The third episode of Westworld — which is starting to look like a fucking utopia compared to the rape-addled nightmarescape we currently inhabit, can somebody please give me $40,000 and remove my frontal lobe, thanks — begins with the long-suffering Dolores being fucked with by Bernard yet again. He hands her a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and is like, “Here’s another story about a woman being mad gaslit by everyone around her and having her concept of reality and self shattered on a moment-by-moment basis. Enjoy!!”
Bernard is clearly working out some sad, middle-school-English-teacher shit on Dolores, encouraging her to point out connections in children’s literature and stating classroom-poster platitudes like, “I guess people like to read about things they want the most and experience the least.” Dolores, understanding that none of this is really About Her, because nothing is ever About Her, asks Bernard about his dead son, and now we are supposed to understand that Dolores is some kind of stand-in for Bernard’s dead son. Seems fair.
Some time later or before or whenever, who knows, Dolores and her new daddy are waking up on the ranch to go about their daily activities, i.e., can shopping and being brutally raped and murdered. Dolores opens a drawer and finds the gun she pulled out of the dirt last week, then frantically puts it back. She catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror, which triggers a flashback to the daily hay-side rapes she endures courtesy of the Man in Black, then opens the drawer again to find that the gun is gone. I am starting to feel Lost-like levels of exhaustion vis-à-vis the thousands of questions this show is introducing and I am certain will not answer until we are all googling “what do polar bears symbolize historically tho” at 3 a.m.
Back in town, Forlorn-Looking Rich White Guy is boppin’ around, saying hello to Clementine, watching a wanted man get apprehended, and trying to justify to himself why he has worn so many layers today.
A bunch of men shoot each other, Clementine is nearly hauled off and raped, she offers herself up as a sexual prize for FLRWG because he saves her, he valiantly turns her down, then he meets up with his Douche Friend and the two go off on a “spank-bank” excursion. This is our protagonist. Please try to identify with him. Thank you.
Bernard and Theresa are arguing over which one of them is more of a Career Woman. Theresa is winning slightly because she is an actual woman, but Bernard makes a really good play for the title by (a) lying about the fact that the robot disease is fixed while (b) actively encouraging it in Dolores and (c) repressing his own feelings by burying them in his demented Frankenstein-esque work. Ultimately, Theresa wins because she storms off in her clicky heels after getting the last word — the ultimate Career Woman power move.
Elsie, who is sort of into her job but increasingly put upon and irritated by the sexism and general incompetence that surrounds her, and thus lashes out via sarcasm and wears ponytails so is not TECHNICALLY a Career Woman, is trying to figure out why Walter went batshit insane and poured milk all over everybody. Bernard is trying to mansplain Walter’s malfunctioning as standard robot-milk problems, but Elsie is like, “No, Bernard, Walter is talking to a dude named Arnold and seeking revenge on those who wronged him in old storylines.”
Elsie does some beep-boop computer work to show Bernard that there’s another diseased robot roaming around in the mountains and somebody needs to go wrangle him. “Go,” Bernard says bravely. “Do something actually in your job description.” What is Elsie’s job? Does anybody know? “We don’t want Theresa storming down here,” adds Bernard. He really says that. I didn’t make it up.
Elsie gets in an elevator with the Alleged Third Hemsworth Brother. She tells him he is bad at his job, and he pulls out his gun as protection against the stray robot and to imply that she is bad at her job (coding? What is her job??). The writers seem to want to create a sort of Hepburn/Tracy repartee here, except that would only work if the Alleged Third Hemsworth Brother were one of the first two confirmed Hemsworth brothers. Elsie implies that ATHB fucks his gun. End scene.
Now we’re in town again. Men are shooting at each other again — different men, but same thematic overtone as the rest of the episode: Men love to fuck guns! This time, James Marsden randomly insults a man who looks like the product of a sexual union between Mickey Rourke and one of Rihanna’s coats, accusing him of sleeping exclusively with prostitutes. This honestly doesn’t feel like much of a dis, especially in Westworld, but OK. Mickey Rihanna Coat dies in whatever the opposite of a blaze of glory is.
James Marsden and his guest, a seemingly human woman, waltz into the saloon, where Clementine swoops up the woman and ferries her off. Maeve is mad at James Marsden because he tied up Mickey Rihanna Coat’s dead body outside of the saloon, but she’s soon distracted by memories of that time she woke up in the middle of staph-infection surgery and hobbled over to HQ, where she saw James Marsden’s dead robot body being hosed down. Yeah, that sucked.
