REVIEW: Westworld – “Trace Decay”


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

In the eighth episode of Westworld, Bernard (played by Jeffrey Wright) starts to cover his tracks, Maeve (played by Thandie Newton) needs more help from Felix and Sylvester, and William (played by Jimmi Simpson) and Dolores (played by Evan Rachel Wood) reach their destination.

I’ve seen the episode twice now, and I, honestly, had a tough time remembering what happened of real consequence in this episode. Sure, they might’ve confirmed a major fan theory, but it was surprisingly difficult for me to find story arcs to write about in a spoiler-free way above. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit too hard on the episode, but, for me, this was the weakest episode of the show yet.

My main problem with this episode is that it felt like the showrunners were putting off major story arc development for another episode. The show was essentially stalling for time. Maeve punished Sylvester, but does that even matter if Felix can just put him back together? William and Dolores seemingly reached their destination, but they didn’t do anything there. They were just captured by Logan.

The most interesting character in this episode was, quite obviously, Bernard. Seeing Bernard being absolutely heartbroken over what he had done to Theresa wasn’t exactly easy to watch, and Jeffrey Wright did a good job in that scene. But it really didn’t take long for Bernard to accomplish the task that Ford wanted him to take care of before getting the memory of killing Theresa erased

Speaking of Theresa, it was really disappointing to see that Ford wasn’t making a host-copy of her to fool Delos. I desperately wanted Sidse Babett Knudsen to remain on the show somehow, but it doesn’t look like my wish will be granted. Another person that Bernard seems to have hurt is Elsie. We got a very swift look at Bernard choking Elsie, so she is probably done for too, sadly.

“When are we? Is this now? Am I going mad? Are you real?” – Dolores to William.

What this episode also seemed to reveal – or, at the very least, got very close to revealing – was that the are two ‘timeframes’ within the show. It did feel like they were hitting us over the head with the fact that Dolores was lost in old memories, though.

It wasn’t exactly revealed with Dolores and William, though. As you may have noticed, the woman that was with Teddy and the Man in Black was the same host that welcomed William. The Man in Black even said he thought she would’ve been retired by now.

It seems like William is, indeed, a memory, and maybe the Man in Black is the present. Sure, we still don’t know if the elaborate ‘William is the Man in Black-theory’ is true or not, but it sure seems like it.

That theory, however, isn’t as bulletproof as the guests are. The Man in Black has said some things in previous episodes that still lead me to believe that the theory is flawed and unlikely.

The Man in Black is still the most mysterious character on Westworld, and, at the very least, he revealed more about himself in Trace Decay. He’s a wealthy philanthropist, and he was a family man until his wife killed himself because of him.

Right now, I must admit, I’m a little bit worried that us Westworld fans have ruined the season finale reveal for ourselves. While it was still a powerful moment, most of us saw the Bernard reveal coming. And now it looks like the fan group that was championing the timeframe theory was on to something.

I want to end this review with a problematic story arc. Maeve is getting stronger, and it’s very interesting and exciting, sure. But how are we supposed to believe that Felix is stupid enough to not just help Maeve as much as he has, but to also make her capable of hurting a human.

It also amazes me that Sylvester still hasn’t reported Felix and Maeve to someone. He has had plenty of time to report them, but he has done nothing. While Thandie Newton is doing a wonderful job with a really great character, the characters around her are hurting the credibility of her story arc.


– Jeffrey Rex

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