‘Westworld’ Recap ‘The Stray’: The Conscious Mind

In the latest ‘Westworld’ recap, Bernard finds out a hidden secret about the park, Stubbs and Elsie search for a stray host and Delores has a breakthrough…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

“When the legend becomes fact — print the legend”

That’s a line uttered by Dr. Robert Ford in the latest episode of ‘Westworld’ but he borrowed it from the classic Western “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”. The legend in this case was that Ford was the mastermind and creator behind Westworld’s robots but in reality he had a partner named Arnold that was alongside him every step of the way.

Unfortunately while Ford understood the true nature of this place — a world where inhibitions, fear and morality fade away so guests can live out their wildest, most devious and most perverted fantasies — it was Arnold who thought it could be so much more.

Arnold created the ‘hosts’ with the idea that he could eventually help them evolve into actual consciousness — artificial intelligence long before that term even existed. Arnold built his theory into a pyramid of sorts with three stages of evolution — memories, improvisation and self interest — that would all lead to the fourth and final level.

Sadly, Arnold died inside the park, the details of which are not revealed, but he never got the chance to explore that final level. According to Dr. Ford, Arnold was secluded from everybody except the robots and his death was labeled “an accident” although what really happened remains a mystery. What we do know for certain — at least according to Ford — is that he was delving into a controversial psychological theory called “the bicameral mind”.

The short, short version is this — humans evolved from a two-part brain where one half acted as the voice of God saying “jump” and the other half reacted by saying “how high?”. Over thousands of years, the “voices” melded into one layer of consciousness that we all use today where it’s all one cohesive thought process. The psychology community has largely debunked the theory, but Ford says that Arnold believe that could be the key for the robots to achieve true consciousness.

So the programming commands that were fed into their computer like minds were the “voice of god” and then they would react in kind. Arnold hoped over time that the two parts would meld together and the hosts would achieve true consciousness.

From the sound of things, Arnold never got there but that doesn’t mean that his tinkering doesn’t still remain imbedded in many of the hosts and programming he helped to create. For instance — a couple of weeks back there was an incident with a robot named Walter, who went on a killing spree in a bar and throughout the shootout, he was talking in a full conversation with someone named ‘Arnold’ and it turns out he was only killing robots who had murdered him in past narratives.

It seems at least one level of Arnold’s hierarchy of consciousness is rattling around the minds of the hosts and you have to wonder if given the set of circumstances that’s started to haunt ‘Westworld’ lately if the pyramid is finally going to be completed.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Westworld’ titled ‘The Stray’…

Back Story

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The most common theme amongst all the narratives on ‘Westworld’ are that the hosts are running in one constant loop. The hosts wake up each day and repeat the actions of the previous day while interacting with the guests who can shake up and change the story as they see fit.

For Teddy Flood, his story always seems to play out the same way — he’s a bounty hunter with a haunted past, who is in love with Delores Abernathy yet no matter how much he wants to run away with her, there’s always some sort of retribution he has to pay before they can leave together. Of course, Teddy never gets to actually leave with Delores and that’s his loop.

Instead, Teddy goes through the same interactions over and over again. He picks up that can that Delores always seems to drop, dies trying to stop the bandits robbing her family home, and even spends a day with his lady love while trying to teach her to shoot a gun. Of course, Delores can’t pull the trigger — because she’s been programmed to be non-violent and can’t physically do it. Even when Teddy saves Delores from a pack of savages in the streets of Sweetwater, he ends up in the brothel talking to Maeve rather than escaping with the woman he loves. Oh and Maeve has a flashback when talking to Teddy — a flashback to last week’s episode where she saw a dead Teddy laying in a plastic room surrounded by other dead bodies.

The never ending loop nearly comes to an end when Ford decides this would be a grand time to give Teddy the back story he was never given. That “retribution” he seeks is just part of his narrative, but at no point is there actually a story given to that thought that always keeps Teddy from leaving with Delores.

Ford implants a new story into Teddy’s mind this week — one about his old Civil War commanding officer named Wyatt, who had a mental breakdown one day and now lives as a vicious outlaw. Wyatt not only kills for sport but he’s recruited a cult like following of people who wear human skin as masks.

When it comes time for Teddy to leave Delores this time around, he actually has a real mission to complete as he goes after Wyatt and his band of psychopaths. Sadly, when Teddy finally tracks them down in the woods, Wyatt’s men get the drop on him and he dies just like always. Except there were a couple of curious events during this altercation.

First — Teddy shoots a couple of the members of Wyatt’s crew, but they don’t go down. Is it possible that there are guests who are now joining up with Wyatt, which means they can’t be killed? Add to that, part of Teddy’s posse was a human guest but when the one member of his crew gets back to town, he’s all alone. Was Teddy’s human guest killed alongside him? Has there finally been a fatality in Westworld?

The Woodcutter

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Elsie (the programmer) and Stubbs (head of security) are sent into the park this week to hunt for a host that’s strayed away from his chosen storyline. The unlikely pair are sent to retrieve the unit and figure out what went wrong with it. On the elevator ride to the surface, Elsie mocks Stubbs for carrying a gun but it turns out he might just be the smartest person on this entire show.

