Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP.9, “La Grande Illusion”

Sins of the Father 

Grade: A

Honey never goes bad. And because it never spoils, it can be used to preserve things indefinitely. There was a myth once of a Greek king whose queen died tragically. To cope with the pain, he entombed her body in honey—thus preserving her forever. It seems like the Blossoms are trying the same—preserving Jason’s memory by suffocating Archie in sweet maple syrup. But the problem with preservation is that that thing you’re trying to keep will still be dead when you uncover it.

In fact, this entire episode centers around preservations of things gone spoilt. Betty struggles to hold together her family, Veronica is trying to reconcile her father as the parent she loves with the monstrous businessman in the shadows. The beginning of the series delved into the dysfunctional mothers of Riverdale, and now we’ve moved onto the fathers. Fred Andrews, Cliff Blossom, Hal Cooper. Speaking of the last one, Hal Cooper is totally a concussed football troll gone to seed.

In the A-plot, Archie is being roped into the Blossom family drama. The members of the Blossom Maple Farm board are descending upon Thorn Hill for the annual first tapping of the maple tree. With the scandal of Jason’s murder, and his role as the heir presumptive of the family business, the board members are trying to edge the Blossoms out of the company. The entire first half of the episode is dredged in layers of sexism as Cliff Blossom tries to coil his meaty, rosacea hands around Archie’s broad, sculpted shoulders. Cliff wants Archie to temper out Cheryl’s irrationalness and erraticism. She is, apparently, not even remotely being considered to run the company. Let’s not forget that Jason was a drug-mule and knocked up his high school girlfriend, and he—as a boy—was still considered more stable than Cheryl. Sexism.

This was the first episode that I got a slightly lower register on the Cersei scale from Cheryl. Yes, her obsession with her brother verges on pornographic, but something was illuminated for me. Jason was the golden child—in the eyes of his parents, the school, in sports. And he was always the biggest champion of Cheryl. She was always tolerated because Jason marketed them as a package deal. Without him by her side, she’s back to being the pariah.

Like Jughead analogizes in his last voiceover, Cheryl is a hurricane about to bear down on Riverdale. But as much as that works for her potential destructiveness, it also serves to elucidate her role as the center of Riverdale. Everyone this episode operates in her orbit. The Blossom family board underestimate her. Archie uses her for her parents’ connection to some top-tier music program. Polly is using her to find out if the Blossom parents had something to do with Jason’s death. Only Jason never asked anything of Cheryl—never wanted her beauty, or her crazy, or her connections. Only Jason wanted just her. And unmoored, without Jason, Cheryl is cracking in the most interior parts of her soul.

In the accompanying B-plots, Veronica tries to balance the karma scales by being especially nice to Ethel Muggs. Ethel’s father, Manfred Muggs, tried to commit suicide because he invested money with Hiram Lodge and lost everything. Subsequently, the Muggs are going to testify against Hiram in court. Something that wasn’t said, but could be possible given Hiram’s far reach from prison, is that Manfred’s “suicide” attempt might have been a little…induced by Hiram’s machinations.

Betty and Alice try to bring Polly back, unaware that Polly is at Thorn Hill as a spy. Their plan is to write a scorched-earth exposé of the Blossoms—how Cliff Blossom is the one who put Hiram in jail, their treatment of Cheryl, the circling vulture movements of the family board. It comes to a halt when Hal, a human erectile dysfunction commercial, cuts Alice off from the Riverdale Register. Alice then throws a brick through the front door of the newspaper office—go Alice—and later, Jughead suggests Alice write for the high school newspaper. Madchen Amick, who plays Alice, is a great actress so her scenes are electric, but I was mostly bored with the Cooper subplot. Sorry babe.

The episode’s cliffhanger is the addition of a new suspect. We learned from Archie’s overhearing that Clifford Blossom put Hiram Lodge in jail, thus “shattering” his family. We’ve seen Hiram’s ability to enact his will from jail, so is it possible that he made his own revenge—shattering the Blossom family with the murder of their most prized possession?

Intrigue.

