REVIEW: Westworld – “The Passenger”

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

In the final episode of the second season of Westworld (“The Passenger”), Maeve (played by Thandie Newton) makes her escape, Dolores (played by Evan Rachel Wood) runs into an old friend, and Bernard (played by Jeffrey Wright) makes a life-affirming decision.

“Is this now?”

Well, that sure was a lot to sort through, analyze, and, well, understand. Don’t worry, it’s totally okay to be confused right now. Most people are, and I even had to do some studying to make sure I had gotten every detail exactly right.

The fact of the matter is that up until this point, the second season of Westworld had been much simpler constructed and laid out for all to see in two distinguishable timelines, but then, at the very end, they revealed something fairly confusing and complex.

You are absolutely meant to be confused, and you are meant to be thrown for a loop, as it were. But don’t worry, I’ll recap and explain as well as I possibly can after having only seen the episode once. First, let’s talk about the set-up, before diving in with each major character-specific storyline.

The beginning of this episode is mostly concerned with, first, further explaining Bernard’s creation, and, second, moving the big players into position for the final scramble to the Valley Beyond. Akecheta brings his people and many, many other hosts with him to the Door, Maeve’s group finally arrives to find her, and, most importantly, Dolores finds William.

Now, this latter scene seems to suggest that I was right last week. William was never a host, he only wanted to cling to the belief, which is why he started to dig a hole in his forearm. Together they ride towards the Valley Beyond both uninterested in Akecheta’s journey.

“I went ahead and saved myself.”

Meanwhile, Maeve was about to be terminated, but then she put her newly upgraded powers to good use and freed herself using hosts lying around in the room she was held. Before you know it, her rescue mission is stopped, seeing as Maeve made it out on her own. Most impressive, indeed.

Maeve’s journey has been the most consistently excellent storyline this season and, in this episode, her story triumphs over all others’. She eventually had to sacrifice herself to give her daughter and Akecheta a chance to make it to the Digital Eden — through the Door. I thought this was the most well-done sequence in the entire episode. Maeve’s goodbye and Akecheta’s reunion with his lover on the other side, though not entirely original, were two very emotional moments for the two characters most fans of the show cheer for.

This sequence is a little bit confusing, though. You see, I don’t think it makes sense who lives, dies, is infected by Clementine’s virus, and makes it to the Digital Eden. For one, why weren’t Armistice and Hector affected by the virus? Secondly, how did Kohana make it to the Digital Eden, if she had been locked away? Did Akecheta literally carry her ‘pearl,’ and, if so, how did he get ahold of it? There may be an explanation for this, if so, then please comment below.

Also, one more thing, I think this episode cheapened the end of last week’s episode. Teddy sacrificed himself knowing full well that he wasn’t coming back. For Dolores to be able to salvage his pearl and upload it to the Digital Eden as if nothing ever happened is a bit too convenient, in my opinion.

But, frustratingly, death doesn’t matter in Westworld. Just when you thought the scene with Maeve had actually meant something, a last-minute scene with Felix and Sylvester seems to suggest that they can bring her back. At this point, no one can blame you if you are frustrated by the show’s insistence on always finding a way to break its own narratively powerful scenes.

“I don’t wanna play Cowboys and Indians anymore, Bernard. I want their world. The one they’ve denied us.”

And let’s now talk about Dolores and her storyline this episode, in which she mostly interacted with Bernard. Their eventual departure from the Man in Black takes them down into the Forge, which holds the guest data. They take a journey into the virtual world of the data, which is not unlike the Cradle simulation, but so much more complex.

What I really enjoyed about all of this was the eventual return of Logan. Okay, sure, it wasn’t actually him, but I thought he was a smart pick to play the virtual manifestation of the system of the Forge, who basically gets to explain how simple and uncomplex humans are.

While Dolores reads the books containing human code or data, the System explains to Bernard that he has to make a decision — shall the hosts remain in the park, or should they be allowed to live on in the aforementioned Digital Eden. It isn’t really a choice, though. Of course, they should get to live separately from our world, if that is what they want to.

Once out of the virtual world, Dolores and Bernard have a falling out that leads to Dolores attempting to delete the human data and ruin the hosts’ chances. Bernard objects and — in a moment that we knew was coming — shoots Dolores in the head.

