Westworld: 2.07 Les Écorchés
Just when you you thought you knew where Westworld season two was going, you get an episode like Les Écorchés that throws everything out of the window. This was a dazzling rollercoaster of an episode, filled with so many shocks and surprises it felt more like a season finale. Was it the best episode of the series so far? Quite possibly. It was certainly one of the most gut wrenching and violent too.
Les Écorchés was capped by the near future narrative as Bernard's secret identity as a host was finally exposed through the discovery of Ford's secret room containing many more Bernard models. Tortured at the hands of ruthless leader Charlotte Hale, the remaining humans discovered the location of the device hidden within Peter Abernathy and set the stage for a dramatic showdown in the final episodes.
But it was the main narrative where all the big surprises lay as the episode brutally shot and slaughtered its way through several main characters. Delores' raid on the head quarters was dramatic and brutal, the tension rising as Charlotte attempted to retrieve the information from the captured Peter while soldiers and hosts battled it out.
The new Teddy mark 2.0 was a ruthless killing machine and the slaughter was off the scale - from the trap as the reinforcements were found naked and discarded like hosts to the continued and violent battle. Delores meeting Charlotte was a momentous, tense moment, the Delos board member's resolve finally breaking at the threat of a saw to the face. Only Ashley's quick thinking allowed the humans to make their perilous escape under a hail of bullets.
Poor Clementine has seemed a little wasted this season, silent as one of Delores' warriors in the host uprising, so I was shocked to see her go out so soon, cut down by the human soldiers in battle. Angela's death was even more shocking as she lured the solider with her programmed allure and then blew him and the Cradle to kingdom come. The "welcome to Westworld" was a great touch, brining an end to one of the more low key but still fascinating host characters on the show.
All the while, the Bernard met his old 'friend' Ford in the machine; it was amazing to have Anthony Hopkins back, the character no longer hiding behind smiles and secrets. The revelation that it was the guests that had been studied and catalogued for 30 years, the repeating patterns of the hosts' lives acting as a control in a grand psychological experiment was a fascinating concept.
I'm excited to see where Ford's plan goes next; his body might be dead, but escaping into Bernard's mind, we saw a monster relishing in his grand and bloody game. It was truly shocking to see Bernard gunning down human soldiers with rage, controlled, manipulated by Ford. The idea that Hopkins will continue to be part of the show - Ford interacting unseen by all but Bernard - should add some real drama and intrigue to the final weeks.
But all these revelations couldn't match the momentous meeting of William and Maeve. Confronted by the Main in Black that killed her and her daughter in a past life, Maeve unleashed her powers, turning William's host allies against him. Most cruel was her manipulation of Lawrence, revealing his memories of William killing his wife for sport in previous games; I've loved the bromance between these two and I didn't expect Lawrence to go out this way. I was also just as shocked at how many bullets William took - for a moment I wondered if this was Ed Harris's exit from the show?
Even then, I wasn't prepared for what happened next; as the natives abducted her daughter, Maeve screamed in horror and took a hail of bullets by the very soldiers Lee had called in to help. She might still be alive, but this was a huge, shocking blow for the character, who up to this point has been so in control of everything.
Things came full circle with Lee and Maeve arriving at the headquarters just as the battle was raging. The final encounter with Maeve and Delores was fascinating; Maeve calling out Delores on what she had done to Teddy, Delores offering to kill Maeve to save her, her pain. And with Delores, Teddy and co riding off into the sunset, I'm worried and intrigued to see what happens to the hosts next. How will Maeve survive? What fate will befall William? And what will happen to Bernard in the future now his identity has been revealed. With a wild card like Ford in the mix, it is going to be an exciting final three weeks.