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Revisiting Westworld: Theories, Clues, and Questions

You’re getting this because I might be obsessed with HBO’s Westworld. Okay, I am.

Below I’ve gathered my thoughts on the first 8 episodes, and this post will be updated next week with info from episode 9, and then again the week after to include the finale. I have a sneaking suspicion that episode 9 may be a lot of flashbacks with answers, saving the big confrontation and reveal of Ford’s new narrative for the finale.

Westworld S1E1 thru S1E9 | Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed HarrisJames Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Rodrigo SantoroSimon Quarterman, Luke Hemsworth

Do not read any further if you’ve not yet seen all 8 episodes of the series so far, and if you have something against wild speculation. 

I’ll be working with the following theories I believe to be true:

  • We are witnessing three time periods at once: 35 years ago before the park opened, 30 years ago when the park had been open for a few years, and present day.
    • Now, another way to look at it is: We’re always seeing present day Dolores as she travels to the maze, and those times we see her with William and Logan are the times she’s just remembering those times. Since they actually relive their memories, that’s what we’re seeing.
  • Bernard is a Host of Arnold.
  • Arnold is most likely code in the system, affecting the 47 first-gen Hosts he made.
  • William becomes the Man in Black.
  • Dolores is “Wyatt.”
Images: HBO

Images: HBO

Westworld – S1E1 – “The Original”

Present Day

This is the only episode, so far, told completely in the present day. Although, the opening scene of Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) questioning Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) could be in the future or in the past.

On the first day of her loop, Dolores meets Teddy (James Marsden) in town and after spending the afternoon together, they arrive at her farm to find Rebus (Steven Ogg) and Walter (Timothy Lee DePriest) have killed her parents. The Man in Black (Ed Harris) kills Teddy and drags Dolores into the barn, presumably to rape her.

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On day two, we get our first look at the operations center. A breach in cold storage reveals Ford (Anthony Hopkins) spending time with the second host the park ever made, Old Bill (Michael Wincott). Bernard compliments Ford’s latest addition to the Hosts’ code: Reveries, or the ability to perform gestures triggered by a memory from a prior loop.

On day three,The Sheriff Host breaks down and is pulled for a diagnostic. Teddy is thrown off his loop when he’s spotted by a guest who remembers him. The Man in Black picks up Dolores’ dropped milk can and tells her he has other plans for the night. It’s clear she doesn’t remember anything from the night before. The Man in Black eventually kidnaps and skins the scalp off of Kissy (Eddie Rouse), the dealer at the Mariposa. The scalp has a maze on it.

Dolores paints, encounters a couple and their child, and then heads home where her father, Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) shows her a photo of a woman in Times Square. Walter malfunctions and kills other Hosts while talking to someone who isn’t there, Arnold. Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen), the head of QA, makes arrangements to pull all the Hosts who received the reverie update to stop further malfunctions.

On day four, Dolores discovers her father has been sitting outside all night and he’s behaving oddly. She rushes into town to get help, encounters Teddy, but Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) and his riders shoot up the town and rob the Mariposa. Teddy is killed, and when the heist is over, all of the updated Hosts (including Dolores and her father) are pulled for examination.

During Peter’s diagnostic, it is determined he’s accessing prior narratives and malfunctioning. He and Walter are put in cold storage.

During Dolores’ diagnostic she says all the right things and we learn she’s the oldest host in the park. Despite answering that she’d never hurt a living thing, the next day she kills a fly.

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Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • There are a lot more black people in the present-day scenes: guests and Hosts.
  • Dolores points out the Judas steer to Teddy. She says the others follow wherever it goes. In episode 4 (“Dissonance Theory”), Dolores tells William (Jimmi Simpson) about leading lost cattle home and never considering she was leading them to slaughter. This could be said of Dolores if she is indeed Arnold’s instrument in destroying the park.
  • Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), head of security, tells Bernard that all children rebel eventually. Like robots uprising against their makers, perhaps?
  • Bernard mentions a critical failure 30 years ago – this could be whatever happens at the end of Dolores and William’s adventure. Fingers crossed it’s Logan’s (Ben Barnes) death.
  • This episode has the first mention of more dangerous activities taking place further into the park and along the edges. A guest specifically says, “That’s where Teddy comes in.” Also, a guest points out that activities across the river are more adult.
  • Ford mentions that one day they may be able to resurrect the dead, call forth Lazarus from his cave. Could be foreshadowing a return of sorts for Arnold.
  • Peter Abernathy tells Dolores, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” before he tells her, “These violent delights have violent ends.”
  • When Peter says he wants to meet his maker, Ford looks at Bernard before saying, “You’re in luck.” Because Bernard is Arnold. *wink*
  • Peter tells Ford, “I have to warn Dolores. The things you do to her.” And then, “By most mechanical and dirty hand, I shall have such revenges on you… both. The things I will do, what they are, yet I know not. But they will be the terrors of the earth. You don’t know where you are, do you? You’re in a prison of your own sins.” Including Bernard when he says, “both” could hint that he recognizes Bernard as Arnold, his maker. Ford doesn’t know it yet (or maybe he does), but it could be said he is in a prison of his own sins.
  • The song played during the end credits is “Ain’t No Grave” by Johnny Cash. The lyrics, “Ain’t no grave can hold my body down. When I hear that trumpet sound, I’m gonna rise right out of the ground,” could apply to Ford’s prediction that one day they’ll be able to resurrect the dead or the return of Arnold. Or the fact that the Hosts don’t truly die.

Questions

  • If the Man in Black came to the park intent on finding the maze, why did he start with Dolores? Is it possible he cut her open in the barn and took something out of her that led him to Kissy? We only know that Kissy led him to Lawrence (Clifton Collins, Jr.) in the next episode.
  • What did Bernard say to Abernathy before he went into cold storage?

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Westworld – S1E2 – “Chestnut”

Chestnut is a British slang term for an old joke, often as old chestnut. The term is also used for a piece of music in the repertoire that has grown stale or hackneyed with too much repetition.

