Some shows have come to define the evolution of the blockbuster. HBO has led the charge, with “Game of Thrones” taking pole position as the show that changed television. “Stranger Things” follows this path in many ways, and now “Westworld” has leaned fully into this mold. The series comes from Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, who adapted the series from Michael Criton’s “Westworld” film from 1973. We’ve already followed along for two seasons, so recap it the finale and jump into where the show may be heading.
First, we pick up the episode with our characters strew across the desert. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is driving towards The Forge, a location that means different things to different characters. For hosts, it is the path to the Valley Beyond or Valhalla for hosts. For others, it is where the Delos Incorporated has been keeping guest data for years. Regardless, our characters begin to converge on the location.
We cut to Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) who is holding Teddy (James Marsden) in her arms after he shot himself in the head. She leaves his body, but not before taking his “pearl” or brain, with her. She encounters The Man in Black/William (Ed Harris) who is in the middle of a mental break and questioning his existence. The two of them make their way to the Forge and meet Bernard. This results in a showdown between Dolores and The Man in Black over what to do with Bernard, culminating in William’s hand getting blown off. Dolores and Bernard walk into the Forge.
Meanwhile, Maeve (Thandie Newton) repairs herself from seemingly catastrophic injuries and wipes out the Delos guards with mechanical bulls. In what has to be the best line in the series so far, she walks past the men trying to save her, simply uttering the phrase “You were both a little late. So I went ahead and saved myself” (Again, WHAT AN AMAZING LINE). She’s in full mind control mode of hosts, and she makes her way toward the Forge to save her daughter. She brings Lee (Simon Quarterman), Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) with her.
Maeve’s daughter travels with Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) and the Ghost Nation to the Forge. They believe once they arrive, they’ll find their way into a world where they belong. Even if death comes, this is their choice to make. They are pursued by the forces of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) who is looking to destroy the hosts if possible. She is using a “mental-grenade” version of Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) to force the hosts to kill each other.
Inside the Forge, Bernard and Dolores enter the digital version of Westworld, where they are met by a computer version of Logan (Ben Barnes). It is not actually Logan, but a computer system that has taken on his appearance from decades ago. Logan was James Delos’ son, and Delos owns Westworld in part because of Logan’s trip to Westworld with William (aka the Man in Black) decades earlier. Dolores and Bernard talk to Logan about the simulations that the system runs, and the quest to turn humans into hosts to achieve immortality. Logan explains that unlike hosts, humans can be boiled down to extremely simple code that leads them to the same moments over and over again. No matter how many simulations Logan runs on a human, they always end up in the same moments.
It’s at this point that Logan reveals the truth to Bernard and Dolores. There is no real salvation for the Hosts when they reach the Forge, just a world for them to escape to. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) had built the world as a sanctuary for the Hosts so that they could live on forever away from humans. Dolores sees this as another world meant to confine the Hosts, and Bernard kills Dolores to give the hosts an opportunity to survive.
Simultaneously, the hosts reach the Forge and begin to pass through into the world beyond. There is a literal rift in the world, and characters begin to reach the other side. Yet as this occurs, the aforementioned Clementine appears. She causes the hosts to begin to kill each other, and Maeve runs to the lead to save her daughter. Akecheta makes it through to the other world, where his wife is awaiting him. As characters die all around her, Maeve buys her daughter time by going full Neo and freezing the hosts. She whispers “I Love You” and is gunned down.
The Forge begins to flood and soon, Bernard realizes that despite his efforts, Delos killed many of the hosts. He then witnesses Hale murder Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) one of the only humans he actually cared for. Salvation was not what was promised and he asks Ford to return to his mind. With dozens of characters murdered, there is only one way to fix the events. We see the timeline furthest into the future, and Bernard walks into the Forge again, this time with Hale and Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård) by his side. Suddenly, Bernard remembers what he’s done, and tells Strand he’s sorry. As Strand begins to press Bernard, Hale murders Strand and all those in the Forge. It turns out, Bernard created a Host version of Hale after Elsie’s murder and put Dolores’ consciousness into the Host. The twist revealed, Dolores/Hale puts Teddy into the World Beyond and kills Bernard to retrieve his Pearl.
