Dissonance Theory is the fourth episode of Westworld, and the fourth episode of the first season. The episode was co-written by Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Nolan, and directed by Vincenzo Natali.


Dolores joins William and Logan on a bounty hunt in the badlands. The Man in Black, with Lawrence in tow, finds a critical clue in his search to unlock the maze. Dr. Ford and Theresa discuss the future of the park. Maeve is troubled by a recurring vision.

–Official Synopsis


Bernard, Ford and Theresa

The episode begins with another meeting between Dolores and Bernard. Bernard offers to switch off Dolores' feelings of grief over her dead parents, yet Dolores refuses, claiming that her grief is the only thing she has left of them; it appears that this response was not entirely scripted. As the conversation progresses, Dolores reveals that she feels that there is either something wrong with her world or with herself, and that she may be losing her mind. Bernard mentions a secret game: the maze. The goal of this game is to find the center of the maze, at which point Dolores may be "set free". Dolores replies that she thinks she wants to be free.

Theresa interrogates Elsie over the stray, asking what caused it to go off loop. Theresa goes on to tell Elsie and Bernard that her team is taking over the situation, much to Elsie's chagrin. Afterwards, Elsie warns Bernard that the hosts' aberrant behavior is more than just a glitch, but Bernard brushes her off, telling her she is just imagining things.

After sexual relations, Bernard tells Theresa that she looks stressed. Theresa replies that she has to see Robert Ford due to the chaos his new story-line is causing, afraid the board will descend upon them. Bernard gives Theresa advice and they end up kissing.

Dr. Ford warns Theresa to stay out of his way.

Theresa meets with Ford, while a huge bucket-wheel excavator digs land for his new story-line, with the hosts intended for Lee Sizemore's rejected story-line seen to be working towards Ford's new endeavor. Sensing Theresa's intention to stall his new story-line, Ford takes her to the restaurant at the Agave Plantation.

Theresa mentions that this restaurant is one she visited as a child and that she may be sitting in the same seat she did back then. Responding to Ford, Theresa tells him that when she started working at Westworld, she realized it would be something she would not enjoy. Ford tells Theresa that Westworld was originally intended as something different, and that he had a bet with Arnold over 100 hopeful story-line; Ford lost the bet because no one took these story-lines up. Ford continues, claiming that Arnold was very cynical towards mankind, preferring the hosts and begging Ford to not let corporate influence affect the park. Ford states that to them, Westworld was not a business venture or a theme park, but an entire world, in which they designed every detail: making them gods and corporate the guests. While saying this, Ford silently has every restaurant employee stop moving, revealing that they are hosts. Ford explains to Theresa that Arnold lost his perspective and went mad, unlike himself, who has always seen things very clearly. Ford goes on to say that he knows everything about his guests, but his employees too. In doing this he reveals to Theresa that he knows about her relationship with Bernard, and follows this with a thinly veiled threat towards her to stay out of his way. Theresa gets up to leave, clearly disturbed.

Dolores and William

Dolores wakes up with a gun in her hand next to William, who she thanks. Upon noticing William's interest in Dolores, Logan cynically explains to him that the Westworld employees have sent her to give him something to care about. Logan tells William that the company should bump their stake in Westworld because they are able to give even William something he enjoys. Upset, William asks Logan whether the trip was just meant to be business, to which Logan coldly replies that in their family everything is business.

Lawrence's daughter draws the Westworld game map in the sand for Dolores.

Later, a Westworld employee warns Stubbs that Dolores may be deviating from her loop, but it is hard to tell considering Ford's new story-lines have caused so much chaos. He says that Dolores will be retrieved. At the same village (Las Mudas) that the Man in Black visited with Lawrence, Dolores begins talking to the young girl, Lawrence's Daughter, that gave the Man in Black the clue about the maze. As they speak, Dolores hears a voice saying the word "remember". A host finds Dolores and tries to make her return to the ranch, but William intervenes and tells the host that she is with him. Dolores decides to stay with William as part of his bounty hunt story-line to find the criminal Slim with Logan and Holden.

