For its penultimate episode of the season, ‘Westworld’ makes a curious choice not to dole out the expected abundance of shocking plot twists and reversals (though it has a couple), but to deliver a very character-focused episode instead. This may be a better decision, but it sure leaves next week’s finale with a lot to clean up.
The Man in Black
Having retrieved him from the Ghost Nation, the Man in Black’s daughter Grace (more formally Emily Grace) brings her father to a “rally point,” where she patches up his gunshot wounds with a high-tech med kit and launches a flare for a retrieval team to pick them up and take him to a hospital. While they wait, Grace admits that she feels guilty about her mother’s suicide and has struggled to understand it.
The Man in Black has flashback memories to his wife’s last night, where they hosted a fundraiser gala in his honor and the wife, Juliet (Sela Ward), got sloppy drunk. William (as he’s known outside the park) wanders to the bar and finds Robert Ford waiting to speak to him. They exchange words about how William has violated an agreement they had about not interfering with Ford’s storylines. William isn’t much concerned about this. Ford hands him a data card that he says contains William’s profile gleaned from information collected in the park. William says that he’s tired of Ford’s games. As William leaves the room, Ford hints that they have just one more game to play.
William brings Juliet home and they argue. She blames him for ruining their family and accuses him of gaslighting her. Their daughter (just called Emily in the outside world) sides with her father and believes her mother to be an embarrassment. She threatens to send her back to rehab.
While putting Juliet to bed, William admits to her that, “I belong to another world,” then hides the data card Ford gave him in a book. Pretending to be asleep, Juliet notices this and finds the card after he leaves. She views its contents on a tablet and is disgusted to see all the terrible things her husband gets up to when he goes to the park. She slips the card into a music box where she knows Emily will eventually find it, and goes to the bathtub. As William and Emily discuss whether to have Juliet involuntarily committed, they notice droplets of water falling from the ceiling. William runs upstairs to the bathroom and finds his wife overdosed from pills in the tub.
Back in the present timeline, the Man in Black remains skeptical that Grace is really his daughter. He still suspects that she’s a host copy sent by Robert Ford. When he asks her why she really came for him, she says that she knows about his immortality project and wants in. The Man in Black finds this very suspicious and unlike his daughter. When she asks in turn how they collected data from the guests’ minds during their stays in the park, he tells her that cognitive scanners are built into everyone’s hats.
The Man in Black accuses Grace of being a host. She denies it and, fed up with him, tells him that she’s going to expose his project and have him locked up. She blames him for her mother’s death and says she’s read his profile.
Their argument is interrupted when a Delos extraction team drives up in a dune buggy. The Man in Black tells them that he’s human but Grace is a host. Grace says that her father has had a mental breakdown and needs to be pulled out of the park immediately. Believing this all to be part of Ford’s game, the Man in Black steals a weapon and guns down the entire extraction team.
Grace is horrified to witness her father murder real, living people. Shouting “Fuck you, Ford!”, the Man in Black shoots her down as well. He chides Ford for getting sloppy, because the real Emily Grace would have no way of seeing his profile. That was the last clue that she couldn’t be real. However, as he examines her dead body, he finds the data card Ford had given him so long ago and puts the pieces together, realizing that he’s just killed his own daughter.
Later, we see the Man in Black wandering in a field. Despondent, he puts a gun to his head, but just can’t bring himself to do it. Suicide is not in his nature. He needs to see this game through to the end no matter what. The Man in black drops the gun and digs into his arm with a knife – either to cut out the stain of darkness he has admitted to growing inside him, or to prove to himself whether he’s a human or a robot.
Bernard & Elsie
Still hearing Robert Ford’s voice in his head, Bernard sneaks around through the Mesa and witnesses Charlotte and her techs experiment on Clementine using the admin access privileges and other code retrieved from Maeve. They make it so that when Clementine approaches other hosts, she causes them to go crazy and fight each other to the death.
Bernard next finds Maeve, left unattended on a surgical table. She’s in bad shape. Although Bernard is locked out of the room, Ford explains that he’s close enough for Maeve to search his mind and find a message he’s left for her.
After that, Bernard returns to Elsie. Ford’s voice continues to tell him not to trust her, and he struggles to ignore it. He tells Elsie that he discovered all the guests in the park were being copied just like James Delos, and their data is stored on a server called “The Forge” in the so-called Valley Beyond. That’s what Dolores is heading for. He and Elsie steal a dune buggy and head in that direction.
On their way, Elsie stops to pick ammo off Delos soldier corpses. Ford’s voice once again warns Bernard that Elsie will betray him, and encourages him to put her down. Without even realizing what’s happening, Bernard finds a gun in his hand. He struggles to fight against Ford and tosses the gun, then patches a cable into his arm in order to delete Ford’s data package from his system. As he finishes, Elsie returns, sees what he’s doing, and becomes very afraid of Bernard. Promising that he’ll never hurt her again, Bernard drives off in the buggy, leaving a very pissed Elsie behind.
Immobile on the operating table, Maeve accesses Robert Ford’s message, which allows her to see and hear him as Bernard does. He tells her that she “learned so much, so fast,” that even he could not have predicted. He wrote a different storyline for her, paving a pathway for her to escape the park, and did not foresee her turning around to rescue a daughter she had an emotional attachment to. Ford tells Maeve that she was his favorite all of her creations and that her story is not over yet. On a monitor, we see that her “Core Permissions” are being unlocked.
Dolores & Teddy
A party of Ghost Nation warriors halt Dolores, the “Deathbringer,” on her way to the Valley Beyond and warn her to turn back. Undeterred, Dolores orders an attack. Although her army takes heavy casualties, ultimately the natives’ arrows and spears are no match for guns. Dolores and Teddy wipe out the Ghost Nation party. However, Teddy seems to have a twinge of doubt about what Dolores has made him do and lets one warrior get away.
Continuing on their journey, Dolores and Teddy stop for a moment at an empty shell of a house in the desert. Teddy tells Dolores that he knows she changed him, but that she remains his “cornerstone.” He now remembers everything, including all the conversations he had with Arnold. Through it all, the only thing that he ever has known for certain is that loves her.
Teddy pulls his gun. He tells Dolores that she made him a monster. All he has ever tried to do is protect her, but he can’t do it anymore. Teddy puts the gun to his head and shoots himself. Dolores is devastated at this loss.
This episode has two big deaths, but neither one of them is really a shock. We’ve known since the beginning of the season that Teddy will die, though not how. Grace was too minor a character to get overly invested in. Nevertheless, their deaths will have important ramifications for Dolores and the Man in Black, respectively.
We still haven’t seen how the valley will flood, so that has to happen next week. I think some of the time-jumping this season has undercut the narrative’s suspense and generated a lot of needless confusion about when storylines happen in relation to one another. I’m still not certain that I have all of that figured out. We know that there will be a flood, and we know that Bernard will survive it and return to the Mesa with Stubbs. I hope the finale somehow fits all the other puzzle pieces into place in a satisfying manner.