Veronica learns that trying to preserve her family legacy doesn’t always work. Betty realizes that in times of strife, people either come together or fall apart. And dear, dear Cheryl. As she sobs, scrawling over Archie and Polly’s faces in a photograph with a red Sharpie, Polly knocks at the door. Cheryl hastily wipes up her tears and spreads a smile across her full, syrupy-red lips. In a hurricane, the center is often the only part that is not seized by wild winds. But that calm center belies the most dangerous part of the storm. Beware of Cheryl. And beware, Cheryl. As she preserves her rage behind layers of clear gold maple syrup, she could be entombing herself in the process.

Next week: “The Lost Weekend”

STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

  • Everyone in this episode was wearing Ralph Lauren Polo
  • “Mrs. Lodge, this Quiche Lorraine is to die for!” –Kevin Kevin, setting back gays for decades to come
  • Kevin truly just exists at Veronica’s beck-and-call.
  • “Mr. Andrews, nice haircut—looking extremely DILFy today,” Cheryl Blossom, bringing the gays back from the setback Kevin caused
  • “That was a joke, you hobo,” Cheryl is SLAYING QUOTES this episode
  • I love how Archie needs to have a serious conversation with Cliff at the tailor, but can’t be bothered to put on pants to do it. No, seriously—I love it.
  • Val and Archie break up because…when were they ever together?
  • Fred showed his dark side this episode, strong-arming Hermione into twenty percent of the profit in return for his continued support. Also, they’re done. #AndrewsBoysBreakUp
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Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 3, “Body Double”

Grade: A

The second episode of any series typically has a dip. The first episode sets up all the drama, and the second episode catches people up and fills in background. So the third episode of Riverdale, with the background of episode two’s “A Touch of Evil,” is able to forage onto new ground.

Betty resurrects the school newspaper because, when in doubt and your idyllic town has recently had a horrific murder, high school journalism is the answer. But given the fact that Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper, runs the Riverdale Register and printed all the leaked details of Jason’s autopsy and a front-page story with the headline “Cheryl: Guilty as Sin,” maybe some new journalism is healthy.

Like I predicted last week—Cheryl didn’t kill Jason. She’s “guilty” of lying to the police—aren’t we all?—and says that Jason wanted to get out of Riverdale so the twins faked his death. They heard the gunshot together in their summer whites and it wasn’t until Kevin found Jason’s body a week later that Cheryl realized Jason was dead. She tells Chief Keller about the gunshot—a fact which Archie laters corroborates when he comes clean (minus the fact that he’s in a statutory rape situation with Ms. Grundy; so “kinda clean”).

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Source: The CW//Pointless, gratuitous shot of Archie, included because I am part of the problem.

The autopsy proved that Jason died July 11, and his body showed signs of freezer-burn, rope ties and—probably—torture. I mean, he ended up getting shot in the face, so I feel like it’s not out of line to assume that he was at least tortured before his untimely demise. So if Cheryl and Jason heard the gunshot together, then it was unconnected to them—at this point at least.

We are re-introduced to Dilton Doiley, the scout leader who found a soaked—chic—Cheryl on the side of the river. Through the magic of Jughead’s manipulation and sloppy stealing of a sundae, one of Dilton’s scouts reveals that Dilton shot the gun (and I guess he’ll lose his scout-ness if that came to light). So if Dilton shot the gun, and Jason escaped—we lose all sense of the timeline and any leads. Intrigue. Interestingly, the murder, and Archie, are kind of the B-plot this episode, with the juicy meat going to Betty and Veronica tackling slut-shaming. Essentially, Archie is grounded, Ms. Grundy calls off their lessons, and Archie turns to Josie for some music help.

Three episodes in, and Riverdale is slowly unveiling their people of color. The mayor is Josie’s mom; the all-star football guy is black; Dilton is played by an actor of Asian descent. And when Archie stops in on the Pussycats’ practice, Josie gives him a lesson in race relations. He can’t write in their voice because they are “divas of color.” And while things are changing in Riverdale, they’re not changing that fast.

