Welcome to the Singularity Watch, in which we track how far our favorite androids have made it on their quest for consciousness. Episode 4, "Dissonance Theory," delves deeper into how much the hosts actually know about the world they live in. (Hint: It's way more than their creators think.) This week focused a lot on Maeve and Dolores' self-discoveries and the meaning of freedom, but we also learned an essential tidbit about the Man in Black. Let's get to it! Bernie is just asking for trouble at this point. After allowing Dolores to continue exploring her newfound consciousness — which led to her overpowering her programming and shooting Rebus, therefore going very much off-loop — he brings her back in for another little chat. From this scene, we learn two things: First, that Dolores still remembers that her parents are dead and feels that pain acutely. Second, she seems much more self-aware than before. When Bernie asks her if she'd like him to make her grief go away, she replies: "Why would I want that? Pain, their loss, is all I have left of them. You think your grief will make you smaller inside, like your heart will collapse in on itself but it doesn’t. I feel spaces opening up inside of me, like a building with rooms I’ve never explored."
The words are pretty (like an Etsy card) — they've been written for her as part of her programming. But she has made the decision to repurpose words originally conceived for a love scene to express the well of emotions building up inside her. She knows there's more to her world than she can even fathom at this point — and it scares her. Bernie suggests she try something new: a secret game, the maze. (Hey, where have I heard that one before?) "The goal is to find the center of it," he says. "If you can do that, then maybe, you can be free." Like the Man in Black, Dolores wants that very much. She wakes up outside and Will hands her a cup. (Am I the only one wondering how and when these talks occur? In the middle of the night? Is Dolores actually traveling to HQ and back? Or could this also be happening in her mind? Also, why is she clothed while the other hosts are naked?)
Back in Sweetwater, Maeve is continuing to feel the aftereffects of her trip to HQ. She's playfully bantering with Clementine (Can those two get their own show? It can be called Mariposa Madams — you're welcome, HBO.), when a group of rowdy customers decide that the way to spice up their vacation is to commit mass murder in a brothel. The two hosts lie on the floor, seemingly dead, except Maeve is conscious. She sees and hears the aftermath of the shooting: the cleaning crew coming through to pick up the hosts and the operation to remove the bullets from her ruined body. We even find out how that MRSA crept into her abdomen: A bullet fragment was left behind when the crew was in a hurry to put her back in service. And suddenly, we're back in the bar — it was all a flashback. A glitch. At home, Maeve examines her abdomen, but sees no scar. After another flashback, she draws a picture of the men who operated on her in their hazmat suits. When she tries to hide the sketch under a floorboard, she finds all the other ones she’s drawn and forgotten about. Tons of them. It's horrifying.
Meanwhile, Elsie is still hounding Bernie about her investigation into what's infecting the hosts. “There was clearly a pattern of behavior here. First, Abernathy. Now, this. I’ve got hosts hearing voices and climbing mountaintops to consult their astrological charts. This is not a fucking glitch, and for some reason, you don’t want me to tell anyone.” Is she onto him? In any case, he shuts her down with one quick observation: The symbol she believes to be Orion isn't. "There are three stars in Orion’s belt, not four." So what the hell was the lost host carving?
Back on the range, Lawrence and the Man in Black are still searching for the entrance to the maze. (Has the Man in Black been beheading all the snakes that cross his path? That would also make for an amusing spinoff.) They're arguing when they spot Armistice, Hector's outlaw sidekick from the premiere, taking a dip in the river. And surprise, surprise, she has a full-body snake tattoo. After some weird flirty banter (Anyone else shipping Arminblack?), the two agree to help rescue Hector from jail in exchange for some information. This leads to the most interesting moment on the show so far. At the outlaw camp, two guest recognize the Man in Black and try to engage him in conversation: “Sir, I didn’t want to intrude, but I am such an admirer of yours. Your foundation basically saved my sister.” Does the Man in Black work for Delos, the corporation running Westworld? Does he go around saving children when he's not killing entire villages full of hosts? He's clearly famous enough to have face recognition. But more importantly, his prickly reaction (“One more word and I’ll cut your throat, you understand? This is my fucking vacation.”) tells us that he doesn't want his true identity intruding on his quest. Back off, boys.
