The following contains spoilers for the seventh episode of Westworld. If you’re not caught up, or for some reason had your memory wiped since Sunday, maybe you should check out this story about Lucifer paying homage to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
We’d hate to say we told you so … wait, no we don’t. We love to say it. So we will: We told you so!
Anyway, last Sunday’s episode of Westworld was indeed the game-changer the episode’s director teased as we learn that Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard is not just an employee – he’s actually a host.
Executive producer Jonathan Nolan says while he loves twists, he also believes in playing fair with the audience. And in fact, he told The Hollywood Reporter he dropped a major clue about Bernard not in the sixth or fifth episode of the series – but the first.
“The visual language of the show up this point – and we established it in the pilot and onwards – has been, for the most part, neutral. It’s not a show that’s over-stylized. We wanted the way the show was photographed and presented to be quite neutral, but favoring the hosts.
“A lot of the ways the shots are construction – you see it most often to this point with Maeve and Delores and Teddy – we position the frame to allow the camera to favor them.
“What we wanted to explore is the idea in the series that … when you go back and look at the pilot, it’s told almost exclusively from the perspective of the hosts. You imagine with Bernard that you’re getting the (human perspective), but the pilot is really about hosts.”
A major breadcrumb, however, came just minutes before the reveal, when Bernard made it clear he couldn’t see the door that we the viewers didn’t see in the cottage earlier, either. It lines up with another breadcrumb Nolan said he dropped in the previous episode when Bernard suddenly finds Anthony Hopkins’ Ford at the cottage, when he wasn’t there before.
“The perspective is something we talked about a lot. When Bernard walks into that room, when he walked into that cottage before in the previous episode, Ford appears seemingly from nowhere. When we come back, it’s one shot that rakes across the room. Bernard walks into the room, there’s no door. The camera pans back over, and Theresa brings up the door. That’s a moment we talked about an awful lot in terms of the horror of realizing that your reality has been carefully curated.”
There are a lot of different theories floating around the Internet on what the Westworld story is all about. And while Nolan loves to see that level of discussion and buzz being generated, he also worries that some social media platforms like Reddit can take a lot of fun out of those discussions.
“The thing about theorizing is that, occasionally, you’re going to be right. The distinction between a theory and a spoiler becomes moot if someone guesses correctly. With a sufficient number of guesses, and with an organizing mechanism like Reddit where good guesses can get more karma, people are going to deduce things that are correct about the show – and they’re doing to deduce things that aren’t correct. But you do have hte ability to spoil it for yourself.”
“It’s very exciting when people correctly guess where the narrative is going because you’ve done your job. I’m very much a believer that you have to, on some level, play fair with the audience. I do this for a living, so there are many movies over the years that I’ve guessed the ending to, and thoroughly enjoyed anyway.”
The audience appears satisfied, as least as HBO is concerned. The cable channel just picked up Westworld for a second season, although the scope of the show’s production complexity might push those new episodes into 2018.
Nolan’s fellow executive producer Lisa Joy says that while Sunday’s episode was exciting, it’s the future that viewers should be most tuned to, something she says in the context of what happened immediately after the reveal of Bernard’s true nature.
“The important thing for me, the way I approach these things, is that it’s also not just about the reveal. It’s not just about whether or not you guessed that Bernard is a host. It’s about what happens next. And that’s not about reveals. It’s all about character and emotions.”
Westworld airs Sundays on HBO.
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