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Westworld Recap: Trompe L’Oeil

This is Westworld at both its best and most frustrating.

The seventh episode of Westworld, ‘Trompe L’Oeil’ opens up with another odd to Alice in WonderlandWestworld proudly wears its influences on its sleeves. It also likes to endlessly tease us, and it does so by showing a flashback of Bernard and his dying son. But it’s not a flashback, it’s a dream, leaving that particular question unanswered for now.  We haven’t seen Dolores and William in an episode and ‘Trompe L’Oeil’ brings them right back to the forefront. But more on that later.

The human side of Westworld gets plenty of screen time in ‘Trompe L’Oeil’ with Elsie still missing and tensions high between Bernard and Theresa. There’s so much other drama going on that it’s a shame we’re saddled with them for so long. The woman from Delos sent to look over the park and make sure Ford stays in line is no different from most anyone else — she’s shallowly written. That’s harsh, yes, but if we’re going to talk about the show’s strengths we also have to point out the weaknesses.

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After quite a while away, Maeve returns to her loop as a changed woman. She has the will, freedom, and “stats” to do as she pleases. Her freedom is a different sort of variety than what Dolores has, even if she is having trouble grappling with it. Her return to her loop is off-kilter because of this, and coupled with an invasion by the lab techs it’s one of the best scenes Westworld has to offer. Until the techs speak their wooden dialogue and kill the moment. Once again, however, she returns to the table, only to demand even more of the hapless Felix. Maeve is quickly becoming a power player here, and one that may prove trouble for everyone.

“ts style of loud introspection frequently undermines what it’s trying to achieve.”

Westworld is a show that is afraid of being quiet. Its style of loud introspection frequently undermines what it’s trying to achieve. Thankfully there are characters such as Dolores and William to help, and they stand as two truly fleshed creations. In a panicked moment William explains to Dolores that he’s engaged, and the revel is painful because we’ve become attached to them. It’s still not clear how much of this is part of Dolores’ new narrative, but that second guessing makes everything that happens more meaningful. He then, of course, chooses her.

They’re still on adventure with Lawrence, or El Lazo, or whatever you feel like calling him. Thankfully without Logan, by the way. Whatever side quest they’re on matters little; what does matter is that Dolores wants in on this labyrinth. There’s some breathtaking scenery here as well as a fight with Native American Hosts. If you wanted spectacle, you got it.

And then there is Ford, a man struggling to stay in power. He is forced to watch one of his Hosts get beaten, reset, and beaten again. It’s never easy to read his face, except for when it’s revealed that the Hosts have the capability to not only fight back, but also ignore commands given to them. This is why Westworld is great, and this is what makes ‘Trompe L’Oeil’ great, regardless of other weaknesses. This leads to Bernard’s termination, and not even Ford seems interested in saving him. At least not in the moment, but that could be that he also sees the “obvious signs” of human intervention.

Image Credit: HBO
“It’s a deliciously sweet revelation, even if we knew it was coming.”

Theresa and Bernard are not interesting together, though there is something to them forming an alliance to figure out what Arnold was up to all those years ago. This leads to Bernard showing her Arnold’s “family,” and the final reveal. Yes, it’s true. Yes, Bernard is a Host created by Ford. It’s a deliciously sweet revelation, even if we knew it was coming. Ford proves to be the monster that Theresa labels him as, and the one that we ultimately need him to be. Even when Theresa thinks that she has Ford caught, he skillfully proves her wrong. He is a man to be feared, and it’s truly satisfying to see him in action.

This will ultimately be the episode known as the one in which Bernard kills Theresa. No, it’s not surprising, but the lead up to it has been so well done that it can’t help but be appreciated. Even as we are forced to look away from her lifeless from against the wall. The title of the episode translates to “optical illusion,” a fitting title. Nothing in Westworld can be taken for granted.