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Source: The CW// Chuck Clayton, who is hot, but mean

“We have to claw our way into the same rooms that you can just waltz into,” says Josie to Archie, who—to his credit—seems willing to admit that. Yay for some semblance of Riverdale becoming more woke. That, combined with the slut-shaming, makes this the most political and issue-driven episode yet, and I’m here for it. I’m not here for Cheryl kind of slut-shaming the girls, but I think that’s less of Cheryl being a slut-shamer and more of her just being sort of a dick.

Veronica goes on a date with Chuck Clayton, the all-star son of the football coach. Later he spreads a vicious rumor around school about her, and labels her a “Sticky Maple.” What a Sticky Maple is, they never actually get around to. So Riverdale, tho.

After finding out that A) this has happened to multiple girls before and B) there’s some sort of tallying playbook that the football team has, Veronica goes full-scorched earth. This episode reinforces the tropes of the traditional Archie comics—something they’ve been subverting so far. Veronica is the bad-ass, dark-sided one, and Betty is just trying to seek justice for these women.

#JusticeForEthel

The gang—Kevin (who started out the season with a bang (almost literally) but has kind of faded into the background for me), Veronica (in the cape), Betty, Barb from Stranger Things, and Cheryl (in thigh-highs)—sneak into school with annoyingly bright flashlights and find the burn book. In a twist, Polly—the insane sister of Betty—is in the book with Jason Blossom. Betty, in an Una Thurman Pulp Fiction black wig, and Veronica lure Chuck the fuck to a second location with the promise of a hot tub, get him liquored up and handcuff him into the hot tub before starting to record. He admits that he made up the rumor, and it seems like “Okay, that’s it.”

But it’s not it for Betty. Ever since she saw Polly’s name in the book, the mad glint has been back in her eyes. She turns up the heat, uses a high-heeled pump on Chuck’s head to waterboard him, and demands justice for Polly. But the thing is—in that moment, she is Polly, and she’s talking to Jason. It is, as Veronica later worriedly points out, very “Dr. Jekyll, Mistress Hyde.” Betty was almost normal the entire episode but this opens up a whole new book of questions. Is she having dissociative breaks? Who is Polly?

I can’t shake the feeling that Betty and Polly are linked to Jason’s disappearance and murder. And even though Betty later brushed off her little incident, the black wig is stashed in her locker—Polly is there, somewhere.

In the end, Dilton begs Betty and Jughead not to reveal that he’s the one to shoot the gun and offers up something in exchange: he saw Ms. Grundy’s car on the banks of the river, the tidbit that Archie purposefully left out. And as the closing scene—Archie and Ms. Grundy making out IN THE BAND ROOM OF THE HIGH SCHOOL—and the promo for next week indicate, we’re soon going to learn a lot more about who Ms. Grundy is.

And more importantly, who Ms. Grundy isn’t.

 

STRAY OBSERVATIONS

  • Is this the town in fucking Footloose? This town has seen a murder and Archie’s dad is demonizing him for “writing songs”?
  • Veronica’s date characterizes her as a “former It-girl from New York”—is the only TV in this town “Gossip Girl?” Why are they all making the same references?
  • I love how Kevin Keller exists in a permanent state of surprise:
    • “You’re going on a date with the son of the football coach?!”
    • “Where did you get those thigh-high boots?!”
  • “I will cut the brakes on his souped-up phallic machine”—VERONICA IS GOING SCORCHED EARTH
  • CHUCK STOP LICKING YOUR LIPS
  • Theory: Cheryl is into Archie because he kinda looks like Jason
  • “Frida Shallow”
  • There’s the recurring motif of smudged, almost bloody red lipstick on Betty. Am I the only one noticing this?
  • MRS. COOPER GETS HIT IN THE FACE BY CHERYL’S MOM

#JusticeForEthel

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Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 2, “A Touch of Evil”

Grade: B+ for questions answered but also questions left unanswered.

Did I mention that until I was eight years old, I lived in a town called “Riverdale?” So maybe that’s why this episode of Riverdale struck so true with me. Because when my best friend, who’s just confessed her love for me, won’t answer my texts about a mysterious town murder, I also run shirtless to the house of the teacher I’m having an affair with. So spooky how similar I am to Archie!

