SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.
There is so much to unpack with this week’s episode of Westworld. Theories were confirmed, others were proven to be false, some were undoubtedly re-evaluated and this episode certainly led to the crafting of many more. A lot happened. Some of it unexpected, with a few of main players in this series winding up in places (literal and figurative) that I never would have guessed them to have ended up.
The first theory to have been confirmed in this episode was the truth of Delos’ secret project; immortality. By this point in the series, however, it wasn’t much of a theory as it was more or less confirmed quite a while ago. Bernarnold’s exchange with Robert only provided more details – that the entire park was an experiment with the hosts as controls and the guests as variables, they themselves the subjects under observation in order to be copied. As Robert later explains to Bernarnold, it seems that the guests serve as a general blueprint for humanity; the key that will enable Delos to understand humanity and thus create lasting host/human hybrids.
Robert’s motivation for freeing the host was re-framed (maybe even retconned?). In the previous season it seemed to be for altruistic reasons and/or fulfilling Arnold’s wish that they be free. But he called the hosts’ free will a mistake here, so why he freed them is kind of up in the air. Other than creating chaos and using Dolores specifically to stop Delos from completing their project, I can’t think of anything. Unless I missed a huge clue (which is highly likely).
In which case, that is soft confirmation for Dolores not being free at all because she’s doing exactly what Robert wants her to, from the moment that she killed him. Unless of course she is free but is choosing to do as he wishes because it is what she wants to do either way. Maeve herself was following a narrative throughout her awakening until she chose not to get on the train and look for her daughter instead.
The episode also confirmed that the control unit which Bernard retrieved was Robert’s mind and that he put it in the Cradle. We didn’t have to wait long at all for confirmation of that. Or to get context for last week’s opening scene. It wasn’t part of the Cradle’s simulation at all, it happened in the real world. Robert left Bernard and Dolores alone for years, in the house Arnold built for his family, conducting fidelity tests. Dolores knew Arnold best and was hard to fool, so she was the perfect person to conduct them, under the control of Robert.
A theory that was debunked was the one which supposed that the Bernarnold we see in the present point of the timeline is an Arnold host/human hybrid. He isn’t. He is, in fact, the same Bernarnold. Perhaps with Robert still in his head? Which, by the way, was one of the unexpected things that happened in this episode; Robert piggybacking on Bernarnold and leaving the Cradle. As was Bernarnold shutting down the systems immediately after saying that doing so would give Dolores “free reign” to “murder them all.” So I’m assuming that he is firmly on the side of stopping Delos from completing their immortality project.
When Stubbs assumed that Dolores and company had attacked the Mesa in pursuit of their backups I thought that he was wrong. After all, the impetus for Dolores going there in the first place was to get her father. As it turned out, Stubs was only half wrong; they were there for their back ups. Not to retrieve them, however, but to destroy them. Dolores know so very much about how everything in this place works, I’m not surprised that she knew about them even though we weren’t told that she did.
It made sense that Dolores would want to destroy their backups. As she said, they were just more chains. The show didn’t go into an in-depth philosophical exploration of what “true death” would mean to the hosts, but in my mind being able to die, for them, would be an affirmation of their existence and their freedom and give their lives meaning the same way that it does for humans. True freedom means being able to die and not be “resurrected” by the people they once served.
Charlotte may have gotten Bernarnold to give up where Peter’s control unit is – the Valley Beyond – but I don’t think that that would stop him from stopping them. Or rather, his enabling Dolores to stop them or whatever it is she plans to do with the control unit. She had a very good head start on them. We don’t know how close to the present the attack on the Mesa was, but it feels like enough time has passed for Dolores to have already done whatever it is she planned to and that will be uncovered when they finish draining the valley.
The Man in Black & Maeve
Pretty much all of their story in this episode was unexpected.
At first I thought that Maeve was the “beginning” that Robert wanted The Man in Black to return to. After all, killing her and Hannah was the first thing that he did after his wife died to see if he could feel anything. So in that way it would have made sense. However, Robert wasn’t in control of Maeve and would not have manipulated events for her to have wound up at her old home at the same time as The Man in Black. It was pretty much a coincidence, fate even. But him seeing her again, although not part of Robert’s plan, was an important step on his journey to redemption. A journey which I thought he wouldn’t complete.
It really looked like The Man in Black was going to die in this episode. Between Maeve controlling his hosts and using them to shoot him and bringing back Lawrence’s memories of his past lives (Who, by the way, has apparently been awake this whole time?!), I was certain that that would be the end for The Man in Black. At the same time, it didn’t feel like his time to go and for a moment I entertained the idea that Emily would come riding in on her horse, kill Lawrence and save him.
This was not at all a direction I saw Maeve’s story going in. I thought that her search for her daughter would wrap up far more…peacefully? Instead her hunt for Hannah doesn’t seem quite over at all now that she’s been taken by Ghost Nation. I don’t think that they have any ill intentions for Hannah. On the contrary, I think that she’s completely safe with them. Likely safer than she would be had they not taken her. In fact, when Maeve started screaming after her, I thought that Delos’ forces were about to kill her.
Speaking of, I also thought that Maeve was going to die in this episode. That would have been a terrible way to end her story and I would not have been here for it at all. Although, given her ability to control the other hosts telepathically, it would have been a good way to get rid of her now that she is overpowered. I never would have thought that Sizemore would show up and save her. It honestly warmed my heart that he did, but he did prove that he wasn’t entirely heartless and cowardly in the last episode. He did look rather regretful when he called for help.
I doubted his integrity, though, when he ran and left Maeve alone when Dolores and company showed up, as much as I don’t blame him for doing so. This was another moment when I thought that Maeve wouldn’t make it. I would not have put it past Dolores to shoot her. Instead, for the first time this season, she actually gave someone (Maeve) a choice and I think that Maeve may well be the only person she respects enough to do so. Seeing as she loves both her father and Teddy, I don’t understand how Dolores couldn’t relate to Maeve’s love for Hannah and referred to it simply as another means of controlling them. That may also have contributed to her giving Maeve a choice.
I’m afraid that Delos, through Sizemore, will find out about Maeve’s ability to control other hosts and use her as a weapon against Dolores and her posse. Dolores herself did kind of hint at it when she said that Delos will”…find all that is good and powerful inside [Maeve] and turn it against [them].” If that isn’t foreshadowing, then I don’t know what is. Even before Dolores said that, the thought had crossed my mind when Sizemore took Maeve with him. I am really hoping that that doesn’t happen.
- The irony is that it was Bernarnold.
- How are Dolores, Teddy and the others NOT damaged?
- So weird seeing all of the hosts where they were at the beginning of season one.
- Yes Clementine! Kick some ass!
- Oh Dolores let the cat out of the bag and Charlotte is speechless! And the look on Stubbs’ face!
- Robert has no qualms.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.