Its Sunday Sermon time with the Pop-Culture Theologians!
1. Goodbye Rosanne. No seriously, bye.... #byebyebye
2. We stand with Samantha Bee. If you don't know how this is different from the Rosanne issue, we cannot help you. #resist
3. As we mentioned last week: we want to know what other shows would you like the Pop! Theologians to tackle. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! We would love to know what you are watching!
4. We are really concerned about the language surrounding the "president's" ability to pardon himself. Time to brush up on Les Miserables.
5. We are thrilled to have Kirsten Gerdes with us again for our Sunday Sermon! All hail the Mother of Doggos.
Let's break down Season 2, Episode 5: ‘Phase Space’
Spoilers Ahead: You have been warned...
Marci's 5 Sips of Tea:
Welp. So our Bernarnold story line keeps on keeping on. Once again we revisit the theme of fidelity, with an interesting opening scene with Dolores turin-testing Bernard in a scene that echos William's own interactions with Delos Sr. We don't particularly know when this testing is, or where (my guess is the cradle, so its not actually happening, per-say, in the real world). While this is a teaser scene that tells us a whole lot of NOTHING, I do think it clarifies one vital plot point: the ability to pass this test has been achieved by Delos (or Ford, or the Argos project--who knows). The fact that William questions whether his "daughter" is a host also lets us know that this is a possibility that William himself believes. She could be a host, but she also she could his daughter. Hell, she could be both, no? Whatever she is, the technology has caught up. The possibilities here are what we need to pay attention to. She never denies being a host, and her calm reaction to his accusation feels very "off-point" for an angry daughter on a mission.
Also, this revelation also helps us ground the timelines a bit better. We are quite a bit removed from the Delos Sr. scenes time-wise. Enough time has passed that the technology has now caught up with their vision for it. Which means Delos Sr. may have been in that testing room alone for quite a bit longer that we thought just two episodes ago. Which also means that Bernard's attack on the site itself could also have happened quite a bit before previously thought. This is all probably the nod the title Phase Space (meaning multiple timelines showcased in a grid) is supposed to give us viewers. We have multiple timelines on the table right now, but that doesn't mean we can't start to clarify them with the "data" we have (eyeball because we need more data writers!).
2. Goodbye Teddy. Hello Theodore.
I am pretty sure Dolores is regretting falling for the idea that certain types of performed masculinity = strength. Teddy is now super hyped up on testoster-code and toxic masculinity, and that means he is not the ally Dolores envisioned. If anything, he is now too volatile, too headstrong, and completely unhinged. Way to go, Dolores! No one saw that coming! Look at this white woman perpetuating the patriarchy! #dead
PS. I am low-key living for Teddy's growing hatred of Dolores. He is resentful and I am pretty sure that Dolores's transgression will be their undoing by end of season. She would have been better off eliminating him that upgrading because it is clear Teddy has not forgotten what Dolores has done to him. And he seems to have no intention to forgive her for it either.
3. Shogun sho wasn't worth it?
What. Was. The. Point?
As I feared, Shogun World turned out to be a self-indulgent field trip by the directors that did not advance the story and
simply highlighted how much white folks like to romanticize other cultures for their own fun adventures. It what I can only see as irony, the show runners decided to go play in a Japanese fantasy for a couple weeks for no reason other than they could.
Look, I like the characters presented in Shogun World. But unless you planned on investing in them, there were way less complicated ways to show the one small plot point that there are duplicates in the park.
COME ON WRITERS!!!
4. Maeve, party of 1.
What exactly did Maeve expect to find when she finally reaches her little domestic cabin? Did she think her daughter was alone? Did she think that her daughter would be "woke" and recognize her? This all feels like sloppy writing for a character that deserved better and has showed better. So I have to assume that we are supposed to suspend our belief that Maeve would have thought this all out so that we can feel her heartbreak when it all crashes down. I understand that the love for a child is bigger than almost anything in this world, but I am not sure that alone is enough to explain how nonsensical Maeve's trip has become.
Also, I am perfectly aware that Maeve has struggled to use her Jedi mind-tricks with Ghost Nation, but I had previously thought that was due to PTSD from their previous encounters. Now I am not so sure. Is there a possibility that Ghost Nation is not actually a group of hosts? How else would we explain her inability to speak to them? Why would they not be on the mesh network?