“The only thing stopping the hosts from hacking us to pieces is one line of your code. No offense, but I sleep with it.”
~ Stubbs

When they reach the group that was abandoned by the missing host, Elsie and Stubbs find that the rest of the robots are stuck on a continual loop because one part of the puzzle is gone. The Woodcutter — the missing host — is the only person allowed to use the axe to chop up wood for the fire and without him around, the rest of the robots are glitching while trying to cook their dinner with no heat.

While investigating the Woodcutter’s tent, Elsie and Stubbs find that the missing host has been carving wooden statues in his spare time but on each one they also find some very specific markings. On one in particular, Elsie thinks the host has carved out a map but Stubbs points out that the map is actually a constellation — Orion to be exact — and that level of intelligence befuddles both of them.

Finally, the pair tracks down the host — he’s trapped in a gulch with no way to escape. Elsie believes that the host was somehow placed there, but Stubbs is more concerned about retrieving it and going home for the night. Stubbs decides to cut of its head and returning it to programming, but in the middle of sawing it off, the host wakes up and attacks him.

The host then crawls up the gulch and towards Elsie, who can’t turn the robot off nor stop him as he picks up a gigantic rock. Just when it appears that Elsie is going to be the victim, the host smashes itself with the rock over and over again until its head is turned into mush (FYI — the missing host was played by former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor Tait Fletcher).

Memories Like Corner of My Mind

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Bernard is still having conversations with his favorite host Delores in private, far away from the prying eyes of his boss Dr. Ford or park supervisor/part time hook up, Cullen. In the conversation, Bernard has Delores read a passage from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” — a particular part that notes change. It’s a common theme that Bernard feeds to Delores through various books.

It appears that Bernard isn’t trying to stunt Delores’ development, but instead encourage it. There’s also a reason why — Bernard lost his son when he was just a child and he never got to watch him develop and grow from a boy into a man. Even now, Bernard holds conversations with his ex-wife — in a Skype call that makes you wonder just how far away Westworld might really be from the rest of the planet — and he comments that the only thing remaining from his son is the pain he still feels from his death.

During his talk with Delores, she stops at one point and asks Bernard about his son. His eyes perk up because he believes this could be a sign of Delores evolving but instead she only asked a personal question because one hadn’t come up in a long time. It’s part of the programming still acting out in Delores’ answers. Clearly, Bernard is looking for a deeper connection to the hosts the same way that Arnold once did.

In fact, Dr. Ford has started to notice that relationship between Bernard and the hosts as he warns his protégé to remember that they are still only just robots. Dr. Ford has a much deeper disconnect between reality and fiction but the lines may be blurring for Bernard and the hosts in part because of the tragedy from losing his son Charlie.

Back in the park, Delores is clearly still developing as she begins to see flashes from her past interactions with the Man in Black as well as watching her father die when those bandits attack her home on a nightly basis.

At the end of the current loop, Delores goes back to her farm home except she’s not accompanied by Teddy because he’s out on his own bounty hunting adventure. She sees her dead father just like always and this time instead of the Man in Black intervening, Delores is pulled away by another bandit and thrown into the barn where he will have his way with her.

Except this time there’s one problem — Delores has hidden a gun in the hay where she’s thrown. The same gun that Delores found in the dirt last week and had hidden in her dresser inside the house during the latest episode. Delores not only remembered the gun but she put it in the place where she knew she was going to end up.

And unlike before when Delores was training to shoot with Teddy, she was able to pull the trigger and she gunned down the outlaw who planned to violate her just like it’s happened a thousand times before. This time Delores stopped him because she knew it was coming. Delores wasn’t able to go against her programming when Teddy was teaching her to shoot. She couldn’t go against her programming when it was time to be empathetic towards Bernard’s tragedy. But when it finally came time for self preservation, Delores remembered, improvised and protected her own self interest.

Just like Arnold taught her (remember Delores was one of the first hosts ever created for the park).

Meanwhile, William finally finds a purpose in the park after he stops an outlaw from hurting Clementine — the sweet prostitute who he nearly hooked up with last week — but once again he denies her advances. When Logan finds him, he’s proud that William finally reacted and made himself part of the narrative. Logan mentions that William should build on this moment by having sex with Clementine — of course who could miss the fact that Logan also reveals that William is about to marry his sister.

Logan is ready to go work off some of this aggression in the brothel because that’s where he spends all of his time in Westworld, but William has other ideas. William picks up one of the wanted posters and decides that his narrative will be to go on the hunt for outlaws.

Later that night while sitting around the campfire, Logan laments how he’s stuck out in the middle of the woods instead of having sex with six prostitutes at once but William is just happy to finally have a purpose. From out of nowhere, a noise is heard in the woods and a moment later Delores emerges from the dark.

She wanders into the camp before collapsing into William’s arms. This isn’t the same old loop she lives out each and every day but what will she remember tomorrow? Only Delores knows that answer.

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‘Westworld’ returns next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO but check out a preview for the next episode below.

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