The revelation that Jason Blossom’s death was due to him being shot in the face rather than drowning shakes the foundation of misty Riverdale. Seriously, there is some serious dust in the air in Riverdale High and I can’t help but worry for the kids with asthma. Are provisions being made for them?

Archie is racked with guilt over the knowledge he possesses. He knows that whoever shot Jason did it early in the morning on the Fourth of July. But he can’t open up to anybody because he only knows this because he was entwined in the arms of music teacher Ms. Grundy. Let us remember that Archie—despite his oiled, muscled body and jawline that protrudes out of the screen—is supposedly a high school sophomore.

The “living mannequin” twins ask Cheryl during science class (Algebra? Chemistry? Physics?) the very question I was wondering myself: Is Cheryl lying? Cheryl told the police that Jason fell into the water to get the gossamer-cloth white glove she had dropped. Later we find out that Jason was shot.

But more comes out—with a proctologist’s snap of her rubber glove, Cheryl reveals that they both fell into the river. Cheryl made it to shore—alone. But can we believe her? Something seems off with this blossom.

The school organizes a pep rally to honor Jason because why not, and Betty uses Veronica’s “I’m sorry” mani-pedi with Cheryl as a mani-petty.

And more comes out of the falling-out between Jughead and Archie. They were meant to go on a road trip (do either of them possibly have licenses?) on the Fourth of July, but Archie canceled and the entire summer was weird after that. Later, Jughead witnesses Archie and Ms. Grundy canoodling BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT CAREFUL AT ALL and confronts Archie. It seems like Ms. Grundy might be this episode’s titular “touch of evil.”

Archie, torn with guilt and also just shredded, wants to tell the truth about the Fourth of July. Ms. Grundy holds Archie in the palm of her hand and says no, claiming that she has feelings for him and this would ruin what they “have.” What they “have,” Ms. Grundy, is a jailable offense, you freak. Ms. Grundy is officially on my shit list. She’s emotionally manipulating Archie into not telling that creepy Principal Weatherbee about them because she doesn’t want to go to prison for child molestation.

While Cheryl straddles Petty Betty to do her makeup, she asks a lot of questions about Polly, Betty’s sister who went insane and now lives in a group home. Yikes. Yikes. Things escalate (not sexually) and Cheryl accuses Polly of killing Jason. But in that moment, there’s something cracked in Betty. Something raw. You can see it in her face as she rises up against Cheryl, and something dark blacks out her eyes.

New Theory: Polly, the unseen sister, is the secret half-sibling of Cheryl and Jason. Think about it—without reason, Mrs. Cooper is so against Polly and Jason. And there’s something incestuous about Cheryl and Jason—sipping out of the same milkshake, wearing coordinated outfits. Could it that sibling love runs deep in the river of relatives? Cheryl and Jason, and Jason and Polly?

In a fun little aside, we see Betty’s mom (Mom Cooper) bribing the coroner to get the straight truth-tea of Jason’s autopsy. “Marbling of the veins, signs of scavenger activity, ligature marks on both wrists, and a hint of cryo-necrotic preservation.” I don’t know what any of that means but I’m pretty sure that—plus the whole “bullet to the face” thing—means that Jason didn’t die of natural causes.

At the pep rally, which was always a horrible idea, Cheryl is overcome with memories of Jason. She sprints away and Veronica comforts her, Petty hovering just beyond the doorway.

“Jason, he was supposed to come back,” said Cheryl, sobbing in the locker room. Veronica mouths the words. 

Come back.

And suddenly, Cheryl’s anger at Betty makes more sense. “I think your crazy, tweaked-out sister killed him.” Was Jason going to meet Polly? Was Cheryl covering for him?

And did Jason actually meet Polly in the woods? Or was someone else waiting for him there? Someone with a motive to kill him, maybe someone whose sister was driven insane by a relationship with Jason?

Did Betty kill Jason?

But before we can get an answer to that: we get an answer to last week’s burning question—Who gets arrested?

