Westworld’s hosts edged closer toward rebellion in episode 3, “The Stray,” which this week sidelined the Man in Black (and largely Maeve as well) to focus on Dolores’ evolution, William and Logan’s splintering bromance, and plenty of hinty-hint intrigue among the backstage team.
Once again we start with Dolores and Bernard during one of their top-secret chats. Dolores is clothed, something we’ll later learn is considered a major rule violation by Dr. Ford when the hosts are backstage. Bernard hands her a copy of Alice in Wonderland, a title that at first seems like just a metaphor for her own journey down the rabbit hole of consciousness. Then I realized: Long blonde hair, bit of curls, that baby blue peasant dress — her whole look is nearly identical to the traditional Alice costume. (See?).
It seems that Bernard, who lost his son, is spending time with Dolores as a kind of therapy. Dolores is a like surrogate daughter, and he’s reluctant to halt her development — like the way his son’s development was halted in death. But when she asks him directly about his son, he sharply queries her: Why did you ask about my son? Dolores slides into Analysis Mode, and actress’ Evan Rachel Wood slightly crosses her eyes. Dolores gives a logical explanation for asking. At first I wondered if Bernard was suspicious that Dolores might be manipulating him. But the Westworld showrunners explain in our interview this week that Bernard is looking for signs that Dolores is showing true improvisation and curiosity beyond her programming.
Out on the streets of Sweetwater, we get some quick updates:
— Dolores takes her daily trip to the Generic Can Emporium and gets harassed by some bandits. The girl needs to buy in bulk and come to town less. She meets up with Teddy and they start doing their usual loop. But this time as Teddy does his usual speech about how someday they’ll run off together, Dolores does a pattern interrupt: Why tomorrow? Why not today? Why not now? But Teddy, who hasn’t heard that cryptic world-shattering “violent delights” phrase that Dolores whispered to Maeve, is stuck in his rut, talking about how he’s still got some vague “reckoning to do.”
— We meet a new park guest, the vest-wearing Marti, who gets my vote for coolest guest in the park. I feel like Marti took a break from some corporate job and doing Crossfit to bed saloon girls and chase bandits, only without Logan’s sadism or William’s moral hand-wringing. Marti should meet up with tech programmer Elsie and they could do shots and chat about … whatever women in the late 21st century chat about besides theme park robots (so far, Westworld is better at passing the Turing Test than the Bechdel Test).
— White hat guest William gets a chance to be a hero during a street fight, though gets a shot down in the process (we told you those paintball-like pellets that hosts fire at humans can hurt). He rescues comely saloon girl Clementine, but then rejects her advances yet again even though he’s now “earned” her affection. (The saloon player piano’s song this week, if you’re trying to figure it out, is not a 20th century pop song, but rather period-appropriate Scott Joplin).
William’s traveling companion Logan — a.k.a. every negative male trait jammed into one character — is impressed by his friend getting at least some kind of action. Logan naturally wants to head to the brothel to “put more memories in the spank bank” (it’s reassuring to know that many decades into the distant future that the slang term “spank bank” will be the millennial language contribution that will have survived). But William has a different idea. Now that he’s gotten a taste of heroism he wants to hit the trail on a bounty hunter adventure.
The prospect of being stuck out in the desert with a bunch of non-hookers completely frustrates Logan — it’s like he took a friend to Disneyland and he’s ignoring all the fun roller coasters and just wants to ride “It’s a Small World” over and over (or perhaps, the “Alice in Wonderland” ride, ahem).
NEXT: Teddy gets triggered