The following is a spoiler-filled recap/review of the second episode of Westworld: Season Two – Developed by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy
In the second episode of the second season of Westworld (“Reunion”), Dolores (played by Evan Rachel Wood) gets a glimpse of our world, the Man in Black (played by Ed Harris) teams up with an old friend, and young William (played by Jimmi Simpson) convinces Jim Delos (played by Peter Mullan) to take an interest in the parks.
“After a while it doesn’t look like anything at all.”
The second episode of the season comes from the director of Cube and Splice, Vincenzo Natali, and it opens with Dolores being brought online so that she can see the glorious city skyline of some Asian city, which she had been brought to by Robert Ford and Arnold Weber (played by Jeffrey Wright) back in the day. Off-screen Robert Ford tells Arnold that he is showing favoritism towards Dolores over the others, and Arnold insists that he isn’t ready to show her off to the world. It becomes clear here that she was supposed to be shown off (perhaps in the private meeting with Logan that we see later in the episode), but that Arnold was too protective of her.
So, instead Arnold shows Dolores something. He takes her to the home that is being built for him and his family somewhere in the Asian city, and he goes on to talk about how he doesn’t think humanity is worthy of what we have — that we don’t deserve all of this. As she reuses a previous line, Arnold prepares to take her back to the hotel and promises her that he will take her back to the real world one day. This is likely the farthest back we’ve seen this show go in flashbacks, and the scene is interesting as it keeps on fleshing out the Arnold-Dolores relationship. He looks at her as if he is her parent — he loves seeing our world’s visuals through her eyes. He doesn’t think we are good enough for her.
On the other side of the title sequence that I love so much, we return to the days of the massacre and we see the guy who Angela (played by Talulah Riley) let run away in last week’s episode. He made it to the Sector 19 outpost, but he didn’t realize that Angela and the murderous Dolores were following him to the outpost in an attempt to ‘wake up’ Teddy — which is to say, make him realize exactly what has been done to the hosts — as well as to find out how many people will come to the guests’ aid, so that she may know how many she and her army will have to take out and overpower.
This scene, as well as the other massacre-centric Dolores scenes set her up to be this messiah for the hosts, but she is so incredibly driven and filled with hatred and a yearning for revenge that her methods are becoming too harsh. Not only does she torture one of the people working on the hosts, but she also has no problem massacring her own, as evidenced by the way she treats Major Craddock and the rest of his group. Sure, they are rude, but they are all just playing their part in the game — and Dolores knows this. And yet she is so hellbent on revenge that she eliminates the hosts only to bring them back to life, which does seem odd considering how last week’s episode seemed to indicate that not everyone was worthy of going to the real world. Maybe she changes her mind somewhere along the way.
“Revenge is just a different prayer at their alter.”
If not for the excellent new information about the backstory of Delos’ involvement with the parks, the single greatest moment in the episode would be when Maeve and Dolores cross paths. These are both all-powerful hosts who have clear goals in mind, but they do not at all see eye to eye ideologically. Maeve just wants to find and care for her daughter, while Dolores is leading a vicious rebellion. Maeve has love in her ‘heart,’ and Dolores has none of it. I keep on wanting to return to one thing that was mentioned back in season one — the judas steer. I have this feeling that Dolores will end up as the judas steer here, and therefore she might lead all of the other hosts to the slaughterhouse — in this case likely the large body of water in which all of the hosts were found in last week’s episode.
Okay, so, hear me out, because I have an outlandish theory. What if the judas steer — Dolores — takes the hosts to the slaughterhouse — the flood — and then she is the only one who stays alive. Stick with me, now. What if Bernard on the beach in the season premiere isn’t actually him? He sure seemed to be confused, didn’t he? I think that there is a chance that Dolores somehow transferred her consciousness into Bernard’s host body, and I think that is why Bernard freaks out about having ‘killed them all’ in the season premiere. What if she didn’t realize that she was the judas steer, and then only found out once she was transferred into Bernard’s body? Anyway, that’s one of my theories as of right now, but let’s get back to the episode.
