|“||Dreams are mainly memories. You imagine how fucked we’d be if these poor assholes ever remembered what the guests do to them?||”|
–Elsie Hughes, in "Chestnut"
Elsie Hughes is a Main character in the sci-fi western TV series, Westworld. She is a rising star in the Behavior Lab and Diagnostics Dept. She diagnoses behavior problems in Westworld’s hosts, as well as programming them prior to entry into the park. Hughes is played by Shannon Woodward.
Elsie is a programmer for the Delos theme park, Westworld. She is Bernard Lowe's assistant and works alongside him in the Behavior Lab and Diagnostics division of the Westworld Mesa Hub. She seems affectionate to some of the hosts, especially the females: she is shown treating Dolores gently. and also steals a kiss from the Old Clementine Pennyfeather who was offline. Elsie sees herself as the smartest person in the room. She is tenacious, smart, and quick-witted; she can also be impulsive.
Elsie and Bernard Lowe discover reveries in some of the hosts, following the update of about ten percent of the population of Westworld, including Clementine, which seems to have caused problems. Bernard attributes this to Dr. Robert Ford's making the hosts look more real. Elsie later helps diagnose the cause of Walter's violence in the saloon, which almost put the newcomers in danger. As a consequence, the manager of QA, Theresa Cullen, has them recall the upgraded hosts for diagnostics. Following a staged bloodbath in the town of Sweetwater, Elsie (in Westworld period costume) accounts for Dolores Abernathy and Teddy Flood, the latter having been shot in the massacre.
Elsie asks permission to rebuild the Old Peter Abernathy but Bernard refuses. When Narrative increased Maeve Millay's aggressiveness to make her more attractive to new guests, Elsie modifies the host's personality, increasing her ability to read people. An assistant asks if Hosts dream and Elsie admits that they have given the Hosts the concept, but as a safety measure: if their past narratives have not been fully wiped, Hosts deal with remaining memories as nightmares.
Elsie and Ashley Stubbs team up to find the missing Woodcutter host. They visit the woodcutters' camp in Python Pass and Elsie notices that the host had been carving strange markings into his wood carvings. Stubbs says that the markings are the Orion constellation, and Elsie wonders how a host could carve that while it wasn't in its programming. Elsie finds the lost host stuck in a crevasse, and Stubbs rappels into the crevasse to retrieve the Woodcutter's head. The host breaks out of Sleep Mode, grabs a boulder, and and approaches Elsie, who tries to shut it down through her tablet. The Woodcutter bashes in its own head with the boulder
Elsie approaches Destin from Livestock Management and threatens to reveal his "necro-perv" activities with the hosts, if he doesn't let her examine the Woodcutter. He gives her five minutes before the host is incinerated. She finds a laser-based satellite up-link in the host's arm and shows it to Bernard.
Elsie heads to Sector 3 to figure out who is responsible for the corporate espionage. Elsie believes that Theresa must be responsible because she was the last to have logged into the relay. Elsie starts to download information from the relay, but before she finishes she hears a noise, and someone grabs her from behind.
Elsie appears in a memory that Bernard sees before Ford wipes his memory. In this memory, Bernard appears to strangle Elsie. It is unclear whether Bernard has killed Elsie, but he has this memory right after he asks Ford whether Ford has ever made him hurt someone like he hurt Theresa.
Bernard regains his memories and one of them is of him appearing to strangle Elsie. Bernard believes that he killed her.
Her signal is discovered in Sector 20, prompting Ashley to go and investigate her whereabouts. He is subsequently ambushed by some Ghost Nation hosts who do not respond to his voice commands.
Elsie is revealed to have been incapacitated by Bernard and chained up in an isolated cave in Sector 22 so that she would not interfere with Ford's plans. Bernard finds her in the cave and releases her, but she is reasonably distrustful and steals his gun. Bernard explains that he was forced by Ford to bring her to the cave, before starting to break down. He gives Elsie his tablet, which is open to his diagnostic program and reveals his host nature. Elsie is initially stunned, but when Bernard begs her to help him she reluctantly complies, putting him into safe mode and saying he needs to answer for some things. When Bernard wakes up after having been forcefully put in safe mode, Elsie explains that she altered his code to ignore the physical damage to his body, but he won't last long without cortical fluid. After tying him up she tries to leave, thinking he will be saved by the security team, but Bernard catches up to her and reveals that Delos is refusing to rescue them. While trying to figure out their next move, Bernard remembers a facility located in the cave that is being used to experiment with the DNA of guests. They head down and encounter a drone host, which a terrified Elsie kills. Bernard once again starts to break down and so Elsie shuts him down so she can repair him.
