WESTWORLD 1.07 ‘Trompe L’Oeil’ Review

WESTWORLD Season 1 Episode 7

Episode Title: “Trompe L’Oeil”

Writers: Halley Gross & Jonathan Nolan

Director: Frederick E. O. Toye

Previously on Westworld:

Episode 1.06: “The Adversary

There are spoilers ahead for last night’s episode of Westworld, but don’t pretend that you didn’t know that!

There’s nothing quite like the way a good reveal can retroactively make the earlier episodes of a series even better. Westworld pulled off that trick with a great surprise in this week’s episode. Some fans had already theorized this twist ahead of time, but that didn’t take away from the masterful execution of it onscreen.  One of the show’s leading characters isn’t who we thought he was. In fact, he’s not even who he thought he was!

Poor Bernard. Jeffrey Wright gave him such great pathos that he was already one of the most sympathetic characters on the show who wasn’t a host. Except that’s not true. He’s been a host all along. The episode even telegraphed it when he couldn’t see the door in the cabin, but it was still a stunning moment when the truth was fully revealed to Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen). Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) has been playing everyone from the start, by letting the board believe that they could get to him by framing Bernard for their sabotaged code. Now that Theresa has apparently been murdered by her former android lover. Could she be replaced by a host as well? We can’t put that past Ford. If he’s willing to have her killed, then he’ll do anything to protect himself and his secrets.

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Just knowing that Bernard is a host is going to force fans to reconsider all of his scenes from the prior six episodes. Was that video phone call with his wife real or an implanted memory? Did Ford order Bernard to have secret conversations with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), or was that something that Bernard came up with on his own? The funny thing is that Bernard was great at pretending to be human because he didn’t know any better. Yet Dolores and Maeve (Thandie Newton) have more consciousness because they know enough to question their reality. Bernard has been asking hosts questions for years when he should have been asking the same questions himself. Theresa’s murder also paid off the threat that Ford made just a few episodes back. No one can say that he didn’t warn her, but Ford is a lot less sympathetic now that he’s been revealed as Bernard’s puppet master.

Related: Androids Dream in New ‘Westworld’ Trailer

If the episode had only focused on that plot, it would have still been the best episode since the pilot. But the other primary storylines were also very strong. Dolores and Maeve are essentially pushing the limits of their programming, even as they look for different ways out of the park. In that regard, Maeve is further ahead since she’s essentially immune to the higher powers of Westworld’s techs. She’s even got a fairly solid plan to escape the park by further intimidating Felix and Sylvester. Between Maeve’s facial expressions while watching her “friend” be decommissioned and her subsequent threat/speech to the techs, Newton was on fire this week. Maeve has gone from a one note character to perhaps the most compelling figure on the show. But it remains to be seen how much of her rebellion is her own idea, or whether she’s just dancing to the larger commands of Ford or Arnold.

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As for Dolores, it’s refreshing that she’s rejecting the idea that she’s in a story just as William (Jimmi Simpson) is embracing it. And it is interesting that the park seems to be designed to become even harder to pass on the outskirts. The duel threats of the Confederates and the Native American tribe suggests that Ford and Arnold didn’t want anyone making it out that far. It’s also intriguing to see William genuinely falling for Dolores even though he’s well aware that she isn’t real. He’s finally let himself be seduced by the allure of Westworld, but it’s still unclear if the popular “William is the Man in Black” theory has any weight to it. It’s hard to imagine that William would become so callous towards Dolores that he’d actively hurt and rape her in his later years. Than again, Westworld does seem to bring out the worst in its guests and its creators, while the hosts continue to suffer.

This was an outstanding installment of the show that offered up a lot of new questions about where the show is going this season. But the larger mystery may be how Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy plan to get multiple seasons out of the show. The only way to do that may be to eventually leave Westworld behind and explore whatever is beyond the borders of the park.

What did you think about this week’s episode? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo Credits: HBO