[Warning: this story contains spoilers for the eighth episode of HBO's Westworld.]
There are multiple games at play within Westworld, the new HBO series from Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. In the latest episode, "Trace Decay," the Man in Black (Ed Harris) outlines two of them: Robert Ford's (Anthony Hopkins) game, and the one designed by Arnold, Ford's late colleague and friend who died under mysterious and quite likely nefarious circumstances.
"In Ford's game, even if I go to the outer edges of the park, you can't kill me," the Man tells Teddy (James Marsden) during a revealing fireside chat. "But there's a deeper game - Arnold's game. And that game cuts deep."
Likewise, Westworld continues cutting deep, hacking at its core characters and their core codes, revealing new layers to their intertwining loops and lives. From drilling down into the ramifications of secret host Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) murdering Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen), to Maeve (Thandie Newton) becoming more powerful than ever, "Trace Decay" certainly pushed the show's various dramatic pieces closer and closer to the season's end game.
Read on for more on the episode, broken down into the ten most important moments:
1. Without a Trace Decay
There's no time to dwell on the ramifications of the Bernard reveal. Time is of the essence in that regard, which is why Ford (Anthony Hopkins) commands Bernard to scrub every trace of his connection to Theresa, especially their romantic relationship. Bernard removes DNA evidence from his quarters, gathers love notes and other forms of evidence, and burns it all, like the good little sidekick he is.
2. The Hale Mary
Ford successfully stages Theresa's death to look like an accident, and for her seemingly traitorous actions to come to light as well. But Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) won't take Ford's power play without fighting back. She recruits Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) in uploading all of the pivotal Westworld data into a decommissioned host's body, and giving said host enough personality to pass as a human who can walk out of the park. Simple enough, right? One problem: the host is Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum), Dolores' father who was benched due to glitches. Of all the people to pick...
3. What Happened to Elsie?
That question remains very much on the table, though it appears we have a dark possible answer: Bernard may have killed her. Before Bernard's memories of hurting Theresa are fully scrubbed, he asks Ford if he's ever hurt anyone like this before. Ford says "no," but Bernard instantly remembers choking Elsie (Shannon Woodward), now missing for two episodes. The memory erase goes through before Bernard and the viewer get any further clarity, but for right now? It's not looking good.
John P. Johnson/HBO
4. Security Breach
For whatever it's worth, Bernard's role in both Theresa's death and Elsie's absence seems to be under someone's suspicion: Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), who confronts Bernard with condolences over Theresa. Since his mind was wiped, Bernard doesn't remember the romance, which Stubbs finds odd - and odder still that Bernard barely reacts to Elsie's disappearance. At least somebody cares about the missing Raising Hope veteran.
5. A Tale For The Times
Far away across the park (and possibly across time), the adventures of William (Jimmi Simpson) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) continue. They come across the small town of Dolores' dreams, and once there, she has visions of extreme violence raging throughout the town. Dolores isn't sure where she is anymore - and, even more importantly, when she is. Dolores' confusion over her current relationship with time mirrors the viewers wondering whether or not her story is playing out as a flashback, as William journeys toward his fate as the Man in Black.
6. Logan Rides Again
Given her exasperated state, William decides it's best to get Dolores out of the town and back to Sweetwater. But before they make it home, they're stopped in the dead of night by a familiar and frightening face: Logan (Ben Barnes), William's soon-to-be brother-in-law, last seen getting the living daylights smacked right out of his smirking face. It looks like Logan's back in power now, and his grudge against William has only intensified. Not great news as he's trying to bring Dolores back home.
John P. Johnson/HBO
7. Maeve's New Moves
The park's most self-aware host earns a few more powers this week, as Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) imbue her with some requested alterations - including the apparent ability to ignore the no-killing core code policy, evidenced when she slashes Sylvester's throat open. (That said, she does help save the man's life, but only because she needs him to help build her "an army.") Perhaps even more alarming, Maeve can apparently change fellow hosts' programming with nothing more than voice commands, giving her power over her surroundings matched by virtually no one else on the show, save for Ford himself.
8. Maeve's Old Moves
But Maeve was not always such a power player. The episode reveals more about her previous build as a mother with a young daughter out in the homestead. Maeve vividly remembers these experiences, almost as waking dreams. It turns out that the Man in Black attacking her home was such a traumatic experience that even Ford and Bernard couldn't fully wipe her memory clean. It's not clear how the two scientists ultimately reigned Maeve back in, but the robot's stone-cold view toward her past looks like it's thawing somewhat by the end of the episode.
9. A God Among Men
In one of the episode's most revealing moments, the Man in Black opens up about his past in a conversation with Teddy. He describes himself as "a titan of industry," a loving "family man" and a person whose actions at Westworld were so horrid that they apparently drove his wife to suicide. In order to posthumously prove her wrong, the Man decided to travel to Westworld and seek out an act of pure evil, just to see if he could do it - and turns out, he very much could, as seen in his ruthless killings of Maeve and Maeve's daughter. But witnessing Maeve's deeply wounded reaction to the death of her daughter inspired the Man to dig deeper into the park's mysteries and honor Arnold's legacy - a game that features true violence.
10. Wyatt Waits
Before saying anymore, the Man in Black and Teddy find themselves surrounded by Wyatt's men in the woods. It's a bad situation for them both: the Man is tied up without any obvious way out of his situation, while Teddy nurses an injury of his own, stabbed in the chest by a woman who posed as one of Wyatt's victims. Instead, she's one of Wyatt's allies. And if she looks familiar? That's no coincidence: the woman is Angela, the host played by Talulah Riley first seen greeting William in episode two. "I would've thought they'd retire you," the Man in Black remarks on seeing her in this episode - a comment that plays quite nicely with the theories about William and the Man in Black being the same entity.
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