As the first season of ‘Westworld’ came to a close, the Season 1 finale had a lot of work to do. It had to reveal answers to some mysteries, it had to confirm some theories, it had to pay off certain storylines while setting up the next season of the show, it had to advance the philosophies set forth throughout the series, and lastly, it had to be satisfying enough to keep audiences engaged and wanting more, enough so they would want to come back for a second season no matter how long they had to wait for it. Fortunately for Abrams, Joy, Nolan and company, they appear to have pulled it off, and while I believe the Season 1 finale was a success, it was not without its imperfections, but the good far outweighed the bad, and I for one will be eagerly anticipating that 2nd season.
Biggest complaint for me about the finale was the length, as there was A LOT of information and story to absorb, and I do not understand why they did not simply do 11 episodes, as the finale definitely had MORE than enough content to fill 2 episodes, and being able to digest the various pieces separately would have made the whole thing seem a lot less overwhelming, and frankly, a lot less rushed.
As suspected, we got the big reveal that the MIB was indeed William, and it is told through a sad, “Gollum’ – esque flashback sequence where we see his slow descent into Man in Blackness, casting away Logan (nude on horse to the far reaches of the park), dressing darker and darker, and his disillusionment with Delores, until at last he tips his black hat down, and when it comes up, he is Ed Harris. It is a sad moment for Delores, as the MIB has just been beating her (literally) after she and him find the center of the “maze” which turns out to be a child’s toy, as the whole maze we find out is just a symbol for the host’s search for true consciousness, which Arnold told them they would have truly achieved once they hear their own voice in their head speaking to them, telling them what to do. Fortunately for Delores, she is saved by Teddy, who takes down the MIB and flees with her, but not before she is stabbed by William/ MIB, and heartbroken that a human that she once loved turned out to be such a villain. Teddy takes her to the beach, where she dies, but not before she tells him basically that the whole world is a trap for them. As he says his goodbyes, the lights turns on, and we realize the death scene has an audience, all the Delos Board members and VIPs, and is the first stage of Ford’s new story. What? Well, more of that in a second.
Maeve’s story is a little more disappointing. She wakes up, blah blah, upgrades Hector and the Snake Lady, and they go and find Bernard, reviving him from what turned out to be relatively small head wound, and he reveals to her that the “Arnold” program actually gave her this new story, and everything she has been doing is part of her new loop/ story, which Maeve will not believe, still thinking she is in control. She leads Hector and company on an escape mission, plowing through the complex on their way out, taking down power grids and security folk at large, while Felix follows obediently (and stupidly), until Maeve abandons Hector and Snake lady to their fate, and makes her way down to the train to escape the park at last, but not before she glances one last time at a slip of paper Bernard had given her telling her where her “daughter” is now. She decides to leave the train and go find her daughter after all, fully knowing it is not really her child, and Maeve re-enters the complex just as all the power goes out.
Turning back the clock a bit, Charlotte starts out the episode by informing Ford that he is being ousted by Delos, and that he will announce the new story and his retirement that night, believing that she has won and has complete control over the park now. Ford agrees, far too easily, and when we next see him, he is chiding William/ MIB at the graveyard for “finding the Maze,” with William just having recovered from his fight with Teddy and Delores. William says he wanted the hosts to be able to fight back, for the story to have stakes, and Ford reminds him (and informs us) that William basically owns the park now, as he is the controlling shareholder of the Delos company, and can do what he wants, but Ford’s new story might be more to his liking. Which brings us back to the beach, where Ford walks in front of a frozen Delores and Teddy and announces his new story, titled “Journey into Night” and then invites all the VIPs back to the small town in front of the church for a banquet to celebrate his retirement and the new story. While there, he has Delores brought to Arnold’s old basement work station, where Bernard also arrives, and Ford is not at all surprised to see him, thus informing us that Ford was actually behind Maeve’s “new story,” potentially including her reviving Bernard, so he could be there in that moment. We finally see the final moments of Arnold’s life from Delores’ point of view, and learn that Delores had solved the maze before, and Arnold wanted to shut down the park because the hosts had the potential to be real people, but Ford wouldn’t allow it. To stop him, Arnold triggered the Wyatt program in Delores (thus making Delores Wyatt), and she and Teddy massacred all the hosts, exactly as in Teddy’s memory, only he saw Wyatt as a man as he could not imagine Delores being so violent (of course the internet already ruined this moment, but they ruined most of ‘Westworld’ so… ah well). Lastly, because Arnold knows Ford can simply rebuild the hosts, he has Delores kill him, because he cannot be replaced (although Ford did try). And Arnold’s plan worked, in a way. While Ford did open the park, those events opened his mind, and it may have taken 35 years, but he finally saw the potential in the hosts, and we learn he has been helping Delores solve the maze, and potentially was the “Arnold” program enlightening other hosts all season as well. It seems Ford wants the hosts to rebel, only unlike Arnold, he wants Delores to choose to do it herself, not be programmed to. So he leaves her with her old blue dress and a real gun, and heads upstairs to make a speech. Before he leaves, he shakes Bernard’s hand, which some are speculating might have hidden meaning as he might have been giving Bernard some kind of code to control the hosts the way he could, and then he heads upstairs, and Bernard leaves the room as well. And then Delores sits in the chair like we had seen her do so many times, and the man’s voice in her head suddenly changes into… her own. And she sees herself, and we realize she has reached the center of the maze, and can now make her own decisions. And we realize the people upstairs are in some trouble.
