Let's start with the obvious: The many theories about Bernard turned out to be right on the money. He is a host, an old one, and has been working under Ford's control this whole time. You have to admire the show's skill. It pulled off this reveal really well, despite all the internet chatter. There were clues, sure, but the turning point came when Theresa, pointing to a sketch of Bernie lying around in the basement of Ford's house, asks him what it could possibly be. "It doesn’t look like anything to me," he answers, parroting the hosts' reflexive answer when encountering something they shouldn't be looking at. It's worth noting that the episode's title, "Trompe L'Oeil," refers to the French expression for an optical illusion. It was all there, right in front of us. Holy shit moment aside, this revelation opens up endless possibilities for potential hosts roaming Westworld HQ. If Bernard fooled everyone like this, who knows how many others there are? Ironically, the episode starts with a dream from Bernie's so-called life. He's with his son in the hospital, reading to him from Alice in Wonderland. (Again!) The scene is meant to lead us to believe Bernie's backstory — he's on the wrong side of the rabbit hole and we're right there with him. Bernie's interrogation of Hector in the following scene, while at first glance seemed like just another excuse to see Hector naked (honestly, that's fine fine by me), also served as a reminder of how hosts perceive the world around them. As part of his analysis, Bernie asks the outlaw to react to a series of photographs — Westworld employees, high-speed trains, city lights. "They don't look like anything to me," Hector replies. It's a little on the nose, given what comes later, but a useful reminder that hosts are programmed to be shielded from things they're not mean to understand.
This episode also marked the return of Will and Dolores. They're still sharing a pretty plush looking train with Lawrence/El Lazo and Will is definitely starting to get comfortable in his new role as an outlaw. Dolores is still a little on edge, which only gets worse once the trio realizes they've entered Ghost Nation territory, which, judging by all the heads on spikes surrounding the train tracks, isn't all that friendly to outsiders.
Meanwhile, Bernie is slowly coming to realize that something might have happened to Elsie. His calls keep going unanswered and her location isn't showing up on his fancy tablet. He conceals that fact from Theresa when they meet to discuss the impact new board member Charlotte Hale's visit will have on their workflow. After assuring Theresa that his team will no longer second-guess her orders (a blatant lie, which, if you consider that Bernie is a host, proves that they can, in fact, lie to humans if they're programmed that way), Bernie leaves and Theresa heads to a meeting. That meeting turns out to be with Hale herself, who's been keeping busy by having loud, kinky sex with Hector. Her room is NICE — turns out, board members get the fancy rooms with views and their own personal West Elm interior designers. Their conversation sheds some light onto what Delos is really after in Westworld. After berating Theresa for her failure in dealing with the woodcutter, Hale reminds her: “This place, the people who work here are nothing. Our interest in this place is entirely in the intellectual property, the code.” The hosts themselves don't matter at all — what's inside them does. And because of Ford's evil genius, all that information is only available in the Westworld park. There is no external backup. That means that Delos needs all that information before making a move to remove Ford. That's where Theresa and her satellite-upload link come in; she's been obtaining the information for them. In order to prove how little control Ford has over his creations, Hale intimates that they need "a blood sacrifice." A host must glitch publicly — "someone thoroughly unexpected."
In a throughly unexpected twist, that "someone" turns out to be Clementine, who is grabbed by Westworld staff in broad daylight while mid-conversation with her boss. Here, we get our first glimpse of post-apperception-boost Maeve, who wakes up in her bed, as she always has, and heads to work. A couple of things are important here: 1) Maeve slams the player piano shut — changing the narrative? It's never been exactly clear what the tunes mean, but it does seem as though whatever's playing on the piano is giving narrative cues to the hosts. 2) Maeve's senses have very clearly been heightened. She catches herself when using programmed expressions while speaking to Clementine and is unaffected by the voice commands that freeze the other hosts when the latter is taken away. 3) Clementine doesn't seem to be glitchy. Unlike Maeve, who dreams about her past life, Clementine's nightmares are just that.
