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"Trace Decay"
Westworld episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 8
Directed byStephen Williams
Written by
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography by
Editing byTanya Swerling
Production code4X6158
Original air dateNovember 20, 2016 (2016-11-20)
Running time58 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Trompe L'Oeil"
Next →
"The Well-Tempered Clavier"

"Trace Decay" is the eighth episode in the first season of the HBO science fiction western thriller television series Westworld. The episode aired on November 20, 2016.

The episode received very positive reviews from critics.

Plot summary

Bernard is distraught over having been ordered to kill Theresa. Ford promises that once Bernard erases all evidence of their involvement in Theresa's murder, he will erase Bernard's memories of his relationship with Theresa and the murder. Theresa's death is classified as an accident, and her industrial espionage is exposed, as is her manipulation of Clementine. In light of the revelations, Charlotte is forced to reinstate Bernard as head of Behavior. Bernard asks Ford if he had ever ordered him to hurt anybody other than Theresa. Ford replies he had not, but Bernard has a vision of himself attacking Elsie before Ford erases his memory.

Charlotte takes Lee down to cold storage, where she uploads all of Westworld's data into Peter Abernathy, Dolores' previous "father." She then orders Lee to program Peter to smuggle himself out of the park with the data.

Maeve continues to have flashbacks to her previous life, which distresses her. However, this does not stop her desire to escape the park. She orders Felix and Sylvester to grant her administrative privileges, so she can control other hosts, and to have the fail-safe explosive in her spine removed, allowing her to leave the park. In order to achieve this, Maeve asks the duo to sneak her into the Behavior department so she can modify her own code. Maeve then returns to the park and tests her ability to control the other hosts. However, as she prepares to leave the park, she has another vision of herself and her daughter being attacked by the Man in Black, and in her terror, she inadvertently kills the new Clementine, alerting the park staff. She flees back to her room, where she has another flashback of Ford and Bernard erasing her memory of her daughter, revealing that she had achieved self-consciousness before due to the incident with the Man in Black. Maeve then feigns a shutdown as the park staff arrives to retrieve her.

William and Dolores continue their journey down the canyon, where they find the bodies of more Confederados who were ambushed by the Ghost Nation. A mortally wounded Confederado reveals that a new recruit betrayed their location. William surmises it was Logan. They are caught up by a group of Confederados led by Logan.

The Man in Black and Teddy continue to track Wyatt and find a group of slaughtered settlers. They find a survivor, Angela, whom the Man In Black recognizes, as she was one of the Hosts who greeted every Guest as they entered Westworld. The two are attacked by one of Wyatt's cultists, who appears to be immune to bullets. As the Man in Black battles the cultist, Teddy has a flashback of the former attacking Dolores, and after killing the cultist, he knocks the Man in Black out. Teddy then interrogates the Man in Black about Dolores' location. Instead, the Man in Black tells Teddy why he came to the park; that his wife had committed suicide, sensing and fearing the darkness in him, and he felt that he had no more purpose in life and thus came to Westworld to find it and his true self. After he had killed Maeve and her daughter, as a test to see if he was truly evil, he had become aware of the maze and has been obsessed with finding it ever since. Angela attempts to persuade Teddy to kill the Man in Black, but he physically cannot. Angela then stabs Teddy in the shoulder, revealing herself to be one of Wyatt's followers as more of his cultists appear from the surrounding woods.


"Trace Decay" was written by novelist Charles Yu and series co-creator Lisa Joy, and was directed by Stephen Williams.[1]


In an interview, composer Ramin Djawadi spoke about the song "Reverie" by Debussy, that was used by Ford to calm a Host, when she was not responding to verbal commands. He said, "The music is being controlled, and it's being chosen for a reason".[2] Djawadi continued, saying, "The great power of music is that something subconsciously happens when you listen to a piece of music, even if you don't pay full attention to it. It just does something to us that nothing else can do, other than music."[2]

Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" and The Animals's "House of the Rising Sun" are also featured in the episode.[2]



"Trace Decay" was viewed by 1.78 million American households on its initial viewing.[3] The episode also acquired a 0.8 rating in the 18–49 demographic.[3] In the United Kingdom, the episode was seen by 1.03 million viewers on Sky Atlantic.[4]

