In “Westworld,” there are dangerous adventures around every corner — but for a number of the hosts, there are some things in this world worse than death. Sunday’s (Nov. 20) episode, “Trace Decay,” goes further down the rabbit hole for Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) showing full well exactly the type of damage their memories can cause.
For Dolores and William (Jimmi Simpson), the journey is far from over, but the look on her face as they reached the city of her dreams said it all: She thinks she’s going crazy. Her residual memories have been hitting her more frequently and something tells us the church Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) incorporated in his new narrative is somehow linked to Ms. Abernathy’s past. And if that’s the case, then the two timeline theory we previously suggested holds that much more weight now.
As for Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), it seems he’s learned of his robot status before. How many times exactly has Dr. Ford wiped his memory clean? We’re thinking it’s way more than two but as we see Ford clearing any trace of Theresa’s murder, Bernard glimpses another memory. And for just a split second, we get our answer regarding Elsie’s (Shannon Woodward) disappearance.
We understand Ford’s drive to getting rid of Theresa (Sidse Babbett Knudsen) as she was leaking the park’s most important secrets, but why Elsie? Is Dr. Ford aware of Arnold’s secret broadcast to the hosts? Or was there something else he didn’t want her to find in that closed-off part of the park?
The most eye-opening part of the episode was also the most informative. Up until this point, the Man in Black’s (Ed Harris) backstory has been shrouded in mystery. We know he’s a man of importance in the real world whose connections to Westworld run very deep. But with Teddy’s (James Marsden) own residual memories coming back to him, we finally get some insight into the mysterious guest’s past.
His addiction to the park seemed to affect his relationship with his wife and daughter — not realizing how emotionally empty he had become over the years — and one day his wife took too many pills and ended her life in the bathtub. With this tragic story, he walks Teddy through a trip he previously took to the park with a mission to see just how evil he could get.
Murdering Maeve (Thandie Newton) — in that previous loop we’ve caught glimpses of — and her child sparked nothing in him… Not until he witnessed her come alive in the last minutes of her life. Unbeknownst to him, that deep pain that has stayed with the park’s madame. It has fueled her journey of self-discovery and it is the catalyst pushing her forward in her goal of leading an army out of the park. That is one heck of an ouroboros-style story twist, to say the least.
And this full circle mission — with the Man in Black going deep to exploit the secrets of the park’s maze, while Maeve plots her escape from the entirety of it — may ultimately lead both of these wildcards to a massively destructive end.
Previously, we’ve speculated on the coming of another critical failure. But, that term seems a bit too simple when pondering the destructive ramifications closing in on all sides. How about cataclysmic decimation — Does that sound about right?
“Westworld” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.