From November 2016

Scream Queens – Season 2, Episode 7: “The Hand”

FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 2, Episode 7: “The Hand”
Directed by Barbara Brown
Written by Ian Brennan

* For a review of the previous episode, “Blood Drive” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel” – click here
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Poor Dr. Brock Holt (John Stamos) has everybody thinking he’s the Green Meanie. And the worse he feels, the more stressed the hand gets, acting out. Having belonged to a serial killer previously. The more tired Holt gets, the more the hand fucks with him. Even so far as wedgies. He and Chanel (Emma Roberts) have a big night, so he duct tapes his hand to his leg to control it. After dumping a bowl of salt into the pasta sauce he made for dinner. Worse, the hand freaks out and pulls a knife on Chanel. So she does the first smart thing and walks away from an “elegant salty dinner and romantic bone sesh” likewise walking away from their relationship.
A woman named Anna Plaisance (Amy Okuda) has four arms, four legs. She’s come to the CURE Institute for help from Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her talented team of doctors, particularly Brock. Will the hand give him trouble? Basically he’s dealing with a surgery involving Ms. Plaisance’s essential twin that grew partly formed in her body. Big time shit. Lots of pressure, too. A ton of media bears down at the will of Munsch. But Brock worries he can’t do it. The hand’s definitely gonna make things shitty for him.
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Dr. Cassidy Cascade (Taylor Lautner) does some crazy martial arts in his spare time out back near the swamp, to “Scarface (Push It to the Limit)” by Paul Engemann. Hilarious. Afterwards he’s joined by #3 (Billie Lourd). They talk, about The Karate Kid and other things. She’s still thinking about the fact Cassidy believes he’s dead.
Cassidy: “I didnt realise you were prejudice against dead people
#3: “Everyone is, Im just willing to admit it.”
Well, #3 – with help from #5 (Abigail Breslin) – gives Cascade a test she’s gone and researched herself. Things come out fine in the first phase, then they go through the rest. Seems he isn’t dead, he has Cotard delusion. Yay for him. Although he’s still ONE of the Green Meanie killers.But wait, #3 didn’t reveal to him what she does to #5: he is a psychopath, likely a serial killer. A-ha!
More and more Brock’s hand gives him grief. It takes him for a ride, as he even tries cutting it off. Only the Green Meanie – one of them – turns up to try killing him. Turns out the hand’s original owner knew a bit of serious kung-fu. He kicks the shits out of the killer, sending him, or her, packing.
A man named Thomas Benderhall (Kasey Mahaffy) comes in under Dr. Cascade’s care. He has what looks like pock marks all over his face. However, accompanied by terrible stomach flu, yet no fever. Yikes.

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Chanel gets no good advice from #3, while #5 speaks the truth and gets shot down hilariously. Hester (Lea Michele), now #6, won’t give up the killer’s identity and plays games with the others, teasing of #3 knowing who it is, and this makes things tense. Meanwhile, Ingrid Hoffel (Kirstie Alley) goes to Cassidy with more information about Holt’s hand. We also see Dr. Green Meanie actually feels a bit guilty. Not guilty enough to stop, though. Now there’s even a bit of blackmail on Ingrid’s end. Very tricky.
With a Northeast Journal of Medicine writer at the hospital, Dr. Holt is having a rough time. Hilarious to watch, but rough. Munsch doesn’t make anything easy for him, pumping things up beyond belief. She’s one crafty lady.
Dr. Cascade thinks that Thomas has been poisoned. By the Russians. Now he’s got to be put in quarantine. Plus there’s a risk of contamination. But Thomas’ girlfriend Shelly refuses to leave, holding the doc to his promise of curing her boyfriend. In other parts of the hospital, the Green Meanie kills one of the newest Chanels, strangling her into a coma. Ah, so the killer’s helping the need of a heart donor for the hospital. And things get worse for Dr. Holt. Not to mention he pokes a bunch of holes in the comatose girl’s arm, that god damn murderous hand!


