Westworld – S1E3 Straying from Reality

Neil Marshall is back at HBO with another exciting hour of television, albeit one less about warfare (i.e. Game of Thrones) and one more about the themes and questions about consciousness raised in Westworld.  Like Maeve in Episode 2, Teddy (James Marsden) had the bulk of the host storyline in Episode 3, entitled “The Stray”.  He had his own adventure brought to vivid life by Marshall and had some factory interviews with Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) himself.  Please enjoy my spoiler filled thoughts below.

SPOILERS FOR WESTWORLD

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Last week, I hypothesized that Teddy was going to die every episode.  Even when he was barely in Episode 2, he still met a timely demise.  This week, he may not be dead.  That theory of mine might have not panned out.  Although I did mention that he probably wouldn’t die every episode, I did expect him to die in at least the first few, including this week.  Alas, Teddy very well may have survived his attackers in Ford’s new story for Teddy.

I love how Teddy’s “mysterious” backstory was such because the park creators never gave him one.  It wasn’t until Ford gave Teddy the “memories” of Wyatt that Teddy had any excuse for being so mysterious.  Approaching Bone Tomahawk territory, Marshall used his experience in horror to thrillingly have Wyatt lead a band of lunatics that attacked Wyatt and his human compatriot.  The park guest ran off with a knife, but her fate has yet to be revealed, and the attackers overpowered Teddy and beat him down.  What wasn’t clear was whether Teddy survived the mob.  Was he beaten down by those ax handles or was he actually chopped to bits?  Hopefully we find out next week.

But what I found important about Teddy’s storyline this week was how it thematically fit with the rest of the episode.  The name of the third episode comes from the actual stray android who wanders off into the dessert and gets stuck in a rocky cavern.  He was previously carving constellations into wooden sculptures and was the only one in his group of androids who was programmed into wielding a weapon (in this case an ax).  This park rule/programming later played into Dolores not being able to shoot a gun and then later able to.  The stray then spectacularly kills himself by using a large rock to crush his own head, presumably to prevent that QA guy (the third Hemsworth brother) from retrieving his data log.  The scene was pure Marshall and effective.

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The host was a literal stray from a storyline, like Dolores straying from hers by overcoming her programming and shooting her soon-to-be-rapist then recognizing that she would be shot by that man on the porch and eventually running away and into the arms of William (Jimmi Simpson).  Unfortunately that final scene disproved the popular theory that William is a younger version of Ed Harris’ The Man in Black.  Alas, that theory seems to have been disproven.  But the rock crushing host and Dolores weren’t the only ones straying.  Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) was straying by continuing to talk to Dolores and think that the hosts might become real, even as Ford sternly told him that the hosts aren’t real.  Ford himself strayed from the usual park written stories by giving Teddy a backstory that prevented him from accompanying Dolores all day.

Teddy, the host the series started by setting up as a hero, the host that is constantly dying, the host without a written backstory was different this week, by being inconsistent with the other episode-focused characters.  Maeve ominously remembers seeing his “corpse”, Dolores wants him to break free from his loop and run away with her, Ford wants him to be a piece of his new murderous storyline, but what does Teddy want?  Marsden has yet to portray Teddy as having been affected by the android virus, the ability to access an old code, a form of pure artificial intelligence.  There have been no hints that he is broken.  But he has to eventually, right?

This whole episode dealt with the fallout and potential future calamities caused by the hosts having self-realization and actual consciousness.  Dolores is leading the charge and actually seems to want to change and be free from her narrative loop.  Teddy still has yet to discover that desire.  He is still the pawn of the park, ever helping the wanting gunslinging guest, forever trying to be with Dolores, forever dying (even Ford joked about his thousands of deaths).  With much of the episode focusing on Teddy, Westworld demonstrated that not every main host character will transform like Maeve and Dolores.  Teddy solely exists for the park, and that might always be the case.  As other hosts evolve around him, Teddy may not.  Teddy remains a symbol of a fake reality, a storyline that is fixed and cannot change, no matter what some may try to morph.  As others hosts try to leave their scripted lives, Teddy is at the wills of his creators. I hope he breaks through and abandons that fake reality, and discovers the truth.

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