In its bid to expand the scope of the story this season, ‘Westworld’ finally takes us outside the park this week. In doing so, the show also gets tricky with jumping around the timeline some more.
The Outside World
Like many episodes of the series, this one opens with Dolores waking up to be questioned by her designer, Arnold (Jeffrey Wright). This time, however, they’re not in a windowless laboratory, but sitting in a skyscraper looking out over a nighttime urban cityscape. Dolores is astounded by what she sees. She’s also sporting a modern-style haircut and wearing a white dress that attentive viewers will note is similar to the one worn by Angela, the host who greeted William into Westworld in early Season 1.
Arnold exchanges some off-camera words with Robert Ford. (Anthony Hopkin’s voice is heard but his face is not seen.) Arnold insists that Dolores’ programming is not ready for the task Ford needs and he’ll have to use another girl instead. Meanwhile, Arnold takes Dolores for a walk through the city and brings her to a building under construction that he says will be a home for his family. Dolores repeats a line she said earlier, which may be the reason Arnold felt she wasn’t ready. She asks if she’ll ever get to see this again and Arnold promises to bring her back.
Next, young William (Jimmi Simpson) begs off from a dinner meeting with his obnoxious brother-in-law, Logan. We learn for the first time that Logan’s last name is Delos and he’s the son of the founder of the Delos Corporation. Logan meets with representatives from something called the Argos Initiative, one of whom is Angela (Talulah Riley). They offer him a private demo of a new VR experience. Logan isn’t terribly impressed when they bring him to a room filled with milling party guests, until they suggest that someone in the room isn’t real and challenge him to figure out who’s the robot. He’s intrigued, but dismisses everyone there as obviously human… except Angela. He pegs her as a robot and is amazed at her realism and physical perfection. Angela then really blows his mind when everyone in the room except the two of them freeze in place, revealing that they’re all robots. Looking around the room, we can see Sweetwater whore Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) playing piano. Logan is flabbergasted. “We’re not here yet! Nobody is!” he exclaims. Logan being Logan, he then expects a more in-depth demonstration of Angela’s realism, one that will involve intimate physical contact and fewer clothes.
We then jump forward an undisclosed amount of time, to a point after William’s original visit and initiation into the park. In Sweetwater, we see Dolores and Teddy acting out their meet-cute for the umpteenth time. Suddenly, everyone in town freezes as a helicopter flies overhead and lands nearby. On board are William and James Delos (Peter Mullan), Logan’s father. In their conversation, we learn that Logan has gotten in over his head investing in the park, which is failing financially. The elder Delos grumbles about having to bail out his incompetent son. He has no interest in buying a theme park. William pitches him on the idea that the true value of the park will be to spy on the guests who visit it and act out their darkest impulses. This suggests a blackmail scam, but that sounds too simplistic for this show. Delos is impressed by William’s backbone and having the balls to speak to him like none of his sycophants will.
Another time-jump forward, Dolores plays piano at a retirement party for James Delos, who appears to be sick, possibly dying. William is his hand-picked successor and has made a great success of the company and Westworld. Logan, meanwhile, is a self-pitying junkie who babbles about how the park will represent the extinction of the human species.
Present Day, Dolores
A bloodied man in a tuxedo, obviously an escapee from the board gala massacre, stumbles into an operations outpost. The techs there have no idea what’s happening outside and try to inform him that he’s not allowed inside. However, Dolores bursts through the doors after him with Teddy and a band of her other followers. Teddy can’t comprehend what he’s looking at in the lab. Dolores makes a tech show Teddy photos of his many previous deaths.
Dolores tortures the tuxedoed man into telling her that the corporation’s emergency failsafe is to send 600-800 soldiers to the island to clear the park. To fight that, she’ll need her own army.
Later, Dolores and Teddy run into Maeve and Hector. Dolores tries to recruit them to her cause, but Maeve has no interest in her revolution and simply walks away.
Dolores then tracks down the rebel army known as the Confederados and informs them that they will be fighting in her war. Their leader, Major Craddock (Jonathan Tucker), dismisses her as a foolish woman and a waste of his time, until Teddy and Dolores’ other followers gun down all the Confederados, Craddock included. Dolores make the tech she kidnapped revive Craddock, and tells him that she is his god now.
The Man in Black
Still under his original programming and playing out a storyline as if nothing has happened, bandit Lawrence (Clifton Collins, Jr.) finds himself strung up from a tree, dangling upside down over an anthill for the crime of horse rustling. Old William, the Man in Black, rides up and shoots his captors, then cuts Lawrence down. He needs allies for the mission ahead. He tells Lawrence that he’s going to get the answers he wants about the true purpose of the park and then he’s going to burn the whole place to the ground.
The Man in Black and Lawrence make their way to the hellhole town of Pariah, where they encounter revolutionary warlord El Lazo, a role Lawrence himself had previously played but has now been replaced by a new host (Giancarlo Esposito). Much like Dolores, the Man in Black is trying to recruit an army, pitching El Lazo on the idea of a “real ending.” His efforts are less successful, unfortunately. Speaking words direct from Robert Ford, El Lazo delivers the message: “This game was meant for you, William, but you must play it alone.” All of El Lazo’s men turn their guns on themselves and commit suicide, and El Lazo grabs the Man in Black’s gun and does the same.
When Lawrence asks where they’re going now, the Man in Black tells him that they’re heading for his “greatest mistake.”
Dolores, Past and Present
Dolores is woken up for another interrogation, this time not by Arnold but by William. Feeling sickened with himself for ever having feelings for her, he scornfully tells her, “You really are just a thing.” William says that he’s interested in answering a question no one’s even dreamed of asking, and shows her a major construction project underway in the park.
In the present, Dolores remembers all this. She tells Teddy that they’re heading for Glory, which is not a place, but a weapon that will destroy them all.
This is a fascinating episode, perhaps even better than the season premiere. Even as it expands in scope, the show’s mysteries are growing deeper and more complex – which is really saying something for a series that thrives on its almost impenetrable mysteries. To its credit, I think the narrative is actually easier to follow this year now that all the groundwork of the first season is out of the way.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think the true purpose of the park could be something as simple or crass as blackmail. We know that the park’s operators have been saving DNA samples of all its guests, which suggests the possibility of replacing them and sending robot doppelgangers out into the real world. For what purpose, though? To replace world leaders and other important figures, perhaps? William’s conversation with James Delos also hints at life extension for the obscenely rich by way of transferring consciousness and memories to robot hosts. That would play into Logan’s mutterings about the extinction of humanity.
What I’m not understanding at this point is how William, as a young man, could have been instrumental in the development of Westworld as something more than just a tourist attraction, and yet as an old man claims to be searching for the true purpose of the park. Wouldn’t he be the guy to know? Did Robert Ford pull the wool over his eyes with something even more ambitious than his own wildly ambitious plans?