Finally Cascade figures out that Shelly’s got Munchausen syndrome. She’s poisoning her boyfriend. OH NO – that’s not it? Thomas is poisoning himself because Shelly is domineering, clingy, et cetera. He wants to die. God damn, that’s brutal. Unfortunately #3 feels like loves is a lie, and that maybe she’ll need to turn Cassidy in. Or will he kill her first? Dun, dun, DUNNNNN!
There are other things going on. Brock’s trouble deepens, getting bloodier. Munsch makes clear he has only a couple options, the only good one involving him doing the surgery and doing it well. “I am screwing you,” she admits freely.
Game day: big surgery on the books. Doctors Cascade and Holt wash up, readying for the job. Brock’s made a deal with Munsch that he’ll do the whole thing with his killer hand strapped behind his back. During the operation it gives him a slight bit of trouble, although nothing too serious. Until he has to put the heart in, he can’t finish. Chanel pushes a bit of truth about Brock’s life out of him. A song helped him calm down as a boy, so the Chanels sing “99 Red Balloons” for the doctor. And it relaxes the hand, relaxes Brock, so that he’s able to finish the surgery. But will the heart pump? Oh yes, it will. They’ve done it. More importantly Brock has control of himself, at least a little.


So what’ll happen between #3 and Cassidy? He reveals that he won’t kill her, or Chanel. And that he’s “not the only killer.” That’s all he’ll say right now.
You know that the writer from the journal won’t be making it out alive. He makes a call to a friend about a major “medical ethics scandal” right before the Green Meanie puts a blade through his head. Upstairs, Cassidy gives Brock a present: one of the hands they removed. The twin was male, the hand fits. Cassidy wants to do the transplant himself.
Can they get rid of that serial killing hand before it does nasty damage? Or will it kill Chanel?


Loving this season. So much weird and wild stuff happening. Next episode is titled “Rapunzel, Rapunzel” and it’s directed by the great Jamie Lee Curtis herself!

Westworld – Season 1, Episode 9: “The Well-Tempered Clavier”

HBO’s Westworld
Season 1, Episode 9: “The Well-Tempered Clavier”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Dan Dietz & Kath Lingenfelter

* For a review of the previous episode, “Trace Decay” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Bicameral Mind” – click here
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Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton) – where are you going, where have you been? Right now she’s back out in the lab. Fellow host Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) checks her out. He tells her about the “unscripted incident” that’s brought her there. Will she start to use her power of influence over Bernie? Oh, I’d love to see that. For now he discovers the changes in her code, finding it rather suspicious. He calls Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) immediately, but Maeve reaches out. She recognises Bernie from somewhere before. And then, she freezes his motor functions stopping him dead. This is when he has to come to grips with the “hideous fiction” of their lives as hosts. What we’re seeing is the beginning of the robots rising up, coming together. Meanwhile, Maeve is headed back to Sweetwater, as Bernie stumbles back into motion confused yet enlightened all the same. Disturbing to watch him go through this whole ordeal.
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Logan (Ben Barnes) is in the desert with his captives William (Jimmi Simpson) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood). “There are more important things going on here than your war games,” William says. He tries explaining there’s something different about Dolores. And he wants to get her out of the park. But she starts wondering that if the world is so wonderful in reality, why do they die to get into Westworld? Such an amazing and perfect moment. So succinct, on the nose. Now I’m afraid Logan’s planning on killing Dolores.
In the meantime, Bernie goes to see the doctor. Ford is downstairs in the sea of washed up hosts, deactivated in the creepy warehouse. They talk about their relationship, as well as Arnold. What Bernie wants is access to all his memories, to find whether Arnold has another purpose for him, the other hosts. Ford beats around the bush.
Until a lobotomised Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) is brought in to point a gun on the ole doc; she’s been reset and she can actually do damage. Ah, tricky Bernie. Once Ford activates Lowe’s memories, they flood back heavy. He goes from past to present, everything in between. He sees his wife, his sick child, Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen). Is he losing his mind? Well, we do see that it was him who grabbed Elsie in the dark. Shit. The devious Dr. Ford and his “uncomfortable decisions.” What a rat bastard.

