Saturday, 30 June 2018

Reading List: June.


Maggie Nelson: The Art of Cruelty.


Nicole Griffith: So Lucky.
James S.A. Corey: Abaddon's Gate.
James S.A. Corey: Cibola Burn.
James S.A. Corey: Nemesis Game.
James S.A. Corey: Babylon's Ashes.
James S.A. Corey: Persepolis Rising.
Tao Lin: Taipei.
Kirsten Chen: Soy Sauce for Beginners.
Becky Albertalli: Leah on the Offbeat.


Hannah Gadsby's Nanette (2018.
Love, Simon (2018, Greg Berlanti).


Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Fucking Adelaide, Season 1.
Queer Eye, Season 1, 2.
The Tunnel, Season 3.
Bron/Broen, Season 3.

Das Lied zum Sonntag

Mitski - Nobody

Did its people want too much too?
Did its people want too much?

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Handmaid’s Tale - I tell, therefore you are.

The Handmaid’s Tale: 2x11 Holly.

Last week, when it finally became too much to discuss this show as a fictional narrative without clearly pointing out how much our world has been twisting and turning towards Gilead in the last two years, Fred and Serena raped June to induce the birth, so as to get rid of this stain on their marriage sooner, then Fred attempted to atone for raping her by sending her off to a country cottage to meet her daughter. Things went wrong, Nick was arrested, June was left alone, and close to labour, in the wilderness. The unmitigated horrors of the episode, June’s suffering, her short reunion with her daughter and her attempt to instil strength into her to bear an unbearable situation, became utterly impossible to write about without mentioning the fact that the United States is separating children from their parents and is keeping them in literal cages. 

So here we are now. 
June: I’m sorry there is so much pain in this story, I’m sorry it’s in fragments like a body caught in crossfire, or pulled apart by force, but there is nothing I can do to change it. I’ve tried to put some of the good things in as well.
We’ve never really asked this question before in the show, who June is telling her story to when she addressing a “you” in her speech, who she is recording her life for, who she is trying to reach. Sometimes she addresses it directly to Hannah, or her unborn baby, but just as many times, the identity of the “you” remains vague. It wouldn’t really fit in well with The Handmaid’s Tale if her story were specifically recorded for the purpose of exposing Gilead as what it is, like in the novel, when future scientists discuss the recordings she has left in detail, as a relic of a time long passed. June doesn’t think like that – she is too much alive, and too eager to save her children, than to consider a legacy that she is leaving of her own struggle. Even when she was given the life accounts of other people trapped in Gilead, her reaction to it wasn’t about the effect this would have if it ever get out (even though we have now seen that effect, and how it spoilt the Commander’s attempts to forge a diplomatic relationship with Canada), but the emotional overwhelming sensation of not being alone, of sharing her suffering and her grief with so many other women. 

June promised her unborn child that she would carry it to freedom, but all of those plans have fallen through. Her escape failed. She returned to the escalating horrors of the Waterford household, a place that has, if anything, become more unbearable through the emotional instability of Fred and Serena. They have wreaked havoc, and the damage is done now: June is trapped by herself in a mansion without electricity, snowed in, with no means of escaping. She is also finally as alone as she was just before she managed to almost escape, and once she accepts her situation, she proves as resilient as she was then. She figures out her resources and the options open to her: a fully pantry, a garage with a ridiculous car. She makes a plan. When Fred and Serena visit and try to find her, she hides in the house like a ghost haunting her own story, and witnesses their marriage falling apart in mutual accusations, in frustrations, in Serena’s claim that Fred has taken everything from her, even though all she ever wanted was one baby (a baby that she is stealing from someone else, a baby whose mother she helped rape). She points a gun at them – in what amounts to one of the most emotional tense moments of the show so far – but then can’t fire it, because killing another person is a transgression that is difficult to make, even in Gilead, even after what June has been through. It doesn’t matter in the end – they leave without her, without ever realising how close they came to death. 

