Westworld: What We Learned in “Trompe L’Oeil”

A trompe l’oeil is an artistic, visual illusion utilized to trick the eye into seeing a flat object as a three dimensional image. The seventh episode of the enthralling HBO original series, Westworld, did exactly that, and over the course of its hour long apparition, it became the best episode yet. The episode had three major narratives at play. Here’s what we learned along the way.


Dolores and William Ride Off Into The Sunset

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We didn’t see them last week, but we received a considerable dose here, as we picked up right where we last saw them: on the train filled with explosives, off to find the center of the maze. William told Dolores of his childhood, and how he always wanted to live inside the books he read. Interestingly, as the wall continued to break down between the real and the imagined, William relayed that he felt as if he was finally living inside a story, and all that he wanted was to find out what it all meant. After revealing the existence of his real fiancé to Dolores, it was clear that Westworld was already starting to change him. They slept together, and then engaged in battle against the Confederados, escaping from their clutches. These scenes felt like a traditional western, but there is still so much we do not know about William. He seems genuine right now, but his disconcerting line about desiring meaning from the park, doesn’t shut the door on the theory that he is the Man in Black.


Maeve’s Continued Descent Into Reality

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This week saw Maeve interact with something that has been of much interest to viewers: the saloon piano. When she shut the cover over the keys, the music stopped, and the paper reel, that many have suspected is a narrative script, ceased to spin. Not long after, all of the hosts froze except for Maeve, and the Hazmat suits came storming in. Instead of taking Maeve, they take Clementine. It can be inferred here that they thought Clementine was the one who caused the loop to stall, and thus, Maeve was spared from their clutches. This turned out to be the tipping point for Maeve, as she later witnessed Clem’s lobotomy at the hands of Sylvester. Maeve is still the most cognitively aware of the hosts, and at the end of the episode we learn that she is leveraging her knowledge for an escape with the assistance of Felix and Sylvester.


Ford’s Long-Con, and The Big Reveal

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The major arc of the episode was sprawling, intersecting, and intricately complex. Though, for those who were already partial to the theory that Bernard was a host, the opening scene further inspired that line of thinking. The juxtaposition of Bernard’s dream about his son with the typical host question–“Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?”–stoked the flames that burned brightly till the credits. The meeting between Theresa and Charlotte made it seem as if Ford was oblivious to the turmoil behind the scenes. Their plan was hatched in front of Ford and Bernard, as they showed that the hosts, with Clementine as an example, were holding onto past experiences since the reveries update. The brutal cage match between Clem and an analyst appeared to end with the “blood sacrifice” that Charlotte hinted at, as the analyst was viciously killed by Clementine. When Charlotte then fired Bernard for the coding errors, it appeared as if, yes, maybe Bernard is human after all.

That was until Dr. Ford, the co-creator of park, proved that he may very well be the biggest threat to Westworld.

When Bernard led Theresa to the cottage, and Theresa asked about the hidden door, Bernard responded, “What door?” This moment, for fans of Game of Thrones, was strikingly similar to Hodor’s “Hold the door” reveal in the moments leading up to his tragic death. The link between the two HBO juggernauts didn’t stop there, as Bernard suffered a death of his own to viewers.

When Theresa found the blueprint of Bernard on the table, he looked at it blankly and replied, “It doesn’t look like anything to me.” And that’s when we knew. Ford had concocted the Theresa’s fate, and after he uttered “blood sacrifice” in the same ominous tone as Charlotte (Prediction: the repetition of this line signals that Charlotte may be a host, too), it was evident that he had set up much, if not all, of the ordeal. The demonstration to fire Bernard, to Theresa’s last stand, to probably much of what we see in the lab signaled that Dr. Ford is playing God. When Bernard killed Theresa, it only solidified the worry that the hosts are not what they seem, and they are most certainly dangerous under the control of Ford.


What Does All Of This Mean?

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Perhaps most of the park personnel are hosts–hosts programmed to believe that they are real enough to reign over the hosts who haven’t been granted that privilege.

Ford claims that his actions are righteous, that he saves the hosts from true consciousness by protecting them from the things that may hurt them.

The early assumption was that the Man in Black was the villain, but perhaps he is the hero, and the center of the maze provides the answer of how to stop Ford. And the mystery behind Arnold continues to loom over Westworld.