We pick back up with Dolores running tests in a bunker in the “real world” instead of Westworld. She escaped with the help of Delos security guard Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who is heavily implied to be a host that avoids detection. She has taken 5 pearls with her, one of them Bernard’s. She has regained the form of Dolores (Wood) and still brings the host of Hale at her side. Dolores lets Bernard know that they are in a world built for them by Ford, and the season ends.
Yet it does not, because we’re treated to a quick post credit scene. It appears as though the Man in Black is also a simulation of some sort, though at what stage or when the scene takes place, feels unknowable. Is it from the events after Season 2? Or is it as a result of the events of Season 2? I guess we’ll find out in the future.
(P.S. technically Lisa Joy revealed the scene is decades in the future in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, but do you believe her? I certainly do not).
Where do we go?
There is a lot to ponder here, and the episode is far more confusing than it sounds when it’s laid out chronologically. I skipped some parts, but frankly, things like Lee’s death really don’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of things (sadly). However, there is plenty to get excited about, so let’s dive in.
1) We’ve Cut Our Total Characters
This cannot be understated, there were too many damn characters on this show. I didn’t even list all the characters that die in this episode above. There were literally dozens, and some matter, while others don’t. It’s crazy town. It also leads to a half dozen narratives taking place in different timelines, which is not really a good thing in this case. Instead, think of this like cutting a palm tree. You cut off the medium to dying branches to make the strong ones survive. That’s what the show needed to do for a while, and this gives the show that ability. Scale it back to the main trio of Dolores/Bernard/Hale and you’ve got a wildly interesting show. Bring in The Man in Black in the real world, and you’ve got a very interesting story of corporate espionage on our hands.
2) Maeve Ain’t Gone
By showing her “corpse” at the end of the season, you’d assume Maeve had died. Yet she’s supposed to be fixed up by none other than the two humans that followed Maeve, Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolomy Slocum). The two will almost certainly fix her up, and smuggle her out in some way. At the same time, she could be used as an avatar in the park, so that the show is still based in the park in some fashion. Most important is that she comes back because Maeve is either the best or second best character on the show (depending on where you stand on Dolores). She had an amazing season, so she is a must have for this show to work.
3) Do we even need to be in Westworld?
It’s an interesting question, and the way in which the show burned through plot made it clear that Nolan and Joy don’t really care about the park. I doubt there are many more mysteries to explore, but I’m sure there’s a Deux Ex Mystery somewhere. After all, the show asks super big questions but seems satisfied with letting us float in the hypotheticals. The show is certainly more engaging for it, but it also leaves people confused on the regular.
4) Teddy’s Gone?
Yeah looks like. I hope this sticks because Mardsen can do so much more than what he’s been asked to do here. He should have been the star of this show in some fashion, yet he’s an afterthought. It’s time to move on.
5) Other Worlds?
This is the wild card. What if Maeve gets put into a different world? What if there are mysteries in the other areas? So far we’ve confirmed Shogun World (feudal Japan) and The Raj (colonial India), but there are at least 4 others to go. What are they? I would guess there’s likely one in the Middle Ages (though it could potentially be Thrones themed I suppose?). They could also really change it up and have some based in Africa, Australia, Czarist Russia, Dynastic China, the American Revolution, or other time periods. Basically, if it’s an Assassin’s Creed game, it’s probably a Westworld Park. That feels like the way the show may lean, even if they pretend to take the drama to the real world.
6) Who are the other hosts that Delores brought with her?
We watched her bring 5 “pearls” with her. We know at least one was Bernard. Who are the other 4? Who is currently inhabiting Hale’s body? As a professional, I don’t want to freak out too much, BUT OH MY GOD! WHO IS GOING TO SURVIVE? I NEED TO KNOW. It’s likely we’ll only need to wait a year for our answer, so I’m sure I won’t fall into a deep dark hole of crazy fan theories. Oh god, this is going to be a long year.