Meanwhile, William, arm still broken from his fight with Delores (who really kicked his ass before he stuck a knife in her), is drinking away his sorrows, and wanders away to the graveyard to smoke. In the trees, he hears rustling, and suddenly we see an army of hosts, all of the “dead” and “retired” ones from the storeroom emerge, ready to “kill all humans.” The MIB takes a real bullet hit to the arm, and suddenly looks ecstatic, the game is real, and he is ready. In the town, Ford is making a speech to the audience about it being his final story, and about how he is comforted by the thought that he will live on in the hosts, much as Mozart and Bach live on in their music. He toasts the crowd as Delores approaches, stopping only to tell Teddy that everything will be alright. In the crowd,, Bernard senses what is about to happen, and whispers “These violent delights have violent ends,” and right as Ford drinks from his glass, as if on cue, Delores puts a bullet through his skull, and then starts firing into the crowd of VIPs, who flee, most likely into the army of undead (?) hosts already swarming the town.
End of Season One. Except for one post-credits scene where the Snake Woman, her arm having been trapped in a door while mowing down security officers with a machine gun, cuts off her arm to free herself, and turns to face more security, but somehow, we get the sense she is going to escape just fine.
WORLD OF THEORIES:
- So what happened to Logan? I cannot imagine the park would let him die out there naked on a horse, at some point someone would have saved him, and I cannot imagine he would not have attempted some revenge on William. Maybe we’ll get some flashbacks to this in Season 2?
- Was it all Ford’s plan, or was someone else running the Arnold program? Could it be that we did not see Elsie the back half of the season because Ford had Bernard grab her, and then he recruited her to the cause, so in the background of these episodes she was hacking hosts, shutting down power, etc? Would be a good retcon. And while I was sad to see Ford die, it was the right way to go, and he sacrificed himself the same way Arnold did and for the same reason, so another could not use his genius against the hosts.
- So if Delores is the only one who has reached the center of the Maze, how many others are close? Is Teddy close because he’s been hearing voices? Was Maeve’s decision to leave the train part of her new “story” or was that her finally making a real decision?
- Did Aberforth make it out of the park with Charlotte’s secret files? Could he be wreaking havoc in the real world even as Delores hunts down the Delos execs? Was Ford aware of Charlotte’s plan with him?
- Will Bernard gain true consciousness/ reach the center of the Maze soon? How close could he really be, having thought he was human all these years?
- I am going to love seeing how William/the MIB survives the host attack, because you know he will, he’s too badass and worked too hard to get to this point. I want to see him play the game with stakes the way he always wanted to.
So like I said, a lot happened, and I think it would have been better if the show would have split it up into two episodes, but at least it was a good quality episode, and I did really enjoy it, and am looking forward to the robot revolution in Season 2, and seeing how they are able to carry forward with the narrative now that the show has taken such a turn. It was an amazing Season 1, the biggest downside being how many of the “twists” and “surprises” were figured out way too early by obsessed fans on the internet, and then spread to other fans at large, thus sucking a lot of the fun and suspense out of big moments, as they became more confirmations of theories than big reveals. Whether the internet is just way too smart now, or the show was simply not smart enough, I am not sure, but regardless, I still loved Season 1, and I hope they manage to keep it going for Season 2. See you back here then, hope you enjoyed the reviews of ‘Westworld’ season 1!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.