Westworld Episode 3 Recap: Dolores, Get Your Gun

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.
It was only a matter of time before someone brought up Alice in Wonderland.

That person is Bernie, who, during his latest chill sesh with Dolores, asks her to read from the Lewis Carroll classic about a woman coming to terms with the inner workings of her mind.

“Dear dear, how queer everything is today. And yesterday everything went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night."
This is a less-than-subtle reminder that, last we saw Dolores, she had just uncovered a weapon in her backyard after following orders from a strange voice in the middle of the night.

Bernie and Dolores have apparently been engaging in some kind of very exclusive book club — Alice reminds her of "the other books we've read." The common theme? Change.

The book also gives us some insight into Bernie's inner life, namely that he used to have a son, who later died. We don't know how or when — but his interactions with his (ex?) wife via modern FaceTime seem to indicate that it happened fairly recently.

Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is, who in the world am I?”

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Back at the ranch, Dolores wakes up in bed, like every other day. Only this time, we see her getting ready. It must be jarring to find a gun in your sock drawer and not remember why you own it. As she stares at her reflection, she suddenly flashes back to her most recent encounter with the Man in Black. When she opens the drawer again, the gun is gone.

It's worth noting that, aside from humans, only 6 kinds of animals are able to recognize themselves in a mirror. The mirror test, developed in 1970, assesses whether or not a non-human is able to be self-aware to the point of self-recognition.

It seems our Dolores is giving a new meaning to "through the looking glass."
As his white hat suggests, Will is turning out to be a pretty vanilla character. But when he plays hero and saves Clementine from a standoff, we learn that A) hosts CAN shoot humans. They just can't kill them. And B) Will is engaged to Logan's sister. Will falls prey to the "earnest cowboy" fantasy, and convinces Logan to go bounty hunting. I hate to say it, but I'm with Logan on this one. Wake me up when shit gets interesting.

Things are not so snoozy at Westworld HQ, where Elsie is continuing to investigate the glitchy hosts, despite explicitly being ordered not to. This time, rather than musing on Peter Abernathy, she's focusing her efforts on Walter, the host with a milk fetish who went apeshit in the saloon after killing his partner, Rebus. Walter, it seems, wasn't just ranting at the universe. He was talking to someone named Arnold, whom we later find out, was Dr. Ford's partner. (But more on that later, because Arnold deserves a proper introduction. He's a thing.)

Of course, conversing with strangers named Arnold isn't the only weird behavior Walter's been exhibiting. Of the nine hosts in that saloon, Walter only killed six, all of whom had killed him in previous storylines — someone's holding a grudge. To make matters worse, there's a stray host on the loose in the park, prompting Elise and Stubbs (who will forever be known as Spare Hemsworth) to go investigate.

Good ol' Teddy. When he isn't being used for target practice, Westworld's resident hunk is apparently some kind of heart-of-gold bounty hunter. He's like Dudley Do-Right, minus the Mountie hat. Last time we saw Teddy, he was lying dead in a room full of naked host bodies. He, of course, doesn't remember this, but Maeve, who came across the room during her mad dash through the lab, gets a flicker of flashback when they're chatting in her saloon.

The gift of blissful ignorance means that Teddy is free to roam the range with his girl, Dolores, serenading her with empty promises of love while refusing to commit to anything concrete.
Dolores, on the other hand, needs real answers. “You said someday," she points out. "Not today, or tomorrow or next week. Just someday. Someday sounds a lot like the thing people say when they actually mean never." (Jot that one down for the next time your crush sends you a vague, noncommittal text.)

Teddy it seems, has "got some reckoning to do" before he can truly commit to the woman he loves. (Sure.)

It's not clear what he needs to reckon with. According to Ford, they never bothered to come up with a backstory for Teddy, lovable as he may be. He exists, as the Man in Black pointed out in the premiere, to be the loser when a guest decides to slide into Dolores' DMs.

But now that he has to come up with a shiny new narrative, Ford decides it's time to change that. "It starts in a time of war, a world in flames, with a villain called Wyatt.”

Who is Wyatt, you ask? We don't exactly know yet, but we do find out that he's an ex-soldier gone bad, and that Teddy served with him. They used to be friends, until Wyatt, claiming he could hear the voice of God (kind of like Dolores' nighttime interactions?), started killing his fellow soldiers. He also claimed that the land didn’t belong to the natives or the new settlers. It belonged to "something that had yet to come," a.k.a. the corporation? Did Wyatt become sentient on this quest? Did he realize that he lives in the past within the future?

Teddy is the only man in the West to have come up against him and survived, and he's been hunting him ever since.

Speaking of strange interactions — Rebus seems awfully preoccupied with Dolores. Remember that this is the bandit who consistently shows up at her ranch to kill her father and rape her mother every night. After a particularly close call, Teddy tries to teach her to shoot. Here we learn yet another thing about hosts: only a select few are programmed to be able to pull a trigger. Dolores is not one of them.

Their little tryst gets interrupted by the sheriff, who tells Teddy they have a new bounty for him: some guy who killed a lot of people (including women and children) in a nearby settlement, by the "name of Wyatt." (Um, could this be the Man in Black? He recently did something similar...)