During the night, William questions Dolores on why she is able to leave her zone or path. Dolores responds that she used to think that everyone has a path, but had never questioned where those paths would lead. Dolores begins to wonder whether there is a place for her "beyond all this", a sentiment which William is able to relate to. Dolores has a flashback to an earlier moment where she was on the ground staring at the moon and saw a Westworld employee in a protective suit standing over her.

Slim is captured

Before assaulting Slim and his men while they hold a family hostage, William tells Dolores to stay away because she can get hurt, unlike him. Holden, Logan and William kick in the door and open fire, killing Slim's men and capturing Slim.

Further on, Slim attempts to negotiate with Logan, telling him that he can receive twice the amount of the bounty from his friends in Pariah. Logan responds by shooting Holden, telling William that they have stumbled upon an Easter egg and to go "black hat" with him. William angrily asks Logan why he is acting so evil in the park but Logan responds to William that it is only a game. Logan tells Slim to take them to Pariah.

Man in Black

At the Blood Arroyo, Lawrence tries to convince the Man in Black to give up his search for the maze and to head to Pariah instead. The Man in Black disregards this, before spotting Armistice washing in the river and realizing that her snake tattoo could be the "snake" in the clue he was given by Lawrence's daughter. As Armistice approaches the duo, her men surround them with guns drawn. Unfazed, the Man in Black asks Armistice where she is headed, killing two of her men to make space in their group.

Later, Armistice kills two hosts upon getting information from them and continues riding with the Man in Black and Lawrence.

Man in Black meets Armistice

At Armistice's campsite at night, a guest approaches the Man in Black and thanks him, stating that the Man in Black's foundation saved his sister's life. The Man in Black responds aggressively, telling the guest that this is his vacation and to leave him alone. Lawrence explains to the Man in Black about Armistice's plan to obtain something from a prison. Not wanting to waste any time, the Man in Black tells Armistice that he intends to go to the prison himself and retrieve the thing she is looking for. Armistice asks him what his price is for this, to which the Man in Black responds is only information, specifically the story behind her snake tattoo. The Man in Black goes on to mention Arnold, claiming that he broke his own rule of being unable to die in Westworld by actually dying there, leaving behind one story he had meant to tell. The Man in Black claims that he is honoring Arnold's legacy, pursuing a game with "real violence". Armistice agrees to this deal and lets him go with Lawrence, giving him a single match that he asks for.

In an armored carriage, the Man in Black and Lawrence are handcuffed, accompanied by Deputy Roe. The Man in Black offers a cigar to Deputy Roe, who steals them from him save one. The Man in Black turns to Lawrence, explaining to him that he is fixed in a loop and that he is actually here to set him free.

Outside the Los Diablos Prison, Deputy Foss berates Deputy Roe for not realizing who Lawrence was. The Man in Black tells Foss that Lawrence would prefer to be killed by firing squad, and Foss obliges, telling Deputy Roe to lock the Man in Black up while they prepare to execute Lawrence.

Teddy is found tied to a tree.

While in his jail cell, it is revealed that the Man in Black is locked up with Hector. The Man in Black refers to Hector as a "prized poodle", locked in a cycle, and asks Hector about his worldview. Hector responds that only the truly brave can understand the world, by accepting that everything will end badly and no one will be saved. The Man in Black tells Hector that instead of having to wait three days to be broken out of the prison, they can break out now. The Man in Black's cigar is revealed to actually contain small explosives and therefore he lights it with the match given to him by Armistice and destroys the lock of the prison cell. This small explosion is shown to be flagged and permitted by the Westworld employees.

As they leave the prison, Deputy Roe's lit cigar blows his own head up before he can intervene. Just as Lawrence is about to be killed via firing squad, the Man in Black and Hector arrive on the scene and kill Deputy Foss and his men, saving Lawrence's life once more in the same fashion as before.

Back with Armistice's group, a grateful Hector tells the Man in Black that they could use him for the saloon heist. The Man in Black responds that he only wants to speak with Armistice and that Hector will not find what he is looking for in the saloon safe. Keeping up her end of the deal, Armistice tells the Man in Black that Wyatt's men killed her entire village when she was a child. Following this, her snake tattoo is colored in with blood step by step for every one of Wyatt's men she kills, leaving only the uncolored head of the snake for Wyatt himself.