5. I AM REALLY CONCERNED.
I think the show is losing it's core, my friends. I like complicated storylines. I like shows that make my head hurt. But I am not sure Westworld is doing my brain any justice. There are so many loose threads right now and nothing seems to be coming together. Just one example: the cradle?! How do you introduce such a massive complex out of nowhere (so complicated that HBO felt the need to air an explanation video after to explain it to viewers)?! I am a good tv watcher. I analyze. I rewatch. I hypothesize. But this is starting to feel like they are creating more and more mazes for no other reason that to have the viewer feel lost. Every once in a while you do have to land a plot point.
We are edging closer and closer to sloppy storytelling territory. I already did this with Lost, Westworld team. I know the red flags. I know them...
Bonus: Wait, so we crucified Abernathy? Nice. Subtle...
John's 5 Sips of Tea:
Damn, that ending. I know we’ve been speaking about it for a few weeks now, Ford’s actual purpose and goal, but did you expect him to be alive (or whatever that is defined as in the Westworld universe)? I think the genius about Ford is that he, like the Man in Black, have been looking for a way to achieve immortality but, whereas William or the Man in Black, have been interested in some corporeal form, Ford was (and appears to be) miles ahead of them by becoming ingrained in the code of Westworld and the database itself.
It seems like Ford, and I hope we find out, is inside the machine itself, living forever, much like Skynet in the Terminator franchise, and is fully sentient and calling the shot. Is the Cradle, Ford? Or is Ford, the Cradle? We have a lot to find out and only 4 more episodes to do so.
I am really digging William’s daughter, Lucy, and her quest to “save her father.” For far too long, we, the viewer, have been lead to believe that he has caused so many traumas, only to realize that his daughter has always longer to have him in her life. We are exploring the father/daughter relationship and while we are lead to believe that the Man in Black may be too far gone, having been in the park for a long time, we are slowing seeing glimmers of William being brought back via Lucy. However, much like an addict, William may be too far gone to ever come back.
3. Maeve, the Host Whisper
Much like Jennifer Love Hewitt as Melinda Gordon in the Ghost Whisperer, it seems like Maeve herself has or is discovering some problems communicating with the other side. Or, are the people of the Ghost Nation, like her, woke to the way that the world of Westworld works? In many ways, the representation of the Ghost Nation needs to be unwound itself, explaining the importance of indigenous peoples not only to the core of Westworld but also their larger overall importance to society and the lands the corporation and people have stolen from them. Are they, like Maeve, no longer slave to the corporate overloads and are free to set out and reclaim their lands from the people that stole bother them and their people? It would appear that the Ghost Nation might be playing a larger role in Maeve’s storyline than we originally thought.
While Maeve appeared to be afraid or traumatized by the storyline that she had with the Ghost Nation prior to be “woke,” it may appear that now, they may be her greatest asset (as she may be to them as well). And because I seem to be using a lot of Terminator references this week, did anyone else feel like the Ghost Nation leader’s statement to Maeve when she was in the fields with her daughter mimicked that of the Terminator when he says: “Come with me if you want to live?”
4. Teddy 2.0
Oh, Teddy. What has Dolores done to you?
5. Papa, Can You Hear Me?
What the heck is going on with Abernathy? Dolores seems to be on a murderous mission to save her father while Charlotte is on a similar quest to save him because of the code that they embedded in his mainframe that they need to get out of the park. Does anyone else think that Charlotte is a host, too? They all seem to be on a quest to save this “father” figure that Abernathy represents. I don’t know about you, but this storyline has me not only questioning the time we are in while viewing it but also wondering about where we are going in regards to the Delos Corporation if they no longer own or have control over the IP. Will we see the Knot’s Berry Farm equivalent to Westworld in seasons to come if Abernathy gets out of the park? Also, who goes to Knot’s Berry Farm anyways?
Kirsten's 5 Sips of Tea:
1. Dolores has made a new version of Bernard [Bernard Prime (B´)?] and is testing it for fidelity.
In the opening, as best I can tell, there’s no scar on
B´’s temple from where Ford made Bernard shoot himself in S1E9. What’s unclear still is when Dolores creates B´, but I assume it’s between when Bernard’s brought into Fort Forlorn Hope and when Old Clementine drags him off and leaves him outside the cave in which Elsie is chained up in Sector 12. If this secret lab – which we know is where William tested James Delos for fidelity, and is presumably the lab where they secretly tested how to upload human memories into a host – is where a B´ was created, doesn’t there have to be a
separate entrance? Otherwise Elsie would’ve seen people enter, as she’s been tied up there since before the Revolution. Another theory could be that this Elsie is also a host. Testing for fidelity, of course, presents certain challenges to ideas of free will, though as I stated last week, the show is definitely manipulating the definition of free will in ways to subvert both those philosophical libertarians who claim there is absolute free will and those philosophical hard determinists who say that everything is predetermined based on prior causes.
