Bernard Lowe and Ashley Stubbs are bros. That much is known. However, where and when they’re bro-ing out is a completely different matter. Jeffrey Wright, who plays Lowe in HBO’s robot-Western epic Westworld, apparently didn’t know the answer to this question either, even when he was filming.
“I’ve never received an entire script of any season that we’ve worked on at the beginning of filming,” Wright tells Inverse. “It’s a very fluid process. Lisa and Jon obviously have the overall arc for any season and, as I understand it, the entire scope of the show.”
Wright was given hints as to what Bernard would be facing in Season 4, such as leaving The Sublime (humanoid heaven) and awakening after system updates in a dusty, dirty motel room with Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) keeping a close watch. We see this happen in Episode 3. Apparently, that’s all that Wright was told — devoid of context.
“One of the challenges of working on this show is the ever-evolving, growing, and morphing as it goes along,” he says. “Unlike Season 1, now I’m okay if things don’t make a little bit of sense to me because I’ve learned to trust the process, the journey, and our writers. I’ve relaxed a bit and given into the mystery.”
Bernard Lowe’s relationships in Westworld have been crucial to the show’s ongoing evolution. Most have ended in tragedy, or in the case of Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), betrayal. The only stable relationship we have in a series that thrives on keeping its audience unsteady is between Berard and the Head of the Westworld QA Security Force Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth).
On-screen, that friendship is programmed — literally.
Mad scientist Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) built Stubbs to handle park security, which includes anomalies within the Hosts and keeping data secure from Delos. Ashley and Bernard first begin forming a kinship in Season 2 when Ashley finds Bernard washed up on the shore following the robot rebellion at the end of Season 1.
That friendship is further strengthened when Bernard “resurrects” Ashley in Season 3, reveals their kinship as androids, and alters his core directives to prioritize protecting Bernard. Stubbs defends Bernard to the extent that he’s killed by The Man in Black (Ed Harris), only to be revived again by Bernard.
“Stubbs has always been an enigma,” Hemsworth says in a group interview. “He’s always questioned who exactly he works for and where his loyalties lie. I think he’s finally evolving a level of consciousness that most of the other characters seem to have achieved long before him.”
Season 4 Episode 3, entitled “Années Folles,” begins with Bernard leaving The Valley Beyond (also known as The Sublime), a virtual world in which hosts can “retire” peacefully. It’s essentially digital heaven. He awakens in the same musty motel and finds Stubbs taking care of him, but it isn’t the first time he’s been booted up.
While it’s difficult to tell at what point they are in the timeline, it seems that Bernard and Stubbs have practiced the same script (and given the same diner order) countless times. Episode 3 ties up Bernard and Stubbs’ loop (we think) with Bernard throwing a couple of punches and getting in a car with a mysterious newcomer and human resistance fighter to the show, “C,” portrayed by Aurora Perrineau. Where they are — some desert — is also obscure, but both the human resistance fighters and Bernard are determined to find a weapon that they believe is buried beneath the sand.
Their buddy relationship persists when the cameras stop as well. Hemsworth divulged that he and Wright are good friends outside of work.
“We go surfing, and we just give each other a lot of shit playing around, and that translates on-screen,” Hemsworth says. “There’s a lot of subtlety that comes through when we’re mucking around between takes. I think it’s another way to enrich the experience. Spending all this time together at work and outside of work has crystallized in a really cool way.”
But how does Hemsworth think Stubbs really feels about his relationship with Bernard? Things get complicated for robo-buddies.
“I think Stubbs is in a place where he’s getting a little frustrated about being kept in the dark by Bernard,” Hemsworth says. “He’s ready to begin exploring greater horizons. The relationship of keeping Bernard safe is perhaps a little less of a driving force.”
We surely hope that Stubbs and Bernard remain BFFs, even if Stubbs is starting to question the nature of his reality and can technically break free from his programming. We just might learn this season once and for all whether their bond is mere code or more genuine chemistry between overly complex synthetic humanoids.
Westworld airs Sundays on HBO.