Westworld is globalizing
The show's boundaries are blurring: not just for the park, but for the bodies and personalities within them
Westworld is globalizing. The boundaries that carefully separated its different populations and technologies from each other are breaking down, Jurassic Park-style. Dolores has somehow acquired Delos technology (which she shows the Confederados) and uses Confederado technology (the explosives) on Delos operatives. The Bengal tiger from another world has brought a park visitor to Westworld with him, and Maeve's party appears to have stumbled on a samurai — strongly suggesting that they've somehow, despite Lee Sizemore's guidance, ended up in Shogun World.
It was clear we'd be seeing parks besides Westworld once the Delos folks stumbled on that Bengal tiger which must have come from "Park Six," and finally, we have: "Virtù e Fortuna" starts in Rajworld, a gamified riff on Rajasthan in India. If you remember the bait-and-switch that introduced us to Westworld, you might have suspected that the handsome blond man we first see in Rajworld was this land's version of "Teddy" — an apparent fish-out-of-water who turns out to be a host. Interestingly, the young woman who ends up swimming to Westworld suspects this too. It's unclear what she's doing in the park, but it's more than recreational. She has a notebook, and that notebook has a map marked with two linked hexagons. She's also — for a visitor to these parts — uncharacteristically concerned about consent: "I want you to want this," she tells the blond man. "I assure you I do," he says. "Not if you're one of them," she replies. "If you're one of them, you don't know what you want. You just do what you're told."
So she shoots him. As a test. He passes, but barely. Still we know at this point that she's a skeptic who performs empirical tests aimed at keeping the park's effects honest. And she's sharp: When she and the blond man stumble on a massacred group in a tent, he suggests to her that perhaps it's part of a "new twist in the narrative," namely, horror. She knows it isn't (she knows that the dead are guests, having traveled in with them), but the show definitely feels like it's expanding into other genres. For one thing, it's funnier: That scene of a newly-reprogrammed Rebus chasing a fleeing a woman hollering "I'll escort you" is so silly it almost makes you miss the fact that this particular version of Bernard — who many fans have suspected of actually being Teddy — turned Rebus into "the most virtuous, quickest gun in the West." A.k.a. Teddy.
If that's true — if Bernard really is Teddy in disguise, and making other hosts more Teddy-like — that means that the show isn't just exploring hybrid genres; it's exploring hybrid personalities.
We already know that Dolores has at least two different "characters" inside her: Dolores the rancher's daughter and Wyatt, whose name is synonymous with terror. She's announced that she's something else too — herself — but in this episode, we're starting to see the cracks in her system multiply. Dolores arranges a brutal massacre and tenderly tries to nurse her father, Peter Abernathy, back to health. The strain shows. Peter seems similarly afflicted. We already know that he's been a cannibal cult leader called "the Professor." He's also Dolores' father, and now the vehicle for the park's IP. It's too much. He isn't holding up too well. And neither is Bernard, who — even if he hasn't had Teddy's brainpod installed in his own — ends the episode by apparently uploading Peter Abernathy's data into himself, and ends up so overwhelmed he can barely walk as a result.
The boundaries are blurring: not just for the park, but for the bodies and personalities within them. This doesn't bode especially well for anyone concerned. (You'll recall that many of the park's early obstacles concerned hosts going mad because Arnold's "bicameral mind" theory for bootstrapping consciousness effectively had them hearing someone else's voice in their heads.)
Not everyone seems plagued by multiplicity, of course: Angela and Clementine seem marvelously empty save for their thirst for revenge. Teddy seems consistent despite the brutal epiphany he witnessed last week; he even lets the surviving Confederados go against Dolores' orders. Maeve and Hector seem untormented by multiple personalities — Hector's love for her may have overridden Lee's programming, but it's still expressing itself in Lee's words. And we can rejoice in the extent to which Armistice remains unchanged despite her new mechanical arm. (Hector's delighted "she has a dragon" is one of my favorite moments of the episode.)
But the fact that the Rajworld woman's guide says "these violent delights have violent ends" before shooting at her shows that whatever infection has afflicted the hosts doesn't respect borders — geographical, political, or encoded. That she manages to walk through the lasers demarcating the park boundaries — and is followed by the tiger — is proof that everything is blurring now, and the result is going to be a giant mess.