The answer, kind of surprisingly, is Cheryl. But also not that surprisingly because she was the last person to see him alive and she already fudged the details of what had happened. But her willingness to accept that she’s been arrested (but never came forward) proves that she believes herself to be responsible for Jason’s death. Whether she actually caused it, I don’t believe to be the case. But her twintuition means double the guilt.

OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS FOR NEXT EPISODE:

  • If both Betty and Archie have iPhones, then WHY ARE THEY USING SOME WEIRD SMS SYSTEM? THIS INFURIATES ME.
  • Archie’s sweaty, shirtless body flipping around in bed=peak.
  • What alternate universe is this where a sophomore in high school can leave the house in the dead of night and all his parental guardian says is, “Where’d you sneak off to last night?” If I did that as a sophomore in high school, or NOW, I wouldn’t have legs the next day.
  • Btw, the fact that he calls her “Ms. Grundy” instead of her first name (“Pamela” I’m presuming, or something else terrible) proves that HE SHOULD NOT BE WITH HER.
  • “Watch it, Wednesday Addams,” is my favorite new diss.
  • Only Cheryl Blossom could end her threat that her brother’s killer will end up in the electric chair with a hashtag. #RiverdaleStrong
  • “I am devastatingly handsome in that classic pre-accident Montgomery Clift kind of way,” says Kevin Keller, and so say we all.
  • What is that “Max Where the Wild Things Are” beanie that Jughead is wearing?!
  • “Let’s honor the memory of our murdered classmate, Jason Blossom, with a pep rally and a sexy cover of “Sugar, Honey, Honey” by Josie and the Pussycats!”
  • Also the song “Sugar, Honey, Honey” is by the band, The Archies. Very spooky.
  • “Butt out, closet monster, you have forfeited the right to take the higher road,” Cheryl
  • We also learn that Moose, the sexually fluid guy who wanted to have sex on a riverbank, has an official girlfriend named “Midge.” That is such a “beard” name.
  • Also I would like to say that I used a locker room all throughout high school and was never hit on by a football player named Moose. I would find this more insulting had I not looked like a thumb in high school.
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REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 1, “The River’s Edge”

Grade: A-/B+

I’ve never really been a fan of the Archie comics. I mean, I’ve been aware of them in the way that you’re aware of everything tangentially that existed in your life. But I was always more of a Calvin and Hobbes kid. I was made aware of the newest adaption from the podcast Who? Weekly. But I think the premise—comic remade into sexy murder-y thriller—would’ve been enough to eventually put it on my radar.

The cinematography is clean, lush and hazy. It’s filmed in Vancouver, so it has that “better than any forest, any town, any place you’ve ever been” combination of familiarity and dissidence.

Let’s start with the light stuff. This is the CW, so we’re expecting certain tropes. And we’re gifted them. There’s the Gay Best Friend who’s proves that somehow gay people are just cloning each other because I swear if I’ve seen one attractive gay with a severely-gelled hairstyle I’ve seen a thousand.

“Is being a cheerleader still a thing?” asks Kevin Keller (the gay).

“Is being the gay best friend still a thing?” responds Cheryl Blossom (the ginger).

And there’s the “sexy” lesbian kiss between Veronica and Betty to give their cheerleading audition some “sizzle.” But rather than bask in the awkward and trite sexuality, they call to the moment.

“Check your sell-by date ladies, faux-lesbian kissing hasn’t been taboo since 1994.” YES CHERYL YES.

I think what I like most is that they’re—at this point—subverting expectations. I can handle the hypersexualized clichés but as long as we’re recognizing them for what they are. And I can handle classic tropes as long as we classifying them in their proper sphere: fucking science fiction. Because no sophomore in high school looks like Archie Andrews. And that’s fine, but we need to remember our place.

Side bar: It’s nice to see depictions of hot redheads on screen. We are a group that are largely unrepresented.

Also I’m tired of jocks wanting to play music and their dads being against it. this is 2017—Donald Trump is president—you don’t need any qualifications to do anything anymore. And of course, because Riverdale is trying to show us it’s woke, Veronica points out much the same thing. “Guys, can’t we just liberate ourselves from the tired dichotomy of “jock” “artist?” Can’t we, in this post-James Franco world, just be all things at once?”

