Each week, Brian Grubb and Keith Phipps will attempt to unpack the latest episode of the HBO series Westworld, a show about an amusement park populated by lifelike robots that’s also about… other stuff.
Well, that answers the Bernard thing
Brian: One of the theories that has been floating around since the first few episodes of the show is that Bernard, Ford’s number two in the programming department and Dolores’ co-conspirator slash sounding board slash kinda dad (?), is actually a host. It seemed plausible, but also quite a stretch, because for that to be true it would mean that Ford created him somewhere completely in secret and gave him a horrible, cruel backstory involving a dead child for no real reason.
Welllll guess what: Ford created him somewhere completely in secret and gave him a horrible, cruel backstory involving a dead child for no real reason. Specifically, Ford created him in an underground lab under the house containing his secret family (the “What door?” moment when Theresa saw something he didn’t was the first “Oh crap” moment for me), and used him to lure Theresa there. And then Ford had him murder Theresa, for reasons that we’ll get to once we get past the “Yooooo Bernard just murdered Theresa” thing. Which is definitely a thing.
I’m sure someone much more dedicated to the minutiae of the show will be able to backtrack and tick off everything this revelation means and has meant so far, but the things that jump out at me right away are:
– Ford is not only aware of the conversations between Bernard and Dolores, he might have been puppeteering them
– This is how Ford knew about Bernard and Theresa
– Did… did Ford have Bernard send Elsie into the trap at the theater?
It’s all very complicated — possibly too complicated by half — and it means Ford is much more the diabolical puppetmaster we thought he was. What did you think? Did it work for you? Was it too much? What am I going to do without Theresa’s cigarette smoking? All important questions.
Keith: I think Ford’s willingness to mess with the heads of those in his orbit is mirrored by the show, which opens this week with a heartbreaking scene of Bernard reading to his dying son — Alice in Wonderland, no accident — only to reveal that the child never existed, and that Bernard’s whole tragic backstory is a fiction. It’s cruel.
And yet, I think I’m kind of Team Robert anyway? Or at least I get it: He’s the genius that created on this. Why should anyone else get to take it away? I can’t say I approve of his sadism or the, you know, murdering and such, but I get where he’s coming from.
Also answered this week: Yes, robots can harm humans. Oh boy, can they.