The Man in Black and Lawrence ride after Wyatt. Lawrence tells the Man in Black that they are crazy for going after him, as he believes it will get them both killed. They happen upon Teddy, who is bloody and strung up by rope on a tree. Teddy begs the Man in Black to kill him, but the Man in Black refuses, cutting him down.


Armistice guards the saloon as it's being robbed

At the saloon, a troubled Maeve speaks to Clementine. During their conversation, Maeve suddenly remembers Clementine as having been shot in the head, followed by the appearance of a Westworld employee wearing a protective suit.

In her bedroom, Maeve sketches the suit on a piece of paper and attempts to hide it under a floorboard. Opening the floorboard, she is shocked to discover many copies of the same sketch already there.

Later, a group of Native American hosts pass through and a young girl drops a wooden figurine, which appears to be modeled after the protective suit worn by the Westworld employees. She picks it up and asks the girl where it was from, but is told by a bystander host that it is part of their unintelligible religion.

Maeve discovers a bullet from her stomach, proving she had been shot.

Back at the saloon, Maeve recognizes one of Hector's men. Clementine asks her if Hector is the one that lives with the Native American "savages", to which Maeve replies in the affirmative.

As he rides into town with Armistice, Hector's saloon heist begins once more, this time accompanied by some guests. Once Hector is in the saloon, Maeve puts a gun to his head and demands that they talk alone. Upstairs, Maeve shows him a drawing of a figure she had seen, offering to give him the combination to the safe in return for answers.

As guests are revealed to be coming to the park in 20 minutes, the Westworld employees decides to jam Hector's group's weapons to end the heist early. Hector tells Maeve that the figure is a "shade" that the Native Americans make figurines of.

Hector and Maeve share a frenzied kiss as bullets fire through the door.

They believe them to be from hell, sent to oversee our world. Maeve tells Hector that she thought she was crazy, yet she knows she got shot in the stomach and that she saw the strange figure standing over her, even though it later seemed as though it never happened due to no resulting wound. Maeve makes a cut into her stomach and has Hector dig out the bullet from inside, convincing Maeve that she is not crazy at all. Realizing nothing matters, Maeve begins to kiss Hector passionately as Sheriff Reed and his posse shoot bullets through the door.

Maeve's Memory Sequence

Vincenzo Natali, director of "Dissonance Theory," shared the storyboard of Maeve's memory sequence.[1]


Main Cast

Supporting Cast


The title

  • "Dissonance" is used in a few ways, it can mean:
    • "Cognitive Dissonance". A state of mental conflict, this appears to be the way it's used in the title and by the programmers at Delos.
    • lack of harmony among musical notes. e.g. "an unusual degree of dissonance for such choral styles"
    • lack of agreement or harmony between people or things. e.g. "the party faithful might be willing to put up with such dissonance among their candidates"
    • "Dissonance in Poetry". The deliberate avoidance of rhyme - patterns of repeated vowel sounds
    • "Cultural Dissonance". The uncomfortable sense experienced by people in the midst of change in their cultural environment.
  • Maeve's finding of drawings in her floorboard, things that she did not remember drawing, is reminiscent of a key plot point in "Memento", a movie by Westworld TV series co-creator, writer and director Jonathan Nolan.


Hector Escaton: "What does it mean?"
Maeve Millay: “That I’m not crazy after all and that none of this matters.”

Logan: "If you're so concerned about her well-being, then I'll just blow her brains out and the park will come get her."
William: "Hey, hey. Can you please just top trying to kill or fuck everything?"

Bernard Lowe (to Elsie Hughes): "The hosts don't imagine things, you do. That's not Orion. There are three stars in Orion's belt, not four."

Clementine: "Penny for your thoughts."
Maeve: "Ever had something on the tip of your tongue and no matter how much you try to recall it, it slips away?"
Clementine: "Most things touch the tip of my tongue I'm happy to forget."

Bernard: "There's something I'd like you to try. It's a game, a secret. It's called The Maze."
Dolores: "What kind of a game is it?"
Bernard: "It's a very special game kind of game, Dolores. The goal is to find the center of it. If you can do that, then maybe you can be free."
Dolores: "I think...I think I want to be free."


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