‘Westworld’ Season 1 Episode 8 Recap: Trace Decay

Westworld Season 1 Episode 8 stars James Marsden and Ed Harris
James Marsden and Ed Harris in ‘Westworld’ episode eight (Photo by John P. Johnson/HBO)

HBO’s Westworld season one episode eight of was the most frustrating of the season. Up is down and down is up, and now multiple hosts are accessing their memories – if only briefly. Airing on November 20, 2016, episode eight titled ‘Trace Decay’ begins with Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) telling Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) to come back online after he’s murdered Theresa. Bernard is devastated by what he’s done, and Dr. Ford calls his emotions remarkable. He also tells Bernard he should be proud of the emotions he’s feeling. Ford built Bernard and together they captured the “heart” of man, and if the corporation took over this place they would have destroyed what he’s built. They will now work on Ford’s plan together, but Bernard is still upset about killing Theresa and tries to attack his maker. Dr. Ford dials back Bernard’s emotions while revealing he also took care of Arnold all those years ago when he tried to attack him. Bernard’s next task is to clear all traces of ties between Theresa’s disappearance and himself.

Maeve (Thandie Newton) is back in the saloon and she sees a new host has been added in place of Clementine. Maeve watches the world around her and is obviously upset. She remembers her daughter’s death and then she’s back with technicians Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) discussing her memories. They tell her her memories are much clearer than theirs, and when they offer to check on the status of Maeve’s daughter if she’s still in the park, Maeve says it doesn’t really matter. Her goal is to break free of this place but she’s fully aware there’s a charge implanted in her spine that will detonate if she tries to leave, which means she’ll need a full rebuild. Felix tells her even if they remove it, she’ll need an army to break out. And, that’s actually her plan. She’s going to get control over other hosts, write her own story, and break out.

William (Jimmi Simpson) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) are exploring the new area and they come across a dozen dead men cut down by arrows. The Ghost Nation found these men which means William and Dolores have to keep moving, but Dolores stops when she hears one of the men making noise. They give him water and he admits his group was meant to ambush and kill them. Dolores wants to help him but William thinks he’s too far gone. Dolores doesn’t want him to suffer and goes to the river to fetch more water.

As she’s filling up the water jug, Dolores sees herself dead in the water and hears a voice say, “Come find me.” The vision of her dead body in the water disappears and when she returns with the water, the injured man is dead.

Dr. Ford, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), and Ashley (Luke Hemsworth) examine Theresa’s dead body. Her death is ruled an accident and it’s assumed she slipped and fell in the same area as the host who killed himself. She was found with stolen data and Charlotte says this version of events seems extremely unlike Theresa. Dr. Ford says Theresa’s demonstration using Clementine was a hoax and that her team needs to be reined in. Bernard will be reinstated as the Head of Behavior now that it appears Theresa was manipulating everything.

Sylvester barges in and tells Felix and Maeve there’s something major going on with the executives. He believes they’re all about to be discovered and Maeve needs to leave and act dumb. She’s not willing to do that and reveals there are things inside her that are just out of her reach, maybe dormant, and then she asks about Arnold. Sylvester doesn’t want anything else to do with helping Maeve and tells her to go blackmail techs in the behavior department instead. That’s not about to happen just yet as Maeve still needs their help making a few more sophisticated changes. Sylvester and Felix step outside to discuss what to do about Maeve and Sylvester suggests they wipe out her programming and smack her in the head.

The Man in Black (Ed Harris) and Teddy (James Marsden) are still on Wyatt’s trail and Teddy’s anxious to find Dolores. When the Man in Black tells him he can only do what Dr. Ford wants him to and calls him a loser, Teddy has a very brief flash of memory of the Man in Black calling him a loser at Dolores’ place. They come upon dead people and one live woman, Angela (Talulah Riley), who says Wyatt’s men did this. Teddy frees her as the Man in Black hears something in a nearby bush. He turns around to talk to Freddy as a man wearing a mask and horns attacks them both. Teddy has a flashback to the Man in Black attacking Dolores while this is going on, but Teddy’s still able to kill their attacker. He knocks out the Man in Black, telling him he remembered him.

Sylvester and Felix wheel Maeve upstairs and Felix shuts her down while they perform the operation. After she’s shut down, Felix reprograms her.

A host is in the tech area learning dialogue from Lee (Simon Quarterman) for the new area when Charlotte interrupts his work. They talk about the devastating loss of Theresa and Lee admits he’s heard that Theresa was a traitor. Charlotte says Theresa was doing what Delos asked her to. Lee then explains he’s been selected to create a new villain for Ford’s new narrative, but Charlotte says Ford is just tricking him by giving him busy work. She, on the other hand, has a real job for him.

Felix and Sylvester discuss Maeve while she’s still offline, and Maeve suddenly sits up, scaring Sylvester. Felix didn’t wipe out her programming and Sylvester’s fine with letting her walk out now as long as she’s out of his life. She slashes his throat with a knife, something she’s not supposed to be able to do. Felix also gave her “other new talents” that she can’t wait to practice. Felix cauterizes Sylvester’s neck wound and saves Sylvester’s life. Maeve says, “Now it’s time to recruit my army.”

Back at the saloon, the bartender tells Maeve she has a large bar tab and she’s able to change the narrative to make him believe she’s in good standing just by talking to him. Outside the window she sees a young girl walk by and has a flashback to the Man in Black attacking her cabin and killing her.

