Monday, November 21, 2016

Mini-Review: Westworld "Trace Decay"

I'm hoping to get more reviews out by doing this mini-review format. If I want to go into actual depth on this show I'll do so via multi-vlog reviews or other posts.

In this review of the Westworld episode "Trace Decay" there will be spoilers. So if you haven't seen the episode, stop reading now and go see it before continuing.

Revelations About the Man in Black

The Man in Black (MiB) has been a mysterious figure throughout the show. We haven't learned anything about his past, or at least it hasn't been clearly stated, but in "Trace Decay" we got a nice little helping of information about the mysterious man.

Westworld allows people to discover themselves and who the MiB is in the park isn't how he is outside of it. However, his wife saw the darker part of himself he hid and so committed suicide. This sent MiB into a spiral of anguish which eventually lead him to the park yet again.
MiB wanted to see if his wife was truly right about him and so he went looking for victims. He ended up killing a woman (Maeve) and her daughter to see what he felt. He didn't feel anything and that is just...creepy.

Either he realizes he is in a game and can't really get into Westworld. Or, the more frightening possibility, he doesn't care about killing people. Whether the people be Hosts or humans.
Now the search for the Maze, which the MiB first saw after killing Maeve, is all that consumes him. Is the one thing that he has left to hold onto after his whole life has been shattered.

This...I don't know how to feel about it. He is a bad man but I can't think of him as a villain. He has been committing horrible acts but he still has to do a few more things to make me think of him as a pure villain. Of course I'm a person that doesn't consider Hannibal Lecter a villain as he's a much more complex character than good or evil.

So take that for what you will.
Revelations About Maeve

After the MiB killed her daughter, Maeve seemed nearly impossible to control. The MiB even commented before she died that she truly seemed alive for once. It is as though pain and grief triggered something in the Host. It is also if her dying in the Maze symbol was for the audience to know that she was entering the Maze.

The theories that the Maze is a way for Hosts to become sentient, fully alive in other words, would seem to have a little more meat on them after this one scene.
Maeve's pawns, Felix and Sylvester, make her even more powerful in this episode. She wants to get out of Westworld and knows that she does need human help. Or, as is the case in this show, humans that look like humans but might be Hosts. of the changes that is made is that she can actually kill humans if she so chooses. She demonstrates this by slicing Sylvester's neck but doesn't allow him to die. She gets Felix to heal him as having a dead body would bring too much attention to her.

So, to clarify, Felix and Sylvester have just given an extremely angry robot the ability to kill. Do you want to create a Terminator? Because that's how you create a Terminator.
After killing new Clementine, who luckily doesn't look like my friend Jess because boy was that odd to watch with the old one, Maeve is captured. She had made too many waves and was finally noticed. With the preview for next episode I'm fearful for her future.

She would make one awesome villain, which seems to be the road she's going down, if she does survive.
Ford and Bernard

There was a nice Westworld theory that Bernard was modeled after Arnold Weber, Ford's partner, which seems to have been disproved this episode. It turns out that Bernard was originally created to help make emotions in Hosts more complex. The Anthony Hopkins character refers to the simplistic emotions of the early Hosts as "primary colors".

Of course this doesn't rule the theory out completely as Bernard might have been modeled after Arnold. Just that the original goal of creating him wasn't for Ford to control his former partner.
I'll admit that I can be very nitpicky about word choices. It's great for when I'm writing but horrible in day to day conversations. Ask two questions that are identical except for one word choice and I'll perceive them as being completely different.

So maybe it's me overthinking Ford's word choices to imply that he isn't human. He says "human engineers" that could imply he's a Host. Of course it could be that the new engineers aren't human which implies more than one worker at Westworld is a Host. But I think he is indicating he is a Host.
Ford erases Bernard's memory of killing Theresa, and his affair with her, from the Host's mind. He first claims that this is so that Bernard will be happy again but it also has the added benefit of keeping Ford safe.

There does seem to be some genuine emotion to Ford and yet he is callous enough to do what is needed to stay safe. This makes the character complex as he does care but his own survival is the thing most important to him.

Ford claims he is also keeping Bernard safe but the man might just see that as a bonus. Something that isn't needed, but is good anyways. Which implies Ford considers Bernard a friend.
Rating: 5/5

Additional Notes:
*Maeve might become Charlotte Hale
*Dolores can't tell when she is so we don't know when her story is happening, might be across multiple timelines
*Picture of the Maze was revealed when they were diagnosing Maeve
*A Minotaur, which one of the Hosts that the MiB encountered was dressed up as, is related to mazes

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