[For Westworld‘s “The Stray” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Elsie and Stubbs pursue a missing host; Teddy sets off in pursuit of a new villain.
“The Stray” opens with Bernard giving Dolores a book, “Alice in Wonderland”. He has her read and asks what she thinks it means, including the question, “Who in the world am I?” a tricky nugget for anyone to ponder, never mind an android. Her memories arise more often these days and she’s thinking too much. It’s a recipe for disaster whether human or host. Still, Bernard seems more intrigued than concerned. He just doesn’t want to get caught probing Dolores, continually checking that she’s told nobody about their “talks”. In fact, Bernard’s one of several characters who stray in this episode; breaking the rules and lying to many people. Never mind his clandestine affair with Theresa, his work superior, and the way he lies to her about the updates.
After he lies yet again to Theresa about this, Bernard meets with Elsie. She analyzes the behavior of the milk-obsessed android who went rogue in the last episode. Elsie discovers that the milk bandit gone rogue actually avenged the androids who’d killed him in previous storylines. This means he too compiled meaningful memories and acted on them off-script. Elsie then joins Stubbs, the security guy, to seek out the woodcutter android, the most obvious stray from our episode’s title.
Next we see William (the new guest last week) encounter shoot’em up action in downtown Westworld. He hesitates to get involved but draws a pistol when gorgeous Clementine faces danger. Thus William kills the culprit and saves her. One of the lawmen invites him to join the squad of desperadoes and we see a glint of interest in William’s eye. Then his sex-obsessed work buddy shows up and we find out William’s engaged to that guy’s sister. This explains their tense interactions and obligatory connection.
Teddy’s storyline shifts right along with Dolores in this episode. For one, the stalwart loser starts winning gunfights. And, thanks to Ford’s new narrative, Teddy finally knows his purpose. Still, he continues to let his lady, Dolores down with the vagueness of his “someday soon” and she points out that this is what people say when they mean never. If Dolores wants change, she’s going to have to go out and get it for herself. As it should be, we here at Fetchland believe. She’ll probably do better for herself on her own anyway.
Teddy’s preoccupied with Ford’s new narrative and his new nemesis, a villain named Wyatt. The whole back story appears like magic in Teddy’s mind when suddenly, with the mere brush of Ford’s fingertip on a glass screen, Teddy remembers Wyatt and his (previously immaterial) backstory. Then we see Teddy take Dolores out to teach her gun usage. But she can’t squeeze the trigger. A posse rides up and tells Teddy that Wyatt’s back in town. So, stalwart loser leaves Dolores yet again, saying he’ll be back for her “someday soon” and she notices that vague word once more. Dolores doesn’t like it one bit. In fact, before this episode’s over that lady will be pulling a trigger after all. She’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. You go girl.
Meanwhile behind the scenes, Bernard explains to Ford that the screwy droids are hearing voices. They talk to the same person; (who isn’t there) someone named Arnold. Ford tells Bernard about a partner he had in the early days, a fellow scientist named Arnold. He thought he could create consciousness out of memory, improvisation, self interest… and something else yet to be determined. Arnold built the hosts with an inner monologue made up of their programming commands. But then he had to remove it when the voices drove them nutty. After a wistful moment, Ford tells Bernard that taking away the memory of the droids every night is their greatest gift to them. Bernard retorts that some of them ARE remembering, though, in little bits these days. The unmentioned elephant in the room here is that they also seem to have Arnold’s voice in their heads too. But neither of them says shit about it now. Still, it’s evident Ford is the “Yoda” of Westworld. He gives us all the info. For example, he tells us Arnold killed himself and this serves as a powerful foreshadow for a significant event in the “The Stray”.
Speaking of which, Elsie and Stubbs are in the dark desert when they finally encounter the stray woodcutter. He’s stuck between some rocks, bloody-fingered and reaching out in desperation. Elsie believes the woodcutter got an idea in his head that made him run off script. She leaves a voicemail for Bernard about it – worried. It’s for good reason because right when Stubbs is about to cut the woodcutter’s head off, he wrestles himself free. But it’s just to kill himself; bashing an enormous rock over and over into his own skull. Whether they’re trying to remind us of the meaninglessness of suicide or just gross us out with this spectacle… Westworld succeeded.
Dolores then rejoins her usual script arriving home at night to her father shot and the leering bandits. One of them takes her to the barn but this time she’s got a gun and points it at the bad guy bandit. It’s not actually the Man in Black but she pictures MIB anyway and then Arnold’s voice tells her to kill him. Now able to pull the trigger, Dolores shoots him dead. She then escapes the whole affair, riding off into the night on her horse. We had a feeling something like this would happen when Dolores lied to Bernard in an earlier interview. He told her to stay on her loop and she agreed. There was no way Dolores was gonna take shit anymore, though. We saw it in her eyes. Not now that she has a memory, that attitude, and a loaded gun.
Next we see the final and tiniest scene of “The Stray”. William and his future brother-in-law sit by a campfire when Dolores emerges from the bushes to collapse into William’s arms. One of those damn bandits shot her back at the farm, after all. It’s a bit too perfect a moment to be off script. But Dolores definitely strayed from the narrative to get to this point, so it’s hard to know if this is official Westworld narrative or not. Either way, William seems likely to get sucked into a Westworld brand seduction from this encounter because, as we saw in last week’s episode, he likes that lovey dovey stuff.
– Katherine Recap