At HQ, someone has finally noticed that Dolores isn't where she's supposed to be. They send someone from the behavior team, conspicuously dressed as a sheriff, to check on her. She's following Logan and Will, who have made a pit stop while hunting their bounty. In the center of town, she runs into Lawrence's daughter, seemingly lost. Except Lawrence's daughter is never lost. She remembers. Do you? (Looks like the words, "Do you remember?" are a trigger. If you look closely, some phrases have direct effects on the hosts.) Suddenly, Dolores has visions of this girl, sees a church, and herself buying a gun — have they met before? When she jolts back into reality, the girl is gone, but she has drawn the maze in the sand. Now that Dolores is also searching for the maze, will this girl help her get there before the Man in Black?
Speaking of the Man in Black, after rescuing Hector from jail with nothing but a single match, he has won enough of Armistice's trust and admiration to get what he needs from her. As many things do in this world, her clue comes in the form of a story: “I was 7 when they rolled into my town," she explains. "Masked men in devil’s horns. They killed everyone: women, children, even the animals. They gutted my mother from her jaw to her sex. I had to paint her warm blood over my skin to make sure they would think I was dead. Everyone I tracked down, I used their blood to paint my skin again." Only one man is left on her list: the head of the snake, otherwise known as Wyatt. Yes, the very same man that Teddy was hunting in the last episode. (Teddy, if you're wondering, was not killed in the ambush by Wyatt's men. Instead, they left him tied to a tree and dying of thirst for the Man in Black to find. Poor Teddy. He's always someone's bitch.)
Much of this episode focuses on how much Ford has been fucking things up with his new storyline. Narratives are in disarray, hosts aren't where they're supposed to be, and he's clogged up a huge swath of the park with construction. Theresa is dispatched to give him some tough love. Unfortunately for her, it turns out Ford isn't the cuddly oddball she has him pegged as. He sends her packing, but not before asking her to be nice to Bernie (Seconded!). He knows all about their affair.
Will, Dolores, and Logan finally capture Slim, the outlaw they've been hunting. Unfortunately, Logan decides he's bored of being "white hat" and shoots their bounty-hunter friend in the head, deciding, instead, to have Slim lead him to his boss, El Lazo. Looks like Will is crossing over to the Dark Side. (Cue Will-is-the-Man-in-Black theory enthusiasts!) Does this all have anything to do with Logan's previous comments about this being a business trip? Who does he work for?
Finally, we turn back to Maeve, who's rapidly becoming the most astute of all the characters on this show. Earlier in the episode, she watched a tribe of Native Americans walk through town. One of them dropped something: a carving that looks suspiciously like the man in the hazmat suit that Maeve keeps drawing. She learns that this tribe worships these creatures and seeks out Hector, who has apparently lived with them, for answers. And when I say seek out, I mean she holds him up at gunpoint during his own saloon robbery. Maeve is badass. Hector explains that the carved figure is part of sacred native lore — it represents "the man who walks between worlds, who was sent from hell to oversee our world." I don't know about you, but that sounds a lot like the Westworld employees. Also, could this religion storyline tie in with Ford's secret narrative built around the cross in the desert? Maeve tells Hector about the wound in her abdomen that mysteriously disappeared. She asks him to cut her. After some convincing, he does (sexily, I might add) and pulls out a bullet shard. "What does it mean?" he asks. Maeve answers: "That I'm not so crazy after all. And that none of this matters." And then, to everyone's (or really, just mine) delight, they make out furiously as the marshalls shoot at them through the door. Unlike Dolores, who is still figuring this out, Maeve has realized that nothing she does actually matters. She is free. Additional thoughts:
— The Man in Black also knew Arnold! Were they friends? Does he know Ford, too? Or is HE actually Arnold, pulling a Darth-Vader-like "he died and was reborn as me" shtick? — #TeamMaeve — Bernie and Theresa are super-cute. More of them, please!