Westworld – Episode 7: Trompe L’Oeil

As Delores and William continue to tread into dangerous territory, Maeve delivers her ultimatum. Meanwhile, Bernard weighs up his options…

SPOILER FREE REVIEW.

Whilst it’s true that the tension of the last episode is dialled back down slightly (there are, after all, three more episodes to go, and it would have been impossible to sustain that level of excitement throughout) this is nevertheless another exciting episode which answers some questions and then closes with an unexpectedly shocking moment.  You need to start catching up now before the finale.

VERY SPOILERY REVIEW

Corporate shenanigans aren’t the most exciting form  of drama (unless they feature Patrick Wymark, but that’s a whole other article), yet the board of Delos’s machinations seem quite fascinating, and that’s only one aspect of this episode.  As I expected, Thandie Newton hasn’t started a robot rebellion, but she’s clearly learning about the world around her and is getting ready to make some kind of move.  The Nice Man has fallen for Delores and then came the last ten minutes of the episode.

I had jokingly suggested in an earlier review that maybe everyone in ‘Westworld’ is a robot, and such a revelation was indeed something I’d been expecting, but I was genuinely shocked when it was revealed as Jeffrey Wright’s character.  It lead to one of the main cast being murdered – executed, even – after a brief stand-off in which she realised just how badly she had miscalculated the grip Anthony Hopkins has on the theme park.  Ah, Anthony Hopkins, how he came into his own in this scene.  There was no ham, no scenery chewing, just Hopkins very calmly explaining a little of the plot to the woman from Borgen before he had her bumped off.  Hopkins was more menacing playing that scene than I have ever seen him being in a performance before.  The underplaying is really playing off now, and rather than the initially kindly older man he had been he’s now a chilling character capable of practically anything (I bet he’s underplaying it so that people think he’s a robot too, although it could easily be a double-bluff and it turns out he’s been Arnold all along), one who seems to be in complete control rather than the vaguely absent-minded scientist he’d been projecting up to this point.  Plus, someone’s died (yeah, I know security woman technical person thingy from last week is missing, but we never saw what happened to her) for the first time in the programme.  There’s no overnight rebuilding for Sidse Babett Knudsen here – she’s really dead, the first victim of a robot.  (Unless, of course, Hopkins unveils a robot replicant to take her place in the next episode.  Maybe Nolan’s going for broke and adapting both Westworld and Futureworld at the same time.)

It’s the ten finest minutes of the series so far, perhaps because it’s so unexpected – Wright was the character with the greatest backstory; he was the least likely person to be a robot, particularly when he’s been trying to find out what Hopkins is up to.  Wright managed the difficult task of playing this as straight as possible (the temptation must surely have been for him to suddenly start playing “robot”) and he managed it by acting differently to the way he had for the rest of the season, yet still convincingly enough within the character we’ve seen.  As he smashed Sidse’s head to pulp against a wall it became clear that we’re now building up to the climax, as are all the characters with their sub-plots:

The Nice Man and Dolores have reached the valley from her dreams; Ed Harris was missing this week but is already poised to reach his destination; the busybodies from corporate are attempting a showdown with Hopkins as they explain what they really want (I’m guessing robot soldiers), and their scenes this week as they attempted to force him into resigning were nicely played by all involved.

Everything’s ticking over as we begin to head into the final three episodes, and I’m pleased to report that after a rocky patch in episodes three to five, this is gaining momentum and promising to build to a memorable and exciting finale.


 ‘Westworld’ airs on Sunday nights in the US on HBO, and on Tuesdays in the UK on Sky Atlantic.

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