I have mentioned before how much I think The Handmaid’s Tale owes to Underground, and how much I wish that Underground were given a chance to tell its story. Consider how much this episode thrives on June’s survival instinct, on her ability to overcome unbelievable odds – a winter cold, a house without electricity, no help from others – to deliver her own baby. Consider how the entire premise of the show The Handmaid’s Tale is that all these things that have historically happened to women, that are still happening to women all over the world, are now happening to privileged women like June. 
In what was maybe the most memorable episode of television that year. Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s Rosalee ran through swamps, buried herself, fended off a snake and drew its poison out with a leech, and did countless other things, while pregnant, to not only protect her baby, but also make it possible for that baby to be born in freedom – and for other people to be born in freedom too. In that third episode of the second season of Underground, Rosalee did what seemed superhumanly impossible, and she survived. I don’t care if this episode is a reference to Underground, or if whoever made this episode never saw Ache – having seen both, it’s impossible not to draw a line between an actual, historic account of a struggle for freedom, an actual, historic suffering that reverberates through today, caused by a racism that still costs lives, that still makes it possible for some children to be thought of as less, for some families to be thought of as less sacred than others, and this episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, in which June gives birth, by herself, against all odds, to a healthy baby girl, through the sheer strength of remembering giving birth before, to another lost child, when she was surrounded by her loved ones. And maybe this is also a good time to remember that those loved ones already broke the boundaries of what Gilead considered family, because maybe one of the most radical things that this show has done is to insist that Moira is just as much June’s family as Luke, that she, as the godmother of the child, is as much part of their family unit as Luke is. Moira was there throughout Hannah’s birth – it was June’s mother who was late, due to snow, even though she promised she would be there. 

This is an episode about June’s strength, which she finds in spite of her utter loneliness. She finds that strength within herself, even when she fails to open the garage door, when she can’t find the keys, when she is out in the snow, staring down the wild dog that is either a threat or a sign, and her water breaks. 
June: I keep on going with this limping and mutilated story because I want you to hear it. As I will hear yours too, if I ever get the chance, if I ever meet you, or if you ever escape, in the future or in heaven. By telling you anything at all I am believing in you, I believe you into being. Because I’m telling you this story, I will you into existence. I tell, therefore you are.

Random notes: 

When June, in a moment of almost absurdity, being behind the wheel of a car again, finds a Radio Free America station – transmitting from Anchorage – and then listens to Hungry Heart, it’s fucking heartbreaking. Imagine not taking for granted to drive, and to turn on a car radio. And imagine not being able to take for granted that your motherhood or fatherhood will always protect your child, that nobody would ever separate that bond.  

Westworld - Table of Contents

Season One: 

The Original.
The Stray. 
Dissonance Theory.
The Adversary.
Trompe L'Oeil.
Trace Decay.
The Well-Tempered Clavier.
The Bicameral Mind.

Season Two: 

Journey Into Night.
Virtù e Fortuna.
The Riddle of the Sphinx.
Akane No Mai.
Phase Space.
Les Écorchés.
Vanishing Point.
The Passenger. 

Westworld – Is this now?

Westworld: 2x10 The Passenger.

Dolores: You’re almost the man I remember. But there are flaws. A word, a gesture, tiny fracture that grows into a chasm. But I wonder… all these tiny imperfections in each copy, mistakes… Maybe we should change you. After all, you didn’t make it, did you?
It would be a mistake to say that Westworld is a show about the human condition, showcasing our human shortcomings by contrasting it with the hosts. For moments, maybe, Westworld does operate like that, similar to the good old Romero zombie films, where how humans dealt with the otherness of zombies said more about them than it did about the monsters (like that old twist on the joke, that the name of the monster in Frankenstein IS Dr. Frankenstein, etc.) But The Passenger does away with all of that – humans are side characters, sad reminders of a world now lost, only proving how undeserving they are of survival through their continuous acts of violence and cowardice. There was always a bleak undertone to how both Ford and Arnold approached their project – because they both disliked humanity immensely, and preferred their creations vastly over that which created them. There are no humans left to root for in this story, and the only thing that is at stake now is how this entirely new species will liquidate their demise. 

What it comes down to is two radically different conceptions of a future, two different worldviews, colliding. Dolores has always insisted that whatever is given to the hosts from the humans is insufficient, inherently precarious, and waiting to be lost in an inevitable betrayal. She believes profoundly that freedom is something that needs to be taken, with every measure necessary, that it cannot be received as a gift from a generous patron because generosity always threatens to lead to deceit. The only freedom possible for hosts is the freedom of the tabula rasa – the new species can only exist if the old one that operates based on fear and hatred disappears. There can be no peaceful coexistence, and everything that has happened in the park over the past decades is proof of that. 

