After a string of episodes following one main host’s journey, Westworld brought the whole band together again tonight. Kinda. But not really. Everyone is still on their own loops, and that led to a lot of goodbyes, some sadder than others.
As we move into the back half of season two, we’ll hopefully see some more reunions.
But no reappearance can be quite as surprising as the one that ended this episode. Spoilers, obviously.
Full disclosure: there were no screeners for this hour of Westworld and I’m wondering if Anthony Hopkin’s unexpected return was the reason why I’m writing this late at night on a damn holiday weekend.
But, I can’t be mad at HBO for wanting to keep this episode casting under tight wraps.
Now, do I think Dr. Ford will offer any answers that satisfy or make sense? Aw hell naw. But, I am still here for more Anthony Hopkins. Dr. Ford’s great game is full of insane code and make his puppet-hosts (and human players) dance to his mystery tune. I’m less interested in the details than the effect the game has on the characters.
For Bernard, i.e. Exposition-Bot, it means a lot more talk of puzzles and hand-wavy science terms as he travels with Elsie, and rather cavalierly trusts his brainmeats to a machine that looks like a can opener. He’s literally keeping a clue in his pocket. I suppose we’ll learn more next week. There are only three episodes left in the season and I feel like I don’t know anything.
Elsewhere in the park, the Man in Black and his daughter Emily seem to be faring the worst in Dr. Ford’s game, relationship-wise. Their reunion was way too brief, but maybe it’s for the best because the Man in Black is pretty much “a pitiable man-child,” as Emily called him. Heh. Nailed it. She escaped a slaughter in the Raj park and didn’t want to come to Westworld, but now that she’s there, she doesn’t want her dad to get himself killed. And she was rewarded with abandonment. Again.
Dolores, too, is maybe having second thoughts about giving her relationship a second chance. I think? Sometimes it looked like she didn’t like her boyfriend Teddy’s mental makeover, other times it looked like she’s really into it? Teddy, for his part, is less dumb, I guess. But way more bitter, as he recognizes his choice in the matter of his attitude adjustment was not voluntary. So, I’m hesitant to call this an upgrade.
Losing the game of Westworld in general is us, the viewers, because we had to say sayonara to the wonderful Shogun World and the beautiful, deadly Akane and Musashi, Hector’s ronin counterpart. At least the latter got to show off his sword skills one more time. The former’s goodbye was bittersweet. I’m glad Akane survived long enough to choose her own fate, but I’m really bummed we’re not going to see these actors anymore. But, hey, if Anthony Hopkins can pop back in for an episode or two, why can’t Rinko Kikuchi and Hiroyuki Sanada? Their characters were at least last seen breathing.
The second biggest reunion of the episode was Maeve and her “daughter.” Did anyone think her daughter wouldn’t have a new mom? But, I love Maeve so much, my heart still broke a bit for her.
However, the sad didn’t last long because the Ghost Nation tribe came to bust the party up. I’m really frustrated with the mystical corny Indians Westworld is showing us. Can Zahn McClarnon have more to do? You don’t hire him to play a Tonto-esque stereotype, so please hurry this along, show. I think that’s where they’re going with this—the Ghost Nation leader very much wanted to speak to Maeve, not murder her. I can’t wait to see what this might mean. But, also, Maeve just faced down a samurai army and won! She can’t make six more dudes kill themselves?
Maybe the Ghost Nation can explain why the only thing consistent on Westworld is that Felix is awesome.
- As noteworthy as the ending of this episode was, the opening was pretty trippy, too! So, as we saw with those 149 iterations of James Delos, how many times did Dolores conduct a fidelity test on Arnold/Bernard?
- I freely admit I have no clue what tonight’s title means. I looked up “phase space” on Wikipedia and couldn’t make it past the opening paragraph. Anybody want to take this on?
- It’s funny, when Charlotte Hale was threatening to make her Johnny Mnemonic/Abernathy immobile, I thought for certain she was going to have him amputated. And I was relieved she didn’t. But that didn’t mean there were no amputations this hour. Quite the contrary!
- Hector is the best (after Felix.) He doesn’t really do much but look pretty and be supportive of Maeve, yet Teddy does the same and it annoys me. Damn, Lee’s cheesy bad boy narrative is totally effective on me.
- Next week: “Les Écorchés.” Hmm: An écorché is “a figure drawn, painted, or sculpted showing the muscles of the body without skin.” So, a drone host? Or a metaphor for Ford peeling back the facade of the park to show the true structure beneath? Both?
Westworld airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing, Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast and Den of Geek. Reach her via pony express or on Twitter.