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Westworld Was Hiding One of Its Biggest Secrets in Plain Sight

This post contains frank discussion of a few major plot points from Westworld Season 2, Episode 7, “Les Écorchés”—including the long-awaited location of the mysterious Valley Beyond. This is also where you can find a link to the latest episode of Vanity Fair’s companion podcast, Still Watching: Westworld. This week, Richard Lawson and Joanna Robinson break down the show’s twists and turns, and speak with actor Jeffrey Wright about the latest Bernard/Arnold revelations.

You can also find a complete rundown of the allusions and hints you might have missed in the episode here. But in the meantime, this post is here to dive deep into the latest revelations about Westworld’s mysterious Valley Beyond. If you’ve yet to watch the episode and would prefer not to be spoiled on any of this, we’ll let Dr. Ford give you your cue to leave.

This week’s episode ends in the “present-day” timeline, with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) revealing to Charlotte (Tessa Thompson), Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård), Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), and Costa (Fares Fares) the location of Peter Abernathy’s “control unit,” a.k.a. his mind egg or “pearl.” Bernard is extremely precise: Sector 16, Zone 4.

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Strand responds that they now have to go “back” to the Valley Beyond, implying that the location everyone’s been talking about all season is somewhere we, the audience, have already been. And of course we have; Westworld loves hiding its mysteries in plain sight. Back in Episode 1 of this season, Costa also pulled up Sector 16, Zone 4 on his tablet, and identified it as a place where a number of the hosts were clustered. If you squint, you can see the coordinates near his thumb.

And when Strand, Costa, Stubbs, and Bernard rolled up to Sector 16, Zone 4 later on in that episode, someone even said the valley was just beyond the cliffs.

That means someone—Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), Bernard, or someone else—had already gotten to the valley, flooded it, and filled it with all those dead Host bodies we saw in the premiere. (Including James Marsden’s Teddy.)

So what Dolores, et. al. want or wanted was likely at the bottom of that ocean. Thankfully, we won’t have to keep guessing as to what that might be. Because Strand’s team is hard at work pulling the Host bodies out . . .

. . . and draining the Valley.

Of course, we’ve also seen that Valley before when a younger William took Dolores to see it back in Episode 2, “Reunion.”

Though some Westworld fans had already guessed the location, now we know for certain where the Valley Beyond is. As for what it is: the implication in this episode is that beneath all that water, there’s a massive server that stores, as Dolores evocatively puts it, the “souls” of all the humans that Delos has been observing and “copying” over the years. Last week in an explainer video about a similar server—the now-destroyed Cradle/CR4-DL—Jonathan Nolan pointed out that the whole contraption was kept cool by water, a much more “efficient” and “creepier” way to regulate the temperature than your standard air-coolant system. Could there be enough water in whatever file storage Delos had in the Valley to result in a flood of that magnitude? It seems unlikely. But then again, Delos has been collecting data on a lot of Guests over the years.

Now that we know what and where the Valley Beyond is, the next question is what will happen when everyone gets there. In this episode, Bernard establishes the stakes of the next three episodes. It’s a race to the Valley, and he’s determined to get there first.

Of course, he’ll have to beat Dolores, who has a head start.

Maeve also has reason to at least get near the Valley. Sector 16 is right next door to where her daughter is, currently in the company of Ghost Nation.

If she recovers from her wounds, I imagine she’ll make her way there as soon as she can. She has a promise to keep. We also already know that William is on his way to destroy the server in the Valley. He told Lawrence as much earlier in the season. So if William, like Maeve, survives those wounds, he’ll be present for a final showdown.

And what does the Valley have to do with the Door? That’s a great question. Ford implied they might be related; while still inside the CR4-DL he told Bernard that they must open “the Door,” and is also urging Bernard to head to the Valley. We also found out in this episode that Abernathy’s mind control unit is not just data: it’s a “Key” to decrypting the server in the Valley. Westworld is rarely accidental in its terminology, so rest assured that Abernathy’s “Key” and “the Door” are related.

One last chronology reminder in this ever-complicated show. What we see in this episode—Bernard fresh out of the CR4-DL, Dolores with her dad’s bloody control unit, Maeve on the table, and William riddled with bullets on the ground—all took place before the Valley flooded. One of these characters clearly found it and did some damage before the scene in which Bernard reveals the location of Sector 16, Zone 4 to Charlotte. That’s after the flood. Could he be trapping Charlotte and leading her to her fate? Let’s go back to the tape . . .

. . . hmmm. I wouldn’t be surprised.

(C)

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