Even the biggest detractors of ‘Westworld’ Season 2 (meaning those who claim this season has been “too slow” for them) should be satisfied by this week’s high intensity outing, chock full of action, character moments, big reveals, and a couple of big shocker moments that made the hour really fly by. I personally needed a minute once the episode was over just to process everything that happened in this week’s episode, it was just that dense. And I loved every minute of it.
Starting off with the Maeve story, which incidentally gets intertwined with the Man In Black’s (William’s) story this week, she and her daughter pick up right where left them, fleeing into a wooden shack that looks awfully familiar after all of Maeve’s PTSD flashbacks to the last time the Ghost Nation attacked her. Coincidentally enough, William and his henchmen are also being chased by the Ghost Nation and they end up in the exact same area. Maeve freezes as she hears their horses approach, and sees William’s distinctive hat pass by the window, perhaps feeling a sense of deja-vu with the rest of us as William was also there when she lost her daughter the first time.
William enters looking for cover but Maeve is not having it, and attacks the man, shooting first and causing William to flee. After telling her daughter to stay put, Maeve heads out after William, summoning all of her powers to turn William’s men against him with William taking quite a few bullets as he has to take down the gang he brought with him. Finally, Maeve is holding a gun alone to William and appears triumphant except she did not spot Lawrence. He approaches, gun on Maeve, and she finds she cannot control him.
Apparently, his time with the MIB has “woken up” Lawrence, and Maeve cannot control those no longer stuck in their story loops in the park. So instead, she helps wake him further, prodding his memories of William’s past betrayals, which cause Lawrence to make his own choice to turn on William and he shoots the man multiple times. Unfortunately for Maeve, in this moment she sees that her daughter has left the building and is being abducted by the Ghost Nation, and while she screams in terror some QA men (brought there and led by Lee) arrive, shooting down Lawrence and Maeve but not before Lee tells them not to kill her as she is important. He saves her and they drive off back toward the Mesa, though as they pull away we see that William is hiding amongst some barrels, somehow still alive despite all those bullets.
As for Dolores and company, they enter the Mesa from the entrance they created with the train explosion and wreak havoc with the Delos people there, easily cutting them down despite their future tech (including some nifty haptic vests that alert the user when a Host is nearby and what direction they are approaching from). While Angela and Clementine head to the Cradle for their own mission (a task which sadly appears to take both of their lives), Dolores and Teddy continue to make their way to the main floor where Abernathy is being held.
Knowing time is short, Charlotte is desperately trying to get the “key” out of Peter’s head, but the techs inform her the data is too massive to transfer that quickly so she tells them to just rip out his control unit so they can transport it more easily. Unfortunately for her and Stubbs (who seems appalled by everything going on and dislikes that Charlotte has been keeping secrets), Teddy and Dolores take over the room before they can get to Peter’s control unit, and a tense (but awesome) scene ensues where Dolores and Charlotte trade insults. Charlotte thinks Dolores’s people are trying to get to their “back-ups” in the Cradle to ensure their immortality but Dolores balks at that suggestion, just as Angela blows up the Cradle ending all Host back-ups. Dolores informs Charlotte that she knows what is inside Peter and what to do with it and also what Charlotte and Delos are really doing in the park.
She then demands to know how to remove the “key” from Peter’s head, learning that Charlotte intended to remove his control unit (mind) from his head. Dolores threatens to slice open Charlotte’s head instead, but Delos reinforcements arrive on the floor (including Coughlin) and she and Teddy are distracted enough for Stubbs and Charlotte to escape. Teddy kills Coughlin (brutally) and Dolores says her final goodbyes to her father, who fortunately has a lucid few minutes before the end where he talks with his “daughter” and says he loves her, right before we cut away (though it is made clear Dolores ripped open his head and took his control unit).
While leaving the Mesa Dolores spots the wounded Maeve next to the returned QA cars from earlier, and they converse, with Dolores genuinely sad to see Maeve in her (potentially) mortally wounded state. She offers to end Maeve’s misery but Maeve informs her she promised her daughter she would save her. Dolores respects her choice, though she warns that these “memories” and fake relationships are more of the chains used to control them. Maeve counters that they are a large part of who they are. Dolores leaves Maeve behind and we see that Lee has escaped the carnage and is hiding in the garage, presumably having heard the exchange between the two women, though what his next move is we do not know.