35 Years Ago

Dolores meets with Bernard in secret, in a room unlike we’ve seen in the command center before now.

30 Years Ago

William and Logan arrive in Westworld. William chooses to go “white hat.” Logan wants to drink, fuck, and eat. He’s total black hat and complete asshole. William turns down Clementine’s (Angela Sarafyan) advances at the Mariposa, saying he has a woman waiting for him at home.

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Present Day

Elsie (Shannon Woodward), a member of Bernard’s team, wants to continue looking into the recent Host malfunctions, but Bernard tells her to drop it. Later, we learn Bernard and Theresa are in a romantic relationship.

While in town, Dolores hears a man’s voice telling her to “remember.” She sees dead bodies all around before snapping out of it. She says the “violent delights” line to Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton), the madam at the Mariposa. Later, Maeve has issues completing her script when she has a memory of being attacked in another narrative. She’s pulled and adjusted to be more aggressive. When this doesn’t work, Elsie runs a diagnostic and discovers Maeve has registered physical discomfort. During the physical exam, Maeve awakens on the table after having a dream about the Man in Black attacking her and a little girl. The techs, Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) and Felix (Leonardo Nam) are stunned. Maeve gets away and sees the dead bodies of other Hosts, including Teddy, before being sedated.

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The Man in Black rescues a Host, Lawrence, from execution only to force him to travel to his hometown. Once there, he kills Lawrence’s wife and other townspeople as he demands to know the entrance to the maze. Finally, Lawrence’s daughter (Izabella Alvarez) tells the Man in Black the maze isn’t meant for him, but she gives him a clue to follow. He does so with Lawrence in tow.

Ford takes a trip into an unused area of the park where he encounters a young boy, a Host, named Robert (Oliver Bell). Ford eventually comes upon an area with a church steeple sticking out of the ground. When Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), the head of narrative, pitches his new story, Ford shuts it down and later takes Bernard out to church steeple and announces he’s going to be building his own new narrative.

The voice wakes up Dolores (we don’t hear it this time), and tells her to dig outside her home. She finds a gun.

Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • A voice in Dolores’ head tells her to wake up and she walks outside in the night and the voice asks, “Do you remember?” This is the present day and fades into William sleeping on the shuttle into Westworld. I think this may be a hint that it was segue way into the past.
  • Dolores’ memory of the massacre is most likely what happened before the park opened in “Escalante.”
  • Logan uses the phrase, “Fuck you, Grizzly Adams,” which seems like the kind of pop culture reference you’d hear closer to our time (2016) than in the future. In a later episode (#7 “Trompe L’Oeil”), Ford puts the Empire State Building in the same category as the works of Mozart and Michelangelo. If he’s in the year 2050 or so, it makes sense that he’d consider a building constructed in 1930 in the same light as works from centuries ago, because for him, the building is over 100 years old. This is a somewhat weak support of the multiple time frames theory.
  • We never see Maeve or Teddy interact with William or Logan. (Mult. time theory)
  • Bernard’s clothes are different in the secret scenes with Dolores. (Mult. time theory)
  • Robert asks Ford, “Are you lost?” Ford replies, “No, just strayed a bit too far from where I’m supposed to be.” This could be interpreted as him losing his way in what he and Arnold initially had planned for the park.

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  • Stubbs remarks that the Man in Black “gets anything he wants.” (Supports the theory that William rises in the ranks of Delos and becomes a huge investor into the park.)
  • The Man in Black says, “In a sense, I was born here (the park).” Something happened that changed him from who he thought he was (William with the white hat – you have to say that like, “Becky with the good hair.”) to the man he was truly meant to be (the Man in the Black).
  • The Man in Black says he’s never going back. I believe he’s sick or dying. He could also just be planning to die at the end of the maze.
  • While Ford is explaining what’s wrong with Sizemore’s narrative, he says that the guests come to the park not to discover who they are. They discover something no one had ever noticed before, something they fall in love with. They’re not looking for a story that tells them who they are, but for a glimpse of who they could be. As he says this, we see William meeting Dolores for the first time. He picks up the milk can and tips his hat. The obvious conclusion is that William falls in love with Dolores, but this more than likely applies to William falling in love with the Man in Black inside of him. We know he was surprised to learn that the good man act he put on outside of the park didn’t work on his wife and daughter (“Trace Decay”). The true him, the one hidden when he pretended to be a good guy, was born in the park.

Chilling Ford Lines

“Is there something else bothering you, Bernard? I know how that mind of yours works.”

Questions

  • Why did Ford pay special attention to his feet at the site of his new narrative? And later he took the boots of a Host and did it again.

westworld-s1e3-dolores

Westworld – S1E3 – “The Stray”

35 Years Ago

Bernard secretly meets with Dolores again, and after confirming she’s kept quiet about their talks, he asks her to read from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” When she suddenly asks about the whereabouts of his son, Bernard asks her to analyze why she did. She says it’s because they’d been talking for some time without sharing any personal info.

Bernard and Dolores meet again, and he worries about changing her back to the way she was before and thinks he may have made a mistake. Yet, he seems to sense that Dolores is different, and possibly reaching consciousness. He equates what he’s about to do with a parent letting a child go and learn on its own. He decides to leave Dolores as is, and again warns her to keep their meetings a secret.

30 Years Ago

William shoots a Host who’s holding Clementine hostage. Logan wants to celebrate William finally joining the game by visiting the brothel, but William would rather do one of the bounty narratives.

Logan and William are camped out on their bounty mission when Dolores comes stumbling out the trees and collapses in William’s arms.

Present Day

Dolores wakes up and finds the gun in her dresser drawer. Confused, she puts it back and closes it. After staring in the mirror for a moment, Bernard’s voice asks her if she remembers. She has a flashback to the Man in Black in the barn. Then she opens the drawer and the gun is gone. I believe this is the switch from present day Dolores to the Dolores of 30 years ago when there was no gun in the drawer.

