Westworld, Episode 4 Recap: “Dissonance Theory”

Episode 4 of Westworld was appropriately named, “Dissonance Theory” is the tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions or beliefs. “I feel spaces opening up inside of me, like a building with rooms I’ve never explored,” says Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in the opening scene. Dolores isn’t the only character adapting and changing with her surroundings, and we see a quickening of both the individual guests and the Android hosts to attempt to eliminate the dissonance in their life. Much like us viewers episode 4 is built upon the characters themselves trying to figure out what the fuck is going on in their world.

Last week I talked about how each episode is driving theme’s keep Westworld afloat, and “Dissonance Theory” is much the same. We see Maeve (Thandie Newton) questioning her sanity as she can remember every time she has been savagely murdered and then put back together by the medical technicians of Westworld. And later we see her remove a bullet she shouldn’t know the existence of with the help of Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) that was left inside her by those same apathetic medical technicians that work for the park.

Elsie, the young programmer, is trying to make sense of the frightening pattern emerging within the park when she tells Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) “There is clearly a pattern of behavior here.” He flippantly dismisses her by saying “the hosts don’t imagine things, you do.” This is interesting given that Bernard was more or less just given this speech by Ford last week on the hosts not feeling pain or emotion. On top of that, he has a fixation with examining Dolores and her new found feelings. Given his actions don’t meet his words I believe there is more to Bernard’s story yet to come.

We continue on the bounty hunt with William (Jimmi Simpson), Logan (Ben Barnes) and Dolores. When Logan starts to act petulant and wants to kill Dolores Ben says “can you please stop trying to kill or fuck everything.” This doesn’t hit as hard as Logan wishes when Ben immediately comes back with “oh I see, the park sent her so you will finally have something to give a shit about.”

The Man in Black (Ed Harris) takes us on a series of adventures in his pursuit to find the “maze” and its secrets. We peel another layer off when he asks Armistice the snake tattooed renegade “You ever heard of a man named Arnold?” Referring to Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins), dead business partner. “You could say he was the original settler of these parts. He created a world where you could do whatever you want, except one thing: you can’t die. Which means no matter how real this world seems, it’s still a game. But then Arnold went and broke his own rule. He died, right here in the park. Except I believe, he had one more story to tell. A story with real stakes, real violence. You could say I’m here to honor his legacy.”

We also are given a glimpse of The Man in Blacks life outside of the park when another guest approaches him and says “I didn’t want to intrude, but I just had to say that I am such an admirer of yours. Your foundation literally saved my sister’s…” True to his Westworld character the man in black cuts him off threatening his life. Westworld has the uncanny ability to tease out information, giving us a glimmer that The Man in Black is maybe a good person, who is trying to escape real life permanently.

In the episodes most moving and unnerving scene we find Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) meeting with Ford in what is possibly the first and last glimpse at an older area of Westworld. We find Ford and Theresa sitting at a table in an Italian villa of sorts. “I admire it, The audacity of it. I’d forgotten how beautiful it is. I came here with my parents as a child. I think we even sat at this table,” she tells Ford. “When I started here, I realized this place wasn’t something I would enjoy.”

Ford’s all knowing presence is what makes this scene, and he seems to know what she is about to say before she says it. He goes on to explain “Westworld is not a business venture, not a theme park, but an entire world. We designed every inch of it. Every blade of grass. In here, we were gods, and you merely our guests,” It’s at that point that everything and everybody freezes. Workers stop in the fields, and at the villa, but a waiter frozen keeps pouring wine into Theresa’s glass and keeps going as it overflows, staining the table red.

“Dissonance Theory” answered some of our questions, but at the same time gave us plenty more to think about in Westworld. As the characters attempt to change their standing mentally or physically, we have to wonder who is pulling strings? Is it Ford, the looming “board” we keep hearing about, or somebody we have already met. One thing I keep thinking about is we are four episodes in, and we haven’t had one human death. For an HBO show, this is astounding and bound to happen soon.

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