Spoilers ahead for the "Akane No Mai" episode of Westworld. Poor Teddy. (If I had a nickel for every time I uttered that phrase…) Dolores' doe-eyed cowboy boyfriend suffered quite a lot during Season 1, showed up dead during the Season 2 premiere, and has now had his programming painfully altered. What happened to Teddy on Westworld, and how will the changes inflicted on him against his will in the May 20 episode affect him going forward? Will Teddy ever be the same again?
During the show's freshman season, the writers seemed to get a kick out of killing Teddy in as many different ways as possible, with the character getting brutally murdered in practically every episode — sometimes multiple times in the space of an hour. (He's Westworld's very own Kenny.) Then, in Season 2, Teddy's corpse was one of the dozens of dead hosts that were found by Karl Strand's team in the mysterious lake two weeks in the future. How did he wind up drowned in that body of water? Viewers still don't know… but they may have gotten their first vital clue in "Akane No Mai."
While Maeve is off having samurai-themed adventures in Shogun World, Dolores is leading her puppy dog of a boyfriend on a nostalgia tour of Sweetwater, complete with stops at the Mariposa, her father's ranch, and the general store where she got that can of milk she kept dropping.
Things haven't been great between Dolores and Teddy all season; he seems increasingly disturbed by her increasingly violent ways. And when he refused Dolores' order to execute Major Craddock, instead releasing the Confederado into the wild, fans probably knew the lovers were in for a reckoning. That reckoning begins as they gazed out on father's land; she tells Teddy a story about when their herd was overcome with disease and asks him what he would have done. Teddy's answer? Give shelter to the weakest to help them survive. Dolores' answer? Burn the weak so the smoke will drive away the disease-carrying flies, and let the strongest survive.
Not a great start to this road trip. But when Teddy tries to convince Dolores to run away with him — like she had been begging him to do for years as part of their narrative, with him always promising "someday" — it seems like Dolores actually might consider it for a moment. The couple shares a passionate night together… but when Dolores wakes Teddy up in the middle of the night and tells him she wants to show him something, the only one who's not immediately suspicious is poor, dumb Teddy.
Apparently Teddy has failed one test too many: first, his botched execution of Craddock, then his wrong answer to the herd hypothetical. While Dolores professes her belief that her love for Teddy is real and not scripted, she also professes her belief that Teddy isn't strong enough to make it in her new world. And so she has her henchmen hold Teddy down while the kidnapped tech fiddles with his programming, turning his compassion all the way down and bumping up his bulk apperception, hostility, and aggression all the way to the max.
I think it's fair to say that, up to this point, Teddy's defining characteristic has been his compassion; it's difficult to imagine a version of the character without it. It seems as though James Marsden is about to face his hardest acting challenge on the show to date, as the Teddy viewers get in Episode 6 will be drastically different from any version of Teddy they've seen before.
Will he just be a ruthless killing machine? Will there be any trace of the old Teddy left? Will he be able to fight against his programming, perhaps to his own ultimate demise? Dolores, Maeve, and others have gotten to play multiple versions of their characters; now it's Teddy's turn to discover new aspects of himself. He just might not like what he finds…