SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.
Now that band launch season is over it’s time to play catch-up with some of the series currently airing for the Spring 2018 TV season. First up on the list is what is likely the most popular sci-fi show on television in recent years, Westworld. No doubt the break out series of last year and a worthy replacement for Game of Thrones (although in a different genre) when that show finishes out its run on TV next year.
After watching four episodes of this season I’m not so sure how I feel about her anymore. The last season did an excellent job of establishing her as a character and truly getting us viewers to understand and sympathise with her in her vengeful quest for this season. In fact, I think a lot of us were excited to see her exact that revenge on the Delos corporation once the story continued. I don’t really feel that way anymore.
I thought that going into this season, Dolores would be leading the other hosts toward freedom. She does claim to be doing that, but she isn’t actually going around telling hosts the truth of their existence and helping them achieve sentience so that they can become truly free. They’re free in that the limitations that were placed on them in their programming – namely that they couldn’t hurt guests – have been removed, but they’re not self aware. Guiding them toward that doesn’t seem to be Dolores’ goal. She’s actually going around killing hosts which, by episode four, we’ve seen her do more than once. She’s not the saviour to them that I thought that she would be.
It looks like Teddy isn’t too keen on what she’s doing right now either. I really wish she hadn’t seen him disobeying her orders and letting the Confederados go free. I’m pretty sure that he was the host we saw at the bottom of the sea at the end of the premiere and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was the one who put him there, despite Arnold saying that he killed them. I fully expect Teddy to leave her and her little crusade at some point.
Aside from plain old simple revenge, she’s stated that she intends to go to the human/real world. Which I honestly think is a dumb idea. I’m not even entirely confident that she can make it out of the park. I don’t think that she really thought that through because, really, what the hell is she going to do in the human world? I haven’t completely dismissed her, though, because we have seen that in the distant past she did go to the human world and she’s been letting on that she knows a great deal about it.
I suspect that we’ll be seeing more flashbacks to her time there and we’ll learn exactly why she’s so confident that she can go there and do what it is that she wants to when she does. She has to have spent far more time there than we’ve seen. At this point, really, it seems like a delusion that she could achieve whatever it is that she hopes to.
She’s also been letting on that she knows what it is that Delos is really after. That ever mysterious “real” reason that the parks exist. Which brings us to…
At first I thought that Delos’ real goal was some next-level data mining about their guests that not even Facebook could match. We did see Charlotte take him to the secret lab with the drone hosts clearly logging guest experiences and DNA and William did take James Delos to Westworld and spoke about learning what people really want. However, given that we then saw William working on some Altered Carbon kind of host/sleeve for James Delos, that could also be what they’re after. Either one is plausible. Perhaps it’s even a combination of the two. It would be strange, though, that they’re taking guest experiences and DNA to make immortal bodies for them and not telling them about it.
As to the host/human brain that Bernarnold retrieved, I think that there’s a pretty good chance that it’s Arnold. It can’t be Robert because it would just make everything he did last season irrelevant, plus Delos wasn’t very fond of him and the last thing they would want would be to bring him back. It can’t be James either because William decided that resurrecting him wasn’t right. It’s a mystery why Delos would bring Arnold back, but I could see Robert doing that for sure. If he was working with Delos on their secret project he could have made a human/host brain for Arnold easily. Maybe the Bernarnold we see in the present is an Arnold human/host and not Bernard.
It’s obvious that it’s through Bernarnold’s story line this season that we will find out the truth about the secret operations within Delos and what their endgame is. His story so far has been about uncovering everything they’re doing and he’s been doing so at the behest of Robert. It looks like Bernarnold already has, but thanks to his “brain” damage, he can’t recall his “floating” (as Elsie termed them) memories and doesn’t even know when he is. So he’s rediscovering that information with Elsie.
Speaking of Elsie, none of us were operating under the illusion that she was dead. If a character doesn’t die on screen, they aren’t dead at all. It wasn’t much of a surprise that she came back. Since she’s with Bernarnold in the “Two Weeks Prior” timeline but absent from the “Present”, I think that she is somehow involved in the killing of the hosts. She’s going to be with Bernarnold for a significant amount of his journey of discovering what Delos is up to and she may even find out what that is along with him. I’m fairly certain that by the “Present” timeline he knows.
