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WESTWORLD: 1.08-Trace Decay

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With much of the story telling going on this week in Westworld, there is a lovely feeling that the show is teasing the audience beautifully, potentially giving us answers, but just pulling away at the last moment, brilliantly leaving us wanting more.

As Maeve takes more control of herself and her role within the park, Bernard, tragically, learns that he has always been at the mercy and control of Ford. Whilst some of the actors in question don’t share any screen time together, Trace Decay is held together by incredible acting from Newton, Wright, Harris and Hopkins.

Instead of teasing us by holding back from last week’s genuinely shocking final scene, Trace Decay opens up immediately with Ford and Bernard, as the extent of Ford’s control over the previously mild-mannered character is laid bare. Both Hopkins and Wright are sensational and the moment gives the two actors a chance to explore new facets of their characters and their relationship. Not only is Ford Bernard’s superior, he is his creator and instructor and the revelation that not only has he killed Theresa but possibly Elise makes the twist even darker than before.

After making the audience wonder about the motivations of Hopkins’ character for the first half of the show’s duration, this week and last week has seen an a true Machiavellian quality rear itself with Ford and the results are making for spectacularly performed television.

What else has Ford gotten Bernard to do over the course of the series, and possibly even before the events depicted?

While all this is going on, Maeve has gone from not only being super intelligent and aware of her life, but has the ability to command other hosts what to do. This whole strand of the episode, although possibly pushing towards gratuitous given how much Newton is unclothed during the episode (because it wouldn’t be a HBO series otherwise?) is probably its most brilliantly performed and written.

The power play going on between Meave, Sylvester and Lutz is incredibly intense and enjoyable, the three actors really going to town with the one-upmanship going on.

We also, finally, learn the identity of the Man in Black, the revelation not only giving us our first taste of who Ed Harris’ character is, delivering a fine origin tale in the shape of his speech to Teddy in the episode’s dying moments, that may just be further fuel in the fire of the “two timelines” theory that is proving incredibly popular at the moment, but also has a link to Maeve’s story, the flashbacks of her murdered child of course having been committed by the MiB in his first exploration of his own personal darkness.

The stage is set seemingly for even more revelations, shocking plot twists and the robotic revolution that we know the show will inevitably build up to. Two episodes left. Bring it on.