James Marsden spots Dolores can shopping outside the window, like he does every goddamn day of his life, and the two embark on their daily will-they/won’t-they frolic through a field: will-they/won’t-they smooch at sunset, will-they/won’t-they watch Dolores’s family get slaughtered, will-they/won’t-they get murdered and raped, respectively. Oh, to be a young robot in love.
This time, though, Dolores introduces a new element to their storybook/horror-movie romance: Having read Alice in Wonderland, she is now familiar with the idea of running away and doing mad drugs, so she suggests that she and James Marsden do just that. James Marsden is like, “I guess we could go south and eat pills … someday.” Dolores is like, “SOMEDAY MEANS NEVER, I WANT PILLS NOW.” James Marsden is like, “I got stuff to take care of, but I promise you, we will do pills on the beach at one point or another if you can chill for a minute, Jesus.”
Dolores and James Marsden are doing the thing where they roll up to Dolores’s ranch, find Dolores’s dead family, James Marsden gets killed, and Dolores gets raped. Dolores’s mom gets her first line: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!”
Now we are inside James Marsden’s eyeball. Ford is talking at him about Shakespeare, because this show is profound, please do not lose sight of this. Ford asks James Marsden what drives him, and James talks about how, one day, he’ll be chewing pills in Ibiza with Dolores. “No, James Marsden, that will never happen, and also Ibiza is not south, although maybe it is, nobody knows where this park is actually located,” says Ford. He explains that James Marsden is not designed to protect Dolores, but rather to keep her in the park so guests can rape her. He then uploads a new backstory into James Marsden’s brain so that he can help him build out a new batshit narrative about a crazy cult leader named Wyatt to get more guests to the park, where they can at some point rape Dolores.
Dolores is getting verbally harassed in town by a few robots and a human man. James Marsden defends her and scares them off, then ferries her back into their Nicholas-Sparks-meets-Nick-Nolte universe to teach her how to shoot. She can’t seem to pull the trigger, because she’s a GIRL!! No, it’s because there’s something built into her code (because she’s a girl) that prevents her from doing so. But James Marsden thinks it’s because she’s too sweet. The sheriff rolls up with the woman from before who was gettin’ it with Clementine and tells James Marsden that they’ve found Wyatt in them thar hills. James Marsden says goodbye and smooches Dolores, whose life sucks true balls.
A bunch of robot bros are sitting around a non-lit fire and a non-cooked animal carcass, complaining about how starved they are while arguing about who’s going to chop up some wood. This is an allegory for the GOP. Elsie explains to Other Hemsworth that the bots are caught in a loop because the guy who normally cuts their wood is the missing “stray,” and shuts them all off. Can we also do this for the GOP, Y/N? Elsie and Other Hemsworth will-they/won’t-they banter a little too angrily for it to be cute (they won’t) as they discover that the “stray” has been carving wood into disturbingly fancy shapes.
Up in them thar hills, James Marsden & Co. are stalking Wyatt, the newly invented villain. James Marsden explains that Wyatt’s cohorts are particularly dangerous because they’re just “men in masks” who “don’t fear death because they feel they’ve already died and gone to Hell.” (We get it, HBO.) The group comes upon a bunch of corpses tied up in trees, coated in flies. One of them coughs in James Marsden’s face and then gets shot in the head — the only appropriate punishment for coughing into the face of James Marsden.
Wrong Hemsworth is doing some plinky-plonky computer work to find out where the stray went. “He’s vectoring, bleep blop blop blop blop blop,” he tells Elsie. Then he tells Elsie that the markings on the wood carved by the stray are stars, because he is a Hemsworth, goddammit, he is not JUST computer-smart, he is a man of nature, he has built things with his hands, he has slept beneath the moon, he has made fire with sticks and stones, he has looked upon Orion’s belt and said, “Orion, give me that belt, it is cute!!!!” Elsie asks him if he is “Galli-fucking-leo.” No, Elsie. He is The Wrong Fucking Hemsworth.
Bernard is creeping on Ford in the lab, who is fiddling with his robots. “It’s a tricky thing, weaving the old into the new,” he tells Bernard. We get it, HBO!!!!! This reboot show was hard to make. Ford then belittles another scientist for covering up a robot, because the robot “doesn’t get cold or feel ashamed.” Just like Donald Trump, amirite?! Bernard and Ford retire to Ford’s office, where a robot sadly plays the piano. Bernard is like, “For real, robot shit is fucked up out there, my man.” Ford explains the fucked-upness away with a loooooooong story about his old partner, Arnold, a genius who loved robots a little too much and mysteriously died because of that. He tried to make the robots self-aware, and that’s bad, because it just is, and that’s why the robot are kinda fucked up today, it makes perfect sense! So remember: Don’t love robots too much.
