Last week’s episode has been the season’s clear highlight so far in large part because it let viewers spend a good chunk of time outside of Westworld. We say goodbye to Shogun World this week — although it’s doubtful this is a permanent goodbye — and spend most of our time back on the familiar prairies, deserts, and control room floors. Rather than be a letdown, though, this week’s journey sees numerous characters achieve the goals they’ve had all season.
Maeve finds her daughter, Dolores makes an explosive strike against the park’s main compound, Charlotte finally gets Delos to send an evac team, Bernard remembers whose human/host control unit he pocketed, and Ford — remember him? — he gets to play another tune on the piano. There are still four episodes left, though, so you better believe some new questions have reared their head.
Let’s take a look at season two, episode six of Westworld: “Phase Space”
“You frighten me sometimes Dolores.”
The episode opens with another one of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) & Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) chats from before the park turned upside down with rebellion, and after wondering aloud if he should interfere in the hosts’ impending evolution things take a surprising turn. She tells him to “freeze all motor functions,” which he does, and she makes it immediately clear that even back then she was feeling out his fidelity to her and their cause. It also opens the door to further revelations regarding his actions — how much of what he’s done and will do was actually at her instruction?
Dolores’ big plan has been doled out (a bit too) slowly all season, but the main intention has always been obvious — she wants to bring the fight to the humans in charge of the hosts’ misery. That vengeance seemed destined to involve the train, and it’s fitting that the method used to bring people into the park is what she uses to take them out again. She sends the train into the tunnel — of the mountain containing the park’s main control center — and watches it explode. Several other characters are in there, but this being Westworld it’s anyone’s guess if they’re there on the same timeline.
Teddy’s (James Marsden) back too after whatever Dolores had done to him last week, and while he’s fully in her corner he doesn’t seem all that pleased about it. Her face at seeing him enter the saloon is a priceless mix of pride and terror. Did she ramp up his suffering to force him into a vengeance-fueled consciousness sooner? It’s unclear, but a passive-aggressive sidekick probably shouldn’t be trusted so we’ll see if he decides to strike back at her. Of course, we know he ends up in the lake all the same.
“You must find your child before this darkness eats us alive.”
While Dolores pursues revenge the park’s other highly enlightened host has been on a far more personal quest. Maeve (Thandie Newton) leaves Shogun World behind (sadly) and says goodbye to two new allies too. This is actually even sadder for viewers as Akane (Rinko Kikuchi) and Tanaka (Masayoshi Haneda) were part of what made last week’s episode so damn great, but the pair decides to make a home for themselves at the lakeside by the foot of the park’s take on Mt. Fuji instead of continuing the fight with Maeve and friends. The various “dopplebots” say goodbye to each other, but at least Hanaryo (Tao Okamoto) remains.
Maeve has a strong team by her side, but the final steps of her journey she takes alone. What she finds isn’t all that surprising — just because she remembers the girl doesn’t mean the girl will remember her — but the moment hits hard all the same as Maeve’s arrogant hope is crushed. The sentimental moment shatters, though, when the scripted attack by Ghost Nation warriors occurs. Maeve escapes with her daughter as her friends rally in deadly support, and that means she’s technically a kidnapper.
Surprising precisely no one, the weasely Lee (Simon Quarterman) calls in an Amber Alert.
So what’s the next step in Maeve’s plan? Odds are she’ll want to escape the park with her daughter and live happily ever after, but the path out requires a train and a terminal that’s now in pieces.
“Macho fucks are probably loving this shit.”
God, I love Elsie’s (Shannon Woodward) mouth. I don’t typically like prequels, but I would take an IT Crowd-like spinoff sitcom filled with her day to day bitching, swearing, and verbal beatdowns. She and Bernard discover that while Delos has been trying to regain access remotely the park’s nerve center — the Cradle — is fighting back against their hacks and learning each time. They go to the Cradle which is basically a computerized “hive mind” holding all the hosts living data that looks like a server room lit by Dario Argento. Unable to access it via a terminal, Bernard drops into the Cradle’s virtual world by having his control unit plucked from his head and added to the collection. What he finds is a replica of hosts and storylines, but the surprise (well, kind of a surpcise) comes in who he finds.
Ford’s back! Maybe! It’s unclear if Anthony Hopkins has actually returned or if his brief appearance here was pieced together from previous footage, CG, and an impersonator, but the narrative implications are even more interesting. Why would Ford have his “mind” uploaded into a control unit? His end last season was crafted with such care by a man who felt the guilt of what he’d done, and his death was as poetically perfect as he could have hoped for. His character didn’t seem like someone who would want another crack at life, so either this wasn’t his choice or the goal was simply just to exist eternally among his creations.
And this is where I update my prediction from the beginning of the season. I still think someone other than Bernard (or in addition to Bernard?) is hiding out in Bernard’s shell in the show’s most current timeline. My money was previously on Dolores, and while I still give her the edge it’s entirely possible Ford is the hitchhiker using Bernard’s body to get out of Westworld.
Emily’s (Katja Herbers) surprised her dad last episode, and he’s still not talking to her. Old William (Ed Harris) suspects she’s a host, but his opinion shifts leading to a real heart to heart by the campfire. It’s a struggle, and she messes with him by teasing her visits to The Raj’s pleasure palaces, but the pair bond when she apologizes for blaming him for her mom’s suicide.
William’s emotional response is real and visible in the fire reflected in his teary eyes, but his conviction towards leaving the park with her in the morning rings hollow. Unsurprisingly, he’s gone when she awakes in the morning. It’s unclear where their story goes from here. He’s still playing this one last game and seemingly destined to die in the park, so where does that leave her? Hopefully not holding his dying body, whispering words of forgiveness to him as he dies… because that would be an unfortunate and unearned ending for the Man in Black.
But, and, what…?
- What to make of Emily’s mention that Charlotte Hale gave her the free invite back to Westworld? I can’t see Charlotte doing anything out of compassion and instead suspect she had a more nefarious reason.
- “Good luck on your next review by the way.” As rough as several characters have had it here, no one is more disrespected than Ashley (Luke Hemsworth). No one.
- Ghost Nation. What’s the deal with them? Maeve can’t control them, and their leader invites her to join them as they’re “meant for the same path.” Something’s up.
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