'Westworld' Episode 4 Significantly Raises the Stakes

westworld, hbo, william, logan

Danger: This recap contains major spoilers for "Dissonance Theory," the fourth episode of Westworld. To read our other coverage on the mind-melting show, head over to Westworld World.

"I think there may be something wrong with this world."

And the understatement of the year award goes to... Dolores, for this quote in the first scene of Westworld's fourth episode, "Dissonance Theory."

Like most Westworld installments so far, this one -- directed by Vincenzo Natali, who broke down how the episode was filmed for us -- starts with one of Bernard and Dolores' creepy father-humanoid daughter chats. She is telling him about the grief she's experiencing after her parents' death in the previous episode, and how it is actually making her feel more alive, like "a building with rooms I've never explored."

"Oh, yeah," evil Bernard says (I may be paraphrasing), cleaning his glasses even though they're totally non-prescription. "Well, if you like that feeling you get when your parents die, you'll love this game I want you to play." And then he tells her about the maze, and how if she can find the center, then "maybe you can be free."

That Bernard -- played by the amazing Jeffrey Wright, who we interviewed for this episode -- says this is interesting for a variety of reasons. For one, we now know the Man in Black isn't the only one who knows about the maze. Two, it seems to clear up any question that the center of the maze will turn out to merely be the behind-the-scenes area where Ford and the rest of the crew tinker with the hosts. It won't merely be a "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" kind of trope, and for that I'm relieved.

Like Dolores setting off to play the maze game, let's take a tour through the rest of the storylines from this game-changing episode and see if we can figure it all out.

westworld, anthony hopkins
John P. Johnson/HBO

Ford & Theresa

At the diagnostic lab, where Ford gets really mad if all the robots aren't naked, the host who smashed his head in with a boulder last week is being examined by Bernard's quippy associate Elsie, who is being grilled by park ops head Theresa. Theresa says her team is going to check out the smashed-head man, and Elsie gets upset and complains to Bernard, who seems intent on throwing her off the trail, mostly by pointing out that the weird drawing the smashed-skull man was doing isn't actually Orion's belt, because it only has three stars and this drawing has four. I'm not really sure why this error in drawing an astrology chart should be evidence that the robots aren't acting in strange ways (if anything, wouldn't a normally functioning robot make a carving accurate?), but this just further confirms Bernard's sketchiness.

Speaking of which, later we see Bernard and Theresa post-coitus, and she mentions she has to meet with Ford the next day and see if she can buy some time, because the board has to approve his huge narrative plan. Bernard tells her to not cross her arms when talking to Ford, and also to avoid putting clothes on hosts, or he'll get super mad.

That narrative plan is very visible when they meet at some restaurant, which might overlook agave plants, but I'm not a botanist. Giant rock-eating machines and groups of hosts with pickaxes work on a giant hole, and Ford and Theresa talk. He says he knows she thinks he's gone mad and lost his way, and she says she's merely concerned with the extent of the changes being made.

And then Ford pulls some Zach Morris time-out magic shit. He talks about Arnold and how they made 100 hopeful storylines, but Arnold had a dim view of people, and begged Ford not to let the "money men" into the park, but Ford was convinced that the money people wouldn't see the bigger picture. Theresa looks at him, and Ford appears to have hit the pause button on the entire park. The waiter serving them the wine keeps pouring wine into a glass until it overflows and empties. Everyone else is frozen.

"Sadly," Ford says, chillingly, "Arnold lost his perspective. I haven't. I have always seen things clearly."

And that's when Theresa realizes that this was the exact seat at the exact table she sat in with her parents when she visited the park as a child. Ford knew that. And he also knows she's sleeping with Bernard. He tells her to stay out of his way. And then he makes the world start up again, and the server is pretty embarrassed he just poured $100 of merlot all over a table.

