The Westworld creators have certainly kept their cards close to their vests, keeping us guessing for most of the season while adding plenty of teaser tidbits along the way that, when all put in place, cause you look back and say, “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” It was all right in front of us the entire time, just like Dolores’s (Evan Rachel Wood) answer in her own search (Did you find what you were looking for?).
The use of flashbacks serves as a critical tool for the show, and the entire season is basically three-quarters backstory with one-quarter “present” thrown in. But it’s not until the man in black (Ed Harris) reveals himself as William that this aspect becomes clear, and we realize that everything we watched of William (Jimmi Simpson), Logan (Ben Barnes), and Dolores was all in the past … some thirty-five years ago (according to Ford’s account). I was wondering, in the moment, how the man in black knew so well the story of William as he was retelling it to Dolores.
But Dolores is not exactly what she appears to be either—as the damsel in distress—and while we had been given some inkling to that effect, it becomes even more crystal when Ford reveals she had been merged with another character he and Arnold had been developing. Turns out she is every bit the gunslinger as her right-hand man Teddy (James Marsden). And, as most of us probably guessed in the seconds leading up to it, she was merged with Wyatt (if you had it figured out before then, kudos to you)—just as Teddy eventually remembered, but put Dolores in place of where Teddy saw Wyatt.
When Ford explains to the man in black that he’s found the center of the maze, he’s more than resentful. He’s been looking for it for over thirty years to take on a new challenge, and he believed when he found it, it would take him to the next level where the robots would be free to fight back. Ford assures him there is a new narrative that will be more satisfying.
But I found it quite satisfying that there is nothing of significance for the humans at the maze’s center—that it’s a challenge for the robots only (basically, to help them remember and discover themselves). As they had been saying all along: “The maze is not for you.”
You could almost feel sorry for the man in black if he hadn’t taken William from a seemingly good-guy white-hat to an obsessed blood-thirsty killer. I mean, he’s essentially lost his whole life to the park, after getting suckered in by Dolores, to the point where he had his company Delos—that he wrangled away from his partner Logan—fully invest in Westworld. But it all worked out exactly as planned by the puppet master Ford.
Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) is just as foolish as Lee (Simon Quarterman) to believe that she has Ford over a barrel in forcing him from his position. There’s something in Ford’s expressions that always make you feel like he’s two steps or more ahead of everyone else. He has a vision, and he isn’t going to let anything get in his way.
Scenes of over-the-top gore splatter before our eyes, especially when Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) are awakened to carry out Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) liberation plan. The duo goes on a rampage, brandishing new high-tech weapons, courtesy of security, following a botched lock down.
But they don’t make their escape with Maeve, she had already decided she is independent. She makes it as far as the metro train that leaves the park before she determines she can’t leave her daughter behind. Poor Maeve. Turns out she’s been a pawn—one who refuses to believe that she doesn’t have her own free will—instrumental in diverting security while Ford plays out his grand finale at the board’s gala. I thought for sure Maeve would end up a force to be reckoned with and would have a faceoff with Ford, but I was on the wrong track.
Back to Dolores. She learns she is a product of Arnold’s desire to recreate his son in his work, and he found a new child in her. When he realized what he had made would be an immortality of pain and suffering, he prepared to shut down the park. He had enlisted Dolores, with Teddy as back up, to eliminate the entire set of hosts, taking himself, Teddy, and Dolores along with him.
Arnold probably thought it would be over, but Ford opened the park anyway. Yet, she wasn’t truly conscious, and it took Ford thirty-five years to correct the mistake. He asks, “Do you know who you have to become to leave this place?” And his parting words to her are “forgive me.”
When Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) confronts Ford, accusing him of losing control and claiming that he is still being undermined by Arnold, Ford corrects him. He explains how Arnold didn’t know how to save what he had created. And after Arnold’s death, he finally understood—suffering leads to awakening. That’s when Ford realized he could save them, but it was going to take a long time and a hell of a lot more suffering.
And there we come full circle, with Dolores finally finding what she’s been looking for since Episode 1—herself. She is at the center of the maze. She has been awakened.
At the gala, Dolores tells Teddy that it’s going to be alright. She now understands that the world doesn’t belong to the guests. And when Ford finishes his speech, Dolores puts a bullet in the back of his head—as was planned all along. But she doesn’t stop at Ford, she takes down the board as well. And in the woods, the horde of decommissioned robots missing from the cold storage emerges, shooting William. The man in black smiles.
A slight feeling of isolation and remoteness ends the episode, as if the robots have reached their goal separately, with little connection, and now what do they do with themselves? (In a previous episode, Ford made the analogy of the greyhound finally tearing its prey to bits and then not knowing what to do.) But, of course, it’s not over yet. They have more fighting to attain their true freedom, and they will likely have to come together because, after all, the enemy is out there in hordes.
I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next season the Old West is deemphasized and the sci-fi elements of the futuristic world take hold. On Maeve’s exit, Lutz (Leonardo Nam) takes them through another division of labs where samurais are practicing their maneuvers. So there is a whole other park with the initials “SW.” I wonder if the samurais will help their fellow pioneers from the west. I wonder if there is a “JW.” Yeah, you know where I’m going Crichton fans … Jurassic World.
David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.