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Out in the desert, Logan taunts William over his wife at home, real life outside Westworld. He mocks William’s feelings for Dolores. Logan decides to give his friend a wake up call. He stabs her in the gut, ripping her flesh open to reveal the robotic insides. This not only sends her into shock, it deals William a devastating blow to the mind. Then Dolores fights back, she grabs a gun and start to fire on Logan and his men.
She takes off into the desert with the voice of Arnold in her head: “Remember.” And suddenly she’s okay, running on into the night.
In other parts, Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) and his crew bed down for the night when Maeve comes across their camp. She is by far my favourite character, not only bad ass but smart. Maeve is taking upon herself the task of changing the narrative, or trying to at least. She predicts what will happen next, so that when it does Hector understands completely, and then she steps in and blows away the only other person left. “I want you to see exactly what the gods have in store for you.” When she opens the safe the gang stole from Sweetwater, it’s empty. Like everything else in their little world. She’s bringing the other hosts over to her side, showing them the way. Hector starts seeing what’s been right before his eyes but what he’s been programmed not to see the entire time.
Poor Billy, Big Willy style. He’s confronting the hard truths of Westworld. Logan tries to show him how they’ve bonded, discovering things together. About life. About themselves. They share a drink and everything’s fine. Is it, though?
The Man in Black (Ed Harris) and Teddy Flood (James Marsden) are still tied in the desert. Things aren’t looking good. Not at all. Wyatt (Sorin Brouwers) isn’t around – he’s in Escalante, most likely. Where he and Teddy shot down their fellow soldiers in a vicious mutiny. “It was like the devil himself had taken control of me,” Teddy claims.  Or is that really the case? Looks more like he was a lawman and he took the place out single handed. Oh, god damn. Plus he gets stabbed in the guts by their captor. A brutal end to Teddy’s current storyline. As for Black, he’s knocked out cold. When he wakes in the morning, he’s left on his own, tied to a horse by the noose on his neck. Precarious, to say the least. That is a Western scene right there if I’ve ever seen one! Black manages to get the knife out of Teddy’s chest in time to cut the rope before the horse hangs him. Afterwards, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) shows up to have a chat with Black about Theresa’s death, “the game” and all those things. We find out a little more about Black and his involvement in things behind the scenes, his role alongside Charlotte, et cetera.

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Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) gets word about a signal from Elsie Hughes’ tablet from a sector that’s not been worked on for weeks. Very curious. I keep trying to figure out what Stubbs means in all this, because he seems like a genuine character. I’m wondering more and more if he’ll play a bigger role at some point, or if he’ll wind up dispatched by one of the out of control hosts. When he goes to check out the signal from Elsie, a tribe of Natives find him. And he can’t get any of the master controls working to stop them from tackling him.
In the desert, Logan wakes to find a massacre around him. Bodies all over. Arms and legs and appendages everywhere. At the middle is Billy Boy. He’s been having quite the morning. Are we seeing him become The Man in Black here? Is that what’s happening? He’s going full psycho on Logan, wanting to track down Dolores now. Uh oh. Or, is this a bit of red herring served up?
Other memories leak back to Bernard, he goes through a moment where he saw Maeve kill herself in an “empathic response” not usual for hosts. Ford chastises him for thinking of it too much. More memories of the past, then back to the present again. Furthermore, we see Bernie asking Ford about Arnold, as cuts take us back and forth to Dolores searching out the very same man. She finds a town, one she remembers. Ford keeps on telling Bernie about Arnold wanting to actually create consciousness.  But all Bernie wants is to “go back to the beginning” of his own memories. Ford returns him to the moment of his son’s death, the “cornerstone” around which his entire host identity is built. In effect, this returns him to a state of normalcy. Tabula rasa. Starting over at the moment of his conception when Ford crafts him in the likeness of Arnold.
On and on Dolores is called out to that familiar church, through its doors, where people sit in a state of mourning, crying and raving to themselves. In a confessional-type booth Dolores sits in a chair which takes her to a lower level. It’s like the dingy basement of an ageing hospital. Corpses lay about all over the place, as if it’s a downgraded version of the lab space they have in Westworld. But out of nowhere, Dolores is in her costume again. She sees hosts in rooms going through narratives. Then, a young Ford appears shouting at Arnold in the distance. She makes it to another basement where it looks like the modern Westworld lab. Dolores goes right back to that moment where she returns to Arnold, as they sit and converse together. Two hosts lost in a cyclone-like narrative, swirling around and around again. Are they able to break free? And who’ll break first? The way this sequence is filmed, with Dolores on her own and Bernard recounting his memories of being ‘born’ as it were, is downright fascinating. Proof that Westworld is dominating in the cinematography and creative areas of the writing together.


