this could be perceived as a merciful gesture, his body language and tone painted a different picture. Dolores, once again, had the longest of¬†glimpses into her previous life, causing her to further question her reality. One huge observation here: her memory of the town being slaughtered could very well be a different angle of Teddy’s vision about Wyatt. This suggests that Dolores will eventually see Teddy as a murderer after she turns the corner to assess the source of the massacre. If this is true, it will be¬†fascinating to watch the sinful past he frequently referenced to Dolores to postpone their life together come full circle.


The Man in Black and Teddy

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We’ve watched the Man in Black chide Teddy about his existence, and the world they inhabit, week-after-week. It has always seemed to give the Man in Black great pride to have the upper-hand on the hosts. But all of the talk about Teddy’s life jogged his memory. Recalling that the Man in Black had hurt Dolores, Teddy beat him, and tied his hands. At this point, we finally learned more about the Man in Black. He was happily married for thirty years (lines up with the William as the Man in Black theory) before his wife died of a declared accidental overdose, but their daughter assured him that he drove her mother to suicide. The Man in Black felt as if he was a good man, a philanthropist, and a walking God. To test that theory, he killed Maeve and her daughter just to see how it felt. When no emotions came, he watched as Maeve showed a glimmer of indescribable humanity before she died in the center of a map of the maze.

The motivation for the Man in Black’s obsession with the maze is clear now. We witnessed Teddy aim a gun at his head, but the woman sharing their camp stabbed Teddy just before Wyatt’s men came barreling in through the trees. From the looks of it, Teddy’s role in the Man in Black’s quest had run its course. Perhaps now the woman will be his guide to whom he believes to be the final piece of the puzzle: Wyatt. This transition of companionship mirrors the way in which Lawrence ran his course with the Man in Black. It’s almost as if the Man in Black is being actively encouraged, and helped in his quest to reach the center of the maze. Considering that the Man in Black came back not to follow a traditional narrative, but to develop his own path, the consistent, and all too perfect guiding hand contradicts, or at the very least, wavers with that assertion, regardless of whether he believes it himself or not.


Maeve as the Catalyst

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So far Maeve has been the most luminous character, and the storyline she follows is one of the strongest threads the show has to offer. Not to mention she was shown to be the catalyst for the Man in Black’s pursuit of the maze. Still determined to free herself from the park, Maeve coerced Felix and Sylvester to let her comb through her data, turn off the failsafe preventing hosts from escaping the park, and modify her security clearance. Felix has always had a soft spot for Maeve; instead of bricking Maeve like the two techs had agreed upon, Felix kept her online. In her first act of unbridled power, she kills Sylvester for plotting to destroy her. When she reemerged in the saloon, she had the ability to use other hosts as props in to the same degree of precision as the park personnel themselves. Her heart and mind has shifted focus to recruiting hosts for her planned escape. We learned that hosts far surpass humans when it comes to acquiring knowledge and putting it to beneficial use as Maeve quickly learned the ins and outs of her buried, and untapped core code. And although it has been hinted at extensively, hosts, unlike humans, relive entire memories in perfect detail. This makes the oft-mentioned reveries an even bigger key to the overall puzzle.