Westworld‘s second season has been one with highs and lows for characters and viewers alike, and it all leads to this season finale. Everyone’s heading to the Valley Beyond — and we finally find out what exactly that means — but not everyone completes the journey. Major deaths! Annoying revelations! An entertaining post-credits scene! Season three can’t possibly be more of the same as the finale leaves everything and everyone leveled in one way or another.
Let’s take a look at season two, episode ten of Westworld: “The Passenger”
If each season of Westworld is meant to be its own “movie” — something co-creator Jonathan Nolan said recently about his and Lisa Joy’s TV baby — then the main plot thread stretching throughout season two has been a journey towards the Valley Beyond. Just about every character, major and minor, found themselves heading towards the mysterious destination for one reason or another, and this week saw them arrive en masse. Of course, this being Westworld, they didn’t all arrive at the same time.
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) awakes from her grief-filled spooning with a dead Teddy (James Marsten) and immediately hits the trail again. She comes upon the Man In Black (Ed Harris), still digging in his arm convinced that he too is a host (he’s not (or is he (more on that later))), and after putting a present in his revolver the two lovers turned enemies turned single-minded assholes ride together toward destiny with different desires in mind. They meet up with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) whose presence there has yet another purpose.
Dolores hasn’t been shy about her plan to savage humanity for what they’ve done to the hosts, and that goal has left plenty of her own kind in her wake as a result. Once she reaches the Forge it becomes clear that she wants to destroy it all — hosts and humans alike — but her mix of pity and vengeance first has a brief stopover inside the AI system itself for some brutal commentary on the human species.
The system takes the form of Logan (Ben Barnes) and offers Dolores and Bernard a glimpse into the Forge’s virtual playground. The copies that have been made of every single human guest exist here as books filled with code — one book per person, reminding favorably of Clive Barker’s “Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” — but while this place is a storage dump this stretch of the episode is an exposition dump. The hybrid James Delos (Peter Mullan) was set loose in here as practice in the hope that his kinks would work out and that he’d overcome his singular defining moment. AI Logan shows Dolores and Bernard the final meeting between James and Logan where the elder refuses to help his son who instead went on to overdose just six months later.
It’s hard to fault the scene as Barnes acts the hell out of it and finds a rare emotional response from viewers towards a human character, but the sequence does little for the grand scheme. Surprise, humans don’t change, and “the best they can do is to live according to their code.” We certainly don’t need a computer to tell us that, and neither does Dolores who promptly exits the virtual hub and begins destroying the Forge. As suspected, she’s the one who floods the valley floor while wiping out three-fourths of the human copies.
Which is when Bernard steps up and kills Dolores. His purpose here at the Forge, both now and on previous visits we’re only now made privy to, has been to set up a Virtual Eden for the hosts. He says they have the choice — stay “real” and struggle as a result, or leave their bodies behind and enter Eden. The “door” being sought by so many opens up allowing the hosts to pass through into their New World. Their bodies fall to the valley (the soon-to-be lake) with their minds wiped clean, and they move on to a virtual life.
This is nice in theory, and it’s undeniably fantastic seeing Teddy, Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), and the rest find their own piece of “heaven,” but it still rings like a hollow victory. As Dolores points out the cloud server could easily be found and corrupted by Delos, but more than that, after two seasons of Ford (Anthony Hopkins), Maeve (Thandie Newton), and Bernard talking up the idea of freedom for the hosts this artificial and synthetic version of freedom feels like a sad compromise.
Speaking of Maeve, she busts out of the lab via a pretty spectacular robot bull run, and along with her posse she heads towards the Door in search of her daughter. She finds the girl just as Charlotte’s (Tessa Thompson) viral marketing plan goes into full swing with Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) riding like a horseman of the apocalypse through the crowd. “This is what I love about technology. Who needs four horsemen when one will do just fine,” says Charlotte, driving home the point nicely. The hosts starts slaughtering each other, and Maeve sacrifices herself to save her daughter and others who escape into the VR Eden.
So far so good, but the episode’s third act is where things get nutty.
The “passenger” of the title is not Dolores in Bernard as I’ve been surmising all season — but Dolores in Charlotte. Turns out Bernard and Dolores both realized the errors of their respective ways, and when given the chance they acted somewhat out of character by setting up some crazy story turns for season three.
Bernard brings Dolores back as a Charlotte-shaped host who promptly killed the real Charlotte and took her place in the show’s most present timeline. She then kills off the Delos team in the Forge, beams the remaining host files to Alpha Centauri (?), and puts a bullet in Bernard’s head before boarding a flight back to the real world.
We then cut to the familiar scene of Dolores and Bernard talking in the basement, but something’s different this time as we quickly realize that this is no flashback and is instead the present. “You live as long as the last person who remembers you,” says Dolores in answer to Bernard’s question as to why she brought him back. She adds that she needs him — they need each other — and while it will most likely be as enemies it’s necessary all the same. I’ll be honest. This sequence both confused and thrilled me — it makes little sense that she would intentionally create an obstacle for herself, but I love the idea of her desire for his presence overriding her common sense. It’s very human all things considered.
If Westworld and Jurassic Park creator Michael Crichton taught us anything over the years it’s that no body-count is high enough to prevent his characters from re-opening doomed parks, so we can fully expect season three to feature the park back in action in some capacity at least. We’ve lost a lot of characters, though, so expect minor players to step up alongside the introduction of new hosts and humans alike.
We’ll also be spending time outside the park next season as evidenced by Dolores and Bernard’s chat. This again means new characters, but we’ll also see some more familiar ones. Whose balls are in Charlotte/Dolores’s bag as she exits the park? There are five, plus Dolores’ in her head, and we know one is Bernard. But who’s in Charlotte’s body out in the real world? She doesn’t speak, but we see her holding a gun at the ready almost as if she’s Dolores’ new bodyguard. So yeah, you’re damn right I’m hoping it’s Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal). That still leaves three, though, and my money’s on Maeve being among them.
I guess we’ll find out when we meet back here in two years for the season three premiere.
But, and, what…?
- “You were both a bit late, so I went ahead and saved myself.”
- Dolores using the flattened bullet from Teddy’s suicide to sabotage the Man In Black’s pistol is a terrific bit of poetic justice. Teddy’s attempts to save her from him in “life” always failed, but now he succeeds.
- “All our lost souls will be saved.”
- Why does “freeze all motor functions” work on Bernard once we know he’s a host but never did when he overheard it before?
- Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) is a host too? Meh. Feels like retconning to make the character more interesting than he was ever allowed to be before.
- Man In Black’s post-credits scene is good fun, but does it really matter? We know he’s been human while we’ve been watching, and this jump into the future does little but make for an interesting footnote on the character who long ago wore out his welcome.
- Fuck this fucking show for killing off my beloved Elsie (Shannon Woodward).
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