And when Dolores comes back from downstairs, to the surface, in walks The Man in Black to horrify her. Down in the Westworld lab Clementine still holds a gun to Ford. For his part, Bernie is piecing it all together. Then he orders Clementine to pull the trigger. Only there’s a “backdoor” built into the hosts, by Bernie himself. Shiiiiiet. Now Lowe is made to put a gun to his head while the doctor leaves him. Just as the true voice of Arnold comes out, for a second.
Ford leaves and we see Bernie in the other room, pulling the trigger.


Holy fuck. This episode was a god damn roller coaster! I can’t get over this series. I love it. Either way, finale is next up and it’s titled “The Bicameral Mind” and I’m way too excited for it, to see how HBO will wow us in the lead up to another hopefully fantastic season.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by David Leslie Johnson

* For a review of the previous episode, “Go Getters” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sing Me a Song” – click here
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On the beach two girls find Tara (Alanna Masterson) washed shore, still alive and not infected. One of the girls nearly kills her, but the older one decides they won’t kill her, not if she isn’t sick. They won’t tell their community about it, or at least the older of the two won’t. At least there are still some good people left in the new world. Sad to see the youngest are already becoming desensitised to living in the post-zombie apocalypse. Although, lucky for Tara one of them was willing to do the right.
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Some time before, Heath (Corey Hawkins) and Tara survive on their own. They’re losing hope about what’s next. No gas, barely any food. Heath laments what happened at the station, when they killed those Saviors. All over food and rations. Now with Hilltop and the deal with the Saviors things are supposed to be… tolerable. However, that isn’t enough for everybody. All Heath knows is that to be honest to themselves, they’ve got to admit who they are: killers beneath it all.
Tara’s personal saviour, Cyndie (Sydney Park), tries keeping her presence secret. She leaves a passed out Tara some water, a little food, along with a spear to defend herself. When the poor girl finally wakesup she doesn’t know whether Cyndie’s there to help. So she remains sceptical. Out into the woods Tara goes, following Cyndie back to her community. The place is full of people, and firepower. Suddenly everyone rushes at the sound of a whistle, or a horn, or something. Guns are handed out to everyone. The community’s on high alert. Then the bullets start flying, as Tara runs for her life. She gets the jump on one woman, but the young girl who wanted to kill her earlier stops Tara, gun pointed. Once more Cyndie stops it, although the rest of the community – all women notably – hold their weapons on Tara. “Look, Im cool,” she tells the group. She tries talking to them, even if the place looks on edge. Who knows what’ll happen next.
Back when Tara was with Heath, they come across a bridge, old cars, tents, tarps, you name it scattered everywhere. Lots of “blind spots,” as Heath points out. They go ahead, slow, steady. They find a load of sand dumped on the bridge, covering a ton of bullet casings. When they try sifting through, one wrong pull sends the sand down on top of them, and a load of walkers crawl out from underneath. In the crowd of zombies Heath leaves Tara to fend for herself; no, you fucking didn’t, Heath!!!!! Oh, man. That is raw.