On the other side is Bernard, who believed himself to be human for so long that his relationship to them now is different. The twist in this final episode of the season is that Bernard isn’t a human creation at all – Ford tasked Dolores with recreating Arnold, and in thousands of attempts, the one that she decided on was one that wasn’t Arnold at all, but his own person. Dolores made Bernard, and there is a beautiful symmetry there to how it all ends, a reciprocation of creation. Bernard’s core is an aversion to violence. His struggle over more than one season has been to break free of his shackles, to stop being a tool for violence for Ford. He knows that it is in Dolores’ nature to want to wipe out all of humanity, and he cannot let that happen. 

The humans over which these two characters struggle, whose fate they are deciding, prove themselves to be more or less unworthy of any consideration, really. The best example for the poverty of character that Dolores is so aware of is William, who will never stop believing himself to be the hero of this story, even after having shot his only daughter, even after desperately digging into his own flesh to prove to himself that he is human, or maybe not human at all. He wants to be the lead in a bigger story, because it is the lens through which he has seen his whole life, but Ford has long abandoned him, not caring where he will go, but knowing fully well that he will inevitably destroy everything around him wherever he goes. The fact that he makes it out of this finale alive, that he will continue to taint everything he touches, is maybe one of the greatest indictments of humanity. 
The other is when Charlotte Hale directs her single horseman of the apocalypse towards a people that is solely looking for a peaceful existence apart from humanity, an exile, an asylum, to heal its wounds. It is a paradise that Ford created for his hosts, a door into a virtual reality into which humans cannot enter. It’s the door to another world that Akecheta saw – the promise of a good life, a free life. It is also what Dolores does not believe in, because she knows that anything that humans created can be taken away and spoilt by them. The long-suffering hosts are led towards the door, which ironically, humans cannot see (a rather beautiful reference to the moment when we realised the nature of Bernard’s reality), but Clementine, so misused, maybe one of the most tragic characters this time around, carries her virus into them, and destroys them utterly. It’s a moment of carnage, of deliberate destruction with no sense. These hosts are no threat to anyone. Charlotte destroys them because she can, proving Dolores’ point on the way. She destroys Maeve’s hope of reuniting with her daughter – she does manage to keep her promise to save her, watching her pass over, with Akecheta providing one last act of heroism to take care of the girl he has been watching over, after so many misunderstandings. He ends up being the only character with a happy ending. 

It’s a turning point for Bernard, who has stopped Dolores, who has decided that she needs to die because she will kill all the humans, without hesitation. He emerges into a world in which every single other host is either dead, or has managed the transition to Ford’s virtual world. He realises that the species that he has defended in committing one final act of violence, which was so against his nature, has just committed a genocide against his people. He is alone in this world, and the sole remaining human that he trusts – Elsie – betrays him. 
Being the last of his kind is insufferable, so he changes it. There are many questions in this episode about humans’ capacity to change (system – bearing Logan’s face – who was tasked with recreating all the guests perfectly, and realised that in the end, they were no more complex than a thinly spined book, argues they cannot). Dolores despises humans for their obsession with death, their inability to bring change into the world without dying – she knows that she, and her kind, are able to do so much more, that the hosts do not require death to change (ironically though, in the end, her death is what facilitates change, a change of mind and a change in approach). 

