Westworld "S1E7 Trompe L’Oeil " - Review: Do hosts dream of waxwork sheep?

Author Thumbnail BY Dave Gigg - - November 16, 2016
9/10

Trompe L’Oeil – Charlotte and Theresa make a play to overthrow Ford and assume control of the Park by staging a display of dangerous host behaviour. Following her new intelligence, Maeve starts to see her surroundings in a whole new light leading her to a new plan. Will and Delores encounter trouble on their train journey but find something they didn’t expect.

“I don’t want to be in a story” pleads Delores but she sure as hell is in one. The question of what story remains to be seen. There’s no doubting that their action-packed encounters this week follow the pattern of a more intense engineered narrative but that suits episode well to supply its only real action-based content. The scenes are a lot of fun too as the train hold up turns into a frantic chase. Yet the bigger purpose here is to see Will reach the next stage of his story arc by putting reality aside and giving in to the artificial. It’s a very touching moment as he confesses to his real world fiancé before choosing Dolores instead and giving the real world a firm Cypher, “Ignorance is bliss” middle finger.

From the start, Will’s purpose has been to convey the attraction and appeal of the Park from the prospective of an ordinary morally conscious individual. This all comes together very well as he expresses his feelings about his time within the Park, “It doesn’t cater to your lowest self it reveals your true self”. Although it doesn’t get name-checked, their end position and new direction imply an element of mystery that’s maybe even Maze-related. It seems like Delores is having memories from past incarnations but is she unknowingly luring Will towards the Maze? It would certainly seem set well as an unlockable secret. Delores was essentially the victim in a black hat rape narrative; who on Earth would think to win over her heart instead? That would make such a situation a great place to hide a secret behind.

The Maeve storyline is just getting better and better as her new intelligence encourages her to pursue her own agenda, and the idea of a prison break makes for a great story prospect, especially with Felix and Sylvester being unwillingly roped into it. It’s like a more forceful take on Ex Machina with Maeve playing the part of Ava. In this episode, she provides some excellent dramatic material as she endeavours to find Clementine following her suspicious recall. From her perspective, we see Maeve witnessing murder as a “decommissioning” takes place but the surprise shining star is Sylvester. That little look and comprehension of Maeve watching before he proceeds changes his entire emotional state, and we see him visably struggling. That he can no longer view this as an impartial clinical procedure while essentially his patient’s best friend watches through the glass. It’s surprisingly harrowing moment and fully justifies Maeve’s resulting desires to make like a tree and get outta here (“You sound so stupid when you say it wrong”).

This episode concludes with a huge character bombshell.... one that, frustratingly, I was planning to explain as a building theory before it suddenly came true on screen and thus become a spoiler (damn it!). Nevertheless, the execution is marvelous. Several teases are placed throughout the episode before the final scene lays breadcrumb after breadcrumb, drawing us in to an increasingly likely conclusion but masterfully holding the suspense by delaying the reveal. Then it happens with a line that’s been embedded since Week 1, “It doesn’t look like anything to me”. Suddenly, the entire game board takes a new shape and a key character looks more delightfully villainous than ever. The whole “Rabbit Hole” sequence is the best the show has produced to date and shows clear intentions to reward fans for their patience. It also forms part of several subtle hints this episode about the bigger picture plan. We’re certainly being lead to believe that the Park and all its theme park-like activities are of no concern to the Board. When you think about it, considering the vast scale of the operation, even if the limited guest numbers (about 1600 a day) are paying really high ticket process, there’s surely no way in hell the Park could ever be a profitable operation (and that’s coming from someone that’s worked in theme park finance)? The overly elaborate John Hammond “spared no expense” approach implies it must be a loss making venture, which reinforces Charlotte’s notions about The Board’s intentions. That is that the whole Park is just for show, a front for their more valuable technological research taking place.

Following her debut last week, Tessa Thompson’s Board member Charlotte is developing into a very curious character. Hopefully, she’ll stick around until the rest of the season. The show appears to be doing a Glen (the first time I mean) over the fate of Elise as Bernard gets told she’s on annual leave. At times, this is a slower-burning episode but the final act more than makes up for it, which makes it feel like a firm “cards on the table” episode but it’s clear the show still has a few decks in hand. Three episodes to go; let’s see what else the show has left to play.

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Dave Gigg By day I'm a (mostly) mild mannered Finance Officer for a cluster of popular tourist attractions in my home town of Weymouth in the UK. By night, I pound my keyboard until we both bleed to bring you my thoughts and geeky opinions on the latest movies and popular TV shows in the wonderful worlds of fantasy and science fiction. I occasionally break out to rock out with my band TATE or attend some good gigs and music festivals but all geek, all week is how I roll.
@Dave Gigg | davidgigg@hotmail.com