***MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR WESTWORLD S1.07 FOLLOW***
The internet has long suspected that one of the main, ‘human’ characters is really a Host, but no-one knew for sure. At the end of episode 7 we discover - in a twist that echoes the ‘Hold the door’ moment from Game of Thrones season 6 - that Bernard is a Host, constructed by Ford and used for his nefarious purposes. And while the shock value of the twist will be slightly dulled for avid followers of Westworld… what a truly eerie, darkly wonderful way to reveal it.
So Bernard is Ford’s creation, and Cullen is now the blood sacrifice to the board. It’s a clever bait and switch that plays out throughout the whole episode, and it reveals just how smart Ford really is. But do we know the extent of it? Is that 3D Host printer in Ford’s secret cabin making a new Cullen? The shock ending bookends with the beginning in which Bernard is ‘dreaming’ of his terminally ill son. What a cruel backstory Ford has given him - tragic and miserable.
Ford’s god-complex is at the heart of (nearly) everything in Westworld, and this clever episode brilliantly reveals Bernard’s true nature. Post dream we see him interviewing another Host and showing him a series of modern pictures eliciting the familiar response of a Host seeing something he shouldn't: “They don’t look like anything to me.” This foreshadows, of course, what Bernard says on seeing the schematics of himself in Ford’s workshop at the end of the episode. When we know, without a shadow of a doubt, what we had grown to suspect.
The build up to the big twist starts from a deliberately misleading perspective. Delos rep Charlotte Hale, who incidentally is using the bandit Host as a sexbot, is unhappy that Cullen hasn’t managed to keep The Board’s scheme to steal park data hidden from Ford (or keep Ford from doing whatever he wants). As Ford told Cullen a few episodes ago, this is his world, and he controls it - and that’s obviously not going down well with Delos, who ‘own’ the IP and whatever data comes out of the park, but who don’t seem capable of controlling Ford.
“Our interest in this place is entirely in the intellectual property, the code.” she tells Cullen. “I don’t give a rat’s ass about the Hosts, our little research project that Delos owns that’s where the real value is.” One of her predecessors allowed Ford to keep 35 years’ worth of data on site, which means that they can’t get rid of him because he controls the thing of most value.
“The gods, they require a blood sacrifice,” she adds, foreshadowing the climax of the episode. It’s interesting to note that ‘blood sacrifice’ is what Ford calls Cullen’s murder at the end. Does this demonstrate a level of personal surveillance by Ford? Is he watching everyone else? Or does this simply show that he’s overly familiar with the language used by Delos? That this has happened so many times before?
Either way, you can officially add Ford to the shows long list of bad guys. He’s definitely, erm, complicated, dangerous and sociopathic. The Man in Black is psychotic and driven. Delos/Hale is greedy and manipulative. Sizemore is avaricious and pretentious. Logan is, well, Logan. And yet all of them are more interesting than the good guys, Dolores and William, who are battling from beige to bland. In fact, the only character that you can really root for right now is Maeve.
White hats Dolores and William finally consummate their relationship on the train - which has been travelling for long enough to suggest it’s either going in circles or Westworld is pretty huge. Plus - is it just me or is $40,000 a day to travel on a steam train a bit rich? But, you know, William’s happy (despite cheating on Logan’s sister), insisting that he’s found his true self in the Wild West and in the charms of Dolores. Our White Hat pairing, after a convoluted chase and shootout find a valley that Dolores has ‘dreamed’ of - on their quest for the centre of the maze.
It’s briefly teased that Maeve is Hale’s blood sacrifice, and she readies a knife to defend herself when the techs come, in the middle of day, to take one of the Hosts away. Instead, she watches her ‘friend’ Clem hauled out of the saloon. Hale and Cullen fix a demonstration that infers Clem is dangerous to humans because of Ford’s reveries (remember them?). She fires Bernard who refuses to blame his boss (father/creator/God), and the final twist is set in motion. In this scene Ford remains motionless and almost silent throughout - a dark foreshadow of later events.
Maeve, getting herself killed yet again, goes looking for Clem in the labs and finds her being lobotomised by Sylvester. It’s a heartbreaking moment, and one that only brings us closer to the renegade working girl. After that, Maeve plots her escape from the park despite being told it’s a suicide mission. “You think I’m scared of death - I’ve done it a million times, I’m fucking great at it,” she says. “How many times have you died? Because if you don’t help me I’ll kill you.” Strong stuff.
Meanwhile, Bernard hasn’t fallen for the faked demo (“If your programmers were any good they’d be working for me”) but confesses to Cullen that he actually is worried about the Host behaviour and all of the Arnold shenanigans. They go off to the shack so Bernard can show Cullen Ford’s family. If you’re paying attention Bernard’s Host-ness is pretty obvious. “What’s behind the door?” asks Cullen pointing to an obvious door. “What door?” he replies. They go to the basement and find Ford’s personal 3D host printer and the schematics (Robert, Dolores, Bernard) for the Hosts he is building.
“They cannot see the things that can hurt them,” Ford says as he arrives into the basement. “I spared them that.Their lives are blissful. In a way their existence is purer than ours, freed of the burden of self-doubt.” Remember that Bernard has been programmed with the tragedy of a lost son. This is Bernard’s ‘bliss’.
“You’re a fucking monster,” Cullen tells Ford. She’s right, perhaps for the first time, but still not clever enough to understand the depth of Ford’s control. “The board will do nothing our arrangement is too valuable to them. They test me now and again I think they enjoy the sport of it and they sent you. Sadly in order to restore things the situation requires a blood sacrifice. Arnold and I designed every part of this place - it was our dream did you really think I would let you take it from me?”
Bernard, given a killing code, slowly taking off his glasses, tie and jacket before coldly murdering Cullen. It’s the stuff of nightmares, but also one more example of how Westworld is becoming an absolute dream for anyone who loves smart TV shows.