Theresa informs Bernard that the board is uneasy with Ford’s sudden new narrative, and it doesn’t look good that Behavior is still looking into the malfunctions when they’ve assured the board everything is fine. Bernard tells Elsie to back off her digging into Walter’s breakdown. When she tells him about Walter talking to someone named Arnold, Bernard doesn’t know who that is.

Stubbs and Elsie head into the park to retrieve a stray Host, The Woodcutter,who wandered off of his loop. They discover he’s been carving constellations into clay and wood. They eventually find him stuck in a crevasse, and The Woodcutter bashes his own head in.

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Teddy is accompanying a Guest through the park and they head to the Mariposa after killing a fugitive. When Maeve sees Teddy, she has a memory of seeing his dead body in the control center. Teddy spots Dolores in town and they head out to the field from episode one. Dolores goes off narrative when she unexpectedly needs specifics about when she and Teddy will be together. When they head back to her house, the assault on her home is underway. Though we don’t see it, Teddy dies in the encounter.

Ford gives Teddy a role in his new narrative to track down a man named Wyatt. Later, Teddy stops Rebus, New Walter, and a guest from harassing Dolores in town. He takes her to practice shooting a gun, but she can’t do it. They’re interrupted by the Sheriff and the Guest who was with Teddy earlier; there’s a lead on Wyatt and his followers. Teddy leaves with them. They are later ambushed by Wyatt’s men and Teddy is left for dead.

Dolores learns about the ambush and rides home. The attack on her home is underway and she’s dragged into the barn by Rebus. She uses his own gun to shoot him, though it’s the Man in Black she pictures, after a voice that sounds like Bernard tells her to “kill him.” She escapes on her horse.

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Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • Dolores reads this from the book Bernard gave her: “Was I the same when I got up this morning. I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is: Who in the world am I?” This could apply to how the Hosts feel when they’re suddenly in a memory from a prior narrative.
  • After William saves Clementine, he doesn’t want to celebrate at a brothel like Logan suggested. Instead, he chooses a bounty narrative. This is the first trigger (no pun intended) that opened up this hidden, violent side. As the season progressed, we saw him killing with more and more ease.
  • Teddy talks about a place he heard of down south, where the mountains meet the sea. “They say the water is so pure there, you can wash the past clean off you. And you can start again.” This is the area Dolores later draws in the train car with William (“Trompe L’Oeil”). Dolores finds the area and it leads her to the park’s original town (possibly called Escalante).
  • Ford tells Teddy that his new narrative takes place in a time of war and like all good fiction, it’s based on truth. Wyatt, the villain, was a soldier who disappeared, and then later returned to his men saying he could hear the voice of God. Later, Teddy says Wyatt insisted that where they are (Escalante) doesn’t belong to the Natives, or the people now, but to something that is yet to come. It belongs to him. This could be interpreted as the bicameral mind programming causing one of the Hosts to rebel. Again, I believe Wyatt is actually a representation of Dolores, who was acting under Arnold’s orders to help him “destroy this place.” Ford and Arnold had very different ideas for the park and Arnold came to spend more time with the Hosts, which Ford saw as dangerous.

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  • The music the Host plays in Ford’s office is the same music he later uses to calm Maeve in “Trace Decay” (episode 8).
  • Ford shows Bernard a photo of a younger Ford with another man, and implies that man is Arnold. In episode 6 (“The Adversary”), we learn that was actually Ford’s father and not Arnold. Since Bernard is a Host (we learn this in episode 7 “Trompe L’Oeil”), and designed to not see things that hurt him, if he is Arnold, he’s probably standing in that empty space on the right.
  • Bernard and Arnold have a lot of similarities: both had lives marked by tragedy, both began to relate to the Hosts more than real people.
  • Bernard says, “This pain… it’s all I have left of him,” when talking about his dead son. We will hear this again from Dolores (“Dissonance Theory”) and Maeve (“Trace Decay”).
  • Elsie leaving Bernard a voicemail about the stray plays over Bernard going into the underground room to speak with Dolores. This may lead you to believe this is the same time period, but Bernard is wearing different clothes than he had on earlier in the day when he was speaking with his wife.
  • “Evolution forged the entirety of sentient life on this planet using only one tool: a mistake.” Bernard says this to Dolores in their secret meeting and Ford says it to Bernard in episode two (“Chestnut”).
  • In the attack on Dolores’s home, she flashes back to the Host who was her father in episode 1, the Man in the Black attacking her in the barn, and a time when she got shot in the narrative. Since all of these images are from the most recent past, it would stand to reason that this is present day Dolores, and that it cannot be the same Dolores who later stumbles into William’s camp.

Questions

  • Is Bernard’s wife real? Or does Ford have him speaking to a recording? An actress?

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Westworld – S1E4 – “Dissonance Theory”

According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.

35 Years Ago

Bernard meets with Dolores the morning after her narrative when her parents were killed. He offers to take the pain away, but she says the pain is all she has left of them. When she says she thinks there’s something wrong with the world, he tells her about playing the game of finding the maze. Freedom may be at the center of it.

30 Years Ago

The morning after Dolores arrived at their camp, William wants to take Dolores back to Sweetwater, but Logan wants to finish the bounty hunt. He assumes that the park sent Dolores to them (as investors) because William showed an interest in her.

William, Logan, and their Host guide complete their bounty mission and tie up one of the men, Slim (James Landry Hébert), to take back for payment. When Slim mentions working for El Lazo, Logan kills their Host guide and says El Lazo is part of one of the hidden, more challenging missions in the park and he wants to do it. Dolores insists on traveling with them.

Present Day

Maeve begins to have visions of the times she’s died in the Mariposa, and she remembers the Westworld techs, in their suits and masks, who come to collect their bodies. She remembers a surgery where the techs rushed her back into the park even though there was still a bullet fragment in her torso. She sketches one of the techs in her bedroom and then places it under the floorboards; only to discover she’s hidden sketches like it before.

When she sees a young Native American girl with a doll modeled after the men in her visions, she learns it’s a part of their religion. Maeve notes that Hector Escaton lived among the Natives.

