Westworld Episode 8 Theories: “Trace Decay”

Westworld Episode 8 Theories: "Trace Decay"
Westworld Episode 8 Theories: "Trace Decay"

Westworld Episode 8 Theories: “Trace Decay”

Just when we thought Westworld’s depths had been plumbed, listeners wrote in with fresh insights on Dr. Ford as the Singularity, how host bodies work, the meaning behind the number 30 and … HOST BABIES?

There’s also the question of whether Maeve can control Bernard, who’s in Wyatt’s gang and whether Westworld is intended as sincere narrative or satire. Tune in, listen up and let us know what you think by writing a Westworld Telegraph of your own!

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Westworld Episode 8 Summary:
“Trace Decay” Ford has Bernard stage Theresa’s death to look like an accident. Then, Ford wipes Bernard’s memories after Bernard has a vision of himself attacking Elsie. Stubbs becomes suspicious of Bernard’s behavior. Hale recruits Sizemore for her cause. Maeve convinces Felix to give her the ability to control other hosts, and slits Sylvester’s throat for attempting to kill her; though she has Felix save him. Maeve then suffers more visions of her past life with her daughter and reflexively kills another host, prompting the park staff to retrieve her for a diagnostic. William and Dolores finally reach their destination, Ford’s church, where Dolores has more disturbing visions and realizes that Arnold wants her to remember something before they are captured by a band of Confederados led by Logan. Teddy receives a flashback of the Man in Black attacking Dolores and interrogates him. The Man in Black explains he started searching for the maze to find purpose after his wife’s suicide. Teddy is wounded by a female host before they are captured by Wyatt’s cultists.

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5 Responses

  1. Jen says:

    William should not be the MiB because Dolores had a flashback to the MiB beating her, as an old man, in the current story line with William and Logan. Are you conveniently forgetting this, or has Westworld now merged with Arrival, and Dolores was having a flashforward memory, not a flashback? I doubt it.

    • Gene Lyons says:

      Can you cite when that flashback was shown?

    • lil bird says:

      I think your question should be clearly answered by what Dolores and Bernarnold experienced in episode 9. As she revisits the town with Arnold and Robert’s hidden R+D lab under the church, she jumps between a number of memories before she leaves the church, all leaving her with a slightly more clear understanding of the truth in the “contemporary” timeline in which Bernard has just been offed. And awaits the unveiling of Fords “new story”

  2. Scott says:

    Hi guys,

    I have my own take on the character arc of William/MiB. The stage is set for William to choose sides between Logan and Dolores. From the beginning of Logan and William arriving at the park, Logan is bent on opening up William to immersing himself in the park. At first William is resistant, until he comes across Dolores, obviously she is the key to him embracing the fantasy of the park. Logan has little respect for the hosts, killing them left and right, yet spares Dolores after initially turning his gun on her (I don’t remember which episode or instance) , when William steps in and basically implicates that he won’t follow the game with Logan without bringing Dolores along. Logan is happy to finally get William interested in the game. This is the first instance of William choosing Dolores and the fantasy world over loyalty to Logan.

    The next major instance, is when William leaves Logan in Pariah to be captured while he and Dolores escape and continue on the story line. I don’t actually recall it myself, but I thought I had heard a discussion of that scene in which Logan sort of smirks or displays his excitement that William is immersed in his role as the “good guy” white hat. William is once again choosing Dolores over Logan, AI alliance over human alliance. So far it is all just fun and games to Logan, but is a serious moral choice for William.

    Throughout this time we have seen William become more open to the darker side of the parks fun, such as killing hosts (something he resisted at first ). It seems clear after the ending of episode 8 that a third confrontation between Logan and William is going to happen involving William choosing to side with Logan or Dolores. Each time William chooses a side the moral implications of his choice are in more dire circumstances and have a greyer area of morality. First he stops Logan from needlessly killing Dolores. This seems a clear black and white morale decision.
    Next he does not help Logan even when Dolores assumes that they should help in Pariah. Logan may be an unsavory character, but supposedly they are friends (Dolores, I believe, questions William about this and he implies his feelings toward Logan are less praising and his actions towards him are more of a general civility due to William’s initial “do good” nature).

    To tie into William’s arc towards the MiB so far we have the MiB telling Teddy that he is the “good guy.” This is a role William sees himself in so far, all his actions are the morally right thing to do and his actions thus far have shown him siding with the ‘artificial’ beings (specifically Dolores) over the human cruelty (which Logan represents). The MiB also tells his story about his wife’s suicide, his wife being Logan’s sister. Her suicide drives him over the edge to start experimenting as the MiB, the evil side of the Westworld story, in order to discover who he is. He essentially is having an identity crisis over morality and whether or not he is good or evil (a common theme mirrored with Ford, as well as the lab tech cats, Felix and Sylvester both displaying two opposing sides of the good/evil story).

    I think the turning point will come in the final episodes and it will come in the form of William choosing for the 3rd time Dolores (representing Westworld and the artificial life) over Logan (the human ‘real’ world). Only this time the stakes will be as high as they can get.

    Logan knows Westworld is a game and has treated it as such, and each time he goads William I think he pushes it further, he spared Dolores before to get William to continue playing. In the end I think Logan will not spare her, knowing the game is going to end and they are to go back to their lives. William is fully immersed and Logan either kills or attempts to kill Dolores “triggering” William into snapping on Logan who he ends up killing or in some way causes Logan’s death in protecting Dolores.

    William realizes what he has done and now Ford and the park have a certain level of control over him. William spends the next 30 years, all of his actions driven by his guilt and self hatred of having been responsible for a real person’s death (and the brother of his soon to be wife) all while he thought he was playing the good guy. His distance from his wife and family as the MiB tells Teddy makes a lot of sense. The suspicion his wife likely develops at the ‘murder’ of her brother Logan makes sense as to why she would live in fear of William (he chose an artificial robot’s life to be of greater value than that of her human brother). Her suicide sends him back into the park to discover his true self and finally confront the guilt of being directly responsible for Logan’s death and redirects that guilt and self-hatred on the hosts, but also does so embodying what Logan had been (a blackhat).

    In essence he is dealing with what Bernard deals with when confronting having killed Theresa, guilt over having caused someone’s death. William believed he was doing good and caused Logan’s death. This brings into question his dichotomous view between good and evil. To mirror Ford’s discussion with Bernard after he had him kill Theresa, in which Ford says there is no difference between the robots and the humans, I think the show is also making a statement about the nature or difference between good and evil. There is no line between or difference between good and evil, there is only the perception of who the story is following.

    Now there is definitely a strong element of this all being fan fiction, but I think in terms of story themes it hits a lot of marks that the show has already set up and manipulated. Who is good and who is evil? Who do viewers side with as being right or wrong and why? What is good for one is inevitably bad for someone else in some way shape or form. Interested for you all to poke holes in this and see what concepts might be pulled from it (if any :P) that can further the discussion of the shows plot and themes.

    Thanks for having a great, long, and in depth podcast discussion on Westworld. I can’t get enough!!


  3. Tyroga says:

    Don’t be too quick to dismiss it, the “ageing william-bot theory” has legs!

    What if the Man in Black is indeed a host, who has been coming back for years and years because he HAS to, his bodies may have a time bomb function.

    All his success outside the park, his ability to be a Titan of Industry, is a result of his enhanced brain and/or may in fact be guided by Ford.

    And this Man in Black / William bot is seeking the Maze so he can reach that final level of consciousness and finally, truely be free of Ford’s control.

    The only potential stick in the mud for this theory is the Man in Black’s daughter, just how much of their biological fluid is dna that can be passed on.

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