REVIEW: Westworld – “Virtù e Fortuna”

westworld-review

The following is a spoiler-filled review of the third episode of Westworld: Season Two – Developed by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy

In the third episode of the second season of Westworld (“Virtù e Fortuna”), Dolores (played by Evan Rachel Wood) fights the first battle in the war for Westworld, Bernard (played by Jeffrey Wright) and Charlotte (played by Tessa Thompson) find Peter Abernathy, and new parks are shown to us for the first time.

Okay, first, before I forget, I should note that the title of the episode — Virtù e Fortuna — quite simply means ‘virtue and fortune.’ Simple, right? Well, here’s where it gets tricky. These are apparently philosophical concepts presented by Machiavelli in The Prince.

As such, these concepts are, in a sense, related to ideas of rule and leadership. The Machiavelli quote, “He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation.” doesn’t appear in the episode, but it does get to the heart of what the mastering of the title concepts may be referencing: Dolores’ ruthless but calculated leadership. But I digress, let’s talk about the excellent opening of the episode.

We actually got to see Park Six this episode! If you remember, Stubbs (played by Luke Hemsworth) mentioned that they had Bengal tigers in ‘Park Six’ back in the season premiere, when they noticed the Bengal tiger that had washed ashore. And, yes, that is the tiger we saw in this episode. But before all of that we got a proper introduction to The Raj — a colonial India theme park — with a sitar cover of The White Stripes‘ “Seven Nation Army.”

We are introduced here to the blonde Brit named Nicholas (played by Neil Jackson), and also the far more mysterious Grace (played by Katja Herbers) who has some interesting drawings in her notebook. These two guests hit it off, but before then Grace presents an odd take on the Turing test, when she wants to shoot Nicholas to make sure he isn’t a host. That is… A very different approach to the no-holds-barred nature of the Westworld parks.

Anyway, it turns out that what we are seeing likely took place right around the time of Ford’s death — the beginning of the massacre — because right as they are about to go and hunt for Bengal tigers, the two guests realize that other guests have been slaughtered. After a host takes out Nicholas, Grace avenges him and flees. Unfortunately, she runs right into the path of a hungry Bengal tiger.

Now, this wasn’t tough to see coming, but this opening sequence kept me right at the edge of my seat from this point on. You see, I think Bengal tigers are the most terrifying but beautiful animals in the world. So, Grace, naturally, runs from the animal and gets to an outpost near a massive body of water. The tiger followed her, though, and right as it lunges towards her, Grace gets a shot off and hits it.

Unfortunately, the animal takes her right into the water, and we don’t see either of them until much later in the episode. At this point, while the tiger is dead on the shore, Grace swims towards it only to find herself in front of the Ghost Nation Native Americans. But I don’t think I remember seeing anyone else next to the tiger in the season premiere, so I do wonder if she gets out alive somehow. Some people are already theorizing that she may be William’s daughter, which does make sense to me, seeing as she wanted so much for Nicholas not to be a host. Maybe William saves her.

“He seems to keep slipping away from us.”

On the other side of the title sequence, we get one quick glimpse of Bernard approximately two weeks after the massacre. They don’t exactly give us anymore information about the bodies in the water, but we do get to see that Charlotte Hale survives the massacre. Hale seems suspicious of Bernard as she asks him about Peter Abernathy (played by Louis Herthum). And that’s it for the latest timeline, then the search for Peter Abernathy begins in the other timelines.

“I can’t abide. It ain’t no good. I’m just heeding my convictions.”

Here is something that I particularly enjoyed. Charlotte and Bernard come upon Peter Abernathy, but he is being held captive by Rebus (played by Steven Ogg) and his gang. So, how do Charlotte and Bernard get to Peter? It’s simple really. They ambush and knock out Rebus, give him another personality and upgrade his stats. Suddenly, Rebus is a good guy and the best gunman in the park. Seeing this new side of Rebus was a lot of fun, and I loved seeing him try to convince the fleeing guests that he was actually a good guy. Of course, it doesn’t exactly go according to plan for Charlotte, Peter, and Bernard. Charlotte flees the scene once hosts take her two companions, but their paths eventually cross paths later this episode.

“Look what they’ve done to him.”

But before all of that, we get to see something quite special at Fort Forlorn Hope, which Dolores and her men have taken as their own. We get two of the most anticipated reunions as Bernard and Peter Abernathy are brought to Fort Forlorn Hope. I know last episode was called “Reunion,” but these reunions were much more exciting to me.

Bernard’s inevitable reunion with Dolores wasn’t really as intense as I had hoped it would be, but Dolores’ reunion with Peter Abernathy? That was something special. Dolores sees her father struggle with an oversized programming file and a new narrative, but then he actually breaks through his programming and then he recognizes her! This is like watching someone break through with a relative struggling from dementia. It is a very moving scene and both actors are phenomenal here.

And then it is time for the Battle of Fort Forlorn Hope — the first battle in the war for Westworld. It is a very exciting scene in which Dolores does her best impression of an unrelenting Terminator, she willingly and deliberately lets dozens of hosts get slaughtered, and eventually loses the support of her on-again off-again boyfriend Teddy Flood (played by James Marsden).

“You two were designed to be alone!”

Then, of course, we have Maeve and company who, on their way to Maeve’s daughter run into old friends like Sylvester, Felix, and Armistice, as well as, at the very end of the episode, a samurai who seems to have left Shogun World. But the most interesting part of their storyline this episode was the scene in which Lee Sizemore (played by Simon Quarterman) was unhappy with the state of Hector and Maeve’s relationship. It comes across as a creator upset with fan-fiction that forces Maeve and Hector to act out of character. Sizemore, Hector, and Maeve all get their own moments to shine here.

I get that Westworld isn’t for everyone, and, most weeks, it definitely is much more theoretical science-fiction than anything else, which fans have turned into a race against the clock to figure out its upcoming twists and turns. But Virtù e Fortuna was probably the most fun I have had with an episode of Westworld yet. They definitely had fun with the series’ concept this time around.

A

For my reviews of the previous episodes in the series, click here.

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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