Sunday night’s episode of Westworld ended with a huge revelation that many people predicted. But instead of the episode focusing on the twist and using it as a “gotcha” moment, it used the revelation as a way to further the plot, to reveal character motivation, to be more than just a twist.
Bernard is a host. Something the internet and fans predicted after watching the pilot. Afterall, on a show about hosts indistinguishable from humans, one of the assumed humans has to be revealed as a robot. It just has to. It has become such an constant trope in this type of science fiction story that it is no longer a surprise when a human is revealed to be secretly a robot. The fun of the twist often comes more in the surprise of which character is a robot, and not if a character is a robot.
So when the latest episode of Westworld revealed Bernard’s true identity, it did so with grace and great craftsmanship. A weaker show would have shown Theresa looking at the drawings of Bernard and then cutting to Bernard’s face, then back to Theresa’s face as she stares at her former lover with a worried look, perhaps a single tear cascading down her cheek as she stutters his name, then the camera cuts back to Bernard’s face, zooming in on his eyes, the LOST end music swells, cut to black.
Thankfully that didn’t happen. Thankfully, the writers on this show are smarter than that. They decided to let the twist play out in this episode. Instead of using at as a cliffhanging reveal, they used it to show the heights Ford’s megalomaniac ego will go, the complete disregard for human life that Ford only previously hinted at (never forget his host childhood-self killed the hosts family dog), that Theresa was only spying on the park for Delos and not a competitor, that only Ford is in control of Bernard, and that Bernard began to struggle with his identity as he listened to Ford and Theresa discuss his true self. Using these newly revealed character traits and motivations, the writers furthered the plot through Bernard killing Theresa coldly and patiently for Ford. He even took off his jacket and tie before smashing her head on the wall, out of focus, as the camera focused on a new host’s creation.
The scene was intense, not because of the twist, but because of the twist’s ramifications. We immediately witnessed that a host can murder a human on command, that a host can actually harm a human outside of bullet welts and knocking someone out. Hosts have the capacity for murder, and can do so without hesitation. I’m going to stop watching the next-time-on clips for Westworld, and I haven’t seen the teaser for episode 8, so I hope that they continue to explore Bernard as a host and how that will have a psychological effect on him. Will he feel remorse for Theresa’s death? How long does Bernard retain memories? He must have a lot of memory to perform the job as head of programming.
This was another great episode of Westworld, one that greatly utilized a storytelling twist to great effect and power. To see Bernard so cold and distant as Theresa slowly realized her soon to be demise was tragic and disturbing. If Westworld continues to reveal its secrets as effectively as it did Sunday night, then we are in for some great storytelling over the next few weeks.