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Westworld Recap: ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’

The characters of Westworld go to therapy. Sort of.

Westworld is a difficult show to get ahold of. There are multiple storylines, possibly taking place in different timelines. Not to mention the amount of secrets at play coupled with the corporate intrigue. ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier,’ Westworld’s 9th episode, attempts to bring together some of that mess. It mostly achieves that through the use of flashbacks and emotional trauma, perhaps Ford’s favorite kind of trauma.

Logan is back. Somehow he has become a general. This goes unexplained but in the end doesn’t actually matter. He is just as huge a jerk as he always is, admonishing William for becoming attached to Dolores and then delighting in the this whole “bonding experience.” There is some trickery at play here — Logan stabs Dolores but as Dolores runs away she appears unharmed. It is therefore unclear in which timeline she was stabbed. Dolores’ story this episode is split into two halves: pre and post stabbing. The former involves her regular adventures with William, while the latter is a trippy exploration of memories.

Image Credit: HBO

Before we get to that, however, we have to talk about Maeve. Maeve is slowly becoming the queen of Westworld. She has worked hard to get the control that she has now, and that leads to a short meeting with Bernard. It’s simply delicious to watch her fake her way through being a regular Host, pretending to enter analysis mode and answer Bernard’s questions. But she’s not interested in that, and she shows it by controlling Bernard. It’s interesting to note here that she already knows that he’s a Host and she also states that they’ve “been here before.” Confused? Yeah, that’s normal.

Maeve’s goal of building an army continues as she tracks down Hector and convinces him that following her is a good idea. And then there’s a gratuitous scene with fire and sex, because why not. Maeve’s journey from working girl to robot queen has been a fun one to watch, though her penchant for double-entendres sometimes grates. Maeve has a much clearer vision of what she wants than Dolores does, if actual freedom is what Dolores does want.

“The corporation that William and Logan work for is never mentioned, so it could very well be Delos.”

The Man in Black and Teddy also make an appearance. Teddy, once again, is killed. If only he could be made to remember just how many times he has died. This comes at the hands of what we later learn is a “sentient Host” that knows all about the maze. The point of this, really, is to lead us to the knowledge that the Man in Black is on the board of Delos. All season there has been a fan theory that William is actually the Man in Black, but in the past. The corporation that William and Logan work for is never mentioned, so it could very well be Delos. William also makes a case for this theory by single-handedly killing all of Logan’s men, even going so far as to violently dismember some of them.

Image Credit: HBO

‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ is very much about the exploration of memories. Dolores, plagued by strange flashbacks for almost the entire season, ends up showing us Westworld’s more quaint past. We get to see the old offices, inhabited and filled with Hosts, as well as a young Ford. And to its credit, none of it feels forced or like Westworld is dumping info on our laps. This leads us to the biggest revelation of the episode, concerning Bernard.

Bernard has been suffering. He has fast become one of Westworld’s strongest characters, but life hasn’t been easy for him after being made to kill Theresa. He gets it in his head that the only way forward is to take Ford hostage (using an altered, decommissioned Clementine) and make him return all of his memories. Bernard then learns what we’ve all known for some time, though he also gets a flash of killing Elsie, something which he previously did not know. Bernard’s trip into the recesses of his mind is to find information on Arnold. Well, it turns out that Bernard is Arnold. After a fashion.

“It’s practically a cliché at this point for him to show his power over the park, but it never ceases to amaze.”

Ford modeled Bernard on Arnold. It’s an important revelation, but it’s not all that surprising. Ford is the same man who keeps a Host version of his family in the park, why not create a Host version of his dead partner? Finally, when Bernard is truly sickened, he orders Clementine to shoot Ford. But she can’t, because once again Ford holds the hidden upper hand. It’s always thrilling to watch Ford effortlessly maneuver away from danger. It’s practically a cliché at this point for him to show his power over the park, but it never ceases to amaze. Ford is god here, there’s simply no other way to look at it.

Ford doesn’t see a way to move forward after this little altercations, and so he has Bernard kill himself. It’s an emotional moment, and Ford makes sure that his suicide doesn’t take place until he is out of the room. He can’t stand to watch his ex-partner shoot himself. That didn’t stop him, however, from having Dolores kill Arnold, a little fact that we learn watching Dolores speak to a memory of Arnold in the abandoned office. Ford has come out ahead as the monster of Westworld, and we couldn’t be happier to have him.

‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ is basically as strong an episode of Westworld as you can get right now. With all of its faults, Westworld continues to be engaging and though-provoking television. At this point we’re expecting the finale to confirm the identity of the Man in Black. Either way, Westworld has certainly proved its worth this season.