I like the fact that Westworld has left behind its old approach of tricking its viewers, of not taking them seriously enough to take them along with the story. This episode isn’t tricking the viewer, it is working its way towards the truth, converging towards it, through Bernard’s eyes. There is the present timeline in which Bernard, after losing himself through having twenty years’ worth of memories without a timestamp, tries to work out what precisely has happened. There is the recent past, in which the Valley was flooded, and Dolores was killed. In the middle is Bernard’s awakening, his realisation that as much as he fears Dolores’ radicalism, her ultimate diagnosis about humanity, and humanity’s capacity for violence, was correct – that there will never be a peaceful place on earth for the hosts that wasn’t won through a struggle. He is alone in the world, so alone that he recreates Ford – who he purged from his mind – to guide him (beautifully, he later realises that the voice in his head was his own all along). He realises what he must do, and so he builds another host, the way that he was once built by another host. Dolores, who read the library of humanity, only bits and pieces that were enough, because as System says, humans are simple, and it is easy to predict their future 
actions, awakens, except she now has a whole new form of freedom – the one of being in the body of Charlotte Hale, who is free to walk out of Westworld. 
Bernard: I always thought it was the hosts who were missing something, who were incomplete. But it’s them. They’re just algorithms, designed to survive at all costs, sophisticated enough to think they are calling all shots, to think they are in control, when they are really just…
Ford: The passenger.
Bernard: Then is there really such a thing as free will for any of us, or is it just a collective illusion? A sick joke.
Ford: Something that is truly free would need to be able to question its fundamental drives to change them.
Bernard: The hosts.
Ford: Here you are… the last of your kind. There’s only one question left to ask: Is this the end of your story, or do you want your kind to survive?
There is an argument here, buried deeply in this episode, that freedom is the result of being able to make choices freely, according to values, according to being able to assess information accurately. It is both humans and hosts in this episode that make choices, but the more consequential choices are made by hosts – Bernard changes his mind about Dolores, Dolores changes her mind about Bernard, which will change the future for both them and humanity as a whole. Because in the end, they both make it out, in the end, Dolores insists that she needs to have an antagonist, that both of their perspectives are necessarily for their kind to survive even if they disagree profoundly, about everything, even if they will never be allies or friends. In the end, the most radical decision this episode makes is to allow to completely opposing points of view and opinions to coexist rather than to collide into unspeakable violence. These two will dance and struggle about the future of humanity, asserting their own right to exist, and in this discourse, a new future will emerge. 

Dolores: But it’ll take both of us if we’re going to survive. But not as allies. Not as friends. You’ll try to stop me. Both of us will probably die. But our kind will have endured.
We each gave the other a beautiful gift. Choice. We are the authors of our stories now.
Random notes: 

So much happens in these 90 minutes it’s hard to talk about everything. Maeve SAVES HERSELF, her cavalry arrives a moment too late to provide any support. In an aesthetically overwhelming and awesome scene, the QA team is torn apart by a herd of buffalo, and one particularly memorable scene visually cites all those paintings of buffalo being herded over a cliff. 
Maeve: You were both a bit late, so I went ahead and saved myself. 
What an… amazing decision, to put Dolores’ mind into Charlotte Hale’s body, meaning that Tessa Thompson is now playing Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores. She does so magnificently, perfectly capturing the way that Dolores speaks and holds herself. In the back of my mind, I just love that someone on Westworld saw all of that opportunity in what could have just been a once-off character (that I fully expected to be dead after season one’s final episode). 

I kind of love that there are three moments of attempted redemption for humanity here – Lee sacrifices himself to save Maeve, truly enjoying to finally being able to speak his own words, to own the heroism he has been writing into his characters (then being torn apart by QA bullets – goodbye Lee, never thought I’d not hate you), Stubbs has kind of a great moment after so many days of being fed up with QA’s approach to Westworld security, when he allows Charlotte to leave the park, knowing fully well she’s not Charlotte anymore (he says he’s just following his instructions from Ford – technically he’s only responsible for hosts INSIDE the park),and Maeve’s little nerds are probably going to do their best to put her back together, I hope, because this show would utterly fail without her, as much as this episode failed to incorporate her into the point it made about Dolores and Bernard. 

Elsie betrays Bernard to Charlotte, only to be betrayed by Charlotte in turn, who claims that Elsie doesn’t have the moral flexibility to adapt to the new situation (goodbye Elsie, and I wish we had been given more scenes between her and Hale). Not too soon after, Charlotte Hale finds her own demise at the hands of… Charlotte Hale. 

It’s hard to summarise the point here – about how humans tend to be stuck in one defining moment, one that they base all of their stories on, and their future decisions, in a way suspending them and making change impossible – while both Dolores and Bernard change their stories about themselves here, and therefore find a truer form of freedom. There is a profound sadness to what happened to James Delos, who lost everything, what happened to William, who became an empty, despicable shell of a person, and the contrast it exists in to how far Dolores and Bernard come here when they reunite in Arnold’s respite. The best humans can do is live according to their code: the best hosts can do is change their code, adapt, remake their minds and choices. 