Aside from this being one of the better scenes in the show, because Anthony Hopkins rules, it also shows Ford's all-encompassing power and nearly omniscient knowledge of the park. How does he know she's sleeping with Bernard? This brings up another interesting fan theory circulating around: is Bernard actually just a robot, too?

westworld, dolores, william
John P. Johnson/HBO

William & Logan

As for White Hat William, he is busy being smitten by Dolores, even though he's on this whole bounty-hunter narrative, and wants to take her back to town. But Logan is like, "Ahhh, let's just kill her, I'm so bored. Why do I come to this place?!? I could be in Cabo!" And then Logan reveals some interesting information about how his company needs to bump its stake in Westworld.

White Hat Willy complains because he thought Logan was just here to hang with his new bro-in-law, and Logan tweaks that idea. "In our family," Logan says, "everything is business." Holy shit, is William marrying into an MBA program? But, yes, this does reveal that Logan's family has actual ties to the park, which just makes some theories I'll get into later on even more interesting.

Oh, also: Don't call William "Billy."

We later see Dolores out in Las Mudas, Lawrence's hometown. She confronts the Man in Black's sad-sack captive's daughter and asks her where she's from. "Same as you, don't you remember," the girl says, creepily, like most little girls in horror-esque shows. Dolores hears that internal voice again saying "remember" and flashes back to a church and a burial and guns and the little girl in a dress. Also, the little girl is drawing the maze in the dirt, which is impressive on several levels.

Eventually, some marshal-type host likely sent by that Hemsworth bro comes to bring her back to the farm, but William intervenes. "That's my girl," William tells him. "But not in a sexual way, since I have someone at home and wear a white hat, and so we're just kind of complicated friends for now, OK?" Confused, the host backs off.

William and Logan eventually do get involved with the bandit raid, shoot up a farm, and snag their boy "Slim," who tells the marshal they're with that he works for Alonzo. Naturally, Logan then kills the marshal because it turns out Alonzo is their "ticket to the best ride in the park," and they stumbled upon an "Easter egg." Dolores objects to setting Slim free, and Logan and William briefly hold guns to each other's favorite hosts until Logan tells William that Dolores will be fine with "a trip down the dark side, and so will you."

Where exactly is the dark side? What's Alonzo's deal? Will this mark a turning point for White Hat Willy? What was Logan's childhood like that he's always so bored?

westworld, maeve, hector
John P. Johnson/HBO


Meanwhile, back at the brothel, Maeve is having issues concentrating. As Clementine makes jokes about things she's had on the tip of her tongue and discusses the anatomy of a certain "cowpoke from Abilene," Maeve chugs sherry and experiences more reverie glitches, which seem to make voices sound like they're coming out of a CB radio, and starts to remember a previous scene in which some silly-looking guest in a not-very-cool cowboy hat murdered everyone and the techs came in to clean it all up for the next day. (Side note: what a weird job, being a tech at Westworld whose job is to come into fake massacres, clean them up, and start the process over again. Forget the robots -- what are their dreams like?!?)

Maeve goes to her room and, in her strange old-timey 1800s undies, looks for a gunshot wound she swears has to be on her body, and she keeps flashing back, so she draws a sketch of the person she keeps seeing in her mind, which kind of looks like one of those 1930s scuba divers. She lifts up the floorboard and sees that she's sketched this scuba person over and over and over. This scene could basically be from Memento.

Later, as the Hector narrative plays out and he goes into town to get the safe out of the brothel, Maeve has another plan. She recognizes some of Hector's outlaw buddies in the brothel earlier, and Clementine mentions that Hector lives out with "the savages." Maeve had seen that damn scuba-looking robot person when the Native Americans walked on a Trail of Tears-type deal through the town, and one of the Union soldiers had mentioned that it was part of their religion.

When Hector comes into the brothel, she puts a gun to his head and shows him upstairs to the safe, where she offers to give him the combination if Hector tells her about the scuba guy. Hector tells her that the thing is a "shade," from sacred native lore, a man who walks between worlds, sent from hell to oversee our world.