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Tara’s now handcuffed to a radiator in the head honcho Natania’s little house. She learns more about the place. They have lots of security measures. Natania wants to know about Tara. She talks a big load of shit about working on a fishing boat before, she and a friend. Smart move, girl. But the community isn’t pleased with strangers wandering in. Regardless, Tara gets an invite to the dinner table for fish stew. Things go normally, and later Natania extends another invite: for Tara to stay with them. Somewhere she can “put down roots” and be a part of their community. We again find out more about the community, that they were in a fight with another group, which left them decimated, and without any of the men who were a part of the group prior. True survivors, hiding and fending for themselves, alive, healthy, together. They trust Tara because she’s had the opportunity to hurt them and chose not to do so. She then opens up to them about her own community in Alexandria, her girlfriend, their way of living. She tells them about killing the people at the station, hoping their groups can work together. “Sooner or later youre gonna need a friend.” Natania proposes sending a guide, to help Tara find Heath, then go to Alexandria and scope out their community for safety.
They head out through the woods. When a zombie needs killing Tara offers to get it done, taking her chance to run from her guides. She fights one of the women when they cross one another. She lands on the other side of a gun, again. The woman says that The Saviors can’t be stopped, there’s no point in going home. They are everywhere, they kill everything and everyone. They’re the ones that killed this community’s men; “every man, every boy over ten, they lined them up, shot them in the head.” Those women ran from Negan and The Saviors and they’re not willing to let Tara ruin any of that. Cyndie manages to help Tara get free, and follows her away. She pleads with Tara not to tell anyone where they are out in the woods, giving her rations for the trip home. On the bridge there are tons of walkers, though. Cyndie helps Tara to get around them, providing gunfire from a car nearby as Tara runs right through the crowd. She makes it to the other side of the zombie wall eventually.


Cut back to when Heath left her on the bridge. Or did he? Nope. He comes back with a gunshot, but Tara’s forced to jump off the bridge to save herself. Now there she stands at the bridge, not sure where Heath might’ve gone. For a second she thinks he’s there on the bridge; only a lady walker with similarly braided, tied up hair. Phew. A little farther off the bridge, Tara finds Heath’s glasses, a swipe card with PPP written on it, and tire tracks.

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Out in a field she heads forward, anywhere else. She happens upon a store and some houses, an overturned boat. She keeps moving on back towards home. At the walls of Alexandria, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) sees her coming, happy as can be. But she hasn’t been back in awhile. She doesn’t know about the latest deaths, Denise, all the horror. Rosita (Christian Serratos) asks her about where she was, what happened, and true to her word Tara says she saw nothing.


This was a slower episode, but a good one. I love Tara, and Heath. They got a bit of good screentime, which I hope continues. I’m also itching to get back to Rick and Negan, too.
Next up is “Sing Me a Song” and I’m willing to bet things are going to get nasty.

Scream Queens – Season 2, Episode 6: “Blood Drive”

FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 2, Episode 6: “Blood Drive”
Directed by Mary Wigmore
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the previous episode, “Chanel Pour Homme-Icide” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Hand” – click here
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At the CURE Institute life goes on, though not exactly well. Dirty blood, all because of Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) recycling the stuff they mopped up. Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), ever the businesswoman, has Chanel #1 (Emma Roberts) organising a blood drive. That’ll likely bring some new drama to the hospital.
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We get more on Ingrid Hoffel (Kirstie Alley), whose sister was Ms. Bean – the Chanels maid from Season 1 at the sorority house. She wants revenge on those “little bitches” and she’s kept tabs on them since they were released after the whole Red Devil mess. Now, the blood drive might allow Hoffel a bit of cover to do her dirty work. The drive is now a contest, the winner getting a trip to Blood Island; actually a terrifying, war torn island full of awful insects and other gross things.
Lots of good dialogue here out of Brad Falchuk’s writing, as Chanel quips to Cathy about her “semidamp orifice” and Cathy talks sly about Dr. Brock Holt (John Stamos) with his big dick, suggesting Chanel and most of her generation already have or expect to get HPV. A totally hilarious back and forth between these two, as Brock finds himself literally stuck in the middle. In other news, Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer) wants to use the blood drive for her own investigation into the “baby in the belly” from ’85, so that they might figure things out amongst the hospital staff.
Poor Dr. Holt has more problems than just with Chanel v. Cathy. His hand replacement continues acting up, playing a knife game with himself under stress. Brock wants Chanel to get a massive STD test before they get together, even though he’s a walking hard-on. Also, Ingrid warns Brock that getting closer to Chanel could be very bad for him.