Maeve can command the other hosts and gets the new Clementine to gather the girls and talk to the new guests. Hector and his gang ride into town, shooting up the place as usual. Maeve steps outside and tells the sheriff the gang members are all upstanding citizens so he doesn’t shoot. Maeve turns her attention to the other lawmen, instructing them to shoot each other. Hector’s gang grabs the safe and the horse pulls it out of town.

Dr. Ford tells Bernard they can resume work on the new narrative. Ford asks Bernard what he really feels now that he knows he’s a machine and knows his own true nature. Bernard wants to know if the memories he has are real, and Dr. Ford explains he just needed a backstory and that he wasn’t married and didn’t have a child. His imagined suffering makes him lifelike and Bernard asks what’s the difference between his pain and Dr. Ford’s. That’s the question that consumed Arnold and filled him with guilt, explains Ford. Dr. Ford says consciousness doesn’t exist and there’s nothing special about the way humans behave compared to the hosts. He tells Bernard he’s not missing anything at all and before he sets his mind at ease, Bernard asks if he’s hurt anyone else before. Dr. Ford says no but Bernard has a flashback of killing Elsie.

Westworld Episode 8 Jimmi Simpson and Evan Rachel Wood
Jimmi Simpson and Evan Rachel Wood in ‘Westworld’ episode eight (Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO)

William and Dolores come to a field and Dolores says she’s home. She sees an empty town but has a flashback of a time when it was populated with hosts. In her memories, a tech is walking through examining and teaching the hosts. They’re learning how to dance and behave like real people. Lawrence’s daughter walks up and asks her if she found what she was looking for, and then there’s a shoot-out and Dolores sees herself with a gun to her head.

Coming back to the present, William walks up and grabs the gun from Dolores’ head. She’s completely confused and wants to know where they are, when they are, and if he’s real. He tells her he’s real and she says she’s trapped in a dream and having memories from long ago. She says Arnold wants her to remember and William believes he needs to get her out of there now.

Night falls, and Dolores says she was certain that was where Arnold would meet her. William thinks she’s breaking down because she’s too far away from town and just then a scouting party rides up. It’s led by Logan (Ben Barnes) and he says he’s been looking for them for days. He tells them they’re f**ked.

Lee and Charlotte walk through rows and rows of hosts that are in storage, deactivated. Charlotte finds one particular host and uploads 35 years of data, telling Lee he needs to give the host a personality and get him on the train out of the park. She tells him to have fun programming the host and leaves.

Ashley tells Bernard he didn’t agree with the decision to fire him and he’s glad to have him back. Ashley sympathizes with Bernard, telling him it must be difficult to have lost Theresa. Bernard looks confused and says Ashley had the wrong idea, he barely knew Theresa. Ashley asks about Elsie but Bernard hasn’t heard from her. Ashley’s suspicious and Bernard walks away.

Teddy makes camp with Angela and has the Man in Black tied up by the fire. Teddy says his goal is to save Dolores or die trying. Wyatt’s is to cleanse the earth, but Teddy doesn’t know who the Man in Black really is. He hits him again and lets him know he remembers when the Man in Black hurt Dolores. The Man in Black calls him an idiot and a glorified pimp. Teddy threatens to kill him, but the Man in Black says he can’t because of the rules. He calls himself a god, a titan of industry, and a family man who was married to a beautiful woman. He claims to have been the good guy but then last year his wife took the wrong pills and accidentally killed herself. 30 years of marriage vanished and at the funeral he tried to console his daughter but his daughter said her mom killed herself because of him. Every day was sheer terror with him and even though he didn’t hurt them, they knew what was inside of him.

The Man in Black had to prove her wrong so he came back to this place where it reveals your true self. He’s been creating his own stories and Maeve was part of the first test. He wanted to see if he could do something truly evil. He shot Maeve’s daughter in front of her just to see what he felt, but then Maeve refused to die when he stabbed her. He felt nothing inside, but then something happened. He watched Maeve take her dead daughter outside and saw that Maeve was truly alive, if only for a second. That’s when he discovered there was a deeper game – Arnold’s game.

Maeve tells the new Clementine she’s getting out of there. As she’s leaving the saloon she hears gunshots and reacts by slicing the new Clementine’s throat. She walks away as marshals approach. She tells a gunslinger to shoot at them as she runs away.

Back at HQ, those monitoring the park notice that Maeve’s not responding. They have to send a team to retrieve her.

In a flashback we see Maeve is hysterical after the Man in Black killed her daughter. She’s brought in to be worked on and the tech can’t get her to respond. Dr. Ford finally gets her under control and tells her she doesn’t have to suffer. She doesn’t want Dr. Ford to remove the pain because it’s all she has left of her daughter, but he erases her memories anyway. Bernard assists him and they decide to give her a new role, a fresh start. She stands up and stabs herself in the neck.

The retrieval team find Maeve in her room and are going to bring her in for a complete diagnostic.

The Man in Black needs to find Wyatt as beating him is the last step in being able to conquer the maze. Angela says the Man in Black is worse than Wyatt’s men and Teddy tries to kill him but can’t. Angela offers to help Teddy and then stabs Teddy with an arrow. Wyatt’s men approach through the darkness and fog as Teddy lies on the ground still alive but with an arrow in his shoulder.

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