The hit HBO show Westworld is back for a second season. Each week we’re we’re going to be walking through each new episode, and giving our thoughts on how thing played out. Fair warning we’re going to get into some spoiler territory here.
This was without a doubt one of the best episodes of Westworld period. Not for the mysteries or answers it gave, but for the exceptional acting given by the entire cast, and the way it builds on these characters. What Evan Rachel Wood and Jimmi Simpson bring to this episode is award worthy. Simpson’s work here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen him do, and he really shows that he’s one of the most underrated actors working today.
The episode opens with Dolores outside of the park. In the real world with Arnold. They’re in a city near the location of the park. Dolores is to be used for a presentation, but Arnold tells Ford that she’s not ready. It’s not exactly clear what city they’re in, but Arnold is having a house built, so that him and his family can live closer to where he works. He brings Dolores to the home that’s being constructed. They talk about Charlie, and the potential for Dolores to meet him. We see how close Arnold has grown to Dolores, even before he loses Charlie. That she’s truly become a sort of child to him. But he’s brought back into focus when she repeats the phrase “it looks like the stars are scattered across the ground. Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” He promises to bring her back to his world as they head back to the presentation.
Logan and William are talking with a man at a bar. William leaves to get some rest, and two people with the “Argos Initiative,” Akecheta and Angela, meet Logan. We find out here that Logan’s last name is Delos. That the company that runs Westworld is completely his family’s company that William has seemingly took over. Logan is in town to be wooed by tech startups, all looking for Delos to invest money in their projects. He’s brought by the hosts to a cocktail party, where they ask him to figure out who at the party isn’t real. He thinks it’s Angela, and after examining her it’s revealed that everyone at the cocktail party is a host. Even Angela and Akecheta. That night Logan appears to take part in an orgy with Angela and a few other hosts. After he has fallen asleep, Dolores sees Angela getting dressed.
William, young William that is, brings Logan’s father, James, to the park. He’s not impressed at first. He tells William that he doesn’t think Westworld is a good investment. But William argues that it’s not about the future. It’s about the guests. What they really want, what they really yearn for. What they do when no one’s watching. He sells James on it.
At a retirement party for James Delos we finally meet Juliet, William’s wife, and their daughter Emily. There are a handful of hosts at the party, including Dolores, who is playing a piano. James seems to be slightly reluctant to retire, and the party also seems to be about William taking over the company. But it’s implied that James may be dying from some sort of disease. Later in the night Dolores looks out past the grounds of the home. And finds Logan who is taking some kind of drug injected into his arm. He recognizes Dolores from the trip to the park with William. He tells Dolores that the celebration is really them “fiddling while the whole species starts to burn.” And that they “lit the match.” Logan actually seems distraught over whatever Delos has done. And while it’s not clear if that has to do with Westworld or some other venture, it does seem to be something rather serious.
One thing we forgot to touch on last time was the quick moment we got with the older William, aka the Man in Black. The young Ford host met the Man in Black and told him this new game is for him, and that it would find him. He shoots the host and leaves. We continue his journey in this episode. He finds Lawrence and saves him from some hosts that have him hung over an ant mound, hoping they’ll eat him alive. He tells Lawrence that he needs his help. They find a random bar where he’s hidden a device to help heal his wounds, like what they use in the sublevels on the hosts. He tells Lawrence that they’re going to the end of this game, that they’re going to see what they’re really made of. “A glimpse of the men we could have been.” He admits that they’ve been watching everyone here at the park. Taking note of what they’ve done. Keeping the information for some reason. (Which we saw in the first episode when Charlotte took Bernard to the secret Delos site.) He doesn’t explain why, but says that he has received his judgement and he’s gonna fight it, and then burn the place to the ground. Lawrence says they have to head through Pariah to get out West.
The Man in Black and Lawrence arrive in Pariah. The city has been destroyed, and everyone has been killed. They meet El Lazo (Giancarlo Esposito), whom William says Lawrence used to be in a past life. El Lazo is the man who fought for revolution in Pariah. And he has finally won. His story has played out. He tells William he finds nothing in this victory, and William offers to give him a real ending. El Lazo tells him a story of going to the circus and seeing the Elephants being held back by stakes. That he learned that when the elephants were young the stakes were used on them, and as they got older they never tried to pull them up. He tells William he won’t go with him, that he is done. William points a gun to his head and tells him to make his men follow him. El Lazo tells William the game is meant for him but he must play it alone. His men kill themselves and El Lazo kills himself with William’s gun. William looks around. “Fuck you Robert.” And shoots El Lazo two more times. He tells Lawrence as they leave that he built the place of judgement, and that it’s his greatest mistake.
Dolores leads Teddy and a few of her fellow Hosts into the sublevels. She finally shows Teddy the truth of the park, so that he understands what they’re doing. He asks the tech why they do it. “For fun, it’s just for fun.” She gets one of the techs to reactivate an old Confederado host that can lead her to find more men. Dolores tortures a security agent to find out how they’ll come after the hosts. HE tells her that they’ll send up to 800 men for them. And shows her where they’ll all meet. Teddy is worried they don’t have enough men. Dolores has the tech wake up a dead Confederado. She tells the security guard that she knows the real purpose of this place.
The dead Confederado begins to lead Dolores and her crew to the rest of his unit. Dolores has also kidnapped the Tech from the sublevel to help her awaken hosts that have died. Angela takes off with the Confederado to find his fellow soldiers and promises to send word when they find them. Dolores and the rest of her crew stay behind, by a wagon that has been set on fire. Maeve walks up with Hector and Sizemore disguised as a sort of stable boy. Dolores begins to offer Maeve the opportunity for them to join together, but Dolores is out for revenge, and Maeve knows that freedom is about more than that. Dolores tries to persuade her, but Maeve isn’t for it at all. She challenges Dolores, stating that if she’s really fighting for freedom then she should let them go. She does.
Dolores heads into a barn where the Confederado that they woke up, Lieutenant Dunleavy, brings them to his old unit. The unit is being led by Major Craddock (Jonathan Tucker), who doesn’t seem interested in working with Dolores. Dolores and her men kill the Confederados and bring them back, convincing them to follow her.
Young William sits in the sublevels of the park, and brings Dolores back online. He tells her that she showed him himself. That she’s not a thing, but a reflection. That everyone will want what he found at the park. That he’s going to use her and the hosts. He admits he believes there’s more here at the park, an answer to a question no one has ever dreamed of asking. He asks her if she’d want to see it. They go out to the park, and they look at a construction site. He turns to her and asks, “have ever seen anything so full of splendor.
Dolores, and her people, including the Confederados arrive at a city where the rest of the Confederados are. Dolores tells Teddy that they’re not headed to a place but to a weapon. A weapon someone showed her a long time ago. One she’s going to use to destroy “them.”
There’s a lot of questions left hanging here. What is it exactly that William created. How can Dolores use it against Delos and the people who run the park. What did Delos do to upset Logan. What exactly is Ford wanting William to discover in this game. As always things just get more interesting as they go along. But the biggest question is how are Maeve and Dolores going to move forward. Dolores is wanting to kill everyone who helped build this world of hers, but Maeve sees that the true freedom rests in simply escaping the park. I don’t know if I expected their meeting to go the way it did, but I’m glad to see it play out like this. It’s much more interesting to see these two on opposite sides of the coin. And it’s setting up for some potentially great stories down the road.
We’ll be back next time with a look at the third episode of Season 2 “Virtù e Fortuna.” Be sure to catch Westworld every Sunday at 9pm on HBO.