Features and Columns · TV

Westworld: ‘Reunion’ Is All About Taking Sides and Making Sides for the War to Come

“I’m gonna burn this whole fucking thing to the ground.”
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By  · Published on April 30th, 2018

Westworld’s second season continues with more fractured identities and broken timelines, and as much as the war has already begun it’s clear there’s far more to come. Last week’s three separate time periods gain another as we’re given a double dip into the relatively distant past. Beginnings, motivations, and more are all on the table with the driving theme being the need for various characters to choose sides for what’s to come.

Let’s take a look at season two, episode two of Westworld:

Preparing for War

Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy (James Marsten) lead hosts into the complex where Maeve blazed through previously and finds a pair of employees unaware of the carnage around them. She fixes that pretty quick and takes the opportunity to enlighten poor Teddy as to his own history. He’s so tantalizingly close to waking up, but while he’s understandably outraged towards the human tech it’s still not clear as to where he’ll land once fully enlightened. Will he stay by Dolores’ side, or will his sensitivity override her thirst for vengeance?

They head back into the park with the tech in tow with one goal. After being told that Delos will send hundreds of armed men in to quell the uprising Dolores sets out to build her own army. Her methods are pretty straightforward — first she asks other hosts to join, and if they say no she kills them, brings them back to life, and flexes that power to make them change their answer. She’s ready for the fight, but integral to her victory is something “an old friend was foolish enough to show” her long ago. It’s not a place, but a weapon, and it’s something in the park that young William (Jimmi Simpson) revealed to her many years prior. (An excavation, or the machine for excavating? A machine capable of digging out a lake perhaps?)

Her quest for soldiers sees her cross paths with Maeve (Thandie Newton), but that doesn’t put them on the same path. “Revenge is just a different prayer at their altar, darling, and I’m well off my knees,” says Maeve by way of declining Dolores’ invite to join the rebellion, and she pushes further by asking eternally distraught Teddy if he feels free under his girlfriend’s leadership. I expect that answer will come closer to the end of the season.

Older William, aka the Man in Black (Ed Harris), is on the hunt for his own army, but he’s having a far tougher time of it. He saves Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) from a hungry ant hill and tries explaining to the host what’s happening, but while Maeve and Dolores can reprogram and enlighten the MiB has only his words. “Dead isn’t what it used to be,” he says before telling Lawrence of his intention to burn the park to the ground. He takes a stab at recruiting some hosts only to be told that this game — “Find the door.” — was meant solely for him and he must play it alone. “Fuck you Robert,” is his perfectly disgruntled reply. It’s funny, but it’s fittingly exactly what he wanted — a game in the park that’s his to solve and win.

How It All Began

The timeline closest to our own sees Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores talking in highrise condo overlooking a cityscape lit from above by the stars. He tells a barely glimpsed Ford that she’s not ready yet for some event, and instead Arnold takes her for a stroll outside. She’s enamored by the beauty of it all, but when he shows her the new house being built for his family the conversation leads to a singular piece of judgment. Arnold suggests that maybe humans aren’t the ones who deserve the beauty of the world, and what should have been a throwaway comment with a machine is instead logged deep into Dolores’ memory banks.

Logan (Ben Barnes), meanwhile, is attending the event that Arnold and Dolores have skipped. It’s a pitch meeting from representatives of something called the Argos Initiative. Logan mentions how tired he is of people wanting his money for their VR/AR projects — the presence of startups pitching virtual reality and augmented reality suggests this timeline isn’t too far beyond our own 2018 — but he quickly discovers that there’s something far more exciting for sale here. He’s the only human at the bustling cocktail party he’s attending, and he’s blown away by the implications.

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A Later Past Revealing the State of the Now?

While Logan was floored by the physical fun and whizbang technological achievements behind the Argos Initiative, another thread occurring after his visit to Westworld with William in season one sees a competing agenda. Logan wondered last time how William would take his place at Delos, and this is how — William visits Westworld with Logan’s dad Jim (Peter Mullan), the Delos head honcho, and he pitches the businessman on the park’s true value. It’s not about fun… it’s about collecting data. So yeah, it’s Facebook with DNA crotch swabs and video recordings.

One line of note here suggests a possible clue about the state of the show’s “present” world. William tells Jim that in twenty years “this will be the only reality that matters.” He could mean that this will be the sole source of massive profit for the company, but what if the line refers to something happening out there in the real world? What if the real world is dying, and “created” ones like Westworld offer the only hope for people (the wealthy, presumably) to continue living. Hosts have their own form of consciousness, but what if the end goal here is to give people a host body in which to store their own human consciousness? People will survive whatever plagues the outside world by “living” in artificial bodies that are resistant to the threat. Look, I’m just spitballing here…

A party sometime later reveals William’s plan has come to fruition as he takes the reins of Delos while Logan sits in the shadows. He’s clearly distraught over being shunted aside (and maybe a little bit drug-addled too), but he mentions something that’s either melodramatic and overblown or dangerously relevant. Logan says the world is burning and that those celebrating above (the wealthy board members) have lit the match, “May your forever be blissfully short,” he says, but is it sour grapes or does he know something about the state of the world? We’ve only seen the glorious outside world during this time frame — maybe it’s not quite faring as well in the “now” of the uprising.

The final scenes from this time frame show William talking to a paused Dolores, and it’s notable that she’s once again naked on a stool. He’s the one dehumanizing her, and like any self-respecting men’s rights activist, he’s taking the opportunity to blame her for his actions. “I can’t believe I fell in love with you,” he tells her before suggesting she’s not even a “thing” and is instead a mere reflection for people like him. He’s a bad dude, and unfortunately, the structure of the show means we won’t get to see his smug mug get his comeuppance.

But, and, what…?

Keep up with our Westworld coverage.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.