Now Bernard is video-chatting with his wife, who seems to be a classic Estranged Mysterious Movie Wife Who Lives Somewhere Else, Maybe On Another Planet: cool, unfeeling, sexy, wearing a sweater set. They talk about their dead son — whom they apparently co–slept with, which is questionable but that’s really not why we’re here today — and about how their talks are painful. Bernard likes the pain, because “it’s all I have left of him.” Bernard is a shell of a man, perhaps literally.
Elsie and Uncanny Valley Hemsworth are still looking for the stray. Elsie is upset because she didn’t program the stray to care about stars, and she really thought she was doing this show with the Hemsworth who is engaged to Miley Cyrus. Uncanny Valley Hemsworth mocks her, and she says, “See? This is why I hide behind sarcasm.” HBO, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can write better dialogue. I know it. I just know it. Elsie goes to pee — same, girl — and incidentally finds the stray. He is tweaking out in some kind of rocky crevasse. Same.
Nearby (or not, IDK), James Marsden and his merry band of people who actually paid to do this shit are tracking Wyatt. Wyatt’s men, who sound like dinosaurs and look like dudes with some bags on their heads, start stabbing everybody up. James Marsden bravely tells the woman who boned Clementine to run off into the distance, and she does, that rude li’l b. Wyatt’s men descend upon James Marsden.
Anyhoo. Back to Elsie and Diet Pepsi. DP is strapping on some gear to go into the crevasse and save the stray, and Elsie is calling Bernard for help, who is busy fucking with Dolores’s head as per usual. Bernard is like, “What should I do with you, Dolores? Should I restore you to your old self, or nah?” Jesus, Bernard. Get your shit together. Dolores convinces him to keep fucking with her by saying some improvised things about the nature of identity and asking him if she’s made a mistake. Bernard quotes Ford verbatim: “Evolution forged the entirety of sentient life on this planet using only one tool: the mistake.” Another tally in the column for “Bernard Is Prob a Robot.” But also another tally in the column for “Bernard Maybe Just Really Likes Anthony Hopkins, Which I Get, He Is Dope.”
Dolores walks back into town and hears that things are not going well for James Marsden, i.e., he is probably being eaten in the hills by bag-headed dinosaurs. She heads back to the ranch alone this time, and speaks her line, “Father wouldn’t let them roam this close to dark,” flatly, as if she’s just going through the motions. She sees her new daddy lying on the ground, but has a quick flashback to her old #daddy, who was much cuter and cuddlier. The milk-pouring dude drags her off to the barn to rape her, as is tradition, but she seems to be having some kind of psychotic break this time, an interruption in her loop. She sees the gun she dug up lying in the hay next to her — did she leave it there for herself earlier? Did Bernard? — and reaches for it. She can’t seem to shoot again, until a booming voice in her mind (Arnold? What is going ON, y’all?) tells her to kill him, and she’s able to pull the trigger.
She runs back to the house, hears her mom’s one-liner right on cue (“WAAAAAAAAH!”) and is shot by another one of the scoundrelly ruffians. But then she’s not shot, because she’s, like, surfing on waves of time and space, and she runs off into the hills on her horse. This seems to be the first time Dolores has survived an entire evening. What will she do with all her new free time? Go to one of those painting classes where you drink while doodling a cityscape? Read Elena Ferrante? Change her hair? Change her hair? Change her hair?
Off-Brand Cereal is asking Elsie to put the stray in sleep mode so he can retrieve him from the crevasse and saw his head off (the fuck …?). But the stray wakes up! Shit is a MESS. The stray knocks out Off-Brand Cereal and climbs up to attack Elsie. She’s like, “Get the fuck away!” because she is so sarcastic, even in a life-or-death scenario. The stray does not get the fuck away; instead, he bashes himself over the head with a rock over and over and over again while Elsie watches.
FLRWG and DF are sitting around a fire, bitching at each other. Dolores rolls up on her horse, already bored of Ferrante. I get it, the first book is a little slow. She is having a high-key spaz, as one might if one had just discovered that time and realities are constructs and one had been curling one’s bangs for 30 years for no reason. She falls into FLRWG’s lap. The camera pans out as the two men stare at her prone robot body.