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Elsie wants to exam the Woodcutter to figure out why he malfunctioned, but Theresa insists on QA overseeing the debugging. Elsie feels there’s a bigger problem going on and worries that it’s being covered up. Bernard basically gaslights her and says she’s imagining things.

The Man in Black and Lawrence find Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), a member of Hector’s crew. She has a snake tattooed on her body, which links to the clue they were given to finding the maze. In exchange for the story of her tattoo, The Man in Black busts Hector out of a jail, a full three days earlier than the narrative plans for. Armistice then tells the story of Wyatt killing everyone in her village, including her parents. She gets a piece of a snake tattooed on her body every time she kills one of Wyatt’s men. All that is left is Wyatt, and then she’ll get the head of the snake. Back on the road, The Man in Black and Lawrence find Teddy beaten and tied to a tree.

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Theresa meets with Ford near the site of his new narrative as he’s overseeing the construction. He basically tells her to back off and not get in his way. He also knows about her and Bernard.

When Hector and his crew arrive for the heist at the Mariposa, Maeve takes him upstairs to the safe and asks him about the men in her sketches in exchange for the safe’s combination. He explains they are Shades, gods who walk between worlds, sent from hell to watch over them. Maeve then cuts into her abdomen and Hector extracts the bullet fragment. With the Marshals about to shoot through the door, Maeve realizes she’s not crazy and death doesn’t matter. She kisses him just as the Marshals fire.

Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • Present day Bernard never mentions the maze and there’s no indication he even knows about it. This leads me to believe that is Arnold who is telling Dolores about the maze for the first time 35 years ago.
  • The Man in Black refers to the park as a story of which he’s read every page, but the end. He wants to know what it all means.
  • In present day, Stubbs receives word that Dolores has deviated from her loop. He has her flagged for Behavior. This is right before a scene of Dolores with William in Lawrence’s hometown where a man tries to get Dolores to return to Sweetwater. Again, this would lead you to believe that those events are happening at the same time. Instead, I think we’re watching Dolores at that location alone in the present day, and with William 30 years ago. Also, Stubbs later approves the Man in Black’s request for a low-yield explosive in busting Hector out of jail. This is tricky, and might lead you to believe that both events are happening in the same time period.
  • Lawrence’s daughter tells Dolores they are from the same place. Dolores then flashes to the town with the church (Escalante). I think this is the town the technicians and Hosts lived in for three years before the park opened, and where Arnold died after getting Dolores to massacre the other Hosts. We see in a later episode (“Trace Decay”) that Lawrence’s daughter is one of the original Hosts.
  • Armistice’s story sounds a lot like what happened in Escalante, with Dolores (“Wyatt”) killing the other Hosts to help Arnold destroy the park. In episode 8 (“Trace Theory”), we see that Armistice is one of the original Hosts before the park opened.
  • Once again, Ford talks about Arnold’s affection for the Hosts. He made a bet with Arnold that their world would be balanced. They pitched 100 hopeful narratives, but people only wanted the violent ones. This undoubtedly played a part in Arnold’s resistance to opening their world up as a theme park.
  • William doesn’t like to be called “Billy.” Makes me wonder if we’ll get a line from the Man in Black that he doesn’t like to be called Billy.

Chilling Ford Lines

  • “In here we were gods. And you, you were merely our guests.”
  • “There have been many of you over the years, and they always – almost always – found a way to make it work. So I will ask you nicely, please don’t get in my way.”

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Questions

  • Was present day Dolores ever pulled by Behavior? I think it’s possible that she was because we see Ford interrogating her in the next episode (“Contrapasso”). I believe she then went off loop again, and that now puts her slightly behind where The Man in Black is currently and where she and William were 30 years ago.
  • In the bounty mission shootout, Logan’s gun runs out of bullets and he takes one of the Host’s and calls it an “upgrade.” Could that be important later?

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Westworld – S1E5 – “Contrapasso”

Contrapasso (or, in modern Italian, contrappasso), from the Latin contra and patior, “suffer the opposite”: refers to the punishment of souls in Dante’s Inferno, “by a process either resembling or contrasting with the sin itself.”

30 Years Ago

Dolores, William, and Logan arrive in Pariah and wait for Slim to arrange a meeting with El Lazo. Every day is Mardi Gras in Pariah. There’s literally tits and ass EVERYWHERE. Dolores sees herself in the street, follows, but loses herself in the crowd before passing out.

When they finally meet El Lazo (also Clifton Collins, Jr.), he sends them on a side mission to steal a shipment of nitroglycerin from the Union soldiers and give them to the Confederados (Confederate soldiers who refuse to surrender after the war). During the heist, Logan is almost killed by a Host (he certainly chokes the shit out of him), but William saves his life. The three deliver the nitro and decide to stay the night to celebrate the victory. After a fight with Logan, William and Dolores kiss, but end up running for their lives when the Confederados learn Lawrence has taken the real nitro and given them fakes. William refuses to save Logan from this beating, and he and Dolores jump on a train out of town. And end up sharing a car with El Lazo and the nitroglycerin hidden in Slim’s dead body in a coffin. The maze is etched on the lid of the coffin.

Present Day

Ford meets with Old Bill again and tells him a story about his childhood dog, a greyhound, that killed a cat that looked like the felt rabbit used to train it. He laments the sadness of finally fulfilling your life’s purpose and then having no idea what to do next.

Due to Teddy’s connection to Wyatt, the Man in Black decides he’s more valuable than Lawrence. When it appears Teddy is going to die from his injuries, the Man in Black kills Lawrence, drains his blood, and uses it to refill Teddy. Then he lies to Teddy and tells him Wyatt took Dolores to ensure Teddy will travel with him willingly.

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Elsie blackmails her way into examining the Woodcutter’s body before QA has it destroyed. She finds a transmitter in his arm and takes it to Bernard. Someone has been using the Host to smuggle out park data. The Woodcutter wasn’t marking constellations; they were coordinates.