Lastly, we have Bernard, the most interesting, confusing, and thought-provoking story of the night. He has met up with Ford in the Cradle, and we learn that it was Ford’s control unit (meaning a unit built from a copy of Ford’s mind) that Bernard stole and put into the Cradle, thus “saving” Ford before Dolores could kill him. Ford also reveals that the Delos experiment of immortality still has not been perfected, so this was not him cheating death, as he cannot go back into the real world without suffering the same consequences as the Host body version of James Delos. The only place his mind can survive is in the Cradle, which can sustain his digital self indefinitely. Ford decides to show Bernard where he was made and takes him to the Cradle version of Arnold’s house (the foundations of which we saw earlier this season0. He reveals that the Delos experiment did not exist before Arnold died so they had no way to preserve/copy/save his mind or consciousness before Dolores killed him. Ford made an attempt anyway with Bernard. He claims Bernard is a unique creation because his “fidelity” to Arnold and all the work put into crafting him was done by Ford and DOLORES, the Host who knew Arnold better than anyone and who spent years with Bernard in the Cradle testing and interviewing him before satisfied that he could pass for Arnold. Ford claims that is what makes Bernard and the Hosts so special, they are unique creations, not just a back-up copy of a human mind as Delos wants the technology of the park to become. He also reveals that the park itself is nothing more than an experiment designed to test true human motivations, expression, and thought patterns so Delos could copy the minds of the guests with the park loops and the Hosts actually being nothing more than the controls in that massive experiment and each guest being a new variable tested, researched, and logged.
Ford concludes his monologue by claiming that Bernard is basically too nice to do what needs to be done next and while Bernard argues that Ford gave them all free will, Ford apologizes and says he has to take back Bernard’s. Which is when Bernard wakes up in the Cradle with Elsie. Hearing the invaders around them, they head out with Elsie claiming that Bernard did something in there because suddenly all the park systems were functional again and the glitch was gone, our first clue as to what just happened.
Later in the hallway, Bernard sees Ford’s reflection in the glass, and we realize Ford has put his mind into Bernard’s body with Bernard, almost like his consciousness, and Ford is giving instructions that Bernard has to follow with Anthony Hopkins strutting around impishly now that only Bernard can see him. Bernard sends Elsie away on Ford’s request and then he is met by QA men in the hallway holding him at gunpoint. Ford orders him to pick up a gun and attack them, but Bernard hesitates and Ford makes a decision. Apologizing for what is about to happen, Ford takes COMPLETE control over Bernard, taking the gun and killing the QA men. Ford appears to remain in control of Bernard until some point in the future, POTENTIALLY all the way until the intro of this episode, where we see Bernard sleeping and having dreams of his “family,” memories that only Bernard would have.
After waking up in the 11 days later part of the story, Bernard and Stubbs are taken captive by the Delos people who suspect foul play in regards to the Delos exec Theresa from Season 1, and take the guys to the building where Bernard actually did kill Theresa, accusing Stubbs of the deed as they cannot imagine Bernard hurting anyone. Before they make a move though, Bernard stops them and they find a secret door that leads to a room full of old Bernard host bodies, looking damaged and defunct, and everyone is now aware of the fact that Bernard is actually a Host.
Back at the Mesa, Charlotte interrogates Bernard, with the tech messing with Bernard’s mind to make it feel like he is being waterboarded, and eventually, Charlotte seems to get the location of Peter Abernathy’s control unit from Bernard, though there is a chance it might be a trap, as Ford might have taken control again at that point, especially since they showed the inside of Bernard’s mind had some massive self re-programming and de-bugging occurring during the interrogation. Either way, it looks like everyone is heading to the “valley beyond” next week.
WORLD OF THEORIES:
- Could Maeve actually die? And if she does, will Lee pick up her quest and save her daughter?
- How much does Dolores really know?
- Does Charlotte/ Delos have an army of Hosts with copies of human minds in that Valley that this “key” can activate? Or could the key activate Hosts out in the real world?
- Is there any spark of the old Teddy still in the murder-bot we see now? And how does Dolores justify her free will nonsense when she stripped Teddy of his choices?
- HOW CAN THE MAN IN BLACK TAKE SO MANY BULLETS AND LIVE? All season he has been getting shot and the man just keeps on going – he’s either immensely tough, or he is indeed a HOST.
Phenomenal episode, so much going on, and I feel like I cannot do it justice in words alone here, it just has to be watched and experienced to appreciate everything going on. Only 3 more episodes left this season to tie up the remaining loose ends, let us know what lies in the valley bey0nd, and how the hell that massive lake engulfed the land and “killed” all those Hosts, so there is plenty more to look forward to in the final stretch. See you back here next week!