[For Westworld‘s “Trace Decay” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Bernard struggles with a mandate; Maeve attempts to change her script.
As “Trace Decay” opens Ford tells Bernard to be proud of his colorful feelings about killing Theresa. Ford explains that one man’s life or death isn’t signifcant. What matters is the lesson and dominion earned from it. Bernard rages about this and Ford restrains him with his host controls. Ford mentions that Arnold also tried to stop his machinations. Suddenly it seems likely this was actually how Arnold met his untimely end, trying to stop Ford.
Then Ford says Bernard must clean up the murder mess and remove all the evidence he killed Theresa. Ford will reward him by erasing all memory of his love for Theresa and killing her. So, Bernard can be at peace. Ford portrays this as a sublime gift. The idea that it’s best to erase the memory of love and loss is reminscent of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. There’s no question Ford sees it as a blessing. The real question is whether he’s right.
Maeve struggles with this same concept throughout “Trace Decay”. First, she confronts Felix and Sylvester. Maeve tells them she knows her spine (like all the hosts) is designed to detonate if she ever leaves the Westworld park. Felix and Sylvester must be her allies so she can safely leave the park and write herself a new story. They’ll need to do a full rebiuld on her to fix this. Maeve insists. She’s sick of all the fake stories she’s been “surviving” in her empty, looped life.
Now she’s super intelligent and knows her inside code, even her dormant self. Thus, Maeve asks them about Arnold. He likely lives inside that dormant self, after all. But her cat cronies don’t seem to know who Arnold is. Maeve then explains to the cats that they can open a window for her to slip through during a shift change. It’s such a cat-like escape plan… Sylvester pulls Felix aside to suggest they wipe her clean like a blank slate rather than going along with her plan.
The next time we see them Felix shuts her down, as planned. But instead of wiping Maeve clean like Sylvester wants, he rebuilds her. When Maeve awakens she slashes Sylvester’s throat for his betrayal attempt. But before he truly dies Maeve has Felix seal his neck with a laser torch. So, Sylvester may not be human. Would that fix a human with a severed artery? No. So, either this isn’t really happening (just another Maeve narrative arc) or Sylvester is a host. Maeve doesn’t care much either way because she’s already onto the next step, recruiting her army.
We see Theresa’s corpse on a table. Ford pretends to Stubbs and Charlotte that he doesn’t know how or why Theresa died. Stubbs explains how he found proprietary data on her dead body. He says Theresa likely attempted to transfer it to someone outside the park. This sublime setup clears Bernard of any potential questioning. Ford seems gleeful. Charlotte, on the other hand, pouts.
In a talk with Ford after this Bernard wonders if his feelings are real or not. “What’s the difference between the machine host and a person?” he asks. Ford says there’s no difference. Consciousness is just a construct in both cases. Of course Ford believes this. If he is human Ford’s likely a sociopath, if not a psychopath, so for such a person there would certainly be little difference.
Bernard asks if Ford ever made him hurt someone like this before. Ford says no, of course not. But then we see Bernard’s memory of strangling Elsie. So, Ford’s lying about this. Thing is, that memory should be erased. Bernard’s having reveries he shouldn’t. Does Ford know or care? Whether or not he does, Stubbs is catching on. He later expresses empathy to Bernard about losing Theresa. Then Stubbs registers surprise when Bernard says he barely knew Theresa. Stubbs knows Bernard was intimate with her. So, it’s fishy as eff.
Charlotte visits the writer, Lee Sizemore, and enlists him for a “real job” unlike the busywork he’s doing for Ford. She takes Lee to the zombie host-filled warehouse. Once there, Charlotte uploads a ton of Westworld data into Dolores’s first Dad. Remember him? It was his short-circuit that alerted the scientists to this whole reverie/update issue in the first place. Charlotte tells Lee to write the guy a simple story. She plans to get him on a train and ship him out of the park undetected. Dolores’s Dad will serve as a data mule for corporate.
Speaking of Dolores, she and William encounter a struggling member of the ambush gang and find out that Logan sent the group to kill them. Dolores too, has disturbing reveries and questions what’s real. She’s trapped in bad dreams – memories really. In one such reverie, Dolores nearly kills herself with a gun to her temple and that old blue dress back on her bod. William tries to comfort and save her. As they leave the town that triggers her bad memories they encounter Logan. He’s up on his high horse and ready to take revenge on them.
Meawhile the Man in Black and Teddy ride horses together on a mission to find Wyatt. They “save” a woman on the roadside and she joins them. Then a giant uniformed minotaur man attacks and Teddy takes him down. For some reason this arouses his reveries. Now he remembers MIB’s cruelty to Dolores. So, Teddy hits the Man in Black and says he remembers it all.
Later at the campfire Teddy confronts MIB about it again. The Man in Black describes himself as a god and controller of worlds. He says his wife in the real world killed herself because she knew he was a terrible man hiding behind “good deeds” and philanthropy. So, MIB created a test for himself in Westworld. Did he have it in him to do something truly evil? What was he truly made of? Turns out this “test” was when he killed Maeve and her daughter. But the Man in Black explains that afterward Maeve refused to die and “was truly alive – even if only for a moment. It was a miracle. That was when the maze revealed itself.” The dirt forms a maze around Maeve’s body as she clutches her daughter in grief and death. MIB explains that the maze reveals a deeper game – Arnold’s game.
He says in Ford’s game Teddy can never kill him. Then MIB implies that this rule may not follow in Arnold’s game. This seems to be the ending he seeks. The woman who joined them on the trail confronts the MIB at the campfireside. It appears she’s more than just a helpless victim they found aside the road. She jabs an arrow deep into Teddy’s shoulder; killing him, and tells him to return quickly. “Wyatt will need you soon,” she says. Behind her creepy characters emerge from the darkness as a threatening spectre to the Man in Black.
Hector was, of course, Maeve’s first choice recruit for her army. After securing his loyalty with a victory at the saloon, Maeve escapes a standoff right outside. Then we see a tragic scene from Maeve’s past. She loses her daughter and Ford uses “an old trick from an old friend” to take her suffering away. But Maeve asks him to leave it with her. It’s all she has left of her daughter, she explains. Ford erases her memory anyway but right then Maeve kills herself. Is this why she still remembers? Did her rush at death save a remnant of her daughter’s memory? This goes back to the earlier bit Ford said about erasing love and loss. Maeve wants to keep it. She wants to remember her daughter. In this preference, Maeve seems more human than Ford.
– Katherine Recap