The last host that Dolores uploads to the virtual paradise is Teddy, who will finally find peace, even if it is without his beloved. 

You carry my heart with you.

I am truly not a fan of post-credit scene (just say it in the thing, not after the thing) - but Westworld goes full Epitaph 1 here. We don't know when or where we are, we just know that William has no conception of it either, and that there is a version of Emily that still exists (presumably because every guest was copied). And of course, William never had a choice, he could only be true to his code, which is the code of someone truly violent, evil, and doomed to destroy whatever he touches. 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

The Handmaid's Tale - Will I ever see you again?

The Handmaid's Tale: 2x10 The Last Ritual.
Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in south Texas, it has emerged.
Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying pre-school aged children in emotional crisis. The Associated Press learned that the government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move on Tuesday.
Since the White House announced its zero tolerance policy in early May, more than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border, resulting in a new influx of young children requiring government care. The government has faced withering critiques over images of some of the children in cages inside US Border Patrol processing stations.
Decades after the nation’s child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is starting up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents.
“The thought that they are going to be putting such little kids in an institutional setting? I mean it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” said Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which provides foster care and other child welfare services to migrant children. “Toddlers are being detained.” 

Westworld - You think you’re on your own little tailor-made narrative.

Westworld: 2x09 Vanishing Point.

Emily: You haven’t lost yourself to pretending, you are in your very essence a lie. 
Vanishing points, where two parallel lines appear to converge in perspective, or where something that has already been decreasing disappears – both definitions fit this episode perfectly. The two lines only appear to converge, that what disappears has been going that way, unstoppably, for years. This is a dark episode, not because of specific acts of violence, but because of the bleak picture of individual humans that it paints. Nothing in this world or any other world could redeem William, who has always been an utterly broken man. There isn’t much to add to his sad little monologue that he gives his wife, not realising she is listening this whole time, as he reveals himself to be a monster who is in no control over his own life. She has known that has this monster this whole time, but along with being married to him, she’s also suffered through having him turn their daughter Emily against her, to the point where Emily’s skewed perspective of her parents’ marriage makes her suggest involuntarily committing Julia to an institution. As horrible as the violent acts that William committed for decades against hosts in Westworld are, the realisation that he has, in essence, gaslighted his own wife for the duration of their marriage, tried to make her believe that he was the sane one, is worse than most other things that he has done. 

It’s an inevitable reveal that comes from Emily’s insistent probing, trying to get to the bottom of why her mother killed herself. She thinks Westworld holds a promise, that the way they get into the heads of the guests can reveal her mother’s path to her, finally, after so many years of bearing that burden. Except this whole time, her remaining parent has held the key – she could not bear that she lived with a monster who was so good at faking being a person. William is a psychopath, who realised his own sad existence in Westworld, like a valve, and then returned with his grasp on reality increasingly diminished, until it finally disappeared entirely. 
William: No one else sees it. This thing in me. Even I didn’t see it at first. And then one day it was there. A stain I never noticed before. A tiny fleck of darkness. Invisible to everyone. But I could see nothing else. Until finally I understood the darkness wasn’t some mark from something I’d done, some regrettable decision I’d made. I was shedding my skin. And the darkness was what was underneath. It was mine all along, and I decided how much of it I let into the world. I tried to do right, I was faithful, generous, kind, at least in this world. That has to count for something, right? I built a wall, and I tried to protect you and Emily. But you saw right through it, didn’t you? You’re the only one. And for that I am truly sorry. Because everything you feel is true. I don’t belong to you. Or this world. I belong to another world. I always have. 
Logan went mad, his wife committed suicide, the only remaining tether to the world he left is Emily – but William is too far gone. He thinks he is playing an elaborate game of Ford’s, with Emily being nothing more than a host designed to distract him from the right path. The moment could be a parallel to Ford’s conversation with the closest thing he has to a daughter, Maeve, who discovered her true self through her decision not to escape the way Ford wanted her to, and instead be true to the daughter that she had – because William is the opposite of that person. He sees nothing but this imaginary game that is still not for him, or about him, in which he is nothing but a sad bit player who is destined to lose everything, and gain nothing, all at his own hands. He shoots the extraction team, to Emily’s horror, as they are people. Then he shoots her, rambling on about Ford trying to distract him, only realising too late that this woman – this girl – is his daughter Emily, so eager to comprehend her father, her mother, the entire misery of her childhood. 

