Westworld Season Finale, 2.10: “The Passenger” Episode Review
By David CranmerJune 25, 2018
Do any of us really have the free will to make our own choices? That’s the underlying theme for the finale of Season 2, and a line from Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) sums it up like this: in being free, one should be able to question fundamental drives and to override them. From the point of view of the show, humans are incapable of free will. The system gatekeeper—in the form of Logan Delos (Ben Barnes)—tells Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores (Even Rachel Wood) that humans are not complicated but rather simple and predictable because they follow internal algorithms that always bring them to the same point even when presented with a multitude of possibilities.
In that regard, the database of all the guests being amassed by the Delos Company had summed up every individual into one slim book. There’s even a book on Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgard). And when Dolores is given access to the library of the massive, four million-volume collection, she begins to study the human codes to understand them—and to defeat them. But her motivations don’t align with others, human or robot. Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) is looking to secure the database for upload to the corporate headquarters for safekeeping and to continue the project. Bernard wants the robots to be able to make their own choices but is unwilling to kill for it. And the Man in Black (Ed Harris) seems to want the destruction of the entirety, hosts and guest databanks alike.
Bernard struggles to find his own voice along with his free will. And when we believe it is finally too late and he is the last surviving host—though, in this timeline flip-flopping, it’s hard to tell what is happening when—he reveals to Charlotte and Strand that he had scrambled his memories so they could not figure out what he had done to help the hosts. In a plan for self-preservation of his kind, he had killed Charlotte after he witnessed her murder Elsie (Shannon Woodward), who had too strong of an integrity to bow down to the corporate ways. He realized that human nature can be inflexible and cruel and that the hosts will not be able to integrate with them. Then, to help Dolores out of the park, he recreates Charlotte—who will easily bypass security into the human world—with Dolores’s mindset. She carries with her a handful of control units to begin the host infiltration on the outside. My guess is that Teddy (James Marsden) is among them, but will he be able to live up to her expectations this go-round? Who else she brought with her is an intriguing question.
With all the dead hosts, one might wonder if we will see any other familiar faces in the next season. During the cleanup following the big showdown, it’s implied that the company is willing to forge, if you will, ahead with reopening the park after this massive fiasco. One of the responders instructs Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) to salvage what they can, and both look to Maeve (Thandie Newton). But her storyline may be different now that she’s kept her promise to her daughter and seen that she made it safely to the Valley Beyond where the Ghost Nation and a large number of other hosts shed their “mortal” coil to exist in the Forge, a virtual paradise. That is if Dolores hasn’t completely destroyed it. She believes the Forge to be just another false promise and gilded cage, even though Bernard reminds her that those hosts made their choice. Maybe we will also see Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), who found his happiness when he was reunited with his love in the Valley/Forge.
But in the end, is there really free will as initially stated by Ford? Have the robots really overcome their fundamental drives? I would venture to say that they are still following the same drives: Dolores still wants to go out in the world and kill the humans so their kind can survive, but Bernard still says he can’t let her do that—he has that soft heart. And yet knowing that he would try to stop her, she still recreated him because, as she puts it, she made new copies of what she remembers in a world that Ford left for them. She says they will need each other to survive but will work against each other, and that’s because they really haven’t changed.
“It’s all happened before, and it will all happen again.” Humanity’s endless loop that history is damned to repeat itself raises itself in the Westworld coda (I hope you stayed beyond the end credits), a tantalizing theme that has been seen in Peter Pan, Battlestar Galactica, Twin Peaks: The Return, The Twilight Zone, The Matrix, and my personal favorite, the gunslinger from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (there’s a bit of a similarity with Roland Deschain endlessly pursuing his own Man in Black). But I guess I’m a sucker for this trope because it still works for me. How much of what we do is choice, and can we ever break free from the endless algorithm that guides us? Here’s hoping Dolores, Charlotte, and Bernard find their way.