I never watched Pretty Little Liars but I assume it’s a similar thing, how can students and teachers who are fucking yell about their illicit affairs in public places and nobody say, “Whowhatnow?” It seems physically impossible that no one immediately discovers their affair because they’re literally screaming about it.

Aside from Reggie and Josie and the Pussycats,* Riverdale seems entirely full of people so white they’re nearly translucent. You can almost hear the thoughts echoing in Josie’s head as she looks out onto the crowd of students dancing to the song she’s singing (that’s a cover of the song that the Blossom twins were conceived to), “Why am I here with these idiots?” Like I get this is the CW, but if you’re gonna be woke about the Gay Best Friend, you’ve gotta be woke about everything else too.

Now on to the eeriness. The pop culture references are a little uneasy, at odds with Veronica’s sweater set and the malt shop. But maybe that’s the point? The bizarreness of this place existing both in the ‘50s and in 2017—making references to Blue Jasmine, Mad Men, and Ansel Elgort—mimics the bizarreness of Riverdale. You don’t expect people who live like this to know references like that. It begs more questions: do they use Spotify? Why were the Blossom twins in a Thunderbird? WHY is Veronica wearing a sweater-set and pearls? You’re put off-kilter by the “hereness” and “otherness” of the town. Things are off-kilter here.

The classic cinematography showcases beautifully the ice-white face of Cheryl Blossom against the blackness of her smudged mascara and her red hair. The sharply angled eyebrows of Veronica Lodge. The red lipstick from Veronica’s kiss running across Betty’s lips like a nosebleed and the red gashes on her palms from her tightly clenched fists. There’s a gruesomeness in Riverdale.

But the scenes and the music are tinny and Instagrammy—we’re experiencing through a filter. It’s like we’re someone watching the world unfold in front of them, someone beyond the average viewer. It’s a sentiment made stronger by the fact that we’re brought into the world of Riverdale by the voice of Jughead.

And it’s echoed by the song (“The Passenger” by Hunter as a Horse) rising above Jason Blossom’s waterlogged corpse as it’s carried to the ambulance in a stark yellow body bag.

Someone is watchingsomeone is watching.”

But who?

QUESTIONS FOR NEXT EPISODE:

  • Who shot Jason Blossom?
  • Did someone drag Jason Blossom’s body from the depths of the river?
  • Where did Ms. Grundy get her heart-shaped sunglasses?
  • What is “pouring concrete?”
  • Is Jughead our Dan Humphrey?
  • Does anyone remember The Secret Circle, which was also on the CW? If so, let’s talk.
  • Who is getting arrested for the murder of Jason Blossom halfway through fifth period on Tuesday?

*Edit: it has come to my attention that KJ Apa, the actor who portrays Archie Andrews, is part-Samoan.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-4-31-59-pm

Source: CW//How extra

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pop culture, Review, television

Review: WESTWORLD SEASON FINALE: PREDICTIONS ASKED AND ANSWERED

Grade: A for Entertainment, C for Answering Basic Human Questions, D for the fact that it’s not coming back until 2018

If you’ve hung out with me at all in the last few weeks (highly unlikely, as I am a very popular person who spends almost all of his time in bed watching Netflix) you might’ve/probably heard me mention the HBO sci-fi Western Westworld. I’ve been obsessed.

It’s been a while since I’ve been obsessed with a show—the last one was probably Scandal where I fully binged—but it’s been even longer since I’ve been obsessed with a show that’s airing in real time. Sure, at any given point I’m watching at least four different Bravo shows, but that’s less of an obsession and more watching of a real-time science experiment unfold. So the experience of watching a show week-to-week, and ruminating over it and dissecting it and reading about it, is something that I haven’t engaged in for a long time.

