The Stray Defines The Storylines And Introduces A New Villain

This is my Westworld recap of season 1, episode 3 entitled “The Stray.” The storylines continue to develop into three distinct cones of concern. That’s my Hurricane reference, since I lived through one last week. The first storyline is all about the lab, or backstage, as they now like to call it. It consists of everything that happens in the lab, including the intrigue surrounding an upcoming visit from the Board of Directors. The second storyline revolves around the Hosts, their glitches, and their inevitable uprising. The final storyline involves the park guests, including newcomer Marti, who’s played by Bojana Novakovic. Show runners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy did a much better job at defining the storylines than ever before. Unlike earlier episodes, I didn’t have to watch this episode over and over to pick up on all the details I found others talking about. At this point, I must warn you that there are spoilers ahead so you may not want to continue reading if you have not seen this episode.

James Marsden as Teddy and Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy

Images: John P. Johnson/HBO

We begin in the backstage, where Dolores sits, fully clothed as Bernard walks into the lab. Interestingly, Dolores is clothed, which is something we learn is not allowed in the lab. Ford will later tell a technician that all the Hosts should be naked, because they do not get cold and are not programmed to feel anything. Ford reminds the technician that the Hosts are not real. Bernard chats with Dolores a bit and gives her a present; a copy of Alice in Wonderland. Remarkably, the dress Alice wears in the book is similar to her dress. We learn from their conversation, that Bernard had a son, Charlie, but he died, presumably there in the park. Bernard is curious about Dolores and sees a subtle difference in her behavior. He ponders whether to restore Dolores to an earlier version of her programming to prevent any further changes to her behavior. Dolores finds herself waking up in bed to begin a new day. At her farm, Dolores has a reverie and picks up the revolver she discovered in last week’s episode. She then focuses and the revolver is gone. In the backstage Cullen confronts Bernard about the status of the Hosts. She’s wondering why the staff continues to address Host behaviors when supposedly they’re all working correctly. Cullen informs Bernard to get his house in order before the Board of Directors comes for their visit.

Across the lab, Elsie questions a Host about his behavior as Bernard watches. Elsie points out to Bernard, that while examining the actions of a previous Host, the Host appeared to be malfunctioning. Elsie reported that the Host selectively targeted some hosts while letting others live. Elsie suggested the Host carried a grudge, and during its attack on other Hosts, it mentioned the name “Arnold.” Bernard sends Elsie and Stubbs to the surface to search for a stray host. Stubbs is perhaps the most sensible Westworld employee because he understands that a host rebellion is coming. On their way to the surface, Stubbs tells Elsie “The only thing stopping the hosts from hacking us to pieces is one line of your code.”

Bojana Novakovic as Marti and James Marsden as Teddy Flood

Images: John P. Johnson HBO

In town, white hat William gets into a shoot out with a bandit and rescues out favorite bar maiden Clementine. Enter Logan, surprised by Williams gun battle, offers to take him places. William feeling empowered by the gun fight, has other plans, and chooses to embark on an adventure he finds on a wanted poster.  Across town, Teddy with newcomer Marti, confront a bandit and takes him and his two amigos down to collect a reward. Back at the Mariposa, Teddy notices Dolores on the street as he’s done a thousand times before. The two find themselves in a pasture outside town. Dolores asks Teddy to take her away from all of this. Sadly Teddy doesn’t understand. He is not programmed to take Dolores anywhere.

Later, in the backstage we find Ford questioning Teddy. In a cruel twist, we learn that Teddy was simply designed to keep Dolores in Sweetwater so park guests can have their way with her. Ford asks Teddy what he aspires to be. Teddy speaks of Dolores, but doesn’t really understand the truths behind his purpose. Ford solicits Teddy for a part in his new narrative, one that involves someone named Wyatt. Teddy asks who’s Wyatt? Ford explains to Teddy that “A fiction like all great stories is rooted in truth.” Teddy does not understand, until Ford uploads a backstory of memories into Teddy. Hopefully, this means Teddy will have a new purpose, other than being target practice for the newcomers.

Later we find Teddy and Dolores together in a field. Teddy is attempting to teach Dolores to use a revolver. However, as we learn, Teddy tells Dolores that “Some hands weren’t meant to pull a trigger.” Teddy doesn’t know how right he is. Dolores literally cannot fire a weapon because she is not programmed to. Marti and the trusty Sheriff approach and ask Teddy to join them to hunt down Wyatt. In this scene, it’s remarkable to see Teddys transformation once the Sheriff mentions Wyatt. Out at Pythons Pass, we find Teddy, the Sheriff, Marti and a small group hunting Wyatt. They’re ambushed by unknown gunmen and a gun battle begins. When the Sheriff is killed, a few from the Sheriff’s group return to town, while Teddy bravely attempts to fight off the bandits.

Luke Hemsworth as Stubbs

Images: John P. Johnson HBO

Elsewhere in the desert we find Elsie and Stubbs as they come across a group of hopeless hosts stuck in a loop. The group, which at one point included the stray they’re looking for were sitting around trying to decide who was going to cook dinner. However, since the stray was the only host who was allowed to handle the ax, the group was stuck in a narrative loop. Elsie discovers some carvings inside the tent. One carving was of special interest as it was of the constellation Orion. Later, Stubbs and Elsie, who describes herself as vectoring finally located the stray host. The host has fallen into a crevasse and cannot climb out. Stubbs lowers himself into the crevasse to rescue the host. The host attacks Stubbs and knocks him down. The host uses Stubbs rope and pulls himself from the crevasse. The host picks up a boulder and instead of attacking Elsie, he self terminates by smashing his skull with the boulder.

In the backstage, Bernard meets with Ford in his office. Interestingly, his office has the wall of skulls that we’ve seen pictures of. Suffice it to say, it would be an ideal place for geeks to hang out and have coffee. Bernard questions Ford about Arnold. Ford seems surprised that Bernard knew of this name and explained that decades ago, before the park opened, Arnold was his business partner. Ford went on to explain that Arnold had died at the park when all his efforts went into creating a bicameral mind. Bernard left Ford’s office, and went to Skype with presumably his wife Lauren, who’s played by Gina Torres. The two chat about Charlie, their son. This is Bernard’s best scene this season as he struggles to keep his composure in front of Lauren.  Bernard tells Lauren “This pain, it’s all I have left of him.”

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy

Images: John P. Johnson HBO

Later we find Bernard chatting with Dolores. He questions whether he made a mistake by allowing these behavior enhancements to continue. In questioning Dolores, he tells her that’s there’s two versions of her. One where she’s safe and doesn’t have any problems. The other, where’s she will continue to question everything. Dolores most interestingly replies that there’s only one version of her. He states “I think when I discover who I am, I will be free.” Dolores returns to the surface and begins her loop. At her ranch, she discovers her father murdered by a band of outlaws. During her struggle, she’s dragged off into the farm, where she would typically be raped. However, this time, she discovers the revolver in the barn, and against her narrative, kills the bandit who’s about to rape her. At the end of the day, in the desert, we find William and Logan are relaxing by a campfire. Enter Dolores, who surprises the two, and stumbles into Williams arms before she collapses.

Next week, Westworld episode 4, entitled “Dissonance Theory” debuts on Sunday, Oct 23 at 9:00 PM ET on HBO. Here’s a preview of what’s coming.