Tagged Gods

Westworld – Season 1, Episode 7: “Trompe L’Oeil”

HBO’s Westworld
Season 1, Episode 7: “Trompe L’Oeil”
Directed by Stephen Williams
Written by Charles Yu

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Adversary” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Trace Decay” – click here
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Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) wakes to the sound of his son’s voice. The boy is ill, his father reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to him doing all the voices. Sadly, followed by his stats dropping. Then Bernie wakes at home in bed by himself. He goes about his day testing robots, asking them questions. He works on Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) who had a “blacklisted” encounter with a guest. The man wanted to cut off a piece of him and bring it home. This did nothing to change Hector’s worldview. All is well. Except that Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) is nowhere to be found, and will she be found? Or did whoever sneaking up behind her in the dark last episode do something tragic?
Inside Westworld we’re back with William (Jimmi Simpson), Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), and their latest friend Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr). It’s a tenuous friendship, but they’re together nonetheless. All three of them have reservations, problems. William mentions his friend wanting to see “what was at the end of all this.” Sounds familiar, no? Like somebody we’ve seen searching for The Maze? Either way, soon the trio on their train roll through rough Native territory and they must tread lightly.
It doesn’t take long for Bernie to start worrying about Elsie. He’s got enough going on with Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen), anything else just makes things worse. Of course there are many more concerning things happening around Westworld. I wonder how long Lowe will let his former lover sit unknowing about what he’s found. Perhaps for the best, right now.


Upstairs, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) bangs Hector, using him as a personal sex toy. She calls a meeting with Theresa. The board is mostly only concerned with the intellectual property at Westworld. Everything outside that is secondary, or nothing at all. “But the godsthey require a blood sacrifice,” Charlotte tells Theresa. The hosts need to be revealed as dangerous. Fuck.
Over at the Mariposa, Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton) continues her days, as usual. Except, not like usual. She is enhanced; more intelligent, more aware. Everything feels off to her. She and Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafan) have their usual chat, but Maeve sees everything stop, she isn’t shut down like the others. In come a team of men. They’re actually there to take Clementine, so Maeve plays dumb, not moving. Now, this is an interesting little twist. If she isn’t subject to certain commands anymore this could lead to a few tricky situations.
William and Dolores talk on the train. He talks about only ever having books as a boy, getting lost in their imaginary world. He wants to “find out what it means.” Oh, man; is this heading where I think? The clues are all there to make him The Man in Black (Ed Harris), although I can’t see where that whole thread is heading ultimately. Maybe those breadcrumbs are just red herrings. Meanwhile, William must reject Dolores’ advances because he has a wife back home. But that only lasts a minute or two before they fall into each other’s arms.
In one of the labs Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Bernard meet with Charlotte and Theresa. They’ve got things to discuss. So Ms. Hale talks about the recent “reveries” of the certain hosts. In comes Clementine. They say she has issues. Then they have a man beat her, as everyone watches on. She’s reset and everyone repeated. Only the next time she’s attacked Clementine fights back, brutally. Kicking the shit out of her abuser. Hmm. They send Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) in to take care of the renegade host, but she won’t stop on command. Until Stubbs puts a bullet in her heart. Therefore, Theresa and Charlotte use this as ammunition to fire Lowe, as he won’t speak against Ford. Oh, the doctor doesn’t like that. Not one bit.

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Dolores tells William she’s “not a key” and that she can’t unlock anything for him. That’s all in his own mind. He feels a bit lost now all of a sudden in the whole appeal of Westworld. I’m still unable to shake the idea that he and Black may be one in the same; not sure, not yet, there is just a strong parallel between William in this episode and stuff we’ve heard from the Man in Black. Eventually the train stops, though. Lawrence sees the Confederados have them in the sights of their machine gun. And the bullets start flying.
While the trio of buddies fight off the Confederados they wind up in Ghost Nation territory, where the Confederados get slaughtered in bloody fashion. Letting Dolores, Lawrence, and William ride off literally into the sunset, though the new lovers part on their own course soon enough.
When Maeve is out in the lab again she asks the friendly technician to find out where they took Clementine. She’s up in the Body Shop. They discover her being worked on, lobotomised. Maeve has her two bumbling technicians under a thumb: “At first I thought you and the others were gods. Then I realised, youre just men. And I know men.” Now she wants out. Or else people start dying.
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At the same time Bernie confronts Theresa about “human intervention in the code” concerning the demonstration earlier. Moreover, he also feels there’s something wrong, worth sharing with her. He brings Theresa out where Ford’s little memory house sits in a corner of the park. There, they head downstairs to another lab where hosts are built where hosts are rendered. Theresa finds the blueprint for several hosts, including Robert, Dolores, as well as one that looks strikingly similar to Bernard. Then Ford comes upon the two in his hidden basement. “Youre a fucking monster,” Theresa tells him.
All is clear. Jesus. WOW, I never once guessed. That’s why there are only memories of his previous life – his boy, his life as a  father. Oh my god. A moment of true devastation. Ford sees it otherwise. The hosts are free; under his hand. He ordered Bernie to bring Theresa there, to kill her. One problem solved for the now very terrifying doctor.


What a quality bit of writing. I’d honestly never considered this possibility, I can only imagine what else Westworld has in store for us. The twists and turns are there, waiting to unfold. Ought to be quite intriguing where this all heads next.
The following episode is titled “Trace Decay” – what will be revealed?

