Now this has been hailed as the greatest show in the history of tv basically so I figured I’d give it a shot even the premise of a “sci-fi western” gives me pause. It makes me think of that movie Cowboys and Aliens, which I wasn’t exactly a fan of. I didn’t know a whole lot about the show going in. It’s based on a movie from the ’70s that I never saw and there was some buzz about the violence and sexual nature of the show which you can read about here.
The episode opens with a “terrified” Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) answering questions in a voice-over conversation with Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) about how much she appreciates the order of the universe and understands that the newcomers are just looking for a place to be free and live out the possibilities.
It’s alluded to several times that the experience is quite expense. We follow Teddy Flood (James Marsden) from his arrival on the train to the local saloon. He comes across Abernathy in the town square and she acknowledges that it isn’t his first visit to town. They ride out of town on horseback and return to her house after dark. Flood senses something out of place and finds two burglars have killed Abernathy’s parents.
Lowe points out to Abernathy that there is no such thing as a chance encounter for her. That she has been built to provide what the town’s “newcomers” want. They can do whatever they want to you but you cant hurt them.
The Gunslinger (Ed Harris) shows up and challenges Flood to a shootout. He shoots Flood but Flood can’t hurt him back. And Gunslinger takes Abernathy into the barn to have his way with her.
This new knowledge doesn’t change Abernathy’s world view. She still feels lucky to be alive and views it as beautiful.
The system resets and we are presented with our first view of the lab that creates the town’s citizens for the paying visitors. Lowe and Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) discuss the progress made with the robots? Is that what they are called? I’m going with robots.
The cycle repeats with Abernathy waking up at home and talking to her father on the porch before heading into town. There are other small differences in this cycle such as Flood’s conversation with other townspeople and the Gunslinger helping Abernathy with her groceries before heading into the saloon.
When one of the newcomers and his wife join the sheriff on an adventure in the mountains to find an bandit, the sheriff robot starts to glitch. Back at the lab, Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) argue about the importance of the overall narrative versus the safety of the guests. Sizemore convinces everyone that the glitch is nothing to be concerned with.
Abernathy’s father finds a photograph in the fields of someone in Times Square and seems contemplative as to what sort of place that could possibly be.
As night falls, another host (that’s what the robots are called) glitches and goes off script so Lowe, Cullen and Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth, yeah those Hemsworths) move into town and freeze the scene to take away the malfunctioning host. They also plan to recall all of the newly updated hosts to make sure that there are no other faulty ones.
Lowe is tasked with telling Ford, who explains that this proves they have caught up with evolution and that this is as good as the hosts will get.
The third cycle opens the same as the others, with Abernathy waking up at home but when she goes outside she finds her father is glitching and she doesn’t understand what is going on. He tells her to flee town. “Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” he explains which to be honest seems pretty appropriate so far.
She hurries into town to find the doctor and comes across Flood, the same way she did in cycle one, but before they can head back to the house to help her father, wanted man Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) moves into town and starts trouble. His followers shoot hosts throughout town while he robs the saloon.
Flood is shot trying to protect Abernathy from the bandits and in the aftermath as the scientists clean up the town, she is taken back to the lab where she is still hyperventilating. Stubbs questions her about whether or not she questions her existence.
Meanwhile, Ford questions her father and finds that he has access to his pre-glitch incarnation though when explaining that he still glitches. He wants to meet his maker to exact revenge.
Abernathy is reset and Stubbs reveals she is actually the oldest host in the park. Her father though, has been decommissioned and replaced with a new host.
The Gunslinger also has another shootout with a host and takes the top of his scalp, which has what appears to be a map on it as he rides away from town by himself.
The episode ends with evidence that Abernathy might be a bit more sentient than she seemed though. A recurring theme in the episode was that the hosts “wouldn’t hurt a fly” and we are left with a parting shot of Abernathy smacking a fly on her neck.
Overall I liked the show. I’m curious to see if Abernathy lied to Stubbs or malfunctioned as a result of the reset. It will also be interesting to see which hosts gain awareness and what they do with it. I’d be willing to be there is a rebellion in the future.