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And Hester (Lea Michele), oh Hester – she’s extremely bored. When she gets bored, she gets murderous. So it’s either find her a job, something to do all day, or a few people are going to die. Chanel goes to Munsch, landing Hester a bit of a trial period job. This involves diagnosing a guy named Brandon Sathmary (August Emerson), who’s a vampire. He has the teeth, his skin burns in the sun. He’s got a reflection, but he drinks blood “like iced tea” he gets from some creep at the Red Cross.
On an on goes the blood drive, all the new Chanels give their donations, plus #5 (Abigail Breslin) is sucked just about dry. #1 is only concerned about getting to “bone down with Dr. Hot” on Blood Island. Back at the hospital, Munsch is lurking around the blood donations. She finds #1’s packet. But the Green Meanie is also lurking, right behind her. Only to vanish into the dark without a sound. Now, the Meanie knows what Chanel is up to.
The next day, Munsch brings Dr. Holt, Hoffel, and Chanel in for the news: #1 has all the STDS; all of them. “There was a crab just floating in the sample,” Ingrid claims. Oh, my. The games Cathy likes to play. This doesn’t only ruin #1 and Brock’s plans together, sexually and otherwise. It also puts Munsch at top of the list for the blood drive. No more Blood Island for Chanel. A hilarious “O Fortuna” scene with Chanel v. Cathy in the strangest yet fucking riotous moment perhaps ever on the show. The look Brock gives Chanel then Cathy is worth a whole episode of laughs. I honestly cried, that’s how hard I laughed. Amazing scene.


Hester believes she’s diagnosed Brandon. An incurable disease, but the blood drinking is all in his head. She tells him a story about binge eating Ring Dings. Her aunt helped with a bit of Ring Ding aversion therapy, which Hester now plans to use on the vampire. Only he needs lots and lots because he’s obviously been enjoying the stuff way too much.
Oh, and Chanel, she robs herself a bunch of blood to boost the stats for her personal drive. When she goes to deposit them there’s none in her cooler. Leading away from it are drops of blood, and you just know where those are going, right? Hester’s been blood cooking: soup, sausage, tons of different dishes for Brandon. This puts Chanel awfully behind, and even though Munsch wants to be ahead she’s more hoping to put Hester back in a crazy cage.
In other news, Zayday tries keeping her investigation from Chamberlain Jackson (James Earl). He knows that she believes it’s him. He also knows all kinds of what’s going on, he’s a smart guy. We already know that Dr. Cassidy Cascade (Taylor Lautner) is the son of Jane (Trilby Glover), but could there be more to it? We know there’s always more than meets the eye on Scream Queens.
#9 is getting tapped for blood against her will, as #1 needs someone to milk other than #5. But when Dr. Holt appears, #1 runs off to try telling him she doesn’t have “sexual Ebola” or “vaginal Zika” and wants him to give her another chance, to prove herself. But he needs the proof. Then, as expected, #9 gets a visit from the Green Meanie. He’s gonna do a few tests, too. Until Ingrid walks in. She wants to help. And when she asks the Meanie to take off the mask, he does: it’s Cascade. They strike up a deal – the Meanie keeps killing, Hoffel gets the Chanels to herself. Yowzahs. Two sickos. However, Cascade reveals he didn’t kill all the victims. Someone else is posing as the Meanie, as well. Now this is very interesting.

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Hester’s trolling for blood. She wants to treat the vampire, to escape a cell again when Munsch sends her packing. In the cooler, she comes across Chamberlain, and discovers tainted blood. Oh, no. Is she planning on doing what I think?
Meanwhile, #9 is found dead, drained of all her blood. She’s a deflated football, essentially. “At some point this swamp is gonna be like 90% dead bodies,” Munsch says. She’s convinced Hester is the culprit. When they talk to her, she’s upstairs using Chanel’s supposedly STD-ridden blood.
But the reveal is Hester tested it: no STDs. A-ha, Munsch! You got got. Not only is #1 clean, she’s also winner of the blood drive, on her way to Blood Island. Except there’s issues with the flight, Chanel only goes charter. Then she decides she’ll take cash, and Ingrid’s plans are spoiled.


