Season One, Episode Four — “Dissonance Theory”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. If Dr. Ford has a god complex, it’s definitely of the vengeful, angry Old Testament sort, imposing arbitrary rules and ripping worlds asunder just as happily as he creates them. When his authority is questioned by the likes of Bernard or Theresa, he doesn’t just pull out all the psychological stops, he calls upon his signature droopy-eyed, icy Hopkins stare to ensure his underlings understand that he is, in fact, king of the mountain.
At this point, there’s no doubt that Ford is aware of Bernard’s meetings with Dolores, just as he’s fully aware of his casual dalliances with Theresa. Is he that confident in his omniscience that he can remain unconcerned with all the undermining goings-on in his park? Or has he been grooming Bernard this entire time, as Bernard thinks he’s been grooming Dolores? The issue of whether or not to allow Dolores her free will weighs heavily on Bernie, but perhaps the choice (or free will) is not his own. As he walks Dolores through issues of loss, asking if she’d like him to remove the memory of her parents’ gruesome death, she responds with his exact words: “The pain is all I have left of them.” All the while we must envision Dr. Ford watching closely from above – perhaps he figured out the top of the triangle after all, and is observing a sentient being of his own making bestow perception on another man-made creature.
That’s but one of the manifold rabbit holes we can jump down in “Dissonance Theory”, an episode that introduces new characters meant to navigate all this serpentine imagery. Wyatt is still out there, holding clues that will bring The Man in Black closer to solving the Arnold mystery. The Man in Black seems to have found the blood arroyo (presumably the stream in which Armistice was bathing) and the snake from Lawrence’s daughter’s riddle. Armistice’s extensive tattoo implies that perhaps Wyatt has been a part of a few storylines before, and was not just recently fabricated to give Teddy a concrete goal. Wyatt must feature prominently in Ford’s new storyline, and Arnold is surely a motivating factor. Is Dr. Ford finally drawing The Man in Black to the center of the maze to confront him himself? With all this black hat/white hat pageantry and Dante-esque concentric mazes, surely some sort of divine justice is about be served.
“Limit your emotional affect, please.” – Bernard, to Dolores. File that under Lines I’ll Use in the Future.
“I think there may be something wrong with this world… or something wrong with me.” – Dolores.
“One match, one pistol and one idiot. I’ll take those odds.” – Armistice.
“Go black hat with me.” – Logan, to William.
“I’m not crazy and none of this matters.” – Maeve, piling on the nihilism.
BEST MOMENT: Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) close “Dissonance Theory” with an intensely acted scene in which Hector assists Maeve in carving a bullet fragment out of her torso. Maeve’s cognitions were wracked with dissonance the past few episodes, as she kept flashing back to previous lives, deaths, and men in Hazmat suits. Finding the magic bullet only proves her most nihilistic and eye-opening revelation – that none of this matters. She no longer has to fear the dark caverns of her own mind, as her dreams are now proven not to be hallucinations, but memories. She seemed to gain an eerie strength and resolution with this discovery. As Hector said to The Man in Black, “Only brave men can look at the world and see that all of it will end badly.”
EPISODE’S MVP: We’re getting somewhere with The Man in Black. Ed Harris is much more enjoyable as the Gunslinger now, as his character begrudgingly allows himself to have a good time. Exchanging one-liners with various outlaws (Lawrence, Hector, Armistice), we see he shines amidst the darker side of things. Of course, this is where we’re supposed to ask ourselves if this motley crew really are the “bad guys,” or if the casualties in their wake are necessary to a more noble cause. Either way, suddenly a handful of hosts and guests alike have a shared target in Wyatt, so we should find out what Dr. Ford is cooking up in his brand new storyline fairly soon.
DOWN THE BARREL:
– Dolores’ affirmations (and reaffirmations) that she believes she “wants to be free” lodged this firmly in my head for the remainder of the episode. You’re welcome.
– I know it’s easy to make connections when you’re specifically looking for them, but The Man in Black’s adamant refusal to speak of his foundation (which seems to have humanitarian and/or healthcare roots) pops up as we learn a little more about William’s entry by marriage into what seems to be a family business empire. That, in addition to Logan’s appeal to William to “go black hat,” does nothing but convince me a little more that William is a young Man in Black. This is going to be embarrassing when I’m proven wrong.
– The player piano gave us (what I am still only 85% sure was) a version of The Cure’s “The Forest” this week.
– For every “Dr. Ford has a God Complex” point that’s driven home, there comes an unlikely messianic shadow in the Man in Black. He asks Lawrence, “What if I told you I’m here to set you free?” upon interrupting his execution yet again. When thrown in the lockup, The Man in Black tells Hector that he is Hector’s salvation. This is a curious setup.
7.5 out of 10
Next: “Contrapasso,” soon.
Before: “The Stray,” here.