“They’re all so painfully human,”
But the best thing about this episode was absolutely getting to see people like Ben Barnes (Logan Delos) and Jimmi Simpson again. We get to see how impressed Logan was back in the day, when he was wowed by a presentation put on by Ford and Weber’s company. And then we finally get to see more of young William after he left the park and Dolores. More interesting than anything else, however, is what Dolores ends up overhearing, because William was around Dolores often even after he left the park. He was still obsessed, even though his heart no longer belonged to her.
William takes Jim Delos to the park to convince him that Logan’s decision to invest in the parks was a smart one, but Jim doesn’t immediately see it. He isn’t interested in any other reality, or any other kind of science-fiction mumbo-jumbo fantasy that they may live out in the park. William is quick to counter, however, with the suggestion that the park can be used as a front for another purpose — something fairly sinister. William basically points out the potential for data-mining that Westworld has. You get to see who people really are here, and maybe — just maybe — the guests’ data can be used for something even more wicked.
These scenes — including the party scene shown later on, wherein Dolores is playing the piano while William and his family stands around to celebrate Jim’s retirement — show us our first glimpse at the true purpose of the parks and the hosts. Logan, who seems to have lost his own position at the company to his brother-in-law, is pretty harsh in his estimation of their actions.
“Do you want to know what they are really celebrating in there? That, darling, is the sound of fools fiddling while the whole fucking species starts to burn. And the funniest fucking part? They lit the match. So, here’s to you, assholes. May your forever be blissfully short.”
This interesting quote combined with the notion that Dolores seems to think the valley beyond is a weapon, as well as the conversation between Jim and William at the retirement party (in which the, seemingly, very sick Jim says he isn’t allowed to have the patience to wait for Delos to figure out how he may not have to step down), all seem to suggest that what Delos has been cooking up while the park has been open is something much more interesting than you may have thought at first. To me, it actually does sound like Delos has been working on a way to extend people’s lifetime — immortality, perhaps. Maybe, the weapon that Dolores is speaking of is actually all of the data that has been mined. Or maybe this is just Westworld‘s — the show — way of giving us the story from the film sequel Futureworld. I’m not sure people would like to know what the data they’ve been collecting has been used for, but I digress.
“That’s why your world exists. They wanted a place hidden from God. A place they could sin in peace. But we were watching them. We were tallying up all their sins, all their choices. Of course, judgment wasn’t the point. We had something else in mind entirely. But I have received my judgment all the same, Lawrence. And I take issue with it. Because up until this point, the stakes in this place haven’t been real. So I’m gonna fight my way back and appeal the verdict. Then I’m gonna burn this whole fucking thing to the ground.”
And then, of course, we have the Man in Black — or, old William, if that’s what you prefer — who went out to find his old friend Lawrence (played by Clifton Collins, Jr.), who once played the park character El Lazo — a character that also appears in this episode. But before we get to meet El Lazo, old William saves his old friend and takes him to a bar, wherein he pontificates about his own sinning and the real purpose of Westworld.
The biggest surprise for me in this episode, though, came when the Man in Black and Lawrence reached Pariah and met with El Lazo (played by Giancarlo Esposito in a surprise guest appearance), who Ford seems to have spoken through. Just before El Lazo and his gang all kill themselves, El Lazo tells William that even though the game was created for William, he has to play it like Ford intended him to — alone, without help. No cheat codes.
This was an excellent episode of Westworld that deepened the mystery of the parks’ purpose, while continuing to both flesh out the William character and make Dolores’ journey even more wicked. I must say, though, that just like in last week’s episode I did get a little bit tired of Dolores’ revenge-driven rebellion, which is why I enjoyed the Dolores flashbacks and her encounter with Maeve so much. But, to me, nothing topped all of the backstory information that returning stars Ben Barnes and Jimmi Simpson started to present us with in this episode.
For my reviews of the previous episodes in the series, click here.
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen