The Well-Tempered Clavier
In this week’s episode of HBO’s Westworld series ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ Dolores and Bernard reconnect with their pasts; Maeve makes a bold proposition to Hector; Teddy finds enlightenment, at a price.
“The Well-Tempered Clavier”: “Well tempered” means that the twelve notes per octave of the standard keyboard are tuned in such a way that it is possible to play music in most major or minor keys and it will not sound perceptibly out of tune. This shows up in JS Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” Clavier: a keyboard instrument, especially one with strings, such as the harpsichord. You can hear this in the following selection:
Pony Express – Mail bag
The Pony Express
There were big reveals this week in #Westworld, when Episode 9 ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier‘ finally answered that long standing question about Arnold and Bernard, as well as finally revealing that yes internet, it was Dolores that killed Arnold all those years ago (suddenly that “No, I wouldn’t say ‘friends,’ Dolores. I wouldn’t say that at all” line from Ford makes perfect sense, huh?). Meanwhile Maeve set fire to it all, William finally reached boiling point, and poor old Stubbs appeared to fall prey to some nasty hosts who seemed to ignore all voice commands. It was all go as per usual, and as per usual there were many tiny details littered throughout, so without further ado here are five things you might have missed from Westworld, Episode 9 “The Well-Tempered Clavier.”
Guts & Glory
Inside the episode
Before we get into the meat of the analysis of “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” I want to lay out some theories I’ve been chewing over all season. I don’t want to waste too much time going back over them in excruciating detail in this article, so here’s a brief recap. I believe that, unbeknownst to some, this season of Westworld has been exploring multiple time periods in the history of the park. This very popular, Reddit-generated theory is laid out here. We’ll get into some more detail below.
I also believe that William (Jimmi Simpson) and the Man in Black (Ed Harris) are actually the same character, and we’re watching them traverse the park 30 years apart in time. You can read all about that here and here; we will also get into it below.
And, finally, as I believe this episode made clear, sometimes when we think we’re watching Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), we have actually been watching Arnold (also Jeffrey Wright). You can read about that here, as well as below.
You don’t have to agree with me on all of those points, but I wanted to make sure we’re operating with the same information. Got it? Good. Now on to the episode, which may have finally revealed Ford’s master plan.
WE CAN FINALLY CLEANLY TRACK DOLORES’S PROGRESS:
If we believe that we’re seeing multiple time periods in the park, then one of the cleverest tricks Westworld has pulled on its audience is presenting characters who don’t age and, sometimes, wear the exact same outfit. This was often true of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) until this episode.
If we believe her travels with William took place 30 years ago, shortly after the park opened and Arnold died, we can identify that version of her now by the gaping wound on her belly. We can identify her current progress by the lack of any wound or blood on that jaunty striped shirt. And, finally, we can also identify her earliest, pre-William self by that old blue dress. There are three versions of Dolores, and three identifying markers.
There was also some added evidence in this week’s episode to support the multiple time period theory. That old, worn-out photo that helped spark Abernathy’s breakdown in Episode 1? We see it shiny and new in Episode 9. That’s William’s fiancée and Logan’s sister: Juliet. Either William dropped it on the Abernathy homestead 30 years ago, or the Man in Black (the modern version of William) has been carrying it around and dropped it there when he visited the farm in Episode 1.
Perhaps he even showed it to Dolores in the barn in an attempt to jog something inside of here. Either way, we’ve now seen that photo in two very different states of decay, indicating decades have passed since Logan shoved it down William’s shirt.
The other thing we know about the different time periods in the park is that when Westworld opened, the robots were made of gears. Later—like when Felix and Sylvester opened Maeve up—the hosts are made of organic matter. The Man in Black (a.k.a. William) talks about opening them up decades ago and marveling at their artistry. This week, we saw exactly that happen to Dolores.
And don’t worry: William did open up a robot for himself. He didn’t just let Logan have all the fun. In fact, he opened up several, using the exact same knife the Man in Black fancies now. If that wasn’t obvious enough, we also got this little moment. . .
A clear hint that William and the Man in Black are one and the same if ever I saw one.
WHAT DOLORES DID
This week, Westworld made it clear that there’s a connection between Teddy’s memory of Wyatt in Escalante and Dolores’s memory of the massacre in the “City Swallowed by Sand.” In Teddy’s memory, Wyatt kills the “general” after washing the town clean.
We know that Ford told Teddy the Wyatt story is a “fiction that, like all good stories, is rooted in truth.” We also know, thanks to this episode, that Dolores killed Arnold, a.k.a. one of Westworld’s “generals.” So is it safe, now, to assume that Dolores is Wyatt? (You can read a little more about that theory here.) The Man in Black believed he’d find Wyatt guarding the maze, and lo and behold, he found Dolores.
The Man in Black also believed Wyatt would be his ultimate adversary. But, of course, if the Man in Black is William, wouldn’t the ultimate adversary be Dolores? The Host he loved who got away?
WHAT FORD WANTS
We’ve seen the “City Swallowed by Sand” in model form in Ford’s office. This is the new narrative he’s been planning; this is why his earth movers have been working overtime. Presumably, he sent Dolores on a path to meet up with the Man in Black in the “City Swallowed by Sand”—but why now?
We have to assume Ford is orchestrating this whole thing. He has never once been caught totally off guard in this show. Not by Charlotte, not by Theresa, and, in this episode, not by Bernard. He’s always a few moves ahead. So what is he up to, really?
As the Man in Black is quick to understand (“you don’t see the whole game,” he warns Charlotte), everything we’ve been watching this season is part of Ford’s narrative.
Yes, including all the backstage stuff with Theresa and the board. If we believe that the Man in Black is an older version of William, then this episode seemed to confirm suspicions that after he leaves Westworld.
William saves the park from financial ruin, thanks to the company owned by Logan’s family. That means he has power to put restrictions on Ford. Maybe he can even help Charlotte push Ford out. And perhaps Ford, seeing the Man in Black emotionally vulnerable after his wife’s suicide and the incident with Maeve, has decided to end him once and for all.
What better way to do so than to make him confront the trauma of losing Dolores all over again?
So we believe that Ford is one step ahead of everyone else, and that he, perhaps, put all this in motion by introducing the reveries and monkeying around with Dolores’s programming. His reveries have created far more rebellious robots than there were last time. Angela makes it clear that if a robot were to rise up again, there would be a host of vengeful Hosts ready to stand by his or her side. So we have to believe that Ford knows exactly what’s going on with Maeve.
Teddy’s description of how Wyatt (a.k.a. Dolores) convinced him to help slaughter an entire town should sound very familiar to Maeve fans: “He told me he needed me. I couldn’t resist. It was like the devil himself had taken control of me.” Doesn’t that sound a lot like what Maeve is doing with Hector? Does this story always need a conscious female robot and her willing, handsome sidekick in order to work, and is Ford trying to recreate the bloody incident of decades past in the hopes of pushing Delos out? It’s unclear.
Another might make the money men more inclined to crack down on Westworld. But I do have trouble believing that Maeve is doing any of this without Ford being a) very aware and b) okay with it for his own nefarious purposes.
It’s devastating to see that just like Maeve and Dolores, Bernard has been woken up before. Erased and re-set by Ford. Achieving consciousness and rebelling is, in effect, his little loop. It’s possible that this isn’t the last version of Bernard we will see; Ford is printing a new host underneath that cottage in the woods.
Will it be a new, freshly compliant Bernard? Or will it, perhaps, be a facsimile of young William or Logan? Specters from the past meant to torment the Man in Black? Maybe it’s Host versions of Elsie or Stubbs, or maybe, just maybe, it’s no one at all.
But if we are going to talk about Bernard’s loop, then we should re-visit Dolores’s as well. I’ve long speculated that her terrible loop is some kind of punishment.
If she killed Arnold and, perhaps, did something equally destructive with William? We might see why Ford—in all his petty, god-like rage—would want to punish her for eternity.
After whatever went down with William, it looks like Teddy was added to the loop. He is meant as a jailer of sorts to keep Dolores on the farm.
Ford says as much to Teddy (who used to be a sheriff) when he’s programming in the Wyatt backstory. Ford gave Teddy William’s milk can meet-cute, and, cruelly, even programmed their script with some of the dialogue from her relationship with Arnold.
Dolores is stuck with a pale imitation (sorry, Teddy) of the two men who meant the most to her. And until he frees her by setting Teddy off on a new path, Ford is content to gleefully watch her suffer.
WHAT’S OUT THERE
William thought he could rescue Dolores by smuggling her out of the park. (To be what, William, your eternally youthful girlfriend? Oh dear.) Getting out is also at the top of Maeve’s to-do list. But we don’t know what’s waiting out there in the big bad world. This society is one of plenty where all diseases have been cured.
Both Dolores and Ford point out, everyone out there is constantly clamoring to get into the park.
We don’t know what has happened to humanity on the outside. Are there even other living creatures out there? Is that what Ford meant when he said humans were alone in the world? Or was he being more poetic? We have to consider the possibility that visitors to Westworld view things like horses with such slack-jawed wonder. Is it because those kinds of things no longer exist outside of the park?
It could be this story’s version of seeing a cloned Velociraptor. Either way, Maeve should brace herself for not liking what she sees if she gets out. Will Season 2 really take place in the outside world? Or will our rebellious hosts scurry back to the comforting arms of Ford and his bountiful dominion?
ODDS AND ENDS
Though Reddit has been clinging to anagrams as proof that Bernard and Arnold are indeed one and the same. I have to admit I never thought it would happen. We find out, as Dolores passes the placard on his door: Arnold’s last name is Weber.
When you rearrange the letters of “Arnold Weber” you get, ”Bernard Lowe.”
Which is odd, since Ford seemed to come up with the name “Bernard” on a whim. The takeaway? Westworld is the kind of show that uses anagram clues.
If we’re going to point out parallels between Westworld and Jurassic Park.
It’s worth mentioning that poor Stubbs fell for the same trick Muldoon did in the 1993 film. Distracted watching a pack of hunters in front of him, he was taken from the side.