Back on the train, Dolores and Will share a little heart to heart about what Will is still doing there. Why didn't he just go back to Sweetwater after the Pariah fiasco? Or home? His answer is a little Rory Gilmore, but we'll take it: “The only things I had when I was a kid were books. I used to live in them. I used to go to sleep dreaming I’d wake up inside one of them. This place is like living inside one of those stories. I guess I just want to find out what it means.” But Dolores has had enough of stories — she wants to live in the moment. This is what's called flirting, Will. Must she spell it out for you? Apparently, yes. Will, using truly impeccable timing, decides to confess that he has someone waiting for him back home. A fiancée, in fact. “The place you’re after, I will help you find it. But I can’t stay. I have a life waiting for me. I’m sorry.” Dolores reacts as any sensible woman would. She walks away. Will, in typical soft-boy manner, follows her and follows up his awkward confession with a slightly less awkward declaration about the meaning of life: “I been pretending my whole life. Pretending I’m alive, pretending I belong. My whole life’s built on it. And it’s a good life, it’s the life i’ve always wanted. But then, I came here and I get a glimpse for a second of a life in which I don’t have to pretend, of a life in which I can be truly alive. How can I go back to pretending when I know what this feels like?” Let the steamy train sex begin! Inside HQ, Hale and Cullen have summoned Ford, Bernie, Stubbs, and some other key team members to a meeting. The reveries, Hale argues, have altered the hosts in a disturbing way. To demonstrate, she sends Clementine — who has been sent back to "a previous update" — into a glass pod with a man, who promptly proceeds to beat the shit out of her. Suddenly, they both freeze. The man is actually a host, one who has been coded to read as a human for the purposes of the experiment. Clementine's memory is wiped and the man is sent in once more. This time however, she fights back and kills him, despite her perception of him as human. It's ironic that this is the tipping point for the Westworld administration — there are hosts out there actually rebelling against their prime directives. Clementine just isn't one of them. She's been coopted for a demonstration to serve a point, and it works. Theresa lets slip that Bernie's team (read: Elsie) has been voicing concerns about the hosts' ability to access past experiences through reveries and that he's ignored them (at her request, if you remember). Ford fails to react, basically throwing Bernie under the bus. He accepts the blame and Hale fires him. On the train, Will wakes from a post-coital coma to find Dolores drawing. Sex has come as a revelation to our dear William. He's figured out some things. “I used to think this place was all about pandering to your baser instincts," he tells his new bae. "Now, I understand. It doesn’t pander to your lowest self, it shows you your deepest self. It shows you who you truly are.” While sappy as hell, Will's words are significant in that they echo what Ford said to Sizemore before shutting down his Red River narrative. (Also worth a shoutout: Dolores' reaction to Will's eye-roll inducing, "You’ve unlocked something in me." "I'm not a key, William. I'm just me," she responds, a sentiment echoed by women everywhere.) Dolores is just about to launch into an art history lesson about how she's drawing what she knows, not what she sees, when the train screeches to a halt. The Confederados have come to call. Luckily, Lawrence has some survival skills — he sends Slim's dead body, filled with nitroglycerin, to greet the ambushers. It explodes, giving our trio time to escape. This all leads to a very long, very questionable horseback chase. (How does no one ever get shot during these things? You are on a horse. You are exposed. They have a machine gun. Do the math.) A deus ex machina appearance by the aforementioned Ghost Nation puts an end to the remaining Confederados and our friends ride away into the sunset. Actually, Dolores quickly realizes that they've ridden right into the middle of the scenery she just painted — it's also a place Teddy told her about a couple of episodes ago, "where the mountains meet the sea." This is where Will and Dolores part ways with Lawrence. He sets off for the front, while they prepare to explore the "unclaimed territories" on the western edges of the park. Maeve, on the other hand, is back in a very familiar place — the repair floor. Felix warns her that she can't keep doing this — she'll get noticed if she dies this often. “ But Maeve didn't come back just to chat this time. She wants to find Clementine, who's about to be lobotomized by Sylvester to erase the supposed glitch that caused her to kill a fake human. Sylvester spots Maeve and Felix, but Theresa is present and supervising the procedure, so he just continues as planned. In one of the show's more heartrending scenes to date (and there have been many), Maeve watches are her friend has her brains scrambled. (Does this imply that hosts have a physical brain — Clementine does bleed after the procedure, which seems to indicate that there's more than just a computer chip up there.) This is the final straw for Maeve, who later informs her two lackeys that she owns them now and they're going to help her escape this hell. "At first, I thought you and the others were gods," she hisses. "And then, I realized you’re just men. And I know men. You think I’m scared of death? I’d done it a million times. And I’m fucking great at it. How many times have you died? Because if you don’t help me, I’ll kill you.” As Theresa exits the lobotomy, she's cornered by Bernie, who finally tells her he knows all about her little satellite transmissions and confronts her about the stunt she just pulled. That demonstration was faker than Elaine Benes' orgasms and she knows full well that Bernie isn't responsible. He also confesses his suspicions about Ford and Arnold and convinces her to follow him into the park. The two head to Ford's secret house, where the host copies of his family live.
Rewatching this scene after the big Bernie reveal, it's actually jarring to realize how many hints are dropped: 1. Bernie telling Theresa: “The longer I work here, the more I think I understand the hosts. It’s the human beings who confuse me.” 2. The house doesn't appear on any land surveys, because most of those are conducted by hosts. "They’re programmed to look past this place. They literally wouldn’t see it if they were looking right at it.” And yet, I didn't really get an inkling of what was coming until, once in the house, Theresa points out a door that Bernie literally can't see. "What door?" he asks. Weird, I thought, is Bernie blind? There's definitely a door there. The two head down into a basement, apparently doubling as Ford's secret workshop. Ford has been making his own hosts, using fairly recent equipment. Theresa is obviously troubled, but the feeling of dread skyrockets when she finds the diagrams of Dolores and Bernie. Two sketches. Two hosts. “They cannot see the things that will hurt them," Ford says, interrupting them. "I’ve spared them that. Their lives are blissful, in a way their existence is purer than ours, free of the burden of self-doubt.” This is Ford's true endgame. He hasn't so much created a world for people to get their rocks off as a place where he can erase what he believes to be the worst things about humanity: "Anxiety, self-loathing, guilt. The hosts are the ones who are free. Free here, under my control.” This is Ford's world and they're all living in it — especially Bernie, who is horrified when he realizes what he is. His affair with Theresa, his son, his very identity — all of it is fake. Theresa doesn't quite realize that this is it for her. But just like Arnold's time was up when he challenged Ford, so is hers. Echoing Hale's words from earlier in the episode, he demands "a blood sacrifice." Bernie obliges. That's what hosts do.
— How did Ford know about Theresa's conversation with Hale? Did he spy on them using Hector? Elsie did make a point of saying that hosts still record sexual interactions while in sleep mode — maybe they record conversations, too. Maybe Hale is secretly a host controlled by Ford? — I am more convinced than ever by the Bernie is Arnold theory put forward a couple of weeks ago. Now that Bernie is definitely a host, it seems plausible that he wouldn't have recognized the Arnold from the photograph. — Can we all just agree we're operating on multiple timelines? It seems pretty much canon at this point.