The finale of Westworld’s first season is this Sunday (I’m writing this on Saturday), so I think it would be a fun little experiment to write down some of my predictions and theories today (Saturday), watch the show tomorrow (Sunday) and then do a review-cum-recap-discussion for Monday. Sound sexy? LET’S GO. Also, obviously spoilers (SPOILERS) ahead. I have, like, four readers in total, and only one of them watches Westworld and I know she’s up-to-date, so I’m not worried. But don’t come for me.

QUESTIONS/PREDICTIONS:

1). Why did Dolores kill Arnold?

My running theory is that Ford programmed Dolores to kill Arnold. I think this BECAUSE Ford later essentially SPOILER rebuilt Arnold (i.e. Bernard) as the perfect companion—someone who was his “partner” but whom he inevitably controlled. Arnold and Ford had fundamentally different ideas for the park. It seems as if Arnold wanted to see if he could create sentience, and if he did, to set those sentient hosts free. Ford seems undoubtedly more power-hungry and likes being a god in the park, able to control everything. He doesn’t want his subjects to leave. I think Ford had Arnold killed and rebirthed him in a mode he could control. The minutiae of Bernard’s movements, such as the way he cleaned his glasses, leads us to believe that Ford is searching for some semblance of his partner. He wants a version of Arnold.

2). Maeve will die. Like, for good this time.

I DON’T WANT THIS TO BE TRUE, BUT I THINK IT IS. Stay with me. Westworld has been renewed for a second season. Thus, we have to assume that the greater plot of androids gaining sentience and causing ruckus in the park will keep getting bigger and bigger. Maeve is already rapidly—or has even already gained—sentience, and she’s building an army. The Westworld creators have enough story for five seasons, and it’s reasonable to assume that Maeve’s storyline—or something similar—is along that arc. However, if Maeve is already there, then where else can she go without being A) killed or B) lobotomized and shuffled back to square one. I love Maeve and I love Thandie Newton’s portrayal of her, so I desperately hope I’m wrong. But I feel like she’s too advanced for them to keep her around if they want to keep the show on for multiple seasons, so they got our hopes up to dash them.

3). MiB is William, who saw Dolores go through the Maze (reach sentience) and thought that the maze was for everyone and would reach total enlightenment.

Can someone tell me exactly what the Maze is? I saw on a Reddit thread people being like “Duh obviously the Maze is just a metaphor and not a real place” and I was like “oH, ha HA who wuld think that not me obvi not me” back when I totally did and thought that an android-ed version of Arnold was in the center. Now I think it refers to the process of an android gaining sentience. So my theory is that the MiB is William, who followed Dolores on her “Mazing” and becoming sentient. However, he got it completely wrong and thought the Maze applied to everyone, when it just applies to hosts. So when his wife dies and his daughter hates him, he’s looking for meaning, so he remembers the Maze. He thinks to himself, “I’ll find life’s meaning that way!” But the Maze isn’t for him.

4). What will happen to Stubbs and Elsie?

Possibly the worst names, but that’s beside the point. I don’t believe that Elsie is dead until I see her cold rigor-mortised corpse on an examining table. And it can’t be a coincidence that they were both taken by unregistered hosts. Maybe Ford is reworking them to be models for other hosts? I don’t think that they’re dead, but maybe they’re not quite alive either…

5). Someone else will be revealed as a host.

This I kinda hope doesn’t happen, because overusing that trick—like how The Vampire Diaries kept bringing people back from the dead so by the eightieth time you didn’t even blink when a favorite character died—will rapidly grow old. But I think that that would be a good twist if it was someone HUGE we didn’t expect. Who it would be, I have no idea.

NOW I’M GONNA STOP WRITING UNTIL IT AIRS AND I CAN COMMENT. OH BOY. SOUNDS LIKE FUN.

(watches it)

WOWWOWOWOWW.

1). Dolores killed Arnold because Arnold asked her to.

WOWWOW. Arnold wanted to cripple Westworld into not opening, so he had Dolores kill everybody. Wait, I’m just realizing—He realizes that Dolores has sentience, so he has her kill everyone and then herself? Whatever, I can’t even get into that. Also Dolores was Wyatt all along, which I knew.

2). Maeve DOESN’T DIE.