Bernard wakes up after Elsie successfully gives him more cortical fluid. She demands to know if Bernard is actually in control or if he is just following Ford's order, to which Bernard replies that it really is him. Elsie states that she still doesn't trust him for attacking her but needs his help. Hearing a bang coming from behind the door, Elsie shoots the lock off and goes inside with Bernard. Inside, they discover the lab containing the scarred malfunctioning human-host hybrid of James Delos. The hybrid attempts to attack Elsie, but Bernard incapacitates it. The two leave the chamber and Elsie turns on a terminal which incinerates the chamber and the hybrid with it. Elsie decides to go back to the Mesa, and Bernard offers to help her, claiming that he is no longer under Ford's influence. Remarking that she trusts code more than people, Elsie agrees, but demands that there would be no lies between them and that Bernard would never hurt her again. The two leave the lab.
While approaching the Hub by way of the train tracks, Elsie informs Bernard that Ford's quarantine notices are still being sent out: Bernard compliments her work, which she accepts with a smile. They reach the monorail terminal and notice that Quality Assurance has been through due to several dead hosts. Arriving in the control room, Elsie determines that QA has been trying to undo Ford's changes but all attempts have been undone by the Cradle, improvising responses to every hack the QA throws at it. Bernard realizes the Cradle cannot make changes to hosts' narratives itself as it is supposed to be a backup, and that someone is in fact actively altering the Cradle's codes. To find out what is happening, they will need to access it in person.
The two make their way past the carnage to the Cradle, but Elsie finds that she cannot access it via terminal either: she can see responses being issued but cannot find out where they are coming from. Bernard volunteers to directly interface with it and figure out the problem, against Elsie's protests that it will be excruciatingly painful for him. She watches with discomfort as he begins the auto-extraction.
While waiting for Bernard to finish up in the Cradle, Elsie hears a loud crash coming from somewhere in the facility.
Learning over radio chatter that the crash was the hosts invading the Hub, and that they had murdered a PMC team specifically summoned to stop them, Elsie urges Bernard to hurry up. Eventually, the system appears to unclog and he disconnects from the Cradle, although he appears dazed. She informs him of the situation and leads him out of the Cradle. As they worked their way through the Hub, she asks Bernard about their next move. After some hesitation, Bernard tells her that he found out about Ford's "Valley Beyond" and that they need to get there. Elsie replies that she will find some better weapons before quickly leaving, unaware that Bernard is, in fact, misleading her.
After taking a bizarrely long amount of time, Bernard finally reunites with Elsie near the vehicles. He tells her that the Valley Beyond contains the downloaded minds of all of Westworld's guests, and the hosts will use that kind of power to their advantage. They quickly get in a jeep and head for their destinatiuon.
They briefly stop at the site of a massacre, which Elsie sees as an opportunity to gather more ammo. Not finding much, she returns to the jeep to find Bernard had connected himself to a tablet and ziptied himself to the wheel. Realizing something has happened, she immediately accuses him of trying to hurt her, but Bernard explains he cannot risk staying with her because he does not know for sure he is in control. Instead, he hands her a device that will allow QA to track her down before telling her to hide as he closes the vehicle's door. Elsie tearfully curses him out before running off.
Elsie's closest relationship appears to be with her boss. She often collaborates with him, running diagnostics on the hosts. He sometimes has to caution her while she pitches ideas and solutions for the hosts' malfunctions, or risks breaking corporate protocols in fixing the hosts. After Bernard was forced to capture her to prevent her from revealing Ford's narrative, however, she became hostile towards him, threatening him with a gun several times after he freed her and trying to leave him tied up after she fixed him. Although initially shocked by the realization that Bernard was actually a host, she eventually decided to trust him, reasoning she preferred code over people.
Elsie and Stubbs seem to have a grudging respect for each other. They like to banter and trade insults, but show real concern for each others' safety, as seen when they were endangered by the malfunctioning host they were pursuing.
During "The Original", Elsie is shown Old Clementine's new gesture, an unconscious brushing of her lip, by Bernard. After Bernard leaves, Elsie strokes Clementine's hair, and after looking around to make sure no one is watching, Elsie kisses the offline Clementine.
- Season One
- This character's name was originally given as "Elsie King".
- Shannon Woodward had been aware Elsie survived Bernard's attack since Season 1, but had to keep it a secret, although her presence in Season 2 was confirmed sometime before the premiere.
- Prior to Season 2's premiere and her return in "The Riddle of the Sphinx," various hints were given regarding her survival:
- Several hidden and encrypted links suggested her location as well as an audio file of her speaking: http://delosincorporated.com/video/intra/tablet.mp4 http://delosincorporated.com/assets/transmission.mp4
- Steve Williams, director of "Trace Decay" gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter
- THR: Bernard asks Ford if he's ever hurt anyone other than Theresa. Ford says no, and as he does, Bernard experiences a vision in which he's choking Elsie. Some are taking that as confirmation that Bernard killed Elsie (Shannon Woodward). Is that the right read?
- SW: (Laughs) Let me refer you to your earlier question about Lost. There's a form of storytelling that I happen to be somewhat partial to, which embraces the thrill of ambiguity. So I will only say this: I will answer your question with this question. Are we in fact sure that that was Elsie?
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