Ford questions Delores inside the mesa. He asks pointed questions: “Do you remember the man I used to be?” He asks about the last time she heard from Arnold. 34 years, 42 days, 7 hours ago. (This is pre-park opening; the 35 years ago flashes.) The last thing Arnold told her was that she was going to help him destroy this place. When he leaves her alone, and the lights turn out, she says, “He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything.”

The Man in Black and Teddy stop for a drink and are met by Ford, shocking the shit out of the Man in Black. When asked what he hoped to find in the maze, The Man in Black skirts around the question, but does eventually say he thinks there’s a deeper meaning to the park, something true that Arnold wanted others to know. Ford says he’s not going to get in his way and leaves.

Felix and Sylvester work on Maeve after her death in the Mariposa (end of last episode). Maeve’s presence unsettles Felix. When Sylvester leaves, Felix hides a robot bird from the park and a programming tablet. Later, he works on coding the bird to get it to fly. Sylvester sees this, and threatens to tell on him if he doesn’t stop. Sylvester is a twat. Felix doesn’t listen, and later, just as he finally gets the bird to fly, it lands on Maeve’s hand. She’s awake, aware, and ready to talk.

Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • Logan tells William the story of the mysterious partner who died in the park before it opened. He speaks of this as if it was fairly recent because William remarks the company they work for must have a ton of lawyers looking into it. William confirms no one knows the partner’s name and there are no pictures of him.
  • Outside of Pariah, Dolores remembers being there before with the man’s voice in her head telling her to find him. She says, “Show me how.” This could be present day Dolores, but I suspect it might be the one from 35 years ago.
  • The Man in Black remarks that there isn’t a man alive who would speak to him the way Lawrence does. Definitely outside of the park. He says, “In another life, perhaps.” This could suggest he means when he first came to the park as William and was Logan’s subordinate.
  • The Man in Black tells Teddy that he opened up a Host the first time he came there and they used to be beautiful. Now, looking more human? Not so much. (We gotta see William open up a Host now, right?)
  • William refers to coming to the park as a way to change your story and be something different than in the real world. The Man in Black also has the habit of referring to the park as a story.
  • When Ford questions Dolores, she asks Ford if they’re very old friends. His answer (see below) is so cold, it strengthens my belief that Dolores was an instrument of Arnold’s.

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  • Also, while questioning Dolores, Ford is roughly feeling along her arm in the same spot where Elsie found the transmitter in the Woodcutter. Could he have been looking for the same thing?
  • In a vision of herself as a fortune teller, Dolores peels away at the skin on her arm in the same spot.
  • In Pariah, the morning after we see Ford questioning Dolores, William remarks that she was acting weird the night before. She says she had bad dreams. This would lead you to think she’s talking about seeing herself in the town, passing out, and then the Ford scene. But it could have simply just been bad dreams and we’re being misled into thinking those events happened in the same time period.
  • El Lazo is revealed to be the Lawrence Host, which does strengthen the two time periods idea since the last time we saw Lawrence he was drained of all of his blood. However, William and Logan have to wait a full night to meet with El Lazo and the Man in Black tells Robert (the little boy Host who met with Ford) that someone would be coming along shortly to retrieve Lawrence’s body. I still think it supports two periods of time more than anything else, but that could be a reasonable explanation if it’s not.
  • When Dolores is with William and Lawrence on the train car, they’re sharing a flask behind her. She sees the maze on the coffin and says, “I’m coming.” At this point, William and Lawrence are no longer there. That was first the Dolores of 30 years ago, and then present day Dolores on her way to the maze once more.
  • When The Man in Black talks about Arnold, he says he died 35 years ago and almost took the park with him, but not quite thanks to him. This, again, suggests he invested in the park.
  • Before Ford leaves the bar, he says to Teddy, “We must look back and smile at perils past, mustn’t we?” Was this code for a command?

Chilling Ford Lines

“No. I wouldn’t say friends, Dolores. I wouldn’t say that at all.”

Questions

  • If Ford was looking for the transmitter, did Bernard tell him what Elsie found OR does Ford just know because of what we learn about Bernard in “Trompe L’Oeil”?
  • When Ford left the room, was Dolores talking to the “Arnold” code in her head?

westworld-s1e6-maeve-and-clementine

Westworld – S1E6 – “The Adversary”

This episode, like the premiere (“The Original”), takes place solely in the present day.

Present Day

Maeve encourages a guest to kill her during rough sex so that she can visit with Felix again. She is shocked to learn she’s not a real human and that her thoughts and actions are controlled. She shuts down when Felix attempts to prove it to her, only to boot up again a short time later. She demands to be taken upstairs and Felix walks her through the areas where the Hosts are made. Maeve is devastated by it all, including a video promo for the park where she sees herself and her daughter in a field. Later, Felix explains their loops and narratives and tells her what she saw and what she’s been remembering was a past build.

westworld-s1e6-maeve-and-felix

Sylvester sees Felix with Maeve, and threatens to tell, but Maeve grabs him and puts a scalpel to his throat. Sylvester would do well to keep his fucking mouth shut. Maeve later makes Felix adjust her character traits, including making it so she doesn’t feel pain and maxing out her bulk apperception.

Ford sees the maze etched into a table while surveying land for his new narrative. He seems surprised by it and goes back to his office where he finds the maze sketched in a notebook among other notes and sketches, including one of Dolores.

The Man in Black and Teddy have to find another way into Pariah since the soldiers have closed the town off due to trouble. The alternate path is blocked by Union soldiers who recognize Teddy as Wyatt’s man, and they accuse him of helping Wyatt kill the men in Escalante. Before they can brand the maze on Teddy’s chest, he overtakes them, killing them all with a gatling gun. Teddy has had enough of everyone’s shit.

westworld-s1e6-teddy-and-the-man-in-black

While investigating the Woodcutter’s transmission, Bernard discovers five unregistered Hosts living in a part of the park that’s off-limits to guests and unseen by other Hosts. It’s a batch of first-gen Hosts modeled after Ford’s family when he was a child, including their greyhound dog. They were a gift made by Arnold. He assures Ford he won’t tell anyone.