Critical reception

Thandie Newton received widespread acclaim for her performance and was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Thandie Newton received widespread acclaim for her performance and was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

"Trace Decay" received highly positive reviews from critics. The episode has a 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes and has an average rating of 8.2 out of 10, based on 18 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Providing its major characters rich layers of context, Westworld's 'Trace Decay' begins pulling together the elements of the park's origins and setting the stage for what is sure to be a thrilling conclusion."[5]

Terri Schwartz of IGN reviewed the episode positively, saying, "While Westworld didn't offer any true resolutions to some of its biggest questions, it teased them out in an interesting way and offered a lot more context to major characters like Maeve and the Man in Black."[6] She gave it a score of 8.7 out of 10.[6] Scott Tobias of The New York Times wrote in his review of the episode; "Thandie Newton has become Yul Brynner in the original Westworld, a robot hellbent on destruction, only infinitely smarter and more devious. Her liberation is the show's, too."[7] Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club wrote in his review, "With two episodes left in the first season, the action is pulling together and the stakes are rising, and yet elements crucial to our understanding remain withheld."[8] He gave the episode a B.[8]

Liz Shannon Miller of IndieWire wrote in her review, "We can't expect major twists every week, but while 'Trace Decay' didn't feel like it was stalling, it perhaps could have pushed things further. It's a minor complaint, though — a bump in the ride we're still enjoying."[9] She gave the episode a B+.[9] James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly wrote in his review, "There are only two more episodes left, almost everybody has been captured, or in the process of being captured, and poor Bernard doesn't remember anything! How will it end?"[10] Ed Power of The Daily Telegraph wrote in his review, "For once it was worth paying attention as Westworld dropped further breadcrumbs regarding the park's origins and Bernard's role in its creation."[11] David Crow of Den of Geek said in his review, "The hour felt like a comedown, a slowing and re-calibration before the final two episodes presumably blow us all away as if we're a poor, dull-eyed sheriff walking away from Armistice while she has a rifle trained on our backside."[12] He gave the episode a 3.5 out of 5.[12] Erik Kain of Forbes also reviewed the episode, saying, "Where does it all go from here? I don't know, honestly. What I do know is that I can't wait to find out. Without doubt, Westworld is the best thing on TV right now."[13]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2017 Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: Dialogue / ADR Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong and Fred Paragano Nominated [14]
69th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Thandie Newton Nominated [15]


  1. ^ "Westworld 08: Trace Decay". HBO. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Vineyard, Jennifer (November 23, 2016). "How Music Is Controlling the Hosts on Westworld". Vulture. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Porter, Rick (November 22, 2016). "Sunday cable ratings: 'The Librarians' returns slightly lower, 'Walking Dead' dips a bit more". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on November 23, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  4. ^ "Top 30 Ratings (21 - 27 November 2016)". BARB. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  5. ^ "Trace Decay - Westworld: Season 1, Episode 8 - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Schwartz, Terri (November 20, 2016). "Westworld: "Trace Decay" Review". IGN. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  7. ^ Tobias, Scott (November 20, 2016). "'Westworld' Season 1, Episode 8: Maeve Plays God". The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  8. ^ a b "A lack of answers leads to an uneven Westworld". The A.V. Club. November 20, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Miller, Liz Shannon (November 21, 2016). "'Westworld' Review: 'Trace Decay' Reminds Us That We're All Just Stories, In the End". IndieWire. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  10. ^ "Westworld recap: 'Trace Decay'". Entertainment Weekly. November 20, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  11. ^ Power, Ed (November 20, 2016). "Westworld, episode 8, Trace Decay recap: Bernard wants to die, and the Man in Black reveals himself". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Westworld Episode 8 Review: Trace Decay". Den of Geek. November 20, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  13. ^ Kain, Erik (November 20, 2016). "'Westworld' Just Dropped A Huge Clue About Another Big Fan Theory". Forbes. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  14. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 27, 2017). "'Hacksaw Ridge,' 'Rogue One,' 'Arrival' Lead Sound Editors' Feature Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  15. ^ Beachum, Chris (July 20, 2017). "Thandie Newton ('Westworld') murders hooker and tries to take control over other robotic hosts [Exclusive Emmy Episode]". Gold Derby. Retrieved July 20, 2017.

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This page was last edited on 26 October 2020, at 17:49
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