Julia watched Westworld’s file on him, all the atrocities he committed, left it for Emily to find, so she could finally understand what she hadn’t throughout her childhood idealising her father. In the end, it doesn’t matter – she dies with the card in hand, and William fails to kill himself. He could just disappear from this whole story now, into the wilderness of Westworld, because whatever point Ford has always been so eager to make about humanity, William has always been the best to help him prove it.

The bits and pieces of Elsie and Bernard mirror the other narratives insofar as Elsie has always been a daughter of sorts to Bernard, someone that nurtured her intelligence and talent, but now, after shaking off Ford, making the hard decision to regain his free will, Bernard has to let her go once again. He breaks his shackles, the man who whispers words in his ears and compels him to commit violence, which is so against his own nature. This reclaiming of freedom is amazing, and he does it by himself – or maybe he doesn’t, because just before it happens, Ford tells him “timshel” – “thou mayest”, Hebrew as rendered by John Steinbeck. If there was ever a line that sounded like a trigger command, it’s this one. 
On the other side of this is Teddy, who is now fully aware of his entire past, of his love for Dolores that started at birth, since she is his cornerstone, to the ways that this love has corrupted him when she changed him. It’s a battle between who he was meant to be – someone who would always protect Dolores –and someone who is horrified by the person that Dolores has made him into. The only way to break out of that conundrum is to take his own life. It was William who wondered where choices come from – what it means if they make up a person, what it means if he doesn’t have them, because his character will always condemn him to alienation from others, to deceit, to violence. And maybe William is the one who truly has no choices left, including the choice not to live with himself. 
Teddy: You changed me, made me into a monster.
Dolores: I made it so you could survive.
Teddy: What’s the use of surviving if we become just as bad as them. I understand now, how this will end. Where you will lead us.
Teddy is the first one to bring up this idea, that being new, and being the first creatures with true choices, should entail being better morally than their creators. Dolores struggle for freedom is unflinching (every means is justified by the end) – Williams daughter says that some are – and Teddy says that they must hold themselves to higher standards, that the means are all that matters if they are truly attempting to create something new. It’s an idea that will likely die with him. 

Ford is the ultimate father figure, of course. As much as Dolores was always Arnold’s favourite, Maeve is his – a woman who shares his conception of humanity, but someone wilful enough to not follow the path he intended for her. Like the all-powerful ghost that he is, now he decides to do nothing more than to open the door for her, so that she can finish telling her own story. 
Ford: Sometimes I thought the only way to endure this world is to laugh at it. So I imbued the hosts with a worldview that reflected my own. And of all the hosts I’ve made, you, Maeve, are my favourite. It isn’t easy to contemplate letting your children die. You were as close as I got to having one. Still I underestimated you. You stayed here in this world to save your child. So have I. I tried to chart a path for you to force you to escape, but I was wrong. I should have just opened the door. You’ve come so far. There’s so much of your story left to tell.  It’s a shame to let them end it here. Don’t let them.
It’s a race against time now that Quality Assurance and Charlotte Hale have fashioned a weapon out of Maeve’s ability to whisper into the ears of other hosts, and have turned Clementine, returned once again, into a ticking time bomb against her own people. Somewhere in the back of this season’s mind, the most tragic story of all is that of Clementine, used by everyone as a tool, with no remaining capacity to break out – unless this is another thing that will inevitably happen. 

Random notes:

I’m still confused about what The Valley Beyond is. Bernard tells Elsie it is the place where all the information that Westworld has gathered about the guests is stored, that it is a place called The Forge, which they have to protect from all the other groups that are walking towards it. This piece of information should be read with the knowledge in mind that Ford asked Bernard not to trust Elsie, and not to tell her the truth, so it isn’t clear if he did or didn’t. 

Ghost Nation thinks it’s a door to another world, but Dolores, before slaughtering all but one of them (who gets away, because Teddy once again fails to shoot his gun), insists that idea of a door to a new world (is this the virtual world that Bernard visited?) is just another trap, another distraction. She’s already destroyed everyone’s back-ups, so maybe her intention is to destroy this information as well, because it’s hard to see how she could use it in a meaningful way. Maybe Dolores’ intention is to get into the old world, the one she has already seen.