Chamberlain is proving himself useful to Zayday, as he winds up getting some of Jane’s saliva through a bit of food trickery. Plus, he’s AB+ and can’t be the baby in the belly. The baby, he’s O+, and he’s also a god damn doctor. Cassidy switches up the stickers on his blood, throwing the trail off a bit. This puts Dr. Holt in the firing line. Zayday and Chamberlain bring their findings to Munsch, although there’s no way the “ridiculously handsome” Brock can’t be young enough to be the baby.
There are worse things happening behind the curtain of Holt. His hand, that transplant, it is devious. I wonder what that’ll bring eventually. Down in the basement there’s more madness, with Cascade giving Ingrid her very own Green Meanie mask, bringing the tally of Meanies to three. And who’s the other one? How long until they’re revealed?

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A solid episode. Just a ton of great writing; witty, outright hilarious, and mysterious stuff. Can’t wait for “The Hand” next time.

Westworld – Season 1, Episode 8: “Trace Decay”

HBO’s Westworld
Season 1, Episode 8: “Trace Decay”
Directed by Stephen Williams
Written by Lisa Joy & Charles Yu

* For a review of the previous episode, “Trompe L’Oeil” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Well-Tempered Clavier” – click here
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Poor Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), having recently dispatched Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) at the command of his maker, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins). “The anguish, the horror, the pain; its remarkable. A thing of beauty,” Ford says watching on as his creation becomes the author of himself, in a twisted sense. There are no answers for the host that is Bernie. He only gets to help tell the new story Ford wishes to tell. He is at the command of the doctor. Nobody seems capable of stopping him, either. Not Arnold, not Bernard. Who’ll stop this man? Or, more importantly, where will he stop?
So Ford sets Lowe about deleting their ties to Theresa’s death. Once finished, the doctor will free Bernard of all his painful memories. His whole world has changed in an instant.
At the saloon, “The House of the Rising Sun” is on the player piano and Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton) starts another day. Clementine Pennyfeather is no longer who she was once, but another face on her, a new identity in the same old name. But everything is different for Maeve now, time nearly stands still and she remembers bits of another life, before the saloon and the prostitution and Sweetwater. The technicians try explaining to her that hosts are basically so perfected that they experience memories in full, rather than actual bits; they relive them. Maeve realises the memories are only just “a story” meant to enslave her. She’s determined to break out. Whether needing an army or not. She wants the technicians to give her power, to control other hosts: “Time to write my own fucking story.”
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On the plains of Westworld, William (Jimmi Simpson) and Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) ride towards Sweetwater. They stop to find a massacre in the desert. Arrows puncturing bodies, bloody spilled everywhere. One man lays still alive, barely. He gives them information about the ambush earlier. Nearby in the water Dolores sees a vision of herself, and a voice saying: “Come find me.” Very spooky. Arnold, no?
Theresa’s corpse is located in a ravine. Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) figures it was a slip and fall accident. He believes she was transmitting evidence of some sort and fell. Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) is obviously not pleased to hear that, hiding her true feelings under the surface. And of course Dr. Ford plays it off. Hale brings up the “new narrative,” that Theresa believed they ought to delay the debut. But you know Ford is a master of words, of worlds, of all sorts of devious things. Once more Bernard is the Head of Behaviour, and everything is back in working order for the doctor’s manipulations. With all that commotion, the technicians shoo Maeve off from her latest learning spree, though she’s got things worked out well enough. Plus, she knows about Arnold, at least his name. From there who knows what else she’ll discover. If those technicians don’t watch out she’s bound to get the upper hand, more than she does already.
The Man in Black (Ed Harris) rides with Teddy Flood (James Marsen), talking about how “the game is rigged” and this triggers a memory in Flood; he remembers a previous chat with Black, on another storyline. Oh, how marvellous! I love all these little pieces, slowing coming together for the hosts. They’re becoming more aware all the time. Soon, Black and Teddy come upon a massacre courtesy of Wyatt (Sorin Brouwers). “He destroyed my world,” laments Flood to one living victim. From the forest comes a massive man dressed in a minotaur outfit, swinging a weapon at Black and Flood. Soon, they take him down. But again, Teddy has flashbacks to a time before with Black, seeing him haul Dolores screaming in the night. And this time Teddy turns on his new buddy, knocking him out. Oh, shit. Didn’t see that coming. Are we about to see The Man in Black in a precarious situation? Once the hosts become aware, it’s only a matter of time before they start actually start hurting people; for real.


