(Spoiler Warning: This article contains huge spoilers for Westworld Episode Seven - 'Trompe L'Oeil')
If there's one thing we learnt from the latest Episode of #Westworld, it's that #HBO love introducing a door to reveal a colossal plot point (#Hodor #SleepEasySweetAngel). In the aftermath of what was perhaps the most dramatic Episode to date, we found ourselves aboard what was once a steadily progressing steam train set on a leisurely sightseeing tour, now blasting full speed down a rabbit hole with wild, blind abandon. Hold on to the seat of those chaps, folks.
After subtly teasing us for weeks with hints at what management might be doing behind the scenes, we began to feel like underpaid paid interns in a startup run by a kamikaze teen hemorrhaging money from daddy's endless pockets; confused, frustrated and with no clear understanding of where the company was heading. Episode Seven, however, contained some rather huge reveals that began to shed a bit more light on how Ford, his management and the board of investors see the park.
Given that the latest Episode is titled 'Trope L'Oeil,' meaning 'Optical Illusion', we now know that truth within the Westworld Universe is somewhat of a mirage, especially where the evil sorcery of Ford is concerned. But the greatest trick up his sleeve? Well, that's a trick he's reserved not for Dolores, Bernard or Theresa, but for us, his humble viewers. I can't help thinking this is something we should have learned long ago: the great Hannibal Lecter will be the ruin of us all.
Clones, Espionage & The Circle Of Robo Life
- Theresa Cullen, Gets a Cullin'
There has quite literally been endless speculation over what the park is, where the park is and what its deeper intention may be. Episode Seven threw up several possibilities, all of which were alarmingly sinister. Having watched the majestically wonderful Theresa being mercilessly murdered by her ex-lover-turned-robot Bernard, we can see in the distance a rendering machine creating a new Host. In a true circle of mecha-life moment, the chances are that this new Host is going to be Theresa reanimated in bot form. Either that or it is Elsie who also went ominously missing in the previous Episode, creating a Barb-like level of disinterest amongst her colleagues.
- Let The Clone Wars Commence
Now that proof has emerged that Ford not only recreates Hosts for recreational use, but also has a notably absent moral code when it comes to murdering living humans and replacing them with their robotic doppelgängers, it is probable that the board also has a keen interest in this twisted game of A.I. resurrection. Just imagine the attractiveness of being able to destroy your political enemies and then replace them with robotic clones which are entirely under your control and which you can mine for all kinds of top-secret espionage. Maybe someone should check if Trump is able to swat a fly before letting him lose with those wall blueprints.
The Boards Puppet Members
- Bots Within Bots Within Bots
One of the key moments of Episode Seven, like most of the important plot devices of Westworld, takes place in an almost throw away comment. As Theresa and Charlotte give Ford and Bernard their "presentation" which involves watching Clementine savagely smash a fellow Host's head into sweet oblivion against a pane of reinforced glass, we are given a vital piece of information: this "Tech Host" is flagged to register as human to other Hosts. This means that there are levels within levels of apparent sentience amongst the Hosts, Bernard certainly classifying as a higher level Host than most and very possibly hinting at the idea that the Man in Black is also a higher functioning Host, impervious to bullets.
- A Very Naked Lunch (Meeting)
From here, it isn't too much of a stretch to believe that Ford has created a team of high functioning Hosts who have either infiltrated the board, or perhaps, compose the entirety of the board, menacingly whispering to Theresa shortly before ordering her demise, "I built everything." The newly introduced Charlotte being a good example of Ford's board-Host infiltration. Presenting herself by all intensive purposes as a Host, showing an almost in-human shamelessness by inviting Theresa up to her room while screaming in the throws of bot-passion and then opening the door while completely naked, Charlotte presents herself as either a deranged sexual psychopath, or a Host programmed with absolutely zero on the "humility" and "meekness" personality traits.
- Theresa's Untimely Blood Sacrifice
The idea that Charlotte is in fact a Host created by Ford is further hinted at when he repeats the words "blood sacrifice" to Teresa in her last cruel minutes. Charlotte also uttered these words in that fateful nude meeting earlier, indicating that Charlotte and Ford are not only working closely together, but that she is most probably working for her creato and is, in fact, his shameless little Eve. Curiously, the way Ford refers to the board regularly trying to challenge him also sounds rather ominously like they are all set on their own narrative loop, a loop which Ford is entirely in control of in a Universe in which no board really exists.
Ford's Grandest Optical Illusion Yet
- We've Become Arnold
Having ascertained that aside from the Guests, the actual human-count within the park is pretty low, the true optical illusion of the Westworld Universe slowly begins to come into focus. As with all brilliant AI tales, the true question remains: what does it mean to be human? And in the case of Westworld: what does it mean to be more than human? We've already been set up to root for Maeve, Dolores and Bernard, and with Theresa's impending Host resurrection, we're going to be rooting for her with the vengeance of a thousand chain-smoked cigarettes. We have begun to see the Hosts as Arnold saw them, not as sub-human but as more than human, almost godlike creatures, the evolution of man.
- Hold The Door!
And the worst of it all? We're all stuck here in our mortal human bodies unable to attain superhuman strength unless subsisting on a diet of egg whites and banishing ourselves to the gym for all eternity. However, in true Nolan style, even this may not be the whole truth. Perhaps the biggest mic-drop scene of the Episode came when Bernard leads Theresa to Ford's secret cottage where he's been keeping his replica Host family. Once inside the house, Theresa says to Bernard, :what's behind this door?" To which Bernard fatefully replies "What door?" And inadvertently reveals even before Ford does, that poor, loyal Bernard is actually a Host.
- Doesn't Look Like Anything To Me. Sort Of. Actually, Wait...
But the biggest conceit of the whole Episode is nestled in the fact that, like Bernard, we too could not see the door until Theresa pointed it out to us. When they first enter the cottage there is nothing but a blank wall, the camera then pans away but when we pan back after Theresa raises the question, there it is in all its door-shaped glory. In a brilliantly Memento-esq twist, Nolan has made all of us Hosts, unable to see what we are not yet programmed to see. Whether this makes us demi-gods, or tools of a groundhog day like oppression remains to be seen, but if there's one thing both the Westworld Universe and the events of 2016 have demonstrated so far, it's that we're certainly living in interesting times.