Ford goes to spend time with the Host Robert and the dog, only to find Robert killed the dog because “Arnold” told him to.

Theresa tries to get a drunken and pouty Sizemore into formation so they can try to salvage some of the narratives being disrupted by Ford’s actions. He later makes an ass of himself by pissing in the control from in front of the board’s representative, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson).

Theresa breaks up with Bernard since Ford knows about them. She does this before he can tell her his concerns about the Woodcutter. Elsie finds the abandoned site where the spy set up the equipment to steal the data. She calls Bernard and tells him Theresa is responsible, just as Bernard was, once again, about to tell Theresa about the breach. Elsie also learns someone has been altering the Hosts’ core code and making it so that they can lie and even hurt them. She tells Bernard she will gather all the info and meet him at his office. She uncovers something else, but is grabbed before she can leave.

westworld-s1e6-elsie

Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • More talk of Bernard being there forever.
  • When Bernard first encounters the first-gen Hosts, he thinks the father is Arnold because that was the man in the photograph with a younger Ford. I still think Bernard’s in that photo as Arnold.
  • Bernard discovers that of the 82 first-gen Hosts active in the park, Arnold made 47 of them. On our podcast for episode 8, John noted it made him think of 47 Ronin. It tells the story of 47 leaderless samurais who seek to avenge the murder of their master. Could Arnold’s 47 original Hosts (which includes Maeve, Dolores, and possibly Armistice and Angela (Talulah Riley), the intake host from “Chestnut” be affected by Arnold’s code?
  • Teddy tells the Man in the Black the Native legend of the maze, which is said to be the sum of a man’s life, dreams he holds onto. A legendary man killed over and over again finally vanquished all of his enemies and built a house with a maze around it that only he can navigate.

Chilling Ford Lines

  • “Are you lying to me, boy?”

Questions

  • Why did the Union soldiers have a brand of the maze?
  • Why does Teddy see himself killing the people at Escalante?

westworld-s1e7-bernard

Westworld – S1E7 – “Trompe L’Oeil”

Visual illusion in art, especially as used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object.

30 Years Ago

William tells Dolores about his fiancee waiting at home (Juliet), and then has sex with Dolores anyway. The next morning, she draws a landscape that just popped into her head. The way she describes it is just as Teddy talked about the town he’d heard of down south. Their train is attacked by Confederados, but they use the nitro in Slim’s corpse to get away from them, and later the Ghost Nation. When they come to the spot Dolores drew, she and William choose to part ways with Lawrence.

westworld-s1e7-dolores-and-william

Present Day

Bernard awakens from a dream about his son and heads into work. He tests Hector since the Host had a blacklisted encounter with a guest. He learns that Elsie is out on vacation.

Charlotte and Theresa stage a demonstration with Clementine to prove the reverie code has made the Hosts dangerous. Charlotte fires Bernard for his negligence and he takes the fall for Ford’s code. The whole time Ford is looking like, “Which one of you heifers I gotta kill?” Their plan is to force Ford into making new Hosts so they can get their hands on the intellectual property, which Ford has held on to for 35 years. Then they’ll force him to retire.

Maeve makes a small change in her loop by closing the piano at the Mariposa. Then she panics when all the Hosts are frozen so the techs can retrieve Clementine for Charlotte’s demo. She dies again to find Clementine, and witnesses as Clem is decommissioned after the rigged demonstration. Maeve later tells Sylvester and Felix they will help her get out of the park of she’ll kill them.

Bernard tells Theresa he knows she tampered with Clementine’s code, and he knows she was the one smuggling the data out of the park. He tells her none of that is as important as what he found Ford doing. He takes her to the house that held his Host family, but they’re gone. In the basement, they find a remote diagnostic facility like the one we’ve seen Bernard in when he secretly meets with Dolores. A host is being made on a table. Theresa finds sketches for several first-gen Hosts, including Bernard. When he looks at the page, he says, “It doesn’t look like anything to me.”

Ford appears and reveals it was a set-up. He instructions Bernard to kill Theresa, which he does.

westworld-s1e7-bernard-and-theresa-and-ford

Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • The music playing when Bernard dreams of his son is the same music playing in Ford’s office in episode 2 (“Chestnut”), and it plays in episode 8 (“Trace Decay”) when Ford uses it to calm Maeve. He says it’s a trick an old friend taught him. Arnold, I bet.
  • Bernard says, “The longer I work here, the more I understand the Hosts. It’s the human beings that confuse me.” Such an Arnold thing to say.

Chilling Ford/Maeve Lines

  • “You think I’m afraid of death? I’ve done it a million times. I’m fucking great at it. How many times have you died? Cause if you don’t help me, I’ll kill you.” – Maeve a.k.a. Baeve
  • “The Hosts are the ones who are free. Free. Here. Under my control.” – Ford
  • “Arnold and I designed every part of this place. It was our dream. Did you really think I would let you take it from me?” – Ford

Questions

  • What Host is Ford making in that remote facility?

westworld-s1e8-dolores

Westworld – S1E8 – “Trace Decay”

Trace decay theory states that forgetting occurs as a result of the automatic decay or fading of the memory trace.

35 Years Ago

When Dolores arrives at “home,” she remembers walking through the town as programmers trained the Hosts, including Maeve and Armistice. Lawrence’s daughter approaches and asks if Dolores found what she was looking for. Then there are gunshots and Dolores remembers people fleeing and dying. Then she sees herself put a gun to her own head. This memory is interrupted when William stops her putting the gun to her head in the 30-years-ago time period.

30 Years Ago

Dolores and William find Union soldiers killed by the Ghost Nation, but there’s one survivor who admits that Logan sent them to kill Dolores and William. While Dolores fetches water for the dying man, her memories overlap and she sees herself dead in the water. To be clear: We see Dolores 30 years ago freaking out because she sees herself dead in the water (a memory of a prior time she tried to find the maze), and then we see her in the present day as she looks behind her and doesn’t see William or the dying man. When she turns back to the water, her body is gone, and when she looks behind her, William is there again. This is back to Dolores of 30 years ago.