The technicians have Maeve up getting a few modifications. She needs to be shut down in order for them to update. Will the tech shut her down for good, or reformat her?
In other parts of the Westworld complex, Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) works on a new cannibal motif. He and Hale have a talk about Theresa, the company, all types of things. Charlotte’s trying to drive wedges between anybody and Ford. She starts in on Lee. Tsk, tsk.
And finally, Maeve comes alive. Reformatted. She’s had some changes in her “core code” and this immediately involves the cutting the throat of the tech who didn’t help her; he gets it cauterised, so it’s all good. Things are getting very, very exciting.
“Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse plays on the piano, as Maeve goes back to work in Sweetwater. Only the memories come back stronger and stronger. She sees The Man in Black come for her and her daughter. He stabs her in the gut, which she all but literally feels in the present time. The memories are even physical. Maeve now can control other hosts, programming them on a whim, from the new Clementine to the barkeep. She makes the story flow, giving them each their purpose. This gets most interesting as Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) and the crew arrive for “mayhem” as usual. Maeve manipulates the Sheriff into stepping down from any violence, though he’s killed anyways. She turns the Marshals on one another, continuing to change the narrative with every step.
Dr. Ford meets with host Bernie, talking about their new trajectory of action concerning Hale and the recent developments. “Ever the student of human nature” Bernie knows Ford is under more strain. The saddest is seeing Lowe stuck halfway somewhere between human and host, unable to distinguish what exactly is real. Not understanding his “imagined suffering.” He doesn’t know the difference between man and machine. Ford reveals this is what drove Arnold to madness eventually. Regardless, Bernie is let free from his memories by the doctor.
Merciful, or tragic? Both.


Dolores makes it back home. Except everything feels odd, something is different. Then the bodies begin to drop. The memories of those streets filled with the dead again. She sees herself, gun in hand. Ready to shoot herself. But she cuts back to standing with William in the desert. “When are we?” she asks. Her mind’s nearly melting. She loses a grip on whatever reality she’d been programmed with in the beginning. Or perhaps she gets closer to understanding where Arnold is pushing her. But William and Dolores come across Logan, and he isn’t bringing any good cheer.


Among the basement, Hale and Lee search through the warehoused hosts. They come to Dolores’ father. Charlotte wants to upload a ton of data to the host and send him back in. Yikes. She doesn’t realise exactly which host she’s picked. And she leaves Lee to program him for re-entry.
Stubbs is happy to see Bernard back. He offers condolences on what happened to Theresa, because of how close they were, and when Bernie responds with no semblance of understanding this clearly piques Stubbs in his interest. Threads are starting to show.
Out in the desert, Teddy has Black all tied up for the night. I wonder what he’ll do. For the time being he’s going to beat the shit out of him. Black responds by mocking the host. Then revealing a bit about himself, that his wife killed herself in the bath, their life disappeared. His entire life fell apart. A brutally sad tale. He talks of finding Maeve as a homesteader, too. Murdering her and her daughter. All for the feeling. Maeve didn’t die, though. She ran off bleeding with her daughter in tow. The maze “revealed itself” to Black then and there. The quest to find Arnold’s game ahead of him now, all the time.
And while we see those memories, we see Maeve slit the new Clementine’s throat in front of the saloon. Out of control. She may have stronger powers, but she can’t escape those memories. Luckily, she can make other hosts do her bidding.

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We also see Maeve after losing her child, out in the lab with Dr. Ford and Lowe. Her “cognition is fragmented” until they go to work. She wants to keep the pain, but it’s erased and stricken from the mind. Later she would be programmed as the Madam of a whore house in the saloon.
Black must best Wyatt to figure out the maze, the final steps. No matter what. Will Teddy kill The Man in Black? Or help him? He can’t pull the trigger. Not to mention the woman they saved, she stabs Teddy and kills him. She’s a mole, for Wyatt himself who waits in the shadows.
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What a wild episode! Just a great follow-up to the last one. Excitement and tension is at an all-time high in the series. Looking forward to “The Well-Tempered Clavier” next. We’re getting close to Season 1’s finish.