Every week for the second season of Westworld, three Atlantic staffers will discuss new episodes of HBO’s cerebral sci-fi drama.
Sophie Gilbert: If Westworld is just a higher-tech Jurassic Park, like we discussed a few weeks ago, then “Les Écorchés” is the moment Dr. Grant discovers that West African bullfrogs can change sex at will, and the velociraptors reach the visitor’s center. Some (but absolutely not all) questions were answered. Some extremely pivotal characters were shot. Some even died. And Bad Teddy brought his vengeance down upon Coughlin and his black-ops security squad like a Dilophosaurus in the passenger seat of Dennis Nedry’s Jeep.
To start with the basics: Ford, whose soul lives in unhuman form inside the Cradle of Westworld’s servers, is the architect of all this chaos. These violent ends have been his goal all along, given the ugliness he sees in humanity, “the most murderous species since time began.” By comparison, he told Bernard, the hosts are “something very different. An original work, more just, more noble.” Ford, the Promethean creator, wants to preserve the life he’s made at the expense of mankind, setting up a showdown that he’ll help the hosts win.
He’s facing off against Delos (embodied now by the increasingly awful Charlotte Hale), which we found out weeks ago had been using Westworld as a giant data-mining operation, secretly extracting information from guests without their consent. But their goal isn’t using people’s data to help sell them things, it’s … (dum dum DUM) eternal life. The conversations between James Delos and William earlier in Season 2, and the routine between Dolores and Bernard in last week’s episode, were just microcosms of a larger project: uploading the human soul to help humans live forever, like hosts. “Every piece of information in the world has been backed up, copied,” Ford explained. “Except the human mind. The last piece of analog technology in a digital world.” The more humans reveal about themselves within Westworld, the more Delos learns about human nature, which it’s essentially trying to copy and paste via a janky USB equivalent awkwardly inserted into Peter Abernathy.