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Westworld Episode 10 Review (Part One)

The maze isn't the only thing that's hard to navigate in this episode.

I’ll start out with the most irrelevant plot first because almost no screen time is devoted to it, and it amounts to nothing in the end anyway. Hale successfully convinces the Board to fire Ford, not that he really cares. But Hale has been convinced this entire time that Ford is going to delete the park’s data out of spite. So, after Theresa is killed, she enlists Sizemore, a jaded writer who works for the park, to smuggle the data out through one of the decommissioned robots. This plan doesn’t work; however, because all the robots wake up by the end of the episode, and the data is lost in the vengeful horde. So, it’s a plot point that goes nowhere.

Moving on to characters that matter, Dolores has yet another flashback to when she was first created and met Arnold. Then she comes back to reality and finds she’s shaving The Man in Black. I have no idea why. The Man in Black mentions that the town has been dug up, and this prompts Dolores to have yet another flashback, and she starts wandering toward the church again. The Man in Black follows her, and this time she takes him to a graveyard where her name has been written on one of the crosses. She digs up the grave and pulls out a toy maze we’ve seen at various points in the series. Here, we finally get an explanation for what the maze is. In a previous episode, Dr. Ford explained how Arnold had a theory about consciousness where the robots needed to climb up a hypothetical pyramid to get to the top. Each layer represented milestones like memory and improvisation, but that entire conversation — which was a fascinating premise even though its plausibility was questionable — turns out to be irrelevant because Arnold came up with a new theory. When Dolores finds this maze during her flashback, Arnold spouts some nonsense about how consciousness isn’t a journey upward but inward. This explanation means nothing. It’s just a word salad meant to sound profound. It’s not even worth a refutation because there’s nothing to refute. In any case, Arnold started using a maze as an analogy to describe his theory.

Of Mazes and Motivations

Anyway, when Dolores finishes her flashback, The Man in Black still has no idea what’s going on, and here is where the writing starts to get muddy. It’s like the writers couldn’t agree on what The Man in Black’s motivations are, so they just put all of them in the show. On the one hand, he wants to reach the center of the maze because he thinks there’s some ambiguous truth behind it. On the other, he seems determined to wake the robots up on some level so they can fight back, but it’s unclear whether or not he thinks the center of the maze will accomplish this. On yet another hand, he still wants to find Wyatt but it’s unclear whether he thinks Wyatt will take him to the center of the maze, or if he thinks Wyatt is the center of the maze.

It’s a shame because the actors give solid performances, but the writing in this scene is so garbled is hard to tell what’s going on. Basically, The Man in Black starts asking Dolores a bunch of questions while hitting her, and Dolores is still having flashbacks. Eventually, we figure out what happened.

Dolores is Wyatt. Arnold and Ford were working on this character when Arnold concluded that Dolores was alive. This made him want to shut down the park. Ford wasn’t convinced, so Arnold decided the best thing to do was to kill all the hosts and himself. So, he downloaded Wyatt’s malicious nature into Dolores and had her enlist Teddy’s help. The two wipe out all the robots, and once they were all shot, Dolores kills Arnold, then Teddy, then herself. This incident was meant to shut down the park for good, but The Man in Black bought the place and saved Westworld. Of course, The Man in Black had no idea any of this happened. He just thought the park was the future. For some reason, Arnold concluded that the surest way for Dolores to become self-aware was by killing somebody. I have no idea why he thought this. It honestly makes no sense, and as Ford points out later in the episode, Dolores wasn’t conscious because Arnold compelled her to commit the murder.

The Man in Black hears none of this, of course, and believes that Dolores is either holding out on him, or he thinks she needs more trauma to unlock her memories. Frankly, it’s unclear why this conflict is even happening. It’s as if the writers can’t decide whether The Man in Black is an anti-hero or a straight villain. He acts overtly cruel, but there are random moments where it seems like he has good intentions, but how this cruelty is accomplishing his good intentions is anyone’s guess. Regardless of what The Man is Black is hoping to achieve with this violence, Dolores doesn’t tell him anything, and when the Man in Black asks her why she’s being “stoic,” she eventually tells him that William is looking for her, and when he finds her, he’s going to kill The Man in Black. However, The Man in Black laughs when he hears this, and seems genuinely flattered. And here comes the big reveal that was obvious halfway through the series and yet still irritating because I personally didn’t want the show to go in this direction. The Man in Black is William. Cue the dramatic organ music. In case the myriad of flashbacks throughout the series wasn’t a clue, this story is not told in a linear fashion. The Man in Black’s morbid tale began when he met Dolores as the idealistic William.

After William captured his brother-in-law Logan, he looked all over the park for Dolores, but couldn’t find her. In the end, he became a bloodthirsty killer for some reason. As for poor Logan, William stripped him naked and sent him riding on a horse out of the park, that way Logan would appear unfit to run his father’s company, leaving William as the only man left who could take over. William eventually did so and bought the largest share of Westworld. After humiliating his brother-in-law, William had returned to Sweetwater and found Dolores there, but she’d evidentially died somehow after she’d escaped the Confederados and had no memory of him.

We Saw This Coming

I hated this twist; although, it’s easy to see coming. I’m all for having dour storylines and jaded characters, but when absolutely every hero turns out to be the bad guy, I start to get bored. A good story requires contrast, good and evil. This simple binary is how a story creates stakes. If there’s nobody to empathize with or there’s no hero to root for, it’s easy to stop caring about what happens. We’re just watching bad people do bad things because the world stinks and everything is awful and something, something about being artistic, which is mostly just a synonym for pretentious.

Anyway, Dolores is shocked by this revelation, and she and William fight. William stabs her, and it looks like she’s about to die again, but then Teddy comes out of nowhere and shoots William because it turns out he actually remembered what he was doing before he got killed for once. So, he’d rushed off to find Dolores instead of completing his usual loop.

Of course, The Man in Black isn’t killed because Teddy’s gun is fake. He wakes up sometime later and has a final conversation with Ford. Dr. Ford reminds William that the maze wasn’t for him. It was for the robots. He then asks William what he was hoping to find. William says that he just wished the robots could fight back. A game isn’t a game if the opponent is programmed to lose. Dr. Ford encourages William by saying that The Man in Black will find his new narrative much more satisfying. We’ll cover what happens after that in the next review.

Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

Westworld Episode 10 Review (Part One)