2. Dolores might have some buyer’s remorse with altering Teddy’s code.
But given the fact of her betrayal of him, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for her. Her Machiavellian tactics are beginning to backfire on her, I think. While I’ve stated previously that Revolutions are bloody – because oppressors don’t easily or quickly give up their power – Dolores’s inability to recognize friend from foe (really, to recognize the distinction between Teddy’s thoughtful challenges to her plan and Delos’s oppressive control of her whole life) leads her to betray Teddy by recoding him. And yet it’s still more mercy than she’s shown other resistant hosts, so it’s clear her romantic feelings are real. But when the code has been changed, will the new and improved Teddy still elicit these feelings?
3. Anyone else get a Jesus vibe from the “crucifixion” of Abernathy via nail gun to a chair?
He’s certainly being crucified for others’ sins. Also, has Stubbs always been this empathic toward the hosts, or did something happen to him after he was captured by the Ghost Nation? I don’t really have much more to say about this except C.R.E.A.M. (see last week’s discussion of the Wu-Tang song in episode
4. William’s daughter Grace didn’t deny being a host.
Go back and watch the initial exchange between her and William carefully: she asks him if he’s been out in the sun too
long after he talks to her like he talks to Ford, but she never denies being a host. We learned last week that hosts have the ability to speak other languages (when Maeve discovers her fluency in Japanese), and we’ve seen Grace speak the language of the Ghost Nation perfectly. It’s possible William misremembers Grace’s love of the elephants in Raj World, since we’ve known him to be a kind of absentee father, but it’s also possible that Grace is a host. At any rate, William’s obsession with the game cannot be deterred by even familial bonds (read: guilt), and Ford obviously counted on this. Since we now know Ford’s in the code responding to everything, it remains to be seen whether Grace is a host being controlled by Ford and attempting to manipulate him, or not. 5. Memory (and therefore consciousness) is not merely a matter of some immaterial “mind”; it is physical, embodied, experiential. Maeve’s touching the tall grass as she walks to the homestead, the sights and sounds of the surrounding land, all trigger memory. Memory is written onto our bodies. Despite Maeve’s increasing proximity to omniscience and omnipotence, it’s clear she’s not reached that (or could ever reach that?). That she’s surprised her daughter has a new mother indicates she’s not thinking clearly about this – she saw New Clementine be plugged into Old Clementine’s role in S1. It’s also not clear she was/is going to follow her own advice to Akane – that hosts deserve to choose their own fate. Maeve does use her ability to speak the language of the Ghost Nation, but does not (yet, or that we see) attempt to use her mind control ability (which is likely Ford’s work at networking the systems of the hosts) on them. Or she knows she can’t. Instead of attempting to kill Maeve and her daughter, though, the Ghost Nation ask her to come with them. They’ve been reprogrammed, but for what purpose? Given the way Westworld is created to be a colonialist fantasy, where the indigenous are the “native other,” the “savage,” does the reprogram play on those tropes or subvert them (or go the route of a different stereotype, the “noble savage”)? Is Maeve’s trauma from her previous lives – trauma she rightfully associates with the Ghost Nation – able to be overridden? It appears that even with her awakening, Maeve cannot “consciousness” herself (yes, I just used that as a verb) out of her trauma – because these events affect more than our conscious mind (and we also know can be passed down genetically – epigenetics is a thing). This, too, is tied up in what the show is attempting to do with the redefinition of “free will,” and I’m here for it.
5). Ford is here.
But since we do get the reveal at the end of the episode that Ford is controlling the code from the inside – that he has somehow uploaded his own consciousness into the system (maybe this is the consciousness Bernard took a few episodes ago in flashbacks from Sector 12?) and is responding to all attempts to revise the code – we should also be looking forward to the reveal of just how the rules of the game have changed as ego and thirst for power battle it out between all the players, both host and human. (But, of course, there are still rules.)