So, how did he end up confused on the beach in the season premiere? What is the missing clue? Well, there is a final twist built into the season, and it was almost exactly what I predicted back in the day. Dolores was transferred into another body, it just wasn’t Bernard’s. It was Hale’s, or, rather, a newly created host version of Hale.

When Bernard realized he had made a mistake, he, in a moment not orchestrated (as is ultimately revealed) by Ford, makes the decision to bring Dolores back to life. Together he and Dolores transfer the Digital Eden to a safe place away from humans, and Dolores — in Hale’s body, mind you — finds a way out of the park, even though she ended up running into Stubbs.

As the episode comes to an end, we see that Dolores has reprinted her own body as well as Bernard’s. She has decided it is the best thing for her kind to have both her and him in our world, even though they will not be allies. Interestingly, we do see Hale, who must’ve been implanted with another unidentified pearl, of which Dolores only brought five out of the parks.

Now, I have to mention that scene with Stubbs. Because, as I read it, that showed Stubbs explaining to Hale/Dolores that he had always been a host, and that he had been put in place as oversight for the park’s most important hosts.

Now, on the one hand, I really like this reveal, as I think it now sort of makes sense why, I think, he has been protective of Bernard, but, on the other hand, it also sort of feels like the host-reveal moment that makes a joke out of the show.

For some, this will absolutely be the breaking point, as they may say that the show has gotten so silly and out there that it, at this point, would be more surprising for a human being to remain a human for the entirety of the show, than to be revealed to be a host all along, which neatly brings us to the guy everyone is going to keep talking about until season three airs — William, the Man in Black.

In my review notes, I kept on writing something along the lines of “where is William?” After they implied he would run into Bernard as the elevator opened, we didn’t see him until the last scenes of the episode. We do see him survive and be prepared to be aided and taken out of the parks.

But then there was a post-credits scene. You should really watch this one if you missed it initially. Because this is where this show became confusing once more. We see the injured William step out of the elevator and into the Forge bunker facility, but, something isn’t right. There is no water, everything looks old and dirty. Sand is everywhere. We can deduce that this is far into the future.

William sees his daughter — now a host — and she informs him that she has tested him again and again and again for an unspecified amount of time. Does this mean that William is a host? No, at least, not the way I read it. But this scene must be set far into the future because the facility looks completely deserted.

This is a host running a test on what, I assume, is the result of a human-to-host consciousness transfer — like with Jim Delos. We don’t exactly know what the host is trying to learn, but what we do know is that this is William’s own personal hell — as he seems to have to relive his time in the park over and over again, which means he has had to kill his own daughter over and over again.

I look at this scene as Westworld‘s answer to the end of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, in which the protagonist, a robot, is met 2,000 years into the future by other advanced entities. These entities hope to learn more about ‘the genius’ of human beings.

One thing that is really interesting about this episode is the extent to which this episode feels like a natural and satisfying series finale. To me, it feels like this show could’ve ended a few scenes earlier with an ex_machina-like conclusion to the series, and I think it would’ve felt right.

But that isn’t what we get here. Instead, what we get is a series reinvention in its last few scenes and in the aforementioned post-credits scene. It is as simple as this, now we get to see the dinosaurs out of the park to use a Jurassic Park comparison.

With Dolores and Bernard being on opposite sides, but with plenty of respect for one another, we are also left with the oft-played peaceful leader-vengeful leader dichotomy that the Magneto-Xavier relationship is built around in the X-Men films. It is an interesting way to end this season, which could’ve been a nice series conclusion as well.

Speaking of the season as a whole, I think Westworld: Season Two was a success, and, for the most part, I found it to be extremely captivating in spite of its intentionally-jumbled storylines. I also think that the series has peaked with the utterly compelling and brilliantly captivating Kiksuya-episode.

I think the challenging series has tested the patience of its audience in a risky way, though. Confusion is only acceptable up to a point, and I think it may have been a poor decision to add in the post-credits scene, which throws a new spin to everything we think we understand. It certainly is on-brand, but it may alienate the show’s fans. Not everyone likes to do homework ahead of their Sunday night entertainment.

B+

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

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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