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Immortals a.k.a Greek Mythology on Steak and Eggs

Immortals. 2011. Directed by Tarsem Singh. Screenplay by Charley & Vlas Parlapanides.
Starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, Joseph Morgan, Anne Day-Jones, Greg Bryk, Alan Van Sprang, Peter Stebbings, Daniel Sharman, Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz, & Steve Byers. Relativity Media/Virgin Produced/Mark Canton Productions.
Rated 18A. 110 minutes.
Action/Drama/Fantasy

★★★★
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Tarsem Singh is an interesting director. He has music video sensibilities, which is where he really got his start doing videos for such artists as En Vogue and more important R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” and it helps because his films have their own sort of flow. He doesn’t direct like everybody else. And while not all his films are that special, some of his work is undeniably impressive, visually exciting, and with a flair all his own. The Cell grabbed me when when it first came out, around the time I was about 15. It is such a unique and brutal serial killer film, and one of the three movies I can actually stand, as well as enjoy, Jennifer Lopez’s acting skills. The Fall is a beautiful film, a trippy piece of cinema. Then comes Immortals.
This is one hugely underrated action-fantasy mash-up. Whereas stuff like Clash of the Titans never really hits its mark, Immortals has so much to offer. Again, the visual style Singh employs makes this into, as he describes it himself, an action movie steeped in the look of Renaissance paintings. In addition, people like Mickey Rourke, a pre-Superman Henry Cavill, Luke Evans, even a bit of John Hurt, helps the acting rise above standard and stale melodrama you might amongst other similar offerings.
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This screenplay is interesting because the writers chose to change pieces where they found themselves able. For instance, Zeus and Poseidon (Luke Evans/Kellan Lutz) are young men instead of the standardized old men we’re used to seeing. They apparently attributed this to the fact, and it is fact, that the Greeks themselves would often adapt certain aspects of the stories re: their Gods to in turn adapt with modern issues and times. So it’s only fitting some things get rearranged. Most of all, despite the stylized look of Immortals I’m glad that they chose to write this not as a modernized, contemporary adaptation. Due to that we’re treated to some amazing locations, many wonderfully designed sets which take you away from merely some desert, to the desert of another plane, a place where Tartarus and other mythical locations exist. Something I admire about Singh is how it’s very clear even as a director he takes great interest in set design, as well as design of the overall production. I’m convinced that’s a sign of a director’s grasp, as lesser directors likely leave that task completely to a production designer without having a hand in it. The style of Singh’s films is singular across them all. Like The Cell with its ability to take us inside the deranged and rotting mind of a serial killer, here Singh transforms the world in front of the lens into a lost place of Greek myth. He and production designer Tom Foden (who has worked with him before several times and other solid films like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and Mark Romanek’s chiller One Hour Photo) really take us away to another realm. These types of films concerning Greek mythology could easily be set simply in regular deserts and other similar landscapes. Instead we’re pulled right into the books and poems which describe Heaven, Tartarus, an Earth where Gods still came and left their mark.
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As opposed to 300 with its CGI, Cavill’s physique as the lead, Theseus, is commendable work. He insisted on achieving his chiseled look naturally instead of having it all drawn on in post-production. The entire story behind it is mad, as financing troubles ended up having him effectively build up his body a few times before the money finally went through. Regardless, he also does some proper acting. So that’s really a double threat when it comes to action-oriented actors, which he’s turning out more and more to be; he can act, he can look the part and kick some ass. He does well with the choreographed fight sequences, which show off his athleticism, and in part his theatricality. It’s no wonder he’s gone on to even bigger things, as he has the gait and attitude of a Hollywood leading man.
Further than that, Rourke provides the essential villain that is Hyperion. In actual mythology, Hyperion is a little obscure, and though the film’s plot/story are linked quite a bit to the Titanomachy he also barely appears there at all anyways. So the writers have really come up with using Hyperion as a tabula rasa, where the Titan rebellion is sort of thrown on his shoulders, as he searches out the Epirus Bow to release them and find revenge on the Gods. Rourke is unsettling, even just Hyperion and his men are scary, scarring their faces and smashing the genitals of their recruits, going into battle like complete and utter savages. The ruggedness of Rourke makes for an imposing character in Hyperion, plus he looks absolutely mental with the big helmet on, such a perfect costume design that makes him look like some kind of jackal, or something of the like.
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Added to these two lead roles, Evans is great as a young Zeus. He is a serious looking dude to begin with, and here he gives that youthful God a stern, calculating gaze, and fierce intensity that makes him formidable. Playing the oracle Phaedra is Freida Pinto; she is a nice choice, even if her role isn’t as massive as the men. But her feminine power as the oracle, a respected and revered role, is clear by the way she performs and how she makes the character feel. Also, really have to mention Robert Maillet – he plays the Minotaur, who in this version is just a massive, beastly man with a helmet and horns made from barbed wire-like steel wrapped around his head; terrifying. Maillet used to perform in the WWE, before it was WWE, as the wrestler Kurrgan. He does well here with a horrifying character. Honestly, that part actually freaks me out, and I’m a horror veteran. Great to see him here, using his physicality no less.
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Lots of action, plenty excitement, a nice ass kicking showdown between Hyperion and Theseus. What more could you want? There are a couple pieces of CGI that I wasn’t big on, as well as some dialogue in parts (Stephen Dorff’s character wasn’t overly well written or at all developed; his acting doesn’t help much either). But overall, Immortals is a 4-star fantasy flick with heavy action, even some nice moments of bloody madness. Cavill, Rourke, and Evans too, they drive the cast, making this more than action fodder with a Greek mythology twist. Straying slightly from the myths and carving their own path, Tarsem Singh and Co. make a fine effort out of this one. Not enough people give this the credit it deserves, which is a shame. Let’s hope after a few missteps Singh does more fantastical work like this and The Cell down the road.