REVIEW: Westworld – “The Stray”

westworld-review

The following is a spoiler review of the third episode of Westworld – Developed by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy

In the third episode of HBO’s Westworld, Elsie (played by Shannon Woodward) and Stubbs (played by Luke Hemsworth) go into the park to locate a missing host. Meanwhile, Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) changes Teddy’s (played by James Marsden) backstory, and Bernard (played by Jeffrey Wright) learns of a man named ‘Arnold.’

Westworld is still one of the most intriguing shows on television right now. The Stray didn’t, and couldn’t, change its status as the new show to obsess over. HBO’s new second most important show behind Game of Thrones, of course. The Stray was a good episode of Westworld, but then why do I feel slightly underwhelmed while writing this review?

“The only thing stopping the hosts from hacking us to pieces is one line of your code.” – Stubbs to Elsie.

Let’s continue with what didn’t really work. The stray, or missing, host story arc doesn’t really leave a lasting effect on you as a viewer. First and foremost, we aren’t really attached to either of the characters – Elsie and Stubbs – that investigated his disappearance yet. Secondly, while the wood-carved constellation was intriguing, it didn’t go anywhere, other than to an underwhelming conclusion to the stray story arc wherein a host that we weren’t attached to decided to end it all.

That’s my main issue with the episode – the story of the stray host. But, if we return to Ford for a moment, Hopkins’s character is really going to some interesting places, and his history lesson was terrific. It seems like, maybe, Ford and Arnold were at odds with one another, and now Bernard is playing with fire, himself.

In Chestnut, Ford told Bernard that: “You can’t play God without being acquainted with the Devil.” This episode made their individual roles much clearer. We saw Ford get upset when one of the technicians treated one of the hosts with a little bit of respect. If Ford is anything, then he’s the Devil. We’ll have to find out later what role Bernard is taking on in Westworld.

My biggest disappointment with this episode may have been that we didn’t get more of William (played by Jimmi Simpson). He had, arguably, the best scene in the episode, wherein he saved Clementine. This was also the scene where we got to see that the hosts’ guns can leave a mark on the newcomers.

“No. You never wil. Your job is not to protect Dolores, it’s to keep her here. To ensure that the guests find her, if they want to best the stalwart gunslinger and have their way with his girl.” – Ford to Teddy.

With William being featured only in, like, two or three scenes, Teddy got a lot more to do here than just, well, die. I liked the female guest that was running around with him for most of the episode. I also enjoyed his new backstory, and his new mission was one of the best elements of the episode.

This was definitely James Marsden’s best episode yet, he really showed up to perform here. He got something to do and he was fun to watch. Anthony Hopkins can do whatever he wants, he is almost always flawless, and this was another good episode for him here. His character is becoming crueler and more mysterious by the minute. I particularly enjoyed seeing young Ford in a flashback – that couldn’t have been cheap to do.

“Why is this host covered? Perhaps you didn’t want him to feel cold or ashamed. You wanted to cover his modesty. Was that it? It doesn’t get cold, doesn’t feel ashamed, doesn’t feel a solitary thing that we haven’t told it to. Understand?” – Ford to a technician.

Evan Rachel Wood has been the shining star in Westworld so far, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. Wood still grabs every chance she has to give us something memorable. For a show that boasts Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright, it is extremely impressive that she keeps on delivering top-notch performances and still is the one character you can’t stop thinking about.

I don’t think the moment where Dolores shot and killed Rebus (played by Steven Ogg) was as powerful as the writers had hoped it would be. It didn’t come close to the fly slap in The Original. It was interesting, though, during that scene that she seemed to hold a grudge against the Man in Black specifically. That he was the one that made her break code, so to speak.

To end the episode, we see a startled Dolores ride away from her constant loop and into the arms of William. As such, you could say that the title – The Stray – doesn’t just refer to the missing host. It may also refer to Dolores, who seems to have broken out of her loop. Perhaps for good.

B+

– Jeffrey Rex

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