"I'm gonna come back for you," Teddy promises Dolores. "Someday soon." (Eye roll. )

Teddy and his posse come across a couple of dead bodies tied to a tree. They're buzzing with flies — and they're not dead. Looks like Wyatt has some white-walker powers. A little later, they're caught in an ambush by creatures that sound weirdly like the pig man from American Horror Story: Roanoke. What is happening in Westworld?

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.
Bojana Novakovic as Marti and James Marsden as Teddy.


Now let's step back and talk about Arnold, since this is the BIG REVEAL of this episode. Ford disproves everything you thought you knew about him when he tells off an employee for treating a host like a human and covering his naked body. So much for Mr. Nice Creator.

This prompts Bernie to inform him that Abernathy and Walter were talking to the same person when they lost it: Arnold.

Instead of looking alarmed, Ford drops a truth bomb in the form of: Hey, I know who that is, did I not mention I used to have a partner who helped me build all of this? Well, I did, and he died and now I get to take all the credit for being a genius.

Unlike Ford, creating human-like androids wasn't enough for Arnold. He wanted to create consciousness, which seems unwise given that these androids are basically created to get raped, beaten, and killed.

This is all based on a theory of consciousness known as The Bicameral Mind. It posits that there is one part of the brain that appears to be speaking, while the other part listens.

"Arnold built a version in which the hosts heard their programming as an inner monologue, with the hopes that in time, their inner voice would take over." As Ford explains, it looks like some of the hosts are currently accessing "fragments of Arnold's code."
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This could be the answer to the mysterious voice plaguing Dolores in the middle of the night. (Not to mention the "voice of God" that Wyatt hears.) As the oldest host in the park, she was most likely around when Arnold was, and therefore could have been subject to these experiments before he died of an unknown cause. (Maybe he still lives in the park! What if he's the Man in Black?)

Just don't forget, as Bernie says, "The hosts are not real. They’re not conscious. You mustn’t make Arnold’s mistake.”

This last piece of advice makes me believe that Ford is all too aware of Bernie's secret book club with Dolores. Bernie knows it, which is why he tries to end his experiment. But it's too late.

"Imagine there are two versions of yourself. One that feels these things and asks these questions, and one that’s safe, which would you rather be?" he asks.
"I’m sorry, I’m trying but I still don’t understand," she answers. "There aren’t two versions of me. There’s only one. And I think when I discover who I am, I’ll be free."
"Analysis: What prompted that response?"

“I don’t know.” Uh oh.

If he can't halt what he set in motion, Bernie at least instructs Dolores to fake it till she makes it: She is to stay in her loop, and not tell anyone about any of this.
Meanwhile, Elsie and Spare Hemsworth are still looking for their rogue host, who has been carving the constellation symbol for Orion on everything he can get his hands on.They find him caught between two rocks. But something's off. Elsie leaves Bernie an ominous message: "The stray didn’t get here by accident." It’s as if the stray got an idea in his head. What if he’s like the others?
The words take on a whole new meaning when, a few scenes later, the host wakes up mid-beheading, grabs a rock and slams it on his own head, committing suicide. Robots don't do that. Just sayin'.

Back in Sweetwater, Dolores has kept her promise to Bernie. She's staying on her loop. This leads her home, where she automatically recites, "Father wouldn't let them roam this close to dark." We know where this leads: a dead father, a dead mother, and a violent encounter in a barn.
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"There aren’t two versions of me. There’s only one. And I think when I discover who I am, I’ll be free."

Dolores
But as she rides towards the house, it's almost as if her memories have merged with reality. She's glitching. The man lying on the ground isn't the new host who's supposed to be playing her dad. It's the old Peter Abernathy. And while the Man in Black isn't there, Rebus takes over, dragging her into the barn in much the same fashion. Unlike last time, though, she has a gun.

There's a big tense moment here: Will she shoot? Can she shoot? And if so, what does it mean?

As Dolores struggles against her programming, her mind flashes back to the Man in Black. It's what she needs: She shoots. Rebus dies.

The past and present are still interchangeable when she gets back to the house. Someone shoots at her, and perhaps remembering past assaults, she bleeds. Then she looks down again, and there's no wound. She runs away unscathed, only to pass out in Will's very willing arms somewhere in the wilderness some time later.

But one thing's for sure: Dolores has broken through. Like Alice, she's gone to Wonderland. And she's probably not coming back.

Additional Thoughts:

Elsie and Stubbs mention a "Good Samaritan" reflex in the host. Here's what co-creator Jonathan Nolan has to say about it: “Part of what the hosts have been designed to do, we have a feature in the program called The Good Samaritan Reflex or Function. Wherever they can, the park is populated by hosts and part of their responsibility, part of their subconscious programming is to try to protect the guests in whatever capacity it can. So if you’ve got a drunken guest who’s careening towards a cliff edge, you’re more likely than not to have a host nearby who, without breaking that narrative, is going to find a way to gently steer them back. They’re cannon fodder on one hand, but they’re also the all-purpose minders of this place.”
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