Hindsight is a wonderful thing. While some Westworld theorists rubbed their hands together come the climax of episode 7, those who are happier to just watch it unfold sat aghast. While Trompe L’Oeil was sadly bereft of any musical foreshadowing, the title itself says just as much about the series as it does about this revelatory episode.
Even if you’re uncertain of the term, rompe L’Oeil, itself most are familiar with the technique of creating realistic imagery to create an illusion of sorts. It popularly refers to paintings that deceive the eye. Much like Westworld’s guests, the HBO show’s audience are more than aware that not all is as it seems, but the more intrigued we are of its deceit.
While the metaphysical and philosophical elements of AI’s awakening have driven Westworld’s narrative locomotive, episodes 6 and 7 have been laying out the tracks. Oddly, the corporate politicking and malevolent intentions of Ford, have proven just as interesting. While the clues are tantalisingly drip-fed, it’s the implications of each discovery that are mind-bendingly alluring.
The curse of hindsight is bound right from the get-go. Bernard reads the story to his son who questions a line that you may kick yourself for not paying more attention to. Yet, the biggest signpost to Bernard’s artificial origin is a line he delivers himself: “The more I work here, the more I think I understand the hosts. It’s the human beings who confuse me.” It’s equal parts obvious and throwaway. With the corporate machinations and more human, well, inhumanity, it’s easy to write off Bernard’s line as a lament on the evil that men do. However, when Bernard takes Theresa to Ford’s nostalgic sanctuary and he cannot see the door it all begins to unravel. Any remnants of Ford’s loving wonder for his creation are swept away. He is the malevolent god we’ve only seen glimmers of. “Free here, under my control,” he announces, and if that wasn’t enough to convince us of his malice, Theresa pays the ultimate price for crossing him.
Like all the bewildering ideas Westworld presents, Bernard being a host raises a number overwhelming questions. For starters; whether we should suspect everyone as being a host? More importantly, if Bernard is a copy of Arnold? What if Arnold was an accomplice that Ford constructed to help him create the park? These are all dizzying prospects that we may only have confirmed once the curse of hindsight strikes again.
5* – Usual (Un)suspects