Thank god(s). Maeve actually has probably my favorite storyline in the entire show, and Thandie Newton deserves an award for her incredible acting. The twist that her “sentience” was part of a program (possibly by Ford) and an “escape” narrative is heartbreaking, and definitely not a twist I was expecting. But her choice to get off the train (thereby undermining her narrative, which was to escape) and go back and search for her “daughter” proves that she is sentient.

3). MiB is William, and William is an asshole.

If you go on Reddit, this one was obvious. But it’s nice to be validated. Also I was SO right about MiB knowing jack shit about the Maze. And the fact that the ‘physical’ Maze ended up being a game reminds me of when Viserys from Game of Thrones wanted his “crown” so Khal Drogo poured molten gold over his head, killing him instantly. Nice memories. Also, William sucked even when he was nice, so it’s no surprise that he sucks when he’s mean, too.

4). Who the fuck knows.

 5). This didn’t happen either.

Although the twist that Ford’s last narrative was a robot rebellion is a nice little twist, and adds a lot more nuance to his character than just the decrepit old overlord god. Also whether he’s actually doing the revolution for the right reasons is yet to be seen. Also I suspect that the “Ford” that was killed was a host-Ford.

*****

The following is adapted from a frantic text I sent to myself while I was walking to the gym.

The gala massacre reminded me a lot of Cersei’s killing of everyone via wildfire (RIP Margaery). It’s the kind of shit that’s beautifully orchestrated, and the viewer gets the spine-tingling pleasure of realizing what’s about to happen right before it happens. Both Ford and Cersei would benefit from everyone opposing them being killed, so that’s exactly what they do. I will admit that the Game of Thrones sequence of that killing is one of my favorite television moments ever.

The gala killing closes the loop that began in the park’s nascence, and reinforces the idea of moving “upward” (towards higher living) through repetition. Change happens when you cycle through. The first loop was Arnold’s orchestration of the massacre for the liberation of the hosts. 35 years later, Ford makes the same loop. His loop contains the question of motive. I do believe that he wants the hosts to be out of the control of Delos, but you have to wonder if his actions were edged in retribution. He would never let anyone else have control over his creations.

Quick side bar—Was Charlotte Hale crying while Ford was giving his speech? And if so, why?

In a larger scheme, the gala massacre is the same methodology that Westworld utilized forever. When things get out of control, you wipe the slate clean. You start from the beginning by destroying everything. Creation out of chaos. That raises the concern of “Was that really the right thing to do?” If the hosts are utilizing the same methods that their oppressors have used, aren’t they just stuck in another loop, albeit from a different perspective?

Maeve’s story served largely as a red herring. You were so preoccupied with her rapid rise to sentience, as compared to Dolores’ relative stagnation that you forgot about Dolores when, at least in the eyes of the show, she was the one achieving true sentience. And the purposeful focus on Maeve makes the admission that her escape is a narrative becomes heartbreaking.

The question ringing through the entire season was, “How much pain are you willing to endure until things get better?” It’s how the hosts gain sentience; it’s their/our cornerstones. In fact, it’s only Maeve who’s really showed the power of pain. In the middle of the episode, Maeve asked Bernard to wipe her memories of her daughter. He refuses, as they operate as her cornerstone memory—the memory around which her entire personality was built—and as such would destroy her.

But it’s her memories of her daughter that end up taking her off the train and heading back into the park. It’s what causes her to override her narrative—to Escape—and it’s what marks, in the end, her sentience. Her pain and her love—entertwined—have evolved her into sentience.

In season two, Westworld will undoubtedly play with a wider scope. The brief foray into “Samurai World” and the fact that Maeve’s daughter is in Park 1 (out of how many?) means that there’s a much wider Delos beast. It leads to a lot of questions: Why was Delos so concerned with Westworld and getting their data? Are all the hosts creations of Ford, even the ones from different parks? Will we start the next season in a different World, and have to go through the same thing again? Is that the point of the show, that we go through the same loops over and over, until the small details build up and become something larger?

I fucking hope not.

See you in 2018, Westworld, when I’m a dead-eyed adult.

bye.

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