This makes sense. Often the hosts are just programmed to think things they'd seen in the past were dreams, so, yes, this "shade" literally is sent from hell (underground) to oversee their world (clean up the dead people and set them up for the next day). Maeve tells Hector that she remembers getting shot and the shade standing over her and all of a sudden she wasn't shot anymore. So she asks him to cut her open where she thinks she was shot.  

"Cut me, Mick" she shouts.

"But my name is Hector," Hector says, and declines to cut her, so she does it herself, and asks him to reach inside her. He pulls out the bullet. Maeve is so happy. "I'm not crazy," she says, as law people stand outside the door ready to shoot Hector. "And none of this matters," so they make out as the bullets come raining down. But Maeve doesn't care anymore. She has nearly reached Bill Murray in Groundhog Day status. And that is a truly dangerous and radical thing. Dolores may have the gun, but Maeve has the clarity.

westworld, man in black, armistice
John P. Johnson/HBO

The Man in Black

He's traveled to the blood arroyo with Lawrence to figure out the next level of the game, but he can't find where the snake lays its eggs until he walks down to the water and sees that outlaw Girl With the Dragon Snake Tattoo topless in the water. After murdering a few of her outlaw crew to create some job openings, the Man in Black volunteers himself and Lawrence for the task of getting their outlaw boss Hector out of jail in exchange for the backstory of the tattoo.

During this exchange, he asks Snake Tattoo if she's heard of Arnold, basically "the original settler of these parts," and talks about how Arnold had created a world where "you could do anything you want except one thing: you can't die." But then, the MiB says, Arnold broke his own rule by dying in the park, which is crappy, because he had one more story to tell -- a story with "real stakes, real violence." And he shows her the scalp maze again and says her tattoos are the second part of the puzzle. She's like, "I didn't realize we were going to get into such an intensely deep conversation, but if you'd like to get Hector out of jail, that's cool."

Also that night, as he sits around a campfire, a guest comes up to the MiB and says he's a giant fan of his, which shouldn't be a surprise because Ed Harris is terrific in The Rock, but actually the guest was referring to the MiB's work outside of Westworld, and mentions that his foundation literally saved his sister's life.

The MIB cuts him off and threatens him and tells him he's on vacation, but still this further deepens the MiB backstory. Is he some sort of good samaritan after all? Does this make the William the White Hat is the Man in Black theory all the stronger? After all, if William married into Logan's family, which owns a piece of the park (further helping to explain why, for the most part, the staff leaves the Man in Black alone), William could have incredible wealth outside said park and be using it for real-life white-hat purposes.

The MiB and Lawrence somehow find themselves in a prison stagecoach where the MiB tells Lawrence he's "always been a prisoner" and "What if I told you I'm here to set you free?" because being set free is a big theme in this episode. Lawrence probably thinks he's being literal because Lawrence's narrative seems to always involve him being actually being in jail. Anyway, the jail decides to shoot Lawrence in front of a shooting squad, but the Man in Black uses some sort of exploding cigars to blow himself and the outlaw Hector out of jail and kill everyone in the shooting squad just as Lawrence was going to get dead for the second time. "Motherfucker," Lawrence says. Indeed, Lawrence. Indeed.

Girl with Snake Tattoo then tells her backstory. Her whole family and village were brutally murdered by "masked men." She had to put her mother's blood on her body so they'd think she was dead, and so when she tracked down each of them, she used her blood to paint her skin again. And she only has one person left to find, so she can paint the head of the snake on her face and truly look like Mike Tyson: "He has many names," she says. "Most know him as Wyatt."

The Man in Black smiles. And goes off with Lawrence looking for Wyatt. When they do, they stumble across someone tied up naked like Jesus. It's poor Teddy. "Put me out of my misery," Teddy asks. "That's not really how this park works," the Man in Black tells him, sort of, and goes off in search of more donors to his foundation.

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Kevin Alexander is Thrillist's national writer-at-large, and owns several white hats, though most of them are beanies. Get matching snake tats with him @KAlexander03