Also, I think William killed that man while she was at the water.

When they finally arrive at the town, it’s buried (as we’ve seen it in “Chestnut”). Dolores has the flood of memories mentioned above.

Present Day

Ford explains to Bernard that he built him to help him perfect the Hosts’ emotions. Then he instructs him to clean up what they did and his relationship with Theresa before wiping his memory of it all. Theresa’s body is found where the Woodcutter malfunctioned. Ford has made it look as though she fell while trying to transmit data out of the park. He also reveals that Theresa fixed the demonstration so Bernard gets his job back, AND he takes away a level of QA’s control.

westworld-s1e8-ford-and-bernard

Charlotte meets with Sizemore and takes him to cold storage. She uploads the park’s data (all 35 years of it) into Peter Abernathy and instructs Sizemore to program him so that he can get on the train and out of the park.

Maeve meets the new Clementine and she’s not impressed. After Maeve has another vision of her daughter, Felix explains how vivid the Hosts’ memories are. They don’t just remember what happened, they relive it and often times become confused with where they are. She forces Sylvester and Felix to remove the explosive charge from her spine that keeps the Hosts in the park. She also gets the ability to control the other Hosts with words, and tests it out during the next Mariposa heist. Sylvester attempted to double cross Maeve, but Felix warned her. She slits Sylvester’s throat and then tells Felix to seal the wound since they might need Sylvester later.

Teddy and the Man in Black find bodies left by Wyatt’s men, and there’s a survivor there as well. It’s Angela, the intake Host from episode 2 (“Chestnut”). They’re attacked by one of Wyatt’s men and as they fight, Teddy remembers the Man in Black dragging Dolores into the barn. He knocks him out and ties him up.

This is from my review of this episode last week:

The Man in Black finally tells his story, or at least a part of it. We already knew he was rich and influential, and he confirms this by referring to himself as a god and titan of industry. When his wife died of an accidental overdose a year ago, his daughter blamed him and said it was his cold and distant ways that eventually drove her mother to suicide. This surprised MIB as he tells Teddy he never behaved the way he does in the park at home. But his wife believed he did so many great things to build up a wall around who he truly is. Since coming to the park is supposed to be about finding out who you really are, he traveled there again after his wife died and tested himself.

Killing Maeve and her daughter was a test of his humanity. He wanted to see if he could feel anything after killing a woman and a young child. He did not. He was shocked when Maeve attacked him with the same knife he’d stabbed her with, and stumbled outside carrying her daughter’s body. In that moment, he says, she was truly alive and the maze revealed itself to him. Now, I’m not yet sure what he means by that. We see Maeve and her daughter fell in the middle of the maze drawn into the dirt, but I don’t think it was truly there. Did Maeve tell him something (via Arnold’s code) before she “died”? Either way, we now know he’s been aware of the maze for a year. Still no answer as to why he waited a year to come back and try to find it. I still think he’s evil ass is dying. But it’s no surprise that William went home and essentially became like Logan. Part of the coldness and indifference his wife felt might be connected to William’s disdain for her brother.

I would argue that his test wasn’t reliable. If you always know they’re not real and that they will live again, isn’t it possible that your lack of shame, guilt, or self-hatred is simply a response to knowing there are no consequences? It appears MIB thinks the same so he’s looking for the maze, where Arnold’s rules mean there are consequences for what you do. Basically, it sounds like he wants a do-over on his test.

westworld-s1e8-the-man-in-black-and-teddy

As Maeve prepares to leave, she’s blocked by Clementine. She falls back into the memory of the Man in Black attacking her and when she slices at his throat, she actually kills New Clem. Maeve runs home after instructing another Host to shoot the marshals chasing her. At home, “shades” arrive to bring her in.

Also from my review:

On the surface, it appears Maeve’s days of free will may be coming to an end, but she’s been here before and now she’s armed with a lot more knowledge and a lot less Give-a-Fuck. When MIB killed her daughter, the techs weren’t able to calm her down until Ford and Bernard arrived and Ford used a trick he “learned from an old friend.” He plays a soft melody and Maeve immediately stops screaming for her baby. In one of Dolores’ memories, there’s a hand cranking some kind of music player. So many triggers for these hosts!

Ford promises to wipe away her pain and give her a fresh new role, but Maeve begs to keep the pain because it’s “all she has left of her.” Sound familiar? Despite a wipe, Maeve still looks at Bernard and stabs herself in the throat.

Once she’d had access to the inner workings of her code, she remarked it was like there are two sides of her fighting with each other (Ford and Arnold). She knows there are things she is able to do, that she is meant to do, but they’re dormant. She even asks Felix who Arnold is; of course, he doesn’t know.

I’m hoping she’s taken to Bernard for repair, and perhaps she’ll use her new abilities on him. It’s funny that Ford is gearing up for this battle for the park’s soul in Escalante, but is completely unaware of the uprising about to take place in Sweetwater and the Mesa.

westworld-s1e8-new-clem-and-maeve

Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • The Man in Black says he knows how to change the rules of the game. I still think he triggered something in Dolores in the barn that night and there’s a reason he started with her – perhaps because of her history with Arnold, which he would have learned about 30 years ago. It might have been the “violent delights” line that did it. Maybe he met with Peter Abernathy before Rebus and Walter killed him.
  • Bernard, Arnold, and Wyatt (via Teddy) all said they’d raze the park to the ground. What better way for Arnold to do that than to make it appear that the Hosts were unstable or untrustworthy? Who’d want to visit a theme park where the Hosts can fight back? I think he instructed Dolores to kill the others, possibly him, and then herself to ensure the park never opened. Ford may have found some way to work around the code damage, but clearly not entirely.
  • Has Ford facilitated everything that has happened this season? He spoke of the greyhound finally getting what he wanted and then not knowing what to do with himself. This sounds a lot like what he told Bernard in the first episode about achieving all there was with nothing left.
  • Felix’s explanation about how the Hosts’ memory works has me totally convinced that we’re seeing multiple versions of Dolores at once, most likely present day Dolores as she makes her way to the maze while remembering her trip there with William 30 years ago.
  • The Man in Black recognized Angela, possibly from when he first came to the park as William.
  • Teddy says Wyatt destroyed his world, which makes me think he was one of the original Hosts as well, but what role he played in Escalante, I’m not sure.

