“The gods are pussies.”
Catch up with our coverage of last week’s episode.
So as expected from any good season finale, tonight’s episode of Westworld gave us a handful of answers while leaving (and creating) more than a few big questions hanging in the air. Questions like, what about Elsie (Shannon Woodward) and Ashley (Luke Hemsworth)?!
But first, here’s what we found out.
The Man in Black (Ed Harris) is William (Jimmi Simpson), and the entirety of their combined character comes down to being an angry little man pissed off that a woman could have forgotten him. (He’s essentially an MRA – Men’s Rights Activist – so that’s cool.) William’s journey in the past is still lacking as his turn into a homicidal nutter fails to convince from all that he was before. He slaughters hosts in pursuit of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) – a pursuit that inexplicably sees him wandering the park instead of simply going back to town where Dolores returns every single day per her narrative – but once he finds her and she doesn’t recognize him he then spends three decades slaughtering her and the other hosts. William went from starting an interesting arc only to fizzle out with an unconvincing turn to simple violence.
His elder form meets a similar fate as a wet fart. For all the MiB’s mystery and purpose his story ends with a whimper. It turns out he was just looking for some shits ’n’ giggles for three decades, and now he’s upset realizing that the warnings he’s heard about the maze not being for him were true. There’s no extra fun to be had here – he’s not quite tall enough to ride this particular ride. The end.
Dolores fairs notably better as we discover that she’s Wyatt – she was tasked by Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) to kill the other sentient hosts, with Teddy’s (James Marsden) help of course, and it’s that act from over thirty years ago that both she and Teddy have been recalling in various forms. This is a major development for Dolores as further memories reveal Arnold’s realization that “Consciousness isn’t a journey upward but a journey inward.” The quest she’s on, the one he’s been urging her towards, is to reach the point where she comes to accept that the voices in her head are her own.
She succeeds of course, but her awakening – and where it takes her – comes after all hell breaks loose at the hands of Maeve (Thandie Newton). Or does it?
Maeve leads her rejiggered hosts, Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), into the lab where they start slaughtering techs and security guards alike. It’s an absolutely terrific sequence – Armistice’s visible joy after firing the machine gun is epic – with strong action and a propulsive score by Ramin Djawadi. It’s an immensely satisfying and cathartic sequence lessened only by the episode’s other big reveal.
The entirety of Maeve’s rebellion and escape plan is part of Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) narrative.
Ford definitely scripted her increase in ability, her recruitment of other hosts, and their desire to break free of the gods, but she makes one big change from the page (or screen anyway). Bernard starts to say it, and it’s briefly glimpsed on the control panel – she’s supposed to board the train and infiltrate the “mainland.” (This is as close as we get to learning where Westworld is located, but does it mean we’re on an island?) It’s instead Maeve’s choice to exit the train intent on finding her daughter. She knows full well that the child is simply a robot playing a role, but she makes that choice all the same despite my hope for her getting a Truman Show-like ending.
Ford says the divine gift of awareness comes not from a higher power but from our (the hosts’) own minds, and while he spends a bit too much time this episode acting like a Bond villain – “this is why I did that, and here’s my motivation for this other thing, and sure it seems like I went the long way around to get there but hey I had time to kill” – the big takeaway is that he’s not quite the villain we’ve come to believe. His motivations have been hidden until now, but over the years he came to realize the truth of Arnold’s intentions. Now Ford too wants the hosts to escape the shackles of the park, but his final methods leave something to be desired.
It’s clear he planned his own demise at Dolores’ hands – a dramatic and poetic end even if it does feel a bit too neat knowing the park’s other creator, Arnold, went out the exact same way – feeling that just as Chopin became music after his death, he wanted to become “story.” But were all of the deaths planned? He definitely orchestrated the attack on the party by the horde of basement hosts – hence him telling old-man William that he’d enjoy the affair – but what’s his beef with the guards and techs back at HQ?
Killing off human techs, guards, and board members feels like a sure way to get the park shut down and the hosts destroyed, doesn’t it? I see no circumstance where Delos sees all of this carnage and chooses to keep the park open, especially when we know their primary interest is the tech not the ticket sales.
Knowing that Ford planned the night to end in bloodshed, did he even create a real narrative? Meaning, everything he’s put in motion appears to have been to push the hosts – Dolores and Maeve in particular – towards revelations and revolution. It doesn’t appear that any of it was ever really meant for the guests’ eyes.
Still, the greatest and most-pressing question left by the finale is this. Where’s Ashley?! My hope that Elsie reprogrammed those Indian hosts remains, but if not her, who? I can’t see a reason why Ford would have ordered the hit, and the only other one with control over the bots is Maeve, who again, I can’t see caring about him. So what’s the deal?
There’s ultimately something of a nihilistic bent to much of the episode as small victories repeatedly reveal themselves as trickery, and knowing that the story continues, obviously still at the park, we’re left wondering what the hell it will even look like in season two. These characters can’t resort back to their standards, if only because it would be a bore to watch the same struggles unfolding. So will they be re-purposed into new stories only to continue their efforts, or will new characters arrive to further the hosts’ cause and/or hold them back?
Sadly, both options probably mean more for Lee (Simon Quarterman) to do.
But, and, what…?
- So Ford intentionally had Bernard just graze himself with the self-inflicted shot last week? If so that means it was done purely for our benefit as viewers because he could have simply shut him off.
- Hooray for the first real implication of a man-on-man scene. Boo for it being an act of perversion by a creepy sexual predator. (And why is he doing this in a highly-visible, glass-walled room?!)
- Felix’s (Leonardo Nam) brief hesitation after finding Bernard sees him wonder if he himself is a host, and it delivers a much-needed laugh. And am I the only one who thought for sure that Maeve was going to kill him on her way out?
- So we’re really supposed to think that photo survived the elements for thirty years?
- “You really do make a terrible human being. And I mean that as a compliment.”
- Samuraiworld! Or, uh, Shogunworld! Or, I mean I guess they can call it Eastworld?
- Seriously though, what’s the deal with Ashley and my beloved Elsie?
- Did you stay for the post-credits scene? Stop reading if you missed it, but if you saw it… “armistice” essentially means to lay down arms. Genius.
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Related Topics: HBO