We are now a week away from the finale of Westworld and chapter 9 did all it could to set us up for something great. This week gave us several reveals that have been brewing for weeks and now it feels like we are starting new, not knowing what to expect. Unfortunately, it’s now clear that this season is just a prequel used to set us up for seasons to come and I can’t help but be disappointed. I was ok with the show’s slow pace and repetitiveness early on because I assumed there would be some payoff and based on the second half of the season but that doesn’t seem to be the case. With only one episode left it’s clear the suspense and teasers early on were only used to create more questions and suspense at the end.
The biggest reveal of the week was Bernard being a robot version of Arnold, created to work alongside Ford. Even for someone who doesn’t like to follow fan theories, like myself, this wasn’t that big of a surprise. Ever since it was revealed Bernard was a host, it was pretty obvious he was created to replace Arnold, someone Ford could actually control. The problem with a show that relies heavily on mystery and suspenseful build ups is it must lead to a big enough surprise otherwise it doesn’t feel worth it. The multiple reveals surrounding Bernard were forthcoming and they only led to disappointment. One of the show’s central and most interesting characters finally made some real progress, he even tried to rebel against Ford, only to be forced to commit suicide by the man who created him.
If this episode did anything, it reaffirmed how much of a monster Ford is. We have seen the entire season that Ford is stubborn and stuck in his ways, whether it’s the narratives he wants or the characters he creates, he is in total control. The way Ford tricked Bernard and forced him to kill himself leads you to believe the same thing might have happened with Arnold. Through the many jumps in time frames, we discovered that Delores was the one who killed Arnold and it makes you wonder if Ford was behind this too. We already know that the two disagreed on the nature of the hosts – Arnold wanted them to be conscious of events and Ford just wanted them to be pure and ideal humans – so it’s possible Ford was behind Arnold’s death so he could have complete control of the park.
This week also gave us more background on The Man in Black. We find out that he is a member of the board after Charlotte approached him in the park looking for his help to get Ford out. It was entertaining to see him upset at her for interrupting his story, which reaffirms he’s there for reasons other than a vacation. He doesn’t care about any of the narratives, only the deeper meaning behind them all. It will be interesting to see how The Man in Black fits into the multiple time frames going on. We already know he has been a part of the park for decades so he must be involved in the memories Delores is experiencing, especially because we know the two have a connected past. Whatever it is, he’s still one of the most interesting and mysterious characters in the show.
Probably the most satisfying part of the episode, though, had to do with Maeve and her attempt to lead a rebellion and escape the park because it is the only storyline with a clear direction. Even though she had the smallest role of the episode, she is still one of the most pleasing and compelling characters. This week Bernard became aware of her heightened attributes and tried to shut her down but she proved to be too powerful. Instead, she convinced him to let her back in the park where she met with Hector and manipulated him in to helping with her escape. Her storyline is by far the clearest storyline going on, but like everything in Westworld, there are still questions surrounding her intentions. Unfortunately, I’m assuming even her story will feel incomplete and unsatisfying until things pick back up next season.