I have no doubt that whatever it is that they discover is the impetus for why Bernarnold (and I believe Elsie is involved too) killed all of the hosts. After all, the hosts are the key tools that Delos is using in their secret plans. Without them, I imagine it would be impossible to carry them out. It will be interesting to see how killing them will affect Dolores’ plans as well; if they hinder or help her or if that was a part of it all along. The site at which they find them is the same one that William showed her under construction thirty years ago.
William/The Man in Black
It wasn’t much of a surprise that William had been working on creating a host boy for James. I got the impression that the show would head in that direction during the scene at James’ retirement party. Before we move on, I just want to say that it was incredibly creepy that he had Dolores there and the way that Julie looked at her makes me think she had some idea of what happened in Westworld between William and Dolores.
Although James suspected that William wanted him to die already so that he could take over Delos, I never got the impression that that was something that William wanted. During the baseline tests it looked to me like William genuinely wanted to bring James back. Although by the final one – and honestly, even the first one that we saw – it was way too late to bring him back. Three decades had passed and his wife and children were dead. What would have been the point? Not only that, how would Delos have explained it? Or would they have used him to advertise their new immortality services?
I’m not sure if it was the repeated failed attempts that discouraged William or Juilet’s suicide that made him change his mind. I am inclined to believe that it was the latter, but it seemed/seems like her death happened a good few years prior to the start of the show and William’s last visit with James was just before the host uprising. Juliet’s death was what pushed him to save Lawrence’s family and the rest of the townspeople, however, and it was really weird – but still heartwarming – to see him have a genuine, human moment like that. He’s been nothing but ruthless and wretched since his introduction.
His whole search for the door is very reminiscent of his search for the maze last season. He’s pretty much doing the same thing in pursuit of something else. How his search for the maze brought out the worst in him, the search for the door is bringing out the best of him. He’s definitely on a redemption arc in this season and the whole beginning and end, cryptic message he keeps getting from Robert makes me think that perhaps he’s going to end up reuniting with Dolores. It was his love affair with her and the fracturing of that that made him The Man in Black; it was the “end” of “William” and the “beginning” of his new persona.
Maeve hasn’t really done much of anything for the season yet, but that doesn’t make her story line less interesting. For the most part she is serving as the vehicle for the show’s thematic development and exploring its philosophy. She definitely had the most to do in the first episode and she wasn’t even in the fourth. She’ll be in Shogun World the next time we see her, though, and that’s what fans have been looking forward to seeing from her the most, I think, since that park was much talked about last season.
I do find the relationship between her and Hector sweet since it is a relationship that they chose for themselves, not one that was programmed into them. From the very first episode, just looking at the clear affection between the two (and Maeve’s love for her daughter), I couldn’t understand how Sizemore could see it and still not believe in their sentience. Maybe he will be on a bit of a redemption arc this season as well and by travelling with Maeve and Hector he will come to see the hosts as more than just machines.
Her encounter with Dolores now that they’re both sentient was one that I was waiting for and, though brief, I can’t say that I was particularly disappointed. Dolores having been the one to ignite Maeve’s awakening is something I’m sure that both of them remember. Their contrasting approaches to exercising their freedom and seeing those ideals somewhat literally at odds was fascinating and enthralling. I was quite fearful for Maeve in that moment because we had seen Dolores kill hosts before. She has no problem doing that. But Maeve made a very good point that if she believed in freedom, she would let them go.
Other characters I liked seeing her reunite with were Felix and Sylvester. The interactions between her and them were some of the best parts of the last season and it was nice to know that they weren’t dead. They were probably the ones who gave Armistice – who is also nice to see again – her new arm and that’s why they’re still alive in the first place. I’m not sure how wise it is of Maeve to have taken them with her, but had they stayed where they were, they would be even less safe. There is literally no escaping what’s going on in the park. We’ll see how well their little rag-tag team does in the upcoming episodes.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9PM on HBO.