Season two’s penultimate episode is brutal. The mind games, and the attendant pain, are all taken to a new level. Dr. Ford, and the code-version of himself, is now in the heads of hosts and humans alike. The violent delights are no longer delightful, and the violent ends are coming fast and furious.
Back In Black
While several storylines are serviced this week, this is really William’s episode. Flashbacks to distant and recent(ish) memories fill in the gaps to his past not only for the audience but, seemingly, also to himself.
We see him interacting with his wife, Juliet (played by the brilliant Sela Ward), and his daughter, Emily. If Westworld the park is dominated by two strong female characters (Dolores & Maeve), then William’s world is dominated by two strong women in Juliet and Emily. This week we learn a lot about the night of his wife’s suicide.
Juliet and older William are at a party in his honor. He is chided for his “humble roots” and she imbibes a bit too much and needs to be carried home. William tucks her into bed and Emily comes over to talk about committing her to a facility so she can confront her issues.
But Juliet confronts his past instead. At the party Dr. Ford slipped Delos’ profile card on William into his pocket, and he leaves it in a place Juliet can find it. What she sees confirms what she’s suspected for decades: William lives in the park, and only visits ‘reality’ with his family. When Juliet views the years of violent delights it pushes her over the edge and she takes her life, even as William and Emily conspire downstairs to save it.
This isn’t a big surprise, just look at the F’d up reading material Juliet & Wills keep by their bed: some Plutarch (which proves both have done the reading!) as well as Slughterhouse Five and Jude the Obscure, which is about a dysfunctional family and suicide.
But that’s just one half of the Greek Tragedy developing in Williams life.
Having lost her mother, Emily now embarks to save her father. She’s been a compelling character all season. And while they’ve had several come-to-Jesus discussions, tonight someone actually comes to Jesus.
Emily’s recollections of her life don’t entirely line up with Williams. That, along with the seeming ease of which she found him in the vast, chaos-ridden park, makes him believe she’s a host sent in by Ford. So he shoots and kills her. It’s only then that he realizes that she’s very much real and he’s murdered his daughter.
Then he digs into his own arm (looking for a data port) to see if he is real or a host. If he is a host, then he can console himself that he didn’t have a choice in the shooting, that it was something he was programmed to do, and absolve himself of responsibility.
We are never shown if he finds metal or bone, but our guess is that William is very much human.
That said: William and (living) Ford’s interaction earlier in the episode reveals William telling Ford that he stays out of the narratives, and Ford should stay out of the Valley (where the human copying takes place). What kind of Corporate F-You would it be for Ford to make William his plant on the board?!?!
So now William has driven his wife to suicide, killed his daughter, and, lest we forget, gunned down an entire team of Delos’ security agents sent in to bring order to the park.
So now that he’s burdened with knowledge, William brings a gun to his head to end his own life, but can’t/won’t/doesn’t pull the trigger.
Wild Ending in the Wild West
You know who can pull the trigger? Teddy.
While everything else in the episode pales in comparison to William’s story, there are some moving moments that move the plot along.
Dolores and Teddy find themselves in an abandoned barn in a remote area of the park. Just because she changed Teddy’s settings to make him
a more loyal minion more likely to survive in her revolution, he knows deep down in his heart circuits that isn’t who he is.
Teddy believes the hosts aren’t evolving, but devolving because they’re becoming more like the humans that controlled them in the first place.
That said, he vows to protect Dolores until the day he dies. That’s great, until she realizes that day will be today. Teddy cocks his gun and shoots himself in the head.
Here’s the thing, we know from the first episode of the season that he ends up in the lake with the other hosts, and we don’t recall seeing a massive head wound. So this leaves us with several questions: is he revitalized and repaired only to be killed again? And if he is revitalized, how? The Cradle is destroyed. We could assume host backups are also with human copies in The Forge, but that’s connecting a lot of dots that may not exist.
Maeve The Ford Be With You
Meanwhile Maeve’s been strapped to a gurney for weeks now, and some of her code has been implanted in Clementine, which will have all nearby hosts turn on each other and go on a killing frenzy, essentially doing the work of the Delos’ not-so-rapid response team for them.
But Ford comes to Maeve and tells her she’s always been his favorite, the daughter he never had. Wait, we thought that was Dolores?!?! Anyway, he marvels at the fact he gave her the programming to leave, yet she stayed.
So is Ford now housing himself in Maeve? Because he’s not chilling in Bernard’s head anymore. After weeks of torturing Bernard and taking him down paths he (or Arnold) would never have imagined, he says Bernard controls his destiny and, after a near-breakdown, when Bernard tells him to get out.. he does!
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
With all kinds of Greek Tragedy popping up there’s really only one drink to have with this episode: Ouzo. It tastes great going down, and you’ll still have the taste of it in your mouth the next morning and wondering what happened. If that’s not Westworld, we don’t know what is!