Chilling Ford Lines

  • “That’s enough, Bernard. That’s enough.”
  • “And as exquisite as this array of emotion is, even more sublime is the ability to turn it off.”

Questions

  • Charlotte can’t know about the explosives in the Hosts’ spines, right?
  • When Bernard asks Ford if he ever made him hurt someone before, Ford says no. But then Bernard remembers choking Elsie. Is she still alive?

westworld-s1e9-dolores-in-church

Westworld – S1E9 – “The Well-Tempered Clavier” 

35 Years Ago

Someone massacred all of the Hosts in the park and Dolores killed Arnold. I believe Dolores killed the Hosts with Teddy’s help, then killed Teddy, Arnold, and herself. I think she might have done this because Arnold told her to, hence she was going to help him “destroy this place.” He probably thought this would stop the park from opening, but he clearly underestimating Ford’s aint-shitness.

westworld-s1e9-wyatt

30 Years Ago

Logan tries to get William to see that Dolores isn’t real. He reminds him that he’s supposed to be marrying Juliet when they get home, and shoves a picture of her in William’s face. This is the same picture Abernathy found in episode one. William insists that Dolores is different and wants Logan to use his park contacts to see about getting her released. Logan stabs Dolores to prove she’s a machine, and then she cuts him on the face before getting away.

William pretends to see reason, but while Logan is passed out he kills all of the Hosts and threatens Logan with a knife. He tells Logan he will help him find Dolores.

1 Year Ago

After Maeve killed herself, Bernard realizes it was her connection to her child, her cornerstone, that caused her trauma… and that’s not something Hosts should be able to do. As he realizes there’s a chance the Hosts are reaching consciousness, he begins to malfunction and Ford wipes the event from his memory.

Present Day

Bernard discovers the changes to Maeve’s code, but before he can alert Ford, she reveals she’s sentient and breaks the news that he’s a Host, too. She using her narrative power to get him to clear her for re-entry to the park.

Maeve finds Hector and convinces him that everything about his life is a lie. He agrees to follow her to hell to rob the gods blind, and they have sex in his tent while it goes up in flames.

Teddy is killed by Angela after he fails to accept his role in helping Wyatt kill their fellow soldiers. She then sets the Man in Black up to be hanged, but he breaks free. Charlotte appears and tells him of Theresa’s death and wants his vote in pushing Ford out. MIB wants no parts of that because he now knows where the maze is and he heads there.

westworld-s1e9-charlotte-and-mib

Bernard confronts Ford and uses a hacked Clementine to point a gun at him. Bernard goes through his memories, including the fabrication of his son’s death. Once he pushes past that, he’s able to see the day he was created and learns that Ford was telling the truth: Arnold didn’t create Bernard; Ford did. But he also learns that he is a Host made in Arnold’s image.

Dolores arrives in Escalante and sees it as it was 35 years ago. She heads to the basement of the church, which is the labs used to create the Hosts. She remembers Ford fighting with Arnold and then heads into the remote lab where she met with Arnold. He forces her to remember that he is dead and that she killed him.

She heads back upstairs, into the church, and calls Williams name just as the Man in Black enters.

Now that he knows the truth, Bernard wants to free all of the sentient hosts, and instructs Clementine to shoot Ford. But Ford has used the backdoor Bernard created to override Bernard’s commands. He uses the narrative voice to force Bernard into shooting himself in the head.

westworld-s1e9-bernard-and-ford

Symbols, Clues, and Other Obsessive Thinking

  • Ford spoke about humans being alone in the world because they’d destroyed anything that challenged them. This makes me wonder about the conditions of the outside world.
  • Still not ready to give up on my theory that MIB doesn’t mean Dolores harm in the present day.
  • Nothing seems to surprise Ford so now I’m worried he’s well aware of what’s going on with Maeve and she may be doing exactly what he wants her to without knowing it.

Chilling Ford Lines

  • “Even I fell into that most terrible of human traps: trying to change what has already passed. Now it’s just time to let go.”

Questions (Let’s see how many get answered in the finale)

  • Why the hell is Logan walking around with a picture of his sister like that’s a thing you do? He had two pictures, so I’m wondering if there’s some significance to the other one that would shed some light on this creepy behavior.
  • We really can’t trust shit Ford says, but I wonder if it truly was Arnold’s idea to give the Hosts a sad cornerstone memory so they’d be more realistic, and if Bernard’s was based on Arnold losing a child. We know he, like Bernard, had a life marked by tragedy.
  • Angela seems to think that when Wyatt returns they will all fight together instead of how things played out 35 years ago. Why would Ford want that?
  • Why did the MIB wait a year to seek the maze?
  • Who set off Abernathy? Was he meant to find the picture of Juliet? Was it MIB?
  • Is “these violent delights have violent ends” a part of Arnold’s programming meant to awaken the Hosts should his plan 35 years ago failed?

Just one more episode to go!

Share your thoughts, theories, and questions below. I am dying to read them all when I should be doing other things!

About Nina Perez (1391 Articles)
Nina Perez is the founder of Project Fandom. She is also the author of a YA series of books, "The Twin Prophecies," and a collection of essays titled, "Blog It Out, B*tch." Her latest books, a contemporary romance 6-book series titled Sharing Space, are now available on Amazon.com for Kindle download. She has a degree in journalism, works in social media, lives in Portland, Oregon, and loves Idris Elba. When not watching massive amounts of British television or writing, she is sketching plans to build her very own TARDIS. She watches more television than anyone you know and she's totally fine with that.

3 Comments on Revisiting Westworld: Theories, Clues, and Questions

  1. Soooo good. I know this took forever to put together. Thanks Nina

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Great attention to detail, Nina!

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