‘Westworld’ Season 2, Episode 7 Recap: The Decryption Key
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
- Dolores reunites with her dad.
- Charlotte unveils Bernard’s secret.
- The location of the decryption key is finally revealed.
The Decryption Key
Season two, episode seven, titled “Les Écorchés,” opens on Ashley (Luke Hemsworth) confiding in Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) about his concerns with Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Charlotte (Tessa Thompson). You see, Ashley isn’t buying their rescue mission story. Instead, he thinks they’re here for “the project” and, in turn, willing to get rid of anyone who gets in their way.
Right on cue, Bernard and Ashley are captured by Strand and his soldiers, who lead them to the house where Bernard killed Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) in season one. Strand presses them on Theresa’s death, saying he knows that she didn’t die the way they said she did. But that’s not all. He also reveals they have something he needs: a key.
Bernard Gets Busted
Before Bernard has a chance to confess to the murder, one of Strand’s soldiers discovers a secret door. Inside, they find what appears to be several hosts zipped up in body bags. Charlotte opens the bags to unveil multiple nonfunctioning replicas of—wait for it—Bernard.
Charlotte questions Bernard for being a host hiding among humans. She digitally tortures him in an attempt to find out what happened to Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum). Since Bernard’s records indicate he was there when the decryption key was created, she knows the answer is hiding somewhere in his memories.
At the Cradle, Bernard is still hooked up to the auto extraction machine from episode six. When he approaches Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) at the piano and asks how he’s alive, he tells him that Jim Delos (Peter Mullan) didn’t spend all his money to only resurrect himself.
This brings Bernard to a revelation. Remember the reoccurring flashbacks of himself printing a mystery control unit? As it turns out, it was for Ford. Go figure.
Ford says he has something to show Bernard and brings him to the main street. After freezing the hosts with the snap of his fingers, he presses Bernard on why their stories haven’t changed in more than 30 years.
Suddenly, Bernard realizes Westworld isn’t a theme park at all. Instead, it’s an experiment-cum-testing-chamber, where the guests are the variables and the hosts are the controls. Since parkgoers don’t know they’re being evaluated, Jim can analyze their actions and copy them.
Bernard demands to know what the hosts will find in the Valley Beyond, and Ford tells him that the whole point of a story is to discover the end yourself. Womp, womp.
In an attempt to get Bernard to understand how he’s different from the rest, Ford takes him to where it all began (aka the home Arnold was building for his family). In a flashback, Bernard realizes he was created here. But when Ford implies that he wasn’t the only person who helped create him, Bernard discovers he was co-created by someone who knows Arnold better than anyone: Dolores.
Maeve Vs. MIB
Elsewhere in Westworld, Maeve (Thandie Newton) and the little girl are hiding from the Native Americans in an abandoned house. When the Man in Black (Ed Harris) walks in on them, he immediately recognizes the hosts and accuses Ford of playing a trick on him. Maeve responds by firing several rounds at him, natch.
Outside, the Man in Black ducks for cover while Maeve uses her powers to make his men turn on him. When she finally has him cornered, Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) appears out of nowhere, requesting she put down her firearm.
Just then, Lee (Simon Quarterman) shows up with a team of soldiers and rescues Maeve, who’s been shot several times. As they’re driving away, Maeve watches in horror as the Native Americans capture the little girl.
When Ashley demands to know what’s in Abernathy’s head, Charlotte reveals it’s a decryption key designed to stop disasters like this one. Their argument is put on hold when Dolores and Teddy enter the room. Charlotte tries to calm down Dolores by telling her she’s achieved a technical breakthrough, but the host is more focused on extracting the software from her father’s head.
Dolores grabs a bone saw and threatens Charlotte with it, demanding answers. Right then, Abernathy recognizes his daughter, saying, “Dolores, is that you, baby?”
She runs to her dad’s side, giving Charlotte and Ashley a chance to escape.
Down with the Mesa
The hosts arrive at the Mesa for a full-blown bloodbath with Strand and his soldiers. Their goal? To obtain their back-up files from the Cradle. But that all changes when Angela (Talulah Riley) sets off a grenade in the heart of the database, seemingly destroying it all.
Meanwhile, Bernard can’t seem to get Ford out of his head. He watches as the hosts slaughter Strand’s team in the control room, while Ford rambles on about how there’s beauty in creating something wonderful and watching it burn.
Bernard demands more answers, asking, “Is this the story you’re telling? Striking the match?”
Ford corrects him and says it’s not his story to tell, it’s Bernard’s, which means he’s in control of the narrative. Bernard takes the hint, grabs a tablet and crushes it with his bare hands.
The episode concludes with Charlotte interrogating Bernard. She says the only way to get to the truth is for him to decipher his real memories from those that were written for him. When she asks him for the location of Abernathy’s control unit, he reveals it’s in sector 16, zone four (aka the Valley Beyond).
Let the games begin. Westworld returns to HBO on Sunday, June 10.