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Westworld Season 02, Ep.07: Les Escorches

Whoever edited this week’s “Previously on Westworld” deserves an Emmy for best editing, even if you can’t actually use it to figure out WTF is going on in Westworld. At this point, it’s pretty hard to track. If “Les Escorches” left you confused about where we are in the timeline, you’re not alone. Once you clear up the timeline, you have a well-executed episode with mind-egg blowing moments. Don’t miss the good stuff if you’re lost in the fog.

First, let’s recap. There are four different timelines going on this season:

  • Pre angry sentient robot times
    • This includes anything that happened before Season 1, which includes Bernard’s tour of his home to Dolores, things being full of splendor, Angela’s Westworld pitch to Logan, Delos’ retirement party, and William’s revenge-porn moment interrogating Dolores after said retirement party.
  • The Cradle.
    • We learned in this episode that Dolores’ fidelity test of Bernard from the previous episode actually took place inside of the cradle. Ford explains he used a Cradle version of Dolores, who knew Arnold so well, to test Bernard when he was created back in the day.
  • Post-Massacre.
    • Up to two weeks after the board massacre/Ford’s death. The majority of Season Two takes place during this time period:
      • Battle at Fort Forlorn Hope (“Forlorn Hope” was also my nickname in high school. weird).
      • Maeve & Co. tool around Shogun world with their bestest doppelbot buddies. Maeve leaves with awesome powers, but severely lacking in the “I should have seen this coming” ability when she discovers her daughter has been reprogrammed with a new mother.
      • Elsie is not cool with Bernard until she finds out he’s a host. Then she saves his life in the lab where Delos-bot-in-training was tested.
      • Stubbs and Charlotte find Abernathy and bring him back to the Mesa
      • Grace aka Emily aka William’s daughter aka The Man in Black’s daughter reunites with him in Westworld.
      • Siege of the Mesa by Dolores and her ragtag team
  • Post-Flood.
    • Two weeks after the board massacre/Ford’s death when Bernard gets washed up on the beach, meets Strand, and they all discover the remains of a giant flood.
    • They take all of the “dead” hosts back to the Mesa and find out that 1/3 of their data has been erased.
    • Charlotte, Stubbs, and Strand find out that Bernard is a Host

The latter two timelines are the hardest to tell apart because they are so close together, especially in “Les Escorches.” The problem lies in mirrored geography of story, as we have Bernard, Stubbs, and Charlotte all out in the park and returning to the Mesa in both timelines. They are also trying to find Abernathy in both timelines. When we see a scene in the Mesa, it’s tough to know at first glance if it’s in the “Post-Masscre” period or “Post-Flood” period. It’s our own fault, really. The showrunners knew we’d be trying to figure all this out and they decided to make it extra hard this season. Don’t pretend like you don’t love it.

Last week, the writers did give us a bit of a break by pulling a clever trick to sort this out. The explosion of the train into the Mesa, courtesy of Dolores, ripples in all three storylines. The train hits the Mesa just as Bernard enters the cradle, and Charlotte and Stubbs interrogate Abernathy. For one brief, beautiful moment, all of our timelines sync up.

It is important to note that the explosion takes place before the team discovers the flood and the host bodies. We are not at the point in the Mesa where they have already recovered the bodies from the flood, obviously, because Teddy is still alive with Dolores, storming the mesa and being grumpy about it.

It’s also important to note that there are two subsequent explosions. The first one that syncs everyone up happens when Dolores and her ragtag team slam the train at full speed into the Mesa. The second explosion is a thing of beauty.  

This time, Angela blows up the Cradle with a monologue that has women everywhere screaming, “girl, preach.” Her list of all the ways she was coded to entice men was the cherry on top of her bitter exit.

Not just pretty, perfect, just as you built me to be. Sexy but not threatening. Accommodating but not unchallenging. Sweet but not boring. Smart but not intimidating.” …can I put that on my OKcupid profile?

She finishes her monologue with, “Welcome to Westworld” and then blows this macho guy up with his own frakking grenade. Goodbye, Angela,  I didn’t know you were my favorite until you died. Damn you, writers. Now she’s gone forever and so is the Cradle.

Fortunately/unfortunately, depending on whether or not you’re Bernard, the explosion of the Cradle is not the end of Ford. He implanted his consciousness inside of Bernard’s head just before the Cradle got blowed up. Ford now controls a very conflicted Bernard who tries to maintain his free will but ultimately submits to Ford’s commands. Well, not commands, really. Ford is Fording so hard right now, uttering philosophical phrases that can be inferred as actionables. In this case, Bernard believes to kill everyone in the control room and destroy the security system, naturally.

At no point in this season is it a good day to be Bernard. From Abernathy’s code to Ford’s consciousness, and a few shots of Cortical Fluid in between, and that pesky gun to the head, Bernard is not doing well. Now he doesn’t even have his free will anymore.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Maeve runs into the Man in Black while trying to save her daughter from Ghost Nation. This ends up in a shootout that leaves both Maeve and MIB mortally wounded. Sizemore takes Maeve back to the Mesa and leaves her half-dead on a gurney. At least he’s hiding nearby.

Image result for maeve dolores westworld

Dolores and her ragtag team find Maeve as they escape with Abernathy’s mind-egg, and thus timelines sync up once again. But this is where we need to put timelines and theories aside.  

These scenes between Maeve and Dolores are the beating heart of the show. It doesn’t matter when or where we are, it only matters who they are and what they choose to be. Dolores almost puts Maeve out of her misery, but instead gives her the dignity of her own choice. Dolores tries to tell Maeve her daughter is just a crutch to keep her tied down, but Maeve’s emotional core is what sets her apart from Dolores and made her so compassionate in previous episodes. And yet here, Dolores shows compassion on Maeve by allowing her to keep her promise. Dolores isn’t too compassionate, though. She leaves Maeve to die as they flee the aftermath of the siege and destruction of the Cradle.

From there, good luck to all of us. It’s a race to the Valley Beyond in what I’m sure will be the least linear fashion possible. At least we know how Bernard feels, which is the point of all this nonlinear storytelling business. We can only suspect there is a big surprise waiting for Bernard, and hopefully for us as well.

Let us know what you loved about this week’s episode, or share your latest theory, in the comments below!

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